Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Susanna Wright, 21 November 1751

To Susanna Wright9

ALS: Mrs. David H. Stockton, Princeton, N.J. (1960); also transcript: John L. W. Mifflin, Middlebush, N.J. (1955)

Philada. Nov. 21. 1751


Your Guests all got well home to their Families, highly pleas’d with their Journey, and with the Hospitality of Hempfield.

When I had the Pleasure of seeing you, I mention’d a new [kind of Candles very convenient]1 to read by, which I think you said you had not seen: I take the Freedom to send you a Specimen of them. You will find that they afford a clear white Light; may be held in the Hand, even in hot Weather, without softning; that their Drops do not make Grease Spots like those from common Candles; that they last much longer, and need little or no Snuffing. I may add, what will be another Recommendation of them to you, that they are the Manufacture of our own Country, being wrought at Marcushook.

In the Magazine of August, I find that the magnificent King of Portugal has rais’d his Marble Aqueduct near 100 Foot higher than your Chicaselungo.2 It must be a most stupendous Work. I send you the Prospect of it.

Accept an Almanack for the New Year, with my hearty Wishes that it may prove a happy one to you and your Friends. I am Madam Your obliged humble Servant

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Susanna Wright (1697–1784), born in Lancashire of Quaker parents, came to Chester Co., Pa., 1714, and after her mother’s death moved with her father and brothers to the east bank of the Susquehanna, 1722. A woman of many interests and unusual practical talents, she raised flax and silkworms (the Philadelphia Silk Society awarded her a premium, 1771), compounded medicines and tended the sick, drew legal papers, wrote poetry, painted, gave BF advice on public business (BF to Susanna Wright, April 28, 1755, below), and managed her farm and neighbors at Hempfield (now Columbia), Pa., with a firm hand. She also corresponded with James Logan and Charles Norris, and was a close friend of Samuel Blunston, whose affairs she managed and who bequeathed her a life interest in his estate. She never married. She had a large library and told Benjamin Rush in 1784 (PMHB, LXXIV, 1950, 455) “that she could not live without” her books; spoke and wrote French fluently, knew Latin, read Italian; “and had made considerable attainment in many of the sciences.” In her old age she was one of the attractions travelers to western Pennsylvania seldom failed to visit. Gertrude D. Biddle and Sarah D. Lowrie, eds., Notable Women of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1942), pp. 24–5; Samuel Wright, “Hempfield: The Beginning of Columbia,” Lancaster Co. Hist. Soc. Papers, XVII (1913), 215–26. See also, ibid., IV (1899–1900), 102–3; LII (1948), 216–7. A few letters between her and BF’s wife and daughter are in APS. Her brother James was one of BF’s correspondents.

1These words, missing in the ALS because of a tear, are supplied from the transcript, made in the nineteenth century.

2A brief description and illustration of the marble aqueduct over the valley of Alcantara was printed in Gent. Mag., XXI (1751), 368–9. Its central arch was 250 feet high. The Chickiswalunga (now Chickies) Creek near the Wright home in Lancaster Co., Pa., flows into the Susquehanna River through a deep valley. H. L. Haldeman, “The Chickies Furnace,” Lancaster Co. Hist. Soc. Historical Papers and Addresses, I (1896–97), 18–20.

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