Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to [Elizabeth Hubbart?], [16 October? 1755]

To [Elizabeth Hubbart?]6

ALS (fragment): American Philosophical Society

[October 16?, 1755]

[Missing] Altar, to be an Anvill; the two Hearts, Yours and Katy’s. And when they are welded together and made one, let that same Cupid fly with it to Your very affectionate

B Franklin

PS Mrs. Franklin happens to see this Letter before I close it, and tells me I have not rightly interpreted the Seal. She agrees that the two Hearts on the Altar represent yours and Katy’s, but the Cupid represents her Husband, and the Heart in his Hand is hers, which he takes with him where ever he goes, leaving the others for some body else. We are not like to settle this Point between us, so you must determine it.7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6This fragment of a letter, on the bottom half of one sheet of paper, bears no marks indicating its date or the recipient—even the seal which might have helped has not been found. It was surely written after BF’s first letter to Catharine Ray (Katy), March 4, 1755 (above, V, 502), and it is obviously addressed to a close friend of hers. The conjecture most satisfying to the editors is that the addressee was Elizabeth Hubbart (1728–1814), step-daughter of BF’s brother John (C.8). Her brother Thomas Hubbart was married to Catharine Ray’s sister Judith. Catharine was in Boston in the autumn of 1755 (see below, p. 225), where the two girls doubtless saw a good deal of each other. This fragment may well have been part of the letter Elizabeth acknowledged Dec. 1, 1755 (see below, p. 286). If this conjecture is correct, then October 16 is a possible date, since on that day BF wrote at least three other letters to go by the northern post (to William Johnston, Catharine Ray, and Jonathan Williams).

7Apparently the seal showed a Cupid with a heart in his hand and a block of some sort, which might be thought to represent either an altar or an anvil, with two hearts on it. BF seems to have believed that the two hearts were those of the two girls, Elizabeth (?) and Katy, and were being welded into one on the anvil of love through their mutual affection for him. Deborah Franklin, on the other hand, while agreeing as to the identity of the two hearts, thought that the Cupid represented BF, ever faithful to his wife, whose heart he always carried with him, leaving the two girls’ hearts for their future husbands.

Index Entries