Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jane Mecom, 21 May 1757

To Jane Mecom

MS not found; reprinted from Jared Sparks, ed., A Collection of Familiar Letters and Miscellaneous Pieces of Benjamin Franklin (Boston, 1833), pp. 52–3.9

Woodbridge, New Jersey, 21 May, 1757.

Dear Sister,

I received your kind letter of the 9th instant,1 in which you acquainted me with some of your late troubles. These are troublesome times to us all; but perhaps you have had more than you should. I am glad to hear that Peter is at a place where he has full employ.2 A trade is a valuable thing; but, unless a habit of industry be acquired with it, it turns out of little use; if he gets that in his new place, it will be a happy exchange, and the occasion not an unfortunate one.

It is very agreeable to me to hear so good an account of your other children; in such a number to have no bad ones is a great happiness.3

The horse sold very low indeed. If I wanted one to-morrow, knowing his goodness, old as he is, I should freely give more than twice the money for him; but you did the best you could, and I will take of Benny no more than he produced.4

I don’t doubt but Benny will do very well when he gets to work; but I fear his things from England may be so long a coming, as to occasion the loss of the rent.5 Would it not be better for you to move into the house? Perhaps not, if he is near being married.6 I know nothing of that affair, but what you write me, except that I think Miss Betsey a very agreeable, sweet-tempered, good girl, who has had a housewifely education, and will make, to a good husband, a very good wife. Your sister and I have a great esteem for her, and if she will be kind enough to accept of our nephew, we think it will be his own fault, if he is not as happy as the married state can make him. The family is a respectable one, but whether there be any fortune I know not; and as you do not inquire about this particular, I suppose you think with me, that where every thing else desirable is to be met with, that is not very material. If she does not bring a fortune she will help to make one. Industry, frugality, and prudent economy in a wife, are to a tradesman, in their effects, a fortune; and a fortune sufficient for Benjamin, if his expectations are reasonable. We can only add, that, if the young lady and her friends are willing, we give our consent heartily, and our blessing. My love to brother and the children. Your affectionate brother,

B. Franklin.

P.S. If Benny will promise to be one of the tenderest husbands in the world, I give my consent. He knows already what I think of Miss Betsey. I am his loving aunt,

Deborah Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9While Duane (Works, VI, 16–17) printed this letter several years before Sparks did, his version contains apparent misreadings and omits the postscript entirely; hence the Sparks text is reprinted here.

1Not found.

2Peter Franklin Mecom (C.17.6), now eighteen, had been apprenticed to his uncle John Franklin as soapmaker and tallow chandler. His present “place” is not known, except that he was concerned with the making of soap. See below, p. 221.

3Jane Mecom had given birth to twelve children, of whom nine were still living.

4Van Doren (Franklin-Mecom, p. 58) explains that BF had furnished Benny Mecom with a horse, presumably for the trip from Philadelphia to Boston the previous winter, to be sold after reaching home.

5On Benjamin Mecom’s plans to set up a printing office and bookshop in Boston, see above, p. 68.

6Benjamin Mecom married (exact date unknown) Elizabeth Ross, almost certainly the daughter of John Ross (d. 1754), former mayor of Elizabeth Town, N.J. Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, pp. 58–9.

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