Benjamin Franklin Papers

William Franklin to Elizabeth Graeme, 17 July 1757

William Franklin to Elizabeth Graeme

ALS: New York Public Library

Falmouth July 17, 1757

I have now the Pleasure to inform my dearest Betsy that her Franklin is safely arriv’d in England about two Hours ago, after a Passage of 27 Days. I am so much hurried in getting our Things ashore, and enquiring for Horses and Carriages for transporting us up to London, that I have not Leisure to give you any of the Particulars of our Voyage. I design to do it however by the very first Opportunity. In general, we were highly favour’d with Winds, were several Times chac’d, and met with no Accident, except the Night before our Arrival, when we narrowly escap’d running ashore on the Rocks of Scilly, owing to our not having discover’d the Light ashore till it was almost too late to avoid them.6 Altho’ our Passage cannot, when compar’d to most others, be deem’d a very disagreeable one, yet I cannot but be [of] Opinion that let the Pleasures of this Country be ever so great, they are dearly earn’d by a Voyage across the Atlantick. Few are the Inducements that will tempt me to pass the Ocean again, if ever I am so happy as to return to my native Country.

I question if I shall have it in my Power to write again by this Pacquet, as ’tis said she will sail sometime this Week;7 so that no Post after our Arrival in London can possibly reach her.

I must beg you to say for me to your good Family, and let my great Hurry plead in Excuse for your seeing so soon the Name of your affectionate

Wm: Franklin

For Miss Graeme.

Addressed: To / Miss Elizth. Graeme / In / Philadelphia

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6See the preceding document. The Scilly Islands and adjacent rocks, 25 miles west of Land’s End, were the scene of many accidents. A variable northwesterly current (now called Rennell’s Current) across the mouth of the English Channel, caused by strong west winds in the Bay of Biscay and imperfectly understood in 1757, sometimes set ships headed into the channel as much as fifty miles off their dead-reckoning course. Furthermore, the lighthouse on one of the larger islands “never appeared clear and bright” to at least one experienced mariner, and was too far from the rocks most likely to endanger eastbound ships. “Observations on a Current that often prevails to the Westward of Scilly; endangering the Safety of Ships that approach the British Channel. By James Rennell, Esq. F.R.S.,” Phil. Trans., LXXXIII (1793), Part II, 182–200; and “Some farther observations …” Ibid., CV (1815), 182–202. Bishop Light was erected in 1858 to remedy these defects.

7The packet Earl of Leicester sailed from Falmouth August 8 and reached New York on September 10. She probably carried this letter and the one from BF to DF immediately above and also BF’s extended preface for the 1758 Poor Richard almanac (see below, p. 328). The packet General Wall did not leave Falmouth until September 2 and reached New York October 15. London Chron., Aug. 9, 1757; N.-Y. Mercury, Sept. 12 and Oct. 17, 1757.

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