Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, [January 1758]

To Deborah Franklin

ALS (fragments):9 American Philosophical Society

[January? 1758]1

[First half page missing]

good Order. I receiv’d also his Letter relating to the Aurora Borealis,2 it was seen here at the same time, and I shall endeavour to procure him a particular Account of it.

It was an unlucky Mistake, that of putting your Letter under Cover to Mr. Colden, as it occasion’d a Week’s Delay in your receiving it. I do not find you have receiv’d a Letter I wrote you the Day after I arriv’d in London, which Mr. Collinson at whose House I wrote it, put on board a New York Vessel for me. Your Letter per Lyon never came to hand.3

I have long since wrote to Mr. Hall4 that I had receiv’d his Bills, in all, since I left Philadelphia five Hundred Pounds sterling. So I hope his Anger is over. I know not whether I can write to him per this Oppor[tunity].

[One half page missing]

sending it. I am glad he escap’d with his Life from those Cannibals. My Love to him and Patty and their Children; and to Cousins Dunlap.5

I find Marble Work in great Vogue here, and done in great Perfection at present. I think it would much improve Cousin Josey,6 if he was to come over and work in some of the best Shops for a Year or two. If he can be spar’d without Prejudice to Cousin Wilkinson,7 to whom my Love, send him to me by the first Ships, and I will get him into Employ here: As he seems an ingenious sober Lad, it must certainly be a great Advantage to him in his Business hereafter, when he returns to follow it in America.

I am sorry to hear of any Disturbance in the Academy, the rather as by my mistaken Zeal for its Welfare in introducing that imprudent Man,8 I think myself in some Degree the Cause of those Misfortunes.

[One half page missing]

Stephens to Mr. Dicker, and he tells me he has order’d [some]thing for her, and endeavour’d to prevail with Mrs. Grant to send her something handsome, but doubts the Success. Mrs. Grant was here a few Days since on a Visit to my Landlady, but I was abroad and did not see her. I have not been at Bristol, so could not see Mrs. Estwick’s Friends; but shall go thither in the Spring.9

I should have been proud of a Letter from Goodey Smith1 tho’ it was to be a Letter of Reproof.

As you desire to know several Particulars about me, I now let you know that I lodge in Craven Street near Charing Cross, Westminster; We have four Rooms furnished, and every thing about us pretty genteel, but Living here is in every respect very expensive.2 Billy is with me, and very serviceable. Peter has behav’d very well. Goodeys I now and then get a few; but roasting Apples seldom, I wish you had sent me some; and I wonder how you, that us’d to think of every thing, came to forget it. Newton Pippins would have been the most acceptable

[One half page missing]

made them tight they hurt me, and if slack they slipt down, she knit and presented me with a Pair, of a Sort I never saw before, but find I can wear them very well, for their roughness makes them keep up without being drawn tight. Saying just now that I wish’d I had another Pair to send to you, that you might show them to Mrs. Smith and to Mrs. Holwell, my Madam fetch’d a new Pair her Daughter had knit for her, but coarser than mine, and desires you would do her the favour of accepting them. I shall send them per Budden, with some things I have bought for you; for I have receiv’d your £100 and am going about with Mrs. Stephenson to pick up something agreable to send you, intending to lay it all out.3 I shall not go to Holland, as I intend to see great Part of England as soon as the Weather will permit Travelling. I wrote to you by a Man of War lately sailing for New York, and sent you my Picture in Miniature.4 My Love to Dr. and Mrs. Redman, Mr. Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. Duffield,5 and to all enquiring [Friends.6 Mr. Hunter is returni]ng in April. Polley7 is well, gives her Respects, and has [sent some things to Sally. My Respects to] Miss Polley Morris,8 and tell her I thank her for her Favour in the [last Packet. I have seen some of my] old Acquaintance here but not many; the Nun must be dead,9 but [her garret remains as it was. Time will only] allow me to add that I am as ever my dear Child Your loving Husband

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9This letter appears to have been written on all four pages of a folio sheet, only the bottom halves of which have been found. Missing portions have been indicated.

1Though the dateline is missing, the contents require the placing of this letter between BF’s letters to DF of Jan. 21 and Feb. 19, 1758.

2From John Bartram; see above, p. 271.

3For BF’s letter of July 27 to DF, see above, p. 245, and for the loss of Captain Lyon’s ship carrying her letter to him, see above, p. 238 n.

4See above, p. 287.

5The lucky refugee from “Cannibals” (Indians?) was probably DF’s brother John Read; see above, VI, 221 n. His wife’s name was Martha (Patty). See above, V, 199 n, for William Dunlap.

6Joseph Croker; see above, p. 218 n.

7Not identified, but relatives of DF’s mother of that name were woodworkers in Philadelphia; e.g., an Anthony Wilkinson carved figure-heads for ships in 1729 and 1742. PMHB, LVI (1932), 162; LVIII (1934), 140, 144–5. Presumably young Croker, a promising craftsman, was apprentice or journeyman to an artisan relative.

8William Smith; see above, IV, 467–9, 475, for BF’s earlier and higher opinion of him. The “Disturbance” was probably the same incident referred to somewhat obliquely by Joseph Shippen on Jan. 12, 1758: “I am sorry for the unfortunate accident in the academy, between Mr. Smith and Mr. Allen’s son. I hope the consequence of the quarrel will teach that gentleman to practice more philosophy in his discipline for the future.” [Thomas Balch,] Letters and Papers Relating Chiefly to the Provincial History of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1855), p. 105. The furor created by Smith’s imprisonment, Jan. 6, 1758, could not have been known to BF at this time.

9The persons mentioned in this paragraph and their relationships are but vaguely known, but the central figure was probably Sir Alexander Grant (d. 1772), a London merchant who made a fortune in the West Indies, later acquired lands in Scotland, and served as M.P. for Inverness burghs, 1761–68. G. E. Cokayne, Complete Baronage (Exeter, 1904), IV, 358. BF frequently sent bills of exchange drawn on him by Mrs. Stevens (above, V and VI passim). Mr. Dicker was probably Samuel Dicker, a Jamaica merchant, perhaps also the same who was M.P. for Plymouth and died in 1760. PMHB, LVI (1932), 168; Gent. Mag., XXX (1760), 46. Nothing is known of Mrs. Estwick nor of the connection between Mrs. Grant and BF’s landlady, Mrs. Margaret Stevenson. BF does not appear to have visited Bristol until 1760.

1DF’s old friend Mary Smith.

2See above, pp. 245 n, 273 n, for the Franklin lodgings in London.

3See below, pp. 381–3, for BF’s shopping and the knitted garters. Mrs. Smith was probably “Goodey” Smith, previously mentioned. Mrs. Holwell has not been identified but presumably was a neighbor or friend of DF.

4See above, pp. 363–5.

5See above, V, 356 n, for Dr. John Redman; VI, 284–5 n, for John Hughes; and this volume, p. 211 n, for Edward Duffield.

6Beginning with this word, BF finished his letter with four lines written vertically along the left-hand margin of the page, so the first half of each line is missing. Though too much has been lost to permit certain reconstruction of the text, the editors have supplied plausible words in brackets to complete the sense of what remains of BF’s letter, though other conjectures might be equally valid.

7See below, p. 381, for the plans of William Hunter and his sister Polly to return to America.

8Perhaps Mary Morris (1738–1765), who married Joseph Potts in 1764; “Mary” was a common name in the numerous Morris family, however. Robert C. Moon, The Morris Family of Philadelphia (Phila., 1898), I, 427.

9In his autobiography, BF remembered an old nun who had lived in the garret of his Duke Street lodgings, 1725–26. Par. Text edit., pp. 120–2.

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