Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 10 June 1758

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, June 10. 1758

My dear Child,

I was down at Cambridge9 with Billy when Snead sail’d,1 so did not write again by him as I intended. His sailing so soon was unexpected to me. I am somewhat out of the Way of Vessels, and Mr. Partridge by Mistake wrote me Snead was not to sail that Week; so being very kindly entertain’d there in the Colleges, we did not hurry so soon home as we might have done. However, this Vessel2 perhaps may be there about the same time.

I think nobody ever had more faithful Correspondents than I have in Mr. Hughes and you. I have now before me your Letters of Jany. 15, 22, 29, and 31. Feb. 3, 4 and 6. March 12. April 3, 9, 17, and 23, which is the last. I suppose I have near as many from Mr. Hughes.3 It is impossible for me to get or keep out of your Debts.

I receiv’d the Bill of Exchange you got of Mr. Nelson and it is paid. I received also the Proprietaries Account.4

It gives me Concern to receive such frequent Accounts of your being indisposed; but we both of us grow in Years, and must expect our Constitutions, tho’ tolerably good in themselves, will by degrees give way to the Infirmities of Age.

I have sent in a Trunk of the Library Company’s, some of the best Writing Paper for Letters, and best Quills and Wax,5 all for Mrs. Moore,6 which I beg she would accept; having receiv’d such Civilities here from her Sister and Brother Scot, as are not in my Power to return. I shall send some to Sally per next Opportunity.

By Capt. Lutwidge I sent my dear Girl a newest fashion’d white Hat and Cloak, and sundry little things which I hope will get safe to hand. I now send her a pair of Buckles, made of French Paste Stones, which are next in Lustre to Diamonds, they cost 3 Guineas, and are said to be cheap at that Price.7 I fancy I see more Likeness in her Picture than I did at first, and look at it often with Pleasure, as at least it reminds me of her. Yours is at the Painters, who is to copy it, and do me of the same Size; but as to Family Pieces, it is said they never look well, and are quite out of Fashion; and I find the Limner very unwilling to undertake any thing of the kind. However, when Franky’s comes, and that of Sally by young Hesselius, I shall see what can be done.8 I wonder how you came by Ben. Lay’s Picture.9

You are very prudent not to engage in Party Disputes. Women never should meddle with them except in Endeavours to reconcile their Husbands, Brothers and Friends who happen to be of contrary Sides. If your Sex can keep cool, you may be a means of cooling ours the sooner, and restoring more speedily that social Harmony among Fellow Citizens that is so desirable after long and bitter Dissensions.

Cousin Dunlap has wrote me an Account of his Purchasing Chattin’s Printing House.1 I wish it may be advantageous to him without injuring Mr. Hall. I can however do nothing to encourage him as a Printer in Philadelphia, inconsistent with my Pre-Engagements to so faithful a Partner. And I trust you will take Care not to do any thing in that way that may draw Reflections on me; as if I did, underhand, thro’ your means, what I would not care to appear in openly. I hope he will keep a good Understanding with Mr. Hall, and am pleas’d to hear he ask’d his Advice and Friendship. But I have thought it right and necessary to forbid the Use of my Letters by Mr. Dunlap without Mr. Hall’s Consent. The Post Office, if ’tis agreable to you, may be removed to Mr. Dunlap’s House, it being propos’d by our good Friend Mr. Hughes.2

I wrote to you lately to speak to Armbruster not to make Use of my Name any more in his News Paper, as I have no particular Concern in it, but as one of the Trustees only.3

I have no Prospect of Returning till next Spring, so you will not expect me. But pray remember to make me as happy as you can, by sending some Pippins for my self and Friends, some of your small Hams, and some Cranberries. Billy is of the Middle Temple, and will be call’d to the Bar either this Term or the next.4 I write this in answer to your particular Enquiry.

I am glad you like the Cloak I sent you. The black Silk was sent by our Friend Mr. Collinson. I never saw it.5

Your Answer to Mr. Strahan was just what it should be; I was much pleas’d with it. He fancy’d his Rhetoric and Art would certainly bring you over.6

Cousin Burkmaster7 has suffered much, and had a narrow Escape; I am concern’d for his double Misfortune. A Ship and a Mistress are too much to lose at once; but let him think, if he can, that whatever is, is best. You mention sending a Letter of Caty’s,8 but it did not come.

I have order’d two large print Common Prayer Books to be bound on purpose for you and Goodey Smith; and that the largeness of the Print may not make them too bulkey, the Christnings, Matrimonies, and every thing else that you and she have not immediate and constant Occasion for, are to be omitted. So you will both of you be repriev’d from the Use of Spectacles in Church, a little longer.9

If the ringing of the Bells1 frightens you, tie a Piece of Wire from one Bell to the other, and that will conduct the lightning without ringing or snapping, but silently. Tho’ I think it best the Bells should be at Liberty to ring, that you may know when the Wire is electrify’d, and, if you are afraid, may keep at a Distance.

I wrote last Winter for Josey Croker to come over hither, and stay a Year, and work in some of the best Shops for Improvement in his Business, and therefore did not send the Tools: But if he is about to be married I would not advise him to come, I shall send the Tools immediately.2

You have dispos’d of the Apple Trees very properly. I condole with you on the Loss of your Walnuts.

I see the Governor’s Treatment of his Wife makes all the Ladies angry.3 If ’tis on Account of the bad Example, that will soon be remov’d, for the Proprietors are privately looking out for another, being determin’d to discard him, and the Place goes abegging. One to whom it was offer’d sent a Friend to make some Enquiries of me. The Proprietor told him he had there a City House and a Country House which he might use Rent free; that every thing was so cheap he might live on £500 sterling a Year, keep a genteel Table, a Coach, &c. and his Income would be at least £900. If it fell short of that, the Proprietor would engage to make it up. For the Truth of his being able to live genteely and keep a Coach for £500 a year, the Proprietor refer’d him to Mr. Hamilton, who it seems told him the same Story; but on Enquiring of Mr. Morris,4 he had quite a different Account, and knew not which to believe. The Gentleman is one Mr. Graves,5 a Lawyer of the Temple; He hesitated a good while, and I am now told he declines accepting it. I wish that may not be true; for he has the Character of being a very good sort of Man; tho’ while the Instructions continue, it matters little who is our Governor. It was to have been kept a Secret from me, that the Proprietors were looking out for a new one, because they would not have Mr. Denny know any thing of it, till the Appointment should be actually made, and the Gentleman ready to embark. So you may make a Secret of it too, if you please, and oblige all your Friends with it.6

I need not tell you to assist Godmother7 in her Difficulties; for I know you will think it as agreable to me, as it is to your own good Disposition.

I could not find the Bit of Thread you mention to have sent me of your own Spinning: perhaps it was too fine to be seen.

I am glad little Frankey8 begins to talk, it will divert you to have him often with you.

I think I have now gone thro’ your Letters, which always give me great Pleasure to receive and read, since I cannot be with you in Person. Distribute my Compliments, Respects, and Love, among my Friends, and believe me ever my dear Debby Your affectionate Husband

B Franklin

Mrs. Stevenson and her Daughter9 desire me to present their Respects and offer their Service to you and Sally. I think of going into the Country soon, and shall be pretty much out this Summer, in different Parts of England.1 I depend chiefly on these intended Journeys for the Establishment of my Health.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9See below, p. 108.

1See above, p. 62 n.

2Probably the ship Speedwell, Capt. Anthony Robinson, which left London shortly after June 8, 1758 (it was in the Downs by June 15, London Chron., June 15–17), and arrived in Philadelphia on October 6; BF called the ship the Mercury writing to DF on Sept. 6, 1758, perhaps having in mind the vessel of that name commanded by Capt. Thomas Robinson, captured by the French but later retaken. Pa. Jour., May 4, 1758.

3The numerous letters from DF and from John Hughes have not been found. On Hughes, see above, VI, 284 n.

4See above, VI, 223 n, for John Nelson, and VII, 157–8, for the Proprietors’ account, still unpaid.

5BF paid 13s. for a ream of paper, 7s. for 200 large quills, and 9s. for two lbs. of “superfine” wax on May 20, 1758. “Account of Expences,” p. 17; PMHB, LV (1931), 111. See also below, pp. 323–4.

6Hannah Hill Moore (wife of Samuel Preston Moore; see above, IV, 295 n), whose sister, Harriet, had married John Scott, merchant of London, in 1755. Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania (Phila., 1883), pp. 31, 74.

7BF paid £9 1s. 6d. for these gifts to Sally. “Account of Expences,” pp. 19, 31, 33; PMHB, LV (1931), 111, 112.

8The portrait of Sally BF had brought to England, done by Benjamin West, no longer exists nor does the later one by John Hesselius. The picture of DF, probably also done by Hesselius, is missing too, but a copy of it made by Benjamin Wilson in 1759, is now at APS. The picture of Francis Folger Franklin, probably that painted by Samuel Johnson (?) in 1736–1737, is now owned by Mrs. James Manderson Castle, Jr., of Wilmington, Del. On the proposed “Conversation Piece” of the whole family and individual pictures see above, VII, 278, and Charles C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture (New Haven, 1962), pp. 47, 52–3, 316–17, 409–10.

9See above, II, 357 n, for Benjamin Lay. William Williams painted Lay’s portrait (now lost); Henry Dawkins later engraved it. William Sawitzky, Antiques, XXI (1937), 240–2.

1James Chattin, a Quaker printer, had lived with BF in 1747 and probably was helped by him. Chattin had advertised in Pa. Gaz. as late as Feb. 23, 1758, but by June 15 William Dunlap (see above, V, 199 n) sought business at Chattin’s former address. Albert C. Myers, ed., Hannah Logan’s Courtship (Phila., 1904), p. 100; Thomas, Printing, II, 55–9; Carl and Jessica Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen, Philadelphia in the Age of Franklin (N.Y., 1942), p. 83. Franklin’s partnership agreement with Hall forbade him to be concerned in any other printing business.

2Dunlap announced removal of the post office, formerly at BF’s house on Market Street, to his house for the winter season, Pa. Gaz., Dec. 21, 1758. See above, VII, 169 n.

3See above, V, 421–2 n, for BF’s printing venture with Anton Armbrüster. BF’s disclaimer was unnecessary; the paper seems to have expired after its Dec. 31, 1757, publication of William Moore’s attack on the Pa. Assembly; see above, p. 32 n.

4See above, IV, 78 n.

5See above, VII, 278, 381–3, for presents sent DF from London.

6See above, VII, 295–8, for William Strahan’s letter urging DF to come to England. Her reply has not been found but he wrote David Hall, June 10, 1758, that “I have received Mrs. Franklin’s Letter; to whom I beg you would give my sincere Respects, and tell her I am sorry she dreads the Sea so much, that she cannot prevail on herself to come to this fine Place, even tho’ her Husband is before her. There are many Ladies here that would make no Objection to sailing twice as far after him; but there is [no] overcoming Prejudices of that kind.” APS.

7Capt. George Buckmaster (c. 1722–1791), of Newport, R.I., had married Abiah Franklin (C.11.1), daughter of BF’s brother James. She died in 1754, and Buckmaster married Rebecca Taylor, June 15, 1758; thus he either rewon his mistress or quickly found another. James N. Arnold, The Vital Records of Rhode Island, IV (Providence, 1893), 12; VIII (1896), 401, 414, 459; XII (1901), 41.

8Not found, but Catharine Ray (above, V, 502 n) was probably announcing her forthcoming marriage to William Greene, Jr., Apr. 30, 1758. William G. Roelker, ed., Benjamin Franklin and Catharine Ray Greene: Their Correspondence, 1755–1790 (Phila., 1949), p. 30.

9The Prayer Books cost 13s. “Account of Expences,” p. 43.

1See above, V, 69, for BF’s description of the electric-bell warning system at his house.

2Joseph Croker did not go to England, marry, or need tools; he had been killed by Indians, May 27, 1758; see above, VIII, 218 n.

3Mrs. Denny arrived in Philadelphia in August 1757 bringing the governor’s mistress, to be introduced as her “niece.” Denny kept his wife a prisoner, spent her money, circulated stories of her “misconduct,” and otherwise mistreated her. Philadelphians evidently came to disbelieve the story of the aunt-niece relationship. Nicholas B. Wainwright, “Governor William Denny in Pennsylvania,” PMHB, LXXXI (1957), 188, 195.

4James Hamilton and Robert Hunter Morris (above, V, 527–8 n), both former governors, were in England at this time. Hamilton returned to Pa. as governor in November 1759.

5William Graves (b. c. 1724), admitted to the Inner Temple, 1747, was also offered appointment as chief justice in North Carolina in 1758, but he seems to have declined all colonial offices; in 1762 he was a master in the High Court of Chancery. A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, V (London, 1936), 87, 148, 164–5; Gent. Mag., XXVIII (1758), 612. Thomas Penn told Richard Peters he had rejected one prospect as too young (34) and inexperienced. July 5, 1758; Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

6News that Denny was to be replaced seems to have been current in Philadelphia at this time; Israel Pemberton wrote, May 31, 1758, that he preferred “the present weak and corrupt man” to James Hamilton, considered a strong-willed man hostile to the Quakers. Pemberton hoped William Shirley (above, III, 319 n) might be the new governor. To John Hunt; Pemberton Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

7Not identified.

8Francis, son of William Dunlap, born Feb. 8, 1755.

9See below, p. 122 n, for Mary Stevenson and BF’s correspondence with her.

1See below, pp. 133–46.

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