Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Sir Alexander and Lady Dick: Joys of Prestonfield Adieu!, [15–20 October? 1759]

To Sir Alexander and Lady Dick: Joys of Prestonfield Adieu!

Copy: Mrs. Ailsa Joan Mary Dick-Cunyngham, Prestonfield, Edinburgh (1955)

[October 15–20?, 1759]4

Verses by Doctor Franklin to Sir Alexander and Lady Dick many years ago wrote at Coldstream on his return to England. ——October 1759


Joys of Prestonfield Adieu!

Late found, soon lost, but still we’ll view

The’ engaging Scene—oft to these eyes

Shall the pleasing Vision rise!


Hearts that warm towards a friend,

Kindness on kindness without end,

Easy converse—sprightly wit

These we found in Dame and Knight.


Chearfull meals, balmy rest,

Beds that never buggs molest,

Neatness and Sweetness all around

These at Prestonfield we found.


Hear O Heaven a strangers prayer,

Bless the hospitable pair!

Bless their sweet Bairns, and very Soon

Give these a Brother—Those a Son.5

Verses addressd to Lady Dick by Robert Alexander Esquire6— October 1759


What Franklin writes appears so fine,

I wish his thoughts and words were mine,

Why then so cruel coudst thou be,

As send his sprightly lays to me?


Alas! I’m of such Jealous mettle

That ever since I ne’er could settle,

Whate’er he feels he can express,

I silent stand—but feel no less.


Our prayers and sentiments the same

I love the Knight—adore the Dame

Unlike alone in this our Vow,

He prays for one Son—I for two.


But see what’s all he pleased to say

Thy Beauty could not make him stay

A lover gone you’ll understand,

Is not so good as—one at hand.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The exact date when BF composed and sent these verses cannot be determined, but it was probably during the third week of October 1759. After leaving Edinburgh about the 12th he and WF spent a few days at Kames, near the Tweed in Berwickshire, with Henry Home, Lord Kames, during which time they took several rides together, to or along the river. BF to Lord Kames, Jan. 3, 1760, Scottish Record Office. One of these excursions may have taken them to Coldstream (12 miles up the Tweed from Berwick), or the Franklins may have stopped there after leaving Kames and before crossing over into Northumberland.

5A second daughter, Anne, had been born to the Dicks the previous May 15. Lady Dick died, Dec. 26, 1760, and Sir Alexander’s hopes for a son and heir were not fulfilled until after his second marriage. The Scots Magazine, XXI (1759), 272; XXII (1760), 670.

6Robert Alexander (d. 1774), Edinburgh merchant and banker, was probably a house guest at Prestonfield during BF’s visit there. He and his brother William were sons of William Alexander, who had been lord provost of Edinburgh, 1751–52, and with whom they were associated in the firm of William Alexander & Sons. Robert Alexander and BF became good friends; in about 1766 Alexander asked for and received BF’s advice on certain “important papers,” and to commemorate the event he commissioned David Martin to paint for him the famous “Thumb Portrait” of BF. The painting descended to Alexander’s niece Mariamne, wife of Jonathan Williams, Jr., BF’s grandnephew; in 1962 it was presented to the White House, where it now hangs. The Scots Magazine, XXXVI (1774), 503; Charles C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture (New Haven, 1962), pp. 75–80, 328–31.

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