Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Sir Alexander Dick, 3 January 1760

To Sir Alexander Dick1

ALS: New York Public Library

London, Jan. 3, 1760

Dear Sir,

After we took leave of you, we spent some Weeks in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and at length arriv’d at our House here in good Health, having made a Tour of near 1500 Miles, in which we had enjoy’d a great deal of Pleasure, and receiv’d a great deal of useful Information.2

But no part of our Journey affords us, on Recollection, a more pleasing Remembrance, than that which relates to Scotland, particularly the time we so agreably spent with you, your Friends and Family. The many Civilities, Favours and Kindnesses heap’d upon us while we were among you, have made the most lasting Impression on our Minds, and have endeared that Country to us beyond Expression.

I hope Lady Dick continues well and chearful. Be pleased to present my most respectful Compliments and assure her I have great Faith in her parting-Prayers, that the Purse she honour’d me with will never be quite empty.3

I inclose you one of our Philadelphia Newspapers supposing it may give you and my good Lord Provost4 some Pleasure, to see that we have imitated the Edinburgh Institution of an Infirmary in that remote Part of the World.5 Thus they that do good, not only do good themselves, but by their Example are the Occasion of much Good being done by others. Pray present my best Respects to his Lordship, for whom if I had not a very great Esteem, I find I should be extreamly singular. You will see in the same Paper an Advertisement of the Acting of Douglas, one of your Scottish Tragedies, at our Theatre, which may show the regard we have for your Writers.6 And as I remember to have heard some Complaints from Persons in Edinburgh, that their Letters to their Friends in America, did not get regularly to hand, I take the Liberty to send you another Paper, in which you will see the careful Method they take in those Countries, to advertise the Letters that remain in the Post Office; I think it is generally done every Quarter. By that List of Names, too, you may form some Judgment of the Proportion of North Britons in America, which I think you once enquir’d about.7

My Son joins in the sincerest Wishes of Happiness to you and all yours, and in the Compliments of the Season, with Dear Sir, Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Please to acquaint honest Pythagoras8 that I have not forgot what he desired of me, and that he shall hear from me soon.

Sir Alexander Dick.

1President of the College of Physicians of Edinburgh; see above, VIII, 440 n.

2On BF and WF’s travels in the north of England and in Scotland, August–October 1759, and their visit to Sir Alexander and Lady Dick at Prestonfield House, see above, VIII, 430–1, 440 n.

3For the verses with which Lady Dick accompanied the gift of a purse, see above, VIII, 442–3.

4On George Drummond, lord provost of Edinburgh, see above, VIII, 434 n.

5Probably Pa. Gaz., July 12, 1759, which contained “A General State of the Accounts of the Pennsylvania Hospital,” dated May 5, 1759, and “An Abstract of Cases” there April 26, 1758, to April 28, 1759. The latter reported 154 patients treated during the year, of whom 36 remained under care at the end of the period.

6Pa. Gaz., July 12, 1759, advertised the performance “At the Theatre, on Society-Hill” of Douglass, “a new Tragedy, written by the Reverend Mr. Hume, Minister of the Kirk of Scotland.” The author was John Home (1722–1808), minister at Athelstaneford. When the play was first produced in Edinburgh in 1756 it had a long and successful run, but the ruling party in the kirk, strongly opposed to theatrical performances in general, was outraged that the writer was himself a minister, and Home was cited to appear before his presbytery. Before action against him was completed he resigned his pastoral charge and soon afterwards became private secretary to Lord Bute and tutor to the Prince of Wales. DNB. The Philadelphia performance advertised in the Gazette was part of the repertory of the American Company, in which Lewis Hallam (c. 1740–1808) played the male leads. DAB. Presbyterian opposition to the theater in Philadelphia proved ineffectual.

7Pa. Gaz., Aug. 9, 1759, devoted the whole first page to a list of persons for whom letters were waiting in the Philadelphia post office. Additional names appeared in the issue of August 30, completing the alphabetical listing. On BF’s procedure in this respect while himself postmaster at Philadelphia, see above, II, 181–2.

8For Pythagoras, see above, VIII, 443, 445 n.

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