Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, [28 March 1760?]

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London [March 28? 1760]6

My dear Child,

Yesterday I receiv’d your [Letter] of Feb. 10.7 in which you mention that it was some Months since you heard from me. During my Journey I wrote several times to you, particularly from Liverpole and Glasgow;8 and since my Return some very long Letters that might have been with you before your last to me, but I suppose the severe Winter on your Coast, among other Delays, has kept the Vessels out. One Pacquet, Bonnel, was blown quite back to England.9

I am sorry for the Death of your black Boy, as you seem to have had a regard for him.1 You must have suffer’d a good deal in the Fatigue of Nursing him in such a Distemper. That Flower2 has wrote me a very idle Letter, desiring me not to furnish the Woman pretending to be his Wife with anything on his Account: and says the Letters she shows are a Forgery. But I have one she left with me, in which he acknowledges her to be his Wife, and the Children his, and I am sure it is his Hand-Writing, by comparing it with this he has now wrote me and a former one. So he must be a very bad Man, and I am glad I never knew him. She was sick and perishing with her Children in the Beginning of the Winter, and has had of me in all about 4 Guineas.3 What is become of her now I know not. She seem’d a very helpless silly Body, and I found her in some Falshoods that disgusted me, but I pity’d the poor Children, the more as they were descended, tho’ remotely, from our good old Friends4 whom you remember.

I have now the Pleasure to acquaint you, that our Business draws near a Conclusion, and that in less than a Month we shall have a Hearing, after which I shall be able to fix a Time for my Return. My Love to all, from, Dear Debby Your affectionate Husband

B Franklin

Billy presents his Duty.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The upper corner of the MS is torn and most of the date line is lost. The date is established by reference to the receipt “yesterday” of DF’s letter of February 10. Philadelphia experienced a long freeze-up during the winter of 1760, no ships being able to sail from early January until on February 14 Pa. Gaz. reported 31 vessels as having cleared. Among these was the snow America, Capt. James Lowther, for London; it was reported in London Chron., March 25–27, as having arrived at Dover. BF’s letter to David Hall, March 28 (immediately below) acknowledges receipt of a letter of February 8, which must have come on the same vessel. BF probably received both letters on the 27th and answered both the next day. Reference in the final paragraph to the Board of Trade hearing, originally scheduled for April 18, as being “less than a Month away” confirms March 28 as being at least the approximately correct date of this letter.

7Not found.

8BF’s letter from Liverpool, Aug. 29, 1759 (above, VIII, 430–2) is the only one that has been found.

9For BF’s letters to DF, written after his return from Scotland (Nov. 2, 1759), see above, pp. 25, 27, 32–3. Since the earliest of these is Feb. 21, 1760, and since they are all short, probably none of the “very long Letters” to which he here refers have been found. In his letter of March 5 (above, p. 34) David Hall also complained of BF’s long silence. The Harriot, Capt. Bonnell, left Falmouth on Nov. 23, 1759, was dismasted three weeks later off the banks of Newfoundland, and limped back into Fowey, England, during the first week of January 1760. Pa. Gaz., Feb. 21, 1760; London Chron., Jan. 10–12, 12–15, 1760.

1Probably Othello, whom DF was thinking of sending to the Bray Associates school in Philadelphia; see above, VIII, 425.

2For Henry Flower, the Philadelphia watchmaker, and for BF’s assistance to his wife, see above, VIII, 424. His “very idle Letter” and the “former one,” both mentioned in this paragraph, have not been found.

3Loans to Mrs. Flower of 3 guineas on Aug. 4, 1759, and of 10s. 6d., undated, are recorded in “Account of Expences,” p. 45; PMHB, LV (1931), 125.

4A Henry Flower (d. 1736), was one of the early postmasters of Philadelphia; see above, II, 158. An Enoch Flower was admitted a member of the Library Co., April 14, 1746; PMHB, XXXVIII (1914), 373–4.

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