Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 14 June 1762

To William Strahan

MS not found; reprinted from The Atlantic Monthly, LXI (1888), 34.

Saturday, June 14, [1762?]6

Mr. Franklin’s Compliments to Mr. Strahan, and out of pure Kindness to him offers him an Opportunity of exercising his Benevolence as a Man and his Charity as a Christian. One Spencer,7 formerly a Merchant of Figure and Credit in North America, being by various Misfortunes reduced to Poverty, is here in great Distress, and would be made happy by any Employment that would only enable him to Eat, which he looks as if he had not done for some Time. He is well acquainted with Accompts, and writes a very fair Hand, as Mr. S. may see by the enclosed Letter. His Expectations that brought him over, which are touched on in that Letter, are at an End. He is a very honest Man, but too much dispirited to put himself forward. Cannot some Smouting,8 in the writing way, be got for him? or come [some?] little Clerkship? which he would execute very faithfully. He is at Mr. Cooper’s, at the Hat and Feather, Snow Hill.9 Mr. F. has done what he could to serve him (to little purpose indeed) and now leaves him as a Legacy to good Mr. Strahan.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6June 14 fell on Saturday in 1762 and in 1773. In accordance with editorial practice this letter is placed at the earlier of these dates.

7Probably George Spencer, who went bankrupt in England, migrated to N. Y. in 1757, and was later jailed there for his debts, although he said he had been persecuted for informing against illicit traders. In 1766–67 he was ordained in England and licensed for N.J. by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. He served parishes in Spotswood and Freehold, N.J., but was recalled the same year as “disreputable” and moved to No. Car. William Smith wrote the S. P. G. about his bad character, blaming BF for recommending his ordination. Colden Paps., VI, 89–99; William S. Perry, Papers relating to the History of the Church in Pennsylvania, A.D. 1680–1778 (n.p., 1871), pp. 416, 421; Frederick L. Weis, “The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies,” Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., LXVI (1956–57), 318.

8Part-time, irregular, or odd-job work in a printing office. BF had used the word once before in a letter to Strahan; see above, VII, 116.

9Snow Hill was a circuitous, narrow, and steep highway connecting Holborn Bridge and Newgate. It was cleared away when the Holborn Viaduct was constructed in 1867, though parts are incorporated in the present Snow Hill. Mr. Cooper and the Hat and Feather Tavern have not been further identified.

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