Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Sargent, 8 November 1763

From John Sargent7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Londo. 8 Novr 1763

Dear Sir

I have not had the Pleasure of a Line from you since that of the 8th Augt. from Boston,8 which I had answerd, soon after it came, by the last Packet, if I had not been prevented by my Family’s being in some Confusion by my Son’s being brought home ill from Eton.9 Thank God all that now is happily over, and We are all well again.

And on coming to Town to day I find Capt. Marshall on the point of taking away his Bagg.1 Which just affords me a few minutes to assure You of my constant Regard, and attention to every Thing that can be of the least Use to you.

It is old News to You to tell You Lord Egmont is preferrd to a higher Employ and Lord Hyde Joynt Post master General in his place.2 Had the former continued I had taken Measures to have done what You wished.3 I do not know whether the same may be necessary with Regard to his Successour, but as an honourable Mention can do no hurt, and I expect a Friend in Town this Winter who is intimate with Lord Hyde, I shall get Him to do that Justice to Your Character which I wish every one to do, and you may be sure of; where ever I have any Connection and that I am happy in doing it.

Every Thing is in Confusion with Us here. Party never ran so high and it is a Great Prejudice to the Publick Concern.

God knows how it will end! The Scene opens in Parliament next Week. Both Sides are confident of Success. The Ministry will undoubtedly carry their Point in Parliament Regarding Wilkes.

But it is much questioned whether They will in Westminster Hall; which may bring Them into great Embarassements.4

And between You and I it is not clear how They stand among Themselves, Not much united it is said, but by common Danger, and most amazingly unpopular!

So much for a Sketch of the Times!

I next present You with a more pleasing one, namely that of Your account on which You will please to note, We will allow You 5 per Cent Interest for the Money in our hands, and it shall not lye without advantage to You.5

I hope Your Son is well and happy in his Government. Pray present all our Compliments both to Him, and his Lady.

His Prudence and Situation equally keep Him out of the Way of Party Byasses. By which I dare say He will remain undisturbed. I shall have an Attention to Things, and should I hear or learn any Thing material to his Conduct, I will write Him.6

My Wife The Collonel7 Mrs. Deane, and all the old Sett at Mayplace wish You Health and Happiness.

Mr. Jackson tells me He hath written to You and Mr. Coxe fully on our Project.8 I can add nothing to his Exactness.

Believe me ever Dear Sir Yours most affectionately

J Sargent.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For John Sargent of Sargent Aufrere & Co., see above, VII, 322 n; IX, 359 n.

8Not found.

9Both of Sargent’s sons, George Arnold and John, were at Eton at this time.

1The brig Hope, Capt. A. Marshall, arrived in Philadelphia on Feb. 12, 1764, after a voyage of eleven weeks from London. Pa. Jour., Feb. 16, 1764.

2Lord Egmont (see above, p. 286 n), appointed joint postmaster general on Nov. 27, 1762, was advanced to first lord of the Admiralty on Sept. 10, 1763. For his successor Thomas Villiers, Baron Hyde, see above, p. 217 n.

3BF had evidently asked Sargent to recommend him to Lord Egmont; as he had also asked Richard Jackson to do, June 10, 1763; see above, p. 286.

4At the opening of Parliament, Nov. 15, 1763, the ministry with Lord North as its manager induced the House of Commons to vote, 273 to 111, that the North Briton, no. 45, was “a false, scandalous, and seditious libel.” On the same day the notorious Essay on Woman, which Wilkes had printed on his private press, was read in the House of Lords and adjudged “a most scandalous, obscene, and impious libel.” These steps laid the groundwork for Wilkes’s expulsion from the House of Commons on Jan. 19, 1764. His trial for libel in the Court of King’s Bench, Feb. 21, 1764, resulted in his conviction in absentia (he had fled to Paris on Dec. 24, 1763) and his outlawry on Nov. 1, 1764. Robert Rea, The English Press in Politics, 1760–1774 (Lincoln, Neb., 1963), chap. 5.

5In BF’s Memorandum Book, 1757–1776 (above, VII, 167–8), there is an entry, undated but immediately following one of Feb. 11, 1764, recording the receipt of a letter from Sargent (almost certainly this one), stating that BF had £1654 5s. 11d. on deposit with Sargent Aufrere.

6It would appear from this and other letters that WF’s friends in England feared for his governorship, now that Lord Bute, during whose ministry he had been appointed, was out of office and highly unpopular.

7For Col. William Deane, see above, VII, 321 n.

8See below, pp. 369–70.

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