Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Cadwalader Evans, 15 March 1765

From Cadwalader Evans5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philadia. March 15th. 1765

Dear Sir.

A Vessel from Ireland to New York brought us the most agreeable news of your safe arrival in London the 13th. of Decemr.,6 which occassion’d as great and general a Joy in Pensylvania, among those, whose esteem an honest man woud value most, and as much to the confusion of the rest, as ever I saw; The Bells rang, on that Account till near midnight, Libations were poured out for your Health, success and every other happiness; tho like certain Priests, we drank the Wine instead of the Person it seemed to be intended for—even your old friend Hugh Roberts, staid with us till 11 oclock, which you know was a little out of his common road, and gave us many curious anecdotes, within the compass of your forty years acquaintance.7

Dr. Thos. Bond’s tedious indisposition, has occassioned the whole care of the Hospital to fall on me,8 which together with attendance on my Mother, loaded with age, and infirmities, every week, thro a great part of the Winter, has prevented my writing to you sooner, but as many of your friends have wrote often, and very particularly, I hope you have not wanted any necessary, or entertaining intelligence that coud be sent from Pensylvania.

Relying partly on that, at present, I shall briefly observe, that our Enemies, by unparalled falsehoods, most malignantly propogated, endeavoured to wound us every way they coud; contrary to all rules, of every kind of War, established by the civilized part of mankind. And as they cou’d not be drawn to a trial of skill in fair open fight, it was thought Justifieable to attack them in their own way, with Tomhawk, scalping knife, chewed bullets, or any other barbarous weapons they shoud use.9 Mr. Hughes in his reply, to the answerer of his advertisement, began the encounter; The exercises at scurrility Hall followed; and Jack Retort by belabouring the Giant General,1 rendered the Victory as compleat as we cou’d wish. They have been tollerable quiet ever since; the Giant, confining himself almost intirely to his Castle, not dining with the Court or going to the Coffee House as usual; and the poisoner of Characters,2 is wasted away to a skeleton; looking one side, and t’other as if he thought, Justice was in persuit of him for Treason or Rebellion.

The Inhabitants of Cumberland County, about ten days agoe were Guilty of another act of Rebellion.3 A Copy of the letter from Mr. Callender, with Affidavits to support it, will be transmitted to you by this Ship, giving a full account of the whole affair. We think this matter, as necessary, will have considerable weight towards effecting a change of Government; or rather of procuring us some Government, instead of Anarchy. A report has sprung from third street,4 that the Proprietor had, at length, yeilded to the importunity of the Pomfret Family, to sell this Government to the Crown, for a Peerage and £100,000 sterling.5 I am not anxious about the terms, if the end is obtained. I wou’d request you to make my compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Strahan were I not ashamed, they shoud recollect my ingratitude in not acknowleging, at least, the civilities received at their hands.6 I hope, next time, to have leisure to write you a more digested letter, but you cannot receive sincerer wishes for your Health, Happiness and speedy return to Philadelphia. I am Your Affectionate friend and Humble Servant

C: Evans.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5A Philadelphia physician; see above, VII, 287 n. Gov. John Penn, writing to Thomas Penn, Oct. 20, 1764, listed BF’s chief political associates and included “a Dr. Evans who is good for nothing.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

6Pa. Gaz., March 14, 1765, reported this news as having been received by the New York post.

7Celebration of the news of BF’s safe arrival in England was not confined to his closest friends. Governor Penn wrote Thomas Penn, March 16, 1765: “The News of his Arrival in England was received here with great Joy by his Friends. The bells rung almost all night and the whole town seemed to be in motion upon it, especially the Quaker part of it; they ran about like mad men to acquaint such of their crew of the joyfull Tidings as they imagined had not heard it before. People as they met in the street shook hands and wished one another Joy upon this great event. I don’t believe these people would have shewn half as much joy at the most signal victory gained in time of war.” Penn Papers, Hist. Soc. Pa.

8Dr. Thomas Bond had been one of the principal founders of the Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751; above, II, 240 n; IV, 108–11. Evans became a member of the staff in 1759.

9For a summary of the newspaper controversy following the anonymous publication of William Smith’s Answer to Mr. Franklin’s Remarks on Dec. 7, 1764, see above, XI, 487–8. Although the last of those letters in the newspapers appeared on January 10, a series of pamphlets, generally attributed to Isaac Hunt, was published during the next several weeks. The first and most important of these, aimed principally at William Allen, was A Humble Attempt at Scurrility, In Imitation of Those Great Masters of the Art, The Rev. Dr. S--th; the Rev. Dr. Al----n; the Rev. Mr. Ew-n; the Irreverend D. J. D-ve, and the Heroic J--n D-------n, Esq; Being a Full Answer to the Observations on Mr. H----s’s Advertisement. By Jack Retort, Student in Scurrility. Quilsylvania: Printed 1765 (Evans 10014). The proprietary writers indicated were: William Smith, Francis Alison, John Ewing, David James Dove, and John Dickinson. The writer of the advertisement referred to in the title was John Hughes. This pamphlet was followed by eight shorter Exercises in Scurrility Hall (Evans 10015–22). The level of personal attack in these writings was at least as low as that of anything which had appeared during the election campaign of 1764; see above, XI, pp. 369–90.

1William Allen.

2Which of the proprietary writers is meant here is not certain, probably either William Smith or David James Dove was intended.

3For the attack on a wagon train of traders’ goods on its way to Fort Pitt, see below, pp. 92–3 n.

4Upon his arrival in the colony in the fall of 1763, Governor John Penn appears to have occupied a house on Third Street belonging to Samuel Powel, then in England. George Roberts to Samuel Powel, Nov. 5, 1763, PMHB, XVIII (1894), 38.

5Thomas Penn had married in 1751 Lady Juliana Fermor, daughter of Thomas, 1st Earl of Pomfret. Rumors were circulating during the winter and early spring of 1765 that all remaining proprietary interests in the colonies were about to be bought out through action of Parliament, but these reports were later denied. London Chron., Jan. 24–26, Feb. 28-March 2, 1765; Pa. Gaz., April 18, 1765; below, p. 115.

6Evans had probably met the Strahans in London or Edinburgh while he was in Great Britain as a medical student.

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