Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Hannah Walker, 17 September 1766

From Hannah Walker2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Westbury Sep th 17 1766

Most Dear and Honoured Sir

I received your kind Letter on the 13th with greater joy than I can express and to hear as you with your good Family are all [in] Perfect health and by my Cousins3 account [your?] good Brother it is not to be questioned is [torn] is only to a Better Place which I was sorry [to] hear of your Loss and our Consolation was so g[reat to?] hear from you that I almost was overcome [torn] known of such along journey we need not have [torn] your Silince long but my Cousin would be Poss[torn] Nothing but you was ill. Honoured Sir [torn] your long Silence was because I thought I had [incurred?] your Displeasure upon those things Past4 and [torn] Express the uneasiness I have conceived because [it?] was so against my will and I hope you will Pa[rdon] me for that was the only Reason as I know so [torn] your Incumberance in Business is so great and [torn] do and will observe every word you write to be of [great?] Service to me and I for my Part will always be as frugal and Industrious as it Lies in my Power and [torn] I can assure you with Pleasure that my Hus[band] has followed his Trade closer within this [time?] than ever he had Done before Since I [knew him. I was?] Extreamly Sorry to hear your Loss of Late [torn] will be Providence to Retrieve it again [torn] is and shall be the Hearty Prayers of [torn] Suppleant for the health and Prosper[ity of you?] and yours, which is the Least I can do to so [great a?] Friend and kind Benefactor.

[Torn] only Friend in the world in which my Dependence [torn] Else I must In Eveatibly have Sunk in my Trouble [which?] I could wish you knew what I have gone thro but I hope through Gods mercy and your generous Donation5 to be able to Support my Family in a very [com]fortable manner. Honoured Sir I Humbly [beg] the Favour of your acceptance of a few [torn] hearts and beg mrs. Stevensons acceptance of a little [torn] Loaf of this New Corn if you send John to [the] Oxford Arms in Warick Lane on Friday next.6 My cousin Morris and we are all well I bless God for it and She joyns me with my Husband [in] all joy to hear from you in which She with my [wh]ole Family joyn in begging the acceptance of all [our?] Humble Duties to your self and all your dear Family from your most Humble and most obedient Servant

Hannah Walker

P.S My cousin Morris [my hu]sband and I all joyn in Begging the Favour [of our] Humble compplements7 [torn] She is in good health.

Addressed: To / Benjmin Franklin Esqr. / at Mrs Stevensons in / Craven Street near / the Strand / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The last surviving letter before this one between BF and his first cousin once removed, Mrs. Hannah Farrow Walker (A., was hers of Oct. 21, 1765; above, XII, 337–9. That letter was in part a humble apology for some offense she, or more probably her husband, had committed. Whether BF had replied at that time is not known, but the present letter makes clear that she had been much concerned by a long silence on his part, broken only a few days before she wrote by a letter from him, not now to be found. The ms of the present letter is badly torn along one margin; the resulting loss of words, together with Mrs. Walker’s somewhat difficult handwriting, makes the accurate rendering or interpretation of some passages very doubtful.

3Eleanor Morris (A., first cousin of BF and first cousin once removed of Mrs. Walker, who lived with the Walkers. She is mentioned by name later in this letter. Apparently she had received word, directly or indirectly, of the recent death of BF’s brother Peter.

4Presumably a reference to the matter that incurred her apology the previous October. The sense of this long and confusing passage seems to be that they would not have been so concerned over BF’s long silence had they known of his journey to Germany, but so far as she could know his silence might be due to serious illness or to his continued displeasure over the episode of the previous year.

5In 1759 BF had divided his inheritance of £11 8s. 4d. from a mutual relative equally between Mrs. Ann Farrow (Mrs. Walker’s mother), and Eleanor Morris; above, VIII, 325 n. Obviously he had given Mrs. Walker further financial help, but how much and at what time or times cannot be determined from his financial records.

6Just what these gifts were is not clear; one appears to have been a loaf of some special sort of bread or cake made from grain of the new harvest. BF’s servant John was to pick them up at an inn well known in that century among literary circles, though this fact would hardly have mattered to Mrs. Walker.

7The message was probably intended for Mrs. Stevenson.

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