Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, [8 April 1767]

To William Strahan

ALS: Yale University Library

Wednesday P M [April 8, 17677]

Dear Friend

The Bearer is Mr. Brown of whom I spoke to you formerly. I hope you can, without Inconvenience, afford him some Employment as a Compostor. He will be with me till the Beginning of next Week.

I send one of the Papers, and shall send the other in the Morning.8 If you see any thing in them improper for Publication in your Paper, impute it to my being (as you say) too much of an American, and strike it out: For you being cooler than I on this Occasion, can judge better. I am, tho’ I think you too much an Englishman,9 with much Esteem Your affectionate Friend and humble Servant

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Mention in the first paragraph of Ephraim Brown (the adopted son of BF’s deceased brother Peter), who was staying with BF until the beginning of the next week, establishes the date of this letter. On April 11, 1767, Strahan wrote David Hall: “I have seen Mr. Brown, who comes to work with me next Week, but have not received the Letter you sent me by him, as it is in his Chest, which has not yet come to hand. It seems he was taken ill in Ireland, and detained some time there.” PMHB, X (1886), 232. BF’s letter was therefore written a few days before Saturday, April 11, 1767; and Wednesday of that week was the 8th.

8While it is impossible to say with certainty which of BF’s pieces for the London Chronicle these were, it seems highly probable that at least the paper sent by Brown on the 8th was one of the two that appeared in the issue of April 7–9, 1767, both of which are reprinted here immediately below. Internal evidence shows clearly that in this period the Chronicle did not go to press until noon or later on the day of publication. If the piece BF planned to send “in the Morning” did not reach Strahan in time to be the other one printed in that issue, it was probably the long letter signed “Benevolus” that appeared in the issue of April 9–11, 1767; below, pp. 110–16.

9These sentences contain the first definite indications that BF and Strahan were beginning to part company in their political opinions. By 1770, as Strahan told David Hall, their differences were well marked; PMHB, XI (1887), 357; LX (1936), 478. One wonders, however, whether BF’s remark here that Strahan was “too much an Englishman” may not have been merely a playful dig at his staunchly Scottish friend, not intended to be taken too seriously.

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