Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Ross, 11 April 1767

To John Ross

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

London, April 11. 1767

Dear Sir,

I received your Favour of Dec. 8. and Feb. 22. and thank you for the particular Accounts you send me of Affairs on your side the Water, which are very agreable to me to read.8

Here publick Affairs are in great Disorder; a strong Opposition against the Ministry which at the same time is thought not to be well united, and daily Apprehensions of new Changes, make it extreamly difficult to get forward with Business. We must use Patience. This Satisfaction we have, that there is scarce a Man of Weight in or out of the Ministry that has not now a favourable Opinion of the propos’d Change of Government in the Proprietary Colonies; but during the present violent Heats occasion’d by some Conduct of the Assemblies of New York and Boston,9 and which the Opposition aggravate highly in order to distress the Friends of America in the present Ministry, nothing so little interesting to them as our Application can get forward.

Your Messages on the Subject of the Circuit Bill are not yet arriv’d.1 I much want to see them.

I send you a little Essay of an Inscription to the Memory of my departed amiable young Friend, whose Loss I deplore with you most sincerely.2 If it has been long coming to your Hand, I hope that has occasion’d your being furnish’d with another and a better. The Stile is simple and plain, as more proper for such Things than affected ornamental Expression.

I am looking out for a Chariot for you, which I shall send you as soon as possible.3 With great Esteem, I am, Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

Addressed: To / John Ross, Esqr / Philadelphia / per Packet / New York / B Free Franklin

[Draft of Inscription:4]

In Memory of Margaret,
Daughter of
John &  Ross
who deceased  1766
aged 19 Years
Lamented by all that knew her
for all that knew her lov’d her

[In the margin:] The Delight of her Parents & Relations

[Elsewhere on page:] Innocence & Sweetness of Manner Sincerity
Benevolence of Heart
render’d her5

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Neither of these letters from BF’s Philadelphia friend has been found.

9In New York the Assembly had refused to comply with the full requirements of the Quartering Act. In Massachusetts the General Court had passed a bill compensating those who had lost property during the Stamp Act riots, but had added a provision granting general pardon, indemnity, and oblivion to the rioters; above, XII, 340 n. There was almost universal agreement in Great Britain that this addition was a grave usurpation of the King’s sole power of pardon. In Great Britain when such an act of Parliament seemed to be required, the King sent the completed text to the House of Lords and it received its first reading in the Lords and then in the Commons while the members stood with bared heads. Charles Garth to the South Carolina Committee of Correspondence, May 17, 1767, So. Car. Hist. and Gen. Mag., XXIX (1928), 223.

1The bill to require the judges of the Supreme Court to ride circuit in the counties more often; see above, p. 8 n.

2Sally Franklin’s friend, Margaret Ross, had died Aug. 20, 1766; above, XIII, 338 n.

3On Jan. 28, 1768, BF recorded receiving a bill of exchange from Ross for £60 and the next day he recorded paying Nevitt £91 for a “Charriot” for Ross. On July 16, 1770, he entered the receipt of another bill of exchange from Ross, this one for £30. Journal, 1764–1776, pp. 15, 25; Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 2, 14, 29, 35.

4The version BF sent with this letter has not been found, but he used the address page of the note of March 18 from Pomeroys & Hodgkin (above, p. 92) to draft the inscription. Several lines are arranged more or less in the usual style of an epitaph, while on other parts of the page he jotted down notes for possible phraseology.

5The inscription actually appearing on the gravestone in the Church Yard reads very simply: “In memory of/MARGARET/Daughter of John & Elizabeth/ROSS/Who departed August 20th 1766/In her 19th year.” Edward L. Clark, A Record of the Inscriptions on the Tablets and Grave-Stones in the Burial-Grounds of Christ Church, Philadelphia (Phila., 1864), p. 10.

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