Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 17 June 1767

To Mary Stevenson

ALS: Yale University Library

Cravenstreet, June 17. 1767

We were greatly disappointed yesterday that we had not the Pleasure, promis’d us, of our dear Polly’s Company.

Your good Mother would have me write a Line in Answer to your Letter.8 A Muse, you must know, visited me this Morning! I see you are surpriz’d, as I was. I never saw one before. And shall never see another. So I took the Opportunity of her Help to put the Answer into Verse, because I was some Verse in your Debt ever since you sent me the last Pair of Garters.9 This Muse appear’d to be no Housewife. I suppose few of them are. She was drest (if the Expression is allowable) in an Undress; a kind of slatternly Negligée, neither neat and clean nor well-made; and she has given the same sort of Dress to my Piece. On reviewing it I would have reform’d the Lines, and made them all of a Length, as I am told Lines ought to be; but I find I can’t lengthen the short ones without stretching them on the Rack, and I think it would be equally cruel to cut off any Part of the long ones. Besides, the Superfluity of these make up for the Deficiency of those; and so, from a Principle of Justice, I leave them at full Length, that I may give you, at least in one Sense of the Word, good Measure. Adieu, my dear good Girl, and believe me ever Your affectionate faithful Friend

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Miss Stevenson / at Mrs. Tickell’s / Church Lane / Kensington

Endorsed: June 17–67

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Not found.

9For BF’s answer in verse, see above, pp. 187–8. It appears to have been Polly’s custom to accompany with a few lines of verse any small gift of her own creation that she sent him. For the lines she sent him at Christmas 1769 with her present of a pair of ruffles, see Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., “‘All Clear Sunshine’: New Letters of Franklin and Mary Stevenson Hewson,” APS Proc., c (1956), 528. For the garters she was accustomed to knit for him, see above, VII, 381–2.

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