To Mary Stevenson
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Thursday, Oct. 20. 1768
Last Night your good Mother receiv’d the enclos’d Letters from Mr. T. Henckell, 2 and answer’d him that we should all be happy to have his Company, and appointed him to be at our House in Craven street at ½ after 7 on Saturday morning that we might set out by 8. Our Reason for going so early is, that having the Day before us, we may do our Business and dine in time, so as to be back by Day light.3 There is otherwise Danger of our being benighted, as the Days are now short, and you know I don’t love Travelling in the Dark after a Day of Pleasure, thinking it like a bad Epilogue to a good Play. The Company now is, Mrs. Stevenson and Polly, Dolly4 and Mr. Henckell, Mr. and Mrs. and Miss Wilkes, 5 Dr. Rush, 6 and your affectionate Friend
The above List makes 9. Mr. or Mrs. Viney7 will perhaps join us, but that is not yet certain.
Endorsed: Oct 20 - 68
2. For the multiplicity of Henckells in London, see above, XIV, 275 n. This one may have been the partner in Brownlow, Bate, and Tilman Henckell, of the Old Jewry, which later went bankrupt. Gent. Mag., LIII (1783), 455.
3. Perhaps another visit to the Hawkesworths at Bromley like that in 1764, for which see above, IX, 327–8.
4. Dorothea Blunt, a close friend and cousin of Polly Stevenson; ibid.
5. Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes were undoubtedly John’s brother Israel (1722–1805) and his French wife, the former Elizabeth de Ponthieu, who had been acquaintances of BF for the past two years. Above, XIII, 537; XIV, 141. The Wilkeses subsequently emigrated to the United States and founded the American branch of the family. Miss Wilkes was perhaps Israel’s sister Sarah, an eccentric (DNB under John Wilkes), but more probably an unidentified daughter.
6. Benjamin Rush had arrived in London from Edinburgh in late September; he remained until the following February and then left for Paris. George W. Corner, ed., The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush … ([Princeton], 1948), pp. 52–66.
7. Thomas Viny was a carriage-maker; he and his wife lived in Tenterden, Kent, and were friends of Mrs. Stevenson. This is BF’s first known reference to them; but the earliest surviving letter to him from Viny (Jan. 13, 1770) indicates by its tone that the relationship was already well developed. APS.