Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jane Mecom, 23 February 1769

To Jane Mecom

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, Feb. 23. 1769

Dear Sister,

I have received your kind Letters of Sept. 26. Oct. and Nov. 7.4 That of Sept. 26. is directed to my Wife, but she sent it to me, I suppose that I might see your Opinion of Mr. Bache: I am glad you approve the Choice they have made. I write a few Lines to Mr. Leadly: I cannot say much on that Subject till I see Mr. Foxcroft, whom I now expect daily.5 I am glad Major Small call’d on you. He is a Man I much esteem, as I do his Brother with whom I am intimately acquainted here.6 My best Respects to him.

Your Political Disputes I have no Objection to if they are carried on with tolerable Decency, and do not become outrageously abusive. They make People acquainted with their Rights and the Value of them. But your Squabbles about a Bishop I wish to see speedily ended. They seem to be unnecessary at present, as the Design of sending one is dropt; and if it were not dropt, I cannot think it a matter of such Moment as to be a sufficient Reason for Division among you, when there never was more need of your being united. I do not conceive that “Bishops residing” in America, would either be of such Advantage to Episcopalians, or such Disadvantage to Anti-episcopalians as either seems to imagine.7 Each Party abuses the other, the Profane and the Infidel believe both sides, and enjoy the Fray; the Reputation of Religion in general suffers, and its Enemies are ready to say, not what was said in the primitive Times, Behold how these Christians love one another,8 but, Mark how these Christians HATE one another! Indeed when religious People quarrel about Religion, or hungry People about their Victuals, it looks as if they had not much of either among them.

The Money you sent Mrs. Stevenson by Capt. Foulger came safe to hand.9 You have given no fresh Orders for Goods, or she would have comply’d with them. And she does not care to send any on her own Guess, especially as the late Proceedings here against America, may possibly strengthen the Resolutions of your People against wearing the Trumpery Finery of this Country, and make such Goods as you us’d to write for (if Goods they may be called) unsaleable. But as I had before discharg’d your Account for you, you may look on this Money as so much of yours in her Hands, and order it in what you please.

You will see by the inclos’d that your Town and Province has still some Friends in P——t.1 But their Endeavours have hitherto been attended with little Success. My best Wishes attend you, being ever Your affectionate Brother

B Franklin

P.S. There has lately been a new Edition of my philosophical Papers here. I send Six Copies to you, which I desire you would take care to have delivered as directed.2 There is one for your Trouble.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Only the letter of Nov. 7 has survived: above, XV, 263.

5Hugh Ledlie, a soldier, police officer, and land speculator, often lodged with Jane when in Boston. He was trying to promote a new road from Hartford to Boston. Carl Van Doren, Jane Mecom … (New York, 1950), p. 46, and Franklin-Mecom, p. 108. The road was of obvious interest to the Post Office, and was presumably what BF expected to discuss with Foxcroft when the latter arrived in England on leave.

6Major John Small was with the British troops who had arrived in Boston the previous autumn. His brother Alexander was an army surgeon living in London. Ibid.; above, IX, 110 n; XII, 42 n.

7The campaign for a resident colonial episcopate, which aroused such fears and antagonism in other denominations, was based in part on practical considerations. In the absence of an American bishop all those seeking ordination had to go to England, which not only involved time and expense but also, when the candidates were unknown in London, often precluded careful scrutiny of their qualifications. For an example of what could happen in consequence see the case of George Spencer above, XV, 199 n. The tone of BF’s comments to Jane strengthens the suggestion, implicit in his recommending Spencer, that he paid little attention to the quality of Episcopal clergymen.

8Tertullian, Apologeticus, c. 39.

9For Timothy Folger, the Nantucket ship captain and BF’s first cousin twice removed, see above, XV, 223 n, 246–7.

1BF presumably enclosed a copy of the speech by Thomas Pownall, former governor of Massachusetts, in the House of Commons on Jan. 26. Pownall had the speech privately printed and gave BF some copies; see BF to Galloway below, March 9.

2The fourth edition of Exper. and Obser. One copy was for Harvard, one for John Winthrop, and one for James Bowdoin. Jane’s copy, the only book of hers that has survived, eventually belonged to Carl Van Doren: Franklin-Mecom, p. 108.

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