Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Hannah Walker, 17 July 1769

From Hannah Walker

ALS: American Philosophcial Society

Westbury July th 17 1769

Most Honoured Sir

I Humbly beg your Pardon for giving you this Trouble but it is to let you know that I have been Extremely ill with an Intermiting Fever for about six weeks. I was fearfull I should never write again and In the Interim it afflicted my spirits very much to think of my offending you so much the Best Friend I Ever had.8 I hope most Honoured Sir I may once more Beg your Humble Pardon and hope their is forgiveness to be found with so good a Person for my Grief is so great to think that Least I had9 from your good hands I had so offended you it Lies Heavier upon my spirits some times than I am well able to bear. Sir it is with tears I most Earnestly Intreat your forgiveness for it would be so Comfortable to me to know you had forgiven me and to know that you wisht me and my Family well most Honoured Sir I take the freedom hoping you will not take it ill to let you know that my goods was restored to me again on the 24 of may only a few odd things as I never used scarce since I came to westbury but f[e]ared to lay then in by Places because we had no room in the House.1 I hope Sir that all your good Family in America are well and your self in good health which are my Daily Prayers for a Blessing upon you and your good Family my Children and I joyn in Begging the acceptance of all air [our] Humble Duties to you and all your Dear Family in America from your most Humble and most obdient Servant

Hannah Walker

Addressed: To / Dr Franklin / att mrs Stevensons in / craven Strait near the / Strand / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The offense was probably squandering money that BF had sent to the Walkers. For this the husband was more culpable than the wife, according to James Payne, the solicitor who had been trying to find them a better house (above, XV, 144 n); Hannah, he said, “heartily laments her imprudence,” and he suggested that BF’s annual contribution be sent in future to her without her husband’s knowledge. “I wish the man felt more distress and the woman less.” Payne to Mrs. Stevenson, Aug. 10, 1769, Franklin Papers, APS.

9Our guess of her meaning is: “that [in return for even the] Least I had,” etc.

1A by-place is a secluded spot, but we cannot unscramble her meaning. Were the “few odd things” the goods that were restored, or some that were not? And who restored them and why? A plausible conjecture is that a bailiff had distrained them, and BF had provided the money to get them released.

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