Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Ephraim Brown, 15 September 1769

From Ephraim Brown5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Oxford, Sept 15. 1769

Respected Sir

Yours of the 13th lies before me. I am oblig’d to you for your offer of the loan of three Guineas, and have drawn on you payable to Wm. Jackson on order.6 I don’t know what to think of your excessive temperance in my case. I am of opinion if a hearty man get a bad cold, to drive it away by abstinance, is very right; but a person in my Condition requires many nourishing things to keep Soul and Body together. I have lived very temperately myself all the Summer, and now taste hardly any thing but Spoon Meats; nor has it been (I believe) intemperance that has brought me in this way. In my last I told you I should be glad to get to London, as soon as I got a little better that I could travel; there I think I might be much better off, as perhaps I could get into a Hospital but here there is no such thing. Pray let me have your advice in that, and I would come even in a waggon if I could get one soft loaded, if it would be of service to me. If I do come it must be very soon, for my three Guineas wont last long when my Doctor’s Bill is paid. [I forgot to mention when I wrote that I had not paid the Apothecary.]7 Dr. Fowlkes is reckoned a very skilful man, and they say he has performed many Cures in my way, and he tells me he has very little doubt but he will set me to rights soon. But I almost want faith.8 I remain your very obliged humble Servant

E Brown

N.B. I am better to-day than I have been this Week past.

Addressed: To / Dr Franklin / Craven-street / Strand / London

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5The adopted son of BF’s dead brother, Peter; see above, XII, 78 n.

6Little is known about the closing years of Brown’s life, which were spent in England. After BF had offered to find him work in London, and David Hall had given him letters to William Strahan, he sailed from America on Jan. 12, 1767, for Dublin, where he arrived in early March and was detained by illness; he reached London, nevertheless, in early April, and soon afterward entered Strahan’s employ. XIII, 390; XIV, 5, 100. He later moved to Oxford, as this letter makes clear, and presumably worked for William Jackson. The latter was a printer in Oxford from 1753 to 1795: H. R. Plomer et al., A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1726 to 1775 (Oxford, 1932), p. 138. During Brown’s illness at Oxford BF lent him money from time to time, to a total of £27 16s. 6d.: BF to W. J. Mickle below, Feb. 15, 1770.

7Brackets are in the original. The apothecary’s name was Stevens, and he tried hard to get full payment: ibid.

8He had reason to lack faith. Dr. Fowlkes (perhaps John Foulkes, M.D. Oxon., 1754) did not set him to rights, and he died late in the autumn; BF’s Jour. has an entry under Dec. 3, 1769, of £25s. for Brown’s funeral expenses.

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