Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 14 August 1771

To Deborah Franklin

AL (incomplete): American Philosophical Society

London, Augt. 14. 1771

My dear Child,

I received yours of June 29. per Packet. I am glad to hear of all your Welfares, and that the Pictures, &c. were safe arrived.7 You do not tell me who mounted the great one, nor where you have hung it up. Let me know whether Dr. Bond likes the new one better than the old one; if so, the old one is to be return’d hither to Mr. Wilson, the Painter.8 You may keep the Frame, as it may be wanted for some other Picture there.

I wrote to you the Beginning of last Month to go per Capt. Falconer, and have since been in the Country, am just come to town, and find him still here, and the Letters not gone. He goes however next Saturday. I had written to many of my Friends by him. I spent three Weeks in Hampshire at my Friend the Bishop of St. Asaph’s.9 The Bishop’s Lady knows what Children and Grandchildren I have, their Ages, &c. So when I was to come away on Monday the 12th. in the Morning, she insisted on my staying that one Day longer that we might together keep my Grandson’s Birthday. At Dinner, among other nice Things, we had a Floating Island, which they always particularly have on the Birth Days of any of their own Six Children; who were all but one at Table, where there was also a Clergyman’s Widow now above 100 Years old. The chief Toast of the Day was Master Benjamin Bache, which the venerable old Lady began in a Bumper of Mountain.1 The Bishop’s Lady politely added, and that he may be as good a Man as his Grandfather. I said I hop’d he would be much better. The Bishop, still more complaisant than his Lady, said, We will compound the Matter; and be contented if he should not prove quite so good. This Chitchat is to yourself only, in return for some of yours about your Grandson, and must only be read to Sally, and not spoken of to any body else; for you know how People add and alter silly Stories that they hear, and make them appear ten times more silly. Just while I am writing the Post brings me the enclos’d from the good Bishop, with some Letters of Recommendation for Ireland,2 to see which Country I am to set out next Week with my old Friend and Fellow-Traveller Counsellor Jackson.3 We expect to be absent a Month or Six Weeks. The Bishop’s youngest Daughter, mention’d in his Letter is about 11 Years of Age, and came up with me in the Post Chaise to go to her School.4 Capt. Osborne is not yet arrived here, but is every day expected.5 I hope he will come before I set out, that I may hear from you by him. I desire you will push the Enquiry after the Lancaster Dutchman, and not let [it] sleep and be forgotten.6 I send you per Capt. Falconer a Box of Looking Glasses for the Closet Doors. [The final paragraph is torn vertically; the few remaining words of each line give no clue to the subject.]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Probably the pictures that BF mentioned but did not describe in his letter to WF above, April 20.

8He had evidently not yet received Bond’s letter above, July 6. The old portrait, the second of two by Benjamin Wilson, was a replica of one that BF had ordered for himself in 1759. It displeased him when he saw it on his return to Philadelphia, because of a crackle in the paint, and when he was back in London he said as much to the artist. Wilson agreed to do another gratis if the old one was returned to him. Bond received this new portrait in the summer of 1771; BF had some difficulty in getting the other back, but eventually succeeded. See Charles C. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture (New Haven and London, 1962), pp. 410–11.

9In two visits, one in late June and the other in early August; during the second he began to write his Autobiography.

1The widow was possibly the Mrs. Rickets mentioned in BF to Shipley below, Aug. 15. Mountain is a Malaga wine made of white grapes.

2See the preceding document.

3See Richard Jackson’s note above, under July 27, suggesting that BF join him on the trip.

4See BF to Mrs. Shipley above, Aug. 13.

5The arrival of Peter Osborne, master of the Pa. Packet, was noted in Lloyd’s Evening Post, Aug. 19–21.

6Possibly a debt, mentioned in DF’s missing letter of June 29, left over from the complicated affairs of Samuel Holland, BF’s former journeyman and printer for a time of the Lancastersche Zeitung, who had owed him £25 in 1756. See above, IV, 506–8; V, 198–9. But we cannot guess why this old obligation should have come to life after so many years.

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