Benjamin Franklin Papers

Richard Bache to Deborah Franklin, 3 December 1771

Richard Bache to Deborah Franklin

Transcript1: Yale University Library

London, 3d December, 1771.

Dear and honored Madam,

This is a pleasure I have not done myself, since my arrival in England;2 I have waited for an event, which, I know, as it is interesting to me is so to you—I mean the reception I should meet with from my father. I can now, with great satisfaction tell you, that he received me with open arms, and with a degree of affection that I did not expect to be made sensible of at our first meeting.3 We met at Preston, and I thought this a lucky circumstance, as it was amongst my friends and relations. He stayed two days at my mother’s house, and from thence we came up to London together. We were made happy upon our arrival here, by letters from you and Sally, informing us you were all well the 16th October. I am under many obligations to good Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Hewson her daughter, for the favourable impressions they have endeavoured to make on him in my behalf by their several letters to him, during the time he was in Ireland and Scotland. Besides, I shall ever honor and esteem the good old Lady for the kind and friendly reception she gave me on my coming first to England: had I been her son, she could not have received me with more cordiality, or treated me with more kindness. I must now say something to you about her grandson, who is a great favorite with us all;4 I often nurse him, and entertain him as I used to entertain Ben; and I really think the lower part of his face something like Ben’s: It is not difficult, when I have him on my knee, to imagine I have got Ben, for he is a fine, lusty, lively fellow, and seems very fond of me. At Preston one of my sisters took my profile, which was hung up in the parlour: several of my friends coming in were asked whom they thought it like, one and all agreed it was like my father, and was generally thought to be intended for his:5 this circumstance confirms your opinion of my being like him, and is not a little pleasing to me, for I should be glad to be like him in any respect.

My mother and sisters desire to be affectionately remembered to you; they really love you as does, dear Madam, your dutiful and affectionate son and very humble servant

Richd Bache.

Addressed: To Mrs. Franklin / Philadelphia.

1It appears to be in the handwriting of William J. Duane, Sally Bache’s son-in-law and the son of BF’s editor. Some one else has corrected in the margin a few obvious errors in transcription, and we have silently incorporated these alterations.

2How Bache got to England and where he went after his arrival are not entirely clear. He was in Jamaica in early March; he then returned briefly to Philadelphia, for Sally tried and failed to get him to take her with him to England. Bache to DF, March 6 (APS); WF to BF above, Aug. 3. Bache must have reached London by early October, for he spent some time there en route to the north, as the end of this letter makes clear, and was in Preston before the month was out. Polly Hewson to BF above, Oct. 31. According to one account, BF received in Edinburgh a note from Bache that made him cut short his Scottish tour and hurry to Preston to meet his son-in-law, whom he found suffering from a leg injury incurred during the voyage from America to Liverpool. Nolan, Franklin in Scotland and Ireland, pp. 198–9, 206. The author gives no evidence, and we can corroborate none of his story except that BF stayed at Preston and that Bache had somehow hurt his leg; see the preceding document.

3This was a momentous occasion. BF had disapproved of Richard’s and Sally’s marrying when they did, in October, 1767; in the four intervening years he had corresponded little with his son-in-law, who was understandably nervous about meeting him. Sally shared the nervousness. “I trust you met with an agreable reception from Papa,” she wrote him the day before his letter to DF. “I am indeed anxious to hear, if it should not be as cordial as I could wish at first yet I know when you consider it is my Father, your goodness to, and afection for me, will make you try a little to gain his esteem and Friendship, but I need not tell my dearest Lad how much happier I should be to hear he had receiv’d you with afection.” APS.

4William Hewson, born the preceding April.

5Bache clearly means BF, not his own father.

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