Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Franklin, 1 August 1774

To William Franklin

ALS: British Museum

West Wycombe, Augt. 1. 1774

Dear Son,

I have been here with Lord Le Despencer about a Week, for a little Country Air and Exercise. I wrote to you per Capt. Falconer,4 and have nothing to add; but to let you know that I continue very well and hearty.

Methinks ’tis time to think of a Profession for Temple, (who is now upwards of 145) that the remainder of his Education may have some Relation to it. I have thought he may make an expert Lawyer, as he has a good Memory, quick Parts, and ready Elocution. He would certainly make an excellent Painter, having a vast Fondness for Drawing, which he pursues with unwearied Industry, and has made great Proficiency: But I do not find that he thinks of it as a Business. The only Hint of Inclination that he has given, is that of being a Surgeon; but it was slightly mentioned. It is indeed my Wish that he might learn some Art by which he could at any time procure a Subsistence; and after that, if any thing better could be done for him, well and good. But Posts and Places are precarious Dependencies. I would have him a Free-Man. Upon the whole, in my own Opinion, we should turn him to the Law, as a Profession reputable in itself; and as the Knowledge he may gain in that Study, will qualify him for other Employments, and be serviceable to him if he were to be only a mere Gentleman.6

If I return this Year it will probably be in the September Packet: But I begin to have some doubts.7 With Love to Betsey, I am, ever, Your affectionate Father

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4That letter has disappeared; it must have been written after mid-July, for Falconer’s sailing was noted in Lloyd’s Evening Post, July 25–27, 1774. The present letter went to Yorkshire by mistake, and BF remailed it with his to WF below, Sept. 7.

5BF referred again to WTF’s age when he wrote Jane Mecom below, June 17, 1775; we discuss the question there.

6“A competent knowledge of the laws of that society in which we live, is the proper accomplishment of every gentleman. …” Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England … (15th ed.; 4 vols., London, 1809), I, 5. WF concurred in BF’s view, provided WTF first had a year or two of college in New York: to BF below, Dec. 24.

7The doubts were borne out; see BF to Cushing below, Sept. 3.

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