Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lord Bessborough, 16 March 1775

To Lord Bessborough1

AL: Yale University Library

Cravenstreet Mar. 16. 75.

Dr. Franklin presents his respectful Compliments to Lord Bessborough, with Thanks for the obliging Invitation, which he should embrace with Pleasure, but that he expects to be at Sea on that Day in his Way to America, being to embark on Sunday next.2 He wishes sincerely to Lord Bessborough every kind of Felicity, and shall always retain a grateful Sense of the many Favours and Civilities his Lordship has conferr’d on him during his Residence in England.

Addressed: Lord Bessborough

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin

Addressed: To / The Right honourable Lord Besborough / Cavendish Square

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin.

1An Anglo-Irish peer, who on BF’s first meeting with him in 1760 had been one of the postmasters general: above, IX, 118 n, 179. We have no evidence that they had been in touch for the past decade. Bessborough was in opposition with Rockingham, and the deepening crisis may have produced the invitation that BF is declining.

2Sunday was the 19th, and BF did not actually leave town until the 20th: above, VII, 168. He apparently wanted unencumbered time on the eve of departure to be with an old friend. “The last day that he spent in England, having given out that he should leave London the day before,” Joseph Priestley wrote years later, “we passed together, without any other company; and much of the time was employed in reading American newspapers, especially accounts of the reception which the ’Boston Port Bill,’ met with in America; and as he read the addresses to the inhabitants of Boston, from the places in the neighbourhood, the tears trickled down his cheeks.” Jack Lindsay, ed., The Autobiography of Joseph Priestley (Bath, [1970]), p. 117.

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