To Thomas Life
Extract: Papers of the Earl of Dartmouth deposited in the Staffordshire County Record Office
Philadelphia June 5. 1775.
I have just received your Favor of April 5. giving me an Account of the Progress of my Suit.5 I called at your House just before I came away to settle Matters with You, and it was no small Disappointment to me that I did not meet with You. I did then propose returning in October, but I find Things here in such a Situation, that I now think it not likely I shall ever again see England, Hostilities being commenced by General Gage against America, and a Civil War begun, which I have no Chance of living to see the End of, being 70. Years of Age: So it seems not worth while to proceed in the Appeal to the House of Lords; especially as from the Troubles in New England, I am not likely to receive any Reimbursement of the Expence.6 I have already written to You, that upon Sight of Your Bill I shall punctually discharge it; And I desire You to withdraw the Petition.
Extract. To Thomas Life Esqr.
Docketed: Philadelphia, June 5. 1775 Extract of a Letter from Dr. Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Life Esqr.
5. For developments in William Whately’s Chancery suit against BF see the headnote above, XXI, 200–1. Life’s letter, now missing, is summarized in his accounts; it reported an order from the Lord Chancellor on the argument over the exceptions that BF’s counsel had made to the report of the Master in Chancery. The matter came before the court on March 27, and the final argument was held on June 14: Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., LVI (1922–23), 111; Chancery Decrees and Orders, C 33/444/380, Public Record Office.
6. BF by this time could not have returned to England without facing arrest, and an appeal to the House of Lords would have temporarily precluded that danger; see the headnote just cited. BF’s pessimism about being repaid turned out to be unwarranted; see the action of the Mass. House and Council below, Oct. 23, 1775.