From William Strahan
ALS: American Philosophical Society
London January 23. 1777.
I take the Opportunity of our worthy Friend Mr. Strange5 just to ask you how you do, and to acquaint you that all my Family are in perfect Health, and remember you with great Esteem and Affection, particularly your Wife, who expects, as you are now so near, that you will soon pay her a Visit.6 Sir John Pringle I see often. He is quite well (want of Sleep only excepted, which is a pretty constant Complaint with him) and is as sincerely attached to you as ever.
This is a Letter of Friendship, not of Politicks, therefore I shall not say a Word on the Subject; but only to express my Wish and Hope that Peace, Unity and Happiness may be quickly restored. I have not heard a Word of or from Mr. W. Hall for almost two Years.7 I want sadly to know how his Mother and all the Family are in these turbulent Times; but I know not how to learn, unless you can assist me.
I hear that you saw my Colleague Mr. Ch. Fox frequently. You would find one of the cleverest Fellows of his Years you ever knew in your Life.8 I am, with a lively Remembrance of our old Friendship, Dear Sir Your affectionate humble Servant
Addressed: Dr. Franklin / at / Paris / By Favour of / Mr. Strange
Notation: W. Strahan
5. Undoubtedly the famous engraver, Robert Strange (1721–92). He had been angered by his exclusion from the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, and had been involved in controversies that got under his skin to the point where he moved his family to Paris, apparently late in 1775, and stayed there for five years. James Dennistoun, Memoirs of Sir Robert Strange . . . and of His Brother-in-Law Andrew Lumisden . . . (2 vols., London, 1855), I, 244–5; II, 175–80; see also the DNB. In 1779–83 BF had some correspondence with him and Mrs. Strange.
6. Strahan’s youngest daughter Margaret: above, XVIII, 236.
7. David Hall’s elder son was carrying on the Pa. Gaz.: above, XX, 88. BF answered this inquiry as best he could; an extract of his reply is below, Feb. 4.
8. Charles James Fox was already, at twenty-seven, a prominent member of the opposition. During his visit to Paris at the end of 1776, he later told the House of Commons, BF “honoured me with his intimacy” and discussed the war: Cobbett, Parliamentary History, XXII (1781–82), 514–5.