Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Catherine Macaulay, 8 December 1777

From Catherine Macaulay9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

L’Hotel de Treville Rue Tournon Dec. 8: 1777


I have some affaires which demand my immediat return to England. You are very sensible that the suspenssion of the Habeas Corpus Act subjects me to an immediat imprisonment on any suspicion of my having held a correspondence with your Countrymen on this side the Water. This Sir is the only reason why I did not fix a day to have the honor of seeing you at my own Hotel and why I have not been more forward in availing myself of my present situation to hold converse with my American friends who reside in this Capital.

I am sure Sir that you and every generous American would be exceedingly concerned to hear that my feeble constitution was totaly destroyed by a long imprisonment and to see me fall a sacrifice to the resentment of administration unpitied and unlamented as an impertinent individual who would needs make a bustle where she could not be of the smallest service and especially Sir as I hope the whole tenor of my conduct must have convinced you that I would with pleasure sacrifice my life to be of any real use to the public cause of freedom and that I am now nursing my constitution to enable me to treat largely on our fatal civil wars in the History I am now about.1 I am Sir with a profound respect for your great Qualities as a Statesman Patriot and Phylosopher Your Very Obedient Humble Servant.

Catherine Macaulay

Addressed: To / Dr Francklin

Notation: C Macauly

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Her signature might be read as “McCaulay,” but we adhere to the usual spelling. The famous historian had been living in Bath, where at the end of the summer she contracted such a severe fever that her doctors advised her to go to Nice. Even getting to Paris exhausted her; she decided to stop there for a time and then return home. Horace Walpole had recommended her to Mme. du Deffand, who reported on Dec. 5 that she looked like a specter. Edward W. Harcourt, ed., The Harcourt Papers (12 vols., Oxford, [1880]), VIII, 105–6, 111; Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, VI, 486, 497.

1She never got to the War of Independence. The first volume of her History of England from the Revolution to the Present Time . . . (Bath, 1778) ended long before that; it sold badly and had no sequel.

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