Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jane Mecom, 23 June 1779

From Jane Mecom

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Warwick June 23d—1779

Dear Brother

As I would not omit writing you by an opertunity which I expect espeshal care will be taken to Deliver, I have complied with a Request made me by Mr Casey whose son I wrot by last fall, in favour of a Mr Elkanah Wattson, Conl. Wattson’s son of Plimoth. I have given him to understand I will Inform you what he says of the young Gentileman (which is that he served an Aprentisship with Mr John Brown of provedence who gives him a very good Charrecter & that His Father is a man of a plentifull Estate) & I tell him if he has merritt He may be able to Recomend Himself.5

I have wrot you many Leters (some of which I hope you have recd) Informing you of Every thing concerning me worthy yr atention, I have not yet recd. a line from you since that by Mr Simeon Dean,6 but bless God I now & then hear of yr helth & Glorious Achievments in the political way, as well as in the favour of the Ladys (“since you have rub’d off the Mechanic Rust and commenced compleat courtier”) who Jonathan Williams writes me clame from you the Tribute of an Embrace & it seemes you do not complane of the Tax as a very grat penance.7

We have Just heard that the Fleet of Transports from France are arived at Baltimore where I hope my Poor unfourtunate son in law Collas is so far saif among them,8 & as I heard Jonathan Williams was coming with them hope for leters from you by Him, we have Grat News of the Defeat of the Britons at Carolina; which we hope is trew but have had no pointed acount of it yet.

God grant this may put a final Stop to these Ravages, my Grandson whome I am with lives where we have frequent alarmes they have come & taken of the stock about 3 quarters of a mile distant & burnt houses a few miles from us, but hitherto we are preserved.

I have as much helth as can be Expected in comon for won of my years & live in a very Pleasant place tho not Grand as I sopose yrs is it gives me grat delight the Famely is kind & courtious; my Grandson is a man of sound sense, & solid Judgment, & I take much Pleasure in his conversation tho he talks but litle, they have won child which they call Sally.9 Govr. Greene & famely are well I had wrot you there Eldest Daughter was married to Govr. Wards Son they have now a fine son, Ray is still at Mr Moodys scool a promising youth.1

I see few persons hear of yr acquaintance which deprives me of much pleasure I used to have in conversing about you but I now & then see somthing in the paper which pleases me in perticular there Placeing you alone in won of the Arches at the Exhibition made on the Aneversary of the French-Trety.2 Mr Casey calls for the Leter & that puts all Els I designed to write out of my mind only to beg to hear perticularly about Temple & Ben & that I am Ever your affectionat sister

Jane Mecom

the Inclosed coppy3 comes to my hand which I send least you should not have recved the other

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5For Silas Casey and his son Wanton, and the letter which the latter carried to BF, see XXVIII, 344–5. Elkanah Watson, Jr. (1758–1842), the future merchant and canal promoter, traveled to Europe carrying dispatches and money for BF at the request of the Brown family, merchants of Providence, R.I. Watson formed a partnership with M. Cossoul in Nantes and may also have had mercantile dealings with JW. See XXVII, 63n; DAB; James B. Hedges, The Browns of Providence Plantations: the Colonial Years (Providence, 1968), pp. 246–54. Watson’s memoirs contain numerous anecdotes about BF’s life in Passy. Winslow C. Watson, ed., Men and Times of the Revolution; or, Memoirs of Elkanah Watson … (New York, 1856).

6Simeon Deane carried several dispatches when he left France in January, 1778 (XXV, 320), and he may have carried BF’s letter of Oct. 5, 1777 (XXV, 28–9).

7Jane Mecom is quoting a story that had been circulating in London and found its way into the American press. An article dated London, July 7, 1778, in the Nov. 10, 1778, issue of The Connecticut Courant and the Weekly Intelligencer (Hartford), for example, reported that

A gentleman just returned from Paris, informs us, that Dr. Franklin has shaken off entirely the mechanical rust, and commenced the compleat courtier. Being lately in the gardens of Versailles, shewing the Queen some electrical experiments, she asked him in a fit of raillery, if he did not dread the fate of Prometheus, who was so severely served for stealing fire from Heaven? “Yes, please your Majesty, (replied old Franklin, with infinite gallantry) if I did not behold a pair of eyes this moment, which have stolen infinitely more fire from Jove than ever I did, pass unpunished, though they do more mischief in a week, than I have done in all my experiments.”

On Oct. 25, BF replied to Mecom that the anecdote was a fabrication, one of many instances of the liberties that English newspapers took with him. Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 198.

8She was still awaiting the return of her son-in-law Peter Collas a month later: Mecom to RB, July 21, 1779, APS.

9Sarah, daughter of Elihu and Jane Flagg Greene (Mecom’s granddaughter), was born on March 16, 1778. Louise Brownell Clarke, comp., The Greenes of Rhode Island … Compiled from the Mss. Of … George Sears Greene (New York, 1903), p. 211.

1Samuel and Phebe Greene Ward’s son was William Greene Ward, born on April 1, 1779. John Ward, A Memoir of Lieut.-Colonel Samuel Ward, … (New York, 1835), p. 17. For Phebe’s brother Ray Greene’s schooling see our annotation of BF to William Greene, above, June 4. Samuel Moody was the proprietor of Dummer’s (now Governor Dummer) Academy. William Greene Roelker, ed., Benjamin Franklin and Catharine Ray Greene: Their Correspondence, 1755–1790 (Philadelphia, 1949), p. 85.

2The exhibition was held in Pluckemin, N.J., but was delayed until Feb. 18, 1779, by Washington’s absence from headquarters. In addition to a dinner and a ball, the celebration included an elaborate fireworks display near a “temple” with thirteen illuminated arches. On each arch was depicted a significant event of American history. The eighth honored the “American Philosopher and Ambassador extracting lightening from the clouds.” The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton), March 3, 1779.

3Not found.

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