Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Vaughan, 15 June 1780

To Benjamin Vaughan

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, June 15. 1780.

Dear Sir

I received duly the large Parcel of Letters and Papers you favoured me with by Mr. Austin, to which I shall when I can get a little time, answer particularly.4 I received also a Box, containing 12 of the 4tos. and 4 of the 8vos. in boards, with the spanish Dictionary and Grammar,5 and I think some Pamphlets. A bound 4to. is also come to hand, I know not whether from you or some other friend, but suppose it from you. I have given most of these away to friends here who have presented me with their Works; and I wish to have another Dozen half 8vos. and half 4tos.—and to know what Number was printed, and whether they are likely to sell, for I should be sorry that M. Johnson were a Loser.6

I can now only answer yours of the 2d. Instant relating to Ld. Tankerville’s Affair, which you represent as pressing.7 If his past Conduct has been as you intimate, it will undoubtedly have weight on Occasion. I know nothing of the Existence of the Law you mention. The Congress make no Laws, and each State gouverns its particular Affairs by its own internal Laws which rarely come to my hands here. I think an Attorney or Attorneys Should be appointed, to sollicit if necessary, and transact the Business. A Memorial to the Congress would be improper; it must be (if such a thing is found necessary) to the Government of Virginia. I have not time just now to look for the Papers you formerly sent me relating to this Business; but I will peruse them, and If then any thing occurs to me worth while, I will mention it to you. Remember me affectionately to your father and the good family to Drs. P and P. and present my Respects to L.S8 if you think they may be acceptable. I just now hear, that the Mob have burnt several Houses of the Ministers. If they went no farther, I should be less concern’d at their Extravagancies; as such a Taste of fire may make those Gentlemen sensible of the Wanton malice with which they have encouraged the Burning of Poor People’s Houses in America!— Mr. S. Wharton, lately here gave me for you a Copy of one of my Letters to him, which he says he show’d to some of the Ministry as soon as he receiv’d it, But they were incapable of being the better for any Warning. I send it you inclos’d and am ever my dear friend. Yours most affectionately.

Mr: Benja. Vaughan.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See Vaughan’s letter of April 23.

5BF’s accounts record a purchase of a Spanish dictionary and grammar during the previous months: XXXI, 5.

6Vaughan’s edition of BF’s writings had been published by Joseph Johnson the preceding December. It was available in quarto and octavo volumes: XXXI, 211.

7Vaughan’s letter of the 2nd is missing. The case may have involved the estate of Charles Bennett, third earl of Tankerville. He inherited in 1755 extensive holdings in Virginia from his mother’s first cousin John Colvill, although they were severely encumbered with debt. Tankerville himself died in 1767, apparently leaving most or all of his Colvill inheritance to his younger son Henry Bennett: W. W. Abbot, Dorothy Twohig, et al., eds., The Papers of George Washington: Confederation Series (4 vols. to date, Charlottesville and London, 1992–), I, 66n. Washington, who had been an executor of the will of John Colvill’s brother Thomas, declined a 1783 request from Charles Bennett, fourth earl of Tankerville, to take a further part in the matter: ibid, 65, 66n. We find no evidence in BF’s papers that he played any role either.

8Drs. Priestley and Price and Lord Shelburne.

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