Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Fothergill, 19 June 1780

To John Fothergill

Reprinted from William Temple Franklin, ed., Private Correspondence of Benjamin Franklin (2 vols., London, 1817), I, 64–5.

Passy, June 19, 1780.

My dear old friend, Dr. Fothergill, may assure Lady H. of my respects, and of any service in my power to render her, or her affairs in America. I believe matters in Georgia cannot much longer continue in their present situation, but will return to that state in which they were when her property, and that of our common friend G. W. received the protection she acknowledges.8

I rejoiced most sincerely to hear of your recovery from the dangerous illness by which I lost my very valuable friend P. Collinson. As I am sometimes apprehensive of the same disorder, I wish to know the means that were used and succeeded in your case; and shall be exceedingly obliged to you for communicating them when you can do it conveniently.9

Be pleased to remember me respectfully to your good sister, and to our worthy friend David Barclay, who I make no doubt laments with you and me, that the true pains we took together to prevent all this horrible mischief proved ineffectual.1

I am ever, Your’s most affectionately,

B. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The letter from Fothergill that prompted BF’s reply is missing. “Lady H.,” Selina Shirley, Countess of Huntington (1707–1791), was contributing to an orphanage established in Georgia by George Whitefield and had asked Fothergill how it was doing: Betsy C. Corner and Christopher Booth, eds., Chain of Friendship: Selected Letters of Dr. John Fothergill of London, 1735–1780 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), p. 500n; Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, XLVIII, 2, 450–1.

9Collinson had died in 1768 of strangury: XV, 257; Norman G. Brett-James, The Life of Peter Collinson, F.R.S., F.S.A. ([London, 1926]), p. 38. Fothergill’s Oct. 25, 1780, reply to the present letter describes in some detail his urinary tract disorder and the remedies he employed to alleviate it: Corner and Booth, Chain of Friendship, p. 497.

1Fothergill’s sister was probably Ann, who managed his household when BF knew them in London: X, 170. David Barclay had collaborated with Fothergill on the abortive peace negotiations of 1774–75: XXI, 361–8, 541–3, 551–64, 583–8.

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