Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Georgiana Shipley, 6 May 1781

From Georgiana Shipley

AL: American Philosophical Society

May the 6th 1781

Your dear delightfull letter made me most exceedingly happy;7 particularly your account of yourself as it proves that you are in good spirits & pleased with your present situation. Your dialogue with the Gout is written with your own cheerfull pleasantry & la belle et la mauvaise jambe8 recalls to my mind those happy hours we once past in your society where we were never amused without learning some usefull truth, & where I first acquired a taste pour la conversation badinante et reflechie.

It is long since I have written to my ever-valued friend, but the difficulty I find in conveying my letters safe to Passy is the only motive for my silence, strange that I should be under the necessity of concealing from the world, a correspondence which it is the pride & glory of my heart to maintain.

We have spent three months in London, but leave it to morrow, that we may enjoy the beauties of a late spring at Twyford. My father grows every year fonder of that peacefull retirement, having found his endeavors to serve his Country ineffectual, he yeilds to a torrent which it is no longer in his power to oppose. I will confess, that altho: I love reading & drawing sufficiently never to want amusement in the country, yet I have some few friends in town, from whom I shall part with regret. We live very little in Public, but a great deal with small private societies— they are the charm of life.

I have enquired after Mr Small, but hitherto my enquiries have proved unsuccessfull.9 Sir John Pringle has left London & is gone to reside wholely in Scotland. I fear he is much streightened in his circumstances, he looks ill & is vastly changed from what you remember him.1 Dr Priestley is now on a short visit to his friends in town, I find he is settled much to his satisfaction at Birmingham, where he has the care of a pretty numerous congregation.2 Good Doctor Price calls on us often, & gives us hopes of a visit to Twyford, we value him no less on his own account, than for his steady attachement to our respectable friend.3

The first opportunity we have of sending a parcel to Paris, you may expect all our shades, you flatter us vastly by desiring them as well as by every expression of esteem & affection for a family who know how to value your praise. Mr Jones4 has undertaken the care of this letter, I feel gratefull to him for giving me an opportunity of assuring you, how much I do & ever shall continue to love you.

Notation: Miss G. Shipley May 6. 81.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Probably a letter that is now missing. Georgiana Shipley had already answered BF’s most recent extant one: XXXIV, 346–8, 409–10.

8BF had sent her “Dialogue Entre La Goute et M. F.” and “La Belle et La Mauvaise Jambe”: XXXIV, 11–20, 41–6.

9BF must have asked about his friend Alexander Small, who had returned to London from Minorca (visiting BF on the way): XXXIII, 94n.

1Pringle’s health began to decline in 1778, and he did indeed go to Edinburgh in 1781, intending to remain there permanently. Finding it not to his liking, however, he returned to London and died there in January, 1782: from Richard Price, Jan. 7, 1782 (APS); to Jan Ingenhousz, Oct. 2, 1780–[June 21, 1782] below; DNB.

2Joseph Priestley had moved to Birmingham after his employment with Lord Shelburne was terminated: XXXII, 607; XXXIV, 197–8.

3Richard Price was a friend of the Shipley family as well as of BF: XXIX, 408–9; Price to BF: Nov. 18, 1782. APS.

4William Jones.

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