Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Dorcas Montgomery, 13 September 1781

From Dorcas Montgomery7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

L’Orient Septr. 13th. 1781

Honor’d Sir.

From a Recolection of your former Attention and Kindness, I am induced to Address you and request your advice Respecting the Education of my son, Hes Age’d Eleven Year’s, and has only been taught English—8

Geneva has been recommended as a preferable Place, But at the same time It may be proper to put Him to school some time in the Neighbour-Hood of Paris—

A line of Instruction Sir from you, would be esteemed as a Particular favor for which I shall remain here, till it may be convenient for you to do me that Honor.

Mr. & Mrs. Bache & family were well the 21 July. I had the Inexpressable pleasure of Arriving here 6th. Instant in company with Madame Macarty, where I make my Home,9 who Joins me & my son in Respectful Compliments.— I am Honor’d sir.— Your most Obedt.—

Dorcas Montgomery

Notation: Montgomery: L’orient 7bre. 13. 1781.1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7This is the first extant letter from Mrs. Montgomery, a widow and SB’s old friend, and the first mention of her in almost a decade: XVII, 167n; XIX, 395.

8Robert (1770–1809) was BFB’s oldest friend from Philadelphia. At age seventeen he upset his mother by eloping with Marianne Glegg-Pigott, the daughter of Robert Pigott, a resident of Geneva during BFB’s stay there and one of BF’s correspondents. Not universally esteemed, Montgomery was described by Benjamin Rush as “expensive in his pleasures” but wanting “generosity and charity.” Montgomery, on his death bed, blamed his shortcomings on his neglected education and the fact that “no restraint had ever been laid upon his inclinations, from the early death of his father and his want of obedience to his mother”: XVII, 167n; Claude-Anne Lopez, “A Story of Grandfathers, Fathers, and Sons,” Yale University Library Gazette LIII (1978–79), 184, 188, 194–5; George W. Corner, ed., The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush … (Princeton, 1948), pp. 286–7.

9Mrs. R. Macarty, the wife of William Macarty. BF had been acquainted with her in Canada, and she was joining her husband who earlier that year had settled in Lorient, eventually going into partnership with James Cuming. She carried a letter from SB to WTF that explained why SB had not entrusted her letter to Mrs. Montgomery: they had “had a Quarrel, or to call it by a more decent name, a little sparring, this Winter, which has prevented that Lady from asking for my commands, or even informing me of her going.” See XXII, 413; XXVIII, 206n; XXXIV, 429; SB to WTF, July 17, 1781 (APS); Cuming and Macarty to BF, March 25, 1782 (APS); Jefferson Papers, XII, 604–5; XIV, 679.

1On the verso BF made some arithmetical computations.

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