Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Elizabeth Partridge, 6 December 1781

From Elizabeth Partridge

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Decemr: 6 1781

Ever Hond: & Dear Papah

I have nothing New to write you but presume on your Goodness to Indulge me the Pleasure of Chating to you on Paper, and Teling you I cant Express how happy these Signal Successes of Our Armes has made me;8 as I flatter my Self it will Facilitate your Return, to your Native Country: oh How I enjoy that Pleaising Idea.

I wrote you in my last9 that I Expected to see Aunt Mecom, I have had that Happiness, she was Well, and happy in hearing from you and Receiving such Generous proofs of your affection; She had not heard from you so long, that it gave her great Pain, She left us last Week to Return to her Grand Daughter, with whome, & the dear Babes, she is very happy.1

Our Friend Mrs Green has been in Town, with one of her Daughters, she is Well & Happy in her Growing Family; she has two Fine Grand Sons, she Returned home Yesterday, but left her Daughter with us, who is an Amible Girl.2

Receive dear Sir my Greatfull Acknowledgments for your Resemblance, but I wish it had been Couler’d, as the Pailness of the Countinance gives me Melancholy Idea’s;3 But

I Press’d the dear Image dost up to my Face,

And wished, the Original was in its place.

My Daughter4 presents her most Respectfull Compliments, & Thanks to you for the Kisses, but I see her think she had Reather received them from your Warm Lip’s.

I make no Apology for Recomending to you Mr. Vermonet the Gentleman who will deliver you this Letter,5 as I know you to be, as the Child say’d of Cousin Kazia Coffin when sent to invite her to dine, he had forgot her Name and after Hesitateing a long time he say’s I cant think of her Name but tis that Lady, who is every Body’s Friend. But this Gentleman may prehaps be better known, in France then he is here, for he was brout Up in Paris, and his friends Live near their; he has been several Years in this Country, and has Sustained the Character of a Sober, Honest, Industerous Man, and Capible of Buisness, he Married a fine Girl, a Grand Daughter of the late Coll Downes (who Lived in the next House to my Mama’s) he has two Sweet Babes, and I belive has been Run out of Buisness, by her Fathers being taken of from doing any thing by Sickness; and his haveing him, and his Family in a great Measure to Support: that if you can Render him any Servis, without disserving your Self, I shall Esteem it a favour.

Brothers & Sister desier I would present their affectionate Regards to you, Brother Thomas is on the Verge of Matrimony, with a very Agreeable Widdo. Brother Tuthill Lives Single yet!6 and I beleive will die the half of the Sezars.7

Mr Partridge8 with Our Daughter, joyn in wishing you Health, and every other Blessing with Dear Sir Your affectionate Daughter

Eliza Partridge

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Presumably Partridge is savoring the October surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. She had mentioned the victory in her previous letter of Oct. 28, 1781: XXXV, 663.

9XXXV, 663–4.

1BF had last written his sister Jane on Oct. 25, 1779, but she reported in October, 1781, that the latest letter she had received was dated March, 1779: XXX, 582–4; XXXV, 666. Mecom returned to Warwick, R.I., where she lived with Jane Flagg Greene, her husband Elihu, and their two children, Sarah (Sally) and Franklin. A third child was expected: XXXV, 642n; Carl Van Doren, Jane Mecom: The Favorite Sister of Benjamin Franklin … (New York, 1950), p. 158.

2This daughter of Catharine Greene’s was most likely the unmarried Celia (1762–1796). The grandsons were William Greene (1779–1798) and Samuel (1781–1785), the first two of ten children produced by Catharine’s eldest daughter Phebe (1760–1828) and her husband Samuel Ward (1756–1832): X, 191n; George S. Greene and Louise B. Clarke, comps., The Greenes of Rhode Island (New York, 1903), pp. 175, 287, 293–5; John Ward, A Memoir of Lieut.-Colonel Samuel Ward, First Rhode Island Regiment, Army of the American Revolution; with a Genealogy of the Ward Family (New York, 1875), p. 17.

3Partridge had requested a miniature in October, 1778: XXVII, 622. BF sent this “Resemblance” with his letter of Oct. 11, 1779: XXX, 515. It was probably one of the unglazed porcelain medallions made by the Sèvres factory in 1778, which BF was distributing at the time: Sellers, Franklin in Portraiture, pp. 135, 238, 365–7, plate 12.

4Step-daughter Rebecca: XXXV, 664n.

5Jean-Baptiste-Artur (Arthur) de Vermonnet (Vermonet), born in Caen in 1750, served as a first and second lieutenant in the French service (1768–75). He entered the Continental Army in 1776 and served for three years. Initially an artillery captain, he was promoted to major in September of 1776 and sent by Congress, at Washington’s request, to serve as an engineer under the command of General Gates. According to his memoir, he also played a role in negotiations for Native American neutrality. Vermonnet married in Boston and made plans for a return trip to France. Not long out of port, his ship was chased and forced into St. Domingue. On Sept. 2, 1783, still on the island, he forwarded the present letter to BF along with a letter and memoir of his own. Bodinier, Dictionnaire, pp. 472–3; Heitman, Register of Officers, p. 411; JCC, V, 614, 781; Vermonnet to BF, Sept. 2 (with memoir) and Dec. 10, 1783, and March 15, 1785 (all at the APS).

6For the Hubbart siblings, including sister Susannah (Suckey), see XXXV, 664n. Thomas (married until 1775 to Judith Ray, Catharine Greene’s sister) took as his second wife the wealthy Ann (or Anna) Bigelow of Weston, Mass., on Aug. 5,1784: Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 233; Van Doren, Jane Mecom, p. 171. Partridge’s prediction for Tuthill (VI, 403n) most likely came to pass; he was never inclined towards matrimony, and when he died he left his sizable fortune to his nieces and nephews. Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, pp. 120, 293; Sellers, Franklin in Portraiture, pp. 36–7.

7Throughout his life, BF invoked the two halves of a pair of scissors as an apt metaphor for the complementary nature of husbands and wives: III, 30; XV, 184; XIX, 83–4; BF to John Sargent, Jan. 27, 1783 (APS); BF to Jordain, May 18, 1787 (WTF, Memoirs, II, 103–4).

8Samuel, her husband.

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