Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Wright, 19 April 1782

From John Wright7

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

London 19th of 4th mo (April) 1782

Dear Friend

I embrace with Satisfaction the opportunity which offers of writing to thee whom for many years I have been used to consider as a valuable sincere friend to myself in particular and to mankind in general and have often regretted the Cause of thy Seperation the unhappy cause which has so long deprived this once happy & beloved Country of thy presence assistance & advice. But I trouble thee now chiefly to beg leave to introduce to thy notice the bearer William Rawle8 Son of the late Francis Rawle of Philadelphia9 who has been here to finish his Studies & is returning home to whom I doubt not thy giving thy kind countenance & protection.

Suppose thou mayst have heard that our old ffrds Brown Collinson & Trittons House have failed to the surprise & Injury of many though our house is happily quite Clear. Its yet uncertain how their affairs will turn out— Hope thou hast no Concern but if thou hast I beg leave to tender our service to exhibit the proof of Debt &c. James Brown the son of Hinton Brown has been deceased abot. 12 mos. so my poor relation Ths. Collinson & his nephew Tritton Grandson of Hinton are left to endure the Storm of affliction & trouble.1 T. C. brot. a hansome fortune with him to that House which with all that the House was once or was supposed possessed of is sunk & gone through some unaccountable Conduct owing principally it seems to the Credulity & weakness of the late James Brown in trusting people with unwarrantable sums particularly one House viz Rabone & Crinzo’s for £140.000 who stopped on the 6th. & that obliged them to Stop on the 7th. Ultimo2 So much for this unpleasant subject.

As to publick matters they wear a more agreable aspect It is thought. The new ministry appear determined to proceed on true Constitutional principles & the K—— seem most cordially to enter into the Idea which I hope Will have the most salutary effects & that peace & prosperity may in due time insue.

I trust in thy former indulgence to excuse this freedom & if there is any impropriety in writing after this manner under present circumstances it may not be deemed impertinent but rather attributd. to want of knowledge. I should esteem a letter a favr from thee & also to receive thy Commands but permit me to say that seeing thee here again would afford the highest satisfaction & pleasure to abundance of thy ffrds as well in the highest as lower departments of life and to None more than to me in particular who am with great Esteem Thy Respectful Friend

John Wright

Dr. Benjamin Franklin

Addressed: Dr. Benjamin Franklin / at / Paris / per favr. of William Rawle

Endorsed: Hotel de Montgomery Rue de Colombier3

Notation: John Wright, London 19. April 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF’s former banker and friend, member of the London firm Smith, Wright & Gray: X, 350–1; XI, 179–80.

8Rawle (1759–1836), born into a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family, fled with his Loyalist stepfather, Samuel Shoemaker, to New York City in 1778, where he began studying law. He sailed to England in the summer of 1781 and continued legal studies at the Middle Temple, London. After returning to Philadelphia in 1783 he was admitted to the bar. He became a member of the APS in 1786 and later joined the state legislature. BF arranged for his membership in the Society for Political Inquiries, and in 1787 Rawle was named a counselor of the Pa. Abolition Society of which BF was president. In 1791, George Washington appointed him American attorney for Pennsylvania. Rawle was indirectly responsible for preserving what sections survive of BF’s “Plan of Conduct” (I, 99). DAB; William B. Rawle, “Laurel Hill and Some Colonial Dames Who Once Lived There,” PMHB, XXXV (1911), 389–90, 392–4.

9Francis Rawle (1729–1761) was a prosperous Quaker merchant and generous contributor to the Pennsylvania Hospital. Shortly before his death, he was named a director of the Philadelphia Contributionship: Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Patriot-Improvers: Biographical Sketches of Members of the American Philosophical Society (2 vols. to date, Philadelphia, 1997–), I, 203–5.

1BF had last drawn on this London firm in 1780: XXXI, 360. James Brown had died on Feb. 16, 1781, leaving Thomas Collinson and John Henry Tritton: Gent. Mag., LI (1781), 95.

2The bankruptcies of Brown & Collinson and of William Rabone and Lewis Benjamin Crinsoz of Thames Street were announced in the May, 1782, issue of the Gent. Mag. (p. 264).

3Where Rawle was staying. The street is now known as rue du Vieux-Colombier: Hillairet, Rues de Paris, II, 642. Rawle arrived in Paris on April 30 and stayed until May 8, when BF issued him a passport (below): Journal of William Rawle, Hist. Soc. of Pa.

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