Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Georgiana Shipley, 2 October 1782

From Georgiana Shipley

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Chilbolton Octber the 2d 1782

My dear Sir,

Altho: you will very lately have heard from my father,4 I have too much pride as well as pleasure in the correspondence to relinquish my part of it; the difficulty of finding a safe conveyance for my letter can alone induce me to be silent.

We had the pleasure of breakfasting with Dr Priestley on our return out of Wales, he has an exceeding pretty house 1 mile from Birmingham & appears as happy & comfortable as possible, he is pleased with his situation & lives chiefly with a society of ingenious sensible men who reside at Birmingham;5 but I believe his happiness proceeds from that cheerful temper of mind, which inclines him to see only la belle jambe,6 & which is the greatest blessing any one can possess. Our good friend Doctor Price has had an ugly accident from a kick of a horse on his ankle-bone. This has confined him a considerable time & deprived us of the pleasure of seeing him at Chilbolton—we expect Mr Jones next week, from him I hope to hear many satisfactory particulars of our much honor’d & esteemed friend, whom he so lately has had the happiness of visiting. I do not find Lord Shelburne has decided, whether he shall remain in England or be employed in a judicial capacity in the East-indies, I own, I wish the former, as I am of opinion Lord Shelburne can not do wiser, than strengthen himself by the assistance of such men—7 as for politics, you possibly at Paris may know more of the measures intended to be pursued, than we do at Chilboton, where we live extremely retired & hear little of what passes dessous les Cartes.8 I see, by the papers, the arrival of Gov: Franklin,9 had he been deserving of [torn: you?], how happy should we have been to have shewn him every mark of friendship & regard, [as] it is, I feel angry he should bear a name, I have long learned to love and respect.

Although I have declared my intention of not relinquishing the correspondence, I see no good excuse for engaging more of your time, than is sufficient to assure you, how highly we continue to think of our good Doctor Franklin & with how much warmth and sincerety we pray for that happy day, which shall restore you to England & to those friends, who have long known the misfortune of losing a society so dear to them. Adieu, my dear Sir, & believe me with great respect Your affecate & obliged

G: Shipley.

Addressed: Dr Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Jonathan Shipley wrote on Sept. 22, above.

5The Lunar Society, an informal group of scientists, industrialists, and intellectuals who met monthly and shared an interest in the pure and applied sciences: Jenny Uglow, The Lunar Men: the Friends Who Made the Future, 1730–1810 (London, 2002).

6An allusion to “La Belle et la Mauvaise Jambe,” which BF had sent her: XXXIV, 41–6; XXXV, 33.

7William Jones arrived in England on Sept. 9 and for several weeks awaited Shelburne’s commands. When none were forthcoming he arranged a visit to Chilbolton, where he courted Georgiana’s older sister Anna. Garland Cannon, The Life and Mind of Oriental Jones: Sir William Jones, the Father of Modern Linguistics (Cambridge, New York, and Port Chester, N.Y., 1990), pp. 179–83. For Jones’s visit to BF in the summer of 1782 and his aborted plan to sail for America with John Paradise see XXXVII, 529–30, 704–5. See also Jones to BF, Nov. 15, below.

8The “underside of cards” as they lie face down when dealt; an expression meaning that she lacks privileged information.

9WF was widely blamed for the murder of Joshua Huddy, for which see XXXVII, 432n, 482n. Moreover, his Board of Associated Loyalists was in danger of dissolution by Gen. Guy Carleton. Bitter and disillusioned, he sailed from New York on the Roebuck on Aug. 18 and arrived in London on Sept. 24: The London Courant, and Daily Advertiser, Sept. 25, 1782; Sheila L. Skemp, William Franklin: Son of a Patriot, Servant of a King (New York and Oxford, 1990), pp. 257–65; Milton M. Klein and Ronald W. Howard, eds., The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: the New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780–1783 (Cooperstown, 1983), p. 258n.

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