Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Sarah Bache, 7 January 1783

From Sarah Bache

ALS: Yale University Library

Philadelphia Jan 7th: 1783

Dear & Honoured Sir

Yesterday which was your birthday7—and which I allways keep in the most festive Manner in my power—Willy & Eliza invited their Friends to a little dance, and made about sixty young folks, as happy as twas possible for People to be in this World. My children quite in an extacy, even little Deby had her share in the beginning of the evening— I have not the least doubt but they wish Grandpa’s birth day would happen once a week— This will be delivered to you by Major Franks, whom I recommended to you last Year,8 I have given him a memorandom of some things I want, which Mr Bache has desired Mr Williams to pay for,9 if there is any thing that he cannot get in Nantz, I have desired him to call on You. I gave last year a small Memorandom to Mrs Barkly which I requested her to give Mr W: or You, but she went to LOrient. I hear she is to spend the Winter in Paris, I hope you will see her often, she was a real Friend to me, and Mr Barkly as good a little Man as ever lived. I shall write to them by this opportunity—

Last Assembly1 I introduced a God daughter of mine Miss Deby Donaldson,2 she bids fair to be one of our greatest Beauties. Mr Bache would tell you she was one already— I am going this afternoon to sitt with Mrs Francis, who has lost her darling Sister Dolly Stirling, whom you knew and loved.3 Of all my Friends Mrs Francis, is the most attentive when any thing is the matter, in ones gay moments every body is ready and Willing to come, she is not a common acquaintance and I would not neglect her for the world, and have this day refused two very agreable engagements to go to her— Since I began to write I have had the pleasure of a Visit from you—a French Man from on Board the Danie Frigate,4 brought me a minature picture, which he said was drawn by a Lady in Paris from a large one, and sent a Venture by him, he asked eight Gunies, I am no great judge of painting, but I did not think the likeness good, not half so strong as the one the Minister gave me, done with a black lead pencl, by the Young Man who was kill’d by litening—5 You will not I think find fault of the scaricetty or length of my letters, I have began the Year a meer scribler— Mr Bache and the Children join in love with your Afectionate daughter

S Bache

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF was born on Jan. 6 (Old Style), which became Jan. 17 when the calendar was adjusted: I, 3n.

8XXXV, 255. After David Franks returned to America in July, 1782, he was appointed secretary to Jefferson’s mission to France. In late January he accompanied Jefferson from Philadelphia to Baltimore, to await passage, but when Jefferson’s mission was canceled neither one made the voyage. The dispatches they had been given were either distributed back to the writers or given to other couriers: XXXVI, 551n; Morris Papers, VI, 136; VII, 263n, 689; Jefferson Papers, VI, 225–6.

On their trip to Baltimore Franks told Jefferson a story BF had told him about his dealings with “Mr. Z” (Ralph Izard) in Paris. Izard had repeatedly pressed BF to communicate information about the alliance negotiations. BF put him off “as decently as he could.” Finally there came a stream of “intemperate” letters, which BF consigned to a pigeonhole. When Izard arrived in person to angrily demand an answer, BF replied, “I can no more answer this conversation of yours than the several impatient letters you have written me [taking them down from the pigeonhole]. Call on me when you are cool and goodly humoured and I will justify myself to you.” Izard never came again: Jefferson Papers, VI, 226.

9Mariamne Williams assembled the articles during the summer, valued at just over 1,581 l.t., and JW shipped them in mid-August. RB acknowledged receiving the goods on March 7, 1784: JW to RB, July 7 and Aug. 16, 1783; May 7, 1784 (Yale University Library).

1A subscription ball: V, 235. The chevalier de Chastellux described one in his Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782, ed. and trans. Howard C. Rice, Jr. (2 vols., Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963), I, 176–7.

2A Deborah Donaldson married Philip Nicolin in Christ Church in 1785, but we know nothing of her family: “Marriage Record of Christ Church, Philadelphia,” in Pa. Arch., 2nd series, VIII (1890), 82.

3Anne Willing Francis (1733–1812) was the wife of Tench Francis, Jr., a merchant serving as first cashier of the Bank of North America (XIV, 137n, 160n). Her sister Dorothy (Dolly) Willing Stirling (d. 1782) was married to British Navy captain Sir Walter Stirling (IV, 324n). According to their brother Thomas Willing, first president of the Bank of North America, Dolly died in Glasgow, Scotland, having left her London home to visit her daughter. XXXVI, 405n; W. A. Newman Dorland, “The Second Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry,” PMHB, XLIX (1925), 82; Morris Papers, I, 109n; DNB under Sir Walter Stirling; Thomas Willing, “Autobiography of Thomas Willing,” in Thomas W. Balch, Willing Letters and Papers … (Philadelphia, 1922), p. 121.

4The Danaé.

5Lt. Albert-Rémy de Meaux was killed by lightning the previous spring while convalescing at La Luzerne’s residence in Philadelphia: XXXVII, 462; Bodinier, Dictionnaire, under Meaux. We know nothing further about this portrait.

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