Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Earl of Buchan, 17 March 1783

To the Earl of Buchan

ALS: Yale University Library; press copy of ALS: Library of Congress; copy: Massachusetts Historical Society

Passy, March 17. 1783—

My Lord,

I received the Letter your Lordship did me the honour of writing to me the 18th past, and am oblig’d by your kind Congratulations on the Return of Peace, which I hope will be lasting.

With regard to the Terms on which Lands may be acquired in America, & the Manner of beginning new Settlements on them, I cannot give better Information than may be found in a Book lately printed at London, under some such Title as Letters from a Pensilvanian Farmer, by Hector St. John.1 The only Encouragements we hold out to Strangers, are a good Climate, fertile Soil, wholesome Air, & Water, plenty of Provisions & Fuel, good Pay for Labour, kind Neighbours, good Laws, Liberty, & a hearty Welcome. The rest depends on a Man’s own Industry & Virtue. Lands are cheap, but they must be bought. All Settlements are undertaken at private Expence: The Publick contributes nothing but Defence and Justice.— I should not however expect much Emigration from a Country so much drain’d of Men as yours must have been by the late War; since the more have left it, the more Room & the more Encouragement remains for those who staid at home. But this you can best judge of; and I have long observed of your People, that their Sobriety, Frugality, Industry & Honesty, seldom fail of Success in America, and of procuring them a good Establishment among us.

I do not recollect the Circumstance you are pleas’d to mention of my having sav’d a Citizen at St. Andrews, by giving a Turn to his Disorder; and I am curious to know what the Disorder was, and what the Advice I gave which prov’d so salutary.—2

With great Regard I have the honour to be, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient & most humble Servant

B. Franklin

Rt. honble Earl of Buchan

1St. John de Crèvecœur, Letters from an American Farmer (London, 1782).

2On the copy at the Mass. Hist. Soc., an asterisk inserted here points to the following note, identified as being by the Earl of Buchan, which may have been excerpted from a now-missing reply: “It was a Fever in which Lord Buchan then Lord Cardross lay sick at St. Andrews, & the advice was to abstain from an immense Blister of Spanish flies which Dr. Thomas Simson, brother to the celebrated Mathematician at Glasgow, proposed according to the old System of the Æsculapian Man-killing Monarchs to lay upon the Back of the said Lord Cardross. This Dr. Franklin dissuaded his Father from permitting to be applied.” A shorter version of this note appeared as a footnote when the present letter was published in the Gent. Mag., LXIV (1794), 587. Dr. Simson, who was then Chandos professor of medicine and anatomy at the University of St. Andrews, had been one of the signers of BF’s honorary doctorate from that university: VIII, 278, 280; ODNB.

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