Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Vaughan, 31 October 1783

From William Vaughan

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London Oct 31 1783

Dear Sir

From the friendly concern with which you have so frequently interested yourself respecting our family, it will give you some pleasure to learn of their safe arrival at Phia— My father landed severely afflicted with the Gout, the rest of the family were all well and experiencing Mrs. Beache’s hospitality.3 They had been under her roof for some days, but were in a day or two to remove to their own habitation. My sisters write me that Mrs. Beache’s maners & spirits resembled very much Mrs. Priestleys and were their conversation committed to writing that Dr. P. would be sometimes puzzled to find which was not his wife. I shall feel now an additional pleasure whenever I pay Birmingham a visit.

I have been favored with a line from Miss Beckworth which I have been remiss in not communicating sooner to you it is dated July 26th. “If you write to Dr. Franklin I beg my compts. I have two of his grand daughters here tho too young to be on any other footing than as my guests.”4 She had then fourteen young ladies under her care, and expected to compleat her numbers before winter.

My letters from Philadelphia of 14 Sepr advise that “our late proclomation of July 2d5 has given much displeasure, but the supposed injury will be to ourselves.” The history of that Proclomation is well known, and I lament that the Coalition here has given a check to that system which would have followed the peace had the same Administration continued: France seems to have adopted a more liberal policy with respect to her islands.6 Could we in England overcome our narrow ideas on Commerce and open our doors by taking off those fetters to industry we shod: have little to fear from rivalship or petty jealousies. Payne I think says time makes more converts than reason.7

I duly recd Mr W. T. Franklins letter of 26 Sepr. the bill I remitted was intended to have been at Sight had not a mistake been committed by the person who negociated the bill. My brother Saml still continues in Germany.8 Benj: is well and about expecting an addition to his family.9

It is with pleasure I inform you that Dr Price yesterday communicated your description of the Air Balloons to the Club who hope one day or other to see you amongst them again.1 I am to give him a meeting with Mr Jay & Mr Adams. I wish I could form the compleat body of the Corps diplomatique; but as we cannot have your company in person we must be contented with your Portrait2 as our President. Beleive me with the greatest respect & esteem to be Dear Sir Your sincere & obedient humble Servant

Wm Vaughan

Addressed: Dr. B. Franklin / Passy / Paris

Notation: Vaughan Oct. 31. 1783

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The Vaughans arrived in Philadelphia on Sept. 8 and lodged with the Baches: XL, 596, 597.

4Deborah and Elizabeth Bache were aged two and six, respectively: 1, lxiv. For their visit to Sally Beckwith’s school in Mount Airy, see SB to BF, Nov. 5.

5The king’s Order in Council prohibiting trade between the British West Indies and the United States in American ships: XL, 289n.

6This may be a reference to the July 23 proclamation by the acting governor of the Windward Islands and the intendant of Martinique granting Americans full privileges in French ports in the West Indies: Courier de l’Europe, XIV (1783), 283.

7Vaughan is quoting the final sentence of the first paragraph of Thomas Paine’s introduction to Common Sense (Philadelphia, 1776).

8The bill of exchange was payment for BF’S advances to Samuel Vaughan, Jr., who left Paris for Germany around the beginning of June bearing a letter of recommendation from BF and possibly also a passport. William Vaughan sent the bill of exchange to WTF on Aug. 8; see Grand to BF, Sept. 29, above.

9The wife of William’s brother Benjamin gave birth on Nov. 5; see BF to Benjamin Vaughan, Oct. 8.

1The previous day was a Thursday, when the fortnightly meetings of the Club of Honest Whigs took place: Verner W. Crane, “The Club of Honest Whigs: Friends of Science and Liberty,” W&MQ, 3rd. ser., XXIII (1966), 210. Price may have read BF’S letter of Sept. 16.

2William Vaughan owned the portrait of BF described in Sellers, Franklin in Portraiture, p. 422. It is thought to have been painted by Joseph Wright.

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