Front Page Titles (by Subject) CXLI: TO MRS. JANE MECOM - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
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CXLI: TO MRS. JANE MECOM - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. III (Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763).
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TO MRS. JANE MECOM
New York, 28 June, 1756.
I received here your letter of extravagant thanks, which puts me in mind of the story of the member of Parliament, who began one of his speeches with saying he thanked God that he was born and bred a Presbyterian; on which another took leave to observe, that the gentleman must needs be of a most grateful disposition, since he was thankful for such very small matters.
You desire me to tell you what I know about Benny’s removal, and the reasons of it. Some time last year, when I returned from a long journey, I found a letter from him, which had been some time unanswered, and it was some considerable time afterwards before I knew of an opportunity to send an answer. I should first have told you, that when I set him up at Antigua, he was to have the use of the printing-house on the same terms with his predecessor, Mr. Smith; that is, allowing me one third part of the profits. After this, finding him diligent and careful, for his encouragement, I relinquished that agreement, and let him know, that as you were removed into a dearer house, if he paid you yearly a certain sum, I forget what it was, towards discharging your rent, and another small sum to me, in sugar and rum for my family use, he need keep no farther accounts of the profits, but should enjoy all the rest himself. I cannot remember what the whole of both payments amounted to, but I think they did not exceed twenty pounds a year.
The truth is, I intended, from the first, to give him that printing-house; but as he was young and inexperienced in the world, I thought it best not to do it immediately, but to keep him a little dependent for a time, to check the flighty unsteadiness of temper, which, on several occasions, he had discovered; and what I received from him, I concluded to lay out in new letters (or types), that, when I should give it to him entirely, it might be worth his acceptance; and if I should die first, I put it in my will, that the letters should be all new cast for him.
This proposal of paying you and me a certain annual sum did not please him; and he wrote to desire I would explicitly tell him how long that annual payment was to continue; whether, on payment of that, all prior demands I had against him, for the arrears of our first agreement, were likewise cancelled; and finally insisted, that I would name a certain sum that I would take for the printing-house, and allow him to pay it off in parts as he could, and then the yearly payments to cease; for, though he had a high esteem for me, yet he loved freedom, and his spirit could not bear dependence on any man, though he were the best man living.
This was the letter, which casually remained, as I said, so long unanswered; at which he took farther offence; and before I could answer it, I received another from him, acquainting me that he had come to a resolution to remove from the Island; that his resolution was fixed, and nothing that could be said to him should move or shake it; and he proposed another person to me, to carry on the business in his room. This was immediately followed by another and a third letter, to the same purpose, all declaring the inflexibility of his determination to leave the Island, but without saying where he proposed to go, or what were his motives. So I wrote him, that I would not attempt to change his resolutions; that I made no objections to his quitting, but wished he had let me know where he was going; that, as to the person he recommended to succeed him, I had kept the office there after Mr. Smith’s decease, in hopes it might be of use to him (Benny). I did not incline to be concerned with any other there. However, if the person would buy it, I named the price; if not, I directed it to be packed up and sent home. All I desired of him was to discharge what he owed to Mr. Strahan, bookseller in London, one of my friends, who had credited him on my recommendation.
By this post I received the enclosed letter, and understand the things are all arrived. I shall be very glad to hear he does better in another place, but I fear he will not for some years be cured of his fickleness, and get fixed to any purpose; however, we must hope for the best, as with this fault he has many good qualities and virtues.
My love to brother and children, and to all that love you. I am, dear sister, your affectionate brother,