Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1757: CXLIX: TO ROBERT CHARLES. 1 - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
Return to Title Page for The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
1757: CXLIX: TO ROBERT CHARLES. 1 - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO ROBERT CHARLES.1
Philadelphia, 1 February, 1757.
By this ship you will receive a box containing sundry copies of our last years’ Votes, to which are added, as you advised, the accounts of the expenditure of the fifty-five thousand pounds, and the subsequent thirty thousand. Also the papers relating to the employing of foreign officers. There is likewise in the box an authenticated copy of our late bill for granting one hundred thousand to the King’s use, and of the vote appointing yourself and Mr. Partridge agents, under the great seal, with all the late messages. You will see in the Votes a copy of the Proprietary Instructions, in which a money bill is made for us by the Proprietary, sitting in his closet at one thousand leagues’ distance.
The governor laid before us an estimate of the necessary expense for defraying the province one year, amounting to one hundred and five thousand pounds. We knew our inability to bear the raising of so great a sum in so short a time. We deducted the least necessary articles, and reduced it to one hundred thousand pounds, which we granted, and sent up the bill. Not that we thought this province capable of paying such a tax yearly, or any thing near it, but believing it necessary to exert ourselves at this time in an extraordinary manner, to save the country from total ruin by the enemy. The governor to use his own polite word, rejects it. Your English kings, I think, are complaisant enough to say they will advise upon it. We have no remedy here, but must obey the instructions, by which we are so confined, as to the time of rating the property to be taxed, the valuation of that property, and the sum per pound to be taxed on the valuation, that it is demonstrably impossible by such a law to raise one quarter of the money absolutely necessary to defend us. Three fourths of the troops must be disbanded, and so the country be exposed to the mercy of our enemies, rather than the least tittle of a Proprietary instruction should be deviated from!
I forbear to enlarge, because the House have unanimously desired your friend Mr. Norris, and myself, to go home immediately, to assist their agents in getting these matters settled. He has not yet determined; but if he goes, you will by him be fully informed of every thing, and my going will not, in my opinion, be necessary. If he declines it, I may possibly soon have the pleasure of seeing you. I am with great respect, Sir, &c.,
DatedFebruary 22d, 1757.1
In obedience to the order of the House, we have drawn up the heads of the most important aggrievances that occur to us, which the people of this province with great difficulty labor under; the many infractions of the constitution (in manifest violation of the royal grant, the proprietary charter, the laws of this province, and of the laws, usages, and customs of our mother country), and other matters, which we apprehend call aloud for redress.
They are as follows:
First. By the royal charter (which has ever been, ought to be, and truly is, the principal and invariable fundamental of this constitution), King Charles the Second did give and grant unto William Penn, his heirs and assigns, the province of Pennsylvania; and also to him and his heirs, and his or their deputies or lieutenants, free, full, and absolute power for the good and happy government thereof, to make and enact any laws, “according to their best discretion, by and with the advice, assent, and approbation of the freemen of the said country, or of their delegates or deputies”, for the raising of money, or any other end appertaining to the public state, peace, or safety of the said country. By the words of this grant, it is evident that full powers are granted to the deputies and lieutenants of William Penn and his heirs, to concur with the people in framing laws for their protection and the safety of the province, according to their best discretion; independent of any instructions or directions they should receive from their principals. And it is equally obvious to your committee, that the people of this province and their representatives were interested in this royal grant; and by virtue thereof have an original right of legislation inherent in them, which neither the proprietors nor any other person whatsoever can divest them of, restrain or abridge, without manifestly violating and destroying the letter, spirit, and design of this grant.
Nevertheless we unfortunately find, that the proprietaries of this province, regardless of this sacred fundamental of all our rights and liberties, have so abridged and restricted their late and present governor’s discretion in matters of legislation, by their illegal, impracticable, and unconstitutional instructions and prohibitions, that no bill for granting aids and supplies to our most gracious Sovereign (be it ever so reasonable, expedient, and necessary for the defence of his Majesty’s colony, and safety of his people), unless it be agreeable thereto, can meet with its approbation; by means whereof the many considerable sums of money, which have been offered for those purposes by the Assemblies of this province (ever anxious to maintain his honor and rights), have been rejected; to the great encouragement of his Majesty’s enemies, and the imminent danger of the loss of this his colony.
Secondly. The representatives of the people in General Assembly met, by virtue of the said royal grant, and the charter and privileges granted by the said William Penn, and a law of this province, have right to, and ought to enjoy, all the powers and privileges of an Assembly, according to the rights of the free-born subjects of England, and as is usual in any of the plantations of America. It is an indubitable and now an uncontested right of the Commons of England to grant aids and supplies to his Majesty in any manner they think most easy to themselves and the people; and they are the sole judges of the measure, manner, and time of granting and raising the same.
Nevertheless the proprietaries of this province, in contempt of the said royal grant, proprietary charter, and law of their colony; designing to subvert the fundamentals of this constitution, to deprive the Assembly and people of their grants and privileges, and to assume an arbitrary and tyrannical power over the liberties and properties of his Majesty’s liege subjects; have so restrained their governors by the despotic instructions (which are not to be varied from, and are particularly directory in the framing and passing of money bills and supplies to his Majesty, as to the mode, measure, and time), that it is impossible for the Assembly, should they loose all sense of their most essential rights, and comply with those instructions, to grant sufficient aids for the defence of this his Majesty’s province from the common enemy.
Thirdly. In pursuance of sundry acts of General Assembly, approved of by the crown, and a natural right inherent in every man antecedent to all laws, the Assemblies of this province have had the power of disposing of the public moneys, that have been raised for the encouragement of trade and support of government by the interest money arising by the loans of the bills of credit and the excise. No part of these moneys was ever paid by the proprietaries, or ever raised on their estates; and therefore they can have no pretence of right to a voice in the disposition of them. They have even been applied with prudent frugality to the honor and advantage of the public and the King’s immediate service, to the general approbation of the people; the credit of the government has been preserved, and the debts of the public punctually discharged. In short, no inconveniences, but great and many advantages, have accrued from the Assembly’s prudent care and management of these funds.
Yet the proprietaries resolved to deprive the Assemblies of the power and means of supporting an agent in England, and of prosecuting their complaints and remonstrating their aggrievances, when injured and oppressed, to his Majesty and his Parliament; and, to rob them of this natural right (which has been so often approved of by their gracious Sovereign), have, by their said instructions, prohibited their governor from giving his assent to any laws emitting or reémitting any paper currency or bills of credit, or for raising money by excise or any other method; unless the governor or commander-in-chief for the time being, by clauses to be inserted therein, have a negative in the disposition of the moneys arising thereby; let the languishing circumstances of our trade be ever so great, and a further or greater medium be ever so necessary for its support.
Fourthly. By the laws and statues of England, the chief rents, honors, and castles of the crown are taxed, and pay their proportion to the supplies that are granted to the King for the defence of the realm and support of government. His Majesty, the nobility of the realm, and all the British subjects do now actually contribute their proportion towards the defence of America in general, and this province in particular; and it is in a more especial manner the duty of the proprietaries to pay their proportion of a tax for the immediate preservation of their own estates in this province. To exempt, therefore, any part of their estates from their reasonable part of this necessary burthen, is as unjust as it is illegal, and as new as it is arbitrary.
Yet the proprietaries, notwithstanding the general danger to which the nation and its colonies are exposed, and great distress of this province in particular, by their said instructions have prohibited their governors from passing laws for the raising supplies for its defence; unless all their located, unimproved, and unoccupied lands, quit-rents, fines, and purchase moneys on interest (the much greater part of their enormous estates in this colony) are expressly exempted from paying any part of the tax.
Fifthly. By virtue of the said royal charter, the proprietaries are invested with a power of doing all things, “which unto a complete establishment of justice, unto courts and tribunals, forms of judicature, and manner of proceedings, do belong.” It was certainly the import and design of this grant, that the courts of judicature should be formed, and the judges and officers thereof hold their commissions, in a manner not repugnant, but agreeable, to the laws and customs of England; that thereby they might remain free from the influence of persons in power, the rights of the people might be preserved, and their properties effectually secured. That the grantee, William Penn (understanding the said grant in this light), did, by his original frame of government, covenant and grant with the people, that the judges and other officers should hold their commissions during their good behaviour, and no longer.
Notwithstanding which, the governors of this province have, for many years past, granted all the commissions to the judges of the King’s Bench or supreme court of this province, and to the judges of the court of Common Pleas of the several counties, to be held during their will and pleasure; by means whereof the said judges being subject to the influence and direction of the proprietaries and their governors, their favorites and creatures, the laws may not be duly administered or executed, but often wrested from their true sense to serve particular purposes; the foundation of justice may be liable to be destroyed; and the lives, laws, liberties, privileges, and properties of the people thereby rendered precarious and altogether insecure; to the great disgrace of our laws, and the inconceivable injury of his Majesty’s subjects.
Your committee further beg leave to add, that, besides these aggrievances, there are other hardships the people of this province have experienced, that call for redress. The enlistment of servants without the least satisfaction being made to the masters, has not only prevented the cultivation of our lands, and diminished the trade and commerce of the province, but is a burthen extremely unequal and oppressive to individuals. And should the practice continue, the consequence must prove very discouraging to the further settlement of this colony, and prejudicial to his Majesty’s future service. Justice, therefore, demands that satisfaction should be made to the masters of such enlisted servants, and that the right of masters to their servants be confirmed and settled. But as those servants have been enlisted into his Majesty’s service for the general defence of America, and not of this province only, but all the colonies, and the nation in general, have and will receive equal benefit from their service, this satisfaction should be made at the expense of the nation, and not of the province only.
That the people now labor under a burthen of taxes almost insupportable by so young a colony, for the defence of its long-extended frontier, of about two hundred miles from New Jersey to Maryland; without either of these colonies, or the three lower counties on Deleware, contributing their proportion thereto; though their frontiers are in a great measure covered and protected by our forts. And should the war continue, and with it this unequal burthen, many of his Majesty’s subjects in this province will be reduced to want; and the province, if not lost to the enemy, involved in debt and sunk under its load.
That, notwithstanding this weight of taxes, the Assemblies of this province have given to the general service of the nation five thousand pounds to purchase provisions for the troops under General Braddock; £2,985. 0s. 11d. for clearing a road by his orders; £10,514. 10s. 1d. to General Shirley, for the purchasing provisions for the New England forces; and expended the sum of £2,385. 0s. 2½d. in supporting the inhabitants of Nova Scotia; which likewise we conceive ought to be a national expense.
And that his Majesty’s subjects, the merchants and insurers in England, as well as the merchants here and elsewhere, did during the last and will during the present war greatly suffer in their property, trade, and commerce, by the enemy’s privateers on this coast, and at our capes, unless some method be fallen on to prevent it.
Wherefore your committee are of opinion, that the commissioners, intended to be sent to England to solicit a memorial and redress of the many infractions and violations of the constitution, should also have it in charge, and be instructed, to represent to our most gracious Sovereign and his Parliaments the several unequal burthens and hardships before mentioned; and endeavour to procure satisfaction to the masters of such servants as have been enlisted, and the right of masters to their servants established and confirmed; and obtain a repayment of the said several sums of money, some assistance towards defending our extensive frontier, and a vessel of war to protect the trade and commerce of this province.
Submitted to the correction of the House.
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
Philadelphia, 21 February, 1757.
I am glad to hear your son has got well home. I like your conclusion not to take a house for him till summer, and if he stays till his new letters arrive, perhaps it would not be amiss; for a good deal depends on the first impression a man makes. As he will keep a bookseller’s shop with his printing-house, I don’t know but it might be worth his while to set up at Cambridge.
I enclose you some whisk seed; it is a kind of corn, good for creatures; it must be planted in hills, like Indian corn. The tops make the best thatch in the world: and of the same are made the whisks you use for velvet. Pray try if it will grow with you. I brought it from Virginia. Give some to Mr. Cooper, some to Mr. Bowdoin. Love to cousin Sally, and her spouse. I wish them and you much joy. Love to brother, &c.,
TO WILLIAM PARSONS
Philadelphia, 22 February, 1757.
I thank you for the intelligence from Fort Allen relating to the Indians. The commissioners have not yet settled your account, but I will press them to do it immediately. I have not heard from Mr. Stephenson, but will write to him once more.
And now, my dear old friend, I am to take leave of you, being ordered home to England by the Assembly, to obtain some final settlement of the points that have occasioned so many unhappy disputes. I assure you I go with the sincerest desire of procuring peace, and therein I know I shall have your prayers for my success. God bless you, and grant that at my return I may find you well and happy. I am, as ever, dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO MISS CATHERINE RAY
Philadelphia, 3 March, 1757.
Being about to leave America for some time, I could not go without taking leave of my dear friend. I received your favor of the 8th of November, and am ashamed, that I have suffered it to remain so long unanswered, especially as now, through shortness of time, I cannot chat with you in any manner agreeably.
I can only wish you well and happy, which I do most cordially. Present my best compliments to your good mamma, brother and sister Ward, and all your other sisters, the agreeable Misses Ward, Dr. Babcock and family, the charitable Misses Stanton, and, in short, to all that love me. I should have said all that love you, but that would be giving you too much trouble. Adieu, dear good girl, and believe me ever your affectionate friend,
TO MR. DUNLAP
Philadelphia, 4 April, 1757.
I now appoint you postmaster of Philadelphia, during our absence, as it will be some present employment for you till our return; when I hope to put you in a better way, if I find you diligent, careful, and faithful.
I would not have the office remov’d on any account from my house during my absence, without my leave first obtain’d.
And as Mrs. Franklin has had a great deal of experience in the management of the post-office, I depend on your paying considerable attention to her advice in that matter.
As I leave but little money with Mrs. Franklin for the support of the family, and have (torn ——) of the post-office for the (torn —— ——) absence, I expect and (torn —— ——) account with her for, and pay her, every Monday morning, the postage of the preceding week, taking her receipts for the same, and retaining only your commissions of ten per cent. You should have a little book for such receipts.
Wishing you health and happiness, I am, your affectionate uncle,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
Trenton,1 5 April, 1757.
My Dear Child:—
We found the roads much better than we expected, and got here well before night. My kind friend Mr. Griffith’s carriage appearing too weak in the wheels, I have accepted Mr. Masters’s obliging offer, and take his carriage forward from this place, and he will return to town in Mr. Griffith’s. About a dozen of our friends accompanied us quite hither, to see us out of the province, and we spent a very agreeable evening together. I leave home, and undertake this long voyage, the more cheerfully, as I can rely on your prudence in the management of my affairs and education of our dear child; and yet I cannot forbear once more recommending her to you with a father’s tenderest concern. My love to all. If the roads do not prove worse, we may be at Woodbridge to-night. I believe I did not see Mr. Dunlap when I came away, so as to take leave of him; my love to him. Billy presents his duty and love to all. I am your affectionate husband,
TO JOHN LINING, AT CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
New York, 14 April, 1757.
It is a long time since I had the pleasure of a line from you; and, indeed, the troubles of our country, with the hurry of business I have been engaged in on that account, have made me so bad a correspondent, that I ought not to expect punctuality in others.
But being about to embark for England, I could not quit the continent without paying my respects to you, and, at the same time, taking leave to introduce to your acquaintance a gentleman of learning and merit, Colonel Henry Bouquet, who does me the favor to present you this letter, and with whom I am sure you will be much pleased.
Professor Simson, of Glasgow, lately communicated to me some curious experiments of a physician of his acquaintance, by which it appeared that an extraordinary degree of cold, even to freezing, might be produced by evaporation. I have not had leisure to repeat and examine more than the first and easiest of them, viz.: Wet the ball of a thermometer by a feather dipped in spirit of wine, which has been kept in the same room, and has, of course, the same degree of heat or cold. The mercury sinks presently three or four degrees, and the quicker if during the evaporation you blow on the ball with the bellows; a second wetting and blowing, when the mercury is down, carries it yet lower. I think I did not get it lower than five or six degrees from where it naturally stood, which was, at that time, sixty. But it is said, that a vessel of water being placed in another somewhat larger, containing spirit, in such a manner that the vessel of water is surrounded with the spirit, and both placed under the receiver of an air-pump, on exhausting the air, the spirit evaporating, leaves such a degree of cold as to freeze the water, though the thermometer, in the open air, stands many degrees above the freezing point.
I know not how this phenomenon is to be accounted for; but it gives me occasion to mention some loose notions relating to heat and cold, which I have for some time entertained, but not yet reduced into any form. Allowing common fire, as well as electrical, to be a fluid capable of permeating other bodies, and seeking an equilibrium, I imagine some bodies are better fitted by nature to be conductors of that fluid than others; and that, generally, those which are the best conductors of electrical fluid, are also the best conductors of this; and e contra.
Thus a body which is a good conductor of fire readily receives it into its substance, and conducts it through the whole to all the parts, as metals and water do; and if two bodies, both good conductors, one heated, the other in its common state, are brought into contact with each other, the body which has most fire readily communicates of it to that which had least, and that which had least readily receives it, till an equilibrium is produced. Thus, if you take a dollar between your fingers with one hand, and a piece of wood, of the same dimensions, with the other, and bring both at the same time to the flame of a candle, you will find yourselves obliged to drop the dollar before you drop the wood, because it conducts the heat of the candle sooner to your flesh. Thus, if a silver tea-pot had a handle of the same metal, it would conduct the heat from the water to the hand, and become too hot to be used; we therefore give to a metal tea-pot a handle of wood, which is not so good a conductor as metal. But a china or stone tea-pot being in some degree of the nature of glass, which is not a good conductor of heat, may have a handle of the same stuff. Thus, also, a damp moist air shall make a man more sensible of cold, or chill him more, than a dry air that is colder, because a moist air is fitter to receive and conduct away the heat of his body. This fluid, entering bodies in great quantity, first expands them by separating their parts a little; afterwards, by farther separating their parts, it renders solids fluid, and at length dissipates their parts in air. Take this fluid from melted lead, or from water, the parts cohere again; and this is sooner done by the means of good conductors. Thus, if you take, as I have done, a square bar of lead, four inches long, and one inch thick, together with three pieces of wood planed to the same dimensions, and lay them as in the margin, on a smooth board, fixed so as not to be easily separated or moved, and pour into the cavity they form as much melted lead as will fill it, you will see the melted lead chill, and become firm, on the side next the leaden bar, some time before it chills on the other three sides in contact with the wooden bars, though, before the lead was poured in, they might all be suppose to have the same degree of heat or coldness, as they had been exposed in the same room to the same air. You will likewise observe that the leaden bar, as it had cooled the melted lead more than the wooden bars have done, so it is itself more heated by the melted lead. There is a certain quantity of this fluid, called fire, in every human body, which fluid, being in due proportion, keeps the parts of the flesh and blood at such a just distance from each other, as that the flesh and nerves are supple and the blood fit for circulation. If part of this due proportion of fire be conducted away, by means of a contact with other bodies, as air, water, or metals, the parts of our skin and flesh that come into such contact first draw more together than is agreeable, and give that sensation which we call cold; and if too much be conveyed away, the body stiffens, the blood ceases to flow, and death ensues. On the other hand, if too much of this fluid be communicated to the flesh, the parts are separated too far, and pain ensues, as when they are separated by a pin or lancet. The sensation that the separation by fire occasions, we call heat, or burning. My desk on which I now write and the lock of my desk are both exposed to the same temperature of the air, and have therefore the same degree of heat or cold; yet if I lay my hand successively on the wood and on the metal, the latter feels much the coldest, not that it is really so, but being a better conductor, it more readily than the wood takes away and draws into itself the fire that was in my skin. Accordingly, if I lay one hand, part on the lock and part on the wood, and after it has lain so some time, I feel both parts with my other hand, I find the part that has been in contact with the lock very sensibly colder to the touch than the part that lay on the wood. How a living animal obtains its quantity of this fluid, called fire, is a curious question. I have shown that some bodies (as metals) have a power of attracting it stronger than others; and I have some times suspected that a living body had some power of attracting out of the air, or other bodies, the heat it wanted. Thus metals hammered or repeatedly bent grow hot in the bent or hammered part. But when I consider that air in contact with the body cools it, that the surrounding air is rather heated by its contact with the body; that every breath of cooler air drawn in carries off part of the body’s heat when it passes out again; that therefore there must be in the body a fund for producing it, or otherwise the body would soon grow cold: I have been rather inclined to think that the fluid fire, as well as the fluid air, is attracted by plants in their growth, and becomes consolidated with the other materials of which they are formed, and makes a great part of their substance; that, when they come to be digested, and to suffer in the vessels a kind of fermentation, part of the fire, as well as part of the air, recovers its fluid, active state again, and diffuses itself in the body, digesting and separating it; that the fire so reproduced by digestion and separation, continually leaving the body, its place is supplied by fresh quantities, arising from the continual separation; that whatever quickens the motion of the fluids in an animal quickens the separation, and reproduces more of the fire, as exercise; that all the fire emitted by wood and other combustibles when burning existed in them before in a solid state, being only discovered when separating; that some fossils, as sulphur, sea-coal, &c., contain a great deal of solid fire; and that, in short, what escapes and is dissipated in the burning of bodies, besides water and earth, is generally the air and fire that before made parts of the solid. Thus I imagine that animal heat arises by or from a kind of fermentation in the juices of the body, in the same manner as heat arises in the liquors preparing for distillation, wherein there is a separation of the spirituous from the watery and earthy parts. And it is remarkable that the liquor in a distiller’s vat, when in its highest and best state of fermentation, as I have been informed, has the same degree of heat with the human body—that is, about 94 or 96.
Thus, as by a constant supply of fuel in a chimney you keep a warm room, so by a constant supply of food in the stomach, you keep a warm body; only, where little exercise is used, the heat may possibly be conducted away too fast, in which case such materials are to be used for clothing and bedding, against the effects of an immediate contact of the air, as are in themselves bad conductors of heat, and consequently prevent its being communicated through their substance to the air. Hence what is called warmth in wool, and its preference on that account to linen, wool not being so good a conductor; and hence all the natural coverings of animals to keep them warm are such as retain and confine the natural heat in the body, by being bad conductors, such as wool, hair, feathers, and the silk by which the silk-worm in its tender embryo state is first clothed. Clothing thus considered does not make a man warm by giving warmth, but by preventing the too quick dissipation of the heat produced in his body, and so occasioning an accumulation.
There is another curious question I will just venture to touch upon, viz.: Whence arises the sudden extraordinary degree of cold, perceptible on mixing some chemical liquors, and even on mixing salt and snow, where the composition appears colder than the coldest of the ingredients? I have never seen the chemical mixtures made; but salt and snow I have often mixed myself, and am fully satisfied that the composition feels much colder to the touch, and lowers the mercury in the thermometer more, than either ingredient would do separately. I suppose, with others, that cold is nothing more than the absence of heat or fire. Now, if the quantity of fire before contained or diffused in the snow and salt was expelled in the uniting of the two matters, it must be driven away either through the air or the vessel containing them. If it is driven off through the air, it must warm the air; and a thermometer held over the mixture, without touching it, would discover the heat by the rising of the mercury, as it must, and always does, in warm air.
This, indeed, I have not tried, but I should guess it would rather be driven off through the vessel, especially if the vessel be metal, as being a better conductor than air; and so one should find the basin warmer after such mixture. But, on the contrary, the vessel grows cold, and even water, in which the vessel is sometimes placed for the experiment, freezes into hard ice on the basin. Now I know not how to account for this, otherwise than by supposing that the composition is a better conductor of fire than the ingredients separately, and, like the lock compared with the wood, has a stronger power of attracting fire, and does accordingly attract it suddenly from the fingers, or a thermometer put into it, from the basin that contains it, and from the water in contact with the outside of the basin; so that the fingers have the sensation of extreme cold, by being deprived of much of their natural fire; the thermometer sinks, by having part of its fire drawn out of the mercury; the basin grows colder to the touch, as, by having its fire drawn into the mixture, it is become more capable of drawing and receiving it from the hand; and, through the basin, the water loses its fire that kept it fluid, so it becomes ice. One would expect, that from all this attracted acquisition of fire to the composition, it should become warmer; and, in fact, the snow and salt dissolve at the same time into water, without freezing.
I am, Sir, &c.,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
New York, 19 April, 1757.
I wrote a few lines to you yesterday, but omitted to answer yours relating to sister Dowse. As having their own way is one of the greatest comforts of life to old people, I think their friends should endeavour to accommodate them in that, as well as in any thing else. When they have long lived in a house, it becomes natural to them; they are almost as closely connected with it as the tortoise with his shell; they die, if you tear them out of it; old folks and old trees, if you remove them, it is ten to one that you kill them; so let our good old sister be no more importuned on that head. We are growing old fast ourselves, and shall expect the same kind of indulgences; if we give them, we shall have a right to receive them in our turn.
And as to her few fine things, I think she is in the right not to sell them, and for the reason she gives, that they will fetch but little; when that little is spent, they would be of no further use to her; but perhaps the expectation of possessing them at her death may make that person tender and careful of her, and helpful to her to the amount of ten times their value. If so, they are put to the best use they possibly can be.
I hope you visit sister as often as your affairs will permit, and afford her what assistance and comfort you can in her present situation. Old age, infirmities, and poverty, joined, are afflictions enough. The neglect and slights of friends and near relations should never be added. People in her circumstances are apt to suspect this sometimes without cause; appearances should therefore be attended to, in our conduct towards them, as well as realities. I write by this post to cousin Williams, to continue his care, which I doubt not he will do.
We expect to sail in about a week, so that I can hardly hear from you again on this side the water; but let me have a line from you now and then, while I am in London. I expect to stay there at least a twelvemonth. Direct your letters to be left for me at the Pennsylvania Coffee-house, in Birchin Lane, London. My love to all, from, dear sister, your affectionate brother,
P. S.—April 25th. We are still here, and perhaps may be here a week longer. Once more adieu, my dear sister.
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
Woodbridge, New Jersey, 21 May, 1757.
I received your kind letter of the 9th instant, in which you acquainted me with some of your late troubles. These are troublesome times to us all; but perhaps you have had more than you should. I am glad to hear that Peter is at a place where he has full employ. A trade is a valuable thing; but unless a habit of industry be acquired with it, it turns out of little use; if he gets that in his new place, it will be a happy exchange, and the occasion not an unfortunate one. It is very agreeable to me to hear so good an account of your other children; in such a number to have no bad ones is a great happiness.
The horse sold very low indeed. If I wanted one to-morrow, knowing his goodness, old as he is, I should freely give more than twice the money for him; but you did the best you could, and I will take of Benny no more than he produced.
I don’t doubt but Benny will do very well when he gets to work; but I fear his things from England may be so long a coming as to occasion the loss of the rent. Would it not be better for you to move into the house? Perhaps not, if he is near being married. I know nothing of that affair but what you write me, except that I think Miss Betsey a very agreeable, sweet-tempered, good girl, who has had a housewifely education, and will make, to a good husband, a very good wife. Your sister and I have a great esteem for her; and if she will be kind enough to accept of our nephew, we think it will be his own fault if he is not as happy as the married state can make him. The family is a respectable one, but whether there be any fortune I know not; and as you do not inquire about this particular, I suppose you think with me, that where every thing else desirable is to be met with, that is not very material. If she does not bring a fortune, she will help to make one. Industry, frugality, and prudent economy in a wife, are to a tradesman, in their effects, a fortune; and a fortune sufficient for Benjamin, if his expectations are reasonable. We can only add that if the young lady and her friends are willing, we give our consent heartily, and our blessing. My love to brother and the children. Your affectionate brother,
P. S.—If Benny will promise to be one of the tenderest husbands in the world, I give my consent. He knows already what I think of Miss Betsey. I am his loving aunt,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
New York, Friday, 27 May, 1757.
My Dear Debby:—
Mr. Parker being doubtful this morning whether the rain would permit his setting out to-day, I had prepared no letter to send by Sally, when he took a sudden resolution to go. Mr. Colden1 could not spare his daughter, as she helps him in the post-office, he having no clerk. I enclose only the fourth bills, which you are to put up safe with my writings. The first set I take with me, the second goes by Radford, and I now send the third by Bonnel.
All the packets are to sail together with the fleet, but when that will be is yet uncertain; for yesterday came in three privateers with several prizes, and by them there is advice that the French fleet, which was in the West Indies, is come to the northward; and now it is questioned whether it will be thought prudent for these transports to sail till there is certain advice that the grand fleet is arrived from England. This, however, is only town talk.
I send Mr. Kneeland’s letter. Pray forward the paper he writes for, by the first opportunity. I send a memorandum received from Joseph Croker, with a note on the back of it. I leave it to yourself whether to go home directly, or stay a little longer. If I find we are not likely to sail for some time, I shall perhaps step down again to Woodbridge, and try to finish my work. But it may be that your longer absence from home will be attended with some inconvenience. I am making up a bundle of papers to send you. Put them into my room. I can hear nothing yet of the clothes.
I have been very low-spirited all day. This tedious state of uncertainty and long waiting have almost worn out my patience. Except the two or three weeks at Woodbridge, I know not when I have spent time so uselessly as since I left Philadelphia.
I left my best spectacles on the table. Please to send them to me.
Saturday Morning.—Jemmy got here early, and tells me Mr. Parker and the children got well down. In my room on the folio shelf between the clock and our bedchamber, stands a folio, called the Gardiner’s Dictionary, by P. Miller. And on the same side of the room, on the lowest shelf or lowest but one, near the middle, and by the side of a little partition, you will find standing or rather lying on its fore edge a quarto pamphlet, covered with blue paper, called a Treatise on Cider-making. Deliver those two books to Mr. Parker.
Sunday Afternoon.—Yesterday, while I was at my Lord’s,1 with whom I had the honor to dine, word was brought in that five sail of French men-of-war were seen off Egg Harbour the day before; and as some of the French prisoners lately brought in report that such a number of men-of-war sailed with them from the West Indies to go to the northward, these vessels might be supposed to be the same, if the account from Egg Harbour was true. If on examination it be found true, and the French take it into their heads to cruise off this port with such a force, we shall then be shut up here for some time, for our fleet here is not of force sufficient to venture out. If this story be not true, yet it is thought by some we shall hardly sail till there is certain advice of the English fleet being arrived at Halifax, and perhaps not till a convoy comes from thence to guard us. So I am wavering whether I had not best go down again to Woodbridge and finish my books.
I spent last evening with Mr. Nichol’s family, who all desired their compliments to you and Sally. I send you one of the French books translated.
Monday Morning.—Our going is yet uncertain. I believe I shall put every thing on board to-morrow, and either go down again to Woodbridge or send for the trunk of books hither to employ myself till we have sailed. The report of French men-of-war off the coast is vanished. I am, my dear Debby, your ever loving husband,
TO ISAAC NORRIS1
New York, 30 May, 1757.
After waiting here about seven weeks for the sailing of the packet, the time of her sailing is no more certain now than it was on the day of our arrival. The packets, as it is now said, are all three to sail with the fleet; the two first to be dismissed soon after the fleet is at sea; the third to go with the fleet to the place of rendezvous, and not to be discharged till the arrival and junction of the fleet from England. But this is not certain; resolutions change as advices are received, or occurrences arise, and it is doubtful whether the fleet will sail from hence till there is certain news of the arrival of that from England, since there is intelligence that Beaufremont’s squadron is gone from the West Indies to the northward.
I have had the honor of several conferences with my Lord Loudoun on the subject of the servants.2 His Lordship objects, first, that it appears by the list which I laid before him, that many of the servants were enlisted in General Braddock’s and General Shirley’s time. With those he has nothing to do. Secondly, that many were enlisted before the act of Parliament appointed satisfaction to be made to the masters; and as the lawyers all agree that the right to take them without pay was clearly in the King before the act, no satisfaction should be made or expected for these. Thirdly, that the particular proofs of the loss of each servant, and of his being enlisted in the King’s service, do not appear. Fourthly, that the affair is now so intricate and perplexed, that it would take more time to examine and settle it than he can possibly spare. Fifthly, that if his officers had done wrong in not paying for the servants, as they took them, the fault was our own; it was owing to some principal people among ourselves, whom he could name, who had always assured the officers that the Assembly intended to pay for the servants, and by that means led them into the error.
His Lordship made several other observations and objections, all which I answered and endeavoured to remove as well as I could; but there is, I believe, one at bottom, which it is not in my power to remove, and that is the want of money. The expenses of an American war necessarily run very high, and are complained of by some in England; and his Lordship is unwilling to discourage the ministry at home by large charges. He will therefore mix none of those of his predecessors with his own. He makes the most frugal agreements, and avoids all payments that he can avoid with honor. For instance, there is a balance not very large due to me, on my account of wagons and forage supplies to General Braddock. I presented the account to his Lordship, who had it examined and compared with the vouchers; and on report made to him that it was right, ordered a warrant to be drawn for the payment; but before he signed it he sent for me, told me that as the money became due before his time, he had rather not mix it in his accounts, if it would be the same thing to me to receive it in England. He believed it a fair and just account, and as such would represent it at home, so that I should meet with no difficulty in getting it paid there. I agreed to his Lordship’s proposal, and the warrant was laid aside.
I once proposed to his Lordship that if he would appoint, or advise Governor Denny to appoint, some persons of credit in Pennsylvania to examine the claims of the masters, and report to his Lordship at the end of the campaign, it would, for the present, make the minds of the sufferers more easy; and he could then order payment for such part as he should find right for him to pay, and we might endeavour to procure satisfaction elsewhere for the rest. His Lordship declined this, saying, that he knew not whom to appoint, being unacquainted with the people; that he did not care to trouble Governor Denny with it, of whom he must ask it as a favor; and besides, auditors, in the plantations, of accounts against the crown had in many instances been so partial and corrupt that they had lost all credit. If he appointed auditors, they must be some of the officers of the army who understood the affair; and at present they were engaged in other duties.
I will not trouble you with a detail of all I said to his Lordship on this affair, though I omitted nothing material that occurred to me; but I find he is for keeping the matter in suspense, without either promising payment or refusing to pay; perhaps till he receives directions about it from home. He does not seem willing, however, that I should make any application there relating to it, and chooses to keep the list in his hands till his return from the campaign.
The list is, indeed, so very imperfect, that I could not promise myself much in laying it before him. Of many servants it is not noted by what officers, or in what company, or even in what regiment they were enlisted; of others, the time they were bound for, or had served, or had still to serve, is omitted. Of others, no notice is taken of the price they cost; nor is there any distinction of apprentices, though, perhaps, the account is the best that could be obtained, the time and other circumstances considered. Upon the whole, as the inquiry, if it is ever made by my Lord’s order, will be by officers of the army, they being, in his Lordship’s opinion, the fittest persons and most impartial; as all enlistments before the commencement of his command will be rejected, and also all before the act of Parliament; as very clear proofs of every circumstance—when the servant was enlisted, by what officer, of what regiment, and the like—will be insisted on, and the recruiting officers at the time took such effectual care to prevent the master’s knowing any thing of these circumstances, I am inclined to think very little benefit will be produced by such inquiry; and that our application at home for some allowance on that account will be better founded on what the Assembly, after their own inquiry, have thought themselves obliged to pay, than on such an imperfect list as has been sent to me. This, however, I submit; and if it should still be thought proper to apply in England on the footing of the list, another copy must be forwarded by some future opportunity.
His Lordship has on all occasions treated me with the greatest goodness, but I find frequently that wrong prejudices are infused into his mind against our province. We have too many enemies among ourselves, but I hope in time things will wear a better face. Please to present my humble respects to the House, and believe me, with great esteem, &c.,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
New York, 30 May, 1757.
I have before me yours of the 9th and 16th instant. I am glad you have resolved to visit sister Dowse oftener; it will be a great comfort to her to find she is not neglected by you, and your example may, perhaps, be followed by some others of her relations.
As Neddy is yet a young man, I hope he may get over the disorder he complains of, and in time wear it out. My love to him and his wife and the rest of your children. It gives me pleasure to hear that Eben is likely to get into business at his trade. If he will be industrious and frugal, it is ten to one but he gets rich, for he seems to have spirit and activity.
I am glad that Peter is acquainted with the crown-soap business so as to make what is good of the kind. I hope he will always take care to make it faithfully, and never slight the manufacture, or attempt to deceive by appearances. Then he may boldly put his name and mark, and in a little time it will acquire as good a character as that made by his late uncle, or any other person whatever. I believe his aunt at Philadelphia can help him to sell a good deal of it; and I doubt not of her doing every thing in her power to promote his interest in that way. Let a box be sent to her (but not unless it be right good), and she will immediately return the ready money for it. It was beginning once to be in vogue in Philadelphia, but brother John sent me one box, an ordinary sort, which checked its progress. I would not have him put the Franklin arms on it, but the soapboilers’ arms he has a right to use, if he thinks fit. The other would look too much like an attempt to counterfeit. In his advertisements he may value himself on serving his time with the original maker, but his own mark or device on the papers, or any thing he may be advised to as proper; only on the soap, as it is called by the name of crown-soap, it seems necessary to use a stamp of that sort, and perhaps no soapboiler in the King’s dominions has a better right to the crown than himself.
Nobody has wrote a syllable to me concerning his making use of the hammer, or made the least complaint of him or you. I am sorry, however, that he took it without leave. It was irregular, and if you had not approved of his doing it, I should have thought it indiscreet. Leave, they say, is light, and it seems to me a piece of respect that was due to his aunt, to ask it, and I can scarce think she would have refused him the favor.
I am glad to hear Johnny is so good and diligent a workman. If he ever sets up at the goldsmith’s business, he must remember that there is one accomplishment without which he cannot possibly thrive in that trade—that is, perfect honesty. It is a business that, though ever so uprightly managed, is always liable to suspicion; and if a man is once detected in the smallest fraud, it soon becomes public, and every one is put upon his guard against him; no one will venture to try his wares, or trust him to make up his plate; so at once he is ruined. I hope my nephew will, therefore, establish a character as an honest and faithful as well as skilful workman, and then he need not fear for employment.
And now, as to what you propose for Benny, I believe he may be, as you say, well enough qualified for it; and when he appears to be settled, if a vacancy should happen, it is very probable he may be thought of to supply it; but it is a rule with me not to remove any officer that behaves well, keeps regular accounts, and pays duly; and I think the rule is founded on reason and justice. I have not shown any backwardness to assist Benny, where it could be done without injuring another. But if my friends require of me to gratify not only their inclinations, but their resentments, they expect too much of me. Above all things I dislike family quarrels, and when they happen among my relations, nothing gives me more pain. If I were to set myself up as a judge of those subsisting between you and brother’s widow and children, how unqualified must I be, at this distance, to determine rightly, especially having heard but one side. They always treated me with friendly and affectionate regard; you have done the same. What can I say between you, but that I wish you were reconciled, and that I will love that side best that is most ready to forgive and oblige the other? You will be angry with me here, for putting you and them too much upon a footing; but I shall nevertheless be, dear sister, your truly affectionate brother,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
New York, 2 June, 1757.
My Dear Child:—
I have just received yours of the 29th. You do not tell me whether you take the trunk of books with you, but I suppose you do. It is now said we are all to go on board to-morrow, and sail down to the Hook. I hope it will be so, for, having now nothing to do, my stay here is extremely tedious. Please to give my respects to Mrs. Moore, and assure her that I will take care of her letters. You will find sundry parcels that came from London, some directed to the Library Company, some for Mr. Bartram. Deliver them, if not delivered. Desire Mr. Normandy to send after me a fresh memorandum of what he wanted, Mr. Collinson having lost the former.
I hope my dear Sally will behave in every thing to your satisfaction, and mind her learning and improvement. As my absence will make your house quieter, and lessen your business, you will have the more leisure to instruct her and form her. I pray God to bless you both, and that we may once more have a happy meeting. God preserve, guard, and guide you.
It is a doubt whether your next letters will reach us here. Billy joins with me in love to all friends, and presents his duty to you and love to his sister. My duty to mother and love to all the family. I shall endeavour to write to you once more before we sail, being as ever, my dear child, your affectionate husband,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 27 July, 1757.
My Dear Child:—
We arrived here well last night, only a little fatigued with the last day’s journey, being seventy miles. I write only this line, not knowing of any opportunity of sending it; but Mr. Collinson will inquire for one, as he is going out. If he finds one, I shall write more largely. I have just seen Mr. Strahan, who is well, with his family. Billy is with me here at Mr. Collinson’s, and presents his duty to you and love to his sister. My love to all. I am, my dear child, your loving husband,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 22 November, 1757.
My Dear Child:—
During my illness, which continued near eight weeks, I wrote you several little letters, as I was able. The last was by the packet which sailed from Falmouth above a week since. In that I informed you that my intermittent fever, which had continued to harass me by frequent relapses, was gone off, and I have ever since been gathering strength and flesh. My doctor, Fothergill, who had forbid me the use of pen and ink, now permits me to write as much as I can without over fatiguing myself, and therefore I sit down to write more fully than I have hitherto been able to do.
The 2d of September I wrote to you that I had had a violent cold and something of a fever, but that it was almost gone. However, it was not long before I had another severe cold, which continued longer than the first, attended by great pain in my head, the top of which was very hot, and when the pain went off, very sore and tender. These fits of pain continued sometimes longer than at others; seldom less than twelve hours, and once thirty-six hours. I was now and then a little delirious; they cupped me on the back of the head, which seemed to ease me for the present; I took a great deal of bark, both in substance and infusion, and too soon thinking myself well, I ventured out twice, to do a little business and forward the service I am engaged in, and both times got fresh cold and fell down again. My good doctor grew very angry with me for acting contrary to his cautions and directions, and obliged me to promise more observance for the future. He attended me very carefully and affectionately; and the good lady of the house nursed me kindly.1 Billy was also of great service to me, in going from place to place, where I could not go myself, and Peter was very diligent and attentive. I took so much bark in various ways, that I began to abhor it; I durst not take a vomit, for fear of my head; but at last I was seized one morning with a vomiting and purging, the latter of which continued the greater part of the day, and I believe was a kind of crisis to the distemper, carrying it clear off; for ever since I feel quite lightsome, and am every day gathering strength; so I hope my seasoning is over, and that I shall enjoy better health during the rest of my stay in England.
I thank you for writing to me so frequently and fully. I believe I have missed none of your letters yet, but those by Lyon, who was taken. You mention Mr. Scott’s being robbed, but do not say to what value. Was it considerable? I have seen Mr. Ralph, and delivered him Mrs. Garrigues’s letter. He is removed from Turnham Green. When I return, I will tell you every thing relating to him. In the mean time I must advise Mrs. Garrigues not to write to him again, till I send her word how to direct her letters, he being unwilling, for some good reasons, that his present wife should know any thing of his having any connexions in America. He expresses great affection for his daughter and grandchildren. He has but one child here.
I have found David Edwards, and send you some of his letters, with one for his father. I am glad to hear that our friends at Newark got well through the smallpox.
The above particulars are in answer to things mentioned in your letters, and so are what follow.
Governor Shirley’s affairs are still in an uncertain state; he is endeavouring to obtain an inquiry into his conduct, but the confusion of public affairs occasions it to be postponed. He and I visit frequently. I make no doubt but reports will be spread by my enemies to my disadvantage, but let none of them trouble you. If I find I can do my country no good, I will take care at least not to do it any harm; I will neither seek nor expect any thing for myself; and, though I may perhaps not be able to obtain for the people what they wish and expect, no interest shall induce me to betray the trust they have reposed in me; so make yourself quite easy in regard to such reports.
Mr. Hunter is better than he has been for a long time. He and his sister desire to be remembered to you. I believe I left the seal with Mr. Parker. I am glad to hear that Mr. Boudinot has so seasonable a supply, and hope he will not go to mining again. I am obliged to all my friends that visit you in my absence. My love to them.
Mr. Ralph delivered me your letters very obligingly; he is well respected by people of value here. I thank you for sending me brother Johnny’s journal; I hope he is well, and sister Read and the children. I am sorry to hear of Mr. Burt’s death. He came to me at New York with a proposal that I did not approve of, but it showed his good will and respect for me; when I return, I will tell you what it was. I shall entertain Mr. Collinson and Dr. Fothergill with your account of Teedyuskung’s visit.
I should have read Sally’s French letter with more pleasure, but that I thought the French rather too good to be all her own composing. I suppose her master must have corrected it. But I am glad she is improving in that and her music; I send her a French Pamela.
You were very lucky in not insuring the rum. We are obliged to Mr. Booth for his care in that remittance. I suppose you have wrote to acknowledge the receipt of it. I have not yet seen Mr. Burkett. I am not much surprised at Green’s behaviour; he has not an honest principle, I fear. I have not yet seen Mr. Walsteinholme, but he is arrived. I am glad you went to Elizabethtown, and that Ben has got that good girl. I hope they will do well. When you write, remember my love to her.
December 3d.—I write by little and little as I can find time. I have now gone through all your agreeable letters, which give me fresh pleasure every time I read them. Last night I received another, dated October 16th, which brings me the good news that you and Sally were got safe home; your last, of the 9th, being from Elizabethtown. Budden’s ship is not yet come up to London, but is daily expected, having been some time at Cowes. Mr. Hall has sent me a bill, as you mention. Mr. Walsteinholme is come to town, and I expect to see him to-day. When I have inquired how things are with Green, I shall write some directions to you what to do in the affair.
I am glad to hear that Miss Ray is well, and that you correspond. It is not convenient to be forward in giving advice in such cases. She has prudence enough to judge for herself, and I hope she will judge and act for the best.
I hear there has a miniature painter gone over to Philadelphia, a relation to John Reynolds. If Sally’s picture is not done to your mind by the young man, and the other gentleman is a good hand and follows the business, suppose you get Sally’s done by him, and send it to me with your small picture, that I may here get all our little family drawn in one conversation piece. I am sorry to hear of the general sickness; I hope it is over before this time, and that little Franky is recovered.
I was as much disappointed in my intention of writing by the packet as you were in not receiving letters, and it has since given me a great deal of vexation. I wrote to you by way of New York the day after my arrival in London, which I do not find you have received.
I do not use to be a backward correspondent, though my sickness has brought me behindhand with my friends in that respect. Had I been well, I intended to have gone round among the shops, and bought some pretty things for you and my dear good Sally (whose little hands you say eased your headache), to send by this ship, but I must now defer it to the next, having only got a crimson satin cloak for you, the newest fashion, and the black silk for Sally; but Billy sends her a scarlet feather, muff, and tippet, and a box of fashionable linen for her dress. In the box is a thermometer for Mr. Taylor, and one for Mr. Schlatter, which you will carefully deliver; as also a watch for Mr. Schlatter. I shall write to them. The black silk was sent to Mr. Neates, who undertook to forward it in some package of his.
It is now twelve days since I began to write this letter, and I still continue well, but have not yet quite recovered my strength, flesh, or spirits. I every day drink a glass of infusion of bark in wine, by way of prevention, and hope my fever will no more return. On fair days, which are but few, I venture out about noon. The agreeable conversation I meet with among men of learning, and the notice taken of me by persons of distinction, are the principal things that soothe me for the present under this painful absence from my family and friends. Yet those would not keep me here another week, if I had not other inducements—duty to my country, and hopes of being able to do it service.
Pray remember me kindly to all that love us, and to all that we love. It is endless to name names. I am, my dear child, your loving husband,
FROM WILLIAM STRAHAN TO MRS. FRANKLIN1
London, 13 December, 1757.
I will not write to you, for the future, as a stranger whom I never had the happiness of seeing, but as to one with whom I have been for some time acquainted; for, having had the pleasure for several months past to be personally known to what you will readily allow to be your better half, you will permit me to fancy I am by no means ignorant of the essential qualities of the other.
I had for many years conceived a very high, and now find a very just, opinion of Mr. Franklin. This I was naturally led to by the concurring testimony of everybody who knew him (for the voice of his enemies, if he ever had any, never reached me), and by the opportunities I have had of judging for myself, during my correspondence with him for a dozen years. But though the notion I had formed of him, in my own mind, before I had the pleasure of seeing him, was really, as far as it went, just enough, I must confess it was very unequal to what I know his singular merit deserves.
I own it is somewhat odd to entertain a lady with the character of her husband, who must herself, of all others, be the least ignorant in that particular. But as all who know me know that I cannot help speaking my sentiments freely on any subject that strikes me in a great degree, so I choose to write my mind in regard to Mr. Franklin, before all others, to you, because you are the most unexceptionable judge of the truth and propriety of what I say, and because I am persuaded you will listen to me, not only with patience but with pleasure; and indeed, whatever your own personal qualities may be, however amiable and engaging in my mind, your being the choice of such a man must add greatly to your honor. To be the wife of one who has so much ability, inclination, and success, if you view him in a public capacity, in being eminently useful to his country, must necessarily confer on you great reputation; and to be the bosom friend of one who is equally fitted to promote any kind of domestic happiness, must as necessarily be the constant spring of the most substantial comfort to you.
For my own part, I never saw a man who was, in every respect, so perfectly agreeable to me. Some are amiable in one view, some in another, he in all. Now, Madam, as I know the ladies here consider him in exactly the same light I do, upon my word I think you should come over, with all convenient speed, to look after your interest; not but that I think him as faithful to his Joan as any man breathing; but who knows what repeated and strong temptation may in time, and while he is at so great a distance from you, accomplish? Besides, what a delightful expedition would this be to Miss Franklin, and how must it amuse and improve her, to see and live a while in this great city. I know you will object to the length of the voyage and the danger of the seas; but truly this is more terrible in apprehension than in reality. Of all the ways of travelling, it is the easiest and most expeditious; and, as for the danger, there has not a soul been lost between Philadelphia and this, in my memory; and I believe not one ship taken by the enemy.
Is the trouble and risk, then, of such a voyage to be compared in any degree with the pleasure it will afford you and your best friends? By no means. Instead of being afraid of the sea, we ought to have a particular regard for it, as it is so far from being a bar to the communication and intercourse of different and far distant countries, that it facilitates their correspondence in a very high degree. Nay more, it conveys in the floating castles of your mother country that protection and assistance which I trust will soon give peace to your borders. I might urge as an additional inducement for you to come over in the spring, that the important business with which Mr. Franklin is charged in the service of his country (which I dare say you would wish above all things may be brought to a happy conclusion) may very probably detain him more than one season, which will exhaust your patience to such a degree, that you may repent, when too late, you did not listen to my advice.
Your son I really think one of the prettiest young gentlemen I ever knew from America. He seems to me to have a solidity of judgment not very often to be met with in one of his years. This, with the daily opportunities he has of improving himself in the company of his father, who is at the same time his friend, his brother, his intimate and easy companion, affords an agreeable prospect that your husband’s virtues and usefulness to his country may be prolonged beyond the date of his own life.
Your daughter (I wish I could call her mine), I find by the reports of all who know her, is a very amiable girl in all respects; but of her I shall say nothing till I have the pleasure of seeing her. Only I must observe to you, that being mistress of such a family is a degree of happiness perhaps the greatest that falls to the lot of humanity. I sincerely wish you very long the unabated enjoyment of them. I leave it to your friend to write you every thing from this place you would desire to know. But I cannot take my leave without informing you that Mr. Franklin has the good fortune to lodge with a very discreet gentlewoman who is particularly careful of him, who attended him during a very severe cold he was some time ago seized with, with an assiduity, concern, and tenderness which perhaps only yourself could equal, so that I don’t think you could have a better substitute till you come over to take him under your own protection. He is now perfectly recovered.
My own family are, I thank God, just now in perfect health. My wife joins me in kindest compliments to you and dear Miss, not forgetting her honest son David1 and his fireside. I wish you a speedy and happy meeting with your friends on this side the water, which will give great pleasure to, dear Madam, your most affectionate humble servant,
TO JOHN PRINGLE2
21 December, 1757.
In compliance with your request, I send you the following account of what I can at present recollect relating to the effects of electricity in paralytic cases which have fallen under my observation.
Some years since, when the newspapers made mention of great cures performed in Italy and Germany by means of electricity, a number of paralytics were brought to me from different parts of Pennsylvania, and the neighbouring provinces, to be electrized, which I did for them at their request. My method was to place the patient first in a chair, on an electric stool, and draw a number of large strong sparks from all parts of the affected limb or side. Then I fully charged two six gallon glass jars, each of which had about three square feet of surface coated; and I sent the united shock of these through the affected limb or limbs, repeating the stroke commonly three times each day. The first thing observed was an immediate greater sensible warmth in the lame limbs that had received the stroke than in the others; and the next morning the patients usually related that they had in the night felt a pricking sensation in the flesh of the paralytic limbs; and would sometimes show a number of small red spots, which they supposed were occasioned by those prickings. The limbs, too, were found more capable of voluntary motion, and seemed to receive strength. A man, for instance, who could not the first day lift the lame hand from off his knee, would the next day raise it four or five inches; the third day, higher; and on the fifth day was able, but with a feeble, languid motion, to take off his hat. These appearances gave great spirits to the patients, and made them hope a perfect cure; but I do not remember that I ever saw any amendment after the fifth day; which the patients perceiving, and finding the shocks pretty severe, they became discouraged, went home, and in a short time relapsed; so that I never knew any advantage from electricity in palsies, that was permanent. And how far the apparent, temporary advantage might arise from the exercise in the patients’ journey, and coming daily to my house, or from the spirits given by the hope of success, enabling them to exert more strength in moving their limbs, I will not pretend to say.
Perhaps some permanent advantage might have been obtained if the electric shocks had been accompanied with proper medicine and regimen, under the direction of a skilful physician. It may be, too, that a few great strokes, as given in my method, may not be so proper as many small ones; since by the account from Scotland of a case in which two hundred shocks from a phial were given daily, it seems that a perfect cure has been made. As to any uncommon strength supposed to be in the machine used in that case, I imagine it could have no share in the effect produced; since the strength of the shock from charged glass is in proportion to the quantity of surface of the glass coated; so that my shocks from those large jars must have been much greater than any that could be received from a phial held in the hand.
I am, with great respect, Sir,