Front Page Titles (by Subject) CLXIV: TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
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CLXIV: TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN - 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. 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,
[1 ]This lady was Mrs. Margaret Stevenson, who kept a boarding-house in Craven Street, near the Strand, and with whom Dr. Franklin lived during the whole fifteen years of his residence in London. For Mrs. Stevenson and her daughter, Miss Mary Stevenson, who at this time was eighteen years old, he formed a strong attachment, which continued through life. His first acquaintance with Mrs. Stevenson was accidental, he being recommended to her house by some of his Pennsylvania friends who had boarded there. Miss Stevenson was a girl of excellent sense, and of a highly cultivated mind, and some of his best letters on philosophical and other subjects were written to her. In the London Guide Books, “No. 7 Craven Street,” is still indicated as the house in which Dr. Franklin resided.