- The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume V: Correspondence and Miscellaneous Writings
- 1768: CCCXXXIV: To M. Dubourg 1
- CCCXXXV: To John Winthrop
- CCCXXXVI: Petition of the Letter Z
- CCCXXXVII: To William Franklin
- CCCXXXVIII: To Joseph Galloway
- CCCXXXIX: To M. Dubourg. 1
- Cccxl: to Dupont De Nemours 1
- Cccxli: to John Alleyne, Esq.
- Cccxlii: a Scheme For a New Alphabet and Reformed Mode of Spelling With Remarks and Examples Concerning the Same, and an Enquiry Into Its Uses, In a Correspondence Between Miss Stevenson and Dr. Franklin, Written In the Characters of the Alphabet 1
- Cccxliii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cccxliv: From Joseph Galloway to B. Franklin
- Cccxlv: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Cccxlvi: to a Friend
- Cccxlvii: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cccxlviii: to Michael Collinson, Esq.
- 1769:CCCXLIX: To Lord Kames
- Cccl: to John Bartram
- Cccli: to M. Le Roy
- Ccclii: to Lord Kames
- Cccliii: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Cccliv: to Samuel Cooper, At Boston
- Ccclv: to John Winthrop
- Ccclvi: Positions to Be Examined, Concerning National Wealth
- Ccclvii: to Samuel Cooper
- Ccclviii: to Mrs. Jane Mecom
- Ccclxix: to the London Chronicle 1
- Ccclx: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccclxi: to the Committee of Merchants In Philadelphia
- Ccclxii: to John Bartram
- Ccclxiii: to James Bowdoin
- Ccclxiv: to M. Dubourg 3
- Ccclxv: From Miss Mary Stevenson to B. Franklin
- Ccclxvi: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccclxvii: to Cadwallader Evans
- Ccclxviii: to Samuel Cooper
- Ccclxix: On Ventilation
- Ccclxx: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccclxxi: Queries By Mr. Strahan Respecting American Affairs, and Dr. Franklin’s Answers
- Ccclxxii: State of the Constitution of the Colonies 1
- Ccclxxiii: Observations On Passages In “an Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Disputes Between the British Colonies In America and Their Mother Country.”
- Ccclxxiv: Observations On Passages In a Pamphlet, Entitled “the True Constitutional Means For Putting an End to the Disputes Between Great Britain and the American Colonies.”
- 1770: Ccclxxv: to M. Dubourg 1
- Ccclxxvi: to John Bartram
- Ccclxxvii: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccclxxviii: to Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal
- Ccclxxix: to Michael Hillegas
- Ccclxxx: to a Friend In America
- Ccclxxxi: to Samuel Cooper
- Ccclxxxii: to Miss Mary Stevenson
- Ccclxxxiii: to Jonathan Williams
- Ccclxxxiv: to Samuel Cooper 1
- Ccclxxxv: to Samuel Franklin
- Ccclxxxvi: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Ccclxxxvii: to Samuel Rhoads
- Ccclxxxviii: to Mrs. Mary Hewson 1
- Ccclxxxix: to Cadwallader Evans
- CCCXC: The Craven-street Gazette 1
- CCCXCI: To M. Dubourg
- CCCXCII: To Dupont De Nemours
- CCCXCIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCCXCIV: From Deborah Franklin to B. Franklin
- CCCXCV: From Samuel Cooper to B. Franklin
- CCCXCVI: To Thomas Cushing 1
- CCCXCVII: To Mrs. Jane Mecom
- 1771: CCCXCVIII: To Thomas Cushing
- CCCXCIX: To Samuel Cooper
- CCCC: To Cadwallader Evans
- CCCCI: To Jonathan Williams
- CCCCII: To Mrs. Williams
- CCCCIII: To William Franklin
- CCCCIV: From Samuel Rhoads to B. Franklin
- CCCCV: To the Committee of Correspondence In Massachusetts 1
- CCCCVI: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCCCVII: To Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of Asaph
- CCCCVIII: To Noble Wimberly Jones
- CCCCIX: To Cadwallader Evans
- CCCCX: From Samuel Cooper to B. Franklin
- CCCCXI: To Samuel Franklin
- CCCCXII: To John Bartram
- CCCCXIII: To Cadwallader Evans
- CCCCXIV: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCCCXV: Plan For Benefiting Distant Unprovided Countries
- CCCCXVI: Concerning the Provision Made In China Against Famine 1
- CCCCXVII: To Mr. William Strahan
- CCCCXVIII: To Thomas Percival 1
- CCCCXIX: To Mrs. Mary Hewson
- 1772: CCCCXX: To Mrs. Jane Mecom
- CCCCXXI: To the Committee of Correspondence In Massachusetts
- CCCCXXII: To Samuel Cooper
- CCCCXXIII: To James Bowdoin
- CCCCXXIV: To Joshua Babcock
- CCCCXXV: To Thomas Cushing
- CCCCXXVI: To Samuel Franklin
- CCCCXXVII: To Ezra Stiles
- CCCCXXVIII: To Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- CCCCXXIX: To Mrs. Sarah Bache
- CCCCXXX: To William Franklin
- CCCCXXXI: Mayz, Or Indian Corn
- CCCCXXXII: Precautions to Be Used By Those Who Are About to Undertake a Sea Voyage
- CCCCXXXIII: Toleration In Old England and New England 1
- CCCCXXXIV: To John Foxcroft
- CCCCXXXV: To Cadwallader Evans
- CCCCXXXVI: From David Hume to B. Franklin
- CCCCXXXVII: To Thomas Cushing
- CCCCXXXVIII: To M. Le Roy
- CCCCXXXIX: To Joseph Priestley
- Ccccxl: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Ccccxli: to Major Dawson, Engineer 1
- Ccccxlii: From Joseph Priestley to B. Franklin
- Ccccxliii: to Mr. Maseres
- Ccccxliv: From Joseph Priestley to B. Franklin
- Ccccxlv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Ccccxlvi: to William Franklin
- Ccccxlvii: to Governor Franklin, New Jersey
- Ccccxlviii: to William Franklin
- Ccccxlix: Report On Lightning-conductors For the Powder Magazines At Purfleet
- Ccccl: to Mr. Anthony Benezet, 1 Philadelphia
- Ccccli: Experiments, Observations, and Facts, Tending to Support the Opinion of the Utility of Long, Pointed Rods, For Securing Buildings From Damage By Strokes of Lightning.
- Cccclii: to Joseph Galloway
- Ccccliii: to Thomas Cushing
- Ccccliv: to Dr. Priestley
- Cccclv: to Miss Georgiana Shipley 1
- Cccclvi: the Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams
- Cccclvii: to Mr. Bache
- Cccclviii: to John Bartram
- Cccclix: to Jonathan Williams
- Cccclx: to Lord Stirling
- Cccclxi: to Governor William Franklin
- Cccclxii: to Mr. Timothy
- Cccclxiii: to Thomas Cushing
- Cccclxiv: Preface By the British Editor
- Cccclxv: to Mrs. Deborah Franklin
- Cccclxvi: to Joseph Galloway
- Cccclxvii: to Mr. Abel James
- Cccclxviii: to William Franklin
- Cccclxix: Answer to M. Dubourg’s Queries Respecting the Armonica
- Cccclxx: Settlement On the Ohio River 1
TO M. DUBOURG
. . . I am persuaded, as well as you, that the sea coal has a vegetable origin, and that it has been formed near the surface of the earth; but, as preceding convulsions of nature had served to bring it very deep in many places, and covered it with many different strata, we are indebted to subsequent convulsions for having brought within our view the extremities of its veins, so as to lead us to penetrate the earth in search of it. I visited last summer a large coal mine at Whitehaven, in Cumberland; and in following the vein and descending by degrees towards the sea, I penetrated below the ocean, where the level of its surface was more than eight hundred fathoms above my head, and the miners assured me that their works extended some miles beyond the place where I then was, continually and gradually descending under the sea. The slate, which forms the roof of this coal mine, is impressed in many places with the figures of leaves and branches of fern, which undoubtedly grew at the surface when the slate was in the state of sand on the banks of the sea. Thus it appears that this vein of coal has suffered a prodigious settlement. . . .
TO JOHN BARTRAM
London, 11 January, 1770.
My Ever Dear Friend:—
I received your kind letter of November 29th, with the parcel of seeds, for which I am greatly obliged to you. I cannot make you adequate returns in kind; but I send you, however, some of the true rhubarb seed, which you desire. I had it from Mr. English, who lately received a medal of the Society of Arts for propagating it. I send also some green dry peas, highly esteemed here as the best for making pea soup; and also some Chinese caravances, with Father Navarette’s account of the universal use of a cheese made of them in China, which so excited my curiosity, that I caused inquiry to be made of Mr. Flint, who lived many years there, in what manner the cheese was made, and I send you his answer. I have since learned that some runnings of salt (I suppose runnet) is put into water, when the meal is in it, to turn it to curds. I think we have caravances with us, but I know not whether they are the same with these, which actually came from China. They are said to be of great increase.
I shall inquire of Mr. Collinson for your Journal. I see that of East Florida is printed with Stork’s Account. My love to good Mrs. Bartram and your children. With esteem I am ever, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
22 January, 1770.
I received your favor of Saturday, early this morning, and am, as usual, much obliged by the kind readiness with which you have done what I requested.
Your good mother has complained more of her head since you left us than ever before. If she stoops, or looks, or bends her neck downwards, on any occasion, it is with great pain and difficulty that she gets her head up again. She has, therefore, borrowed a breast and neck collar of Mrs. Wilkes, such as misses wear, and now uses it to keep her head up. Mr. Strahan has invited us all to dine there to-morrow, but she has excused herself. Will you come, and go with me? If you cannot well do that, you will at least be with us on Friday.
As to my own head, which you so kindly inquire after, its swimming has gradually worn off, and to-day for the first time I felt nothing of it on getting out of bed. But as this speedy recovery is, as I am fully persuaded, owing to the extreme abstemiousness I have observed for some days past at home, I am not without apprehensions that, being to dine abroad this day, to-morrow, and next day, I may inadvertently bring it on again, if I do not think of my little monitor and guardian angel, and make use of the proper and very pertinent clause she proposes, in my grace. Here comes a morning visitor. Adieu. My best respects to Mrs. Tickell. I am, my dear friend, yours affectionately,
TO NEVIL MASKELYNE, ASTRONOMER ROYAL
read at the royal society, january 10, 1771
12 February, 1770.
I have just received a letter from Mr. Winthrop, dated December 7th, containing the following account, viz.:
“On Thursday, the 9th of November, I had an opportunity of observing a transit of Mercury. I had carefully adjusted my clock to the apparent time, by correspondent altitudes of the sun, taken with the quadrant for several days before, and with the same reflecting telescope as I used for the transit of Venus. I first perceived the little planet making an impression on the sun’s limb at 2h 52′ 41″; and he appeared wholly within at 53′ 58″ apparent time. The sun set before the planet reached the middle of his course; and for a considerable time before sunset it was so cloudy that the planet could not be discerned. So that I made no observations of consequence, except that of the beginning, at which time the sun was perfectly clear. This transit completes three periods of forty-six years, since the first observation of Gassendi at Paris, in 1631.”
I am, Sir, with great esteem,
Your most obedient servant,
TO MICHAEL HILLEGAS
London, 17 March, 1770.
I received your favor of November 25th, and have made inquiries, as you desired, concerning the copper covering of houses. It has been used here in a few instances only, and the practice does not seem to gain ground. The copper is about the thickness of a common playing-card; and, though a dearer metal than lead, I am told that as less weight serves, on account of its being so much thinner, and as slighter woodwork in the roof is sufficient to support it, the roof is not dearer, on the whole, than one covered with lead.
It is said that hail and rain make a disagreeable drumming noise on copper; but this I suppose is rather fancy; for the plates being fastened on the rafters must, in a great measure, deaden such sound. The first cost, whatever it is, will be all, as a copper covering must last for ages; and when the house decays, the plates will still have intrinsic worth. In Russia, I am informed, many houses are covered with plates of iron tinned, such as our tin pots and other vases are made of, laid on over the edges of one another like tiles; and which, it is said, last very long, the tin preserving the iron from much decay by rusting. In France and the Low Countries, I have seen many spouts or pipes for conveying the water down from the roofs of houses, made of the same kind of tin plates soldered together; and they seem to stand very well.
With sincere regard, I am
TO A FRIEND IN AMERICA
London, 18 March, 1770.
Your very judicious letter of November 26th, being communicated by me to some member of Parliament, was handed about among them, so that it was some time before I got it again into my hands. It had due weight with several, and was of considerable use. You will see that I printed it at length in the London Chronicle, with the merchants’ letter. When the American affairs came to be debated in the House of Commons, the majority, notwithstanding all the weight of ministerial influence, was only sixty-two for continuing the whole last act; and would not have been so large, nay, I think the repeal would have been carried, but that the ministry were persuaded by Governor Bernard, and some lying letters, said to be from Boston, that the associations not to import were all breaking to pieces, that America was in the greatest distress for want of the goods, that we could not possibly subsist any longer without them, and must of course submit to any terms Parliament should think fit to impose upon us. This, with the idle notion of the dignity and sovereignty of Parliament, which they are so fond of, and imagine will be endangered by any further concessions, prevailed, I know, with many, to vote with the ministry, who, otherwise, on account of the commerce, wish to see the difference accommodated.
But though both the Duke of Grafton and Lord North were and are, in my opinion, rather inclined to satisfy us, yet the Bedford party are so violent against us, and so prevalent in the council, that more moderate measures could not take place. This party never speak of us but with evident malice; “rebels” and “traitors” are the best names they can afford us, and I believe they only wish for a colorable pretence and occasion of ordering the soldiers to make a massacre among us.
On the other hand, the Rockingham and Shelburne people, with Lord Chatham’s friends, are disposed to favor us, if they were again in power, which at present they are not like to be; though they, too, would be for keeping up the claim of Parliamentary sovereignty, but without exercising it in any mode of taxation. Besides these, we have for sincere friends and well-wishers the body of Dissenters generally throughout England, with many others, not to mention Ireland and all the rest of Europe, who, from various motives, join in applauding the spirit of liberty with which we have claimed and insisted on our privileges, and wish us success, but whose suffrage cannot have much weight in our affairs.
The merchants here were at length prevailed on to present a petition, but they moved slowly, and some of them, I thought, reluctantly; perhaps from a despair of success, the city not being much in favor with the court at present. The manufacturing towns absolutely refused to move at all; some pretending to be offended with our attempting to manufacture for ourselves; others saying that they had employment enough, and that our trade was of little importance to them, whether we continued or refused it. Those who began a little to feel the effects of our forbearing to purchase, were persuaded to be quiet by the ministerial people, who gave out that certain advices were received of our beginning to break our agreements; of our attempts to manufacture proving all abortive and ruining the undertakers; of our distress for want of goods, and dissensions among ourselves, which promised the total defeat of all such kind of combinations, and the prevention of them for the future, if the government were not urged imprudently to repeal the duties. But now that it appears from late and authentic accounts, that agreements continue in full force, that a ship is actually returned from Boston to Bristol with nails and glass (articles that were thought of the utmost necessity), and that the ships, which were waiting here for the determination of Parliament, are actually returning to North America in their ballast, the tone of the manufacurers begins to change, and there is no doubt that, if we are steady, and persevere in our resolutions, these people will soon begin a clamor, that much pains has hitherto been used to stifle.
In short, it appears to me that if we do not now persist in this measure till it has had its full effect, it can never again be used on any future occasion with the least prospect of success, and that, if we do persist another year, we shall never afterwards have occasion to use it. With sincere regards, I am, dear Sir, your obedient servant,
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 14 April, 1770.
I suppose Governor Pownall acquaints you with what has passed this session relating to our American affairs. All Europe is attentive to the dispute between Britain and the colonies; and I own I have a satisfaction in seeing that our part is taken everywhere, because I am persuaded that that circumstance will not be without its effect here in our favor. At the same time the malignant pleasure which other powers take in British divisions, may convince us on both sides of the necessity of our uniting.
In France they have translated and printed the principal pieces that have been written on the American side of the question; and as French is the political language of Europe, it has communicated an acquaintance with our affairs very extensively. M. Beaumont, a famous advocate of Paris, the defender of the family of Calas, wrote the Reflexions d’un Etranger désintéressé, which I send you. The manuscript is an original letter from a gentleman (of note, I am told) as far off as the Austrian Silesia, who, being concerned for us, wrote it to the Parliament, directing it to the late Speaker. The Speaker read only the first side, was offended at the freedom and impertinence, as he called it, and returned the letter to the office, refusing to pay the postage. Accept it as a curiosity. I send you also a late edition of Molineux’s Case of Ireland, with a new preface, shrewdly written. Our part is warmly taken by the Irish in general, there being in many points a similarity in our cases. My respects to Mr. Bowdoin, and believe me ever, dear Sir, yours affectionately,
TO MISS MARY STEVENSON
Tuesday, 31 May, 1770.
I received your letter early this morning, and as I am so engaged that I cannot see you when you come to-day, I write this line just to say that I am sure you are a much better judge in this affair of your own, than I can possibly be. In that confidence it was that I forebore giving my advice when you mentioned it to me, and not from any disapprobation. My concern (equal to any father’s) for your happiness makes me write this, lest, having more regard for my opinion than you ought, and imagining it against the proposal because I did not immediately advise accepting it, you should let that weigh any thing in your deliberations.
I assure you that no objection has occurred to me. His person you see: his temper and understanding you can judge of; his character, for any thing I have ever heard, is unblemished; his profession, with the skill in it he is supposed to have, will be sufficient to support a family; and, therefore, considering the fortune you have in your hands (though any future expectation from your parent should be disappointed), I do not see but that the agreement may be a rational one on both sides.
I see your delicacy, and your humility too; for you fancy that if you do not prove a great fortune, you will not be loved; but I am sure, were I in his situation in every respect, knowing you so well as I do, and esteeming you so highly, I should think you a fortune sufficient for me without a shilling.
Having thus, more explicitly than before, given my opinion, I leave the rest to your sound judgment, of which no one has a greater share; and I shall not be too inquisitive after your particular reasons, your doubts, your fears, and the like. For I shall be confident, whether you accept or refuse, that you do right. I only wish you may do what will most contribute to your happiness, and of course to mine; being ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
P. S.—Do not be angry with me for supposing your determination not quite so fixed as you fancy it.
TO JONATHAN WILLIAMS
London, 6 June, 1770.
Your favor of January 8th came duly to hand, but I have been so much engaged during the sitting of Parliament that I could not correspond regularly with all my friends, and have of course trespassed most with those on whose good nature and indulgence I could most rely. I am, however, ashamed of being so long silent. It was but the other day that I inquired after the fate of your tickets, when I received the enclosed answer, whereby you will see that the whole cost has not been lost. I only wished to see three ciphers more following the sum. I have not any further orders from you, but think to take at a venture two tickets more on your account. If you disapprove and choose to rest where you are, signify it by a line before the drawing, directed to Messrs. Smith, Wright, and Grey, who may then dispose of the tickets.
I am glad to hear the old gentleman, your father, is still alive and happy. Please to remember me to him respectfully. Probably he can recollect but little of me, as it is a good deal more than half a century since he has seen me; but I remember him well, a lively, active, handsome young man, with a fine full flowing head of hair. I suppose he must how be near fourscore.
If I could have given you any intimation of the intentions of government with regard to America that might be depended upon, you should have had them in good time for use, in the views of trade you hint at. But there have been this winter such changes of men and of minds, and such continual expectations of more and other changes, that nothing was certain; and I believe that to this day the ministry are not all of a mind, or determined what are the next steps proper to be taken with us. Some are said to be for severe, others for lenient measures; others for leaving things as they now are, in confidence that we shall soon be tired of our non-importation agreements, manufacturing schemes, and self-denying frugalities, submit to the duties, and return by degrees to our dear luxuries and idleness, with our old course of commercial extravagance, folly, and good humor. Which of these opinions will prevail and be acted on it is impossible yet to say. I only know that generally the dispute is thought a dangerous one, and that many wish to see it well compromised in time, lest by a continuance of mutual provocations the breach should become past healing.
I am much obliged to you and cousin Hubbard for your kindness to my friend Hughes, of which he informed me, with many expressions of gratitude for your civilities. He would have been very happy in that station, and in your acquaintance so nigh him; but he is now removed to Carolina.
My love to your good wife and children, and believe me ever your affectionate uncle,
TO SAMUEL COOPER
London, 8 June, 1770.
I received duly your favor of March 28th. With this I send you two speeches in Parliament on our affairs by a member that you know. The repeal of the whole late act would undoubtedly have been a prudent measure, and I have reason to believe that Lord North was for it, but some of the other ministers could not be brought to agree to it; so the duty on tea, with that obnoxious preamble, remains to continue the dispute. But I think the next session will hardly pass over without repealing them; for the Parliament must finally comply with the sense of the nation.
As to the standing army kept up among us in time of peace, without the consent of our assemblies, I am clearly of opinion that it is not agreeable to the constitution. Should the King, by the aid of his parliaments in Ireland and the colonies, raise an army, and bring it into England, quartering it here in time of peace without the consent of the Parliament of Great Britain, I am persuaded he would soon be told that he had no right so to do, and the nation would ring with clamors against it. I own that I see no difference in the cases; and while we continue so many distinct and separate states, our having the same head or sovereign, the King, will not justify such an invasion of the separate right of each state to be consulted on the establishment of whatever force is proposed to be kept up within its limits, and to give or refuse its consent, as shall appear most for the public good of that state.
That the colonies were originally constituted distinct states, and intended to be continued such, is clear to me from a thorough consideration of their original charters, and the whole conduct of the crown and nation towards them until the Restoration. Since that period, the Parliament here has usurped an authority of making laws for them, which before it had not. We have for some time submitted to that usurpation, partly through ignorance and inattention, and partly from our weakness and inability to contend. I hope when our rights are better understood here, we shall, by prudent and proper conduct, be able to obtain from the equity of this nation a restoration of them. And, in the meantime, I could wish that such expressions as the Supreme authority of Parliament, subordinacy of our assemblies to the Parliament, and the like, which in reality mean nothing, if our assemblies, with the King, have a true legislative authority; I say, I could wish that such expressions were no more seen in our public pieces. They are too strong for compliment, and tend to confirm a claim of subjects in one part of the King’s dominions to be sovereigns over their fellow-subjects in another part of his dominions, when in truth they have no such right, and their claim is founded only in usurpation, the several states having equal rights and liberties, and being only connected as England and Scotland were before the union, by having one common sovereign, the King.
This kind of doctrine the Lords and Commons here would deem little less than treason against what they think their share of the sovereignty over the colonies. To me those bodies seem to have been long encroaching on the rights of their and our sovereign, assuming too much of his authority, and betraying his interests. By our constitution he is, with his plantation parliaments, the sole legislator of his American subjects, and in that capacity is, and ought to be, free to exercise his own judgment, unrestrained and unlimited by his Parliament here. And our parliaments have a right to grant him aids without the consent of this Parliament, a circumstance which, by the way, begins to give it some jealousy. Let us, therefore, hold fast our loyalty to our King, who has the best disposition towards us, and has a family interest in our prosperity; as that steady loyalty is the most probable means of securing us from the arbitrary power of a corrupt Parliament that does not like us, and conceives itself to have an interest in keeping us down and fleecing us.
If they should urge the inconvenience of an empire’s being divided into so many separate states, and from thence conclude that we are not so divided, I would answer that an inconvenience proves nothing but itself. England and Scotland were once separate states, under the same King. The inconvenience found in their being separate states did not prove that the Parliament of England had a right to govern Scotland. A formal union was thought necessary, and England was a hundred years soliciting it before she could bring it about. If Great Britain now thinks such a union necessary with us, let her propose her terms, and we may consider them. Were the general sentiment of this nation to be consulted in the case, I should hope the terms, whether practicable or not, would at least be equitable; for I think that, except among those with whom the spirit of Toryism prevails, the popular inclination here is to wish us well, and that we may preserve our liberties.
I unbosom myself thus to you, in confidence of your prudence, and wishing to have your sentiments on the subject in return.
Mr. Pownall, I suppose, will acquaint you with the event of his motions, and therefore I say nothing more of them than that he appears very sincere in his endeavors to serve us; on which account, I sometime since republished with pleasure the parting addresses to him of your Assembly, with some previous remarks to his honor, as well as in justification of our people.
I hope that before this time those detestable murderers have quitted your province, and that the spirit of industry and frugality continues and increases. With sincerest esteem and affection, I am, dear Sir, &c.,
P. S.—Just before the last session of Parliament commenced, a friend of mine, who had connexion with some of the ministry, wrote me a letter purposely to draw from me my sentiments in writing on the then state of affairs. I wrote a pretty free answer, which I know was immediately communicated, and a good deal handed about among them. For your private amusement I send you copies. I wish you may be able to read them, as they are very badly written by a very blundering clerk.
TO SAMUEL FRANKLIN
London, 8 June, 1770.
I received your kind letter of the 23d of March. I was happy to find that neither you nor any of your family were in the way of those murderers. I hope that before this time the town is quite freed from such dangerous and mischievous inmates.
I rejoice to hear that you and your good wife and children continue in health. My love to them. I still enjoy a considerable share of that blessing, thanks to God, and hope once more to see Boston and my friends there before I die. I left it first in 1723. I made a visit there in 1733; another in 1743; another in 1753; another in 1763. Perhaps if I live to 1773, I may then call again, and take my leave.
Our relation, Sally Franklin, is still with me here, is a very good girl, and grown up almost a woman. She sends her love to you and yours. I am, with sincere regard, your affectionate cousin,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 10 June, 1770.
My Dear Child:—
I think you are the most punctual of all my correspondents; and it is often a particular satisfaction to me to hear from you when I have no letter from any one else. By Captain Falconer I answered Sally’s letter about her son’s being inoculated, and told her Sir John Pringle’s opinion, as to the probability of his not having the smallpox hereafter. I think he advised, as no eruption appeared, to make sure of the thing, by inoculating him again. I rejoice much in the pleasure you appear to take in him. It must be of use to your health, the having such an amusement. My love to him, and to his father and mother.
Captain Ourry is gone abroad as a travelling tutor to Lord Galway’s son; Mrs. Strahan is at Bath; Mr. Strahan and children, Mr. and Mrs. West and their son, are all well at present; though Mr. West himself has had a long illness. They always inquire after you, and I present your compliments. Poor Nanny was drawn in to marry a worthless fellow, who got all her money, and then ran away, and left her. So she is returned to her old service with Mrs. Stevenson, poorer than ever, but seems pretty patient, only looks dejected, sighs sometimes, and wishes she had never left Philadelphia. Mr. Montgomery died at sea, as we have lately heard.
As to myself, I had, from Christmas till Easter, a disagreeable giddiness hanging about me, which, however, did not hinder me from being about and doing business. In the Easter holidays, being at a friend’s house in the country, I was taken with a sore throat, and came home half strangled. From Monday till Friday I could swallow nothing but barley water and the like. On Friday came on a fit of the gout, from which I had been free five years. Immediately the inflammation and swelling in my throat disappeared; my foot swelled greatly, and I was confined about three weeks; since which I am perfectly well, the giddiness and every other disagreeable symptom having quite left me. I hope your health is likewise by this time quite reëstablished; being as ever, my dear child, your affectionate husband,
TO SAMUEL RHOADS
London, 26 June, 1770.
It is a long time since I had the pleasure of hearing from you directly. Mrs. Franklin has indeed now and then acquainted me of your welfare, which I am always glad to hear of. It is, I fear, partly if not altogether my fault, that our correspondence has not been regularly continued. One thing I am sure of, that it has been from no want of regard on either side, but rather from too much business, and avocations of various kinds, and my having little of importance to communicate.
One of our good citizens, Mr. Hillegas, anxious for the future safety of our town, wrote to me some time since, desiring I would inquire concerning the covering of our houses here with copper. I sent him the best information I could then obtain, but have since received the enclosed from an ingenious friend, who is what they call here a civil engineer. I should be glad you would peruse it, think of the matter a little, and give me your sentiments of it. When you have done with the paper, please to give it to Mr. Hillegas. I am told by Lord Despencer, who has covered a long piazza, or gallery, with copper, that the expense is charged in this account too high; for his cost but one shilling and ten pence per foot, all charges included. I suppose his copper must have been thinner. And, indeed, it is so strong a metal, that I think it may well be used very thin.
It appears to me of great importance, to build our dwelling-houses, if we can, in a manner more secure from danger by fire. We scarcely ever heard of fire in Paris. When I was there I took particular notice of the construction of their houses, and I did not see how one of them could well be burnt. The roofs are slate or tile, the walls are stone, the walls generally lined with stucco or plaster, instead of wainscot, the floors of stucco, or of six square tiles painted brown, or of flag stone, or of marble; if any floors were of wood, it was of oak wood, which is not so inflammable as pine. Carpets prevent the coldness of stone or brick floors offending the feet in winter, and the noise of treading on such floors overhead is less inconvenient than on boards.
The stairs, too, at Paris, are either stone or brick, with only a wooden edge or corner for the step; so that, on the whole, though the Parisians commonly burn wood in their chimneys, a more dangerous kind of fuel than that used here, yet their houses escape extremely well, as there is little in a room that can be consumed by fire except the furniture; whereas in London, perhaps scarcely a year passes in which half a million of property and many lives are not lost by this destructive element. Of late, indeed, they begin here to leave off wainscoting their rooms, and instead of it cover the walls with stucco, often formed into pannels like wainscot, which, being painted, is very strong and warm. Stone staircases, too, with iron rails, grow more and more into fashion here; but stone steps cannot, in some circumstances, be fixed; and there, methinks, oak is safer than pine; and I assure you that in many genteel houses here, both old and new, the stairs and floors are oak, and look extremely well. Perhaps solid oak for the steps would be still safer than boards; and two steps might be cut diagonally out of one piece.
Excuse my talking to you on a subject with which you must be so much better acquainted than I am. It is partly to make out a letter, and partly in hope that, by turning your attention to the point, some methods of greater security in our future building may be thought of and promoted by you, whose judgment I know has deservedly great weight with our fellow-citizens. For, though our town has not hitherto suffered greatly by fire, yet I am apprehensive, that some time or other, by a concurrence of unlucky circumstances, such as dry weather, hard frost, and high winds, a fire then happening may suddenly spread far and wide over our cedar roofs, and do us an immense mischief. I am, yours, &c.,
[Paper referred to in the above letter.]
The carpentry of the roof, being formed with its proper descents, is, in the first place, sheeted or covered with deals, nailed horizontally upon the rafters, after the same manner as when intended to be covered with lead. The sheets of the copper for this covering are two feet by four, and for covering the slopes of the roof are cast so thin as to weigh eight or nine pounds, and for covering the flats or gutters, ten or eleven pounds each, or about one pound or a pound and a quarter to the superficial foot.
A string of strong cartridge paper (overlapping a little at its joints) is regularly tacked down upon the sheeting, under the copper covering, as the work proceeds from eaves to ridge. It prevents the jingling sound of hail or rain falling upon the roof, and answers another purpose to be mentioned by and by.
In order to show the regular process of laying down the roof, we must begin with fastening two sheets together lengthwise. The edges of two sheets are laid down so as to lap or cover each other an inch, and a slip of the same copper, about three inches and a half broad, called the reeve, is introduced between them. Four oblong holes, or slits, are then cut or punched through the whole, and they are fastened or riveted together by copper nails, with small round shanks and flat heads. Indents are then cut one inch and three quarters deep upon the seam at top and bottom. The right hand sheet and the reeve are then folded back to the left. The reeve is then folded to the right, and the sheets being laid on the roof in their place, it is nailed down to the sheeting with flat-headed, short copper nails. The right-hand sheet is then folded over the reeve to the right, and the whole beat down flat upon the cartridge paper covering the sheeting, and thus they are fastened and laid in their places by nailing down the reeve only; and by reason of the oblong holes through them and the reeve, have a little liberty to expand or contract with the heat and cold, without raising themselves up from the sheeting, or tearing themselves or the fastening to pieces.
Two other sheets are then fixed together, according to the first and second operations above, and their seam, with the reeve, introduced under the upper ends of the seam of the former, so as to cover down about two inches upon the upper ends of the former sheets; and so far the cartridge paper is allowed to cover the two first sheets. This edge of the paper is dipped in oil, or in turpentine, so far before its application, and thus a body between the sheets is formed, impenetrable to wet, and the reeve belonging to the two last sheets is nailed down to the sheeting as before, and the left-hand sheet is turned down to the right. Four sheets are now laid down, with the seam or joint rising to the ridge; and thus the work is continued, both vertically and horizontally, till the roof is covered, the sides and ends of each sheet being alternately, each way, undermost and uppermost.
The price for copper, nails, and workmanship runs at about eight pounds ten shillings per hundred weight, or two shillings and three pence per foot, superficial, exclusive of the lappings; and about two shillings and eight pence per foot upon the whole; which is rather above half as much more as the price of doing it well with lead.
TO MRS. MARY HEWSON
London, 24 July, 1770.
I wrote a few lines to you last week, in answer to yours of the 15th, since which I have been in the country; and returning yesterday, found your good mother was come home, and had got a letter from you of the 20th. She has just put it into my hands, and desired me to write to you, as she is going into the city with Miss Barwell to buy things. Whether she will have time to write herself, or whether, if she had, she would get over her natural aversion to writing, I cannot say. I rather think she will content herself with your knowing what she should say, and would say if she wrote; and with my letting you know that she is well, and very happy in hearing that you are so.
Your friends are all much pleased with your account of the agreeable family, their kind reception and entertainment of you, and the respect shown you; only Dolly and I, though we rejoice and shall do so in every thing that contributes to your happiness, are now and then in low spirits, supposing we have lost each a friend. Barwell says she conceives nothing of this; and that we must be two simpletons to entertain such imaginations. I showed her your letter to your mother, wherein you say “Dolly is a naughty girl, and if she does not mend, I shall turn her off; for I have got another Dolly now, and a very good Dolly too.” She begged me not to communicate this to Dolly, for though said in jest, yet in her present state of mind it would hurt her. I suppose that it was for the same good-natured reason that she refused to show me a paragraph of your letter to Dolly, that had been communicated by Dolly to her.
July 25th. The above was written yesterday, but, being interrupted, I could not finish my letter in time for the post; though I find I had little to add. Your mother desires me to express abundance of affection for you, and for Mr. Hewson; and to say all the proper things for her, with respect to the rest of your friends there. But you can imagine better than I can write. Sally and little Temple join in best wishes of prosperity to you both. Make my sincerest respects acceptable to Mr. Hewson, whom, exclusive of his other merits, I shall always esteem in proportion to the regard he manifests for you. Barwell tells me that your aunt had received his letter, and was highly pleased with it and him; so I hope all will go well there; and I shall take every opportunity of cultivating her good disposition, in which I think you used to be sometimes a little backward, but you always had your reasons.
I am apt to love everybody that loves you, and therefore I suppose I shall in time love your new mother, and new sister, and new Dolly. I find I begin to like them already, and, if you think proper, you may tell them so. But your old Dolly and I have agreed to love each other better than ever we did, to make up as much as we can our supposed loss of you. We like your assurance of continued friendship, unimpaired by your change of condition, and we believe you think as you write; but we fancy we know better than you. You know I once knew your heart better than you did yourself. As a proof that I am right, take notice,—that you now think this the silliest letter I ever wrote to you, and that Mr. Hewson confirms you in that opinion.
However, I am still what I have been so many years, my dear good girl, your sincerely affectionate friend and servant,
TO CADWALLADER EVANS
London, 27 August, 1770.
I am favored with yours of June 10th. With this I send you our last volume of Philosophical Transactions, wherein you will see printed the observations of Messrs. Biddle and Bayley on the Transit, as well as those of Messrs. Mason and Dixon relating to the longitude of places. When you and your friends have perused it, please to deliver it to Mrs. Franklin to be put among my books.
Thanks for the books on the silk affair. It will give me great pleasure to see that business brought to perfection among us. The subscription is a noble one, and does great honor to our public spirit. If you should not procure from Georgia, as you expected, one that understands the reeling, I believe I can procure you such a hand from Italy, a great silk merchant here having offered me his assistance for that purpose, if wanted.
I am happy beyond expression to see the virtue and firmness of our country, with regard to the non-importation. It does us great honor. And New York is in great disgrace with all the friends of liberty in the kingdom, who are, I assure you, no contemptible number, and who applaud the stand we have made, and wish us success. I am, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
THE CRAVEN-STREET GAZETTE
Saturday, September 22, 1770.
This morning Queen Margaret, accompanied by her first maid of honor, Miss Franklin, set out for Rochester. Immediately on their departure the whole street was in tears—from a heavy shower of rain. It is whispered that the new family administration, which took place on her Majesty’s departure, promises, like all other new administrations, to govern much better than the old one.
We hear that the great person (so called from his enormous size) of a certain family in a certain street is grievously affected at the late changes, and could hardly be comforted this morning, though the new ministry promised him a roasted shoulder of mutton and potatoes for his dinner.
It is said that the same great person intended to pay his respects to another great personage this day at St. James’s, it being coronation-day; hoping thereby a little to amuse his grief; but was prevented by an accident, Queen Margaret or her maid of honor having carried off the key of the drawers, so that the lady of the bedchamber could not come at a laced shirt for his Highness. Great clamors were made on this occasion against her Majesty.
Other accounts say that the shirts were afterwards found, though too late, in another place. And some suspect that the wanting a shirt from those drawers was only a ministerial pretence to excuse picking the locks, that the new administration might have every thing at command.
We hear that the lady chamberlain of the household went to market this morning by her own self, gave the butcher whatever he asked for the mutton, and had no dispute with the potato-woman, to their great amazement at the change of times.
It is confidently asserted that this afternoon, the weather being wet, the great person a little chilly, and nobody at home to find fault with the expense of fuel, he was indulged with a fire in his chamber. It seems the design is to make him contented by degrees with the absence of the Queen.
A project has been under consideration of government to take the opportunity of her Majesty’s absence for doing a thing she was always averse to, namely, fixing a new lock on the street door, or getting a key made to the old one; it being found extremely inconvenient that one or other of the great officers of state should, whenever the maid goes out for a ha’penny worth of sand or a pint of porter, be obliged to tend the door to let her in again. But opinions being divided which of the two expedients to adopt, the project is for the present laid aside.
We have good authority to assure our readers that a Cabinet Council was held this afternoon at tea; the subject of which was a proposal for the reformation of manners and a more strict observation of the Lord’s day. The result was a unanimous resolution that no meat should be dressed to-morrow; whereby the cook and the first minister will both be at liberty to go to church, the one having nothing to do, and the other no roast to rule. It seems the cold shoulder of mutton and the apple-pie were thought sufficient for Sunday’s dinner. All pious people applaud this measure and it is thought the new ministry will soon become popular.
We hear that Mr. Wilkes was at a certain house in Craven Street this day, and inquired after the absent Queen. His good lady and the children are well.
The report that Mr. Wilkes, the patriot, made the above visit is without foundation, it being his brother, the courtier.
Sunday, September 23d.
It is now found, by sad experience, that good resolutions are easier made than executed. Notwithstanding yesterday’s solemn order of Council, nobody went to church to-day. It seems the great person’s broad-built bulk lay so long abed that the breakfast was not over till it was too late to dress. At least this is the excuse. In fine, it seems a vain thing to hope reformation from the example of our great folks.
The cook and the minister, however, both took advantage of the order so far, as to save themselves all trouble, and the clause of cold dinner was enforced, though the going to church was dispensed with, just as common working folks observe the commandment. The seventh day thou shalt rest, they think a sacred injunction; but the other six days thou shalt labor is deemed a mere piece of advice, which they may practise when they want bread and are out of credit at the ale-house, and may neglect whenever they have money in their pockets.
It must, nevertheless, be said, in justice to our court, that whatever inclination they had to gaming, no cards were brought out to-day. Lord and Lady Hewson walked after dinner to Kensington to pay their duty to the Dowager, and Dr. Fatsides made four hundred and sixty-nine turns in his dining-room as the exact distance of a visit to the lovely Lady Barwell, whom he did not find at home; so there was no struggle for and against a kiss, and he sat down to dream in the easy-chair that he had it without any trouble.
Monday, September 24th.
We are credibly informed that the great person dined this day with the Club at the Cat and Bagpipes in the City on cold round of boiled beef. This, it seems, he was under some necessity of doing (though he rather dislikes beef), because truly the ministers were to be all abroad somewhere to dine on hot roast venison. It is thought that if the Queen had been at home he would not have been so slighted. And though he shows outwardly no marks of dissatisfaction, it is suspected that he begins to wish for her Majesty’s return.
It is currently reported that poor Nanny had nothing for dinner in the kitchen for herself and puss but the scrapings of the bones of Saturday’s mutton.
This evening there was high play at Craven-Street House. The great person lost money. It is supposed the ministers, as is usually supposed of all ministers, shared the emoluments among them.
Tuesday, September 25th.
This morning the good Lord Hutton called at Craven-Street House, and inquired very respectfully and affectionately concerning the welfare of the Queen. He then imparted to the big man a piece of intelligence important to them both, which he had just received from Lady Hawkesworth, namely, that their amiable and excellent companion, Miss Dorothea Blount, had made a vow to marry absolutely him of the two whose wife should first depart this life. It is impossible to express with words the various agitations of mind appearing in both their faces on this occasion; vanity at the preference given them over the rest of mankind; affection for their present wives; fear of losing them; hope (if they must lose them) to obtain the proposed comfort; jealousy of each other in case both wives should die together,—all working at the same time, jumbled their features into inexplicable confusion. They parted at length, with professions and outward appearances of ever-enduring friendship; but it was shrewdly suspected that each of them wished health and long life to the other’s wife, and that however long either of these friends might like to live himself, the other would be very well pleased to survive him.
It is remarked that the skies have wept every day in Craven Street the absence of the Queen.
The public may be assured that this morning a certain great person was asked very complacently by the mistress of the household, if he would choose to have the blade-bone of Saturday’s mutton, that had been kept for his dinner to-day, broiled or cold. He answered gravely: If there is any flesh on it, it may be broiled; if not, it may as well be cold. Orders were accordingly given for broiling it. But when it came to table, there was indeed so very little flesh, or rather none at all (puss having dined on it yesterday after Nanny), that, if our new administration had been as good economists as they would be thought, the expense of broiling might well have been saved to the public and carried to the sinking fund. It is assured the great person bears all with infinite patience. But the nation is astonished at the insolent presumption that dares treat so much mildness in so cruel a manner.
A terrible accident had like to have happened this afternoon at tea. The boiler was set too near the end of the little square table. The first ministress was sitting at one end of the table to administer the tea; the great person was about to sit down at the other end, where the boiler stood. By a sudden motion, the lady gave the table a tilt. Had it gone over, the great person must have been scalded; perhaps to death. Various are the surmises and observations on this occasion. The godly say it would have been a just judgment on him for preventing, by his laziness, the family’s going to church last Sunday. The opposition do not stick to insinuate that there was a design to scald him, prevented only by his quick catching the table. The friends of the ministry give out that he carelessly jogged the table himself, and would have been inevitably scalded, had not the ministress saved him. It is hard for the public to come at the truth in these cases.
At six o’clock this afternoon, news came by the post that her Majesty arrived safely at Rochester on Saturday night. The bells immediately rang—for candles to illuminate the parlour; the court went into cribbage; and the evening concluded with every demonstration of joy.
It is reported that all the principal officers of state have received an invitation from the Duchess Dowager of Rochester, to go down thither on Saturday next. But it is not yet known whether the great affairs they have on their hands will permit them to make this excursion.
We hear that, from the time of her Majesty’s leaving Craven-Street House to this day, no care is taken to file the newspapers; but they lie about in every room, in every window, and on every chair, just where the Doctor lays them when he has read them. It is impossible government can long go on in such hands.
To the Publisher of the Craven-Street Gazette:
I make no doubt of the truth of what the papers tell us, that a certain great person has been half-starved on the blade-bone of a sheep (I cannot call it of mutton, because none was on it), by a set of the most careless, blundering, foolish, crafty, and knavish ministers that ever got into a house, and pretended to govern a family and provide a dinner. Alas, for the poor old England of Craven Street! If these nefarious wretches continue in power another week, the nation will be ruined; undone, totally undone, if the Queen does not return, or (which is better) turn them all out, and appoint me and my friends to succeed them. I am a great admirer of your useful and impartial paper, and therefore request you will insert this, without fail, from
Your humble servant,
To the Publisher of the Craven-Street Gazette:
Your correspondent, “Indignation,” has made a fine story in your paper against our excellent Craven-Street ministry, as if they meant to starve his Highness, giving him only a bare blade-bone for his dinner, while they riot upon roast venison. The wickedness of writers in this age is truly amazing. I believe we never had, since the foundation of our state, a more faithful, upright, worthy, careful, considerate, incorrupt, discreet, wise, prudent, and beneficent ministry than the present. But if even the angel Gabriel would condescend to be our minister, and provide our dinners, he could scarcely escape newspaper defamation from a gang of hungry, ever-restless, discontented, and malicious scribblers.
It is, Sir, a piece of justice you owe our righteous administration to undeceive the public on this occasion, by assuring them of the fact, which is that there was provided, and actually smoking on the table under his royal nose at the same instant, as fine a piece of ribs of beef roasted as ever knife was put into; with potatoes, horse-radish, pickled walnuts, &c., which beef his Highness might have eaten of if he had pleased so to do; and which he forbore to do, merely from a whimsical opinion (with respect be it spoken) that beef doth not with him perspire well. This is the truth; and if your boasted impartiality is real, you will not hesitate a moment to insert this letter in your very next paper.
I am, though a little angry with you at present,
Yours, as you behave,
A Hater of Scandal.
Junius and Cinna came to hand too late for this day’s paper, but shall have place in our next.
Marriages. None since our last; but puss begins to go a courting.
Deaths. In the back closet and elsewhere, many poor mice.
Stocks. Biscuit—very low. Buckwheat and Indian meal—both sour. Tea lowering daily—in the canister.
Wednesday, September 26th. Postscript.—Those in the secret of affairs do not scruple to assert roundly that the present first ministress proves very notable, having this day been at market, bought excellent mutton-chops, and apples four a penny, made a very fine apple-pie with her own hands, and mended two pair of breeches.
TO M. DUBOURG
London, 2 October, 1770.
I see with pleasure, that we think pretty much alike on the subject of English America. We of the colonies have never insisted that we ought to be exempt from contributing to the common expenses necessary to support the prosperity of the empire. We only assert that, having parliaments of our own, and not having representatives in that of Great Britain, our parliaments are the only judges of what we can and what we ought to contribute in this case; and that the English Parliament has no right to take our money without our consent. In fact, the British empire is not a single state; it comprehends many; and though the Parliament of Great Britain has arrogated to itself the power of taxing the colonies, it has no more right to do so than it has to tax Hanover. We have the same King, but not the same legislatures.
The dispute between the two countries has already lost England many millions sterling, which it has lost in its commerce, and America has in this respect been a proportionable gainer. This commerce consisted principally of superfluities; objects of luxury and fashion, which we can well do without; and the resolution we have formed of importing no more till our grievances are redressed, has enabled many of our infant manufactures to take root; and it will not be easy to make our people abandon them in future, even should a connexion more cordial than ever succeed the present troubles. I have, indeed, no doubt that the Parliament of England will finally abandon its present pretensions, and leave us to the peaceable enjoyment of our rights and privileges.
TO DUPONT DE NEMOURS
London, 2 October, 1770.
I received with great pleasure the assurance of your kind remembrance of me, and the continuance of your good-will toward me, in your letter by M. le Comte Chreptowitz. . . . I should have been happy to have rendered him every civility and mark of respect in my power (as the friend of those I so much respect and honor) if he had given me the opportunity. But he did not let me see him.
Accept my sincere acknowledgments and thanks for the valuable present you made me of your excellent work on the commerce of the India Company, which I have perused with much pleasure and instruction. It bears throughout the stamp of your masterly hand, in method, perspicuity, and force of argument. The honorable mention you have made in it of your friend is extremely obliging. I was already too much in your debt for favours of that kind.
I purpose returning to America in the ensuing summer, if our disputes should be adjusted, as I hope they will be in the next session of Parliament. Would to God I could take with me Messrs. Dupont, Dubourg, and some other French friends with their good ladies! I might then, by mixing them with my friends in Philadelphia, form a little happy society that would prevent my ever wishing again to visit Europe.
With great and sincere esteem and respect, I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN
London, 3 October, 1770.
My Dear Child:—
I received your kind letter of August 16th, which gave me a great deal of satisfaction. I am glad your little grandson recovered so soon of his illness, as I see you are quite in love with him, and that your happiness is wrapped up in his, since your whole long letter is made up of the history of his pretty actions. It was very prudently done of you not to interfere when his mother thought fit to correct him; which pleased me the more, as I feared, from your fondness of him, that he would be too much humored, and perhaps spoiled. There is a story of two little boys in the street; one was crying bitterly; the other came to him to ask what was the matter. “I have been,” says he, “for a pennyworth of vinegar, and I have broke the glass, and spilled the vinegar, and my mother will whip me.” “No, she won’t whip you,” says the other. “Indeed she will,” says he. “What,” says the other, “have you then got ne’er a grandmother?”
I am sorry I did not send one of my books to Mr. Rhoads, since he was desirous of seeing it. My love to him, and to all inquiring friends. Mrs. West was here to-day, and desired me to mention her love to you. Mr. Strahan and family are all well, always inquire how you all do, and send their love. Mrs. Stevenson is at present in the country. But Polly sends her love to you, and Mrs. Bache, and the young gentleman. I am, as ever, your affectionate husband,
FROM DEBORAH FRANKLIN TO B. FRANKLIN
My Dear Child:—
the bairer of this is the Son of Dr. Phinis Bond his only son and a worthey young man he is a going to studey the Law he desired a line to you I believe you have such a number of worthey young Jentelmen as ever wente to gather I hope to give you pleshuer to see such a numbe of fine youthes from your one countrey which will be an Honour to thar parentes and Countrey.
I am my Dear child your ffeckshonot
wife D. Franklin.
Ocktober ye 11, 1770.
FROM SAMUEL COOPER TO B. FRANKLIN
Boston, 6 November, 1770.
My state of health, and excursions upon that account into the country, must be my excuse for not taking an earlier notice of your obliging packet of the 8th June, for which I return you my particular thanks. Your letter and replies to Mr. Strahan’s questions gave me great pleasure, though the closing and prophetic part, coming from one so capable of discerning, amidst the uncertainties of futurity, which may probably take place, could not but impress me with melancholy ideas. Some of them have since been realized, but may Heaven forbid a further fulfilment. In this wish I doubt not of your own hearty concurrence; for I do not take you to be of the turn of Swift’s physicians, of whom he somewhere says:
- “They rather choose that I should die,
- Than their predictions prove a lie.”
and yet I am afraid I shall not soon see you thoroughly refuted by events.
So many hope to find their own interest in misrepresentations, so many seem willing to be deceived, and so much art is employed to make whatever is thought convenient appear just and true, that the happy day for establishing the prosperity of Great Britain, by composing the troubles, and insuring to her the united affections of America, seems to be at too great a distance.
We ought not, however, to be discouraged from employing the most likely means to promote so desirable an end. Such a means I esteem the choice which our House of Representatives have made of you to be their agent. Your letter came most seasonably for this. I communicated it with great caution, knowing the delicacy the times require. I allowed, however, some of the leading members of the House in confidence to read your sentiments. They expressed the highest satisfaction; and, though it was objected, that you were agent for other provinces, and we ought to enlarge the number of our friends, and that you and your son, the governor, held places of importance under the crown; and though the House, from various causes, had been much divided respecting an agent; yet such was their opinion of your abilities and integrity, that a majority readily confided the affairs of the province at this critical season to your care.
I am this moment told the vessel is just upon sailing. I must break off. You see the hurry of this script, but it is to a friend. I shall write more fully soon. Your very respectful, &c.,
TO THOMAS CUSHING
London, 24 December, 1770.
Your favor of October 31st came to hand a few days since, with the vote of the House of Representatives, appointing me their agent here, which, as it was unsolicited on my part, I esteem the greater honor; and shall be very happy if I can in that capacity render my country any acceptable service.
I have also just received your letter of November 6th, containing an account of the state and circumstances of the province, and the grievances it labors under, with sundry depositions and other papers. Another, of November 17th, with a pamphlet, entitled, the Proceedings of Council, &c.; another, of November 23d, containing an order on Mr. De Berdt for papers. I can at present only say that I shall immediately endeavour to make myself master of the business committed to my care, that so, when the Parliament and public boards, which are now adjourned for a month, shall meet again, I may be ready to proceed in such manner as, on conferring with Mr. Bollan, shall appear advisable for obtaining redress of the grievances so justly complained of.
I have the pleasure to acquaint you, from good authority, that the project formed by the enemies of the province, for bringing into Parliament a bill to abridge our charter rights, though at first it received some countenance, and great pains were taken to recommend it, is now laid aside. I do not presume to suppose that the opposition I gave to it (by showing the imprudence of the measure, and declaring openly my opinion on all occasions, that, the charter being a compact between the King and the people of the colony, who were out of the realm of Great Britain, there existed nowhere on earth a power to alter it, while its terms were complied with, without the consent ofboththe contracting parties) had any weight on the occasion. I rather think that a disposition prevails of late to be on good terms with the colonies, especially as we seem to be on the eve of a war with Spain; and that, in consequence of that disposition, which I hope we shall cultivate, more attention has been paid to the sober advice of our friends, and less to the virulent instigations of our enemies.
I beg you will present my dutiful respects to the House of Representatives, and assure them of my most faithful endeavours in their service. With great esteem and regard, I have the honor to be, &c.,
TO MRS. JANE MECOM
London, 30 December, 1770.
This ship staying longer than was expected, gives me an opportunity of writing to you, which I thought I must have missed when I desired cousin Williams to excuse me to you. I received your kind letter of September 25th, by the young gentlemen, who, by their discreet behaviour, have recommended themselves very much to me and many of my acquaintance. Josiah has attained his heart’s desire, of being under the tuition of Mr. Stanley, who, though he had long left off teaching, kindly undertook, at my request, to instruct him, and is much pleased with his quickness of apprehension and the progress he makes; and Jonathan appears a very valuable young man, sober, regular, and inclined to industry and frugality, which are promising signs of success in business. I am very happy in their company.
As to the rumor you mention (which was, as Josiah tells me, that I had been deprived of my place in the post-office on account of a letter I wrote to Philadelphia), it might have this foundation, that some of the ministry had been displeased on my writing such letters, and there were really some thoughts among them of showing that displeasure in that manner. But I had some friends too, who, unrequested by me, advised the contrary. And my enemies were forced to content themselves with abusing me plentifully in the newspapers, and endeavoring to provoke me to resign. In this they are not likely to succeed, I being deficient in that Christian virtue of resignation. If they would have my office, they must take it.
I have heard of some great man whose rule it was, with regard to offices, never to ask for them, and never to refuse them; to which I have always added, in my own practice, never to resign them. As I told my friends, I rose to that office through a long course of service in the inferior degrees of it. Before my time, through bad management, it never produced the salary annexed to it; and when I received it, no salary was to be allowed if the office did not produce it. During the first four years it was so far from defraying itself, that it became nine hundred and fifty pounds sterling in debt to me and my colleague. I had been chiefly instrumental in bringing it to its present flourishing state, and therefore thought I had some kind of right to it. I had hitherto executed the duties of it faithfully, and to the perfect satisfaction of my superiors, which I thought was all that should be expected of me on that account. As to the letters complained of, it was true I did write them, and they were written in compliance with another duty, that to my country; a duty quite distinct from that of postmaster.
My conduct in this respect was exactly similar to that I held on a similar occasion but a few years ago, when the then ministry was ready to hug me for the assistance I afforded them in repealing a former revenue act. My sentiments were still the same, that no such acts should be made here for America; or, if made, should as soon as possible be repealed; and I thought it should not be expected of me to change my political opinions every time his Majesty thought fit to change his ministers. This was my language on the occasion; and I have lately heard that, though I was thought much to blame, it being understood that every man who holds an office should act with the ministry, whether agreeable or not to his own judgment, yet, in consideration of the goodness of my private character (as they were pleased to compliment me), the office was not to be taken from me.
Possibly they may still change their minds, and remove me; but no apprehension of that sort will, I trust, make the least alteration in my political conduct. My rule, in which I have always found satisfaction, is, never to turn aside in public affairs through views of private interest; but to go straight forward in doing what appears to me right at the time, leaving the consequences with Providence. What in my younger days enabled me more easily to walk upright was, that I had a trade, and that I knew I could live upon little; and thence (never having had views of making a fortune) I was free from avarice, and contented with the plentiful supplies my business afforded me. And now it is still more easy for me to preserve my freedom and integrity, when I consider that I am almost at the end of my journey, and therefore need less to complete the expense of it; and that what I now possess, through the blessing of God, may, with tolerable economy, be sufficient for me (great misfortunes excepted), though I should add nothing more to it by any office or employment whatsoever.
I send you by this opportunity the two books you wrote for. They cost three shillings apiece. When I was first in London, about forty-five years since, I knew a person who had an opinion something like your author’s. Her name was Ilive, a printer’s widow. She died soon after I left England, and by her will obliged her son to deliver publicly, in Salters’ Hall, a solemn discourse, the purport of which was to prove that this world is the true Hell, or place of punishment for the spirits who had transgressed in a better state, and were sent here to suffer for their sins in animals of all sorts. It is long since I saw the discourse, which was printed. I think a good deal of Scripture was cited in it, and that the supposition was that, though we now remembered nothing of such a preëxistent state, yet after death we might recollect it, and remember the punishments we had suffered, so as to be the better for them; and others, who had not yet offended, might now behold and be warned by our sufferings.
In fact, we see here that every lower animal has its enemy, with proper inclinations, faculties, and weapons, to terrify, wound, and destroy it; and that men, who are uppermost, are devils to one another; so that, on the established doctrine of the goodness and justice of the great Creator, this apparent state of general and systematical mischief seemed to demand some such supposition as Mrs. Ilive’s, to account for it consistently with the honor of the Deity. But our reasoning powers, when employed about what may have been before our existence here, or shall be after it, cannot go far, for want of history and facts. Revelation only can give us the necessary information, and that, in the first of these points especially, has been very sparingly afforded us.
I hope you continue to correspond with your friends at Philadelphia. My love to your children; and believe me ever your affectionate brother,
James Barbeu Dubourg, the first French editor of Franklin’s works, was an accomplished scholar and naturalist. In 1761, he published a medical periodical; in 1767, he published the Botaniste Francaise in two volumes, judged in its day to be “one of the most agreeable elementary books in the language.” He translated Bolingbroke’s Letters on History into French, and held at one time intimate relation with their author. He dedicated his Petit Code de la Raison Humaine to Franklin. He was one of the Society of Economistes in France.
See Philosophical Transactions, Vol. LIX., p. 352.
Alluding to a proposal from Mr. Hewson, a physician of London, to whom Miss Stevenson was soon afterwards married.
This letter is one of those which was sent to the King, as heretofore mentioned. It was seen by Governor Hutchinson before he wrote the third volume of his History, in which are contained extracts from it with comments.
These papers were Mr. Strahan’s Queries respecting American affairs, and Dr. Franklin’s answers to them. See supra, p. 127.
Alluding to the tragical scene in the streets of Boston, on the 5th of March, commonly called the Massacre, when Captain Preston’s troops fired upon the inhabitants, and killed three persons.
Mary Stevenson had just been married to Mr. Hewson.
William Temple Franklin, son of William Franklin, Governor of New Jersey. He was educated by his grandfather, subsequently became his private secretary, and the legatee of most of his library and papers.
While Dr. Franklin resided in London he lived for the most part in the family of Mrs. Stevenson in Craven Street. This humorous journal pretends to have been kept during a few days’ absence of that lady from home.
See supra, page 187.
Mr. Cushing was Speaker of the Massachusetts Assembly, and in this capacity corresponded with Dr. Franklin during his agency for that colony in England.
He succeeded Mr. De Berdt as agent. Mr. Bollan was agent for the Council. The following extracts are taken from the Journal of the House of Representatives in Massachusetts.
“October 24th, 1770.—The House proceeded, according to order, to bring in their votes for an agent to appear for this House at the court of Great Britain for one year; and the committee having assorted and counted the votes, reported that Benjamin Franklin was chosen.”
“October 30th.—Ordered, that Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hancock, and Mr. Samuel Adams prepare a resolve authorizing Benjamin Franklin, to appear as agent for this House, agreeable to the choice made of him on the 24th instant, and report.”
“October 31st.—Resolved, that Benjamin Franklin be, and hereby is appointed and authorized, in behalf of the House, to appear, as there shall be occasion, before his Majesty in Council, or in either House of Parliament, or before any public board in Great Britain, there to plead, and defend, as the exigency of the case and the service of the province may require, for the space of one year henceforward, agreeably to such directions or instructions as he may from time to time receive from the House, or from such committee as may by them be appointed and authorized for that purpose; relying on his vigilance, and the utmost exertion of his abilities, to support the constitutional rights of this House and the province, and, as far as in him lies, to defend against whatsoever may tend to prejudice the same.”