The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom

By Carl Van Doren; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview

New York, May 26, 1757.

DEAR AND HONOURED AUNT,

To find ourselves affectionately remembered by those for whom we have the highest esteem, is of all things most agreeable: this pleasure was afforded me in the greatest degree, when I received your favour of the 9th instant. The many kind wishes it contains for my welfare, lays me under the greatest obligations. I hope my conduct will ever be such as to merit a continuance of your regard.

Being just on the point of embarkation, prevents my adding more than my best respects to Mr. Mecom, cousin Benny, &c. and to desire you will believe me to be,

Your affectionate

And dutiful nephew

WM. FRANKLIN.


"No soapboiler in the king's dominions"

[Printed first, from a manuscript now missing, in Sparks, Familiar Letters, pp. 54-57, from which it is here reprinted. Parts of this letter are obscure because the correspondence is one-sided. Of Jane's sons, Edward, a saddler like his father, was then twenty-six, and apparently tubercular. Ebenezer, a baker, was twenty-two, and John, apprenticed to a goldsmith, was sixteen. Peter, eighteen, had learned the family trade of soapboiler from his uncle John, and now, since his uncle's death, hoped to go on making the soap, stamped with a crown, for which John Franklin had had a reputation. Franklin's objection to putting the Franklin arms on the soap recalls a little known letter from Josiah Franklin, the father, to his son Benjamin in Philadelphia dated May 26, 1739, and printed in Duane, Works, 1, 4n. "Your uncle Benjamin made inquiry of one skilled in heraldry, who told him there is two coats of armour, one belonging to the Franklins of the north, and one to the Franklins of the west. However our circumstances have been such that it hath hardly been worth while to concern ourselves much about these things, any farther than to tickle the fancy a little." As to Benjamin Mecom, it seems clear that he desired an appointment from Franklin to a place in the post office. This seems to have led to a conflict between the Mecoms and the family of John Franklin, who had been postmaster of Boston at the time of his death and had been succeeded by his stepson, Tuthill Hubbart. Evidently Benjamin Mecom and his family believed that a nephew of Franklin ought to be preferred to a stepnephew. Franklin here refused to take sides in that remote family quarrel of the

-61-

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