The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom

By Carl Van Doren; Benjamin Franklin et al. | Go to book overview
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I purpose to go again this Afternoon, to see Betsey, who was not at home when I was there.-- My Love to Brother, &c. I am, Dear Jenny,

Your ever loving Brother

B FRANKLIN


"Safe home on Saturday Night"

[Printed first in Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiographical Writings, pp. 143-144; and here printed again from the manuscript in the American Philosophical Society. The letter furnishes the only detailed itinerary of one of Franklin's many journeys from Boston to Philadelphia. His friend Dr. Joshua Babcock lived at Westerly, Rhode Island, where he was postmaster. In the letters of the years 1761-1763 neither Franklin nor his sister mentions her son Peter, whose mind was evidently failing. On February 9, 1761, Benjamin Mecom wrote from Boston to Deborah Franklin: "Brother Peter Franklin Mecom is returned from the Camp," which may mean that Peter had enlisted or tried to enlist in the Massachusetts forces raised in 1760 for the attack on Canada. His name however does not appear in any list of soldiers. "Though he was unwel when he first came to Town," Benjamin Mecom went on, "he is now quite recovered and thinks seriously of settling to Business for Nothing prevents his really doing so but W ant"-- that is, wanting to. "We are unwilling to disturb you with our Uneasiness, hoping hereafter to be able to send you better News." This letter was printed in Duane, Lettere to Benjamin Franklin, pp. 184-185, but it is here quoted from the manuscript in the American Philosophical Society. Franklin's visit to Boston in 1763 made him aware, if he had not known it before, that Peter Mecom was insane. Writing from Philadelphia on November 28, 1763, Franklin instructed Jonathan Williams Sr. to have the house, formerly Elizabeth Douse's, in Unity Street "near Dr Cutler's Church," repaired and let "to as good a Tenant and for as good a Rent as you can well get. . . . It is farther my Desire & Direction, that the Rent of the House be applied to assist my Sister Mecom in the Maintenance of her unhappy Son, and I request you to pay it for that purpose as it arises." Elizabeth Douse, dying intestate, left a "Mansion House & Land" valued at £150 in the Inventory in the Registry of Probate of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and personal property worth about £40. Her indebtedness to her brother Benjamin was £251.17.11 1/5, and he was obliged to spend £148.4.8 on repairs to make it rentable, as appears from his manuscript accounts with Jonathan Williams Sr. in the American Philosophical Society. The accounts show that when one tenant, James Reilly, "proved unable to pay and at last was Oblig'd to quit the House by a Writ of Ejectment,

-78-

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