The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom

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

live in Friendship, and pass a Leisure Hour, when I have one, with pleasure. The French in general are an amiable People, and I have the good Fortune to enjoy as much of the Esteem and Affection of all Ranks, as I have any Pretensions to. Temple continues with me; but I have last week sent Benny to Geneva, where there are as good Schools as here, & where he will be educated a Republican and a Protestant, which could not be so conveniently done at the Schools in France. My Love to all that love you, and believe me ever, my Dear Sister,

Your affectionate Brother

B FRANKLIN


"Since you have rubd off the Mechanic Rust"

(Printed first, and hitherto only, in Duane, Letters to Benjamin Franklin, pp. 96-98. Here printed from the manuscript in the American Philosophical Society. Elkanah Watson, who carried this letter, wrote in some detail in his Men and Times of the American Revolution ( 1856) about his relations with Franklin in France. "Corl" is Jane Mecom's spelling of "Colonel." The New Hampshire Gazette for December 22, 1778, and other American newspapers of other dates at about the same time, had repeated a (without doubt) fictitious anecdote published in the London Chronicle for July 4 to 7, 1778. The Gazette text ran: "A gentleman just returned from Paris informs us that Dr. Franklin has shaken off entirely the mechanical rust, and commenced the complete courtier. Being lately in the gardens of Versailles, showing the Queen some electrical experiment, she asked him, in a fit of raillery, if he did not dread the fate of Prometheus, who was so severely served for stealing fire from Heaven? 'Yes, please your Majesty,' (replied old Franklin with infinite gallantry,) 'if I did not behold a pair of eyes this moment which have stolen infinitely more fire from Jove than ever I did, pass unpunished, though they do more mischief in a week than I have done in all my experiments.'" The article on Watson in the Dictionary of American Biography mistakenly says that he was apprenticed to John Brown ( 1744- 1780). In fact it was to John Brown ( 1736- 1803), who laid the cornerstone of the first building of Brown University in 1770. The "Exhibition made on the Aneversary of the French Trety" took place at the winter quarters of Washington's artillery, Pluckemin, New Jersey, on February 18, 1779. Each of the triumphal arches behind which the fireworks were set off displayed an "illuminated painting" (on transparent cloth). The 8th arch had a picture of "The American philosopher and ambassador extracting lightning from the clouds." An account of

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