The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family

By Claude-Anne Lopez ; Eugenia W. Herbert | Go to book overview

XIX
"Temple, Is My Right Hand"

Thus while Governor Franklin is Planning our destruction in London, his father and son are entrusted with all our secrets in Paris.
--Arthur Lee to John Adams, December 12, 1782

WHEN BENNY CAME BACK TO Paris in the summer of 1783, his grandfather, mission accomplished, peace treaty all but signed, was at the pinnacle of his fame and glory. But the road had been long and rough, and his apparent neglect of Benny is somewhat more understandable when one takes a closer look at the battles the old man had been fighting.

The problems were not on the French side. Exactly five days off the boat in 1776 and still far from Paris, Franklin was already telling Jane Mecom how much respect he was shown "by the first People"1 although still in his private capacity. Two years later, his tongue-lashing of Sally for desiring feathers and lace had started with a description of his own popularity as witnessed by the number and variety of his portraits made and distributed in France, "some to be set in the lids of snuff-boxes, and some so small as to be worn in rings. . . . These, with the pictures, busts and prints (of which copies upon copies are spread everywhere), have made your father's face as well known as that of the moon."2 He was not exaggerating. Even John Adams, when he came to Paris, grudgingly admitted the tremendous impact Franklin had on the French: "His name was familiar to government and people, to kings, courtiers, nobility, clergy and philosophers, as well as plebeians, to such a degree that there was scarcely a peasant or a citizen, a valet de chambre, coachman or footman, a lady's chambermaid or a scullion in the kitchen who was not familiar with it and who did not consider him a friend to human kind."3

In French eyes, the old Doctor in his fur cap was much more than the lobbyist of an insurgent colonial nation struggling for survival. He was the embodiment of their ideals--backwoods philosopher à la Rous

-236-

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The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • A Subjective Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Prologue: the Sweet Air of Twyford 1
  • I - Son and Sibling 5
  • II - Errata Committed, Errata Corrected 16
  • III - Industry, Frugality, Fertility 30
  • IV - Out of the Home and into the World 42
  • V - "Much of a Beau" 59
  • VI - "The Seeds of Every Female Virtue" 70
  • VII - London 78
  • VIII - Homecoming, Homesickness 93
  • IX - Faith or Deeds? 104
  • X - The Dream and the Nightmare 116
  • XI - Father of the Bride 135
  • XII - The Patriarch of Craven Street 149
  • XIII - "Sorrows Roll Upon Me like The, Waves of the Sea" 158
  • XIV - "Your a Feck Shonet Wife" 166
  • XV - Steering Through Storms 176
  • XVI - "You Are a Thorough Courtier" 190
  • XVII - Tug of War 200
  • XVIII - No Watch for Benny, No Feathers for Sally 218
  • XIX - "Temple, is My Right Hand" 236
  • XX - "Nothing Has Ever Hurt Me So Much" 253
  • XXI - Indian Summer 266
  • XXII - From Seine to Schuylkill 281
  • XXIII - Slaves 296
  • XXIV - "Our Little Fleet of Barques" 308
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 351
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