Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters

By Benjamin Franklin; Whitfield J. Bell Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

You have my best Wishes for your Prosperity and Happiness, being with great Regard, Sir Your faithful humble

Servant

B. Franklin


CONVERSATION IN A COACH

DURING the summer of 1771 Franklin spent three happy weeks at Twyford, near Winchester, England, at the home of his good friend Jonathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph. In addition to one son, who was absent at the time, the family of the bishop and Mrs. Shipley consisted of five daughters ranging in age from Anna Maria, twenty-three, to Catherine Louisa ("Kitty"), about eleven. In these pleasant surroundings Franklin found inspiration to write the first long installment of his autobiography, in which he undertook to review the experiences of his sixty-five years of life and to draw from them such lessons as might be both interesting and useful to another generation. When the visit ended the Shipleys asked of him the favor of escorting their youngest daughter Kitty back to London, where she was to attend school. How the elderly American, prominent on the political stage and world renowned as a scientist, and the eleven-year-old girl got on together in their day-long carriage journey was the subject of a prompt and detailed letter to his recent hostess. Nothing in all Franklin's writings better reveals why he was always such a favorite with young people. (In printing this letter quotation marks, not included in the original, have been added for the sake of clarity.)


To Mrs. Jonathan Shipley

London, August 12, 1771

Dear Madam,

This is just to let you know that we arriv'd safe and well in Marlborough Street about Six, where I deliver'd up my Charge:

-22-

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Mr. Franklin: A Selection from His Personal Letters
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • Brother and Sister 3
  • The Scientific Spirit 4
  • Family Report 6
  • A Whirlwind For Mr. Franklin 8
  • A Philosopher Looks At Death 10
  • A Lesson In Relativity 12
  • Type For The Connoisseur 13
  • An Optimist And His Enemies 15
  • Pater Familias 17
  • A Pen Has A Sharp Point 20
  • The Arts Move Westward 21
  • Conversation in a Coach 22
  • Prudential Algebra 25
  • A New Use For Madeira Wine 27
  • A Revolt Begins 29
  • How To Pay For A War 34
  • A Scientist Turns Politician 36
  • How To Recommend A Stranger 41
  • Twelve Commandments 42
  • Father Is Not Pleased 44
  • Money Talks 48
  • The Delightful Ladies Of France 50
  • Two Americans 52
  • Miss Virginia 53
  • What Good is a New-Born Baby? 55
  • Independence Has Its Responsibilities 59
  • Farewell 60
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