The Letters of Benjamin Franklin & Jane Mecom

By Benjamin Franklin; Jane Mecom et al. | Go to book overview

"She was a good woman"

[First printed in Duane, Works, VI, 3-5, from a manuscript now missing, and here reprinted from Duane. The letter was misdated 1730 by Duane and by Sparks, Familiar Letters, pp. 5-7, but dated correctly 1731 in Sparks, Works, VII, 4-6, and by later editors. There can be no doubt that it was written in 1731. Jane Mecom's second child, Edward, was born March 29 of that year; Sarah Franklin Davenport died on May 23; the Pennsylvania Assembly convened on August 2 in 1731 but not in 1730. Franklin's sister Lydia was married in 1731 to Robert Scott. The considerate affection that Franklin felt for his sisters Sarah and Jane, and for his sister Mary Homes and his half-sister Elizabeth Douse, appears in his letter to "Sister Davenport" written probably in the summer of 1730, after the death of Jane Mecom's first child on May 18. This letter was first printed entire in Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin's .Autobiographical Writings, pp. 31-32, from the manuscript in the American Philosophical Society.]

Philadelphia, June 19, 1730 [ 1731]

DEAR SISTER,

Yours of May 26, I received with the melancholy news of the death of sister Deavenport, a loss, without doubt, regretted by all that knew her, for she was a good woman. Her friends ought, however, to be comforted that they have enjoyed her so long and that she has passed through the world happily, having never had an extraordinary misfortune or notable affliction, and that she is now secure in rest, in the place provided for the virtuous. I had before heard of the death of your first child, and am pleased that the loss is in some measure made up to you by the birth of a second.

We have had the small pox here lately, which raged violently while it lasted; there have been about fifty persons innoculated, who all recovered, except a child of the doctor's upon whom the small pox appeared within a day or two after the operation, and who is therefore thought to have been certainly infected before. In one family in my neighbourhood there appeared a great mortality, Mr. George Claypole, (a descendant of Oliver Cromwell) has, by industry, acquired a great estate, and being in excellent business, (a merchant) would probably have doubled it, had he lived according to the common course of years.

He died first, suddenly; within a short time died his best

-36-

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