The Dream and the Nightmare
At Present I am here as much the Butt of Party Rage and Malice, express'd in Pamphlets and Prints, and have as many pelted at my Head in proportion, as if I had the Misfortune of being your Prime Minister.
--Franklin to Strahan, September 1, 1764
DEBORAH HAD WAITED FIVE YEARS and five months for her husband to come back from England. Then she had waited six weeks for him to return from his postal inspection tour through the southern states. Then she had waited five months while he was traveling through New England with Sally. In November 1763, at last, he was home, physically and spiritually at home. The worst of his nostalgia for England had abated. Much to her relief, he talked complacently of the indolence of old age, of "bustling" as better left to the young, of the danger of uprooting old trees. Indeed, he used that metaphor so often that Polly Stevenson informed him she had seen some fine tall firs removed from Kensington to the Queen's Palace without injury, "and why should not the valuable North American plants flourish here?"1
In their mid-fifties, Deborah and Franklin planned, for the first time in their lives, to build a home. It was to stand just a few steps from the spot where she had caught sight of that ragged runaway of seventeen munching on his loaf: a three-story brick house, thirty-four feet by thirty-four, in the center of a deep and narrow lot fronting on Market Street. The land had been pieced together over the years by adding to Deborah's original inheritance strips acquired from her sister, her brother, and neighbors. After a series of rented houses--half a dozen at least--none of them large enough to accommodate servants, apprentices, and boarders, this, at last, would be a fitting showcase for the elegant appurtenances shipped from London; for Franklin's pride and joy, the armonica; for Sally's harpsichord; for the electrical instruments. Here