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Domestication and Protracted Illness in London-Removal of Governor
Denny-Countermining the Proprietors-- Historical Review, etc., of Pennsylvania— Tour through England and Scotland--Cambridge UniversityVisits the Home of his Ancestors --Counsels the Annexation of Canada to the British Empire--Portrait of William Penn-The "Art of Virtue"-Kames's “ Elements of Criticism"-Directions for a Young Lady's Reading-Expensiveness of English Wives—Hume's "Jealousy of Commerce" - Baskerville's Printing Types-Property of the Penn Family-Death of his Mother-in-law-Lightning Conductors.
To his wife, DURING my illness, which continued near dated Lon
eight weeks, I wrote several letters as I was don, 22 Nov., 1757
able. The last was by the packet which sailed from Falmouth above a week since. In that I informed you that my intermitting fever, which had continued to harass me by frequent relapses, was gone off, and I have ever since been gathering strength and flesh. My doctor, Fothergill, who had forbid me the use of pen and ink, now permits me to write as much as I can without over fatiguing myself, and therefore I sit down to write more fully than I have hitherto been able to do.
The ad of September I wrote to you, that I had had a violent cold and something of a fever, but that it was almost
gone. However, it was not long before I had another severe cold, which continued longer than the first, attended by great pain in my head, the top of which was very hot, and when the pain went off, very sore and tender. These fits of pain continued sometimes longer than at others; seldom less than twelve hours, and once thirty-six hours. I was now and then a little delirious; they cupped me on the back of the head, which seemed to ease me for the present; I took a great deal of bark, both in substance and infusion, and too soon thinking myself well, I ventured out twice, to do a little business and forward the service I am engaged in, and both times got fresh cold and fell down again. My good doctor grew very angry with me for acting contrary to his cautions and directions, and obliged me to promise more observance for the future. He attended me very carefully and affectionately; and the good lady of the house nursed me kindly.* Billy was also of great service to me, in going from place to place, where I could not go myself, and Peter was very diligent and attentive. † I took so much bark in various ways, that I began to abhor it; I durst not take a vomit, for fear of my head; but at last I
* By the advice of some of his Pennsylvania friends who had boarded there, Franklin took up his residence in London with a Mrs. Margaret Stevenson, in Craven street, Strand, where he lived during the whole of his subsequent residence in London. Both for Mrs. Stevenson and for her daughter Mary, then a young lady of eighteen years, he formed a cordial attachment, which lasted through life. Miss Stevenson was a girl of superior sense, and the interest which Franklin took during the earlier years of their acquaintance, in perfecting her education and in cultivating her friendship, reveals to us one of the most sunny and attractive phases of his character. Miss Stevenson spent most of her time with her aunt, Mrs. Tickell, in the country. This led to a correspondence between her and the doctor, which was faithfully sustained on both sides up to the year of his death.-ED.
+ The Billy here referred to is his son William.-ED.
was seized one morning with a vomiting and purging, the latter of which continued the greater part of the day, and I believe was a kind of crisis to the distemper, carrying it clear off ; for ever since I feel quite lightsome, and am every day gathering strength; so I hope my seasoning is over, and that I shall enjoy better health during the rest of my stay in England.
Governor Shirley's affairs are still in an uncertain state ; he is endeavouring to obtain an inquiry into his conduct, but the confusion of public affairs occasions it to be postponed. He and I visit frequently. I make no doubt but reports will be spread by my enemies to my disadvantage, but let none of them trouble you.
If I find I can do my country no good, I will take care at least not to do it any harm; I will neither seek nor expect anything for myself; and, though I may perhaps not be able to obtain for the people what they wish and expect, no interest shall induce me to betray the trust they have reposed in me; so make yourself quite easy with regard to such reports.
I should have read Sally's French letter with more pleasure, but that I thought the French rather too good to be all her own composing. I suppose her master must have corrected it. But I am glad she is improving in that and her music; send her a French Pamela.
December 3d.—I write by little and little as I can find time. I have now gone through all your agreeable letters, which give me fresh pleasure every time I read them. Last night I received another, dated October 16th, which brings me the good news, that you and Sally were got safe home ; your last, of the gth, being from Elizabethtown.
I am glad to hear that Miss Ray is well, and that you correspond. It is not convenient to be forward in giving
advice in such cases. She has prudence enough to judge for herself, and I hope she will judge and act for the best.
I hear there has a miniature painter gone over to Philadelphia, a relation to John Reynolds. If Sally's picture is not done to your mind by the young man, and the other gentleman is a good hand and follows the business, suppose you get Sally's done by him, and send it to me with your small picture, that I may here get all our little family drawn in one conversation piece. I am sorry to hear of the general sickness; I hope it is over before this time; and that little Franky is recovered.
I was as much disappointed in my intention of writing by the packet, as you were in not receiving letters, and it has since given me a great deal of vexation. I wrote to you by way of New York, the day after my arrival in London, which I do not find you have received.
I do not use to be a backward correspondent, though my sickness has brought me behindhand with my friends in that respect. Had I been well, I intended to have gone round among the shops, and bought some pretty things for you and my dear good Sally (whose little hands you say eased your headache), to send by this ship, but I must now defer it to the next, having only got a crimson satin cloak for you, the newest fashion, and the black silk for Sally; but Billy sends her a scarlet feather, muff, and tippet, and a box of fashionable linen for her dress. In the box is a thermometer for Mr. Taylor, and one for Mr. Schlatter, which you will carefully deliver; as also a watch for Mr. Schlatter. I shall write to them. The black silk was sent to Mr. Neates, who undertook to forward it in some package of his.