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“Women are always usful in grand Events”

Patience Lovell Wright, a Quaker widow, was famous for her lifelike sculptures made of wax. In 1772, she traveled to England, where her first sitter was her compatriot Benjamin Franklin. She made portrait busts of other “eminent Personages” including the historian Catharine Macaulay, King George III, and Queen Charlotte, modeling the figures on her lap while engaging her sitters in conversation. Moving in London’s high society, Wright thought herself in a unique position to gather “Early Intelegenc and a few Hints” for the Americans, as she wrote her friend John Dickinson:

Pallmall april 6th 1775SirThe fleat is any moment to sail and a new Constructed Cannon, lite, Portable on horse Back, 32 Inches Long, wide muzzel to fire at the Inhabitants and kill many at a shot. Meny thousand fire arms sent out of the tower and shipt on bord the transports at dedford. Meny hundred Cags [kegs] of flints marked BOSTON on Each Cagg with all Implements of WARR. But this is all well known to you in america. I much wish to asist you in giving you the Early Intelegenc and a few Hints may be usful. …

Howe is to land at new york. The Delancy Breed* is married in England and, by that means the names of the inhabitan in new york are Known to the ministry and they Expect to bribe them with Contacts and Places and ther port left open to devide the Coloneys and to deceve the peopl, But I depend on the Vertue of the Peopel. …

I am hapy to live in the days when I see with my own Eyes, I here with my own Ears, and Know the wicked Counsel that is against you, as also to be so Hapy to Know meny of the gentlemen in the Congress and am not a silent spectatr on the grand works of provedenc. … By good authority I write you this. Women are always usful in grand Events. …

Take this Hint from your old friend and devotd humbl srvt Patience Wright

* the DeLancey family of New York

This excerpt is from In the Words of Women, Chapter 4, pages 93-94. The anonymous engraving is from the London Magazine, December 1, 1775, The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

posted January 19th, 2012 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Americans Abroad,Patriots,Spies

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