Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

” we both of us haveing been talking and wishing for you”

A newsy letter from ABIGAIL ADAMS to her sister MARY CRANCH in Salem. Abigail has one child, a daughter Nabby, and Mary has a daughter Betsy.
Happy to be home after a visit to Weymouth Abigail is feeling a little “lonesome” even though she is welcomed back by her servants. I love the way Abigail, eager for news, interrupts her writing when husband John returns home with “News papers.” Expressing her sorrow over the absence of Mary and her husband, she is happy that her sister ELIZABETH SHAW has stopped for a visit, albeit a short one.

Braintree Jan’ry. 31 1767My Dear Sister
I have just returnd from Weymouth, where I have been for a week past. It seems lonesome here, for My Good Man [John Adams] is at Boston; after haveing been in a large family, for a week, to come and set down alone is very solitary; tho we have seven in our family, yet four of them being domestick when my partner is absent and my Babe a sleep, I am still left alone. It gives one a pleasing Sensation my Dear Sister, after haveing been absent a little while to see one’s self gladly received upon a return, even by one’s Servants. I do not know that I was ever more sensibly affected with it than I was to Day; I could behold joy sparkle in the Eyes of every one of them as I enterd the House, whilst they unaffectedly express’d it some to me and some to my Babe.—One runs to the Door, O Mam, I am glad to see you come home again, how do you do? Whilst an other catches the child, and says Dear creature I was affraid she would forget me, and a third hovers round and crys Nab, do you know Polly, and will you come to her?—These little instances shew their regard, and they endear them to us.
Thus far I wrote last fryday. But my good Man arriving with the News papers, put an end to writing any further at that time. However I have now reassumed my pen, tho I am something tierd, haveing dined Nine Gentlemen to Day. When I set down with such a friendly circle, I always look round and wish that the company was not incompleat by the absence of two Dear Friend’s. Here now sets our Sister Elizabeth [Shaw], and we both of us haveing been talking and wishing for you. She will leave me to morrow, tho She came but to Day, and has not been here since She came from Salem, before now. Father, the Doctor and Mr. Wibird (who made three of the company to Day) tell me that they all of them design for Salem to morrow. I know how rejoiced you will be to see them. I feel glad for you, but methinks so many good Friends ought not to go together—if they went but one at a time I should chance to hear three times from you which would as Sarah Cotton used to say make me three times glad.—I sent your Camblet* to Unkle Smiths last week, and hope it has reach’d you before now. The coulour I know you will not like. I do not think Dawson used me well, tis a discourageing thing, when one has tried to have a thing look well and done their part towards it, then to have it ruined in the dying or weaveing, is very provoking, but if Mr. Cranch dislikes it, I would not have you think yourselves under any oblagation to take it, for I shall not be any ways troubled if you send it back again.—I have a couple of Books, which when I have read thro I design to send to you, for your perusal—they are called Sermons to young women. . . . My Letter will be a mess medly in Spite of any efforts to the contarary—for from Sermons I must desend to Cards and tell you I should be glad, Mr. Cranch would send me a pair**. Nabby sends her Love to her cousin Betsy and would be very glad of her company, to tend Miss Doll, who is a very great favorite of theirs.—I send you a little yarn for a pair of Stockings and a little flax for some thread—because I know you seek wool and flax, and work willingly with your hands. Accept of them with my sincere regards to you and yours From your affectionate Sister,
Abigail AdamsP.S. You must burn this for it is most dismal writing.

* Camblet is a woven fabric that might have originally been made of camel or goat’s hair, later chiefly of goat’s hair and silk, or of wool and cotton. It is unclear whether Abigail had sent the fabric or an article of clothing made from the fabric. Shown is a pumpkin-colored dress made of camblet.
**Cards are used in combing wool. Mr. Cranch was a cardmaker as well as a watchmaker.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 31 January 1767,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-01-02-0048. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 1, December 1761 – May 1776, ed. Lyman H. Butterfield. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963, pp. 60–62.] The illustration is of a 1770s pumpkin-colored dress made of camblet by Goldenhind on Easy.

posted May 15th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John,Children,Clothes,Cranch, Elizabeth "Betsy",Cranch, Mary (Smith),Family life,Friendship,Shaw, Elizabeth Smith,Smith, Abigail "Nabby" Adams

“I am apt to love every body that loves you”

POLLY STEVENSON must have written Benjamin Franklin asking his advice on whether she should accept the proposal of marriage from the surgeon William Hewson for he responded on May 31, 1770:

. . . . I am sure you are a much better Judge in this Affair of your own than I can possibly be. . . . My Concern (equal to any Father’s) for your Happiness, makes me write this. . . . I assure you that no Objection has occur’d to me; his Person you see, his Temper and his Understanding you can judge of, his Character for any thing I have ever heard is unblemished; his Profession, with that Skill in it he is suppos’d to have, will be sufficient to support a Family. . . . I shall be confident whether you accept or refuse, that you do right. I only wish you may do what will most contribute to your Happiness, and of course to mine; being ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

Polly apparently decided for herself since she married William Hewson on July 10. Benjamin Franklin gave her away. Franklin wrote to her on July 24-25 while she was on her honeymoon, in part spent visiting the relatives of her husband—a widowed mother, two sisters and a brother— in Hexam.

Your Friends are all much pleas’d with your Account of the agreable Family, their kind Reception and Entertainment of you, and the Respect shown you. . . .Make my sincere Respects acceptable to Mr. Hewson, whom, exclusive of his other Merits, I shall always esteem in proportion to the Regard he manifests for you. . . . I am apt to love every body that loves you. . . . We like your Assurances of continued Friendship unimpair’d by your Change of Condition, and we believe you think as you write; but we fancy we know better than you: You know I once knew your Heart better than you did your self. As a Proof that I am right, take notice, that you now think this the silliest Letter I ever wrote to you, and that Mr. Hewson confirms you in that Opinion. However, I am still, what I have been so many Years, my dear good Girl, Your sincerely affectionate Friend, and Servant
B Franklin

“From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 31 May 1770,” “From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson Hewson, 24 July 1770,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-17-02-0082. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 17, January 1 through December 31, 1770, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1973, pp. 152–153; 198-199]

posted March 18th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Friendship,Hewson, Dr. William,Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson,Marriage

“Yɨi have transkrɥib’d iur Alfabet”

Amazingly, the clever MARY “POLLY” STEVENSON (later HEWSON) responded to Benjamin Franklin’s letter using the very same phonetic alphabet in which he had written to her! Franklin had been guiding the education of Polly, the daughter of his London landlady. Now a grown woman, Polly had become a dear friend to Franklin and still considered him her mentor. They had continued their correspondence, Franklin providing books and manuscripts—he had just sent her a copy of Voltaire’s Verses—for her edification and challenging her on subjects such as the phonetic alphabet he had proposed in the previous post. In her reply Polly is not afraid to question the worth of Franklin’s proposal.

[Kensiŋtɥn, Septembɥr 26, 1768]Diir Sɥr,
Yɨi have transkrɥib’d iur Alfabet &c. huits̸ ɥi ħink mɥit bi aav sɥrvis tu dhoz hu uis̸ tu akuɥir an akiuret pronɥnsies̸ɥn if dhat kuld bi fiks’d, bɥt ɥi si meni inkaanvinienses az uel az difikultis dhat uuld atend dhi briŋiŋ iur letɥrs & aarħaagrafi intu kaamɥn ius. AAAAl aaur etimaalods̸is uuld bi laast, kaansikuentli ui kuld naat asɥrteen dhi miiniŋ aav meni uɥrds; dhi distinks̸ɥn, tu, bituiin uɥrds aav difɥrent miiniŋ & similar saaund uuld bi dhron daun; and aaaal dhi buks aalredi riten uuld bi iusles ɥnles ui liviŋ rɥitɥrs pɥblis̸ nu idis̸ɥns. In s̸aart ɥi biliiv ui mɥst let pipil spel aan in dheer old ue, and (az ui s̸al fɥind it isiiest) du dhi seem aaurselvs. With ease & with sincerity I can in the old way subscribe myself Dear Sir,
Your affectionate humble Servant,
M. Stevenson

Dr. Franklin [Kensington, Sept. 26, 17687]Dear Sir
I have transcribed your Alphabet &c. which you think might be of Service to those who wish to acquire an accurate pronunciation if that could be fix’d, but I see many inconveniences as well as difficulties that would attend the bringing your letters and orthography into common use. All our etymologies would be lost, consequently we could not ascertain the meaning of many words; the distinction, too, between words of different meaning and similar sound [would be thrown down, and all the books already written] would be useless unless we living writers publish new editions. In short I believe we must let people spell on in their old way, and (as we shall find it easiest) do the same ourselves. With ease and with sincerity I can in the old way subscribe myself Dear Sir Your affectionate humble Servant
M Stevenson

“To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Stevenson, 26 September 1768: phonetic spelling and transcription,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-15-02-0122. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 15, January 1 through December 31, 1768, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972, pp. 215–216.]

posted March 8th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Friendship,Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson

“Yɨi uis̸ iu to kaansider dhis Alfabet”

Benjamin Franklin, as many before him, was interested in creating a system of phonetic spelling and he sent MARY “POLLY” STEVENSON (later HEWSON) a letter (July 20, 1768) using what he proposed. The “translation” follows.

Diir Paali,
Yɨi intended to hev sent iu dhiz Pepers sunɥr, bɥt biiŋ bizi faargaat it.
…. iur gud Mɥdhɥr hez bin indispoz’d uiħ e slɥit Fivɥr, atended uiħ mɥts̸ fiibilnes and uirines. S̸i uiuld naat aallaau mi to send iu uɥrd aav it at dhi tɥim, and iz naau beter.
Yɨi uis̸ iu to kaansider dhis Alfabet, and giv mi Instanses aaf sɥts̸ Iŋlis̸ Uɥrds and Saaunds az iu mee ħink kannaat perfektlɥi bi eksprest bɥi it. Yɨi am persueeded it mee bi kaamplited bɥi iur help. Ði greeter difikɥlti uil bi to briŋ it into ius. Haauevɥr, if Amendments eer nevɥr atemted, and ħiŋs kaantinu to gro uɥrs and uɥrs, dhee mɥst kɥm to bi in a rets̸ed Kaandis̸ɥn at last; sɥts̸ indiid ɥi ħink aaur Alfabet and Rɥitiŋ aalredi in; bɥt if ui go aan az ui hev dɥn e fiu Senturiz laanger, aaur uɥrds uil graduali siis to ekspres Saaunds, dhee uil onli stand faar ħiŋs, az dhi rittin uɥrds du in dhi Ts̸uiniiz Languads̸, huits̸ ɥi sɥspekt mɥit orids̸inali hev bin e litiral Rɥitiŋ lɥik dhat aaf Iurop, bɥt ħru dhi Ts̸eends̸ez in Pronɥsies̸ɥn braaaat aan bɥi dhi Kors aaf Eeds̸es, and ħru dhi aabstinet Adhirens aaf dhat Pipil to old Kɥstɥms and amɥŋ ɥdhɥrs to dheer old manɥr ov Rɥitiŋ, dhi orids̸inal Saaunds aaf Leters and Uɥrds eer laast, and no laangɥr kaansidered. Yɨi am, mɥi diir Frend, Iurz afeks̸ɥnetli,
B. Franklin

Dear Polly,
I intended to have sent you these Papers sooner, but being busy forgot it.
…. your good Mother has been indispos’d with a slight Fever, attended with much feebleness and weariness. She would not allow me to send you word of it at the time and is now better.
I wish you to consider this Alphabet, and give me Instances of such English Words and Sounds as you may think can not perfectly be expressed by it. I am persuaded it may be completed by your help. The greater difficulty will be to bring it into use. However, if Amendments are never attempted and things continue to grow worse and worse they must come to be in a wretched Condition at last; such indeed I think our Alphabet and Writing already in; but if we go on as we have done a few Centuries longer, our words will gradually cease to express Sounds, they will only stand for things, as the written words do in the Chinese Language, which I suspect might originally have been a literal Writing like that of Europe, but through the Changes in Pronunciation brought on by the Course of Ages and through the obstinate Adherence of that People to old Customs, and among others to their old manner of Writing, the original Sounds of Letters and Words are lost, and no longer considered. I am, my dear Friend, Yours affectionately,
B. Franklin

Polly’s reply in the next post.

“From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 20 July 1768: phonetic spelling and transcription,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-15-02-0095. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 15, January 1 through December 31, 1768, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972, pp. 173–175.]

posted March 4th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Friendship,Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson,System of phonetic spelling

“a mere chit chat letter”

The engraving of Benjamin Franklin is by Edward Fisher after Mason Chamberlin’s 1762 portrait; it was created while Franklin was living in London. (National Portrait Gallery NPG.70.66.) In November 1762 Benjamin Franklin left England for America. Scientist that he was, pondering why the journey east across the Atlantic was shorter than the journey west, he charted the Gulf Stream on the voyage.

MARY “POLLY” STEVENSON (HEWSON to be) wrote to Franklin in March of 1763:

It was with great pleasure I h[eard of] your safe and happy arrival at Philadelphia; and [hearti]ly congratulate you and the dear Partakers of y[our Socie]ty, but you must all forgive me if I repine [that] you are oblig’d to enjoy it at so great a d[istance] from me.

Franklin replied:

Your pleasing Favour of Nov. 11 [missing] is now before me. It found me as you suppos’d it would, happy with my American Friends and Family about me; and it made me more happy in showing me that I am not yet forgotten by the dear Friends I left in England….

Benjamin Franklin returned to England in 1764 as an agent to Parliament and again took up residence at Craven Street. Still loyal to Britain, he proposed an alternate way of raising money when Britain found itself in great debt after the Seven Years War but Parliament decided on the Stamp Act (1765) which was mightily resisted by the American Colonies. Franklin testified before Parliament the following year urging its repeal.* He became a staunch supporter of the rebel cause and relocated to Paris where he helped negotiate a treaty (1778) with the French whose support enabled the United States to successfully prosecute the war.
* See Franklin’s testimony before Parliament here.

Meanwhile Polly Stevenson and Benjamin Franklin kept up their relationship. Polly wrote him in July of 1765:

I stole away from company, for I have a pleasure in holding an imaginary conversation with you tho I have nothing in my head worth imparting. Perhaps were I to set about it I could ask you some questions, for that is easily done, but I know you have not leisure to answer them, therefore a mere chit chat letter will suit you best at present.

Benjamin Franklin sent Polly a verse he had composed for her 28th birthday. More on their relationship in the next post.

“To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Stevenson, 11 March 1763,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-10-02-0116. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 10, January 1, 1762, through December 31, 1763, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 216–217.]“From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Stevenson, 25 March 1763,” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-10-02-0123. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 10, January 1, 1762, through December 31, 1763, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1959, pp. 231–235.]

posted March 2nd, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Friendship,Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson,London,Stamp Act

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