“For you my needle with delight I plied”

Benjamin Franklin replied the next day (September 2, 1769) to POLLY STEVENSON’s letter in which she tells of her meeting with a physician who had caught her eye. “Possibly, if the Truth were known, I have Reason to be jealous of this same insinuating handsome young Physician: But as it flatters more my Vanity, and therefore gives me more Pleasure to suppose you were in Spirits on Account of my safe Return, I shall turn a deaf Ear to Reason in this Case. . . .” Stevenson and Franklin exchanged gifts at Christmas; here is the verse Polly composed to accompany her present of a pair of Ruffles.

To Dr. Franklin with a pair of Ruffles Decr / 69
These flowers Dear Sir, can boast no lively bloom,
Nor can regale you with a sweet perfume,
This dreary season no such present yeild’s,
The Trees are naked, unadorn’d the fields,
The Gardens have their sweets and beauty lost
But Love and Gratitude, unchill’d by frost;
Put forth this foliage—poor indeed I own
Yet trust th’intent will for the faults atone.
Altho’ my produce not with nature vies,
I hope to please a friend’s indulgent eye’s,
For you my fancy and my skill I tried
For you my needle with delight I plied
Proud even to add a triffling grace to you
From whom Philosophy and Virtue too
I’ve gain’d—If either can be counted mine
In you they with the clearest lustre shine
My noble Friend this artless line excuse
Nor blame the weakness of your Polly’s muse
The humble gift with kind compliance take
And wear it for the grateful givers sake.

“To Benjamin Franklin from Mary Stevenson, [December 1769],” Founders Online, National Archives, version of January 18, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-16-02-0174. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 16, January 1 through December 31, 1769, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972, p. 274.]

posted March 15th, 2019 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Christmas, Franklin, Benjamin, Hewson, Mary "Polly" Stevenson, Poetry


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