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angel. Excuse this freedom and use the same with me. I am, dear Jenny, your loving brother,
Some sound consum to haverker ve
TO MRS. JANE MECOM. *
PHILADELPHIA [date uncertain]. DEAR SISTER: I received your letter with one for Benny and one for Mr. Parker, and also two of Benny's letters of complaint, which, as you observe, do not amount to much. I should have had a very bad opinion of him if he had written to you those accusations of his master which you mention, because from long acquaintance with his master, who lived some years in my house, I know him to be a sober, pious, and conscientious man; so that Newport, to whom you seem to have given too much credit, must have wronged Mr. Parker very much in his accounts, and have wronged Benny, too, if he says Benny told him such things, for I am confident he never did.
As to the bad attendance afforded him in the smallpox, I believe, if the negro woman did not do her duty, her master or mistress would, if they had known it, have had that matter mended. But Mrs. Parker was herself, if I am not mistaken, sick at that time, and her child also. And though he gives that woman a bad character in general, all he charges her with in particular is that she never brought him what
* Formerly Miss Jane Franklin.
he called for directly, and sometimes not at all. He had the distemper favorably, and yet I suppose was bad enough to be, like other sick people, a little impatient, and perhaps might think a short time long, and sometimes call for things not proper for one in his condition.
As to clothes, I am frequently at New York, and I never saw him unprovided with what was good, decent, and sufficient. I was there no longer ago than March last, and he was then well clothed and made no complaint to me of any kind. I heard both his master and mistress call upon him on Sunday morning to get ready to go to meeting, and tell him of his frequently delaying and shuffling till it was too late, and he made not the least objection about clothes. I did not think it anything extraordinary that he should be sometimes willing to evade going to meeting, for I believe it is the case with all boys, or almost all. I have brought up four or five myself, and have frequently observed that if their shoes were bad they would say nothing of a new pair till Sunday morning, just as the bell rung, when, if you asked them why they did not get ready, the answer was prepared, “I have no shoes, and so of other things, hats and the like; or if they knew of anything that wanted mending, it was a secret till Sunday morning, and sometimes, I believe, they would rather tear a little than be without the excuse.
As to going on petty errands, no boys love it, but all must do it. As soon as they become fit for better business they naturally get rid of that, for the master's interest comes in to their relief. I make no doubt but Mr. Parker will take another apprentice as soon
as he can meet with a likely one. In the mean time I should be glad if Benny would exercise a little patience. There is a negro woman that does a great many of those errands.
I do not think his going on board the privateer arose from any difference between him and his master or any ill-usage be had received. When boys see prizes brought in and quantities of money shared among the men and their gay living, it fill their heads with notions that half-distract them and put them quite out of conceit with trades and the dull ways of getting money by working. This, I suppose, was Ben's case, the Catherine being just before arrived with three rich prizes ; and that the glory of having taken a privateer of the enemy, for which both officers and men were highly extolled, treated, presented, etc., worked strongly upon his imagination, you will see by his answer to my letter, is not unlikely. I send it to you inclosed. I wrote him largely on the occasion, and though he might possibly, to excuse that slip to others, complain of his place, you may see he says not a syllable of any such thing to me. My only son, before I permitted him to go to Albany, left my house unknown to us all and got on board a privateer, from whence I fetched him. No one imagined it was hard usage at home that made him do this. Every one that knows me thinks that I am too indulgent a parent as well as a master.
I shall tire you, perhaps, with the length of this letter, but I am the more particular in order, if possible, to satisfy your mind about your son's situation. His master has, by a letter this post, desired me to write to him about his staying out of nights, sometimes
all night, and refusing to give an account where he spends his time or in what company. This I had not heard of before, though I perceive you have. I do not wonder at his correcting him for that. If he was my own son I should think his master did not do his duty by him if he omitted it, for to be sure it is the high-road to destruction. And I think the correction very light and not likely to be very effectual if the strokes left no marks.
His master says further as follows: “I think I can't charge my conscience with being much short of my duty to him. I shall now desire you, if you have not done it already, to invite him to lay his complaints before you, that I may know how to remedy them." Thus far the words of his letter, which giving me a fair opening to inquire into the affair, I shall accordingly do it, and I hope settle everything to all your satisfactions. In the mean time I have laid by your letters both to Mr. Parker and Benny, and shall not send them till I hear again from you, because I think your appearing to give ear to such groundless stories may give offense and create a greater misunderstanding, and because I think what you write to Benny about getting him discharged may unsettle his mind, and therefore improper at this time.
I have a very good opinion of Benny in the main, and have great hopes of his becoming a worthy man, his faults being only such as are commonly incident to boys of his years, and be has many good qualities, for which I love him. I never knew an apprentice contented with the clothes allowed him by his master, let them be what they would. Jemmy Franklin, when with me, was always dissatisfied and grumbling. When I was last in Boston bis aunt bid him go to a shop and please himself, which the gentleman did, and bought a suit of clothes on my account dearer by onehalf than any I ever afforded myself, one suit excepted; which I don't mention by way of complaint of Jemmy, for he and I are good friends, but only to show you the nature of boys.
I am, with love to brother and all yours and duty to mother, to whom I have not time now to write, your affectionate brother,
TO MRS. DEBORAH FRANKLIN.
GNADENHUTTEN, 25th January, 1756. MY DEAR CHILD: This day week we arrived here. I wrote to you the same day and once since. We all continue well, thanks be to God. We have been hindered with bad weather, yet our fort is in a good defensible condition, and we have every day more convenient living. Two more are to be built, one on each side of this, at about fifteen miles' distance. I hope both will be done in a week or ten days, and then I purpose to bend my course homeward.
We have enjoyed your roast beef and this day began on the roast veal. All agree that they are both the best that ever were of the kind. Your citizens, that have their dinner hot and hot, know nothing of good eating. We find it in much greater perfection when the kitchen is four-score miles from the dining-room.