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Letter from Dr. Franklin to Josiah Quincy



Saratoga, April 15, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I am here on my way to Canada, detained by the present state of the lakes, in which the unthawed ice obstructs navigation. I begin to apprehend that I have undertaken a fatigue that, at my time of life, may prove too much for me, so I sit down to write to a few friends, by way of farewell.

I congratulate you on the departure of your late troublesome neighbours. I hope your country will now for some time have rest; and that care will be taken so to fortify Boston as that no force shall be able again to got footing there.

Your very kind letter of November 13th, enclosing Lord Chatham' s and Lord Camden' s speeches, I duly received. I think no one can be more sensible than I am of the favours of corresponding friends, but I find it impossible to answer as I ought. At present I think you will deem me inexcusable, and therefore I will not attempt an apology. But if you should ever happen to be at the same time oppressed with years and business, you may then extenuate a little for your old friend.

The notes of the speeches taken by your son (whose loss I shall ever deplore with you) are exceedingly valuable, as being by much the best account preserved of that day' s debate.

You ask, "When is the Continental Congress, by general consent, to be formed into a supreme Legislature; alliances, defensive and offenisve, formed; our ports opened; and a formidable naval force established at the publick charge?" I can only answer, at present, that nothing seems wanting but that "general consent." The novelty of the thing deters some; the doubts of success, others; the vain hope of reconciliation, many. But our enemies take continually every proper measure to remove these obstacles, and their endeavours are attended with success, since every day furnishes us with new causes of increasing enmity, and new reasons for wishing an eternal separation; so that there is a rapid increase of the formerly small party who were for an Independent Government.

Your epigram on Lord Chatham' s remark has amply paid me for the song. Accept my thanks for it, and for die charming extract of a lady' s letter, contained in your favour of January 22d.

I thought, when I sat down, to have written, by this opportunity to Doctor Cooper, Mr˙ Bowdoin, and Doctor Winthrop, but I am interrupted. Be so good as to present my affectionate respects to them, and to your family.

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me ever yours, most affectionately,


To Josiah Quincy, Esq˙, Braintree.