Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Kirke, 3 June 1758

To John Kirke7

LS:8 The James Monroe Memorial Foundation

London June 3, 1758


Yours of the 1st. of April9 I received, with a Bill enclos’d for £25 Sterling, which when paid I shall dispose of as the Directors of the Union Library Company desire: But it will fall far short of discharging Mr. Keith’s Account,1 who says the Orders he has receiv’d for Books will amount to about £100, and seem’d surpriz’d that a larger Bill was not sent. I told him the Company might possibly be unacquainted with the Prices of some of the Books, and had not imagined they would come to so much Money; but that if he sent them he need not doubt the Honour of the Directors, in taking care to make him a speedy Remittance; for it was the Custom in our Company, (and I suppos’d it might be the same in yours) in case a Parcel of Books amounted to more than the Subscription Monies in the Treasurer’s Hand would discharge, a Number of the Subscribers advanc’d one or two Years Payment of their Subscriptions and by that Means ballanced the Account immediately with their Correspondent in England. I advis’d him also to call on Mr. Titley2 who perhaps long before this has receiv’d Mr. Clifford’s3 Order: I never ask’d Mr. Titley for the Money for the Microscopes and other Optical Glasses, because I was not sure they would be acceptable; but I sent them per Budden, and hope they got safe to Hand.4 Please to present my Respects to the Directors, and assure them of my Readiness to Serve the Company in what I may. I am, Sir, Your very humble Servant

B Franklin

To Mr. Kirke

Addressed: To / Mr Kirke / Treasurer of the Union Library / Company / Philadelphia

[Memorandum:]5 In answer to this Letter, remark G. Keith has not writ any Letter, to the Directors. That our Estimate was chiefly taken from the Monthly Review. That we have rece’d the Microscope &c.

Write to Keith

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7John Kirke, treasurer of and subscriber to the Union Library Company, which, founded in 1747, by 1758 had a room on Chestnut Street, a membership of 100, and a collection of 317 titles. It merged with BF’s Library Company of Philadelphia in 1769. PMHB, XLII (1918), 196; Carl and Jessica Bridenbaugh, Rebels and Gentlemen, Philadelphia in the Age of Franklin (N.Y., 1942), pp. 87–8.

8In WF’s hand, but with one insertion (noted) and the address sheet in BF’s.

9Not found.

1George Keith, bookseller of No. 2 Talbot Court, Gracechurch Street. Kent’s Directory for the Year 1770 (London, 1770), p. 102; H. R. Plomer et al., A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers … from 1726 to 1775 (Oxford, 1932), p. 144.

2A Benjamin Titley was a merchant of Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street. A Complete Guide to … the City of London … (London, 1752), p. 177. The next fifteen words were inserted by BF in the margin.

3Thomas Clifford (1722–1793), merchant of Philadelphia, probably related to and agent for George Clifford, merchant of Lime Street, London. PMHB, V (1881), 26 n; Kent’s Directory, p. 40.

4BF’s accounts, Aug. 30, 1758–April 14, 1759, contain several entries for books bought of Keith and for optical instruments bought for the Union Library. “Account of Expences,” pp. 22, 24, 33; PMHB, LV (1931), pp. 107–17. See above, p. 78 n, for Capt. Richard Budden’s arrival in Philadelphia. Because of his frequent and safe passages, his ship was called the “bridge” between London and Philadelphia. PMHB, XXXIX (1915), p. 380.

5On another page, presumably in Kirke’s hand. The address sheet contains miscellaneous ciphering probably added by him.

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