Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Winthrop, 8 April 1761

To John Winthrop3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, April 8, 1761


I did myself the Honour of writing you a few Lines the 20th of February last4 inclosing a Piece of Dr. Pringle’s on the Subject of Fiery Meteors which he sent you on hearing your ingenious Account of one lately appearing in New England read to the Royal Society.5 This is chiefly to cover my Friend Mr. Kennicott’s Papers relating to the Hebrew Bible, and to request, that if any ancient Manuscripts of that Book are in your College Library (of which indeed I have not much Expectation) you would be so good as to send him an Account of them.6 My respectful Compliments to Mr. President Holyoke,7 and any enquiring Friends at Cambridge. With great Esteem, I am, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Mr Winthrop / Professor of Philosophy / of Harvard College / Cambridge / per favour of / Mr Quincy8

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin 8 April 1761 Dr Franklin9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3For John Winthrop, Hollis professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Harvard, see above, IV, 261 n; V, 267; VI, 404 n.

4Not found.

5Winthrop’s paper about a meteor which appeared in the vicinity of Taunton, Mass., May 10, 1759, “An Account of a Meteor seen in New England, and of a Whirlwind felt in that Country,” was read at the Royal Society, Jan. 15, 1761, and published in Phil. Trans., LII, Part I (1761), 6–16. Dr. John Pringle (above, VI, 178 n) could have sent him either his “Several Accounts of the fiery Meteor, which appeared on Sunday the 26th of November, 1758 …,” read at the Royal Society, Feb. 8, 1759, or his “Some Remarks upon the several Accounts of the fiery Meteor … and upon other such Bodies,” read on Dec. 20, 1759. These pieces were published in Phil Trans., LI (1759), 218–59, 259–74.

6Benjamin Kennicott (1718–1783), F.R.S., was a Biblical scholar whose consuming interest was the establishment of an accurate text of the Old Testament, finally published as Vetus Testamentum Hebraicum cum Variis Lectionibus (2 vols., Oxford, 1776–80). DNB. He was probably sending Winthrop a copy of his first annual report of progress (published December 1760); this and its nine successors were later conveniently collected as The Ten Annual Accounts of the Collation of the Hebrew MSS (Oxford, 1770). On Nov. 17, 1761, Winthrop wrote BF that Harvard had no ancient Hebrew MSS.

7On Edward Holyoke (1689–1769), who presented BF his Harvard A.M. diploma in 1753, see Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, V, 265–78.

8Edmund Quincy; see the preceding document.

9On the blank spaces of this four-page sheet Winthrop wrote drafts of his reply to BF and of letters to Dr. Pringle and Gov. Jonathan Belcher, Jr., all dated Nov. 17, 1761.

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