Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from —————, 8 August 1764

From ———1

AL (mutilated): American Philosophical Society

Philada. 8th. Augt. 1764.


[I am] returning you my kind thanks for your favour in lending me the Perusal of Mr. Pringles account of the Meteor seen in England2 &c. some time agone, which I herewith return.

I have been at some Pains in geting the account of this that appear’d here the 20th Ulto. in the Evening,3 but a Great Deal Appears from what has been said to be Imperfect unless there were more than one.

However from the Perusal of the whole, I shall at Present desist, and have for my own part to say, that with proper Instruments I have taken the Altitude, and Course from my Standing Place, and with the help of two Young Men of Account, where the Meteor Pass’d directly in their Zenith, which is taken with a Land Compass, the Intersection of the two Lines undoubtedly will be Perpendicular to the place it broke. As everybody seems silent in so curious an Affair, makes me doubt that a more ungenerous a Spirit Subsists, than that, that wou’d be becoming [to a] Soul, Springing from an Eternal Spirit, which [has no] beginning nor end. The Lord Preserve Sir your [Life?] for abundance has been said, what end [torn] I am at a Stand. I have been buisy, or [torn] d[raw]n the Cut, together with the Lin[torn] own get so much in favour [torn].

To B. Franklin

1The editors have no clue as to who BF’s correspondent was. No part of the signature remains.

2Almost certainly a paper read by Pringle before the Royal Society in 1759 and published in Phil. Trans. of that year; see above, IX, 300 n.

3Pa. Gaz. and Pa. Jour., July 26, 1764, printed an identical letter to the publisher dated Philadelphia, July 21, and signed “T.T.,” describing a fireball that passed about 2½ miles southwest of the city at 7:40 P.M. the previous evening, taking a course “near North-west.” Considerably larger than the sun, “it appeared like large flaming Sheets of Fire, inclining together, like that of a new blown Rose.” When it touched a small cloud “it broke into Thousands of Pieces, like that of springing a Mine.” The report of the explosion came about 30 seconds later and lasted about “one full Minute.” An identical note appended to the letter in each paper asked for other accounts of the meteor, its position and course in the sky, and the length of time that elapsed between the visible explosion and the arrival of its sound.

Index Entries