Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Logan, 13 July 1747

From James Logan

Transcript: Harvard College Library (Sparks)

July 13. 1747

My friend B. Franklin

I received this afternoon a Copy of the Proposals for printing another Edition of Universal History of which I had a sight of the first vol:8 about two or three years since from my Friend Richd Peters, of which notwithstanding I could not approve of some particulars in the Preface which 1 was very sensible were wrong, tho’ I cannot remember at present what they were, yet I very much approve of the design, and should be much pleased with the sight of these 20 volls, tho’ I conceive there must be at least as many more to compleat the work. I should be pleased to know whether R.P. has the whole 9 volls in folio9 that have been publish’d. But I am of opinion that the Modern History of Europe had as well be omitted, and that they had as good only give what concerns the Asiaticks and Africans. Since these proposals are dated the 30th of May 1746 I admire they should not publish the first till January last.1 I presume thou hast not yet received any or more than one or two at most. I thank thee for thy new Catalogue2 but am sorry thy Friend Parker3 could have no help to range their Library into some tolerable order. Old as I am, now near 73, and much fail’d in all respects, I want to lay out about £200 Sterling more in Books which I shall do if I am so happy as to see a peace without farther disturbance and I have my Catalogue ready drawn. I should take it as a favour if I could see thee oftner here, for I want to ask divers questions; but shall add no more at present but that I am with great Truth and Reality Thy sincere Friend

J. Logan

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8A folio edition of An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time to the Present began to appear in London in 1736. Seven volumes, completing the ancient history part of the work, had been published by 1744, when George Faulkner, bookseller of Dublin, pirated them. In January 1747 the London printers Thomas Osborne, John Osborn, and Andrew Millar issued the first volume of a revised edition, octavo. In their Proposals (Gent. Mag., XVII, 1747, 61–2) they announced that others would follow, one a month at 5s. a volume, until the work was completed in twenty volumes. The promised rate of publication was maintained for more than a year, but the twentieth volume was not issued until March 1749. The second part of the History, comprising the modern history, sixteen volumes in the folio edition and forty-four in the octavo, began to appear in London in 1759, and was completed in 1765 and 1766 respectively. Gent. Mag., XIV (1744), 624; XVII (1747), 52, 61–2, 108; XVIII (1748), 96; XIX (1749), 144. BF reprinted the Proposals in Pa. Gaz., July 9, 1747, offering the volumes at 13s. 6d. Pennsylvania currency.

9Volumes 6 and 7 each appeared in two parts—which probably explains Logan’s speaking of nine volumes, instead of seven.

1See below, p. 164, on the Universal History. For its importance in historiography, see Harry E. Barnes, A History of Historical Writing (Norman, Okla., 1937), pp. 171–2. The work is a bibliographical challenge, which deserves special study.

2Probably BF’s printed list of Books Added to the Library Since the Year 1741 (Evans 5853). Logan had inquired earlier about the Library’s new accessions (see above, p. 111 ).

3Not identified.

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