Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, 14 August 1747

To Peter Collinson

ALS: Pierpont Morgan Library

Philada. Augt. 14. 1747


I have lately written two long Letters to you on the Subject of Electricity, one by the Governor’s Vessel, the other per Mesnard.4 On some further Experiments since, I have observ’d a Phenomenon or two that I cannot at present account for on the Principles laid down in those Letters, and am therefore become a little diffident of my Hypothesis, and asham’d that I have express’d myself in so positive a manner.5 In going on with these Experiments, how many pretty Systems do we build, which we soon find ourselves oblig’d to destroy! If there is no other Use discover’d of Electricity, this, however, is something considerable, that it may help to make a vain Man humble. I must now request that you would not expose those Letters; or if you communicate them to any Friends, you would at least conceal my Name. I have not Time to add, but that I am, Sir, Your obliged and most humble Servant

B Franklin6

Addressed: To  Mr Peter Collinson  Mercht  London via Dublin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4BF’s letters of May 25 and July 28 (see above, pp. 126, 156). Governor Thomas embarked for London, June 1, on the Greyhound, Capt. Richard Budden. Pa. Gaz., June 4, 1747. On July 30 the Gazette reported Capt. Stephen Mesnard’s ship Carolina as having cleared in the preceding week.

5The revision of the hypothesis was doubtless made in the “Corrections and Additions” printed in 1751 and subsequent editions. These emendations are printed with the letters.

6A postscript has been torn away.

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