Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jared Eliot, 10 December 1751

To Jared Eliot

ALS (incomplete): Yale University Library; remainder reprinted from American Journal of Science and Arts, V (1822), 157–9.

Philada. Dec. 10. 1751

Dear Sir

The Rector of our Academy Mr. Martin, came over into this Country on a Scheme for making Potash in the Russian Method:1 He promis’d me some written Directions for you, which expecting daily I delay’d writing, and now he lies dangerously ill of a kind of Quinsey: The Surgeons have been oblig’d to open his Windpipe, and introduce a leaden Pipe for him to breathe thro’. I fear he will not recover.

I thank you for the marine Wooll; ’tis a Curiosity.2 Mr. Roberts promises me some Observations in Husbandry for you. It is one Mr. Masters3 that makes Dung of Leaves, and not Mr. Roberts: I hope to get the Particulars from him soon.

I have a Letter from Mr. Collinson of July 19. in which he writes, “Pray has Mr. Elliot published any Addition to his Work; I have No. 1, and 2. If I can get ready I will send some Improvements made in the sandy Parts of the County of Norfolk; by the Way it is a great Secret, but it is Mr. Jackson’s own Drawing up,4 being Experiments made on some of his Father’s Estates in that County: but his Name must not be mentioned. I thank you for the Fowl Meadow Grass. I sowed it June 7 as soon as I received it, but none is yet come up. I dont know how it is, but I never could raise any of your Native Grasses; and I have had Variety per J. Bartram of curious Species.”

In another of Sept. 26. he says, “I am much obliged to thee for Mr. Elliot’s third Essay. I have sent Maxwell’s select Transactions in Husbandry:5 If Mr. Elliot has not seen them, they may be very useful to him. I have prevail’d on our worthy, learned and ingenious Friend Mr. Jackson to give some Dissertations on the Husbandry of Norfolk, believing it may be very serviceable to the Colonies: He has great Opportunities of doing this, being a Gentleman of Leisure and Fortune, being the only Son whose Father has great Riches and Possessions, and resides every Year all the long Vacation at his Father’s Seat in Norfolk. After J. Bartram has perused it, I shall submit how it may be further disposed of, only our Friend Elliot should see it soon; for Mr. Jackson admires his little Tracts of Husbandry as well as myself, and it may be of greater Service to him and his Colony, than to yours. The Fowl Meadow Grass has at last made its Appearance. Another Year we shall judge better of it.”—Thus far Friend Collinson. You may expect the Papers in a Post or two. If you make any Use of them, you will take Care not to mention any thing of the Author.

The Bearer is my Son, who desir’d an Opportunity of paying his Respects to you in his Return from Boston. He went by Sea.6

They have printed all my electrical essays in England, and sent me a few copies, of which I design to send you one per next post, after having corrected a few errata. I am, dear Sir, Your most humble servant,

B. Franklin

Mr. Martin is dead!

Addressed: To The Revd Mr Jared Elliot at Killingworth

1David Martin (see above, II, 407 n), after serving some years as sheriff of Hunterdon Co., N.J., became the first rector of the Academy of Philadelphia. He was BF’s “principal Antagonist at Chess,” but little more is known of him. Montgomery, Hist. Univ. Pa., pp. 136, 141; see below, p. 323. He died December 11. A eulogy is printed in Pa. Gaz., Jan. 14, 1752.

2Merino wool? Eliot kept a ram “of a good Breed, in Part,” which despite “mean Keeping” produced an abundance of fine wool. Essays upon Field Husbandry (1934 edit.), p. 20.

3William Masters (see above, II, 428 n) informed Eliot how he had increased the amount of manure on his farm by adding fallen leaves to the dung of his cattle. Eliot summarized the method of this “ingenious and publick-spirited Farmer” in his fourth essay, 1753. Field Husbandry, p. 89.

4Richard Jackson’s account of agricultural methods in Norfolk, prepared “for the Entertainment of Mr. Bartram, or Mr. Eliot,” was forwarded by BF to Eliot, Dec. 24, 1751 (see below, p. 221). Eliot included it in his fourth essay, 1753. Field Husbandry, pp. 76–87. Jackson later purchased a farm at Kent, Conn., and, with Jared Ingersoll and William S. Johnson, was an agent for the colony in London, 1762–70. Four MS letters from Jackson to Eliot are in Yale Univ. Lib. For biographical data, see Carl Van Doren, ed., Letters and Papers of Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson (Phila., 1947), pp. 1–30; DNB.

5Robert Maxwell, ed., Select Transactions of the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1743).

6The remainder of the MS is missing; the final paragraph, complimentary close, and postscript are taken from the printed version.

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