Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jared Eliot, 19 December 1752

To Jared Eliot

MS not found; reprinted from American Journal of Science, and Arts, V (1823), 160–2.

Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 1752

Dear Sir,

I received your affectionate letter of the 1st.6 and am surprised to find that my letters do not of late get to your hand. I do not keep copies, but I remember well, that in one I acknowledged the receipt of the select transactions,7 and in another I complained of the long delay of your fourth Essay, and desired that if Mr. Green would not do it, you would send it to me, and it should be despatched in a trice.8 To this I own I have long wondered that there came no answer; but now the reason appears you never received it. I am not indeed the most punctual of correspondents, but am however less negligent than I have of late appeared to you to be. To converse in this manner with my friends is one of my greatest pleasures; but much business does sometimes interfere and occasion delays, which makes me more ready to excuse others, as I have frequent occasion to be excused. At present however, I am not to be blamed, but some defect in the conveyance, which I cannot now guess at; but to prevent the miscarriage of this, I send it under cover to Dr. Johnson,9 and request him to forward it by some safe hand, for having exchanged many letters lately with that gentleman on occasion of my printing his book, and not observing any of them to miscarry, I have reason to expect this will at least get safe as far as Stratford. By the way, are you not a letter in debt to our friend Bartram? If not I fear a long one of his to you, enclosed in one of mine has miscarried also.

Our friend Mr. Jackson wrote to me last year, for an account of the number of Palatines imported here within ten years, which I accordingly sent him, and accompanyed it with a sheet or two on the subject of peopling of countries, propagation of mankind, &c. in answer to which I have lately received a long and curious letter from him, which I will send for your perusal together with my paper, as soon as I find it can be done without danger of being lost.1

In the mean time, I send you a meterological paper of mine, wrote in order to digest and methodise a few of my own thoughts, and to procure the corrections of my Friends, I beg your sentiments and criticisms, on such parts as you find wrong; and if you can give me any light into the nature of those meteors we commonly call falling stars, pray do; for I am extremely at a loss to know what to think of them.2 Also any thing that has come to your knowledge of the nature and effects of whirl-winds and water-spouts; concerning which I have seen only imperfect accounts.

I know you will be pleased to hear that our Academy flourishes, and therefore I inform you that we have now upwards of 300 scholars in all the schools. Our Hospital too, goes on very well, and does much good. We have this day been opening our cargo of choice Drugs and Medicines from London, that cost us £112 sterling; and find all in good order.3 I must not omit to acquaint you with one other instance of the public spirit of this people. A person who had been in the last expedition to discover a north-west passage, being fully persuaded from some observations he made, and notices he obtained there, that such a passage there probably is, wrote to me from Maryland, requesting I would endeavor to procure subscriptions here for another attempt. It is accordingly done; £1000 is raised for the purpose, and a vessel is actually fitting for him to proceed in early in the Spring.4 If you have any queries to make concerning that Country, its Productions, &c. or would have any particular observations made there; write them, and I will send them by our captain who is an ingenious and observing man.

Did you receive the votes of our last years Assembly, which I sent you, as I think; but am not very certain. I know I intended it.

And now my paper will only afford me room to add, that I have not received more pleasure and satisfaction from any correspondence I maintain, than from that you have favoured me with; which I hope will never again meet such interruption, as I am, with sincere esteem and affection, dear Sir, your obliged friend and servant,

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Not found.

7BF’s letter of Dec. 10, 1751 (above, p. 215). The book was Robert Maxwell, ed., Select Transactions of the Society of the Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1743).

8Not found, but see BF’s letter of Feb. 11, 1752 (above, p. 265). Eliot’s first three essays were printed by Timothy Green, Sr., of New London, Conn., his fourth by James Parker of New York, 1753. The four essays were printed also in N.-Y. Gaz., May 14–July 30, 1753.

9On Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Conn., see above, III, 477 n.

1Richard Jackson’s letters have not been found. BF’s essay on the peopling of countries is printed above, p. 225.

2BF also sent a copy of the paper to Dr. John Perkins in Boston (see above, p. 235).

3The drugs cost £112 15s.d. sterling. To pay for them one of the hospital managers proposed that an appeal be made to “the rich Widows and other Single Women in Town.” It produced £126 15s. 6d. Pennsylvania currency, of which the widows alone contributed £111 5s. 6d. Thomas G. Morton and Frank Woodbury, The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital (Phila., 1895), p. 267.

4See above, pp. 380–3.

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