Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Cadwallader Colden, 30 August 1754

To Cadwallader Colden

ALS: New-York Historical Society

Philada. Augt. 30. 1754

Dear Sir

I have now before me your Favours of July 23. and August 5th.5

I return Mr. Pyke’s Philosophia sacra.6 His Manner of Philosophizing is much out of my Way.

I am now about to proceed on my Eastern Journey, but hope to be at home in the Winter,7 the best Season for Electrical Experiments, when I will gladly make any you desire; In the mean time should be glad you would communicate the Thoughts you mention, that I may consider them. If you please, direct them to me at Boston.

There must, I think, be some Mistake in what you mention, of my having sent Mr. Collinson the Paper you wrote me on Waterspouts.8 I have the Original now by me, and cannot recollect that I ever copied it, or that I ever communicated the Contents of it to Mr. Collinson or any one. Indeed I have long had an Intention of sending him all I have wrote, and all I have receiv’d from others on that curious Subject, without mentioning Names; but it is not yet done.

Our Assembly were not inclin’d to show any Approbation of the Plan of Union; yet I suppose they will take no Steps to oppose its being established by the Government at home.9 Popular Elections have their Inconveniences, in some Cases; but in Establishing new Forms of Government, we cannot always obtain what we may think the best; for the Prejudices of those concern’d, if they cannot be remov’d, must be in some Degree comply’d with. However, I am of Opinion, that when Troops are to be rais’d in America, the Officers appointed must be Men they know and approve, or the Levies will be made with more Difficulty, and at much greater Expence.

It is not to be expected that a Quaker Assembly will establish any but Quaker Schools; nor will they ever agree to a Tax for Payment of any Clergy. It is intended by the Society that the Schoolmasters among the Germans shall teach English.1

I am glad the Representation is agreable to your Sentiments.2 The Letter to Lord Halifax I suppose your Son sends from New York.3

Since my Return I have received from Italy a Book in Quarto, entitled, Dell’ Ellettricismo artificiale e naturale, libri due, di Giambattista Beccaria de’ CC. RR. delle Scuole pie. printed at Turin, and dedicated to the King [of Sardinia].4 The Author professedly goes on my [torn]; he seems a Master of Method, and has reduc’d to systematic Order the scatter’d Experiments and Positions deliver’d in my Papers. At the End of the first Book, there is a Letter address’d to the Abbé Nollet, in which he answers some of the Abbe’s principal Objections. This Letter being translated into French, I send the Translation for your perusal, and will send the Italian Book it self by some future Opportunity if you desire it. It pleases me the more, in that I find the Author has been led by sundry Observations and Experiments, tho’ different from mine, to the same strange Conclusion, viz. That some Thunder Strokes are from the Earth up[wards]. In which I fear’d I should for some time ha[ve been] singular.

With the greatest Esteem and Regard, [I am] Dear Sir, Your most humble [Servant]

B Fr[anklin]

Please to send me the French Piece per first Opportunity after you have perus’d it, directed to me at Boston.

Dr. Colden

Addressed (in another hand): To  The Honble  Cadwallader Colden Esqr  Cold[engham]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Neither letter found.

6Samuel Pike, Philosophia Sacra (London, 1753). See above, p. 198 n.

7BF spent about six months on this trip to New England, reaching Philadelphia about the end of February.

8See above, p. 125.

9Governor Hamilton laid the Representation and Plan of Union before the Assembly, with expressions of approval, August 7; the House considered the Plan and on August 17, the last day of the session, “after a considerable Debate” voted against even referring it to the next Assembly for further deliberation. Votes, 1753–54, pp. 69, 76. Thus the issue was allowed to die in Pennsylvania. In his autobiography BF recalled that the Assembly, “by the Management of a certain Member” (perhaps Speaker Norris; see above, p. 376) had taken up the Albany Plan “when I happen’d to be absent, which I thought not very fair, and reprobated it without paying any Attention to it at all, to my no small Mortification.” Par. Text edit., p. 330. This would imply that he was absent on the final day of the session.

1On the plan to establish English schools for the Pennsylvania Germans, see above, pp. 203–18.

2The Representation on the Present State of the Colonies, adopted by the Albany Congress, see above, p. 366.

3Not identified. During the summer and autumn of 1754 Colden sent two letters to Halifax, which have not been found but which probably renewed his earlier requests for political preferment. Colden Paps., IV, 469, 474.

4See above, p. 395.

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