Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Ezra Stiles, 22 September 1755

From Ezra Stiles

ALS: Yale University Library

NH. [New Haven] Septr. 22. 1755

Dear Sir

I received your very kind and acceptable Favour by Mr. Allison,8 with the MSS. accompanying it, for which you have my Thanks. When have perused shall return the MSS. With my Thanks I now return Dr. Knights most ingenious Treatise on Magnetism.9

I have this Commencement resigned my Imployment in the College: shall this Week set out for Newport, where expect to spend the Residue of my Life, as there seems to open a Prospect of my a little assisting a small Handfull of my fellow Mortals in Paying Homage to the Universal Father; and in a little Sphere of Action of cultivating the genuine unadulterated Principles of M[oral] Virtue: and thus at the same Time a Prospect of forming myself, and a few of my Fellow Sons of Earth, for those future Imployments and Honors in other Parts of the Moral World, which must, I apprehend (such is the Moral Constitution of the Universe) be the certain Reward of amiable, active and worthy Characters.1

We were extremely pleased with Mr. Allison a Gentleman of vast Ingenuity and real Worth. We have done ourselves the Honor to beg his Acceptance of the best Compliment and Testimony of Respect we could pay him, a Tribute of the Honors of the College.2

I am always so extremely delighted with new and curious Discoveries of the philosophic Kind, that I fear shall be burdensome to you in Requests to partake of your philosophic Amusements. Tho’ am really ashamed of it, yet as can deny Nothing Mr. Franklin requests, shall as soon as have a little Liesure, transcribe and send you a Copy of my Oration.3 I am Dear Sir With very lasting Esteem, Your Most Obedient Servant

Ezra Stiles

B Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8See above, p. 176.

9See above, p. 103.

1Stiles stated his motives for accepting the call to Newport in more personal terms: “partly, my friends, especially my father’s inclination; partly, an agreeable town, and the Redwood library; partly, the voice of Providence in the unanimity of the people; partly, my love of preaching, and prospect of more leisure for pursuing study, than I could expect in the law—which, however, I love to this day—induced me to yield.” Abiel Holmes, The Life of Ezra Stiles, D.D., LL.D. (Boston, 1798), p. 29. He was ordained and installed in the Second Congregational Church, October 22. He did not, however, spend the rest of his life in Newport, but returned to New Haven in 1780 as president of Yale College. He took a “melancholly farewell” of Newport, May 31, riding away through the wartime ruins and wasted fields and orchards. “But with Nehemiah I could prefer the very dust of Zion to the Gardens of Persia, and the broken Walls of Jerusalem to the Palaces of Sushan.” Franklin B. Dexter, ed., The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles (N.Y., 1901), II, 427.

2Yale awarded him an honorary M.A. on September 10.

3See above, V, 492–500. The copy BF received is doubtless that which William Temple Franklin printed in Memoirs, I, 443–7; it differs in some respects from the MS draft and copy surviving in Stiles’s papers in yale Univ. Lib.

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