Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Elizabeth Hubbart, 16 February 1756

From Elizabeth Hubbart

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Febr. 16th. 1756

Dear Sir

I enclose you a Catalouge of all the large and part of the small Books in my dear Papa’s Library, there are many other small but valueable Books, that I had not Time to take an Account of.8 They are to be sold. My Mamah9 desiers I would let you know, they will not be offered to Sale, till we here wheather you incline to have any, or the whole of them.

You will see by the Coppy of the Will sent you, there is five Vol. given me.1 My Dear, Dear; Papa would fain had me Accepted the whole, and Ordered his Will not to be Closed till the next Day, that I might Consider better of it, then to refuse them. Indeed Sir it was the most agreeable and Valueable Present ever Offered me, and it was with great reluctance I refuse’d it, which nothing could have induce’d me to, but a Conciousness that his Estate would not afford such a Legacy, and that many People might think they had a better right to it. However his Generous intentions gives me Infinite Satisfaction, and my Brother2 has kindly Promised to bye some of them for me, there are maney that would give me great Pleasure but I must Content my Self without them. I remit you Two Hundred and thirty nine Dollars in Prize Tickets, which pleas to Creadit my Account for there was a Mistake in the Numbers for the third Class sent me which I returned three Weeks, or a Month ago, there is Sixty of my Billets not yet come to hand, I hope they will be forwarded before the drawing, as People are very uneasey that they cant have them.3

I send you two Specimans of the Sand thrown up by the late Earthquake, if you have a Mind to try any Chymical Experiments, I can procure you learger quanities, I likewise send you the last peice of Mr. Winthrops which I beleive you have not seen.4

God Bless and Prosper you, and grant all Happiness may attend you and yours is the ardent Wish of Dear Sir Your affectionate Neice

E Hubbart

Addressed: To / Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8John Franklin, Elizabeth Hubbart’s stepfather, died on Jan. 30, 1756 (see above, p. 400 n). The enclosed catalogue has not been found, but it must have been much the same as the inventory in the Registry of Probate of Suffolk Co., Mass., which showed John Franklin had “an unusually extensive library of theology, philosophy, science, history, literature and miscellaneous titles.” Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 51.

9I.e., John Franklin’s second wife, the former Elizabeth Gooch Hubbart.

1Among BF’s papers at APS is a four-page document docketed by him “Copy of Bro. John Franklin’s Will,” Jan. 22, 1756, with a codicil, Jan. 24, 1756. The codicil stipulates: “I give to my Daughter-in-law Elizabeth Hubbart my two Volumes of Chambers’s Dictionary and Lord Bacon’s Works in three Volumes.” Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences … compiled from the best authors, two folio volumes, appeared in five editions, 1728–46 (DNB), and the works of Sir Francis Bacon were available in many editions by 1756.

2Tuthill Hubbart (1720–1808?) one of the executors of the will. He received his commission as postmaster in Boston, succeeding John Franklin, from William Hunter, April 24, 1756. MS, APS.

3Tickets in the third class of the second Philadelphia Academy lottery (see above, V, 509) were advertised in Pa. Gaz., during January 1756. The drawing, first set for February 12, was postponed until March 8 and the winners were not announced until the 18th. As a manager BF had doubtless asked Elizabeth to dispose of some tickets for him.

4The New England earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755, rather than the far more severe shock which had destroyed the city of Lisbon on November 1, is probably the one referred to here, though a ship from Lisbon had arrived in Boston on Jan. 8, 1756, carrying reports of “the ground thrown up as if by shovels,” and might well have brought some of the dirt thus disgorged across the Atlantic. Pa. Gaz., Jan. 22, 1756. John Winthrop, professor of natural history at Harvard (above, IV, 261), engaged in a “paper war” on the causes and nature of earthquakes with Rev. Thomas Prince, who, like many other clergymen, was struck by the theological implications of such disturbances. Winthrop’s first shot, a pamphlet entitled A Lecture on Earthquakes (Boston, 1755), probably appeared about the first of the new year. Prince replied, and Winthrop followed with another pamphlet, dated January 28, A Letter to the Publishers of the Boston Gazette, &c. Containing an Answer to the Rev. Mr. Prince’s Letter, inserted in said Gazette, on the 26th of January 1756. Prince’s immediate rejoinder, Feb. 12, 1756, was in the Gazette on the 23rd. In Winthrop’s last volley (Boston Gazette, March 1), he disdained to engage further in a controversy which had degenerated to personalities. Eleanor M. Tilton, “Lightning-Rods and the Earthquake of 1755,” New Eng. Quar., XIII (1940), 85–97. Winthrop’s second pamphlet was very likely the one forwarded by Elizabeth Hubbart; neither it nor the specimen of sand have been found. BF’s interest in the dispute would rise from Prince’s warning that lightning rods should not be used because they helped make earthquakes by concentrating electricity in the ground, and Winthrop called upon BF’s authority in demolishing this argument. A Lecture on Earthquakes, pp. 32–3, 38.

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