Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, 22 November 1756

To Peter Collinson

Duplicate: Pierpont Morgan Library; also extract: The Royal Society6

Philada. Nov. 22. 1756

Dear Friend

Since mine of the 5th Instant, a long one, per Capt. Snead, I have receiv’d the Air Pump and Apparatus per Rankin.7 There is some Breakage, of which shall send an Account per next Ship, to have the Glasses renew’d. We are exceedingly oblig’d to you for your Care in the Affair, and return you cordial Thanks.

I am just return’d from the Forks of Delaware, where I with some others attended the Governor, at a Conference with the Indians. They complain of Injuries from the Proprietors. I hope he will give timely Orders to redress them when they come down next Spring. It is said by many here, that the Delawares were grosly abus’d in the Walking Purchase; that they have frequently complain’d, and their Complaints were suppress’d or conceal’d, and the 6 Nations set on their Backs to make them quiet. That they have remember’d these Things, and now, by the Connivance of the 6 Nations, as ’tis thought, and supported by the French, they have taken Revenge.8 Much has the Province suffer’d by this War; some Hundreds of Lives lost, many Farms destroy’d, and near £100,000 spent, yet the Proprietor refuses to be taxed, except for a trifling Part of his Estate; the Quit Rents, located unimprov’d Lands, Money at Interest, &c. &c. being exempted by Instructions to the Governor: Which is the harder, if by his Ill-Treatment of the Indians the War has in any Degree been occasioned.9

The 49th Vol. of the Transactions and other Books for the Library, sent in the Care of Neate and Neave,1 are come to hand in good Order. In my Paper of Experiments in the Transactions are the following Errata, viz.

Page 301 line 12. for, elastic, read electric.

line 18. for, but nigh enough, read, but not nigh enough.

as they hurt the Sense, I mention them; some smaller of little moment I omit. I should be glad to know if the very ingenious Mr. Canton has repeated those Experiments, and what are his Observations.2

I thank Dr. Wright for his Piece on Thunder.3

Mr. Eeles’s Experiments do not succeed with me.4

I wish you had sent me Dr. Hoadly’s and Mr. Wilson’s Experiments on the Leyden Bottle. I see such a Piece advertis’d, but it is not come over.5 I am, my dear Friend, Yours affectionately


Mr. Collinson

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The original ALS not found; the duplicate is one of three prefacing BF’s letter to Collinson, Jan. 31, 1757. He has marked it “Copy.” The extract, in Collinson’s hand, consists of the sentence about Canton and the errata in New Exper. and Obser., followed by Collinson’s notation: “This I have Given Dr. Birch.”

7Pa. Gaz., Nov. 4, 1756, reported the ship Betty Sally, Capt. Edward Snead, as cleared for London. The brig Otter, Capt. George Rankin, arrived in Philadelphia before Nov. 11, 1756; Pa. Gaz., that date. See below, p. 50, for the air pump and apparatus.

8See above, pp. 15–23, for BF’s attendance at the Easton conference, and especially p. 19 n for the Walking Purchase. BF’s summary of the conference suggests a possible connection with the informal Quaker (anti-proprietary) consultations there.

9See above, VI, 515–31, on the proprietary instructions.

1On the London and Philadelphia mercantile firms of these names, see above, IV, 115 n.

2For BF’s experiments in pursuance of those made by John Canton, see above, V, 516, where the lines appear correctly. Canton continued to perform ingenious electrical experiments until his death in 1772; subsequent volumes of this work will record BF’s collaboration with him in London.

3Edward Wright (d. 1761), physician, F.R.S., microscopist, and author of Conjecture on the Course of Thunder (Paris, 1756). Gent. Mag., XXXI (1761), 431; Phil. Trans., XLIX, 553–8, 670–82; The Extraordinary Library of Hon. Samuel W. Pennypacker … Dec. 14, 1905, Stan V. Henkels, Cat. 943, Part I, p. 67.

4A letter from Henry Eeles of Lismore, Ireland, March 31, 1755, describing experiments to determine the effect of smoke, steam, and other “vapours” on charged bodies, appeared in Phil. Trans., XLIX, 151–4.

5Benjamin Hoadly (1706–1757), physician and playwright (DNB), and Benjamin Wilson (above, IV, 391 n) published Observations on a Series of Electrical Experiments (London, 1756), which had been advertised in Gent. Mag., XXVI (August, 1756), 406, though nothing is said about the work dealing with Leyden jars. A copy of the Hoadly and Wilson Observations, bearing paragraph numbers in BF’s hand, is in Yale Univ. Lib. He sent his comments on the work to Wilson, Jan. 28, 1759.

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