Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, 7 December 1762

To Peter Collinson

ALS: Pierpont Morgan Library

Philada. Dec. 7. 1762

Dear Friend,

I arrived here the first of last Month, and had the great Happiness, after so long Absence, to find my little Family well, and my Friends as cordial and more numerous than ever.

Mr. Bartram I suppose writes to you concerning the great Bones at the Ohio.5 I have delivered to him and to the Library Company what you sent by me.6

There is great Complaint here of the last Summer’s Drought.7 It has occasion’d a great Scarcity of Hay, and if the Winter proves hard the Creatures must greatly suffer. Apples too have generally fail’d this Year.

Accept my sincerest Thanks for all your Kindness to me and my Son while in England, and my best Wishes of Long Life Health and Happiness to you and yours.

With the greatest Esteem and Attachment I am, Dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Mr Collinson

Addressed: To / Peter Collinson, Esq / Gracechurch street / London / Per the Carolina / Capt. Friend

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5On June 11 and July 25, 1762, Collinson wrote John Bartram that two Indian traders, George Croghan (above, V, 64 n) and Joseph Greenwood (above, IV, 318 n), had supplied him with a description of the bones and skeleton of the “Great Buffalo” which they found at a licking place near the Ohio River. They had also passed along some information about the “skeletons of six monstrous animals” which had turned up in the same vicinity. In response to a plea that he inquire about these “wonderful” bones, Bartram informed Collinson on Dec. 3, 1762, that he had already written him twice about them (neither letter has been found) and added that it was “a great pity, and shame to the learned curiosos, that have great estates, that they don’t send some person that will take pains to measure every bone exactly, before they are broken and carried away, which they will soon be, by ignorant, careless people, for gain.” William Darlington, ed., Memorials of John Bartram and Humphrey Marshall (Phila., 1849), pp. 238, 239, 243. See also George G. Simpson, “The Beginnings of Vertebrate Paleontology in North America,” APS Proc., LXXXVI (1942–43), 139–41.

6BF apparently delivered volumes XXXV and XXXVI of An Universal History, from the Earliest Account of Time to the Present and “31 plate Inserts” to the Lib. Co.; see above, p. 152. It is not clear what he brought Bartram, although in his letter to Collinson of Dec. 3, 1762, Bartram acknowledged the receipt of “books and prints,” among which appear to have been Benjamin Stillingfleet’s Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Natural History (2d edit, London, 1762), which included the author’s Calendar of Flora and Johann Friedrich Gronovius’ Flora Virginica (2d edit., Leyden, 1762).

7On Aug. 15, 1762, Bartram wrote Collinson that the “extreme hot, dry weather still continueth, although we have once in two or three weeks a shower that wets the ground two or three inches deep; but yet the ground is one foot deep as dry as dust.” Darlington, Memorials, p. 240.

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