Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Becket, 17 December 1763

To Thomas Becket4

ALS: Columbia University Library

Philada. Dec. 17. 1763


I have received yours of Sept. 12. with the Pamphlets, as mentioned.5 I have before acknowledged yours of June 24, which came duly to hand with the Books &c. I approve of your continuing Les Arts et Metieres.6

The Directors of the Library Company thought the Books you sent them rather higher charg’d than usual;7 they had therefore, before I came home, fallen on another Method of being supply’d; which on your Account gave me some Concern, as they are constant Buyers, and good Pay.

On the other Side is List of a few Books, which I request you to send me per next Ships. I was glad to learn by your last, that my Friend Mr. Strahan was in good Health, as I had no Line from him. I am Your humble Servant

B Franklin

Philosophic Transactions8 Part 1st. of Vol. 49.

——and Part 2d of Vol. 50.

Ditto Vols. 52, and 53. and 54 if published. All in blue Covers only, unbound.

Debates in the House of Commons by Anchitel Gray Esqr.9

Mallet’s Works.1

Astronomical Tables and Precepts for calculating Eclipses, new and Full Moons, &c. to A.D. 7800 by James Ferguson2

Concise Account of the Rise of the Society of Arts. Hooper Is.3

Essay on Oeconomy—Richardson4

Fielding’s Universal Mentor.5

2 Prints of the Earl of Bute; best.6

With the above let me have my Account that I may send you a Bill to discharge it.


Addressed: To / Mr T. Becket / Bookseller / Strand / London

Endorsed: Philadelphia Decbr 13. 1763 Mr franklin Ansd 27 June

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4On this London bookseller, see above, IX, 274 n.

5None of the letters mentioned in this paragraph have been found.

6Descriptions des Arts et Métiers were issued at Paris by the Académie Royale des Sciences, 1761–88, as separate numbers and constituted “an effort to present a scientific picture of all the industrial processes employed in France in the eighteenth century.” For an account of this series and a listing of its contents, see Arthur H. Cole and George B. Watts, The Handicrafts of France as Recorded in Descriptions des Arts et Métiers 1761–1788 (Publication No. 8 of the Kress Library of Business and Economics, Cambridge, Mass., [1954]). In his last will BF bequeathed his folio set to APS and his quarto edition to Lib. Co. Phila.

7For a large shipment of books Becket had sent to Lib. Co. Phila. in 1761 with the price of each, see above, IX, 274–7.

8These volumes of Phil. Trans. were: XLIX, Part I, for 1755 (published in 1756); L, Part II, for 1758 (published in 1759); LII, Part I, for 1761 (published in 1762), and Part II, for 1762 (published in 1763) paged continuously; LIII, for 1763, and LIV, for 1764, were not published until 1764 and 1765 respectively.

9Anchitel Grey (d. 1702), Some Account of Debates of the House of Commons, from the Year 1667 to the Year 1694 (10 vols., London, 1763), was favorably reviewed in Gent. Mag., XXXIII (May 1763), 238–9.

1David Mallet (1705–1763), a Scottish intellectual and freethinker. The Works of David Mallet (new edit., 3 vols., London, 1759).

2Published in London, 1763. For BF’s acquaintance with Ferguson, and for his magic squares, magic circle, and diagram of a three-wheel clock that Ferguson published, see above, IV, 392–401; VIII, 216–19.

3Derek Hudson and Kenneth W. Luckhurst, The Royal Society of Arts, 1754–1954 (London, 1954), p. 384, gives the author and title of this book as Thomas Mortimer, A Concise Account of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Society. … The author was probably Thomas Mortimer (1730–1810), a writer on economics. DNB. The publisher was Samuel Hooper (d. 1793).

4The author was Edward Watkinson. The publisher was either Samuel Richardson or his nephew William. This popular essay on thrift (not on economics) went through many editions and printings in England and the colonies.

5Sir John Fielding, The Universal Mentor (London, 1762).

6In transferring this order to William Strahan, Sept. 1, 1764 (Pierpont Morgan Lib.), BF specified that the prints of Lord Bute were to be “by Ryland, if good 2 of them.” This was William Wynne Ryland (1732–1783). Soon after the accession of George III he had been commissioned to engrave Allan Ramsay’s full-length portraits of the King and of Bute. DNB.

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