Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, 21 April 1764

To Jonathan Williams

ALS: Richard B. Duane, Locust, N.J. (1955)

Philada. April 21. 1764

Loving Kinsman

I have received yours of the 12th Inst.5 As to the Mistake I mention’d, I find on Revisal that it was not in your Account but in my Eyes, which mistook one Figure for another.

I wrote to you from Burlington that I should pay your Order in favour of Robinson as soon as I return’d to Town, which I accordingly did. The Sum £47 15s. 4d.6

I should be glad to know what Sum your Government has paid for the Bounty on Wheat last Year, if you can get at it easily.7

It grieves me that the Glasses are not yet come for the Armonica.8 How does Cousin Josiah9 go on with his Spinnet? But I make no doubt he improves very fast.

We all join in Love to you and all yours. I am Your affectionate Uncle

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Mr Jonathan Williams / Mercht / Boston / Free / B Franklin

Endorsed: April 21 1764 F Franklins letter

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Not found; probably in answer to an earlier letter from BF (also not found) explaining that Governor Bernard would repay to Williams the sums BF had spent in behalf of Bernard’s son. See above, pp. 133, 153.

6In the Jonathan Williams account, 1763–1774 (above, X, 359), is an entry dated Feb. 27, 1764, in which Williams acknowledged owing BF £38 4s. 3d., in Mass. “lawful money” (the equivalent of £47 15s. 4d. in Pa. currency) for “an Order in Favr. Robbins.” BF’s Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, p. 16, contains an undated entry of the payment of this order in Pa. currency “in favr. of Tho’ Robinson.”

7In 1754 the Mass. legislature laid a duty of 9d. per hundred on flour, 10d. on ship’s bread and on other bread in proportion, to be paid out as a bounty to growers of wheat. In 1763 the bounty on wheat was increased. William B. Weeden, Economic and Social History of New England 1620–1789 (Boston, 1890), II, 690, 735. The reason for BF’s inquiry has not been determined; there seems to have been no proposal in the Pa. Assembly for a similar measure at this time.

8BF had an armonica with him in Boston during his trip in 1763 (above, X, 383–4) and had probably given Jonathan Williams’ blind son, the musically gifted Josiah, some instructions in playing it. He had apparently promised to have an armonica made for the 14-year-old boy, the case to be built in Philadelphia and the glasses sent over from England. On Nov. 3, 1764, just before sailing, he wrote the father that, although the case and spindle were finished, it would be better to send a complete armonica from England after he arrived there. See below, pp. 426–7.

9A note on the MS, keyed to “Josiah” identifies the boy. It is initialed “SB” for Sarah Bache, BF’s daughter. Other notes, written on or attached to the MS, trace its ownership through five later generations of the Bache and Duane families to 1913.

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