Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Becket, 10 August 1764

From Thomas Becket6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London Aug. 10. 1764


I am just favourd with yours of the 17th. June with a Copy of yours of the 3d, (I never Received the first).7 Inclosing also a Bill on Mr. Brown for Twelve Pounds which is paid.8

It is impossible for me to express the concern I am in at receiving such a Letter from you who has been so remarkably my friend; and that I have given cause for it I cannot deny—but this I can aver, that it was not wilful. It must seem almost an absurdity to pretend to vindicate myself, but yet I must beg your patience for one minute.

I received your last favour9 the begining of Feby, and thought that by staying about 2 Mo. I should be able to send you a few New Articles that the course of that time might produce and well might be agreeable to you. I also was in expectation of receiving some more Numbers of the Arts et Metiers from Paris which you particularly desird, and did not receive any till May, which was the Art de Refiner le Sucre.1 There was then no Ships going till June, and I sent every thing you wrote for with some additional articles by the Mary and Elizabeth Capt. Spark, and wrote you at the same time, with a state of the Account, by which there was a ballance due me of £16 13s. 6d.2

It is true that I ought to have sent by the first Ship such articles as you wrote for without waiting for other things—I now see the absurdity of my Conduct—and feel your just resentment. To say any more, would be superfluous—and as I know you to be the best of Men, I trust you will forgive this disapointment I have laid you under. Depend upon it, good Sir, I shall be ever watchful for the future to obey your commands with the stricktest punctuality being Sir Your greatly Obliged and Most Obedient Humble servant

T Becket

I herewith send in 2 packets the Reviews, Magazines, and 4 New pamphlets.3

To Benjamin Franklyn Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6For this London bookseller, see above, IX, 274 n; X, 261 n.

7BF’s letters of June 3 and 17 have not been found. It is clear from what follows here and from BF’s letter to Strahan of June 17 (above, pp. 228–9) that one or both of these missing letters had scolded Becket for not filling BF’s book order of Dec. 17, 1763 (above, X, 393–5).

8Two of the last pages of BF’s Memorandum Book, 1757–1776, record his account with Henton Brown & Son for 1764, in which he entered an undated draft on these bankers for £12 in favor of Becket and another dated September 24 for £10. Becket’s present draft apparently represents his repayment of the first of those from BF, since he had not filled the December order on time. BF’s second draft may have been in partial payment of Becket’s account as stated in the present letter.

9BF’s letter of Dec. 17, 1763, with its accompanying order for books.

1This volume of Descriptions des Arts et Métiers was H. L. Duhamel du Monceau, Art de refiner le sucre (n.p., 1764).

2The departure of the Mary and Elizabeth from Deal for Philadelphia is not recorded until July 9 (London Chron., July 7–10, 1764), although Richard Budden’s Philadelphia Packet had gone down the Thames and sailed from Deal on June 11 (ibid., June 9–12, 1764). The arrival of the Mary and Elizabeth at Philadelphia is reported in Pa. Gaz., Sept. 13, 1764. Becket’s letter to BF, mentioned in this sentence, has not been found.

3The publications Becket sent at this time cannot be identified.

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