Benjamin Franklin Papers

William Robertson to William Strahan, 18 February 1765

William Robertson5 to William Strahan

Copy:6 Yale University Library

College of Edinr. Feby. 18th. 1765

Dear Sir

Just now Mr. Balfour7 delivered to me your Letter of the 14th. and as the Post sets out in half an hour I must confine myself at present to that part of it which requires an immediate answer.

You may present my most respectful and affectionate compliments to Dr. Franklin and assure him that nothing can give me greater pleasure than to serve any Man of whom he thinks so well as to honour him with his Friendship. For my Own part I have implicit confidence in his Recommendation even of a Doctor of Divinity though Theology I believe is of all the Sciences the only one in which I suspect he is not perfectly sound.8 In order however to make the Thing go easily with our Senatus Academicus beg of him to write an Ostensible9 to me attesting the Literature and moral Character of Mr. Stiles and requesting the Degree of a Doctor in Divinity; and as soon as that comes to my hand, I shall call a Meeting and lay it before them and I have no doubt of returning him the Diploma in ten days after I get his Letter. If Mr. Stiles had his education in any University that Circumstance may be mentioned. If not the thing shall be done without it. I have time to say no more but that I am with great Truth Yours most affectionately

William Robertson1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5On William Robertson, historian, and principal of the University of Edinburgh since 1762, see above, IX, 220 n.

6On July 5, 1765, BF sent to Ezra Stiles copies of this and other correspondence with Robertson relating to the Edinburgh degree, and Stiles entered these or fresh copies, appropriately headed, in his records.

7John Balfour, the Edinburgh bookseller (above, IX, 295 n), had probably been visiting London on business and had seen his friend Strahan, the Scottish printer, there. Strahan must have given him the letter here referred to (not now found) to carry back to Robertson. As BF later told Stiles, he had asked Strahan to broach “to some friend of his at Edinburgh” the proposal of an honorary degree for Stiles; see below, p. 195.

8BF must have smiled when he read this comment on his lack of orthodoxy.

9A letter which might be shown to other people.

1For later correspondence on the subject of this letter, see below, pp. 80–81, 98–9, 165–6, 195–6, 384–5.

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