Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Isaac Norris, 18 May 1765

From Isaac Norris

ALS: American Philosophical Society; letterbook copy: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Fairhill May 18th. 1765

Dear Friend Benjamin Franklin

I received your Favour of the 18th of Febry last with a Pamphlet to vindicate the late Proceedings and the Power of Parliament to make general Colony Laws, for which I return you my Thanks.5 It is no new Scheme and the War in America has brought it to the Issue we now see and are like to feel both now and hereafter.

In the last Letter I received from Messrs. C & O Hanbury the 21st of Xbr. [December] 1763 They write me “As soon as the Books open thy £10,000 Three per Ct Consolidated Annuities shall be transferred to thy Name by Virtue of thy Power of Attorney to us.”6 I make no doubt it was done accordingly, and I have made those Gentlemen some Remittances since, but as I have not received any Advices I am at a loss with regard to several Articles of My Account, but must wait ’till they write to me again, for I find They have as little Inclination to Letter-Writing as my Self; however, as Wm. Allen7 was One Evidence to the Power of Attorney they mention (as above) You were the Other and being upon the Spot may prove it, if by any Accident it was omitted or forgot.

Having met a safe Hand (Wm. Dickenson8 Now going over with Capt. Budden) who will take the trouble of delivering Baskerville’s two Volumes of Miltons Works, I now send them by him to be neatly bound,9 As I have a very good Quarto Edition of Milton’s Works printed in 17201 I shall chiefly value Baskerville’s Edition for its Elegancy and Neatness both on the Inside and the Covering. I return you my Thanks for your kind Concern in Relation to my Health; But tho’ I am not reduced to so weak a State of Body nor in so much Pain as I was the greatest Part of last Year,2 yet I am and probably shall continue fit for little or nothing more than the small Country Amusements I now employ my Time about, and the secession or rather Indolence natural to the decline of Life, both which grow upon me very sencebly. I am your Assured Friend

Isaac Norris

Endorsed: Isaac Norris May 18. 1765

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5BF’s letter of Feb. 18, 1765, has not been found; the pamphlet which he sent Norris was probably Thomas Whately’s The Regulations Lately Made concerning the Colonies and the Taxes Imposed upon Them (above, p. 69 n).

6During his first mission to England BF purchased £5350 worth of stock for Norris which by mutual agreement was kept in his (BF’s) name. Upon BF’s departure from England Norris’ securities were apparently placed in the keeping of the London Quaker bankers and merchants, Capel and Osgood Hanbury, whose failure to keep Norris informed about his account was making him uneasy. See above, VIII, 147–8; IX, 239 n.

7William Allen was in London from the spring of 1763 until the early summer of 1764 and may have checked to see if Norris’ business affairs were in order. For a selection of Allen’s letters, written from England, see David A. Kimball and Miriam Quinn, eds., “William Allen—Benjamin Chew Correspondence, 1763–1764,” PMHB, XC (1966), 202–26.

8Not identified, but perhaps a relative of Norris’ future son-in-law, John Dickinson.

9BF enrolled Norris as one of the subscribers for Baskerville’s edition of Milton in 1758; see above, VIII, 157 n. In BF’s Journal, 1764–1776, p. 3, and Ledger, 1764–1776, pp. 7, 17, are entries, July 5, 1765, of the expenditure of 16s. for having Norris’ volumes bound. They probably got back to Philadelphia only after his death, July 13, 1766, and came into the possession of his daughter Mary, who married John Dickinson in 1770. Dickinson gave a set bound in red morocco—presumably the same volumes—to his daughter Maria in 1805, and they are now in Lib. Co. Phila.

1The two-volume edition of The Poetical Works of Mr. John Milton printed in 1720 by Jacob Tonson; these volumes are now in Lib. Co. Phila.

2Norris had been plagued with bad health throughout the Assembly’s winter and spring sessions in 1764—at one point the House had met in his brother Charles’s house where he had been confined with illness—and on May 26, 1764, he resigned his position as speaker, a decision to which political considerations also contributed. He was again chosen Speaker in October 1765 but resigned once more a few days later. See above, XI, 70–1, 195–6, 403.

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