Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Cadwalader Evans, 5 [August] 1767

To Cadwalader Evans

MS not found; reprinted from Samuel Hazard, ed., Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania, XVI, No. 5 (August 1, 1835), 65–6.

London, May [Aug.]5 5, 1767.

Dear Doctor:

I received your obliging favour of May 16. I am always glad to hear from you when you have Leisure to write, and I expect no Apologies for your not Writing. I wish all correspondence was on the Foot of Writing and answering when one can, or when one is dispos’d to it, without the compulsions of Ceremony. I am pleased with your Scheme of a medical Library, at the Hospital;6 and I fancy I can procure you some Donations among my medical Friends here, if you will send me a Catalogue of what Books you already have. Inclos’d I send you the only Book of the kind in my Possession here, having just receiv’d it as a Present from the Author.7 It is not yet published to be sold, and will not be for some time, till the second Part is ready to accompany it.

I thank you for your Remarks on the Gout. They may be useful to me who have already had some Touches of that Distemper. As to Lord Chatham, it is said that his Constitution is totally destroy’d and gone, partly thro’ the violence of the Disease, and partly by his own continual Quacking with it.8 There is at present no Access to him; he is said to be not capable of receiving any more than of giving advice. But still there is such a Deference paid to him that much business is delay’d on his account, that so when entered on it may have the Strength of his Concurrence, or not be liable to his Reprehension if he should recover his Ability and Activity. The ministry we at present have, has not been looked upon, either by itself or others, as settled, which is another Cause of postponing every thing not immediately necessary to be considered. New Men, and perhaps new Measures are often expected and apprehended, whence arise continual Cabals, Factions and Intrigues among the Outs and Ins, that keep every thing in Confusion. And when Affairs will mend, is very uncertain. With great Esteem I am, Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5When Hazard printed this letter he dated it “May 5, 1767,” but the editors believe he misread the month and that it should read “Aug.” not “May.” In the first sentence BF acknowledges a letter of May 16. No letter from Evans of this date in any year has been found, but if on May 5, 1767, BF was acknowledging a letter written on May 16 of 1765 or 1766, he would almost certainly have phrased his acknowledgment quite differently. Since on May 5, 1767, he could not have been acknowledging a letter of May 16 in the same year, it is highly probable that he was writing somewhat later than May 5. In this letter BF expressed approval of Evans’ plan for a medical library in Philadelphia and asked for a catalogue of the books already in hand. He sent enclosed “the only book of the kind in my Possession here,” which he said was the first installment of a two-part work. On Nov. 20, 1767, Evans wrote BF acknowledging a letter of August 5; he enclosed a catalogue of the medical books in their library and expressed gratification at BF’s approval of the scheme. He also thanked BF for the copy of Dr. Baker’s “ingenuous investigation of the cause of the Devonshire colic.” In a letter of Feb. 20, 1768, replying to Evans’ of November 20, BF mentioned the second part of Baker’s piece as being “not yet published.” The correspondence of November 1767 and February 1768 establishes a strong presumption that the letter printed here is in fact the one of August 5 to which Evans replied on November 20.

6Since 1763 certain student fees or “gratuities” had been set aside for a medical library at the Pa. Hospital, and by May 1767 the fund had grown to £62 4s. 8 Pa. Arch., VII, 6027–30. The executors of Dr. Lloyd Zachary presented his library of 43 volumes and a number of pamphlets to the Hospital “towards founding a Medical Library” in January 1767, and in the same month Deborah Morris presented 55 volumes that had belonged to her deceased brother, Dr. Benjamin Morris. Thomas G. Morton and Frank Woodbury, The History of the Pennsylvania Hospital 1751–1895 (Phila., 1895), pp. 347–8.

7If the proposed August date for this letter is correct, then the book BF sent was almost certainly An Essay Concerning the Cause of the Endemial Colic of Devonshire by Dr. (later Sir) George Baker, a prominent London physician, who had asked BF to read part of the second section of his paper a few weeks earlier; see above, p. 214.

8This sentence and the remainder of this letter reporting on Lord Chatham and the political situation would fit either May or August 1767, but conditions in general deteriorated during the spring and summer of this year.

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