Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Charles Thomson and Thomas Mifflin, 27 January 1769

To Charles Thomson and Thomas Mifflin5

ALS: Amherst College Library

London, Jan. 27. 1769.


Enclos’d is Bill of Lading and Invoice of the Books you order’d, which I wish safe to hand, and am, Gentlemen Yours and the Company’s most obedient Servant

B Franklin

P.S. On looking over your Letter I see that I am desir’d to add other Books if the List does not amount to your Money. Now that I have receiv’d the Invoice and find it amounts to so little,6 I shall look out for some valuable Books to send you per Storey, or to bring with me for you.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This letter is on the back of the same sheet as, and hence clearly a postscript to, BF’s letter to Thomson and Mifflin of Jan. 5.

6The minutes of the Library Company of Philadelphia contain the invoice from William Strahan of the books that he shipped for BF on the Pennsylvania Packet, Capt. Falconer; the invoice is dated Jan. 24 and comes to only £37 7s. out of the £150 that BF had received and acknowledged in his letter of Jan. 5. Most of the books can be definitely identified from the catalogue published soon after the merger of the Library and Union Library Companies, The Charter, Laws and Catalogue of Books … (Philadelphia, 1770). Some identifications are doubtful, because the duplicates produced by the merger were sold before the catalogue was made; see Edwin Wolf, II, “The First Books and Printed Catalogues of the Library Company of Philadelphia,” PMHB, LXXVIII (1954), 52–4. The list can be reconstructed with unusual accuracy, nevertheless, and it is worth reproducing as an index of the taste, or what the Library assumed would be the taste, of the Philadelphia reading public at that moment in time. Two points that are particularly striking are the range of subject matter represented and the absence of any work in a foreign language, classical or modern.

The books were as follows: [Thomas Amory], The Life of John Buncle, Esq. … (2 vols., London, 1763–66); Giuseppe M. A. Baretti, An Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy: with Observations on the Mistakes of Some Travellers … (London, 1768); [Cesare B. Beccaria], An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, Translated from the Italian; with a Commentary attributed to Mons. de Voltaire, Translated from the French … (London, 1767); [Francis Blackburne], The Confessional; or a Full and Free Inquiry into the Right, Utility, Edification, and Success, of Establishing Systematical Confessions of Faith and Doctrine in Protestant Churches (2d ed., London, 1767); William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (3d ed., 3 vols., London, 1768); James Boswell, An Account of Corsica; the Journal of a Tour to That Island; and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli … (2d ed., London, 1768); British Liberties; or the Free-Born Subject’s Inheritance … (2d ed., London, 1767); [James Burgh], Crito; or Essays on Various Subjects (2 vols., London, 1767), and The Dignity of Human Nature, or a Brief Account of the Certain and Established Means for Attaining the True End of our Existence … (probably 2d ed., 2 vols., London, 1767); [John Bush], Hibernia Curiosa; Being a Letter from a Gentleman in Dublin, to His Friend at Dover in Kent … (London, n.d.); George Colman, trans., The Comedies of Terence, Translated into Familiar Blank Verse (2d ed., 2 vols., London, 1768); A Complete Collection of the Lords’ Protests, from the First upon Record, in the Reign of Henry III, to the Present Time … (2 vols., London, 1767); Alexander Cumming, The Elements of Clock and Watch-Work; Adapted to Practice … (London, 1766); James Steuart Denham, An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Œconomy … by Sir James Steuart (2 vols., London, 1767); [William Falconer], The Ship-Wreck … (new ed., London, 1764); Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (2d ed., London, 1768); James Fordyce, Sermons to Young Women (5th ed., 2 vols., London, 1768); [James] Hampton, trans., The General History of Polybius … (2d ed., 2 vols., London, 1761) and probably Two Extracts from the Sixth Book of Polybius … to Which Are Prefixed Some Reflections … Concerning the Natural Destruction of Mixed Governments, with an Application of It to the State of Britain (London, 1764); John Harrison, The Principles of Mr. Harrison’s Time-keeper, with Plates of the Same … (London, 1767); John Hawkesworth, trans., The Adventures of Telemachus, the Son of Ulysses … [by François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon] (London, 1768); John Jones, Free and Candid Disquisitions Relating to the Church of England, and the Means of Advancing Religion therein … (2d ed., London, 1750); William Lewis, Commercium philosophico-technicum; or, The Philosophical Commerce of Arts … (London, 1763); [Henry Lloyd], The History of the Late War in Germany … (Vol. 1, London, 1766); George Lyttleton, The History of the Life of King Henry the Second … (2d ed., 3 vols., London, 1767); Catharine Macaulay, The History of England, from the Accession of James I to the Elevation of the House of Hanover … (4 vols., London, 1767); Thomas Major, The Ruins of Paestum … (London, 1768); Jean François Marmontel, Moral Tales … (perhaps the Edinburgh ed., 3 vols., 1768); The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris … for the Year 1767 (London, 1766); A New Collection of Voyages, Discoveries and Travels … (7 vols., London, 1767); John Ogilvie, Poems on Several Subjects … and Providence, an Allegorical Poem (both London, 1764); The Present State of Great Britain and North America … (London, 1767), generally attributed to Dr. John Mitchell of Virginia; Joseph Priestley, The History and Present State of Electricity, with Original Experiments (London, 1767); probably a volume of the Proceedings of the Royal Dublin Society; [William Robertson], An Attempt to Explain the Words Reason, Substance, Person, Creeds, Orthodoxy, Catholic-Church, Subscription, and Index Expurgatorius … (3d ed., London, 1767); Samuel Sharp, Letters from Italy; Describing the Customs and Manners of That Country … (3d ed., London, n.d.), and A View of the Customs, Manners, Drama, etc. of Italy … as They Are Described … by Mr. Baretti … (London, 1768); Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, to Which Is Added a Dissertation on the Origin of Languages (3d ed., London, 1767); Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, by Mr. Yorick (new ed., 2 vols., London, 1768); Jonathan Swift, Letters, Written by the Late Jonathan Swift D.D. … and Several of His Friends, From the Year 1703 to 1740 … (John Hawkesworth, ed.; new ed., 3 vols., London, 1766); Floyer Sydenham, A Synopsis, or General View of the Works of Plato (London, 1759); Bonnell Thornton, trans., The Comedies of Plautus; Translated into Familiar Blank Verse (2 vols., London, 1767); Ferdinando Warner, The History of Ireland (London, 1763), and probably The History of the Rebellion and Civil War of Ireland (2d ed., London, 1768); Bulstrode Whitelocke, Whitelockes Notes upon the King’s Writt for Choosing Members of Parliament … (2 vols., London, 1766).

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