Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Alexander Colden, 2 June 1773

To Alexander Colden

ALS (letterbook draft): Library of Congress

London, June 2. 1773.

Dear Sir

I received yours of April 7. inclosing Coningham and Nesbit’s Bill on D. Harvey & Co for £2008 with which your Account is credited. In my last I acknowledged the Receipt of Christie’s renew’d Bill for £338 17s.d.

I am glad the last Years Accounts are to come by the next Packet, for then we shall have the whole settled and pass’d together,9 there having been a Delay for some time occasioned by the Mislaying of a preceding Account at the Office. If at the Settlement, any thing new should be required in the Mode of rendring your Accounts I shall acquaint you with it.

I admire your good Father’s rare Felicity in retaining so long his Health, and Spirits, and particularly that Vigour of his mental Faculties which enables him still to amuse himself with abstruse philosophical Disquisitions. For my own part, every thing of difficult Discussion, and that requires close Attention of Mind, and an Application of long Continuance, grows rather irksome to me; and where there is not some absolute Necessity for it, as in the Settlement of Accounts, or the like; I am apt to indulge the Indolence usually attending Age, in postponing such Business from time to time: tho’ continually resolving to do it. This has been the Case with regard to your Father’s Philosophical Piece on the Principles of Vital Motion, which he did me the Honour some time since to desire my Opinion of. I have read it cursorily and long intended to read it with close Attention, and still intend it, but what with Business that takes up so much of my Time, Interruptions of various kinds, and the Indolence I have above confessed, I have hitherto put it off. In my Voyage home, which I am now preparing for, I promise my self to study it thoroughly,1 so that if I have the Happiness once more of meeting him, we may discourse of it together. In the mean time, present my best Respects to him, and believe me, with great Regard, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant


Mr Colden

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8John M. Nesbitt (c. 1730–1802) and Redmund Conyngham had been in partnership since 1756; the firm was one of the most prosperous in Philadelphia. DAB under Nesbitt. David Harvey was a merchant of Lawrence Lane, Cheapside: Kent’s Directory … (London, 1770).

9In other words the accounts for 1771–2 and 1772–3. The latter, of which this is the first mention, had been sent on May 5 and arrived before July 14: below, Colden to BF, June 2; BF to Foxcroft, July 14.

1The promise may have given BF second thoughts about the voyage: he had no desire to tackle Cadwallader Colden’s “Inquiry in the Principles of Vital Motion,” despite prodding from the old man, and for more than two years had resisted studying it. Above, XIX, 94 n, 392 n.

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