Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Coombe, Jr., 22 July 1774

To Thomas Coombe, Jr.8

ALS: Yale University Library; draft:9 American Philosophical Society

London, July 22. 1[774]

Dear Friend

I received with great Pleasure you[rs of] May 15. as it inform’d me of your Hea[lth, and Hap]piness. I thank you for your Sermons [which I] read with Satisfaction: I am glad that [of my good] Bishop’s pleas’d you. I enclose a Speech [of his,] on the same Subject. It is deem’d here a [Master-piece] of Eloquence.1 I send also the last Editi[on of some] Lines of your Friend Goldsmith, with the Ad[dition of my] Friend Whitefoord’s Epitaph, whom you [may remem]ber.2 Also the Heroic Postscript, the Author [of which] is yet unknown. He may be fond of F[ame, as a Poet, but if] he is, his Prudence predominates.3 That w[hich you] are acquiring as an Orator, gives me Pleas[ure as your] Friend; and it will give [you] yourself the most solid [Satisfaction,] if you find that by your Eloquence you can t[urn many] to Righteousness: Without that Effect, the Pre[acher, or the] Priest, in my Opinion, is not merely sounding [Brass, or a] tinkling Cymbal, which are innocent Things; [he is ra]ther like the Cunning-man in the Old Baily, [who conjures,] and tells Folks4 their Fortunes, to cheat them [of their] Money.

Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Hewson return your Compliments with their best Wishes. We have lost Mr. Hewson, and a great Loss it is. Mrs. Tickell too is lately dead.5

My Respects to your good Father. Adieu, my dear Friend, and believe me, ever, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Revd Mr Coombe

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8For Coombe’s career see above, XIX, 56 n.

9From which we have inserted in brackets words missing in the ALS.

1Coombe had sent two sermons printed together: The Harmony between the Old and New Testaments Respecting the Messiah: Being the Substance of Two Sermons Preached … on Christmas-Day, 1773 … (Philadelphia, 1774). For Bishop Shipley’s sermon see above, XX, 140, and for his speech BF to Rhoads above, June 30.

2The posthumously published fifth edition of Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation: a Poem … Including Epitaphs on Some of the Most Distinguished Wits of This Metropolis … (London, 1774), was the first to contain a mock epitaph on Caleb Whitefoord, for whom see above, X, 171 n; XX, 412.

3The draft adds “at present and prevails with him to shun it.” BF enclosed [William Mason], An Heroic Postscript to the Public, Occasioned by Their Favourable Reception of a Late Heroic Epistle to Sir William Chambers … (London, 1774). Mason (1724–97), Horace Walpole’s friend and correspondent, was a clergyman “of considerable abilities and cultivated taste, who naturally mistook himself for a poet.” DNB. Coombe, in his acknowledgment below, Sept. 24, hailed the author as a worthy successor of Pope.

4The draft reads “Fools.”

5For William Hewson’s death see BF to DF above, May 5, and for Mrs. Tickell the document following this one.

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