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1753: CVII: TO WILLIAM SMITH - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. III (Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763).
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TO WILLIAM SMITH
Philadelphia, 27 November, 1753.
Having written to you fully, via Bristol, I have now little to add. Matters relating to the Academy remain in statu quo. The trustees would be glad to see a rector established there, but they dread entering into new engagements till they are got out of debt; and I have not yet got them wholly over to my opinion, that a good professor or teacher of the higher branches of learning would draw so many scholars as to pay great part, if not the whole, of his salary. Thus, unless the Proprietors of the province shall think fit to put the finishing hand to our institution, it must, I fear, wait some few years longer before it can arrive at that state of perfection which to me it seems now capable of; and all the pleasure I promised myself in seeing you settled among us vanishes into smoke. But good Mr. Collinson writes me word that no endeavours of his shall be wanting; and he hopes, with the Archbishop’s assistance, to be able to prevail with our Proprietors.1 I pray God grant them success. My son presents his affectionate regards, with, dear Sir, yours, &c.,
TO CADWALLADER COLDEN
Philadelphia, 6 December, 1753.
I received your favor of the 19th past, with some remarks on my meteorological paper, for which I thank you and return some observations on those remarks, hoping by this friendly intercourse of sentiments and objections some advantage will arise, to the increase of true knowledge.
I sent you our treaty some time since. You will find very little in it; but I have hopes it will introduce a regulation of our Indian trade, by the government taking it in hand and furnishing the Indians with goods at the cheapest rate without aiming at profit, as is done by Massachusetts; by which means I think we must vastly undersell the French, and thereby attach the Indians more firmly to the British interest.
Mr. Collinson certainly received your answer to Kastner. I think one of his letters to me mentions it.
I send you herewith a copy of my paper on the Increase of Mankind; the only one I have, so must request you to return it. That on the Air, &c., is what you have already seen. The third mentioned to you by Mr. Collinson concerning the Germans, is scarcely worth sending. It will contain nothing new to you.
I congratulate you on Lord Halifax’s approbation of your conduct in public affairs. From such a man the honor is great, and the satisfaction; but the approbation of your own mind is something more valuable in itself, and it is what I doubt not you will always enjoy.
I should like to see Pike’s book some time or other, when you can conveniently send it. With great respect and esteem, I am, Sir, &c.,
TO JAMES BOWDOIN
Philadelphia, 13 December, 1753.
I received your favor of the 12th ultimo, with the law of your province for regulating the Indian trade, for which I thank you, and for the remarks that accompany it, which clearly evince the usefulness of the law, and I hope will be sufficient to induce our Assembly to follow your example.
I have yet received no particulars of the unhappy gentleman’s death at Petersburg, (whose fate I lament). One of the papers says that all the letters from thence confirm the account, and mentions his name (Professor Richmann), but nothing farther. No doubt we shall have a minute account of the accident with all its circumstances, in some of the magazines or the Transactions of the Royal Society.1
The observation you made of the sea water emitting more and less light in different tracts passed through by your boat is new, and your manner of accounting for it ingenious. It is indeed very possible that an extremely small animalcule, too small to be visible even by the best glasses, may yet give a visible light. I remember to have taken notice, in a drop of kennel water, magnified by the solar microscope to the bigness of a cart-wheel, there were numbers of visible animalcules of various sizes swimming about; but I was sure there were likewise some which I could not see, even with that magnifier, for the wake they made in swimming to and fro was very visible, though the body that made it was not so. Now if I could see the wake of an invisible animalcule, I imagine I might much more easily see its light if it were of the luminous kind. For how small is the extent of a ship’s wake, compared with that of the light of her lantern.
My barometer will not show the luminous appearance by agitating the mercury in the dark, but I think yours does. Please to try whether it will, when agitated, attract a fine thread hung near the top of the tube.
As to the answer to Nollet, if I were going on with it, I should be extremely glad of your peeping into it (as you say) now and then, that I might correct it by your advice. The materials in short hints have been long collected and methodized; they only want to be clothed with expression. But soon after my return from New England, I received the enclosed from Monsieur Dalibard, wherein he tells me that he is preparing an answer, not only to the Abbé, but to some others that have wrote against my doctrine, which will be published the beginning of this winter. This, with a good deal of business, and a little natural indolence, has made me neglect finishing my answer till I shall see what is done by him. Perhaps it may then appear unnecessary for me to do any thing farther in it. And will not one’s vanity be more gratified in seeing one’s adversary confuted by a disciple than even by one’s self? I am, however, a little concerned for Dalibard, when I find by his letter that he has been so far imposed on by the Abbé’s confident assertion that a charged bottle placed on an electric per se loses its electricity, as to attempt to account for it, when the thing is absolutely not fact. I have in answer wrote him my sentiments on that and some other particulars of the Abbé’s book, which I hope will get to hand before his answer is published.1
I am with the greatest esteem and regard,
Dear Sir, your most obliged humble servant,
[1 ]Upon the application of Archbishop Herring and Peter Collinsor at Dr. Franklin’s request (aided by the letters of Mr. Allen and Mr. Peters), Thomas Penn subscribed an annual sum, and afterwards gave at least £5,000 to the founding or engrafting the College upon the Academy.—Stuber.
[1 ]Professor Richmann was killed at Petersburg, on the 26th of July, 1753, while repeating Franklin’s experiment for bringing electricity from the clouds. He received a shock, which caused instantaneous death.
[1 ]The Abbé Nollet published in Paris a volume entitled, Letters sur l’Electricité, dans lesquelles on examine les découvertes qui ont été faites sur cette matière depuis l’Année 1752, et les conséquences que l’on en peut tirer. In the first volume were six letters directed to Franklin, designed to confute his doctrines and hypotheses. The Abbé’s effort brought into the field several champions of Dr. Franklin, among whom were David Colden, a son of Cadwallader Colden, of New York, and Monsieur Dalibard, of Paris. Franklin decided that the Abbé’s letters did not require any reply from him.