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CXCII: TO DAVID HUME - 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 DAVID HUME
Coventry, 27 September, 1760.
I have too long postponed answering your obliging letter, a fault I will not attempt to excuse, but rather rely on your goodness to forgive it, if I am more punctual for the future.
I am obliged to you for the favorable sentiments you express of the pieces sent to you; though the volume relating to our Pennsylvania affairs was not written by me, nor any part of it, except the remarks on the Proprietor’s estimate of his estate, and some of the inserted messages and reports of the Assembly, which I wrote when at home, as a member of committees appointed by the House for that service. The rest was by another hand.2
But though I am satisfied, by what you say, that the Duke of Bedford was hearty in the scheme of the expedition, I am not so clear that others in the administration were equally in earnest in that matter. It is certain, that after the Duke of Newcastle’s first orders to raise troops in the colonies, and promise to send over commissions to the officers, with arms and clothing for the men, we never had another syllable from him for eighteen months; during all which time the army lay idle at Albany for want of orders and necessaries; and it began to be thought at last that, if an expedition had ever been intended, the first design and the orders given must, through the multiplicity of business here at home, have been quite forgotten.1
I am not a little pleased to hear of your change of sentiments in some particulars relating to America; because I think it of importance to our general welfare, that the people of this nation should have right notions of us, and I know no one that has it more in his power to rectify their notions than Mr. Hume. I have lately read with great pleasure, as I do every thing of yours, the excellent Essay on the Jealousy of Commerce. I think it cannot but have a good effect in promoting a certain interest, too little thought of by selfish man, and scarcely ever mentioned, so that we hardly have a name for it; I mean the interest of humanity, or common good of mankind. But, I hope, particularly from that Essay, an abatement of the jealousy, that reigns here, of the commerce of the colonies, at least so far as such abatement may be reasonable.
I thank you for your friendly admonition relating to some unusual words in the pamphlet. It will be of service to me. The “pejorate,” and the “colonize,” since they are not in common use here, I give up as bad; for certainly in writings intended for persuasion and for general information, one cannot be too clear; and every expression in the least obscure is a fault. The “unshakeable” too, though clear, I give up as rather low. The introducing new words, where we are already possessed of old ones sufficiently expressive, I confess must be generally wrong, as it tends to change the language; yet, at the same time, I cannot but wish the usage of our tongue permitted making new words, when we want them, by composition of old ones whose meanings are already well understood. The German allows of it, and it is a common practice with their writers. Many of our present English words were originally so made; and many of the Latin words. In point of clearness, such compound words would have the advantage of any we can borrow from the ancient or from foreign languages. For instance, the word inaccessible, though long in use among us, is not yet, I dare say, so universally understood by our people, as the word uncomeatable would immediately be, which we are not allowed to write. But I hope, with you, that we shall always in America make the best English of this Island our standard, and I believe it will be so. I assure you it often gives me pleasure to reflect how greatly the audience (if I may so term it) of a good English writer will, in another century or two, be increased by the increase of English people in our colonies.
My son presents his respects with mine to you and Dr. Monro. We received your printed circular letter to the members of the Society,1 and purpose some time next winter to send each of us a little philosophical essay. With the greatest esteem, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
[2 ]The treatise here mentioned is probably the Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, which has hitherto been published in the various editions of Franklin’s works as from his pen. This letter to Hume removes all doubt that it was from another hand, though there is no doubt that Franklin encouraged and contributed to the expense of its publication.—Editor.
[1 ]This was the expedition projected against Canada in the year 1746.
[1 ]A Philosophical Society lately established at Edinburgh.