Benjamin Franklin Papers

Thomas Godfrey to the Printer of the Gazette, 15 August 1734

Thomas Godfrey to the Printer of the Gazette

Printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, August 15, 1734.

Mr. Franklin,

The Germans, an industrious and indefatigable People, have been always famous for their Penetration into the more dark and abstruse Parts of Learning, such as border upon Magic not excepted. Of this Nation was the renowned Agrippa, Dr. Faustus, and several others that might be named. Their Skill in the most subtle and mischievous Arts, not being at all doubted of by their Enemies, who by frequent Experience have been made too sensible of it, I admire that any Prince in Europe has the Courage to engage in War with them. I have been formerly told of a certain Virtuoso of that Country, then living, who made himself a Gun (under a particular Configuration of the Heavenly Bodies) which had this wonderful Property, That if walking in the Woods at any Time without it, he happened to see a Deer, or any other Creature that fled from him, he could go home and fire his Piece up the Chimney, when the Shot, by an inevitable Necessity, would proceed directly to the Game, at whatever Distance, and kill it dead. Such a Philosopher as this (I thought) could never fail of Encouragement and Promotion; but it seems throughout the late long Peace he has been neglected. I, who am in my Heart on the Side of the Emperor, was afraid lest so useful a Marksman might be dead: But, to my great Satisfaction, I perceive by an Article of News in Mr. Bradford’s Paper of the first Instant, that he is still living, and prefer’d to the Post of Gunner of the important Fortress of Philipsburgh; For no one but he could have kill’d the Duke of Berwick, upon the Rhine, and the Duke of Savoy in Italy, Countries so vastly distant, both with the same Shot.6 I am Yours, &c.


P.S. It were to be wish’d the Public had been informed how long the King of Sardinia surviv’d the Duke of Savoy: For he it seems is also kill’d with a Cannon Shot, doubtless by the same Gunner.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The American Weekly Mercury, under a New York dateline of July 29, reported, “That the Dukes of Berwick and Savoy were both shot by a random shot from the Town of Philipsburg … That the King of Sardinia was kill’d by a Cannon shot in Italy.” Godfrey’s thrust at Bradford is based on the report’s carelessness in identifying these persons. Probably the report meant to say “the Duke of Berwick and the Prince of Savoy”; although even in these terms the report was partly false. The Duke of Berwick was indeed killed by a cannon-shot at Philipsburg on the Rhine, June 12, 1734; Prince (not Duke) Eugene of Savoy was “strongly intrenched on the Rhine” nearby at this time, but was not killed; while the Dukes (not Princes) of Savoy had been Kings of Sardinia since 1718, and Charles Emmanuel III, King of Sardinia and Duke of Savoy, was waging war in northern Italy in June 1734.

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