From Rodolphe Valltravers4
AL: American Philosophical Society
Prince’s Court, febr. 6th. 1767.
Mr. Valltravers’s best Respects wait on Dr. Franklin, and sends him the Memorial, he promised him, and Mr. Colinson, for their true Information about the Troubles At Geneva.5 He goes to Bath on Monday, and will call on his Return to Town.
4. Valltravers was a shadowy, though well-meaning, figure who corresponded frequently with BF during the latter’s war-time residence at Paris. Valltravers seems to have been of Swiss nationality and to have been a sort of wandering journalist with keen scientific interests. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1755, and in Phil. Trans. for that year, Part I, 436–8, published a paper on the earthquakes recently experienced at Neufchâtel, Switzerland. It was apparently through their common scientific interests that he and BF met, although no date can be given for the beginning of their acquaintance. In 1791 he was elected to APS and in 1795 he wrote Jefferson, offering suggestions for the purchase of museum specimens. The best source of information about Valltravers are his letters to BF that will be published in subsequent volumes of this edition.
5. At this time Geneva was experiencing political troubles in which Voltaire was deeply involved, which were caused by efforts to change the constitution. Gent. Mag., XXXVII (Jan. 1767), 18–20, published “An Authentic Account of the Troubles in Geneva. In a Letter to a Friend.” See Peter Gay, Voltaire’s Politics The Poet as Realist (Vintage edit., N.Y., 1965), chap. IV.