Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Henly, [28 October? 1772]

From William Henly

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Wednesday 2 OClock [October 28, 1772?3]


I have this morning received the [enclosed] Letter from a friend at Lewes, and though it may contain nothing that is new or very material, yet I take the liberty of sending it to you thinking it may employ a few leisure minutes if you have any such.4 I this morning left at Mr. Nairnes a drawing for an instrument to shew your beautiful experiments with the point.5 I think I have given it every convenience you can wish, and in as simple a manner as possible. In short I flatter my self that it will meet with your approbation, as I think I have much improved upon the sketch I produced last night at your house.

I hope Sir you will some day give me leave to take a copy of your experiments and observations, which are certainly exceedingly clear and satisfactory and such as I cannot but think will prove really beneficial to the public.6 I have the Honour to be Dr. Franklins obliged and very Humble Servant

W Henly

Addressed: To / Dr. Franklin / Craven-street / Strand

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3This is another letter that can be dated only by guesswork. Henly speaks of showing BF, the evening before, the drawing for an instrument that he is having made, presumably the one described in his quasi-letter below, Nov. 28. If that was the approximate date when he received it, and if the job took a month or so, work on it began in late October. BF returned to London on or about Oct. 24 (BF to WF below, Nov. 3); the next Wednesday was the 28th. We conjecture that Henly visited him on the 27th and wrote this letter the following day.

4The enclosure, which has disappeared, was probably from William Chapman (1749–1832), the engineer and canal-builder, for whom see the DNB. Chapman was in Brighton the following February, when he wrote Henly about lightning. APS.

5Presumably those that BF described above, Aug. 18. For a sketch and description of the completed instrument see Henly to BF below, Nov. 28. For Edward Nairne see above, X, 171 n and subsequent volumes.

6Henly is referring, we conjecture, to BF’s recent writings on electricity, for which see above under Aug. 12, 18, and 21. This material was included in Barbeu-Dubourg’s Œuvres, which was then in process of translation, but not in the fifth edition of Exper. and Obser., published in 1774. Henly did receive at least part of what he asked for; see his letter below, Dec. 30.

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