Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to a Member of the Royal Society, 26 November 1772

To [a Member of the Royal Society]6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Cravenstreet, Nov. 26. 1772


The Council of the Royal Society having put Sir John Pringle, Bart. in nomination for President; and being myself persuaded from what I know of his Learning in general, his thorough Acquaintance with Experimental Philosophy, his constant Attendance at our Meetings, and his extensive Reputation in the Republick of Letters throughout Europe, that he would fill that Office with great Propriety, and to the Honour and Advantage of the Society, I beg leave to request your Vote and Interest in Support of that Nomination. I am, very respectfully, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The letter is clearly one that BF sent to an indeterminate number of members on the eve of the presidential election. Sir John Pringle’s candidacy was under attack from an elderly and eccentric physician, Sir William Browne (1692–1774), for whom see the DNB. In two speeches to the Society Browne argued that only mathematicians should be chosen to the Council and the presidency, and that Pringle specifically was disqualified because he had declined a less exacting office for reasons of health. John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century … (9 vols., London, 1812–16), III, 320–3. Pringle was elected on Nov. 30, at the same time that BF was chosen for the Council. Gent. Mag., LXII (1772), 590–1. Browne, we believe, went on to more outrageous attacks on the new President, which elicited BF’s diatribe printed below at the end of the year.

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