Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Leendert de Neufville, 21 December 1780

From Leendert de Neufville

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Amsterdam 21 Dcr 1780


Mr Jhe Temple charged me when in Londn with a letter of introduction to your Excellency3 fr the Princess Descau4 which he told me to be a favorite of the Empress. She had insisted on having Such a letter it was not however before this day that I discovered from the Prins of Gallitzin5 where she was & added in consequence a few lines of apology for Mr Temple & myself upon the occasion: At the Same time I imagined that it could not prove disagreable to Your Excellency to know the fate of it.

Mr Digges I Suppose has wrote to your Excellency before this: I left him in a disagreable Situation from the circumstance of Mr Trumbulls being taken up & make no doubt accordingly of Your Excellencys being perfectly ackquainted with every circumstance relating to it.

I beg leave to add that I feel very happy in this opportunity to assure your Excellency that I have the honour to be with the greatest Veneration & Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedient & Very humble Servant


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Jean de Neufville’s son had been in London earlier in the fall; see our annotation of Digges to BF, Nov. 21. The letter of introduction is apparently missing.

4Russian journalist, writer, and public figure, Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova (1743–1810) was a prominent figure in intellectual circles of 18th-century Europe. She participated in the 1762 coup that brought Catherine II to the throne. After quarreling with the Empress, Dashkova lived abroad for several years, attending gatherings of the “Blue Stockings” in London and meeting and corresponding with such Enlightenment figures as Diderot and Voltaire. In 1783 she became director of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and president of the Russian Academy. Upon BF’s proposal she became a member of the APS in 1789, the first woman and the second Russian to be elected to the Society. See A. Woronzoff-Dashkoff, “Princess E. R. Dashkova: First Woman Member of the American Philosophical Society,” APS Transactions, CXL (1996), 406–17; Dictionary of Russian Women Writers, Marina Ledkovsky, Charlotte Rosenthal, and Mary Zirin, eds. (Westport, Conn., 1994), pp. 142–4; Nikolai N. Bolkhovitinov, Russia and the American Revolution (trans. by C. Jay Smith, Tallahassee, Fla., 1976), pp. 110–11. BF went to see her on Jan. 26, 1781; see his Journal, published under Dec. 18, above.

5Prince Dmitrii Golitsyn.

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