Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Faculty of the Royal College, [before 12 November 1781]

From the Faculty of the Royal College9

Printed invitation:1 American Philosophical Society

[before November 12, 1781]


Vous êtes prié de la part de MM. les Lecteurs & Professeurs Royaux, d’assister à la Séance publique qu’ils tiendront pour l’ouverture de leurs Leçons, Lundi prochain, 12 Novembre 1781, à quatre heures du soir, au College Royal, Place Cambrai.2

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin de l’Académie / royale des sciences / A Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The Collège royal, now the Collège de France, was founded in 1530 by Francis I to offer a more liberal curriculum than that of the Sorbonne. It granted no degrees and its courses were open and free of charge. In 1781 the College comprised an inspector and 19 lecteurs et professeurs royaux of letters and science: Jean Torlais, “Le Collège royal,” in Enseignement et diffusion des sciences en France au XVIIIe siècle, René Taton et al., eds. (Paris, 1964), pp. 261–86; Abel Lefranc, Histoire du Collège de France depuis ses origines jusqu’à la fin du Premier Empire (Paris, 1893; reprinted Geneva, 1970), pp. 257–68; Almanach royal for 1781, pp. 478–80.

1The text is printed under the coat of arms of the College: an open book on which is written “Docet omnia” (It teaches all things). Surrounding the book are three fleurs-de-lys, the royal emblem of France, and on a ribbon at the base of the figure, the name of the printer, Pierres. The official printer for the College since 1775, Pierres also did work for BF: XXXIV, 431n; XXXV, 635n; Lefranc, Histoire du Collège de France, pp. 363–5.

2The opening of classes had become a public event and included either a speech or the reading of several memoirs, each lasting between fifteen and thirty minutes. Among the offerings that day were a paper on optical illusion, several fables, an allegory on the birth of the dauphin, and a reading of Pindar’s Pythian ode 3 in French translation: Jour de Paris, Nov. 11 and 17, 1781. We do not know if BF was in attendance, but Arbelot’s receipted bill of Dec. 9 shows that BF was in Paris that day: Editorial Note on Franklin’s Accounts.

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