Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Gaetano Filangieri, 14 July 1783

From Gaetano Filangieri

Translation of ALS in Italian:7 Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Naples, July 14, 1784 [i.e., 1783]8


In order to keep the promise I made you, I am sending through the mail the third volume of my Works, and within a few days I shall send you the fourth. I beg you not to judge one without having read the other. Both those volumes make up the third book of my Works, whose subject is the criminal part of legislative science.9 Please do not attribute to a vain display of erudition the use I make of the content of ancient and modern legislations. I felt it necessary to provide the analysis of what has been done in the past, in order to illuminate what should be done now. By reading that part of my work, you shall understand the reasons that led me to the adoption of this method.

I don’t want to keep from you the reasons for my withdrawal in the solitary countryside1 where my literary output will be accelerated by the quiet and the silence. Six days from now, I shall be married to Mademoiselle Frendel whose mere presence will suffice to fill the void that the distance from my friends, relatives, and society as a whole might affect my spirits. The only circumstance that could take me away from this solitude would be the offer of a Minister’s post in America that you alluded to.2 When I hear that my Court has decided to send a Minister to the United Provinces of America, I shall do all in my power to be nominated. My greatest pleasure in such a case would be to be able to tell you viva voce the feelings of veneration and respect with which I proclaim myself your most devoted and obedient servant,

Gaetano Filangieri

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Prepared by Claude A. Lopez. The Italian original is published in Antonio Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy (Philadelphia, 1958), p. 402, and Eugenio Lo Sardo, ed., Il Mondo nuovo e le virtù civili: l’epistolario di Gaetano Filangieri, 1772–1788 (Naples, 1999), pp. 242–3.

8The incorrect year was obviously a slip of the pen. Filangieri’s marriage to Charlotte (Carolina) Frendel, mentioned here as imminent, occurred in the summer of 1783: XXXVIII, 399n. Luigi Pio forwarded this letter and the enclosed volume to BF on Aug. 10; see his letter of that date.

9See XXXVIII, 37–8, 400–1. According to Marcello Maestro, the second part of Book III of La scienza della legislazione was published in the autumn of 1783: Gaetano Filangieri and His Science of Legislation (Philadelphia, 1976), p. 28.

1During the summer of 1783, Filangieri moved to the town of Cava dei Tirreni, 25 miles from Naples: ibid.

2XXXVIII, 571–3.

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