Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Graf von Brühl, 22 August 1783

To Graf von Brühl8

ALS: Scottish Record Office

Passy, near Paris, Augt. 22. 1783


M. de Kempel, the ingenious Author of the Automaton that plays Chess, will have the Honour of putting this Line into the Hands of your Excellency; and I beg leave to recommend him to your Protection, not merely on Account of that wonderful Machine, but as a Genius capable of being serviceable to Mankind by more useful Inventions which he has not yet communicated.9 With great Respect, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

His Excelly. Count Bruhl, Minister of Saxony

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Hans Moritz Graf von Brühl (1736–1809) served in London as envoy extraordinary from the elector of Saxony from 1764 to his death. He also enjoyed an international reputation as a chess player and was a patron of science: ODNB; Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter, III, 374; R. Marsham-Townshend, “Count de Bruhl,” Notes and Queries, 9th ser., XII (1903), 275.

9For Kempelen’s chess-playing “automaton” and his speaking machine see his letter of May 28. The mechanical chess player created a sensation in London, as well; see Tom Standage, The Mechanical Turk: the True Story of the Chess-Playing Machine That Fooled the World (London, 2002), pp. 61–2.

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