Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lord Kames, 27 September 1760

To Lord Kames

ALS: Scottish Record Office

Coventry, Sept. 27. 1760

My dear Lord,

We are here upon a Journey which when first proposed was to have extended farther than the Season will now permit;7 we design’d going over to Ireland, and, having made the Tour of that Country, we were to have cross’d from its Northern Part to Dumfries, or some other Port on your Coast, which would have given us the pleasing Opportunity of seeing once more our Friends in Scotland.8 This, if we could have left London early in the Summer: But the Litigation between our Province and its Proprietor, in which we were engag’d, confin’d us in London till the middle of this Month.9 That Cause is indeed at length ended, and in a great degree to our Satisfaction; but by its continuing so long, we are disappointed in our Hopes of spending some more happy Days at Kaims, with you and your amiable Family.

I do not pretend to charge this to your Account as a Letter. It is rather to acknowledge myself in your Debt, and to promise Payment. It is some time since I receiv’d your obliging Favour of June last.1 When I return to London, which we intend after seeing Cheshire, Wales, Bristol, and spending some time at Bath, I hope to be a more punctual Correspondent. My Son joins in the sincerest Wishes of Happiness to you and yours, with, My dear Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Our Thanks to Lady Kaims for the Receipt. Inclos’d we send the Chapter.2

Lord Kaims

[Addressed:] To / The honourable Lord Kaims / Edinburgh / Per favour of / Mr Shippen3

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Very little is known about the journey that BF and WF took in the autumn of 1760. This letter and the one immediately above to David Hume are the only ones BF is known to have written on the trip, and surviving letters after his return mention few details. But from what is said here and from a few other references it appears that they left London soon after September 17, visiting Coventry, Worcester (below, pp. 243–4), and Birmingham. There they saw the type founder John Baskerville (below, pp. 258 n, 259) and BF performed an electrical experiment with Matthew Boulton (BF to Ebenezer Kinnersley, Feb. 20, 1762), to whom he had carried a letter of introduction on his 1758 trip. Robert E. Schofield, The Lunar Society of Birmingham (Oxford, 1963), p. 24; published too late for inclusion at its proper place in this edition. They then planned to travel up to Cheshire and back down through parts of Wales to Pontypool in Monmouthshire (above, p. 219), to Bristol and nearby Warmley (above, pp. 218, 212), and then to Bath, where, according to this letter, they hoped to spend “some time.” Probably the journey occupied about six weeks. No document has been found placing BF back in London before November 4.

8BF did not make the projected journey to Ireland and Scotland until 1771.

9The business concerned the approval or disallowance of the Assembly acts of 1758–59; see above, pp. 196–211.

1Not found.

2BF’s “Parable against Persecution.” See above, VI, 114–24, for its text and history and especially pp. 116–17, 118, for the use Lord Kames made of the copy sent him.

3These words suggest that young William Shippen (above, p. 219 n) accompanied BF and WF as far as Coventry before heading north to Edinburgh to pursue his medical studies there.

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