Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Birch, 16 April 1762

To Thomas Birch8

AL: British Museum

Cravenstreet, Friday morng. [April 16, 1762]9

Mr. Franklin’s Compliments to Dr. Birch and returns Mr. Delaval’s and Mr. Canton’s Papers.1 Mr. F. thought he had prevail’d with each of those Gentlemen to omit or change some Expressions that might tend to occasion a Dispute, but on farther Discourse finds that neither of them cordially approve the Alterations propos’d, tho’ they might consent to them at the Instance of their Friends; so the Papers are return’d unalter’d;2 and Mr. F. begs Pardon of Dr. Birch for the Trouble his Officiousness has given him; and requests his Acceptance of a Book3 herewith sent him.

The Pacquet was brought by a Friend of Mr. F.’s from France.

Addressed: To / Revd. Dr Birch

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Secretary of the Royal Society.

9The date is in another hand, similar to one found on several endorsements of papers in the Royal Society.

1Edward Delaval’s paper, entitled “An Account of several Experiments in Electricity: In a Letter to Mr. Benjamin Wilson, F.R.S.,” was read before the Royal Society, Dec. 17, 1761, and printed in Phil. Trans., LII, pt. I (1761), 353–6. John Canton’s paper, “A Letter from John Canton, M.A. and F.R.S. to Benjamin Franklin, LL.D. and F.R.S. containing some Remarks on Mr. Delaval’s Electrical Experiments,” printed above, pp. 23–6, was read at the Society, Feb. 4, 1762, and was published in Phil. Trans., LII, pt. II (1762), 457–61. These two electricians had disagreed about why changes in temperature caused changes in the conductivity of certain substances. Delaval argued that hot air on the surfaces of heated substances or their absorption of moisture had nothing to do with their conductivity; Canton held the contrary opinion; both men offered experiments to prove their contentions.

2Though there is a trace of asperity in Delaval’s paper, both his and Canton’s performances seem remarkably temperate at this distance in time.

3Possibly the second edition of Dalibard’s translation of Exper. and Obser. If so, the friend who brought the packet from France, mentioned in the next sentence, may have been young William Shippen; see above, IX, 396, and this volume, pp. 64–5 n.

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