Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from R. Hippisley, 19 April 1762

From R. Hippisley4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Apr. 19. 1762


Having completed an Analysis of Oratory, as more particularly mentioned in the enclosed proposals,5 Upon a plan never attempted before in any language, I take the liberty to address You, as a friend to learning and an Encourager of arts and sciences.

You will view the drawing, now laid before you, as the first, and as it were a rude, sketch of the Design, since greatly improved by me both in the subject-matter and plan; that intended to be engraved, being in the hands of the Engraver, executing it after a design by Wale.6

If You will permit me to add Your name, as a subscriber, to those of many noble and other eminent persons, no less distinguished for their elegant taste in polite literature than for the dignity of their birth and rank, a list of which waits upon you with the Analysis, and thereby contribute not only to the number but to the splendor of the names that adorn the subscription, I shall esteem the Compliment, as reflecting no small lustre upon the Work as well as honour upon the Author Who begs leave to write Himself Sir Your very obedient Servant

R Hippisley7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The writer, not otherwise identified, was the author of Bath and It’s Environs, A Descriptive Poem, in Three Cantos (Bath: printed by R. Cruttwell, for J. Almon … London; and W. Frederick … Bath. 1775). In the Yale Univ. Lib. copy of the poem is a short ALS dated Jan. 29, 1775, in the same hand and with an unmistakably identical signature, presenting the copy to “My Lord” and describing the writer as the author of the poem and “your unfortunate Annuitant.” The Richard Hippisley, rector of Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, listed in both the Oxford and Cambridge alumni records, died in 1764 and so could not have been the same man.

5Neither the proposals, the drawing, nor the list of subscribers, both mentioned below, survive among BF’s papers; the British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books lists no work on oratory by an author of this name.

6Samuel Wale (d. 1786), painter and engraver, member of the Society of Artists and of the Royal Academy, made illustrations for various books and periodicals. DNB.

7No reply to this letter has been found.

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