Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jean-Baptiste LeRoy, 14 March 1768

To Jean-Baptiste LeRoy3

ALS: American Philosophical Society; draft dated January 31, 1768, also in American Philosophical Society.

London, March 14. 1768

Dear Sir,

Whenever I reflect, as I often do, on the kind Reception I met with at Paris, and the Civilities heap’d upon me there by that People, the politest sure of all Mankind, I dwell with particular Pleasure on the Remembrance of my Acquaintance with you, which I esteem as one of the happiest Incidents of my Journey; and I beg leave to assure you that I shall always retain a grateful Sense of your Friendship, manifested so many ways towards me.

I wish I had any Philosophical News worth your Notice. But here is little stirring. Our Society are about to send three Setts of Astronomers abroad, to observe the next Transit of Venus; the Places, Hudson’s Bay, the North Cape, and somewhere South of the Line.4 But while we have been attentive to what is to pass in the Heavens, a wicked Jew, entrusted as our Clerk and Collector, has unobserv’d run away with our Money upon Earth, to the amount of near 1500 Pounds, which makes it necessary for us in this Affair to apply for Royal Assistance.5

I hope your good Brothers are well. Please to present my respectful Compliments to them. I was particularly obliged to M. Julien, for the frank and generous Manner with which he communicated and explain’d to me the most ingenius Contrivances of his Time-Piece.6 I cordially wish him the Success and Honour that is due to so much Merit. With the greatest Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin7

M. Le Roy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3French physicist and member of the Académie des sciences; see above, X, 61 n.

4As early as 1763 the Royal Society began planning to observe the transit of Venus in 1769. A special committee was formed in Nov., 1767, to decide on the persons and methods to be employed and the places of observation. See Harry Woolf, The Transits of Venus … (Princeton, 1959), pp. 161–6.

5For Emanuel Mendes da Costa and his embezzlement, see above, XII, 220 n; XIV, 341–2. The Royal Society made no mention of this scandal when applying to the King for assistance; he granted £4,000, the President announced on March 24. Charles R. Weld, A History of the Royal Society … (2 vols., London, 1848), II, 32–5.

6The other LeRoy brothers, in order of age, were Pierre (1717–85), the watchmaker; Charles (1726–79), a chemist and professor of medicine; and Julien-David (1728–1803), an architect. In the draft BF had written “the elder” instead of “M. Julien”; in the later letter he obviously confused the architect with Pierre.

7The draft adds a postscript: “Sir John Pringle desires me to present his Compliments.”

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