Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, 22 September 1769

To Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg9

ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society

London, Sept. 22. 1769

Dear Sir,

With this you will receive some Sheets of the Piece now printing, and which I am promis’d shall be finish’d in a few Days. I am afraid it is not so correct as it should be; But as I have been advis’d not to publish it till next Month, most of our Gentry being yet out of Town, there will be time for you to send me the Errata which may be printed at the End.1

I send you also Dr. Priestly’s Essay on the first Principles of Government lately published,2 in which you will find some [missing] and free Sentiments.

I wrote to you two or three Weeks since by M. Lettsom a Quaker Physician, recommending him to your Civilities.3 I can now only add, (with my best Respects to good Madame Dubourg) that I am as ever, Dear Sir, Your affectionate Friend, and most obedient humble Servant.

B Franklin

Be so good as to present my respectful Compliments to M. Beaumont, for whom I have the highest Esteem, and to Mr. Dupont.4 Please to acquaint the latter, that Dr. Templeman had done nothing in the Subscriptions, the Society having been in Vacance; and the good Gentleman, is, I am afraid, now dying.5

M. Dubourg

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9See above, XV, 112.

1What the piece was remains a mystery. Alfred O. Aldridge conjectures that it may have been the first English translation of Dubourg’s “Code de l’humanité, ou Lois immuables qui servent de base aux devoirs, aux droits, et au bonheur de l’homme” (for which see above, XV, 115 n.), but admits that Dubourg did not receive copies of the translation until more than a year later. “Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, a French Disciple of Benjamin Franklin,” APS Proc., XCV (1951), 341. This conjecture seems to us implausible, in the light of BF’s phrasing and the subsequent lapse of time before the translation reached Paris; but we can offer no alternative conjecture.

2The work was a year old: Joseph Priestley, An Essay on the First Principles of Government; and on the Nature of Political, Civil, and Religious Liberty (London, 1768).

3See BF’s letter above, Aug. 30.

4Jean-Baptiste-Jacques Elie de Beaumont (1732–86) was a distinguished French jurist, friend of Voltaire, and author of a well-known memoir on the Calas case published in 1762. For Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours see above, XV, 118 n.

5Dr. Peter Templeman had been secretary of the Society of Arts; see above, IX, 322 n. He had in fact died on Aug. 23, 1769. DNB.

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