Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to [Jean-Baptiste LeRoy], [22?] September 1769

To [Jean-Baptiste LeRoy1]

ALS (draft): American Philosophical Society

London, September 22?,2 1769]

Dear Sir,

Soon after my Arrival in London, [I sent you] by Mr. Lettsom, a Quaker Physician, one of the [torn] Achromatic Glasses Compleat; which I hope you received safe.3 By your good Brother I send you three of the Glasses we talk’d of, and which you will find describ’d in one of my Printed Letters.

Our Astronomers knew nothing before our Return of the Comet you first told us of at Paris.4 They have since watch’d it pretty closely. But as yours saw it near three Weeks sooner, I suppose they have been better able to determine its Orbit, &c. Some be[lieve?] [torn] the tail to be electrical.

Pray present my best [compliments to?] M. Malesherbes, whom I esteem infinitely.5 I [am] [torn] [sen]sible of the many Civilities I received from [you and all of?] your Friends; be so good as to remember m[e to them? a]ll very respectfully. With the most sincere Esteem and Affection, I am, Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant,

B Franklin

B[e so] good as to forward the Packets contained in the Box as directed. Pray send me word what Number of Paste Seals.

1“Your brother” of this letter is patently the LeRoy of the preceding document. It is a virtual certainty, therefore, that BF was writing to the only LeRoy with whom he corresponded.

2This and the preceding document presumably went by M. LeRoy; we are therefore assuming that the two letters were of the same date.

3For Dr. Lettsom see BF to Barbeu-Dubourg above, Aug. 30. An achromatic lens transmits light that is without color. BF may have sent one of the achromatic telescopes that John Dolland had invented a decade earlier, for which see XI, 22 n. LeRoy later acknowledged receiving a “lunette”: below, April 22, [1770].

4See BF to John Canton above, Aug. 25.

5This is a tantalizing reference. It appears to be to one of the outstanding liberals of the ancien régime, Chrétien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (1721–94), who was at the time president of the Cour des aides. He was of course not the only man of the name in France, but he was the natural one for BF to have met during his recent visit to Paris because of Malesherbes’s literary and scientific interests and widespread acquaintance in the French intellectual world. Years later Malesherbes boasted that he had met and been complimented by BF during the latter’s mission to France: John M. S. Allison, Lamoignon de Malesherbes, Defender and Reformer of the French Monarchy … (New Haven, 1938), p. 109. This seems to imply a first meeting, but Malesherbes by then may well have forgotten an earlier one.

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