Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to James Lind, 25 October 1769

To James Lind2

ALS (facsimile): reprinted from Rowfant Club Program, November 27, 1901

London, Oct. 25. 1769

Dear Sir,

After the many Civilities I have received from you, I am ashamed that you have not yet received from me one of my Books, which was done up to be sent you last Winter,3 and I thought it had gone with others to Edinburg, till a few days since it was found to have been left behind and unaccountably mislaid. Mr. Bancroft is so good as to undertake to deliver it to you; and I beg Leave at the same time to recommend him to your Civilities, as an ingenious young American, who visits Edinburgh, with a View of prosecuting his Medical Studies in your School of Physic now the most celebrated of the kind in the known World.4 With sincere Esteem and best Wishes for your Prosperity, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant,

B Franklin

Dr Lind.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2For this Scottish physician see BF to Mary Stevenson above, June 27.

3Probably the fourth edition of Exper. and Obser. (London, 1769), which had been advertised in the London Chron. on June 7–10.

4This is BF’s first known mention of Dr. Edward Bancroft (1745–1821), physician, scientist, novelist, pamphleteer, and subsequently BF’s secretary in Paris and one of the most successful double agents in the history of espionage. Bancroft, born in Westfield, Mass., was apprenticed for a time to a physician, ran away to sea at an early age, practiced medicine in South America, and then belatedly came to Britain to study it. He arrived in London about 1767 and worked at St. Bartholomew’s; in 1770 he made a second and brief visit to South America, apparently for scientific purposes. If he seriously intended to study at Edinburgh, he must have soon abandoned the idea. BF took him under his wing, introduced him to Priestley, Pringle, and others, and was instrumental in his election to the Royal Society in 1773. In the following year Bancroft received his M.D. from Aberdeen. By then he had become not only a distinguished physician but also one of the leading experts of his day on vegetable dyes. Sir Arthur S. MacNally, “Edward Bancroft, M.D., F.R.S., and the War of American Independence,” Royal Society of Medicine Proc., XXXVIII (1944), 7–10; Julian P. Boyd, “Silas Deane: Death by a Kindly Teacher of Treason?,” W&MQ, 3d ser., XVI (1959), 176–82. For his later life see ibid., pp. 182–7, 319–42, 515–50; MacNally, op. cit., pp. 10–15; DAB; DNB.

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