Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Matthew Boulton, [15 June 1772]

To Matthew Boulton2

AL: Assay Office, Birmingham

Monday morng. [June 15,3 1772]

Dr. Franklin presents his Compliments to Mr. Bolton, and having heard last Night by the Marquis Grisella of Mr. B’s intended Call in Craven Street at Ten this Morning, is sorry he cannot be at home to receive him, being oblig’d to be early at Westminster Abby in order to get in.4 Wishes Mr. Bolton would favour him with his Company at Dinner this Day at 4, or to-morrow if that better suits him. Requests Mr. Bolton would peruse the enclos’d, and add a Line of Permission to Dr. F’s Friend L’Abbé Morellet5 to see his Wonderful Works at Soho.

Addressed: M Bolton

Endorsed: Note of Dr: Franklin —— (no date)

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2For the famous manufacturer see above, XVIII, 116 n.

3Dated by BF’s engagement at the Abbey, for which see the next note.

4He was attending the installation of the Knights Companions of the Bath on June 15: London Chron., June 13–16, 1772.

5A very recent friend. André Morellet (1727–1819) was an abbé only in the broad sense; he was a writer and political economist, who had collaborated with Diderot and d’Alembert on the Encyclopédie and was dear to French liberals because a polemic of his in defense of the philosophes had landed him briefly in the Bastille. In 1772 he was sent on a commercial mission to England, where he cemented a friendship with Lord Shelburne that had already begun in Paris, and that greatly influenced the Earl’s subsequent views. BF had met Morellet for the first time in the spring of 1772 at a house party of Shelburne’s at Loakes, his estate at High Wycombe; Col. Barré, Hawkesworth, and David Garrick were also guests. The Abbé, in talking with BF, steered the conversation away from physics to subjects of mutual interest; and the relationship begun at Wycombe lasted for many years. See Edmond G. Petty-Fitzmaurice, Life of William Earl of Shelburne … (2nd ed., 2 vols., London, 1912), I, 428–30; II, 457–8; Claude-Anne Lopez, Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris (New York and London, 1966), pp. 284–6.

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