Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Ellis, 8 December 1773

From John Ellis2

AL: American Philosophical Society

Grays Inn 8th: Decr. 1773

Mr. Ellis presents his kindest respects to Doctor Franklin, he has seen Doctor Fothergill very lately, who is very urgent to have his thoughts on Coffee go to the press. Mr. Ellis hopes that Doctor Franklin will be so good accordingly to promise to send him his thoughts on the [?] Subject, considering it in a Political light of the advantages it would be to Government to encourage the growth of Coffee in our Islands, by Lowering the duties and excise.3

Mr. Ellis would be glad as soon as the Doctor has done with the french book on Coffee which Mr. Ellis lent him he would be much obliged [?] to him to return it as the [torn] on the Subjects which [torn].4

Addressed: To / Doctor Benj. Franklin / at Mrs. Stevensons / in Craven Street / Strand

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The eminent naturalist, with whom BF had been in touch for some time; see above, XIX, 317 n.

3Ellis was completing An Historical Account of Coffee, with an Engraving, and Botanical Description of the Tree … (London, 1774), which was a compilation of a number of authors. Fothergill, who was among them, was eager to have the book published because he wanted to encourage the importation and consumption of coffee, which he believed was beneficial to the emotions. R. Hingston Fox, Dr. John Fothergill and His Friends … (London, 1919), pp. 63–4. By “our islands” Ellis meant those in the Caribbean and particularly, no doubt, Dominica, of which he was the agent. BF had promised to help with the book, as Ellis reminded him in a second note below, Dec. 25. But his answers of Dec. 26, 1773, and Jan. 12, 1774, indicate that help consisted of information rather than thoughts.

4The book was undoubtedly Antoine Galland, De l’Origine et du progrès du café; sur un manuscrit arabe de la Bibliothèque du roi … (Caen, 1699), which is described at some length in Mohammed Abdel-Halim, Antoine Galland, sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1964), pp. 247–9. Ellis apparently summarized Galland in the early pages of his own work.

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