Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [Samuel Wharton], 21 November 1777

From [Samuel Wharton3]

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London Novr. 21 1777.

Dear Friend

By Desire of a particular Friend, Who is afflicted with a dropsical Complaint, and Who has seen published in our papers a Prescription said to be given by You (used by Dr. Gardan of South Carolina) to the French Physicians, for the Cure of that Disorder,4 I beg the Favor of you to communicate the prescription, with proper Directions, to my Friend Monsr. Benson, to convey to Me.

I sent you a few Days ago by Mr. Vanzant5 a Packet of News Papers, and by this Post, You will receive an Account of what News is stirring here. All your Friends rejoice to hear of the Perfect Establishment of your Health, But none more sincerely, than Dear Sir Yours most affectionately

W S.

Addressed: A / Monsr. Monsr. François / Chez Monsr. De Chaumont / á Passy / prés de / Paris.

Notation: S. W. Nov 21. 77

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Identified by the handwriting, the mention of Benson (i.e., Bancroft; see above, XXIII, 202 n), the use of BF’s alias, and the notation.

4For the prescription see the preceding letter, and for Alexander Garden above, VI, 187 n. Some years earlier the physician-botanist had written about the use of tobacco ash: Edmund and Dorothy S. Berkeley, Dr. Alexander Garden of Charles Town (Chapel Hill, N.C., [1969]), p. 260.

5This is the first appearance by name of one of the most active British agents. Isaac Van Zandt, alias George Lupton, was the son of a prominent New York merchant, and had come to Paris the previous spring in the guise of an American businessman to spy for William Eden. It was Van Zandt who had concluded that Benson was Silas Deane: above, XXIII, 202 n. He seems to have been in Wharton’s confidence and was soon in JW’s; he also got information out of Wickes. At this point he was returning from a visit to London, and a month later his role was discovered; thereafter he was closely watched. Stevens, Facsimiles, III, nos. 287, 336 and passim.

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