Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Blakey, 9 January 1778

From William Blakey4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Liége the 9 of January 1778


As I am a friend to mankind, I congratulate you on the taking Bourgoin, tho’ I am angry with the American council for using him so kindly, if I had been the cheif he should have been scalped, the officers and men were obliged to follow his buchering orders tho their infamous and Mercenary dispositions are very well known.

As You are acquainted with Mr. Morand5 who has had la maladresse to put me in his stuf6 on pitt Coal, in manner that hurts me, I send you a letter I have wrote to him. I send you likewise a letter I wrote to Prince Galitzin, and another to Mr. Allamand of Leiden.7 As soon as I hear of the safe arrival of this I shall send you a little treatis in quarto on Engine necessary for Holland, the second part is a printing and will be finished next month I hope. I am with due regard Sir your most humble and obedient Servant

W Blakey

P.S. I am so hot in your cause that if I was a young man and was not afraid of sea sickness I would be own [now] among You, but as things are I can only be a well wisher and which I am I assure You even before the Stamp act. I have wrote a letter in french on the cause of your troubles, and what will be the consequence of them which will be well for mankind in general, and will hurt none but tyrants in their manner of thinking. All the Ministries and prohibitions in the world will never hinder men going to the best market, as is seen by the contarband every where and which I hope your free trade will put an end to that infamous Coustoms house business which cramps industry: I hope Irland will be the better for your misfortunes, which I hope will be at an end soon by putting General Howe in the Pound and his Satalites, and making those wreches pay the burning and devasting a Country for sport, or they should never return to England.

I shall soon have my Art of watch and Clock spring making in Print. I send you the preface to give you an idea of it.8 I shall send it you when finishd as a thing of some use to those brave defender of Liberty, who have saved England from the Yoke a Tyrant was aworking under the name of his servants as I have said in my letter on the times. If his tyranical Majesty whos glitering throne dazels fools eyes had had a little more Patience and Art You would have all been lost. Court influence would have carried the day. I must let this subject alone which dos but elevate my bile to no purpose since I can do nothing, but wish your honest men may keep up their spirits and drive Lucifer head long down in the black Tartar. My derections is Ingenieur, à Liege

To Dr Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4We have failed to locate him in works on industrialization, but he was clearly an entrepreneur of the new technology. He tells a good deal about himself—starting with his Christian name—in the letter to Morand that he encloses. For fifty years, he says, he has been working with iron and steel; his profession is hydraulic engineering, and his specialty is the coal-fired steam engine; he has traveled widely in western Europe to install the engine in mines. His other enclosures indicate that he was a writer on a wide variety of subjects. We suspect from his name that he was Irish, and this letter, despite some oddities, suggests that English was his native language. All his printed works that we have encountered are in French; if they are not translations, he must have been thoroughly bilingual.

5BF had been of service to Morand in 1773 while the author was working on his Art d’exploiter les mines de charbon: above, XX, 380 n.

6[Blakey’s note:] I name it in French son toisé infolio.

7For Gallitzin and Allamand see above, respectively, XXIII, 248 n, and XVIII, 106 n. The three enclosures are all printed in French, and with no indication of their source. The first, dated Oct. 20, 1777, takes exception at great length to a published statement by Morand about Blakey’s role in a mining operation at Liège. The second, dated Dec. 15, 1776, argues that the ancients were superior to the moderns in art, mechanics, and military engineering. The third, dated July 17, 1777, has to do with getting rid of the sediment that is blocking the port of Amsterdam.

8This preface, also in French, deals largely with British improvements in the manufacture of steel. The finished work, L’art de faire les ressorts de montres, suivi de la manière de faire les petits ressorts spiraux (Amsterdam, 1780), appeared as part of the monograph series of the Académie royale des sciences, Descriptions des arts et métiers: Quérard, France littéraire under W. Blakey.

Index Entries