Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Priestley, 11 March 1779

From Joseph Priestley

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 11 March 1779

Dear Sir

The bearer of this letter is Mr Hamilton a young gentleman of Ireland, travelling for his improvement.7 I have had a good deal of his company both in Wiltshire and in London,8 and think him to be a person who will not disgrace any little countenance that it may be convenient to you to give him. He is a friend of liberty, and a lover of science.

I often wish to have an opportunity of conversing, or even of writing with freedom, on the subject of a scheme you once had in my favour.9 I was very happy to hear by a common friend, that you were in good health and spirits.

I am just printing off a volume of a new work of Experiments in various branches of Natural Philosophy, which I shall take the first opportunity of conveying to you.1 I am, with the greatest respect and affection, Dear Sir, Yours most sincerely

J Priestley

Addressed: To / D Franklin

Notations in different hands: Dr Priestley / Priestley 11 march 1779

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7William Hamilton (1755–97), born in Londonderry, was a naturalist who founded a learned society that was the nucleus of the Royal Irish Academy. DNB.

8Priestley, serving at this time as Lord Shelburne’s librarian, divided his time between the London residence and the Bowood estate in Wiltshire: XIX, 299; XX, 420n.

9BF had once inquired about an academic post for Priestley in America; see XX, 90–1n.

1Priestley had indeed just finished his Experiments and Observations Relating to Various Branches of Natural Philosophy; with a Continuation of the Observations on Air (London, 1779). His preface to the work is dated March 1, 1779. By May, he had hit upon a means of conveying the work to Paris; see his letter of May 8.

BF’s copy of this book, taken from his library and now in the Franklin Collection at Yale University, is inscribed “from the Author.”

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