Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jean-Hyacinthe de Magellan, 13 May 1779

From Jean-Hyacinthe de Magellan2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 13 May—79

My Dear Dr. and most Respected Friend

You’ll allow me these epithets, for the sake of my hearty wishes whatever relates you or to yours. This Vol. lately published, is sent by the author, whose heart you Know well to be as a friendly one, as he is an upright and worthy man.3 He told me, that he had nothing particular to add: and only to assure you of the Continuation of his and of every other Common friend, good wishes for your wellfare and of all mankind at Large for such is in reality the large Scop, or aim of your actions.

Dor. le Begue du Presle,4 will Receive, I hope, in a few weeks, some sheets I’ll send, to Compleat a set of Miller’s botanical Collection,5 a work which you must know, has been Carried into execution, by our worthy friend Dr. Fothergill,6 who desired I should send it to you, in order to be safely forwarded, if possible, as a present from him to the Philos. Society at Philadelphia. He had no time to write to you at present, or perhaps, nothing moreover to say in the present critical circumstances of the times: only whished to present you with his friendly wishes & Respt.

N.B. The principal part of the above botanical work is already in the hands of our friend Dor. le Begue du Presle: and I have already told him of its destination as soon as it should be compleated.

I ever am from the botom of my heart my dear Dor. & Friend your most obedt. hble. obliged


Notation: Megellan 13 May 1779

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2For the scientist and instrument maker who also transmitted British scientific intelligence to the French government see XIX, 127n; XX, 29n.

3Joseph Priestley. See his letter of May 8.

4Achille-Guillaume Lebègue de Presle, physician and friend of BF, is identified in XXIV, 162n. He was the member of the Académie to whom Magellan always sent his reports and remarks.

5John Miller, An Illustration of the Sexual System … of Linnaeus (London, 1777). Miller (Johann Sebastius Müller), an engraver born in Nuremberg, moved to England in 1744. In 1770, he undertook to make a series of detailed engravings of plants according to the classification system of Linnaeus, which was gradually gaining approval. The plates were issued as Miller finished them; the English naturalist John Ellis enthusiastically recommended the first ones to Linnaeus. The completed work appeared in 1777, in three folio volumes containing more than two hundred plates, half of them colored. The preface included letters of praise by Linnaeus himself. Miller published an octavo edition, intended as a field guide, in 1779. DNB; Dictionary of Scientific Biography (16 vols., New York, 1970–80), under Linnaeus.

6We have found no indication that Fothergill (IV, 126–7n) sponsored this work; however, he was one of Miller’s great admirers and had employed him, along with several other artists, to make drawings of the plants in his garden. Betsy C. Corner and Christopher C. Booth, eds., Chain of Friendship: Selected Letters of Dr. John Fothergill of London, 1735–1780 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), pp. 323, 397, 398n; R. Hingston Fox, Dr. John Fothergill and His Friends (London, 1919), p. 199n.

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