From Benjamin Vaughan
AL: American Philosophical Society
July 6h:, 1779.
My dearest sir,
I have this instant heard of this opportunity. I can put up nothing; scarcely this letter.
Every thing appears to me huddled and uncertain; we were a little up, but the apparent imbecillity of those to act against us, has let the spirit cool again very much. And danger made a cry for unanimity that did us mischief.
Your paper about the aurora has been a good deal controverted, which has made me very much exert myself.3 I think we shall do, and you will receive pleasure at last from what I have gone through.— Poor Henly is dead;4 suddenly, as you might expect.
I believe you were not aware that the air at less than 40 miles high is 10,000 times rarer than at the surface at the pole; the height & rarity going the one in an arithmetical the other in a geometrical progression; which you will see leads to consequences. Yours ever most devotedly.
In great haste.
I think it likely that a certain friend of mine will soon marry a niece of the Bedford family.
I sent a letter to you by Mr Barton of Bourdeaux the other day, inclosed to the Duke of Chaulnes?5 Pray is it received?
Addressed: A Monsr / A Monsr. Franklin / a Passy / pres de Paris
Notation: B Vaughn July 6. 79
3. BF’s paper on the aurora borealis (XXVIII, 190–200) ran to six pages in Vaughan’s 1779 edition of BF’s writings. Vaughan’s commentary, even though set in a reduced type size, was more than three times that length.
4. The linendraper who had recently claimed that BF owed him money: XXVIII, 422; XXIX, 139.
5. On July 4, the duc de Chaulnes wrote the following note to BF: “M. de chaulnes recoit de M. Benjamin Vaughan la lettre cy jointe pour Monsieur francklin; il a l’honneur de lui faire bien ses complimens, et de la lui envoyer.” APS. There is no way of telling which one the letter was; we only know that Vaughan’s most recent surviving letter was dated June 17. John Barton was an Irish merchant at Bordeaux: XXV, 454n; XXVI, 325n.