Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Alexander Small, 7 December 1780

To Alexander Small

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, Dec. 7. 1780.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you a few Days since, enclosing a Copy of the Translations of your Paper on the Gout. It was Mr. Turgot, who admiring got it translated and Printed, & give away Numbers of them to his Friends and others where I thinks it may do Good.8 He is a Brother Sufferer in that Distemper. I wish to see a Copy in which you have made Corrections. Send me at least the Corrections, I will send you per next Opportunity for your Amusement a Dialogue I have lately written on the same Subject.9 Let me know how to direct to you.

I thank you for the Extract from the Berne Memoirs; I shall add them by Way of Note, to your Paper on Hopitals &c.1

I am glad to hear that Mrs. Stevenson & Mrs. Hewson are well. Be so good as to forward the enclos’d to them.

My best Respects to our friend. When you write again please to let me know if Mr. Steele is still in England, and send if you can one of his Tracts containing the Manner of Noting the modulation of the Voice in Speaking.2

I am ever with sincere Esteem & affection Dear Sir, Your &c

Mr. Small.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8BF had forwarded a copy of Small’s “Observations on the Gout” to the Académie de médecine, and the marquis de Turgot (for whom see BF’s April 25 letter to him, below) had it published in the September issue of the Journal de médecine, chirurgie, pharmacie, &c.: XXXIII, 98n. We have no other record of BF’s earlier letter to Small.

9Above, [before Nov. 17].

1Small had evidently sent the extract, along with a letter, on Nov. 10. All that has survived is a French translation of the extract, with extensive marginal notes made by Le Roy, and a notation by BF: “Extrait d’une Lettre de M. Small dattée a Londres, Nov. 10, 1780.” Taken from an article by Jean-Louis Muret in the Mémoires et Observations recueillies par la Société Economique de Berne, the passage had to do with epidemics in urban versus rural populations. Mortality rates tended to be higher in cities, since homes were well sealed against the cold; villagers whose houses were in poor repair reaped the health benefits of air circulation.

BF did indeed incorporate a passage from this extract into the paper on ventilation that Small had sent him years earlier. We published a portion of that paper in XXIII, 486–91, where we explained that it went through many versions. The final one, despite BF’s efforts, was never published in his lifetime. WTF included it in the Memoirs … (3rd ed., 6 vols., London, 1818–19), VI, 173–94; the extract in question is the paragraph spanning pp. 182–3.

2Joshua Steele had applied music notation to the modulation of speech; see XX, 312n.

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