Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from ——— de Poterat, 9 October 1781

From ——— de Poterat8

ALS: American Philosophical Society

le 9 octobre [1781?]9


Les gens que jay instruit de léquipè que jay fait de prendre la liberté de vous parler cheminée mont tous dit que vous me croiriez folle et que certainnement vous ne me feriez pas réponce. Mais comme javois puissé en vous même Monsieur la confience de vous demender simplement comme le fesoit nos bons ayeux, votre a vie1 et votre ouvrier, je me suis flatté que vous seriez plus touchè de ma peinne que formalisè de mon ygnorence de vos calites et que vous ne me refuseriez pas un service demendé de si bonne foix. Je suis aussi confuse que reconnoissante monsieur du contenu de votre rèponce,2 jaurois estimé le plus beau de mes jours ce luy ou jaurois rêallisé les autes sides [idées] que je me suis faitte du célebre docteur franklin. Sy vous fussiez moin occupé jus esté vous faire tous les remerciments que je vous dois; je vous prie monsieur bien instament de les agreer ansy que les assurances des sentiments avec les quels jay lhonneur destre Monsieur votre tres humble et tres obeissante servant


Je ferè voir mon indoptable cheminè a maillet3

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8This is her only letter, and there is no other mention of her, at least by name, in these papers. She could conceivably be Angélique-Catherine le Dagre (b. 1754), who married Pierre-Claude, marquis de Poterat in 1771: Dictionnaire de la noblesse, XVI, 219.

9Dated on the basis of material that is merely suggestive. In 1781 BF did receive other inquiries about his stove; see our annotation of his letter to the marquis Turgot, May 1, above. Furthermore, Bethia Alexander (XXIX, 534n) wrote BF twice during the summer of 1782 about an unnamed, difficult woman who was insistent that BF answer her questions about “cheminées” (June 9 and July 3; University of Pa. Library). If this was the same person as the present writer, who fears that her reputation for being crazy will prevent BF from answering her, then we believe we have placed this letter at its most likely date.

1That is, BF’s avis or advice.

2We have no clue as to what his response could have been, other than possibly to recommend his own blacksmith; see below.

3Maillet was the smith who worked on BF’s fireplaces, as well as other projects. His payment in February, 1780 (mentioned in XXXI, 4) settled “his Account for the Chimeney, &ca.” BF would later spell out what had been done on this occasion: enlarging the kitchen window (which required a blacksmith, glass worker, and mason), and making changes to the chimney which cured its “Maladie intolerable de Fumée”: Memorandum to Chaumont, July 12, 1785, APS. (That same memorandum shows BF subsequently installing “cheminées” in various other rooms of the residence.)

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