Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from De Lolme, 29 November 1781

From De Lolme

ALS: Cornell University Library

Nov. 29th. 1781.


My servant having nothing to do, may as well employ his time in carrying this book to Passy.4 The 20th Chapter, pag 451, is new, and contains general observations on the right of Taxation, and the reciprocal political situation of Britain and the American Colonies: I hope you will find nothing amiss in it, after you have read the long note by which that Chapter is concluded.5 At the same time I mentioned your name, I certainly would have seized that opportunity of expressing my high regard and sentiments for you, had I not been check’d by the thought it might, in the present time, have an appearance of partiality, not quite so proper in a work of a dogmatical general nature.

I wish the Preface may amuse you: my design, in the first part of it, was to make the reader Smile, and at the Same time to Speak the truth.

I have the honour to be with very great respect Sir— your most obedient and most humble Servant

J L DeLolme

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The newly published third edition of de Lolme’s The Constitution of England, or an Account of the English Government (London, 1781), a translation and expanded version of his Constitution de l’Angleterre. … The preface, which de Lolme characterizes in the present letter as amusing, details his difficulties in first getting it published in England, in 1775.

5The final footnote clarified de Lolme’s observation that “no man who wished for the preservation of … the English Constitution, ought to have desired that the claim of the American colonies might be granted to them.” Nor did he believe that the colonies should have “given up their claim,” he explained. He criticized the English ministry for mishandling the situation.

De Lolme also added a footnote, two pages earlier, that recalled a relevant conversation he had had with BF in the Craven Street house just before BF returned to America. BF referred him to the account of his examination before the House of Commons.

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