Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Francis Xavier Schwediauer, 17 September 1782

From Francis Xavier Schwediauer3

AL: American Philosophical Society

17th. Septemb. 1782. chez Mr. Folliart Apothicaire
Ruë St. Dominique Fauxbourg St. Germain.

Dr. Schwediauer Physician from Vienna and fellow-traveler of Dr. Ingenhousz in his last journey to England,4 now coming from London, presents his respectful Compliments to Dr. B. Franklin, and wishes the Satisfaction of being acquainted with the Dr., especially as he is able to communicate to him, a plan of a code of penal laws, which might be agreable to him to See, and which might prove a very useful one to any nation who is interested to possess a code of that Kind, founded on the only right principle, The Principle of utility of the community.5 Tho’ this code is not yet published, Dr. S. has leave to communicate it to Dr. F., and will wait on him any day and hour agreable to the Dr.6

Addressed: à Monsieur / Monsieur Le Docteur Franklin / Bassy

Notation: Dr. Schwediauer 17. Sept. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The Austrian-born physician, scientist, and philosopher (1748–1824) who settled in London in the mid-1770s. He practiced medicine in both London and Edinburgh. In 1783 he presented “An Account of Ambergrise” to the Royal Society: Phil. Trans., LXXIII (1783), 226–41. He translated works on medical and scientific subjects, published studies of venereal disease, and wrote a series of political and philosophical pieces that were compiled in The Philosophical Dictionary … (4 vols., London and Edinburgh, 1786): ADB; Larousse under Schwediauer and Swediaur; Quérard, France littéraire.

4In 1778: XXVI, 67–70, 625.

5This was Jeremy Bentham’s introduction to a never-completed penal code which defined his political and ethical theory of utility. After meeting Schwediauer in 1778 and learning of his distinguished acquaintances, Bentham determined to use him as a means to introduce his ideas abroad. Schwediauer’s friendship with Ingenhousz would provide Bentham a “ladder by which my Code … might be hoisted up to Franklin. Code might do for America when settled.” Bentham had the introduction printed in 1780 and at that time drafted letters to sovereigns and ministers of various nations: Timothy L. S. Sprigge et al., eds., The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham (11 vols. to date, London, 1968–), I, xxviii–xxxi; II, 179–80, 182–3, 414n, 416–18. Bentham’s draft letter to BF is above, XXXII, 236, where we explain that BF never commented on the introduction, and that Bentham eventually published it in 1789.

6Schwediauer wrote Ingenhousz on Oct. 1 that he had seen BF, who was suffering some lameness: Julius Wiesner, Jan Ingen-housz, Sein Leben und sein Wirken als Naturforscher und Arzt (Vienna, 1905), p. 227. He reported to Bentham in mid-September that BF had nearly recovered from his acute attack of the gout: Sprigge et al., The Correspondence of Bentham, III, 142.

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