Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to David Barclay, 8 January 1783

To David Barclay

Reprinted from William Temple Franklin, ed., The Private Correspondence of Benjamin Franklin … (3d ed., 2 vols., London, 1818), I, 123–4.

Passy, Jan. 8, 1783.

Dear Sir,

I received yesterday your favor of the 27th past, which I immediately answer, as you desire to know soon my opinion respecting the publication of a certain paper. I see no objection, and leave it entirely to your discretion. I have had several letters from our inestimable friend that would do him honor, as they generally contained some schemes and plans for the public good; but they were left among my papers in America, and I know not how those have fared in our troubles. If I live to get home, I will send you what I can find; they may perhaps serve in a second edition of the work, which I am much pleased to hear is undertaken by so good a hand, and that it will have the benefit of your inspection. I thank you for the pamphlet you sent me. It is full of good sense, and I doubt not had great effect, as the sentiments it contains soon after became general. Your friends on both sides the Atlantic may be assured of whatever justice or favor I may be able to procure for them. My veneration for William Penn is not less than yours; and I have always had great esteem for the body of your people. With great and sincere respect, I am, Dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

B. Franklin.

P.S. As possibly your wet harvest may have in some places produced a quantity of what is called grown corn, I send you enclosed a pamphlet published here on that subject, which may contain some useful hints.9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The autumn of 1782 had been particularly wet in France, delaying the harvest and causing some of the grain to sprout while still in the ear or after having been cut; this was the condition known in English as “grown corn.” The French government asked a committee of the Ecole gratuite de boulangerie (XXXII, 481–2) to investigate the problem and its implications for breadmaking. Cadet de Vaux submitted their report on Oct. 31, and the government soon sponsored the publication of their pamphlet, Avis sur les blés germés. Their experiments dispelled the myth that sprouted wheat itself was harmful, and they recommended that public ovens be established so that the grain could be dried before fermenting: Jour. de Paris, Nov. 19, 1782; Bachaumont, Mémoires secrets, XXI, 197. The committee’s report, “Observations sur les blés germés,” was published in the December issue of Rozier’s Jour. de physique, XX (1782), 444–50. BF’s copy of the pamphlet is at the Hist. Soc. of Pa.

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