Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Banks, 25 August 1783

From Joseph Banks

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Soho Square Augst. 25 83

Dear Sir

It was with regret & not without sensations of displeasure that I Learnd from Dr. Blagden in Conversation your not having receivd the Volumes of the Philosophical Transactions which as you had not appointed any one to receive them when they were publishd, were applied for in your name some months ago the Counil of the royal Society orderd them with the most perfect unanimity but I am not able to find that any one has since applied to the Clerk for their delivery.

To Obviate all dificulties however I have taken them myself & deliverd them to Mr. Elmsley Bookseller in the Strand who has already dispatchd them for paris & I hope will have an opportunity of delivering them to you about the second or third week in the next month.2

For the future sir if you chuse to appoint Any one to receive them as publishd for you they will be deliverd on application I myself will willingly undertake that office if you will tell me by whose means they may be forwarded to you.

We are anzious here to know the event of Mr. Montgolfiers experiment & that of his Competitor Should you be as much inclind to Philosophical Amusements as we wish you to be you may possibly find time to give me a Line concerning them.3 General Washington has we are told Cincinnatus like returnd to Cultivate his Garden now the emancipated States have no farther occasion for his Sword how much more glorious would it be for you to return to your more interesting more elevated & I will say more usefull pursuit of Philosophy the head of the Philosopher guides the hand of the Farmer to an more abundant Crop than nature & instinct or unguided reason could have producd he leads the sailor to riches & Luxuries which he brings home to his Countrey would I could see you abdicate the Station of Legislator to States whose internal turbulence will not I fear give to the Cool dictates of prudence & experience & return to your Friends here & to those Studies which raisd you formerly to a hight less elevated perhaps but I am sure far more satisfactory to one who loves peace & good will towards men than the Precipice on which you now stand.

Adieu good Sir be assurd that while Friends of Philosophy exist you will have abundance here Few maybe more warm than Your Faithfull & Obedient

Jos: Banks

Addressed: Dr. Franklin / &c &c &c. / Passy / near Paris

Endorsed: Sir Joseph Banks Balloons &c

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Elmsly was on his way to Paris; see his letter of Sept. 12.

3He did; see BF to Banks, Aug. 30[–Sept. 2]. Banks learned of the goings-on in Paris from Blagden, who on Aug. 23 passed along information he had just received from a French visitor. The entire city was “in an uproar about the flying machines,” he reported. Charles’s balloon was being made “upon Dr Franklin’s plan of silk covered with elastic gum”: Neil Chambers, ed., Scientific Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1765–1820 (6 vols., London, 2007), II, 124–5.

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