Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Banks, 13 September 1783

From Joseph Banks

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Soho Square Sept. 13 1783

Dear Sir

For having it in my power to Answer with precision the numerous questions which are askd me by all sorts of people Concerning the Aerostatique Experiment which such as they may be are suggested by every newspaper now printed here & considerd as a part of my duty to Answer is an Obligation for which I am indebted to you & an Obligation of no small Extent I consider it. I Lament that the vacation of the Royal Society will not permit me to Lay your paper before them as a Body immediately but it shall be the first thing they see when we meet again as the Conciseness & intelligence with which it is drawn up preclude the hopes of any more Satisfactory being receiv’d.4

Most agreeble are the hopes you give me of Continueing to Communicate on this most interesting Subject. I consider the present day which has opend a road into the Air as an epoche from whence a rapid increase of the Stock of real Knowledge with which the human Species is furnishd must take its date & the more immediate Effect it will have upon the Concerns of Mankind greater than any thing since the invention of Shipping which opend our way upon the face of the water from Land to Land.

If the rough Effort which has now been made meets with the improvement that other Sciences have done we shall see it usd as a Counterpoise to Absolute Gravity a broad wheeld waggen traveling with 2 only instead of 8 horses the breed of that Rival Animal in Course diminishd & the human species incread in proportion.

I have thought as soon as I return from my Present banishment5 of constructing one & sending it up for the purpose of an Electrical Kite a use to which it seem particularly adapted.

Be pleasd to direct your Favors to Soho Square they are sent to me without delay Whereever I am beleive me Your Obligd & Obedient Servant

Jos: Banks

Addressed: Dr. Franklin / Passy / near Paris / France

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Banks read BF’s letter of Aug. 30 and his next of Oct. 8 at the Royal Society’s meeting on Nov. 6, but they were not published in the Phil. Trans., at BF’s request: Banks to BF, Nov. 7, 1783 (University of Pa. Library); BF to Banks, Nov. 21 [i.e., 22–25], 1783 (Library of Congress).

5Banks was recuperating from recurring chest pains and a fall at his country estate, Revesby Abbey, in Lincolnshire: Harold B. Carter, Sir Joseph Banks, 1743–1820 (London, 1988), p. 185.

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