Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Banks, 30 November 1783

To Joseph Banks

ALS: British Library; press copy of ALS: Harvard University Library

Passy, Nov. 30. 1783—

Dear Sir,

I did myself the honour of writing to you the Beginning of last Week, and I sent you by the Courier, M. Faujas’s Book upon the Balloons, which I hope you have receiv’d.4 I did hope to have given you to day an Account of Mr Charles’s grand Balloon, which was to have gone up yesterday; but the filling it with inflammable Air having taken more time than had been calculated, it is deferr’d till to-morrow. I send you herewith a Paper in which you will see what was propos’d by Messrs. Robert who constructed the Machine; and some other Papers relative to the same Subject, the last of which is curious, as containing the Journal of the first Aerial Voyage perform’d by Men.—5 I purpose being present to-morrow at the Experiment, and shall give you an Acct of it by the Wednesday’s Post. With sincere & great Esteem, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedt humble Servt.

B Franklin

Sir Jos. Banks Bart.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See BF to Banks, Nov. 21 [i.e., 22–25].

5The enclosures are lost, but among them must have been at least three issues of the Jour. de Paris: the Nov. 19 issue containing the Robert brothers’ prospectus, the Nov. 27 issue containing a long poem and several letters in praise of the Montgolfier experiment of Nov. 21 (including one from Le Roy suggesting that the aeronauts be awarded gold medals), and the Nov. 29 issue containing the journal BF mentions here, “Lettre de M. le Marquis D’Arlandes à M. Faujas de St. Fond.” Other issues included announcements by the Robert brothers of their plans for what BF here calls “Mr Charles’s grand Balloon.” In letters to the editor published on Nov. 26 and 28, the brothers, still trying to sell tickets, set the date of their experiment for Saturday, Nov. 29. That day they issued a brief announcement that the experiment was postponed until Monday, Dec. 1. As BF knew, they had underestimated the time and effort required to fill the balloon, even with the help of an improved hydrogen generator: Faujas de Saint-Fond, Premiere suite de la description des expériences aérostatiques … (Paris, 1784), pp. 37–9.

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