Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Ingenhousz, 24 December 1783

To Ingenhousz

ALS: Yale University Library

Passy Dec. 24, 1783

My dear Friend,

I am greatly indebted to you for Letters.7 I shall write largely to you soon. With this I send you some American Papers, more Letters to Sir Jos. Banks, A Letter to Mr Nairne on Thermometers, & some Catalogues of Seeds.—8 I have sent the Order to America for Seeds which your Friend desired, but I fear the Vessel I sent it by is lost, not being arriv’d the 6th of last Month:9 Luckily I have a Copy which shall send by a Packet that sails the 29th. Do what you please with my Papers, and among the rest that of the Wethercock.1 I am hearty & well, except a Stone in my Bladder, which however does not yet give me much Pain. With the greatest & most sincere Esteem, I am ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Is there any dependance on dissolving Remedies for the Stone? Had I not better content myself with some Regimen that may prevent its growing?

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF last answered a group of Ingenhousz’ letters on May 16 (XL, 8–13). Since then, Ingenhousz had written on June 23, Aug. 15, Sept. 1, and Nov. 19. (The first three are in XL, 216–17, 475–84, 562–3; the fourth is above.)

8On Nov. 19, Ingenhousz acknowledged receiving a copy of BF’s first letter to Banks about balloons. BF must have now enclosed his subsequent letters of Oct. 8 and Nov. 21 [i.e., 22–25]. We have found no letters to Nairne about thermometers, but BF sent him a long letter about hygrometers on Oct. 18. We are not certain of which “Catalogues of Seeds” BF sent. They were either copies of John Bartram’s broadside list, one of which had recently arrived from RB (see XL, 593; RB to BF, Nov. 5, and Joshua Barney to BF, Dec. 19), or else they were the French translation of that catalogue, which BF had printed in Paris at some time before April, 1784. (For the French version, see XL, 593n. The only known explicit reference to it is in an April 18, 1784, letter from the abbé Nolin to Mme Helvétius: APS.) We suspect that BF had copies printed because he had received so few from Bartram and wanted to distribute them. The only element he translated was the title; otherwise, the catalogue listed plant names in Latin, leaving off the vernacular English names. It is possible that BF could have had a printer produce these sheets in time to send with the present letter to Ingenhousz.

9The source of this information was probably Capt. Joshua Barney, who left Philadelphia around Nov. 6. The order of seeds was for Count Chotek; Ingenhousz had forwarded to BF the count’s letter and bill of exchange on Sept. 1 (XL, 562). BF may have entrusted them to John Thaxter, who left Paris on Sept. 14 to carry the definitive treaty to Philadelphia. Thaxter did not arrive until Nov. 22: XL, 600; Thaxter to BF, Sept. 20 (above); Adams Correspondence, v, 235n.

1“An Attempt to explain the Effects of Lightning on the Vane of the Steeple of a Church in Cremona …”: XXXV, 548–9; XXXVII, 504–12.

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