FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790). Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 14 March 1775.
One page 229 x 183mm.
Weeks before Lexington and Concord, Franklin bids farewell to Lord Kames before his return to America. "I cannot depart without taking Leave of my dear Lord Kaims, to whose Civilities and Friendship I have been so much oblig'd, and for whom I shall ever retain the sincerest Esteam and Affection". Franklin also takes an opportunity to congratulate him on the success of his Sketches of the History of Man, "I almost envy the Abilities you continue to possess of instructing, delighting and being useful at so late a Period in Life" and subscribed at end "May every kind of Felicity attend you and your good Lady, is the sincerest parting Wish". In a postscript Franklin recommends Benjamin Duffield, a student of physics at Edinburgh to Kames. He was the son of Franklin's friend Edward Duffield, a clockmaker in Philadelphia. Franklin's last extant and most touching letter to Lord Kames, who was then 79 years old, and had just published in 1774 his most famous and popular philosophical work, Sketches of the History of Man.
Within a week, Franklin would be at sea, en route to Philadelphia aboard the Pennsylvania Packet. He arrived there on 5 May 1775 to discover that not only had hostilities already erupted in Massachusetts, but that sentiment had spread throughout the colonies. The Revolutionary War had begun and with it, the "final Revolt" he had predicted eight years before had arrived (see lot 108). Published in The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. L. W. Labaree, vol. 21 pp. 523-4. Provenance: sold by the descendants of Lord Kames, Christie's, 29 June 1995, lot 515.