Also in April 1750
1st : The Swedish explorer and scientist
Pehr Osbeck, a student of the botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, begins his log as he sets out on the ship Prins Carl to China, where he will study the fauna and flora. Over the next two years, he assembles details of over 600 species to contribute to Linnaeus’s Species Plantarum.
12th: As his groundbreaking experiments with electricity gather pace, the great American scientist, author and statesman Benjamin Franklin pauses to take stock of his life in a letter to his mother Abiah. ‘I would rather have it said “He lived usefully” than “He died rich”,’ he concludes. His correspondence later in the year will contain details of his idea for installing lightning rods to protect buildings from fire and, less auspiciously, his experience of suffering a shock while trying to electrocute a turkey. 13th: Eight years and several disappointingly received performances after its premiere in Dublin, Handel’s Messiah at last finds favour with a London audience when it is sung at Covent Garden. Another performance will soon follow when, on 1 May, a concert is given for the benefit of the London Foundling Hospital, the first of what will thereafter become an annual charity event.
17th: Prussia’s Frederick II (‘the Great’) announces the Generalprivileg, a measure that, while incorporating the Jews into the state’s bureaucratic and legal systems, also severely limits their freedom and opportunities. As well as placing limits on the number of Jews that can enjoy Prussian citizenship, it also imposes segregation on them, forces them to pay higher taxes than other citizens and forbids them to engage in trades run by guilds.
Flower power: Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus