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belonging to Hull, both of which were taken. The first had on board staves, tar, turpentine, and claret; the other cognac brandy and flaxseed. There is some difficulty in determining what to do with them; as they are scarce worth sending to America, and the mind of the French court, with regard to prizes brought into their ports, is not yet known. It is certainly contrary to their treaties with Britain to permit the sale of them, and we have no regular means of trying and condemning them. There are, however, many here, who would purchase prizes; we having already had several offers from persons who are willing to take upon themselves all consequences as to the illegality. Captain Wickes, as soon as he can get his refreshment, intends to cruise in the Channel.
Our friends in France have been a good deal dejected with the Gazette accounts of advantages obtained against us by the British troops. I have helped them here to recover their spirits a little, by assuring them, that we still face the enemy, and were under no apprehension of their armies being able to complete their junction. I understand that Mr. Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr. Deane is still there, and that an underhand supply is obtained from the government of two hundred brass fieldpieces, thirty thousand firelocks, and some other military stores, which are now shipping for America, and will be convoyed by a ship of war. The court of England (M. Penet tells me, from whom I have the above intelligence,) had the folly to demand Mr. Deane to be delivered up, but were refused.
Our voyage, though not long, was rough, and I feel myself weakened by it; but I now recover strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any publie character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the court is ready and willing to receive ministers publicly from the Congress; that we may neither embarrass it on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other. I have despatched an express to Mr. Deane, with the letters that I had for him from the Committee, and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In the mean time I find it generally supposed here, that I am sent to negotiate; and that opinion appears to give great pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civilities I meet with from numbers of the principal people, who have done me the honor to visit me.
I have desired Mr. Deane, by some speedy and safe means, to give Mr. Lee notice of his appointment. I find several vessels here laden with military stores for America, just ready to sail. On the whole, there is the greatest prospect that we shall be well provided for another campaign, and much stronger than we were last. A Spanish fleet has sailed with seven thousand land forces foot, and some horse. Their destination is unknown, but supposed against the Portuguese in Brazil. Both France and England are preparing strong fleets, and it is said, that all the powers of Europe are preparing for war, apprehending that a general one cannot be very far distant. When I arrive at Paris, I shall be able to write with more certainty. I beg you to present my duty to Congress, and assure them of my most faithful endeavours in their service. With the sincerest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. Franklin.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.
Nantes, 8 December, 1776.
After a short but rough passage of thirty days, we anchored in Quiberon Bay, the wind not suiting to enter the Loire. Captain Wickes did every thing in his power to make the voyage comfortable to me; and I was much pleased with what I saw of his conduct as an officer, when on supposed occasions we made preparation for engagement, the good order and readiness, with which it was done, being far beyond my expectations, and I believe equal to any thing of the kind in the best ships of the King's fleet. He seems to have also a very good set of officers under him. I hope they will all in good time be promoted. He met and took two prizes, brigantines, one belonging to Cork, laden with staves, pitch, tar, turpentine, and claret; the other to Hull, with a cargo of flaxseed and brandy. The captains have made some propositions of ransom, which, perhaps, may be accepted, as there is yet no means of condemning them here, and they are scarce worth sending to America. The ship is yet in Quiberon Bay, with her prizes. I came hither from thence, seventy miles, by land. I am made extremely welcome here, where America has many friends. As soon as I have recovered strength enough for the journey, which I hope will be in a very few days, I shall set out for Paris. My letter to the President will inform you of some other particulars. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. December 10th. I have just learned that eighty pieces of cannon, all brass, with carriages, braces,
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and every thing fit for immediate service, were embarked in a frigate from Havre, which is sailed; the rest were to go in another frigate of thirty-six guns.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.
Paris, 4 January, 1777.
I arrived here about two weeks since, where I found Mr. Deane. Mr. Lee has since joined us from London. We have had an audience of the minister, Count de Vergennes, and were respectfully received. We left for his consideration a sketch of the proposed treaty.* We are to wait upon him to-morrow with a strong memorial, requesting the aids mentioned in our instructions. By his advice, we have had an interview with the Spanish ambassador, Count d'Aranda, who seems well disposed towards us, and will forward copies of our memorials to his court, which will act, he says, in perfect concert with this.
Their fleets are said to be in fine order, manned and fit for sea. The cry of this nation is for us, but the court, it is thought, views an approaching war with reluctance. The press continues in England. As soon as we can receive a positive answer from these courts, we shall despatch an express with it . I am, gentlemen, &.C.
• See this sketch in the Secret Journals of Congress, Vol. II. p. 7. TO MRS. MARY HEWSON.
Paris, 12 January, 1777.
My Dear, Dear Polly,
Figure to yourself an old man, with gray hair appearing under a martin fur cap, among the powdered heads of Paris. It is this odd figure that salutes you, with handfulls of blessings on you and your dear little ones.
On my arrival here, Mademoiselle Biheron gave me great pleasure in the perusal of a letter from you to her. It acquainted me that you and yours were well in August last. I have with me here my young grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, a special good boy. I shall give, him a little French language and address, and then send him over to pay his respects to Miss Hewson. My love to all that love you, particularly to dear Dolly. I am ever, my dear friend, your affectionate B. Franklin.
P. S. Temple, who attends me here, presents his respects. I must contrive to get you to America. I want all my friends out of that wicked country. I have just seen in the paper seven paragraphs about me, of which six were lies.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Pans, 20 January, 1777.
Dear Sir, The bearer, Captain Balm, is strongly recommended to me as a very able officer of horse, and capable of being extremely useful to us, in forming a body of men for that service. As he has otherwise an excellent character, I take the liberty of recommending him