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I enclose some extracts of letters from two French officers of distinction in the army of M. de Rochambeau, which are pleasing, as they mark the good intelligence that subsists between the troops, contrary to the reports circulated by the English. They will do perhaps for your Leyden Gazette. With great esteem and affection, I am ever, &.c.
TO JOHN JAY.
Money obtained in France to meet the Drafts of Congress.
Passy, 2 October, 1780.
I received duly and in good order the several letters you have written to me of August 16th, 19th, September 8th and 22d. The papers that accompanied them of your writing gave me the pleasure of seeing the affairs of our country in such good hands, and the prospect, from your youth, of its having the service of so able a minister for a great number of vears. But the little success that has attended your Lte applications for money mortified me exceedingly; and the storm of bills, which I found coming upon us both, has terrified and vexed me to such a degree, that I have been deprived of sleep, and so much indisposed by continual anxiety, as to be rendered almost incapable of writing.
At length I got over a reluctance that was almost invincible, and made another application to the government here for more money. I drew up and presented a state of debts and newly expected demands, and requested its aid to extricate me. Judging from your letters, that you were not likely to obtain any thing considerable from your court, I put down in my estimate the twenty-five thousand dollars drawn upon you, with the same sum drawn upon me, as what would probably come to me for payment. I have now the pleasure to acquaint you, that my memorial was received in the kindest and most friendly manner; and, though the court here is not without its embarrassments on account of money, I was told to make myself easy, for that I should be assisted with what was necessary.
Mr. Searle arriving about this time, and assuring me there had been a plentiful harvest, and great crops of all kinds; that the Congress had demanded of the several States contributions in produce, which would be cheerfully given; that they would therefore have plenty of provisions to dispose of; and, I being much pleased with the generous behaviour just experienced, I presented another paper, proposing, in order to ease the government here, which had been so willing to ease us, that the Congress might furnish their army in America with provisions in part of payment for the services lent us. This proposition, I was told, was well taken; but, it being considered, that, the States having the enemy in their country, and obliged to make great expenses for the present campaign, the furnishing so much provisions as the French army might need, might straiten and be inconvenient to the Congress, his Majesty did not at this time think it right to accept the offer. You will not wonder at my loving this good prince; he will win the hearts of all America.
If you are not so fortunate in Spain, continue however the even good temper you have hitherto manifested. Spain owes us nothing; therefore, whatever friendship she shows us in lending money, or furnishing clothes, &.c, though not equal to our wants and wishes, is however tant de gagne. Those, who have begun to assist us, are more likely to continue than to decline, and we are still so much obliged as their aids amount to. But I hope and am confident, that court will be wiser than to take advantage of our distress, and insist on our making sacrifices by an agreement, which the circumstances of such distress would hereafter weaken, and the very proposition can only give disgust at present. Poor as we are, yet, as I know we shall be rich, I would rather agree with them to buy at a great price the whole of their right on the Mississippi, then sell a drop of its waters. A neighbour might as well ask me to sell my street door.
I wish you could obtain an account of what they have supplied us with already in money and goods.
Mr. Grand, informing me, that one of the bills drawn on you, having been sent from hence to Madrid, was come back unaccepted, I have directed him to pay it; and he has, at my request, undertaken to write to the Marquis D'Yranda, to assist you with money to answer such bills as you are not otherwise enabled to pay, and to draw on him for the amount; which drafts I shall answer here as far as twenty-five thousand dollars. If you expect more, acquaint me. But pray write to Congress, as I do, to forbear this practice, which is so extremely hazardous, and may, some time or other, prove very mischievous to their credit and affairs. I have undertaken, too, for the bills drawn on Mr. Laurens, that have yet appeared. He was to have sailed three days after Mr. Searle, that is, the 18th of July. Mr. Searle begins to be in pain for him, having no good opinion of the little vessel he was to embark in.
We have letters from America to the 7th of August. The spirit of our people was never higher. Vast exertions making are preparatory for some important action; great harmony and affection between the troops of the two nations; the new money in good credit, &c.
I will write to you again shortly, and to Mr. Carmichael. I shall now be able to pay up your salaries complete for the year; but, as demands unforeseen are continually coming upon me, I still retain the expectations you have given me, of being reimbursed out of the first remittances you receive.
If you find any inclination to hug me for the good news of this letter, I constitute and appoint Mrs. Jay my attorney, to receive in my behalf your embraces. With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c. B. Franklin.
TO MISS GEORGIANA SHIPLEY.
Passy, 8 October, 178a
It is long, very long, my dear friend, since I had the great pleasure of hearing from you, and receiving any of your very pleasing letters. But it is my fault. I have long omitted my part of the correspondence. Those who love to receive letters should write letters. I wish I could safely promise an amendment of that fault. But, besides the indolence attending age, and growing upon us with it, my time is engrossed by too much business; and I have too many inducements to postpone doing, what I feel I ought to do for my own sake, and what I can never resolve to omit entirely.
Your translations from Horace, as far as I can judge of poetry and translations, are very good. That of the Qiib, quo scelesti ruitis ? is so suitable to the times, that the conclusion, (in your version,) seems to threaten like a prophecy; and methinks there is at least some appearance of danger that it may be fulfilled. I am unhappily an enemy, yet I think there has been enough of blood spilt, and I wish what is left in the veins of that once loved people, may be spared by a peace solid and everlasting.
It is a great while since I have heard any thing of the good bishop. Strange, that so simple a character should sufficiently distinguish one of that sacred body! Donnez-moi de ses nouvelles. I have been some time flattered with the expectation of seeing the countenance of that most honored and ever beloved friend, delineated by your pencil. The portrait is said to have been long on the way, but is not yet arrived; nor can I hear where it is.
Indolent as I have confessed myself to be, I could not, you see, miss this good and safe opportunity of sending you a few lines, with my best wishes for your happiness, and that of the whole dear and amiable family in whose sweet society I have spent so many happy hours. Mr. Jones* tells me, he shall have a pleasure in being the bearer of my letter, of which I make no doubt. I learn from him, that to your drawing, and music, and painting, and poetry, and Latin, you have added a proficiency in chess; so that you are, as the French say, remplie de talens. May they and you fall to the lot of one, that shall duly value them, and love you as much as I do. Adieu.
* Afterwards Sir William Jones; see above, p. 3C6.