« ZurückWeiter »
TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Passy, 6 March, 1781.
Sir, By perusing the enclosed instructions to Colonel Laurens and myself, your Excellency will see the necessity I am under of being importunate for an answer to the application lately made for aids of stores and money.* As vessels are about to depart for America, it is of the utmost importance, that the Congress should receive advice by some of them, of what may or may not be expected. I therefore earnestly entreat your Excellency to communicate to me, as soon as possible, the necessary information. With sincere esteem, I am, &,c. B. Franklin.
TO FELIX NOGARET.
French Translation of a Latin Verse complimentary to Dr. Franklin.
Passy, 8 March, 1781.
Sir, I received the letter you have done me the honor of writing to me the 2d instant, wherein, after overwhelming me with a flood of compliments, which I can never hope to merit, you request my opinion of your translation of a Latin verse, that has been applied to me.f If I were, which I really am not, sufficiently skilled in your excellent language, to be a proper judge of its poesy, the supposition of my being the subject, must restrain me from giving any opinion on that line, except that it ascribes too much to me, especially in what relates to the tyrant; the revolution having been the work of many able and brave men, wherein it is sufficient honor for me if I am allowed a small share. I am much obliged by the favorable sentiments you are pleased to entertain of me; and I shall be glad to see your remarks on Gay's Fan, as well as your own poem on the same subject. With regard, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
* For a history of Colonel John Laurens's mission to France, see Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. IX. pp. 195-249.
f Alluding to the Latin line, which was first applied to Dr. Franklin by M. Turgot, and of which he is said to have been the author.
"Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyronnis."
The original conception was probably suggested by a line in the JLslronomicon of Manilius, (Lib. I. 104,) where the poet is speaking of Epicurus.
"Eripuit Jovi fulmen, viresque tonandi."
M. Nogaret's translation was accompanied by critical remarks. The following is an extract from his letter.
"Les Français, votre Excellence le sçait, ont fait tous leurs efforts pour traduire ce vers Latin où l'on vous rend justice en si peu de mots. Ils ont paru aussi jaloux de transporter cet éloge dans leur langue, qu'ils le sont de vous posséder. Cependant personne n'a réussi, et je crois qu'on ne réussira pas. Car de ces deux vers, insérés comme des meilLeurs dans ISMmanach des Muses de l'année dernière;
'Cet homme que tu vois, sublime en tous les teins,
le premier est de trop. Le second vers est passable. Il serait bon, si, au lieu de dérobe, il y avait arrache. Mais ce seul vers ne suffit pas. Le sens n'est pas plein. Il faudrait un nom ou un pronom; et ni l'un ni l'autre n'y peut entrer; autrement le vers n'y serait plus. Aurait,on à peu près l'équivalent du Latin, si l'on disait,
'On l'a vu désarmer les tyrans et les dieux'?
"Puisque le laconisme est nécessaire, voilà ce que je proposerais au graveur. Les images du sceptre et de la foudre disparaissent en apparence dans cette traduction; mais je pense qu'elles n'échappent point aux yeux de la reflexion. Désarmer Jupiter, c'est lui ôter sa foudre. Calo dit beaucoup dans le Latin. Cieux ne le rendrait point J'y supplée par des êtres. Je ne dis pas que la physique y gagne, mais la poésie n'y perd pas." ■ In reply to Dr. Franklin's answer, some time afterwards, M. Nogaret
TO M. DE RAYNEVAL, SECRETARY TO THE COUNCIL OF STATE.
Supplies wanted in America.
Passy, 11 March, 1781.
Sir, I have examined the list of supplies wanted in America, which I received yesterday from you, in order to mark, as desired, what may be most necessary to forward thither. As that list is of old date, and I do not know what part of it may have been already procured by other channels, and I understand by my letters that a new list has been made out, which is given to Colonel Laurens, and, though mentioned to be sent to me also, is not yet come to my hands, I have thought it may be well for the present to order the making of a quantity of soldiers' and officers' clothing, equal to one third part of what has been demanded from page 31 to page 42 inclusive; and to collect and get ready also one third of the other articles mentioned in the said pages, which I have marked with a red line in the margin, the whole to be sent by the first good opportunity.
said; "Paris est content de la traduction de votre Eripvài, et votre
"Tu vois le sage courageux,
Among Dr. Franklin's papers I find the following paraphrastic ver ■ion from an unknown hand.
"Franklin sut arrêter la foudre dans les airs,
It was likewise translated into English by Mr. Elphinaton.
"He snatched the bolt from Heaven's avenging hand,
I think it would be well also to send five thousand more good fusils, with fifty tons of lead, and two hundred thousand flints for fusils. If these could go with the fleet, it would be of great service. More powder is not necessary to be sent at present, as there goes in the Marquis de Lafayette the remainder of the two thousand barrels granted last year, and also two hundred tons of saltpetre, which they will make into powder. For the other articles that may be wanted, as Colonel Laurens will come fully instructed, as well by the list given to him, as from his own observation and experience in the army, and from the information he will receive from General Washington, with whom and the Marquis de Lafayette he was to consult before his departure, I conceive it will be best to wait a little for his arrival.
I return the lists, and, having by some unaccountable accident mislaid and lost the paper you gave me, containing what Count de Vergennes said to me yesterday, I must beg the favor of you to repeat it, and send it by the bearer. I am ashamed to give you this trouble, but I wish to be exact in what I am writing of it to Congress. With the greatest esteem, &c