Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

gome of (heir transport vessels and store-ships. This little naval force we are about to augment, and expect it may be more considerable in the next summer.

We have hitherto applied to no foreign power. We are using the utmost industry in endeavoring to make saltpetre, and with daily increasing success. Our artificers are also everywhere busy in fabricating small arms, casting cannon, &c. yet both arms and ammunition are much wanted. Any merchants who would venture to send ships laden with those articles, might make great profit; such is the demand in every colony, and such generous prices are and will be given; of which, and of the manner of conducting such a voyage, the bearer, Mr. Storey, can more fully inform you: and whoever brings in those articles is allowed to carry off' the value in provisions to our West Indies, where they will probably fetch a very high price, the general exportation from North America being stopped. This you will see more particularly in a printed resolution of the congress.

We are in great want of good engineers, and wish you could engage and send us two able ones, in time for the next campaign, one acquainted with field service, sieges, 8cc. and the other with fortifying of sea-ports. They will, if well recommended, be made very welcome, and have honorable appointments, besides the expenses of their voyage hither, in which Mr. Storey can also advise them. As what we now request of you, besides biking up your time, may put you to some expense, we send you for the present, enclosed, a bill for one hundred pounds sterling to defray such expenses, and desire you to be assured that your seivices will be considered and honorably rewarded by the congress.

We desire, also, that you would take the trouble of receiving from Arthur Lee, esq. agent fo* the congress in England, such letters as may be sent by him to your care, and of forwarding them to us- with your dispatches. When you have occasion to write to him to inform him of any thiug, which it may be of importance that our friends there should be acquainted with, please to send your letters to him, under cover, directed to Mr. Alderman Lee, merchant, on Tower-hill, London; and. do not send it by post, but by some trusty shipper, or other prudent person, who will deliver it with his own hand. And when you send to us, if you have not a direct safe opportunity, we recommend sending by way of St. Eustatia, to the care of Messrs. Robert and Cornelius Stevenson, merchants there, who will forward your dispatches to me. With sincere and great esteem and respect, I am, sir, &c. B. Franklin.

To John Hancock, Esq. President Op Congress.

Account of Dr. Franklin's voyage to FranceTakes two prizes.

Sir, Nantes, Dec. 8, 1776.

In thirty days after we left the capes of Delaware, we came to an anchor in Quiberon Bay. I remained on board four days, expecting a change of wind proper to carry the ship into the river Loire; but the wind seeming fixed in an opposite quarter, I landed at Auray, and with difficulty got hither, the road not being well supplied with means of conveyance. Two days before we saw land, we met a brigantine from Bordeaux belonging to Cork, and another from Rochefort belonging to Hull, both of which were taken. The first has on board staves, tar, turpentine, and claret: the other, Coniac brandy and flax-seed. There is some difficulty in determining what to do with them, as they are scarce wortb sending to America, and the mind of the French court with regard to prizes brought into their porta, 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 refreshments, intends a 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 apprehensions of their two armies being able to complete their junction.

I understand 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 field pieces, 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, Mr. Penet tells me (from whom I have the above intelligence) had the folly to demand Mr. Deane t» 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 public 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 her on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other, I have dispatched an express to Mr. Dearie, with the letters 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, 1 find it is generally supposed here, that 1 am sent to negociate, and that opinion appears to give great pleasure, if I ran judge by the extreme civilities I meet with from numbers of the principal people who have done me the honor to visit me. 1 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; oh the whole there is the greatest prospect that we shall be well 'provided for another campaign, and much stronger than we were the last. A Spanish fleet has sailed, with seven thousand land forces, foot, and some horse, their destination not known, 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 a general one cannot be very distant. When I arrive at Paris, 1 shall be able to write with more certainty. I beg you to present my duty to the congress, and assure them of my most faithful endeavors in their service. With the sincerest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. Franklin.

To The Secret Committee Of Congress.

Same subject as the preceding.

Gentlemen, Nantes, Dec. 8, 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 bis power to make the voyage comfortable to me; and 1 was much

. J 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 flax-seed 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 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 1 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.

B. Franklin.

P. S. December 10th. I have just learnt that eighty pieces of cannon, all brass, with carriages, braces, and every tiling 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 SAME.

Gentlemen, Paris, Jan. 4, 1777

I arrived here about two weeks since, where I found Mr. Dearie. Mr. Lee has since joined us from Lon

« ZurückWeiter »