« ZurückWeiter »
duly honored; but it was desired they might be drawn gradually as the money should be wanted, and as much time given for the payment after sight as conveniently could be, that the payment might be more easy.
I assured the minister, that the Congress would be very sensible of this token of his Majesty's continued goodness towards the United States; but remarked, that it was not the usage with us for the general to draw, and proposed that it might be our treasurer, who should draw the bills for the remainder; but I was told, that it was his Majesty's order. And I afterwards understood, from the Secretary of the Council, that, as the sum was intended for the supply of the army, and could not be so large as we had demanded for general occasions, it was thought best to put it into the General's hands, that it might not get into those of the different boards or committees, who might think themselves under a necessity of diverting it to other purposes. There was no room to dispute on this point, every donor having the right of qualifying his gifts with such terms as he thinks proper.
I took with me the invoice; and, having examined it, I returned it immediately with a letter, of which a copy is enclosed; and I suppose its contents will be followed, unless Colonel Laurens on his arrival should make any changes. I hope he and Colonel Palfrey are safe, though, as yet, not heard of.*
After the discourse relating to the aid was ended, the minister proceeded to inform me, that the courts of Petersburg and Vienna had offered their mediation;
Colonel William Palfrey, for some time paymaster-general of the Continental army, had been appointed consul-general to France by Congress, but was lost at sea on his passage.
that the King had answered, that it would to him personally be agreeable, but that he could not yet accept it, because he had allies whose concurrence was necessary; and that his Majesty desired I would acquaint the Congress with this offer and answer, and urge their sending such instructions as they may think proper to their plenipotentiary, it being not doubted that they would readily accept the proposed mediation, from their own sense of its being both useful and necessary. I mentioned, that I supposed Mr. Adams was already furnished with instructions relating to any treaty of peace, that might be proposed.
I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself; a subject with which I have not often troubled the Congress. I have passed my seventy-fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout, which I had the last winter, has shaken me exceedingly, and I am yet far from having recovered the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do not know that my mental faculties are impaired; perhaps I shall be the last to discover that; but I am sensible of great diminution in my activity, a quality I think particularly necessary in your minister for this court. I am afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also, that the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant aitendance at home, which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange (a matter foreign to my ministerial functions), to answer letters, and form other parts of my employment, prevents my taking the air and exercise, which my annual journeys formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health. There are many other little personal attentions, which the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man's comfort, even in
some degree to the continuance of his existence, and with which business often interferes.
I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed public confidence, in some shape or other, during the long term of fifty years, and honor sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition; and I have no other left but that of repose, which I hope the Congress will grant me, by sending some person to supply my place. At the same time, I beg they may be assured, that it is not any the least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and simply the reasons above mentioned. And, as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage (the last having been almost too much for me), and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose to remain here at least till the peace; perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life; and, if any knowledge or experience I have acquired here may be thought of use to my successor, I shall freely communicate it, and assist him with any influence I may be supposed to have, or counsel that may be desired of me.*
I have one request more to make, which, if I have served the Congress to their satisfaction, I hope they will not refuse me; it is, that they will be pleased to take under their protection my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I have educated him from his infancy,
In a letter to the President of Congress, dated at Madrid, April 25th, 1781, Mr. Jay said; "I perceive Dr. Franklin desires to retire. This circumstance calls upon me to assure Congress, that I have reason to be perfectly satisfied with his conduct towards me, and that I have received from him all the aid and attention I could wish or expect. His character is very high here, and I really believe that the respectability, which he enjoys throughout Europe, has been of general use to our cause and country."
and I brought him over with an intention of placing him where he might be qualified for the profession of the law; but the constant occasion I had for his services as a private secretary during the time of the Commissioners, and more extensively since their departure, has induced me to keep him always with me; and indeed, being continually disappointed of the secretary Congress had at different times intended me, it would have been impossible for me, without this young gentleman's assistance, to have gone through the business incumbent on me. He has therefore lost so much of the time necessary for law studies, that I think it rather advisable for him to continue, if it may be, in the line of public foreign affairs; for which he seems qualified by a sagacity and judgment above his years, and great diligence and activity, exact probity, a genteel address, a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowledge of business to be obtained by a four years' constant employment in the secretary's office, where he may be said to have served a kind of apprenticeship.
After all the allowance I am capable of making for the partiality of a parent to his offspring, I cannot but think he may in time make a very able foreign minister for Congress, in whose service his fidelity may be relied on. But I do not at present propose him as such, for though he is now of age, a few years more of experience will not be amiss. In the mean time, if they should think fit to employ him as a secretary to their minister at any European court, I am persuaded they will have reason to be satisfied with his conduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment, as a favor to me.
My accounts have been long ready for the examination of some person to be appointed for that purpose.
Mr. Johnson having declined it, and Mr. Dana residing at present at Paris, I requested him to undertake it, and to examine at the same time those of Mr. Deane; but he also declines it, as being unacquainted with accounts. If no fresh appointment has been made by Congress, I think of desiring Mr. Palfrey to perform that service when he arrives, which I hope will be -approved, for I am uneasy at the delay. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THE BOARD OF ADMIRALTY.
Account of the Squadron and Expedition of Paul Jones.- Disposition of the Prizes.- Captain Lan
Passy, 17 March, 1781.
I received the honor of yours, dated January the 2d, containing sundry questions relating to the ship Alliance, and the expedition under the command of John Paul Jones.
I apprehend, that the letters and papers sent by the Alliance, if they came to your hands, and those which went in the Ariel, taken together, would pretty well inform you on the most of the particulars you inquire about; and the deficiencies might be supplied by Captain Jones himself, and others, who were engaged in the expedition. But, as I learn from Colonel Laurens, that his arrival was not heard of at Boston the 11th of February, though he sailed the 18th of December, and possibly he may have miscarried, I shall endeavour to answer as well as I can your several queries,