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TO THOMAS MIFFLIN, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Dr. Franklin requests Permission of Congress to be recalled from France.
Passy, 26 December, 1783.
I congratulate you very sincerely on your appointment to that very honorable station, the Presidency of Congress. Every testimony you receive of the "public sense of your services and talents, gives me pleasure.
I have written to you a long letter on business, in my quality of minister.* This is a private letter, respecting my personal concerns, which I presume to trouble you with on the score of our ancient friendship.
In a letter of the 12th of March, 1781,1 stated my age and infirmities to the Congress, and requested they would be pleased to recall me, that I might enjoy the little left me of the evening of life in repose, and in the sweet society of my friends and family. I was answered by the then President, that, when peace should be made, if I persisted in the same request, it should be granted; I acquiesced; the preliminaries were signed in November, 1782, and I then repeated my petition.t A year is past, and I have no answer. Undoubtedly, if the Congress should think my continuing here necessary for the public service, I ought, as a good citizen, to submit to their judgment and pleasure; but, as they may easily supply my place to advantage, that cannot be the case. I suppose, therefore, that it is merely the multiplicity of more important affairs, that has put my request out of their mind. What I would then desire of you is, to put this matter in train to be moved and answered as soon as possible, that I may arrange my affairs accordingly.
* See above, p. 36.
f See a letter to Robert R. Livingston, dated December 5th, 1788. Vol. IX. p. 436.
In the first letter above mentioned, to which I beg leave to refer you, I gave a character of my grandson, William Temple Franklin, and solicited for him the favor and protection of Congress. I have nothing to abate of that character; on the contrary, I think him so much improved as to be capable of executing, with credit to himself and advantage to the public, any employment in Europe the Congress may think fit to honor him with. He has been seven years in the service, and is much esteemed by all that know him, particularly by the minister here, who, since my new disorder (the stone) makes my going to Versailles inconvenient to me, transacts our business with him in the most obliging and friendly manner. It is natural for me, who love him, to wish to see him settled before I die, in some employ that may probably be permanent; and I hope you will be so good to me, as to get that affair likewise moved and carried through in his favor.
He has, I think, this additional merit to plead, that he has served in my office as secretary several years, for the small salary of three hundred louis a year, while the Congress gave one thousand a year to the secretaries of other ministers, who had not half the employ for a secretary that I had. For it was long before a consul was sent here, and we had all that business on our hands, with a great deal of admiralty business in examining and condemning captures, taken by our cruisers and by the French cruisers under American commissions; besides the constant attendance in examining and recording the acceptances of the Congress bills of exchange, which has been, from
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the immense number, very fatiguing; with many other extra affairs, not usually occurring to other ministers, such as the care of the prisoners in England, and the constant correspondence relating to them; in all of which he served me as secretary, with the assistance only of a clerk at low wages (fifty louis a year), so that the saving has been very considerable to the public. I am, &c. B. Franklin.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Recommending Mr. Hodgson as Consul in London.
Paegy, 26 December, 1783.
Sir, If the Congress should think it fit to have a consul for the United States in London, and do not appoint one of our own countrymen to that office, I beg leave to mention the merits of Mr. William Hodgson, a merchant of that city, who has always been a zealous friend of America, was a principal promoter of the subscription for the relief of American prisoners, and chairman of the committee for dispensing the money raised by that subscription. He also took the trouble of applying the moneys I furnished him with, when the subscription was exhausted, and constantly assisted me in all the negotiations I had with the British ministers, in their favor, wherein he generally succeeded, being a man of weight and credit, very active, and much esteemed for his probity and integrity. These his services, continued steadily during the whole war, seem to entitle him to the favorable notice of Congress, when any occasion offers of doing him service or pleasure. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO MRS. MART HEWSON.
Paasy, 96 December, 1783.
In reading Mr. Viny's letter, when I received it, I missed seeing yours, which was written behind it in a corner. I thank you much for your kind offer respecting my grandson. I was fully resolved on sending him in September last, and engaged Mr. Jay, one of my colleagues, then going to England, to take him over in his company. But, when it came to be proposed to him, he showed such an unwillingness to leave me, and Temple such a fondness for retaining him, that I concluded to keep him till I should go over myself. He behaves very well, and we love him very much.
I send herewith two different French grammars, not knowing which to prefer, opinions here being divided. Your French master may take his choice, and you will present the other to my godson, as my new year's gift, with the two volumes of Synonymes Francois, an excellent work. They will be left at Mr. Hodgson's, merchant in Coleman Street, where you may have them on sending for them.
Adieu, my dear friend. I long to see you and yours, but God only knows when that may happen. I am, nevertheless, yours most affectionately,
January 1st, 1784. Health, and prosperity, and many happy years to my dear friend and her children, for whom I send the enclosed little books.
. . ,... I
TO JOHN JAY.
Passj, G "January, 1784.
I received your kind letter of the 26th past, and immediately sent that enclosed to Mrs. Jay, whom I saw a few days since with the children, all perfectly well. It is a happy thing, that the little ones are so finely past the smallpox, and I congratulate you upon it most cordially.
It is true, as you have heard, that I have the stone, but not that I have had thoughts of being cut for it. It it as yet very tolerable. It gives me no pain but when in a carriage on the pavement, or when I make some sudden quick movement. If I can prevent its growing larger, which I hope to do by abstemious living and gentle exercise, I can go on pretty comfortably with it to the end of my journey, which can now be at no great distance. I am cheerful, enjoy the company of my friends, sleep well, have sufficient appetite, and my stomach performs well its functions. The latter is very material to the preservation of health. I therefore take no drugs lest I should disorder it. You may judge that my disease is not very grievous, since I am more afraid of the medicines than of the malady.
It gives me pleasure to learn from you, that my friends still retain their regard for me. I long to see them again, but I doubt I shall hardly accomplish it. If our commission for the treaty of commerce were arrived, and we were at liberty to treat in England, I might then come over to you, supposing the English ministry disposed to enter into such a treaty.
I have, as you observe, some enemies in England, but they are my enemies as an American; I have also two or three in America, who are my enemies as a