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posing a negotiation, without authority for so doing, and has embarrassed us a little, as may be seen by some letters I enclose.* Perhaps it would be well for the Congress to send a message to that Prince, expressing their respect and regard for him, till such time as they may judge it convenient to appoint the ambassador in form, furnished with proper presents, to make a treaty with him. The other Barbary States, too, seem to require consideration, if we propose to carry on any trade in the Mediterranean; but, whether the security of that trade is of sufficient importance to be worth purchasing at the rate of the tributes usually exacted by those piratical States, is a matter of doubt, on which I cannot at present form a judgment.
I shall immediately proceed, in pursuance of the first instruction, to take the proper steps for acquainting his Imperial Majesty of Germany with the dispositions of Congress, having some reason to believe the overture may be acceptable. His minister here is of late extremely civil to me, and we are on very good terms. I have likewise an intimate friend at that court.
With respect to other powers, it seems best not to make advances at present, but to meet and encourage them when made, which I shall not fail to do, as I have already done as to those of Sweden, Denmark, and Por.ugal. Possibly Hamburg, to whom I have forwarded the letter of Congress, may send a minister to America, if they wish for a treaty, to conclude it there. They have no minister here.
I have lately received a memorial from the minister of Denmark, respecting a ship of that nation, the Providentia, taken by one of our privateers and carried into
The letters from G. F. Crocco. See Vol. IX. p. 530; and above
Boston. I enclose a copy of it, and request to be furnished with directions and informations for the answer. It may be well to send me a copy of the proceedings in the courts. From a perusal of the papers communicated with it, I am satisfied that the cargo was clearly British property.
We have hitherto entered into no engagements respecting the armed neutrality, and, in obedience to the fifth instruction, we shall take care to avoid them hereafter. The treaty between this court and the United States, for regulating the powers, privileges, &c. of consuls, is at length completed, and is transcribing in order to be signed. I hope to transmit a copy by the next packet. I have received the Congress ratification of the two money treaties, which will be soon exchanged, when I shall send copies of them with that of Sweden.
I have given, and shall continue to give, Captain Paul Jones all the assistance in my power, towards recovering the prize money; and I hope it may soon be accomplished.
When Mr. Jay returns, I shall desire him to make the inquiry directed in the fourth instruction, respecting the expedition under that commodore, and report thereon to Congress. In the mean time I can answer respecting one of the questions, that the King paid the whole expense, and that no part of it has ever been placed to the account of Congress. There exists indeed a demand of one Puchelberg, a person in the employ of M. Schweighauser, of about thirty thousand livres, for provisions and other things furnished to Captain Landais, after he took the Alliance out of the hands of Captain Jones; but, as the ship was at that time under the King's supply, who, having borrowed her for the expedition when fitted for sea and just
ready to sail with Mr. Adams, had ordered her to be delivered in the same condition, free of all charges accrued, or accruing, by her being in Holland and in L'Orient, and as M. Puchelberg had not only no orders from me to furnish Captain Landais, but acted contrary to my orders given to M. Schweighauser, and contrary to the orders of M. Schweighauser himself, I refused to pay his account, which besides appeared extravagant, and it has never yet been paid.
I shall do my best in executing the third instruction, respecting our claim upon Denmark. I have written. to London to obtain, if possible, an account of the sums insured upon the ships delivered up, as such an account may be some guide in the valuation of the prizes.
A Captain Williams, formerly in the British service, and employed upon the Lakes, has given me a paper containing information of the state of the back country. As those informations may possibly be of some use, I send herewith the paper. Mr. Carmichael has sent me the accounts of the money transactions at Madrid. As soon as Mr. Jay returns, they will be examined.
Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to Congress, and assure them of my most faithful services. With great esteem and regard, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.*
*The "Set of Instructions," alluded to in this letter may be found in the Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. X. p. 222. The resolutions respecting Hamburg and Paul Jones are contained in the Secret Journal of Congress, Vol. III. pp. 416, 430.
TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Difficulty of meeting Drafts on the public Account.
- Nature of
The Marquis de La
Passy, 25 December, 1783.
I have received your favor of the 20th of September, for which I thank you. My apprehension, that the union with France might be diminished by accounts from home, was occasioned by the extravagant and violent language held here by a public person, in public company, which had that tendency; and it was natural for me to think his letters might hold the same language, in which I was right; for I have since had letters from Boston informing me of it. Luckily here, and I hope there, it is imputed to the true cause, a disorder in the brain, which, though not constant, has its fits too frequent. I will not fill my letter with an account of those discourses. Mr. Laurens, when you see him, can give it to you; I mean such as he heard in company with other persons, for I would not have him relate private conversations. They distressed me much at the time, being then at your earnest instance soliciting for more aids of money; the success of which solicitation such ungrateful and provoking language might, I feared, have had a tendency to prevent. Enough of this at present.
I have been exceedingly hurt and afflicted by the difficulty some of your late bills met with in Holland. As soon as I received the letter from Messrs. Willinck & Co., which I enclose, I sent for Mr. Grand, who brought me a sketch of his account with you, by which
it appeared that the demands upon us, existing and expected, would more than absorb the funds in his hands. We could not indulge the smallest hope of obtaining further assistance here, the public finances being in a state of embarrassment, private persons full of distrust occasioned by the stoppage of payment at the Caisse d'Escompte, and money in general extremely scarce. But he agreed to do what I proposed, and lend his credit in the way of drawing and redrawing between Holland and Paris, to gain time till you could furnish funds to reimburse Messrs. Willinck & Co. I believe he made this proposition to them by the return of the express. I know not why it was not accepted. Mr. Grand will himself, I suppose, give you an account of all the transaction, and of his application to Messrs. Couteulx & Co.; therefore, I need not add more upon this disagreeable subject.
I have found difficulties in settling the account of salaries with the other ministers, that have made it impracticable for me to do it. I have, therefore, after keeping the bills that were to have been proportioned among us long in my hands, given them up to Mr. Grand, who, finding the same difficulties, will, I suppose, return them to you. None has come to hand for the two or three last quarters, and we are indebted to his kindness for advancing us money, or we must have run in debt for our subsistence. He risks in doing this, since he has not for it your orders.
There arise frequently contingent expenses, for which no provision has yet been made. In a former letter to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I gave a list of them, and desired to know the pleasure of Congress concerning them. I have only had for answer, that they were under consideration, and that he believed house-rent would not be allowed; but I am