Abbildungen der Seite

no other left but the 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 abovementioned ; 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 inay 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 this, that they will be pleased to take under their protection my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I have educated him from his infancy, 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 thereby lost so much of the time pecessary to 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 judge ment above his years. Great diligence and 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 the congress, in whose service his fidelity may be relied on ; but I do not at present propose him as such, as a few years more of experience will not be amiss. In the mean time, if they shall' think fit to employ lim 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."


On the Subject of Dr. Franklin's Requests.

Madrid, April 21, 1781.

(PRIVATE.) “ By the letter from Doctor Franklin, herewith enclosed, and which he was so obliging as to leave open for my perusal, I find he has requested permission to retire, on account of his age, infirmities, &c. How far his health may be impaired I know not. The letters I have received from him, bear no marks of

and there is an acuteness and sententious brevity in them, which do not indicate an understanding injured by years. I have many reasons to think our country much indebted to him, and I confess it would mortify my pride as an American, if his constituents should be the only people to whom his character is known, that should deny his merit and services, the testimony given them by other nations. Justice demands of me to assure you, that his reputation and respectability are acknowledged, and have weight here, and that I have received from him all that uniform attention and aid which was due to the importance of the affairs committed to me.


The affectionate mention he makes of his only descendant, on whom the support of his name and family will devolve, is extremely amiable, and flows in a delicate manner from that virtuous sensibility by which nature kindly extends the benefits of parental affection, to a period beyond the limits of our lives ; this is an affectionate subject, and minds susceptible of the finer sensations, are insensibly led at least to wish that the feelings of an ancient patriot, going in the evening of a long life early devoted to the public, to enjoy repose in the bosom of philosophic retirement, may be gratified by seeing some little sparks of the affection of bis country rest on the only support of his age and hope of his family. Such are the effusions of my heart on this occasion, and I pour them into yours from a persuasion that they will meet with a hospitable reception from congenial emotions."

Colonel John LAURENS,' to Dr. Franklin.

On Dr. Franklin's Wish to retire. His Grandson. EXTRACT, Leagues W. of Ortegal, June 9, 1781. “ I snatch a moment to pay my

last • Son of President Laurens, and employed in a secret military mission to France.

respects to

your Excellency, and to mention a matter which has occurred to me since my being on board. I have frequently reflected upon the mention which your Excellency has made of retiring from your present important station, and have never varied the opinion which I took the liberty of giving you once at the Count de Vergénnes', viz. that the best arrangement would be to give your Excellency an active, intelligent secretary of the embassy, who might relieve you from the drudgery of office; and that your country should not be deprived of the advantages of your wisdom and influence. The difficulty hitherto has been to find a person properly qualified. The advantages which your grandson derives from his knowledge of the language, and manners of the people, and his having been so long in your office, and with your Excellency, are very great. The prejudices which have been entertained against him (owing to his father's politics and situation) may be removed by a personal introduction to congress, especially if it is combined with rendering a popular service. I take the liberty therefore," &c.


EXTRACT. Answer to the foregoing: Dear SIR,

Passy, Nov. 8, 1781. “ I received your very kind letter written at sea off the coast of Spain. I thank you for the friendly hint contained in it respecting my grandson: I see that what you propose for him might have a good effect; but I have too much occasion for his assistance, and cannot spare him to make the voyage. He must take his chance, and I hope he will in time obtain, as well as merit, the consideration of our government.” B. FRANKLIN.


To the Marquis De La FAYETTE. Respecting Dr. Franklin's Enemies, in America.--The

English Nation.-M. La Motte-Piquet.

Passy, Mar. 14, 1781. “ You mention my having enemies in America. You are luckier, for I think you have none here, nor any where. Your friends have heard of your being gone against the traitor Arnold, and are anxious to hear of your success, and that you have brought him to justice. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from his agent in England, by which the price of his treason may be nearly guessed at. Judas sold only one man, Arnold three millions ; Judas got for his one man 30 pieces of silver, Arnold not a halfpenny a head. A miserable bargainer ! Especially when one considers the quantity of infamy he has acquired to himself, and entailed on his family.

The English are in a fair way of gaining still more enemies; they play a desperate game. Fortune may favour them as it sometimes does a drunken dicer. But by their tyranny in the east they have at length roused the powers there against them; and I do not know that they have in the west a single friend. If they lose their India 'commerce, which is one of their present great supports, and one battle at sea, their credit is gone and the power follows. Thus empires by pride, and folly, and extrava

« ZurückWeiter »