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to the secretary of Mr. William Lee, who could not have had, I imagine, a fourth part of the business to go through; since my secretary, besides the writing and copying the papers relative to my common ministerial transactions, has had all those occasioned by my acting in the various employments, of judge of admiralty, consul, purchaser of goods for the public, &c. besides that, of the accepter of the congress bills, a business that requires being always at home ; bills coming by post from different ports and countries and often requiring immediate answers whether good or not; and to that end, it being necessary to examine them by the books exactly kept, of all preceding acceptations, in order to detect double presentations, which happen very frequently; the great number of these bills makes almost sufficient business for one person, and the confinement they occasion is such, that we cannot allow ourselves a day's excursion into the country, and the want of exercise has hurt our healths in several instances. The congress pay much larger salaries to some secretaries, who I believe deserve them, but not more than my grandson does; the comparatively small one I have allowed to him, his fidelity, exactitude, and address in transacting business, being really what one could wish in such an officer, and the genteel appearance a young gentleman in his station, obliges him to make, requiring at least such an income, I do not mention the extraordinary business that has been imposed upon us in this embassy, as a foundation for demanding higher salaries than others. I never solicited for a public office either for myself or any relative; yet I never refused one that I was capable of executing, when public service was in question; and I never bargained for salary, but contented myself with whatever my constituents were pleased to allow me. The congress will therefore consider every article charged in my account, distinct from the salary originally voted, not as what I presumed to insist upon, but as what I propose only for their consideration, and they will allow what they think proper. You desire an accurate estimate of those contingent expenses. I enclose copies of two letters which passed between Mr. Adams and me on the subject, and show the articles of which they consist. Their amount in different years may be found in my accounts, except the article of house rent, which has never yet been settled. M. de Chaumont, our landlord, having originally proposed to leave it till the end of the war, and then to accept for it a piece of American land from the congress, such as they might judge equivalent; if the congress did intend all contingent charges whatever to be included in the salary, and do not think proper to pay on the whole so much, in that case I would humbly suggest that the saving may be most convenient made by a diminution of the salary, leaving the contingencies to be charged, because they may necessarily be very different in different years, and in different courts. I have been the more dif-, fuse on this subject, as your letter gave occasion for it, and it is probably the last time I shall mention it.
Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to congress; assure them of my best services, and believe me to be with sincere esteem, &c.
B. FRANKLIN. P. S. As you will probably lay this letter before congress, I take the liberty of joining to it an extract of my letter to the president, of the 12th March, 1781, and of repeating my request therein contained, relative to my grandson. I enclose likewise extracts of letters from Messrs. Jay and Laurens, which both shew the regard those gentlemen have for him, and their desire of his being noticed by the congress.
Dr. Franklin, to the President of Congress.
Passy, March 12, 1782. Extract, &c. 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 sometime or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also that the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant attendance at home which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange, (a matter foreign to my ministeriat functions) to answer letters, and perform other parts of my employment, prevent my taking the air and exercise which my annual journies formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health. There are many other little personal attentions which the infirmi. ties of age render necessary to an old man's comfort, even perhaps 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, an honor sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition, and I have now 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 knowlege 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 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 necessary 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 judgment above his years. Great diligence and exact probity, a genteel address, a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowlege 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, for though he is now of age, a few years more of experience will not be amiss. In the meantime, if they shall 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 eonduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment as a favor to me.
Extract of a letter from John Jay, Esq. to the President of Congrèges
on the same subject.
Madrid, April 25, 1781.
(PUBLIC.) THE letters herewith enclosed from Doctor Franklin, were left open for my perusal; the short stay of my courier at Paris not allowing time for copies to be made of the information conveyed in and with it.
I perceive that Doctor 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 he enjoys throughout Europe, has been of general uše tô our cause and country
Fxtract of a letter from John Jay, Esq.
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 peru. sal, 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 age, and there is an acuteness and sena tentious 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 acknowleged, 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.