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Here are returned in the last cartel a number of French sailors, who had engaged with captain Cunningham, were taken in coming home with one of his prizes, and have been near two years in English prisons. They demand their wages and share of prize money. I send their claim as taken before the officers of the classes at Dunkirk. I know nothing of the agreement, they allege was made with them. Mr. Hodge perhaps can settle the affair so that they may have justice done them. These sort of things give me a great deal of trouble. Several of these men have made personal applications to me, and I must hear all their stories though I cannot redress them., I enclose also the claim of two gunners upon a prize made by the Boston, captain Tucker. I am persuaded the congress wish to see justice done to the meanest stranger that has served them: it is justice that establisheth a nation. The Spanish ambas. sador here delivered me several complaints against our cruizers. I imagine that all the injuries complained of, are not justly chargeable to us; some of the smaller English cruizers having pillaged Spanish vessels under American colors, of which we have proof upon oath. And also that no such American privateers as are said to have committed these robberies after coming out of Nantes, have ever been known there, or in any other part of France, or even to have existed. But if any of the complaints are well founded, I have assured the ambassador, that the guilty will be punished, and reparation made. The Swedish ambassador also complains of the taking of a ship of his nation by captain Landais, the master of which lays his damages at sixty thousand livres. I understand it was his own fault that he was stopt, as he did not shew his papers. Perhaps this, if proved, may enable us to avoid the damages.
Since writing the above, I have received the following farther particulars of the action between commodore Jones and the English men of war. The 44 gun ship is new, having been but six months off the stocks, she is called the Serapis; the other of 20 guns is the Countess of Scarborough. He had before taken a number of valuable prizes, particu larly a rich ship bound to Quebec, which we suppose
he may have sent to America. The English from mistaken intelligence, imagining he had a body of troops with him to make descents, have had all their northern coasts alarmed, and been put to very expensive movements of troops, &c. The extravagant luxury of our country in the midst of all its distresses, is to me amazing; when the difficulties are so great to find remittances to pay for the arms and ammunition necessary for our defence, I am astonished and vexed to find upon inquiry, that much the greatest part of the congress interest bills come to pay for tea, and a great part of the remainder is ordered to be laid out in gewgaws and superfluities. . It makes me grudge the trouble of examining, entering, and accepting them, which indeed takes a great deal of time. I yesterday learnt from M. de Monthieu, that every thing necessary for equipping two frigates of 36 guns, such as sailcloth, cordage, anchors, &c. which we sent to the congress from hence two years since, remained stored in the warehouses of his correspondent, Mr. Carrabass, at Cape Francois, having never been called for. Probably by the miscarriage of letters, the navy board never heard of those goods being there. I shall nevertheless leave the application I have lately made for materials for a frigate of 36 guns, to take its course. But I send you herewith copies e of two invoices of the cargo of the Therese; one of which is what was sent by us, the other by M. Beaumarchais, to the end that enquia ry may be made after the whole. On this occasion give me leave to remark, that of all the vast quantities of goods we have sent you by many different vessels since my being in France, we never were happy enough to receive the least scrip of acknowlegement that they had ever come to hand, except from Mr. Langdon, of a cargo arrived at Portsmouth, and I think of one more. This is doubtless owing to the interruption correspondence has met with, and not altogether to neglect. But as such advices of receipt
e This paper does not appear,
may be made in short letters, it would be well to send more copies. The following is a matter of less importance. It is two years, I believe, since I sent the monument of general Montgomery. I have heard that the vessel arrived in North Carolina, but nothing more. I should be glad to know of its coming to hand, and whether it is approved. Here it was admired for the goodness and beauty of the marble, and the elegant simplicity of the design, the sculptor has had an engraving made of it, of which I enclose a copyf. It was contrived to be affixed to the wall within some church, or in the great room where the congress meet. Directions for putting it up went with it. All the parts were well packed in strong cases.
With the greatest respect, &c.
B. FRANKLIN. P. S. October 28, I kept the packet in hopes of sending a more explicit account of what might be expected in regard to the supplies. The express which was daily looked for from Spain, when I began this letter, arrived but a few days since. I am now informed that court is understood to be in treaty with the congress in America, to furnish a sum of hard money there, and on that account excuses itself from sharing in the expense of furnishing these supplies. This has a little deranged the measures intended to be taken here, and I am now told, that the whole quantity of goods demanded can hardly be furnished, but that as soon as the court returns from Marly, the ministers will consult and do the best they can for us. The arms I hear are in hand at Charleville. I am unwilling to keep the packet any longer, lest she should arrive on our coasts too far in the winter, and be blown off: I therefore send away the dispatches. But if I have the result of the council in time to reach her by the post, I will send it in a separate letter. The hearty good will of the ministry may be depended on; but it must be remembered that their present expenses are enormous.
f The original monument is erected in St. Paul's. church, Broadway, New York.
From Doctor Benjamin Franklin, to the Marquis de la Fayette, with the sword presented by congress.
Passy, August, 24, 1779. Sir, The congress sensible of your merit towards the United States, but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a sword, as a small mark of their grateful acknowlegement. They directed it to be ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal actions of the war, in which you distinguished yourself by your bravery and conduct, are therefore represented upon it. These, with a few emblematic figures, all admirably well executed, make its principal value. By the help of the exquisite artists France affords, I find it easy to express every thing but the sense we have of your worth, and our obligations to you. For this, figures and even words are found insufficient. I therefore only add, that with the most perfect esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
· B. FRANKLIN. My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, and will have the honor of presenting it to you.
The Marquis's reply.
Havre, August 29, 1779. SIR, WHATEVER expectations might have been raised from the sense of past favors, the goodness of the United States for me has ever been such, that on every occasion it far surpasses any idea I could have conceived. A new proof of that flattering truth, I find in the noble present, which congress have been pleased to honor me with, and which is offered in such a manner by your excellency as will exceed any thing, but the feelings of my unbounded gratitude. Some of the devices I cannot help finding too honorable a reward for those slight services, which in concert with my fellow soldiers, and under the godlike American hero's orders, I had the good luck to render. The sight of these actions where I was a witness of American bravery and patriotic spirit, I will ever enjoy with that pleasure which
becomes a heart glowing with love for the nation, and the most ardent zeal for their glory and happiness.
Assurances of gratitude, which I beg leave to present to your excellency, are much inadequate to my feelings, and nothing but those sentiments may properly acknowlege your kindness towards me. The polite manner in which Mr. Franklin was pleased to deliver that inestimable sword, lays me under great obligations to him, and demands, my particular thanks. With the most perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
To James Lovell, Esq.
Passy, October 17, 1779. ŞIR, THE foregoing is a copy of my last, I have now before me your several favors therein mentioned, viz. of June 13, July 9 and 16, and August 6.
I received the journals of congress from January 1, to June 12, which you took care to send me: but the volumes 1 and 2, which you mention are not yet come to hand. I hear they are at Madrid. I know not how they came there, nor how well to get them from thence, perhaps you can easier send me another set..
As I hear of the arrival of the chevalier de la Luzerne, by whom I wrote a long letter to your commitee, I presume you have received it, and that it is not now necessary to send more copies, by this opportunity I write largely to the president,
You ask will no one under a commission from the United States, &c. enclosed I send you a copy of the instructions I gave to commodore Jones, when it was intended to send with him some transports and troops to make descents in England. Had not the scheme been altered, by the more general one of a grand invasion, I know he would have endeavorm ed to put some considerable towns to a high ransom or burnt