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FROM THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Acknowledging the Reception of the Sword.
Havre, 29 August, 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.
In 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 shall 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 too inadequate to my feelings; and nothing but those sentiments may properly acknowledge your kindness towards me.
The polite manner in which Mr. Temple 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 COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Passy, 26 September, 1779. SIR, I received yesterday evening the letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me, together with the packet for M. De la Luzerne, which I shall take care to forward with my despatches. I could have wished it had been possible to write something positive to the Congress by this opportunity, on the subject of the supplies they have asked, because I
apprehend great inconveniences may arise from their being left in a state of uncertainty on that account, not only as the hope or expectation of obtaining those supplies may prevent their taking other measures, if possible, to obtain them, but as the disappointment will give great advantage to their enemies, external and internal. Your Excellency will be so good as to excuse my making this observation, which is forced from me by my great anxiety on the occasion. With the greatest respect, I am, &c.
TO JAMES LOVELL.
Passy, 30 September, 1779. SIR, I have within these few days received a number of despatches from you, which have arrived by the Mercury and other vessels. Hearing this instant of an opportunity from Bordeaux, and that the courier sets out from Versailles at five this evening, I embrace it, just to let you know, that I have delivered the letters from Congress to the King, and have laid the invoices of supplies desired (with a translation) before the min
isters; and, though I have not yet received a positive answer, I have good reason to believe I shall obtain most of them, if not all. But, as this demand will cost the court a vast sum, and their expenses in the war are prodigious, I beg I may not be put under the necessity, by occasional drafts on me, of asking for more money than is required to pay our bills for interest. I must protest those I have advice of from Martinique and New Orleans, (even if they were drawn by permission of Congress,) for want of money; and I wish the Committee of Commerce would caution their correspondents not to embarrass me with their bills.
I put into my pocket nothing of the allowance Congress has been pleased to make me.
I shall pay it all in honoring their drafts and supporting their credit; but do not let me be burdened with supporting the credit of every one, who has claims on the board of commerce, or the navy. I shall write fully by the Mercury. I send you some of the latest newspapers, and have the honor to be, &c.
TO EDWARD BRIDGEN.
On a Copper Coinage for the United States.
Passy, 2 October, 1779. DEAR SIR, I received your favor of the 17th past, and the two samples of copper are since come to hand. The metal seems to be very good, and the price reasonable; but I have not yet received the orders necessary to justify my making the purchase proposed. There has indeed been an intention to strike copper coin, that may not only be useful as small change, but serve other purposes.
Instead of repeating continually upon every halfpenny the dull story that everybody knows, (and what it would have been no loss to mankind if nobody had ever known,) that George the Third is King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, &c. &c., to put on one side, some important proverb of Solomon, some pious moral, prudential or economical precept, the frequent inculcation of which, by seeing it every time one receives a piece of money, might make an impression upon the mind, especially of young persons, and tend to regulate the conduct; such as, on some, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; on others, Honesty is the best policy; on others, He that by the plough would thrive, himself must either hold or drive ; on others, Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee; on others, A penny saved is a penny got; on others, He that buys what he has no need of, will soon be forced to sell his necessaries; on others, Early to bed and early to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise; and so on, to a great variety.
The other side it was proposed to fill with good designs, drawn and engraved by the best artists in France, of all the different species of barbarity with which the English have carried on the war in America, expressing every abominable circumstance of their cruelty and inhumanity, that figures can express, to make an impression on the minds of posterity as strong and durable as that on the copper. This resolution has been a long time forborne; but the late burning of de
nnecticut, on the flimsy pretence that the people fired from behind their houses, when it is known to have been premeditated and ordered from England, will probably give the finishing provocation, and may occasion a vast demand for your metal.
I thank you for your kind wishes respecting my health. I return them most cordially fourfold into your own bosom. Adieu.
TO JOHN JAY, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Beaumarchais's Accounts. — Neufville's proposed Loan.
– Inactivity of the Combined Fleets. – Holland, England, and Portugal. — Prisoners. — Paul Jones's Cruise. — Complaints of French Officers. — Monument to General Montgomery. — Spain.
Passy, 4 October, 1779. SIR, I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor to write to me of the of June last, enclosing acts of Congress respecting bills of exchange for two millions four hundred thousand livres tournois, drawn on me in favor of M. de Beaumarchais. The bills have not yet appeared, but I shall accept them when they do, relying on the care of Congress to enable me to pay them. As to the accounts of that gentleman, neither the Commissioners, when we were all together, nor myself since, have ever been able to obtain a sight of them, though repeatedly promised; and I begin to give over all expectation of them. Indeed, if I had them, I should not be able to do much with them, or to controvert any thing I might doubt in them, being unacquainted with the transactions and agreements on which they must be founded, and having small skill in accounts. Mr. Ross and Mr. Williams, pressing me to examine and settle theirs, I have been obliged to request indifferent persons, expert in such business, to do it for me, subject to the revision VOL. VIII.