Additions to Sheet 12 p. 1 A.
This Morning Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lee and
myself met in my Chamber and signed and sent the following Letters which I had
written in answer to letters received and had copied for Signature,
in Answer to Letters received.
Mr. John Ross
April 13. 1778
The Papers you mention are in the disposition of Mr. William
Lee, who is gone to
Germany. It is therefore not in our Power to comply with what
you desire. Neither are We able to make you any further Advances. We wish you
would send Us, with all convenient expedition, Copies of the Invoices and Bills
of Loading, for those goods which were paid for, with the money, We formerly
furnished You. We do not think it, within our Province, to make an entire
Settlement with you. The Money in Mr. Sweighausers hands,
which you say is under the direction and order of Mr. R.
Morris, ought to be disposed of according to those orders. The Trade
being now free from this country, it seems improper to Us, to give the
passports you ask. We are Sir, your most obedient Servants.
B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John
P.S. Mr. Wm. Lee is at
Frankfort, where a Letter from you will possibly find him: but
his stay there is very uncertain.
J. Williams Esqr.
13 April 1778.
We are sorry to inform you that the State of our Funds admits of no farther
expenditure, without danger of bringing Us into great difficulties. It is
therefore our desire, that you abstain from any farther purchases, and close
your Accounts for the present, with as little expence
as possible. We also desire to be informed, when
the repair of the Arms is likely to be compleated
You judge right in not paying the Twenty Eight Louis, where there is the least
Appearance of Trick, for that would encourage a thousand more. Enclosed you
have a Copy of Merciers Agreement. We have not yet been able to discover,
that Mr. Deane has left among the Papers, any Agreement, with
Mr. Monthieu, by which We can settle the difference you
mention. Perhaps Mr. Monthieu may have it. We wish to avoid
disputes, confusion and expence
. We may now expect
many American Vessells
will come into the French
Ports: We hope you may get them to take the Remainder of the Goods already
bought on public Account, upon Freight, as is done at
Bilbao. We are, Sir,
your most obedient humble
Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee,
I have inserted these Letters, apparently of little importance, not only
because they were some of our first Essays in Business, but because these
Transactions began to let me into the Secret of the disputes and Animosities
among the Americans and in general and in
France and especially between my Colleagues. Mr.
Lee had as yet said nothing to me concerning these Controversies. I
was informed afterwards by others that he had said he would be silent on this
Subject and leave me to learn by experience the State and course of the public
Business and judge for myself whether it had been ordone was likely
to be done right or wrong.
Mr William Lee who had been a Merchant in
London and I believe an Alderman had been appointed by Congress
their Commercial Agent and a General Superintendant of all their Commercial
affairs. Congress was our Sovereign Lawgiver, Prince and judge, and therefore
whatever was done by their express Authority, We, as I believed ought to
respect and obey. Mr. William Lee had appointed Mr.
Schweighauser commercial Agent for the
United States, under him, and Mr. Schweighauser
was a very solid Merchant highly esteemed by every body and highly approved by
the Court. Mr. Jonathan Williams a relation of Dr.
Franklin, whom I had known in
Boston as well [as]
and Cousin who was a Clerk in my Office, I had
the best disposition
as far as
the public Service and my own Sense of propriety would permit. Dr.
Franklin and Mr. Deane had employed him in
transactions which appeared to me to be commercial and in this had differed
with Mr. Arthur Lee and interfered with the Province of
Mr. William Lee. I therefore united with Mr.
Lee in this and many subsequent proceedings requiring the Settlement
of Mr. Williams's Accounts. Dr. Franklin
finding that two of Us were agreed in Opinion, subscribed the Letter with
Mr. Ross was neither appointed by Congress, by the public
Ministers in France nor by Mr. William Lee, but
I suppose was connected in Trade with Mr. Robert Morris, and
might have orders from him to purchase Arms or Cloathing or other Articles for
public Use, as Mr. Morris was then Chairman of the Commercial
Committee of Congress and sometime after appointed Financier. Mr.
Ross expected Us to advance him Money to pay for his Purchases and yet
did not think him responsible to Us or obliged to send Us his Accounts,
Vouchers or even his Powers or Orders. Whatever Mr. Deane or
Dr. Franklin had done, before my Arrival, I thought this
proceedure more irregular, more inconsistent with the Arrangement of Congress,
and every Way more unjustifiable than even the Case of Mr.
Williams. Mr. Arthur Lees Opinion and mine were
perfectly in Unison upon this point, which Dr. Franklin
perceiving, united with Us in subscribing the Letter. But these were grievous
disappointments to Mr. Williams and Mr. Ross
and all their Friends and consequently occasioned grumblings against
Mr. Lee and Mr. Adams.
Merkle was a Dutchman and another Adventurer, who applied to Us for
Assistance, without any fair Claim to it. Whether he had been employed by
Mr. Morris or Congress to purchase any thing I know not. But
We were not informed of any Authority he had to require Money of Us, and he was
accordingly soon answered.
Mr. Monthieu had been very confidentially connected with
Mr. Deane. The famous Contract for old Arms, so injurious to
United States and so dishonourable
to all who had any part in it, had been
Monthieu who was an humble friend of Mr. De
Sartine. The Settlement of his Affairs became very troublesome to Us.
I made a strict Enquiry
Mr. Lee and others for the
Books of Accounts, the Letter Books, the Letters received, the Copies of
Letters sent, but no body knew of any. Mr. Lee said there had
been no regular Accounts, nor any Letter Book. All agreed that Mr.
Deane had done the Business, that he consulted Dr.
Franklin only when he pleased, and Mr. Lee rarely if
ever. And that all Accounts if any had been kept and all Letters, if any had
been written, were carried off, or concealed by him.
Mr. Beaumarchais was another of Mr. Deanes
confidential Friends. This Mans Character as a Writer of Dramas and Memoirs is
public enough. His Intrigues as develloped by
himself in some of his Writings are curious enough. There is one fact which
came to my Knowledge which may be thought of more importance. The confidential
Friend of Mr. Beaumarchais at Court was the Queens Treasurer.
I was afterwards very formally introduced to him as a Personage of great Power
and respectability, and with great solemnity informed that he was the Treasurer
to the Queen and the intimate Friend of Mr. Beaumarchais.
Mr. Holker [was]
the Father of the
Mr. Holker who came to
America with Mr. Deane, at the same time with
Mr. Gerard and who passed in
America for a Person of great Consequence, and as Consul General
France. The Holkers, Father and Son, were very intimate Friends
of Mr. Deane, but neither had any appointment from King or
Minister. Mr. Le Ray de Chaumont was their Patron, and their
Occupation wholly as Merchants or rather as Manufacturers chiefly of Cotton,
either in Partnership with Mr. Chaumont, or wholly under his
direction. Holker the Father often came to see me. And
repeatedly related to me his History. He said he owed his ruin to his
Grandfather, who as well as his Father was an Inhabitant of Manchester, and a
Manufacturer there. Being in the Neighbourhood
Manchester was greatly disaffected to the House of Hanover and
his Grandfather a furious Jacobite. His grandfather was very fond of him and
not less delighted with Porter and strong Beer, with which he regularly got
drunk every night. When he began to grow mellow, it was his practice to take
his Grandson [illegible]
then a little boy upon his Knee, and his
Loyalty to the Steuarts glowing as the liquor inflamed him, he
made the Child swear to stand by the Royal House of Stewart as long as he
should live. Such was his love and veneration for his Grandfather, that these
Oaths thus imposed upon him every evening, although young as he was he knew the
old Gentleman to be drunk, made such an impression upon him that he could not
help joining in the Rebellion of the Year 1745 in favour
of the Pretender. After their defeat by the
Duke of Cumberland at
Culloden he fled to London and concealed himself
as it happened somewhere in the Neighbourhood
, who was visited
almost every Night by the Duke after his Return from
Scotland. Kitty lived very near the Waters
Edge, and he had laid a Scheme to seize upon the Duke when in the Arms of his
Mistress and hurry him on board a Vessell
him directly to
France. He had got his Vessel and his Men and every thing
prepared, when he found he had been discovered and was obliged to fly to
France without his Royal Prisoner. Here he found himself
destitute and had subsisted by his Skill in the Manufactures
of Manchester some of which he had endeavoured to introduce and
establish in this Kingdom. He always
regretted his Error and his
Folly as he always called it, but it was irretrievable. He had formerly
endeavoured to obtain a Pardon, but so daring an Attempt upon the Liberty if
not the Life of the Duke could not then be pardoned. Perhaps it might now but
it was too late. He was too old and had become too much connected in
France. The most important of his Connections however, were I
believe those with Mr. Chaumont which were of little profit,
and one with a French Wife, an old wrinkled Woman, the most biggoted
superstitious Catholic in
France always counting her Beads and saying her Pater Noster
and believing her Salvation to depend upon them.
requires that it should be acknowledged that he always spoke of her with
respect and treated her with tenderness. She was possessed of some property,
perhaps enough to subsist herself and him. Whether he was concerned with
Mr. Chaumont in any Shipments of Merchandize
America particularly to Mr. Langdon
of Portsmouth, upon Mr. Deanes recommendation, I
know not. That Mr. Chaumont shipped Goods to a considerable
Amount, I knew because he shewed
Langdons Account rendered, in which almost the whole Capital was sunk
by the depreciation of Paper Money.
Holkers Conduct to me was always civil, respectful, social,
, and as he spoke
English so well and french so tolerably I was always glad to see him and
converse with him. But he was always making Apologies for Mr.
Deane, and it was easy to see that he regretted very much the loss of
his Friend, by whom he had expected to make his fortune, and although he had no
other Objection to me, he found that I was not the Man for his Purpose.