May 2. 1778
I said nothing of this however to Mr. Izzard. I only
observed to him, that Dr. Franklin, the two Mr.
Lees and Mr. Izzard himself, all held Commissions
from Congress and it was my duty to respect them all. That the conduct of
Mr. Deane, I knew by his dispatches and contracts which had
been read in congress before I left it, had been wild, irregular and
pernicious, but that I had been desirous of imputing it to want of judgment
rather than any Thing worse. That my knowledge of Dr.
Franklin personally had been only in Congress. That although I knew
there had been great disputes in
Pennsilvania formerly concerning his moral and political
Character, as there had been in
England, yet I knew at the same time that he had been in publick Life when Parties run high and that he had
generally maintained an honourable Character in
the World. That it was impossible for me to enter into any examination of what
had passed before my Arrival, because I could find no books, Letters or
documents of any kind to inform or guide me. That he must be sensible my
Situation was delicate, difficult and dangerous in the extream, between two fires. I was a Stranger to the
Country, the Language and the manners of the French: and not much less a
Stranger to the Characters of the Americans in France. In this
predicament I found myself necessarily an Umpire between two bitter and
inveterate Parties, for in all questions that should come before the
commissioners, if Dr. Franklin and Mr.
Lee I should differ in Opinion my Voice must decide. That it
was easy to foresee that I should make both parties my Enemies: but no choice
was left me, but to examine diligently every [question
without ]favour or affection to any man or
party: and this course I was determined to pursue at all hazards. I entreated
him to collect himself and by no means to allow himself to talk in the Style he
had used to me to any other Person. That Dr. Franklin
possessed the Confidence of the French Court and of his own Country, and held
her Commission and Authority: and therefore it was the duty of all of Us, to
treat him with respect.
May 3. 1778.
The Business of the Commission had been delayed and neglected in a manner
that gave me much uneasiness: Franklin and Lee
had been reluctant to engage in it, as I suppose,
knowing that they
should differ in every thing and both of them as yet uncertain which Side I
should take. I had now procured my Books
blank Books, and I took the
Letters which We had received into my own hands, and after making all the
Enquiries into the Subjects which I could, I wrote in my blank book the
following Answers. The Book is fortunately in my Possession and now before me
with the Letters in my [illegible]
handwriting. I shall insert
these Letters because they will serve among many others to shew
the number of Persons who had their Eyes fixed upon our
little Treasury, and under what a variety of pretences, and pretended
Authorities they sett
up their Claims upon Us for
money.Dr. Franklin, after he found that Mr.
Lee and I agreed in Opinion and were determined to sign and send them,
did not choose to let them go without his name.
May 3. 1778
Your Bill upon our Banker was not paid, because it was drawn, without our
leave; and before you had sent Us the Accounts to shew We were your Debtors, and he could not regularly pay a
Bill on our Account, which he had not our orders to pay. We are Sir your most
Passi May 3.
We received your several Letters of the 23d. and 30th. of March and the
fifteenth and 17th of April. We are obliged to you for the care you have taken
respecting the sick Men. We shall apply as you advise for the discharge of
Miggins, and hope to obtain it.
We have examined Mr. Bersolle's Accounts and find them
approved by Captn.
Officers, and as you have paid his draft We shall repay you. But We wish that
hereafter you would not engage Us in any considerable Expence
without having received our orders, after
acquainting Us with the Occasion.
We are, Sir, your most obedient
Mr. Ross at
May 3. 1778
In a former Letter, you wrote Us, that you would send Us, the Invoices
&c. of the Goods shipped, on the public Account, if We thought it
necessary. We wrote for those, which would answer for the money, We had
advanced to you. The Reason given in yours of the 18th for refusing it, does
not appear to Us, at all sufficient. If it be unavoidable to seperate the part from the whole, We desire the whole may
be sent agreable to your first proposal, which
will also be of Use to Us, by shewing the nature and
extent of the Supplies which have been sent. We therefore expect you will
comply, without any farther delay, with what We desire, and which is
You will be so good as to send Us a Copy of the order of the Commissioners,
under which you say, the Ship Queen of
France was purchased, as We find none such, here.
When you first applyed to Us for our Assistance, and represented that you
had made Contracts for Goods, in pursuance of orders from the Committee of
Congress, which contracts, if not fulfilled, would destroy your Credit, and, in
consequence, hurt that of the Committee, it was agreed to furnish you [illegible]
with the Sum which you desired, and which you said would
be sufficient to prevent those great inconveniences, on your promise to replace
it. It is now near a Year since, and you have not performed that promise. The
Disappointment has been very inconvenient to Us. Probably it was occasioned by
your not receiving the Remittances you expected. However, We think you should
have foreborne entering into any fresh contracts and Embarrassments;
especially, as it was not required
or expected of you, by the
Committee, as appears by their Letter to you of Decr.
30. of which you have sent Us, an extract; nor have
they ever desired it, of Us; nor did you inform Us, when you made your
engagements, that you had any expectation of our Assistance, to discharge them.
A little consideration will convince you, that it is impossible for Us, to
regulate our own purchases and engagements, and discharge our debts with
punctuality, if other people, without our participation, allow themselves to
run in debt, unnecessarily, as much as they please, and call upon Us for
payment. By our complying with such unforeseen demands, We may soon, to prevent
your discredit, become Bankrupts ourselves, which We think would be full as
disreputable to Congress. We therefore now acquaint you, that We cannot give
the permission you desire, of drawing on our Banker for the immense Sums you
mention, and desire you would not have the least dependance
on Aids, that We have it not in our power to
grant. We are, Sir, your most obedient humble Servants
B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John
May 3. 1778
We had Company to dine
with Us, Mr. Izzard and his Lady, Mr.
Lloyd and his Lady, Dr. Bancroft, and many others.
Dr. Franklin and Mr. Izzard were upon such
terms that the former would not invite the latter. I was determined that I
would not enter into their Resentments, and therefore said to the Dr. that I
would invite Mr. Izzard and his Family, which I did accordingly
and they all came, Mr. Izzard and Mrs.
Izzard, their little Son and two little daughters. We sent for all our
young Gentlemen at Mr. Le Coeurs Accademy
, and made
Show of young Americans.
Dined at Mr. Chaumonts with his Family, and other
May 5. Tuesday 1778.
Dined at home without company, which was a great rarity and
esteemed by me a very great Blessing.
While I was at dinner alone, my Servant brought me a Letter