Thomas Read to the Commissioners
Nantes August 25th 1778
I Received yours by Capt. Barns.1 I have been So unwell that I have not been out of my Room, am now recuiting2 fast, and in a few days to be fit to do any Business. I have got my Vessel Clean’d and near fitted, and have sent her down to Pellrene .3 I understand by the agent here, that the[y] have not goods belonging to the Publick. The[y] have told me the[y] wrote your Honors to know Whether the[y] shou’d purchase. If you are not Very Desirous of my Imediate Return I Request your Honors to give me leave to Cruize for three months, with a Small Aditional Expence in Number of men. I cou’d be ready in a Short time, as I have now three months provissions and Brought thirty one men and officers here and mount twelve four pounders and have ports for two more and I think I cou’d procure as many more men, those that are belonging to the Vessel are on high Wages from twenty to ten pounds per month, which the[y] are willing to Relinquish on being paid up, and Enter on the Continental pay of Eight Dollars per month till we Return home. I have the Vanity to think by Cruizeing in the Mediteranean, if a french pass cou’d be obtained or an English on[e] that have been taken I coud Soon Repay the Expence and add Something to my Country as my Vessels Sails fast and am well Acquainted in them Seas from Gibralter to the Gulf of Venice. The Season of the year comeing on for the Newfoundland Ships with their fish to A market makes me think it worth your Honors Notice, as we can carry but a small Quantity of goods after our Provisions on Board. If Agreeable to your Judgements Shall be glad to have you answer as soon as Possible.4 I am with Due Respect your Honors mos obedient Humble Servant,
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “on public Service The Honoble Ambassadors of the United States of America M. Franklin”; docketed: “Captn. Reed. 25. Aug. 1778”; stamped: “NA[NTES].”
1. Presumably the Commissioners’ letter of 29 July (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92; see also a 2d LbC to Read of 22 Aug.), which directed Capt. Read of the Baltimore to take on cargo and prepare for his return voyage. The Commissioners’ letter was apparently carried by Capt. Corbin Barnes of the Dispatch, which sailed from Paimboeuf on 29 Aug. and was shortly thereafter captured (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends , 1:497).
3. A town on the Loire River downstream from Nantes, slightly less than halfway to Paimboeuf.
4. No response by the Commissioners to Read’s proposal has been found.