From the Comte d’Estaing8
AL: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Thursday, at Passy Xbre. 25th 1777
Count d’Estaing presents his dutys to the truly right honourable Benjamin Franklin and desires, if it is possible, the favor of his Excellency’s presence but for Nonday near only: he begs pardon for that trouble, Mr. Franklin will be so good as to guess the reason of it: the other Excellency is very deep upon the Punctilio, and it is probable his Higness of Bragance must be too a Visitor.9
Do you can read my brooked English?
8. An acquaintance since BF’s early days in Paris: above, XXIII, 67 n. By the spring of 1777, according to British intelligence, the comte was intimate with Deane and dined frequently with him and Carmichael: Stevens, Facsimiles, II, no. 147, p. 4; no. 154, p. 2. On Dec. 24 Stormont reported that d’Estaing had given the King a plan of campaign in the event of war: ibid., XX, no. 1813, p. 6. This is quite possible, for the following spring the comte commanded the French squadron dispatched to America.
9. The dinner was on the same day as this note, according to Paul Wentworth; hence “Nonday near only” must mean as close to noon as possible. The “other Excellency” was the Portuguese Ambassador to France, the Conde de Sousa Coutinho (above, XXIII, 611 n); “his Higness” was Joâo de Bragança, Duca de Lafoens, a relative of the Portuguese ruling house and a colorful figure—traveler, poet, F.R.S.—who a month later was charming Mme. du Deffand: Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, VII, 9. The two Portuguese, again according to Wentworth, arrived after dinner when most of the company had left; d’Estaing engaged the Ambassador while Bragança conversed with BF: Stevens, op. cit., VII, no. 721, p. 2.