Editorial Note on Four Undated Letters from Madame Brillon, [1777?]
AL: American Philosophical Society
We summarize these brief notes here, on the highly questionable assumption that they were written late in 1777. Their tone suggests an early phase of the relationship, but they reveal almost nothing else about it. One, with no date, is an invitation to tea with her and her family. Another, dated eight o’clock Thursday, explains that she cannot come to see him because her younger daughter is slightly ill; neither can she come tomorrow, but on Saturday will set a date for early next week, and meanwhile assures him “de ma tendrésse et de mes regrets.” The third, Saturday morning, asks him to pick her up for dinner with Mme. Dutartre6 and return her to Passy (if he takes the large carriage, her daughters and Temple will get on famously in back) because her husband needs their horses today; Temple adds a note that he has agreed, and promised to be at her house at one-thirty. The fourth, Wednesday morning, is a request to Temple to remind “son papa” of promising to come for tea and a game of chess that evening, which she awaits “avec l’impatience de l’amitié.” All four are in the third person and refer to Franklin as “papa”, a style of address that first appeared, as far as we know, in her letter above of Nov. 30.
6. Her friend and cousin, who lived near Fontainebleau and at least by the following spring was part of BF’s circle and calling him papa. On April 4 she sent WTF a coy note, to say that her little dog would bring his master the next day to tea or dinner, and do his best to bring Mme. Brillon as well. If BF was used to a particular tea, he should put some in his pocket. APS.