From Jean-Jacques de Lafreté6
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Paris le 18 février 1779.
Je profite, Monsieur, d’un commissionnaire que Madme. De-Lafreté7 vous envoye, pour vous demander la lettre de recommandation que vous avéz eû la bonté de me promettre. Je désirerois bien l’avoir aujourd’hui, et vous m’enverriez les duplicata que vous avéz bien voulu me promettre, à votre commodité.8 Je serois cependant bien aise d’en avoir un incessamment, parce que je voudrois faire partir tout de suite deux paquets pour M. Gérard, et j’aurai l’honneur de vous en adresser un en vous priant de le joindre à vos premières dépêches.
Je suis avec Respèct, Monsieur, votre Très humble et Très obeissant serviteur.
6. Identified in XXVI, 289–90n. BF was always ready to help this man who had been, in a way, his counterpart in the French postal system. Lafreté was a friend of Turgot and, through his wife (the daughter of a farmer general), a well-considered figure in the financial world.
7. Née Angélique-Michèle-Rosalie Jogues de Martinville (d. 1790), she was a close friend of BF. Christine Favre-Lejeune, Les Secrétaires du Roi de la grande Chancellerie de France (2 vols., Paris, 1986), II, 761. One of his most charming bagatelles, “Bilked for Breakfast,” was written in the form of a letter to her.
8. Lafreté is reacting to the news that the Bordeaux firm of Reculès de Basmarein & Raimbaux, with whom he had business dealings, had just declared bankruptcy: XXVI, 677. On Feb. 19 he drew up a power of attorney allowing Jean Holker, the French consul in Philadelphia, to do whatever was necessary to salvage his assets in America, currently in the hands of Roulhac, the representative in America of the Bordeaux merchants, whose whereabouts were unknown, even to his relatives. Two copies of the document are now at the Yale University Library; both bear BF’s certification, dated Passy, Oct. 22, 1779: “I the underwritten do hereby certify whom it may concern that M. Dupont who has signed the above Certificate is truly the Officer he is therein represented to be and that Faith ought to be given to his Testimony.” On March 24, 1779, BF was likewise called upon to authenticate the signatures of French counsels who had notarized two documents presented by ship owners in substantiation of their claims against the Bordeaux firm (APS, Yale University Library).