Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Marquis de Lafayette, 8 October 1779

From the Marquis de Lafayette

ALS: American Philosophical Society

havre 8th october [1779]

Dear Sir

The fear of detaining your dispatches has induc’d me not to send my express of yesterday, so that the paquets which my last promises for sunday, will together with yesterday’s letter, Be delivered into your hand By to morrow’s evening.

Inclos’d you will find 1st a letter to Congress whom for any Minuted intelligence I Refer to your dispatches, But whom I wanted to assure of My zeal love and gratitude 2dly a paquet for My Respected friend General washington whom I also intrust with some letters for officers in the Army 3dly an other paquet privately directed to the president of Congress wherein I have inclos’d letters for several Members of Congress.9

There you will also find some letters which a Merchant of this City desir’d me to join to my dispatches.

As I understand a frigatte from Count destaing’s is lately arriv’d,1 I Beg you would desire your Grand son to Give me such particularities, and send such dates as will enable me to know what My friend the Admiral will have time to do Before the season Calls a part of his 27 schips Back to the west indias. I’d be very happy to know your opinion on this matter.

I Beg you to present My Compliments to Mr. franklin and thank him for the printing he had the kindness of sending to Me,2 which of all other General washington’s pictures, But mine, has the best likeness I have seen in europe.

With the most sincere affection and high Regard, I have the honor to be My dear sir Your devoted servant


In case of a misfortune I hope your dispatches will be thrown over Board, and I have writen in Consequence of that supposition.

Notation: La Fayette 8 Oct 79

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9For the first two letters see our annotation of Lafayette’s of Oct. 6. The others undoubtedly included those catalogued in Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, II, 494.

1The frigate Minerve arrived at Brest in late September with d’Estaing’s letters to Maurepas and Sartine announcing his intention to attack Savannah: Jacques Michel, La vie aventureuse et mouvementée de Charles-Henri, comte d’Estaing (n.p., 1976), p. 224.

2The engraving of Washington designed as a companion to BF’s “fur hat” portrait, and produced by the same artists: Charles-Nicolas Cochin and Augustin de St.-Aubin. It is reproduced in Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, II, 328; the “fur hat” engraving is the frontispiece of vol. 24. The artists had worked from the painting of Washington belonging to Lafayette, displayed at BF’s Independence Day dinner. St.-Aubin was anxious for Lafayette to approve the likeness before the engraving was released to the public, and he asked WTF to be his intermediary.

On Oct. 1 St.-Aubin reminded WTF of his promise to show the engraving to Lafayette. The matter was of some urgency, since he was hoping to send a packet of the engravings to America, and BF had told him that a ship carrying dispatches would be leaving within the fortnight. BF and WTF had also promised to talk to JW about a possible conveyance. In an undated follow-up letter, St.-Aubin urged WTF to confer with JW about the matter soon, as JW would be returning to Nantes shortly. Both letters are at the APS.

On Oct. 11 Lafayette thanked WTF for sending the engraving, praising it (as in the present letter) as the best likeness in Europe: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, II, 327. It was announced for sale in the Jour. de Paris of Oct. 28. BF paid St.-Aubin 36 l.t. on Nov. 19 for this and other engravings: Account XXIII (XXIX, 3).

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