Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Marquis de Lafayette, 2 November 1779

From the Marquis de Lafayette

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Havre 2d. November 1779

Dear Sir

With a trüe satisfaction I have seen that the Royal influence in the irish parliament, fell very short of Ministerial expectations, and that some patriots Begin to speack a Bold language, and mention the Blessed words of independency and the Rights of Mankind— In the eyes of people that would be strangers to parliamentary Barking, such Speeches would be mistaken for a certain Signal of what they Call at St. james a Rebellion— However far I may be from earnestly Conceiving so sanguine hopes, I can’t help being heartly Rejoic’d with such an oppening of the session—4 The injures ireland has hitherto suffered, Its Commercial interests that are totally opposite to those of English sea-towns, the happy circumstance of theyr having troops on foot, the war Betwen france and great Britain, the exemple and Patronage of America, and the Blundering Tyrrannical Measures of our friend George the third, Are inducements that May Bring ireland to the sense of what they Can, and what they ought to do.

I want very Much, My dear Sir, to know your opinion upon a point which from My zeal to the Common Cause, and my principles on the Right of Mankind, you may judge very interesting for me— Do you Believe that a firm Reconciliation will take place Betwen these two parts of the British Empire? — Do you on the Contrary entertain hopes that the Revolution will be soon Ripe Enough?— Are you of opinion that We ought to pursue the Same Measures that had been entered upon in the Course of last summer?

I am not very found of seeing dukes and other lords at the head of the Business— Nobility is But an insignificant kind of people for Revolutions— they have no notions of Equality Betwen men, they want to govern, they have too much to loose— Good presbiterian farmers would go on with more spirit than all the Noblemen of Ireland— Don’t you think I am Right in this opinion?

By the News papers I see that Cunningam is going to be Exchang’d—5 Retaliation would teach politeness and humanity to these gentlemen, ten times better than the Remorse of theyr consciences or the speeches of theyr patriots.

The Conduct of the danes towards us seems to be dirty enough—6 I can’t help being angry with them, As far as one may feel anger against those one dispises— The time will come where the [they] may court the favor of the United States, who, I hope, will for a while consider themselves as not independant for them— In the mean while jones may By the way take some little Revenge on them, that will not be worth being Considered By Nations.

With a great impatience I waït for News from home and Beg you to forward me Any that May Come to hand.

With the most perfect Regard, and affection I have the honor to be Dear Sir Your most obedient humble servant


My Best Compliments waït on Mr. J.H. Franklin7

Notation: La Fayette 2 Nov 79

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The opening session of the Irish House of Commons had approved an amendment to its address to the King which “beseeched his Majesty to believe in the present posture of affairs, no temporizing expedients could save this nation [Ireland] from destruction, but a free and unlimited trade to all her ports.” Sir Edward Newenham was reported as saying that “when bigots and inflexible tyrants were placed on a throne, a revolution was the only remedy to appease the people and restore our liberties.” London Public Advertiser, Oct. 21, 1779.

5“It is supposed that Capt. Conyngham will be exchanged for Capt. Piercy, of the ship Countess of Scarborough, lately carried into the Texel by the squadron of Paul Jones”: London General Advertiser, and Morning Intelligencer, Oct. 16. Before any exchange could occur, Capt. Gustavus Conyngham escaped from Mill Prison, where he had been treated harshly. On Nov. 3, he and 53 other prisoners tunneled their way out: Neeser, Conyngham, p. xlix.

6The Oct. 26 issue of the London Public Advertiser and the Oct. 29 issue of the Courier de l’Europe (VI [1779], 273) reported that the prizes in Bergen had been returned to the British.

7Lafayette frequently addressed WTF this way possibly because he misread the initials “W.T.” in his signature: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, II, 337n.

Index Entries