From Benjamin Vaughan1
ALS: Library of Congress
[November 5, 1782, or later?]2
My dearest sir,
I find that I can go off with convenience very early on Thursday morning; and therefore if agreeable, should wish you to give me your letter for Mr: T: T: tomorrow evening, as it may furnish with me with a probable occasion of speaking to that gentleman about certain affairs. Mr: H:’s letter may come under cover to me by a courier.— The very moment a certain event happens, I will indubitably take the journey I talked of, in order to communicate with my friend.
You will be kind enough to direct that a pass-port may be prepared, in order to save time, should my young friend3 be absent when I call tomorrow at Passy.
I must now, my dearest, dearest sir, by every tie in the world beseech you not to think of residing in any other house than mine, were you to reside in London for a thousand “fortnights.” We have room & servants & victuals & quiet enough; and there are two country houses for you besides, and a good woman who will strive to make every thing in the world comfortable to you.— And we have not only this convenience for you, but for your son, whose situation elsewhere would give us the greatest uneasiness.— Our chief friends you know are or may be in common; and your son, for his part, will be like a brother with us.
I am, my dearest sir, your ever devoted, affecte: & grateful4
1. We publish this undated document at its earliest possible date, and can only speculate about the meaning of some of Vaughan’s obscure references. If “T.T.” in the first sentence is Thomas Townshend, then Vaughan could be offering to carry BF’s Nov. 4 letter to him—the only letter BF ever wrote Townshend, to the best of our knowledge. “Mr. H,” in that case, could be William Hodgson, to whom BF also wrote on Nov. 4. (That letter is missing, but Hodgson alludes to it in his reply of Nov. 14.) The “journey” is undoubtedly a visit to Shelburne, but the “certain event” that would precede it is a matter of speculation. On Nov. 4, Vaughan wrote to Shelburne that BF seemed “doubtful whether he shall have any occasion or not to use me,” and that the two agreed that Vaughan should probably stay in Paris “till we hear the ultimatum of the British Court” (postscript of Vaughan to Shelburne, Nov. 1, 1782, APS). If Vaughan had decided to stay until the Cabinet evaluated the second draft treaty (which is what he in fact did), then his making departure plans on Nov. 5 seems unlikely. On the other hand, he was anxious to be with his wife, who was nearing the end of her pregnancy. He may well have rethought what he and BF had discussed on Nov. 4, and considered leaving earlier for personal reasons. (Sarah Vaughan gave birth to a daughter, Harriet, on Nov. 11: Morris, Jay: Peace, p. 422n.) The “certain event” could be either the British government’s decision, or the birth of his child; either way, Vaughan seems to be suggesting in this letter that he would still be available for a conference with Shelburne.
2. The first Tuesday after Nov. 4, the date of BF’s only extant letter to Thomas Townshend.
3. WTF (to whom Vaughan refers below as BF’s son).
4. Vaughan did not leave Paris for his second mission to England on a Thursday, as this letter would indicate, but on Sunday, Nov. 17. The previous day, Oswald learned that the British government had rejected the second draft treaty. Oswald urged Jay to go to England to speak to the Ministry, but Jay refused. Vaughan volunteered for the mission, as he had already determined to go “on Account of the critical State of his Family” (according to JA). Vaughan was briefed by both Oswald and the American commissioners, procured a passport from BF, and left at noon the next day: Morris, Jay: Peace, pp. 422–4; Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 57–8. He returned on Nov. 27; see his letter of that date, below.