From Sousa Coutinho
L: American Philosophical Society
Paris ce 19 Juillet 1783
Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Francklin / Ministre Plenre. des Etats unis / de l’Amerique Septentrionale / en son Hotel / a Passy. / de sousa./.
3. Based on four similar notifications among BF’s papers at the APS, the “Assemblée” seems to have been a regular, informal Sunday gathering of diplomats assigned to the French court. It always met at the residence of one of the ambassadors. BF had been included since at least 1781. In a note that had to have been written that year, dated only June 16, the ambassador of Malta informed BF that due to the death of his mother, he would not be able to receive the “Assemblée” the following day. The Dutch ambassador (Berkenrode) would host it instead. The ambassador of the Order of Saint John, or Malta, was Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier, bailli de Breteuil (1723–1785). His mother, Laure O’Brien de Clare, died on June 10, 1781: Dictionnaire de la noblesse, XIX, 36; Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter, III, 213.
The ambassador of Malta sent two additional notices. On “28 avril” he apprises BF that because he has to leave Paris for a month, he will not be able to welcome the assembly next Sunday; it will be hosted by the Venetian ambassador (Dolfin). On Oct. 29, 1784, he notifies BF that his illness prevents him from receiving the assembly next Sunday; it will meet instead at the British ambassador’s residence. The British ambassador was the Duke of Dorset; he wrote on Aug. 5, 1784, notifying BF that he would host next Sunday’s assembly.
For a discussion of the importance to diplomats of such informal social gatherings see Hamish Scott, “Diplomatic Culture in Old Regime Europe,” in Cultures of Power in Europe during the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. Hamish Scott and Brendan Simms (Cambridge, Eng., and New York, 2007), pp. 72–82.
4. The conde de Aranda.