Benjamin Franklin Papers

William Temple Franklin to Caleb Whitefoord, 7 August 1783

William Temple Franklin to Caleb Whitefoord

Reprinted from W. A. S. Hewins, ed., The Whitefoord Papers … (Oxford, 1898), pp. 190–1.

Passy, 7th Augt, 1783.

My dear Sir,

I have been so much taken up with Business since the rect of your Letter, inclosing me an Introduction to Mrs Hesse, that I have hitherto delay’d answering it.9 I have not however been deficient in complying with your request relative to that amiable and accomplish’d Lady: She has form’d with Mr1 Brillon not merely an Acquaintance, but really a Friendship; and it is impossible for any one to be more universally liked, than she has made herself here by her Person and pleasing Manners. We all exceedingly Regret, that her stay among us has been so short and we are perpetually talking of going all together to England to make her Visit. I really should not be surprised if Mr Brillon and Family should carry this Project into execution in the Fall. As to my Grandfather and myself, I hardly know what will become of us; He has no Answer from Congress to his repeated Applications to Retire, and so continues here, tho’ with much Reluctance. I wish ardently to be able to visit England before we Return, were it only for eight Days, to see you and my other Friends, and embrace my Father. He cannot regret more than I do our long Separation, and the interruption in our Correspondence;—he knows the Character of some of our Rulers, and cannot but approve of my discretion.2

Our Negotiations do not go on so well as when Mr. O.3 and you were here. We have lost by the change a worthy Friend, and your Country, an able and upright Minister.

Adieu my dear Sir,—I write in haste in hopes of being in time to request Mrs Hesse to take charge of my Letter.— My Grandfather and Mr and Mrs Jay present you their affectionate Compts as likewise to Mr Oswald, to whom please to remember me in the most affectionate Manner,—and believe me, as ever, Sincerely yours

W. T. Franklin.

Congress have alone Authority to appoint Consuls. The Place at Calais has already been asked for by 50 Persons. If a Frenchman is appointed, it is likely to be Le Veux, our old Correspt.4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Whitefoord, who had left Paris for London on April 27 (see XXXIX, 604n), wrote WTF on May 9 to introduce Elizabeth Gunthorpe Hesse, a neighbor who was taking an apartment in Paris for a few months while her house was being renovated. She hoped to improve her French and was eager for an introduction to Mme Brillon, about whom her friends had said many favorable things. Whitefoord reminded WTF that he had introduced BF to her husband, George Hesse, a clerk in the Pay Office, the previous fall. APS.

Mrs. Hesse was the daughter of West India merchant William Gunthorpe, and in her husband’s obituary was described as “a lady of exquisite beauty, refined manners, and liberal fortune”: Vere L. Oliver, The History of the Island of Antigua … (3 vols., London, 1894–99), II, 39; Gent. Mag., XLIV (1774), 446; LVIII (1788), 563–4.

Two letters from Mrs. Hesse to WTF survive from this trip: on May 29 she rescheduled a visit, and on Aug. 5, writing in French, she asked him to deliver a note to Mme Brillon and give her best wishes to BF and the Jays. Both letters are at the APS.

1Undoubtedly a mistranscription. Here, and in the next sentence, WTF must have written “Mme.”

2Whitefoord’s May 9 letter contained news of WF who, the day before, had called on him and asked him to forward to Passy a letter for BF that had been mistakenly delivered to his address. WF was pleased to hear news of WTF, and “regretted the long interruption of Correspondence, & hoped the Time was near at hand, when it might be renew’d without Impropriety.”


4Whitefoord had asked about consulships in Calais. Jacques Leveux had been assisting Americans there since 1778 (see XXVI, 515n), and when he asked outright about a consulship, BF told him what WTF here confided in Whitefoord: Leveux to BF, March 2, 1784; BF to Leveux, March 8, 1784, both at the APS.

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