Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Conte di Scarnafiggi, 23 August 1783

From the Conte di Scarnafiggi3

L: American Philosophical Society

Ce 23. Août [1783]4

L’Ambassadeur de Sardaigne prie Monsieur Franklin de lui faire l’honneur de Venir Diner chez lui Jeudi 28. Août.5


Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin / En son hotel

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3This is the first letter in our edition from the Sardinian diplomat who had served in London while BF was there in 1773, and whose connection to BF had hitherto been as an intermediary for correspondence with Beccaria: XX, 355; XXI, 150–1n; XXXIV, 380. Scarnafiggi was accredited at Versailles from 1777 until his death in 1788. In a 1778 report to the king of Sardinia, he related that BF, while negotiating for an alliance with France, had told the ministers that “England was like a duck which had two immense wings, one extending to America and the other to Asia.” The Americans had undertaken to break the first wing. If France would break the other, the duck would “tumble into the water with a splash”: Antonio Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy (Philadelphia, 1958), p. 101.

4The year is certain, as Aug. 28 fell on a Thursday only once during BF’s mission.

5Such an invitation would not have been issued before BF was recognized by the diplomatic corps; see the annotation of Pamphili’s letter and note, July 28. On June 21 Scarnafiggi reported to his court that America was negotiating treaties with other countries, and requested instructions on what to do when BF made his first official call as minister of the United States. On July 26 he reported that BF had sent him a copy of Constitutions des treize Etats-Unis de l’Amérique, without a cover letter. Assuming that it was for the king, Scarnafiggi forwarded it along with two unbound copies that he purchased for the minister of foreign affairs: Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy, p. 115.

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