Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from David Hartley, 13 May 1784

From David Hartley2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris May 13 1784 7 o’clock morning

My Dear friend

I shd be much obliged to you if you cd send me two or three words this evening after you have seen the Minister3 viz only thus much He can or He can not, because as the time advances to the meeting of Parlt., It wd be necessary for me to send the first part to England by our Courier early tomorrow morning if the printer cannot do the business here. I shall be employed the whole of this day & tomorrow morning, in writing my letters, & in transcribing the first part of the Address. I wd rather receive two words from you than three But if three I must lose no time in England. Yours ever

D H—

Addressed: To Dr Franklin &c &c &c / Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2On March 31 Hartley had stood for election to Parliament for his former seat of Kingston-upon-Hull. The constituency elected two members, but Hartley came in third. After one of the victors, William Wilberforce, chose to vacate his seat, Hartley published a pamphlet appealing for it. Written in the form of a letter dated Paris, May 18, 1784, it is the “Address” he refers to in the present letter, ultimately published as Address to the Right Worshipful the Mayor and Corporation, to the Worshipful the Wardens and Corporation of the Trinity House, and to the Worthy Burgesses of the Town of Kingston upon Hull. Hartley implies here that BF had agreed to ask Vergennes whether the pamphlet could be printed in Paris. We have no record of BF’s intercession, nor any reason to think that the address was printed in France. The copy owned by BF (APS), whose title page does not specify the publisher or place of publication, is thought to have been printed in England. A second version, issued by J. Debrett in London, was announced in the Public Advertiser on June 12, 1784. Hartley’s attempt to regain the seat was ultimately unsuccessful: Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, I, 434–5; II, 592–3; III, 636–7.

3According to his own account, Hartley believed that he had insulted Vergennes when, while announcing his mission to exchange treaty ratifications, he referred to the Americans as “those who were your allies.” Vergennes responded, “And who still are,” to which Hartley countered, “That is all over.” Vergennes answered that “Those who have once been the allies of France are her allies always”: George H. Guttridge, David Hartley, M.P.: an Advocate of Conciliation, 1774–1783 (Berkeley, Calif., and London, 1926), pp. 318–19.

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