From Thomas Barnes
Paris August 25th. 1778
Nothing gives me greater concern, than to be under, The Necessity of troubling you with a detail of my situation But distress urges me therefore with submission beg leave to Enlarge. I being one of those escaped from Fortone Prison,1 in consiquence I was luck’y in getting so far Under Your protection, and accepted of your friendship As marks of humanety, as be assured it was never more Wanting, However since I had the pleasure of seeing you It being last Thursday I have been very ill, without much Intermission, Afflicted with an Intermitting Fever attended with A fit every day in a violent degree, this present time I find Myselfe much better and embrace the opportunity of Letting you know that I am in a great measure destitude Of money, as I have paid 2 guineas to a Doctor and know not How much more he may demand, besides my Attendance and Lodging amount very high. I have paid 3 guineas For a passage in the Deligence, which is to proceed to Nantz on Thursday next, as by that time I am in Expectation of being eneabled to go, but without money it is Imposible. Its true I received Ten guineas but Consider I Have been here 2 weeks and my not being aversed in the French Language, renders it Imposible for me to use Frugal’ety as I would wish, as be assured I am much Improved Upon, I have used the freedom of reprisenting my situation to Doctor Franklin Yesterday, but have received no answer. Therefore am fearful I have given Offence, now beg leave To direct my sentiments to you, in hopes of meeting with Better success. Its true It would be presumtious of me to assume A Correspondence with a gentleman of his qualety as The Dignety of your stations dont render it subsiquent for Me; but the good Oppinion allways sustained by the publick of the Benevolence of Doctor Franklin besides many Proofs of it received by the helpless Americans now in bondage In the hands of the enemy has emboldened me, but not meeting With the reception I expected, thro the Idea I have of your humanity I use the freedom of calling upon you, in hopes you would make A second tryal in my behalfe which I am convinced will have The desired effect; my request is 5 guineas which with the greatest Industry I am capable of may suffice. If this request should Be granted, I inclose my direction, any obligation that Is requisite, by thursday I will wait on you, if helth will Permit and pass them, now there is a great sum of Money due to me for wages therefore you run the less Risk’, money I owe at present and it must be paid or I cant Proceed. All this I hope you will take into consideration And the only Amends I can make at present is that I am a Subject to the Continent of America, and have Been in the service since the Comencment of this war [. . .]I dare say suitable to my capasety [. . .] I hope will suffice, wont Incroch on your time Any farther. Therefore beg leave to conclude to be Your Obediant Humble Servt.,
If you should be kind enough to feavour me with an Answer Any order you may send please to Inclose it with directions.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honourable John Adams Esqr. To be left at Monsieur Franquelen a pasis”; docketed: “Dr. Thomas Barnes ans. 26. Aug. 1778.” The address page contains numerous other markings, perhaps postal, and the removal of the seal cut out several words on the reverse.
1. Thomas Barnes was the former surgeon of the Hampden, probably a privateer, and very likely had escaped from Forton Prison in company with Lt. Edward Leger of the Hornet on 23 July. James Leveaux had written to Benjamin Franklin from Calais on 10 Aug. concerning the two men and noted that he had paid their expenses, possibly including the 10 guineas mentioned by Barnes below (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends , 1:475; Marion and Jack Kaminkow, comps., Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 111).
2. Benjamin Franklin commented on this letter and that of the previous day to him from Barnes in a brief note to JA written below the address on the present letter and from which words have been lost through the subsequent removal of the seal: “If you write to this Mr. Barnes, please to acquaint him that the Reason he had no Answer from me to his Letter was because he did not Send word where he lodg’d. I agree to the [payment of] 5 Guineas.” JA’s reply to Barnes (not found) apparently incorporated the substance of Franklin’s note and was answered by Barnes in a letter of the 27th (below).