From Lambert Wickes
ALS: American Philosophical Society
March 7th, 1777
I should be much obliged if you would send the inclosed letter forward by the first undoubted safe Conveyance. I should not give your honour the Trouble if Could have an Oppertunity of a Safe Conveyance from this. As that is impractacable shall be much obliged for your Care of the Same. It Contains matters of Importance both to me and Mr. Johnston.5 From Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant
Addressed: To / The Honble. Dr. Benja. Franklin / at / Paris
Notations: Cap. Weekes L’Orient March 7. 77 / Capt Wickes
5. The enclosure and the man to whom it was to be forwarded invite guesses. Ours, with little or no evidence behind them, are that “Johnston” was Henry Johnson, whom Wickes later consistently misspelled in that way, and that the enclosure had to do with Dr. Eliphalet Downer. Wickes did not know Johnson at this time, as far as we are aware, and certainly did not know that he was en route to France with the secret committee’s dispatch above of Feb. 17. He may have known of Downer, Johnson’s surgeon, who had been captured with him in their privateer, subsequently escaped to France and was in Paris by the end of March if not before (Naval Docs., VIII, 723), and in mid-April joined Wickes’s squadron: Wickes to BF below, April 15.