From Silas Deane
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Monday Morning, [May 5,9 1777]
An express is going to Nantes at twelve o Clock this Day. I pray to see you previous, to determine on what sum shall be paid Capt. Bell, who is about to leave Nantes, and go into the service of the Gentlemen who are sending to him express.1 And he will be uneasy to have it determined upon. I am Sir your most Obedient and Very Humble Servant
Mr. Deane prays Mr Franklin junr. to ask Mr. Chaumont for one of those busts,2 I saw in his hands and send it per Bearer
Addressed: To / The hone. Benja Franklin Esq / Passy
9. Deane’s letterbook for this period has apparently disappeared, but according to a list of its contents (National Archives) he wrote four letters to Nantes on this date, including one to Bell and another to him, John Ross, and Thomas Morris. Those letters undoubtedly went by the express mentioned in the first sentence.
1. Thomas Bell had been commissioned to procure and command a privateer, in which Robert Morris, Deane, and others were to have an interest: above, XXIII, 469 n. Deane is said to have borrowed his share from Beaumarchais, but this is based on later, hearsay testimony: Deane Papers, II, 494–5.
2. If we read the word aright—and we can find no other plausible reading—this is the first appearance of the famous Nini medallion, which Chaumont was having made at his château as part of his campaign to publicize BF. See Charles E. Sellers, Benjamin Franklin in Portraiture (New Haven and London, 1962), pp. 104–5, 344–5, where the earliest reference to the medallion is more than six weeks later.