Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Alexander, 24 May 1777

From William Alexander

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Dijon 24 May1 1777

My Dear Sir

Your letter of the 8th Instt. came duely to hand. I do not wonder that M. Du bourg thought my terms too high,2 and I doubt not but he will get many Cheaper Undertakers. May They prove good and Cheap for his Sake. His affairs have afforded me some hours amusement which I do not regret.

I see you have a bad opinion of our ministerial news, but by letters I have to day we are promisd from the highest authority in England Good news this summer, tho’ my friend notices That they seemd to be Utter’d, with rather less Confidence than last year about this time. I see you have made my old friend Lee a Minister at Madrid,3 I think he has very much the Air and Manners of a Spainiard, when he is not angry.

Your ideas of the Copartnary for our friend Williams are Entirely the same with mine which I have wrote to Him, I Suspect you and I woud seldom differ in any point where both of us understood it equally. Pray Do you know any thing of the Comte de Rostaing? I have lived in some intimacy with Him, and in talking of Maritime Affairs, He told me he knew a method of destroying ships with Certainty in any River or roadstead where there was a current or tide. Subject to no disappointment or discovery untill the event took place. This from my knowledge of the Man I pay great regard to. Set your mind to work on this problem. Monsr. de Rostaing is a Genl. officer of artilery, but his knowledge is not Confined to that department.4

The Girls join me in the most affectionate Compliments to you and your Grandson and I ever am with the most thorough Esteem Dear Sir Your most obedient humble servant

W Alexander

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin / a L’hotel d’Hambourg / Rue Jacob / a Paris

Notation: W. Alexander Dijon 24 May. 77.

1“March” has been overwritten; the contents make clear that May is correct.

2As Alexander had expected at the time that he offered the terms: above, XXIII, 565.

3This news was long out of date. Lee had returned to Paris from his Spanish mission on April 3.

4For Philippe-Joseph, comte de Rostaing (1716–93), see Larousse, Dictionnaire universel; Six, Dictionnaire biographique. He was primarily an expert on light guns, and contributed to Gribeauval’s transformation of the French artillery discussed above, XXII, 462 n. His method of destroying ships was with Greek fire; see Alexander’s letter below, June 19.

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