Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Alexander, 28 December 1777

From William Alexander

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Dijon 28 Decr 1777

My Dear Sir

I wrote you two letters last Summer in which I mentioned the feu Gregois and the Comte de Rostaing.1 I wish I had known by a single line That They came Safe to Hand.

This goes by that Gentleman who is a Genl. officer of Artilery, and a Man of great Worth. If You will venture to take a friend of my recommending I recommend Him to you. He was sent out as Commander in Chief of Artilery in the War 1743 to the East Indies, where he shewed a fertility of resource not inferior to Robinson Crusoe, which fix’d his Military Character as an Ingeneer where it now stands.2 But it is as a friend not as a soldier I introduce Him to you, because I Suppose nothing less than positive orders from His Court would induce him to stir from France.

We hear of great victories you have obtaind in America. I hope you will use them as a Philosopher and not grow Insolent as our Country is apt to do. I have also been gaining victories,3 but am doubtfull if the Enemies of Either are yet sufficiently humbled to grow reasonable. I hear often of your welfare, and Pray God it may Continue, and that you may live to see Peace and prosperity restord to both Countries.

I intended to have been in Italy this winter, but two more of my litle family who were Intended of the Party and whom I had orderd to be here in Augt. arrived only about 6 weeks ago,4 so that we shall now winter here, and if we do not setle an Advantageous peace [?] in the Interim shall proceed in April next.

You were so obliging as to offer an Introduction for my Son to the Bishop of St. Asaphs Family, and I will be obliged to you for it.5 I beg my Compliments to your Son, and believe me with the warmest Affection My Dear Sir Your most obedient humble Servant

W. Alexander

A letter addressed to me at this place will Come Safe.

Endorsed: Alexander 28. Decr. 1777.

1In May and June: above, XXIV, 70–1, 199–200.

2He is still referring to Rostaing, who as a young man had served in India during the War of the Austrian Succession: Six, Dictionnaire biographique.

3In his litigation in Grenada, mentioned in the June letter just cited.

4Presumably two of his younger children.

5BF provided the introduction in his letter to Shipley below, Feb. 9. William Alexander, the eldest son (1755–1842), was about to embark on a legal career that brought him considerable distinction. He was called to the bar in 1782, and after the Napoleonic Wars was first a master in chancery and then Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, knighted, and a member of the privy council. Charles Rogers, Memoirs of the Earl of Stirling and of the House of Alexander (2 vols., Edinburgh, 1877), II, 35–6.

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