Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [the Marquise de Boulainvilliers], [1777?]

From [the Marquise de Boulainvilliers4]

AL: American Philosophical Society


Il y a bien Longtems que les habitans De passy n’ont eu L’honneur De voir monsieur franklin. Veut il bien qu’ils se rapellent a son souvenir et qu’ils luy proposent de Leurs faire L’honneur De venir Diner chez eux jeudy prochain. Ils le priront aussy de leur rendre les papiers en question s’il n’en a plus besoin parce que les personnes qui les ont preté a Madame de boulainvilliers les luy redemandent. Nous comptons sur monsieur son fils et ses aimables Compatriotes. Sy monsieur franklin n’avoit rien de mieux a faire ce soir et qu’il voulut venir prendre du thé avec nous nous en serions ravies.

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur franklin / A Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Identified by the handwriting. The family, which first appears in a note above from her daughter, the vicomtesse de Faudoas, of Dec. 5, was descended on one side from Samuel Bernard, who in the early 18th century was one of the richest bankers in France, and on the other side from the comte Henri de Boulainvilliers, the famous historian, whose daughter married Bernard’s son. The offspring of this union was BF’s acquaintance, Anne-Gabriel-Henri Bernard, marquis de Boulainvilliers, provost of Paris and the last seigneur of Passy. DBF under Boulainvilliers. The marquis and his wife, née Marie-Madeleine-Adrienne d’Hallencourt, had two daughters, the vicomtesse and Anne-Marie-Louise Bernard de Boulainvilliers, commonly known as Mlle. de Passy; the latter was one of the most beautiful young women in the country, and BF is said to have declared himself in love with her. Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 63–4; Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, VII, 109.

We do not know when BF met these Passy neighbors, but probably before the summer. The principal evidence of his relationship with them is a series of notes from the marquise, all in the APS and none precisely dated. The nearest approach is one of July 19, in which she asks for a quarter-hour to plead the cause of some unfortunate protégé and signs herself d’Hallencourt de Boulainvilliers; in other notes she drops her maiden name, and we assume that this happened, as with Mme. Brillon, when the relationship matured. For that small reason we are inclined to think that the July in question is 1777 rather than the alternative, 1783. Another note, unsigned, may also be 1777; it asks BF to postpone an engagement with them. As for the present letter, its reference to his “aimables Compatriotes” suggests a date, if not in 1777, at least before Adams’s arrival; thereafter she was in the habit of mentioning him by name.

Index Entries