Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Bache, 14 July 1778

From Richard Bache

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia July 14. 1778

Dear and Honored Sir

Once more I have the happiness of addressing you from this dearly beloved City, after having been kept out of it more than nine months. I have had the pleasure of hearing frequently from you of late, the last is dated the 25th. April, wherein you tell me that you have had no Letter from me since June 1777. I hope, my dear Sir, you don’t suspect that Sally and I have been so remiss, as not to have wrote you in all this time, she has wrote you two or three Letters, I have wrote at least a dozen, which, considering that our situation has not been very stationary, is pretty well; but our Letters have been unfortunate. I was ignorant of Mr. John Adam’s departure, or should have wrote by him. Sally is yet in the Country, and does not intend coming to Town ’till the hot weather be over, on account of her little Girl. I heard from them yesterday and they were well. I found your house and furniture upon my return to Town, in much better order than I had any reason to expect from the hands of such a rapacious crew; they stole and carried off with them some of your musical Instruments, viz: a welch harp, bell harp, the set of tuned bells which were in a box, Viol de Gambo, all the spare Armonica Glasses and one or two of the spare cases. Your armonica is safe. They took likewise the few books that were left behind, the chief of which were Temple’s school books, and the history of the Arts and Sciences in french, which is a great loss to the public.4 Some of your electric Aparatus is missing also. A Captain Andre also took with him the picture of you, which hung in the dining room,5 the rest of the pictures are safe, and met with no damage except the frame of Alfred, which is broken to pieces. In short considering the hurry in which we were obliged to leave the Town, Sally’s then situation, and the number of things we consequently left behind, we are much better off than I had any reason to expect. I have mentioned in four or five different Letters the Types you brought over with you from England being sold to the State of Virginia, and that the price of them was left for you to fix, as I knew not the cost or the value of them.6 I should be glad to hear from you on this subject, that I might receive the Money and place it in the funds. Congress have not yet began to draw for the interest of money borrowed, as soon as they do, I will remit you your bills. Your chest of papers left with Mr. Galloway I am told was broke open at Trevoes and the papers scattered about.7 I shall go up thither today or tomorrow to look after them, if I can pick any of them up, shall take care of them. Governor Franklin is upon the point of being exchanged.8 I have had two or three Letters from him, informing me that he enjoys better health than he had done in the begining of his confinement. Two days ago the french Ambassador arrived. I waited upon him yesterday, and was introduced as your son in Law, he received me very politely, told me he held dear every connection of yours.9 This made me not a little vain. [He] told me he had a Letter for me, which he would wait upon me with, as soon as he had got his baggage on shore; I shall pay every proper respect and attention to your introductions, as soon as I am in a situation for it. I cannot help mentioning Mr. Holker, as a Gentleman that has made very sensible impressions on me.1 It would have been a most fortunate event, had the fleet arrived three weeks earlier. They would have effectually crushed the British power in this part of the world; I am still in hopes this may be done,2 but it would have been effected with greater facility had they met the enemy in our Bay or River. I am obliged to you for the extracts of Letters and other papers sent with yours of the 25th. April. I lament much that I do not understand french; I must endeavor to learn it. I have seen Mr. Lutterloh, and spoke to him relative to Count Wittgenstein’s demand, he assures me that three months ago he remitted £400 Sterling to Mrs. Lutterloh in England with directions for her to remit this amount to the Count, which he says is all he owes him. From the paper you sent me the Count’s demand is more. The Count had better send over a certified account and power of Attorney. It may then be in my power to recover the money due him, as Mr. Lutterloh has made a good deal of Money in our Service, and purchased an Estate at Potsgrove. I have wrote to the Adjutant General of our Army, requesting him to make every Inquiry to satisfy the friends of Frederick de Wernecke, and expect soon to receive his answer, whether or not such a person is in our Service. A Gentleman from Germany that lives here, and is acquainted with all the German Officers that come over, is of opinion that Captain Wernecke never came to this Country, but that he was lost with Mr. Zeller, whom he knew very well. I shall pay proper attention to the Duchesse de Melfort’s Memoire, and endeavor to procure the satisfaction she wants relative to the Lands in New Jersey, but this will take up some time.3 With most cordial Love and Duty I remain Dear and honored Sir Your most affectionate son

Rich: Bache

I wish I could have sent to me from France 2 dozen of padlocks & Keys fit for Mails, and a dozen post horns, they are not to be had here.

Dr. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Presumably BF’s Amsterdam edition of the Mémoires of the Académie royale des sciences: XVIII, 70.

5Capt. John André, whom the Americans later hanged for his part in the Arnold conspiracy, was aide-de-camp to Maj. Gen. Charles Grey, later first Earl Grey, to whom he presented the portrait by Benjamin Wilson. It remained in the Grey family until 1906, when the fourth Earl, then Governor General of Canada, gave it to the United States. APS Proc., c, 371.

6RB had disposed of BF’s printing office, he reported in his letter above, XXV, 552.

7Trevose, Galloway’s estate in Bucks County. For this pillage, the greatest single loss that BF’s papers underwent, see I, XXI.

8WF was finally released in late October. William H. Mariboe, The Life of William Franklin, 1730(1)-1813, “Pro Rege et Patria,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pa., 1962), pp. 483–4.

9Conrad-Alexandre Gérard had crossed with d’Estaing, who detached a frigate that landed him at Chester on the 12th. Meng, Despatches of Gérard, p. 147. On the 13th RB described his meeting with the minister in a letter to Sally: “The company that was with me said, I out did him in politeness, notwithstanding he is so polite a man.” Yale University Library.

1For Holker’s mission see XXV, 238–9 n.

2If the French had arrived two weeks earlier, a British observer agreed, “it is highly probable that our cause would have been totally ruined in America. Our fleet was at that time dispersed all over the American coast, New York was entirely defenseless, and the baggage and provisions for the whole army was then leaving the Delaware protected by a few frigates that would have been incapable of making the least resistance.” Quoted in Willcox, Portrait of a General, p. 237.

3BF’s letter of April 25 has disappeared. Lutterloh’s debt to Wittgenstein had resulted from recruiting the Count’s subjects for the British in 1776; see Wittgenstein to BF, Jan. 25, 1780, APS. As for Frederick Warnecke, he was indeed alive and holding a commission in Williamsburg: see RB’s letter below, Oct. 22. According to his brother-in-law, Warnecke had left Idstein in October, 1776 to enter American service: Langsdorf to JA, July 22, 1783, National Archives. He had been hired as state engineer of Va. in Oct., 1777, and was captured in January, 1781 at Richmond, where he was too drunk to flee the attack of Benedict Arnold: E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra, ed., A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations in the American Revolution, 1774–1787 ([Richmond], 1978), p. 114. His relatives were still inquiring as to his whereabouts well after the Revolution; see National Archives, Papers of the Continental Congress, under Wernecke. For the duchesse de Melfort’s questions about her land claims see XXV, 718–19.

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