Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Comtesse Conway, 25 March 1779

To the Comtesse Conway

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy March 25 1779

I find, Ma chere fille, that you and I have been very unlucky in our Endeavours to oblige Mr. Mullens: for on the Contrary we have grievously offended him. I understood he had been taken Prisoner and stript by the English, and had not wherewith to pay the Expence of his Journey to his Regiment. I sent him an Order on my Banker for ten Guineas.5 He returns me the Order, and to make it & me & the Congress look ridiculous, he tells me “I sent it him as a Gratification” for his Services “in the name of the Honble. Congress.” I had no such Idea. I had declared that I had no Authority to make Gratifications to Officers, nor any Money put into my Hands for such Purposes; and he could not but see that the real Intention of the Order was expressed in the face of it; whereby his Claim, if he has any, to a Gratification, is left open. If his intention was to obtain it from me, he was mistaken in the Application: He shou’d have apply’d to the Congress. They might know him & his Services. But I was totally unacquainted with both; I had only heard, as you may remember I told you that he spoke his sentiments very freely in Paris against the Congress and America, which however did not prevent my offering him the little Aid I thought he stood in need of. I am glad he has no Occasion for it.

I join heartily in your Joy on the Return of your Husband; as I was a Witness to your perpetual Anxiety for his Welfare during his Absence. I wish your Happiness together may not again be interrupted, but continue during your Lives—being ever your affectionate Father (as you do me the Honor to call me)

Madame Conway

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Indeed, BF recorded in the Wastebook (Account I, XXIII, 19) that he had sent ten louis to Mullens in order to allow him to “return to his Regiment in Bretagne.” He subsequently struck through the entry and wrote “return’d” in the margin.

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