Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Walter Pollard, [before 23 July 1779]

From Walter Pollard3

AL: American Philosophical Society

Hôtel du Roi petit Carousel près de Thuilleries.
[before July 23, 1779]

The Arrival of the inclosed Letter to Mr: Pollard makes it unnecessary for Him to trouble Doctor Franklin with the Parcel intended for England. It comes from the Gentleman to whom that Parcel was directed—his respected Friend Mr: J——s,4 who had undertaken to procure, if possible, what was necessary for Mr: Pollard’s Return to his Family. How the Efforts of his Friend have succeded may be seen in his own Account. Amongst the several Persons to whom the Application was made, Mr: Daniel5 is alone accountable to the Friends & Father of Mr: Pollard, for his first & last Distresses, having unfairly witholden Supplies from Him not many Months ago, & now (in the present Alarm of the British Commerce) refusing to supply with only a Part the Son of a Gentleman to whom He formerly professed a Friendship. The others if able would unquestionably have lent their Assistance, which would not have been sollicited without the Assurance of his Father’s Ability & Readiness to repay them. This, Sir, is the Subject of this Letter; & the Pain & Uneasiness of being obliged to write it cannot easily be expressed. Mr: P. had requested of them 50£, half of which would serve to pay his Expenses, incurred since his Disappointment of Mr: Norton’s Coming to Paris6 & the other Half would supply Him to Eustatia. But He is perfectly sensible, that where this Letter is written there must be many others who doubtless have better & stronger Claims to Assistance:—& the Thought of this has long restrained Him from a like Application. However, Mr: Js. having fairly marked the Crisis (and advised to the best of his Knowlege, whatever may be the Merit of his Advise)—the Necessity is too obvious to Mr: Pollard of doing something—but how—He cannot venture to determine. His Duty to His Father (whose Sentiments & Sense of Things are the same with his Son’s) is the first Movement of his Soul; but Necessity (the Cause of which was honourable, though the Effects of it are severely felt by him, as He now finds Himself a Burthen where He vainly wished to be of Service) obliges Him to explain his Situation. He hopes there is no Impropriety in doing it in this Manner & if any Thing is obscure, & wanting a further Explanation, Mr: P will wait upon his Excellency whenever it may be convenient to give Him Notice.

Notation: From Mr Pollard no Date 1779.7

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The young American sympathizer and would-be secret agent whom Dumas had introduced: XXVIII, 5, 22–8. On July 23, BF lent him ten louis (240 l.t.), describing him as, “a Sufferer in the American Cause. His Father is a Physician in Barbadoes.” Cash Book (Account XVI, XXVI, 3.)

4William Jones, the eminent scholar and mutual friend of Pollard and BF: XVIII, 201n; XXVIII, 24n.

5Perhaps Edward Daniel, a solicitor in Bristol for nearly 50 years before his death in 1818: Gentleman’s Magazine, LXXXVIII, part one (1818), 471. Pollard had stayed in Bristol (where his brother was ill) before fleeing England: XXVIII, 25–8.

6A Virginian named George Flowerdewe Norton had been a student in London. He did come to Passy in 1779, at least long enough for BF to issue him a passport: XXIX, 513.

7To the best of our knowledge, this is the last communication from Pollard. One of his letters (we don’t know which) was forwarded to BF by Joseph Brown, Jr. (XXVI, 455; XXIX, 134, 379), who sent it under cover of his friend WTF in an undated note. APS.

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