Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Dumas, 8 February 1780

From Dumas

ALS: American Philosophical Society; AL (draft): Algemeen Rijksarchief

the Hague febr. 8th. 1780

Honoured & dear Sir

Herewith I send you the remedy I promised in my last.6

Somebody writes to me what follows “Un Capitaine arrivé depuis peu en Zélande m’a assuré avoir vu le Cape. Jones a plus de 50 lieues à l’Ouest de l’Irlande, tenant route opposée avec une prise.”7

873. 337. 64. 833. 879. 470 419., 30 & 16 would 168. But 2. 879. 470. 601. 419. till 8. 48. 935. 395. 757.8

This is but to try our cypher. Somebody tells me, that the Baron de La H—— of whom I wrote you formerly, is no more to be trusted than 10. 12. & their 373. 339.9

I still am anxious for our poor confederacy, & the friends she carries. Perhaps she has been obliged, by a storm, to put back in some American harbour.

I am with great respect Honoured & dear Sir your most humble & obedient servant.1


Passy His Exc. Franklin

Notation: Dumas, la haie Feb. 8. 80

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6A modification of Jones’s code, based on BF’s and Bancroft’s suggestions; see Dumas’ last letter, Feb. 4, and our headnote to his of Jan. 6. The “remedy” (APS) included a list of thirty-three new items to be added to the beginning of the numerical sequence. They included proper names (van Berckel, van der Capellan, Capt. Conyngham, the duc de Brunswick, Fizeaux, Georges and Ferdinand Grand, Capt. Gillon, Jay, Izard, and Neufville), place names (mostly of Dutch cities, but there is also a duplicate entry for the United States), and three numbers that signified grammatical alterations of a preceding word: 26 stood for participle, 27 for past tense, and 28 for plural. Dumas instructed BF to renumber the original nomenclator, beginning with thirty-four. He also changed the letter-substitution table: A through Z would now be replaced by the letters L through K.

7It could not have been Jones, as he was at La Coruña from Jan. 16 to 27 and does not seem to have sailed to the west of Ireland either coming or going: Morison, Jones, pp. 269–71.

8BF’s decoding of this passage, on a scrap of paper preserved at the APS, reads: “The France Ambassador still thinks it impossible Stadtholder & Grand Pensionaire would cheat. But V.B. thinks it not impossible, till the States General adopt what Holland resolves.”

9“Fizeaux, [Georges] Grand, & their great friend.”

1In his draft, following the first sentence, Dumas deleted a passage about possibly suggesting to van der Capellen (who had just received a good inheritance from a near relative) that he go as Dutch minister to the United States when the time came.

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