Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Chevalier de Chastellux, 6 April 1782

To the Chevalier de Chastellux5

LS:6 private collection (1985); copy: Library of Congress

Passy, April 6. 1782.

Dear Sir,

It gave me great Pleasure to hear by the Officers returned last Winter from your Army, that you continued in good Health. You will see by the Public Papers, that the English begin to be weary of the War, and they have reason; having suffered many Losses, having four Nations of Enemies upon their Hands, few Men to spare, little Money left, and very bad Heads. The latter they have lately changed. As yet we know not what Measures their new Ministry will take. People generally think they will be employ’d by the King to extricate him from his present Difficulties by obtaining a Peace, and that then he will kick them out again, they being all Men that he abominates, and who have been forced upon him by the Parliament.

The Commons have already made a Sort of half Peace with us Americans, by forbidding the Troops on the Continent to act offensively; and by a new Law they have impower’d the King to compleat it. As yet I hear nothing of the Terms they mean to propose; indeed they have hardly had time to form them. I know they wish to detach us from France; but that is impossible.

I congratulate you on the Success of your last glorious Campaign. Establishing the Liberties of America will not only make the People happy, but will have some Effect in diminishing the Misery of those who in the other parts of the World groan under Despotism, by rendering it more circumspect, and inducing it to govern with a lighter hand. A Philosopher endow’d with those strong Sentiments of Humanity that are manifested in your excellent Writings, must enjoy great Satisfaction in having contributed so extensively by his Sword as well as by his Pen to the Felicité Publique.7

M. Le Comte de Segur has desired of me a Line of Recommendation to you. I consider his Request rather as a Compliment to me, than as asking what may be of use to him; Since I find that all who know him here esteem & love him, and he is certainly not unknown to you.8

Dare I confess to you that I am your Rival with Madame G.?9 I need not tell you that I am not a dangerous one. I perceive that She loves you very much; and so does, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Mr. Chevalier de Chatellux

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5BF had given Chastellux letters of recommendation when the chevalier left France to serve with Rochambeau: XXXII, 135, 136.

6In the hand of L’Air de Lamotte.

7An allusion to Chastellux’s De la félicité publique, the most important of his philosophical writings and the work which earned him membership in the Académie française: XXI, 505n; XXXIV, 333n; Chastellux, Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782, ed. and trans. Howard C. Rice, Jr. (2 vols., Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963), I, 8–14.

8Chastellux was a close relative of the comte’s and an intimate friend of his father’s: Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur, Mémoires ou souvenirs et anecdotes (3 vols., Paris, 1827), I, 368–72.

9The comtesse de Golowkin, whose correspondence with BF reflects concern for her ami intime as well as affection for her cher papa. See, for example, her earliest letters: XXXIV, 234–7, 331–2, 343–5.

Index Entries