Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Caffiéri, 25 March 1783

From Caffiéri

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris ce 25 mars 1783


Je vien D’aprendre par Des vois indirect que Les Etats unis de L’amerique etoient dans Lintentions de faire Elevé une Statue a La Gloire Du Roy,4 Si La chose est vraie, il Sauroit tres flateure pour moi D’Etres chargé de L’execution de Se monument. Je vous prie Monsieur Dans cette occasion et Dans touts autre de vouloire bien vous Resouvenire de moy et D’etre persuader de mon Zele et de ma Reconnoissance.

Jay Lhonneur D’etre avec Respect Monsieur Votre tres humble Et tres obeïssant Serviteur


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4This rumor was initially published in the Courier de l’Europe in mid-February; see the baron d’Haxthausen’s letter of Feb. 26. A new report was published in that same paper on March 18, based on news from Paris dated March 4, linking the proposed statue with the Libertas Americana medal and quoting a 14-line Latin inscription which was said to have been selected for it. The inscription, given also in French translation, praised the Supreme Being for granting this hard-won liberty, extolled the generosity of Louis XVI, and offered the eternal gratitude of the United States: Courier de l’Europe, XIII (1783), 122, 170–1. On March 19 this story was reprinted, with slight variations, in both Métra’s Correspondance secrète (XIV, 194) and in Bachaumont, Mémoires secrets (XXII, 155), the latter of which reproduced the Latin inscription.

This inscription was criticized in a letter, evidently sent to BF from Italy, that only survives in a curious, truncated copy in BF’s hand. The author had read about the statue in a news story from Paris; he finds the inscription (which he quotes) “verbose, if not lapidary” and in poor Latin. BF’s copy is in flawed Italian and trails off before the complimentary close and signature (APS). We speculate that it is an Italian exercise that BF created for himself, in preparation for his anticipated journey to Italy. He may have translated the now-missing original into English, and then produced this re-translation. The text is reprinted in Antonio Pace, Benjamin Franklin and Italy (Philadelphia, 1958), p. [367], and described on p. 9.

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