Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Viscount Mountmorres, [19 May? 1783]

From Viscount Mountmorres5

AL: American Philosophical Society

Monday. [May 19, 1783?]6

Lord Mountmorres has the honour to inform Dr Franklin that he leaves Paris on Thursday morning & that if he has any commands for England he shall be happy to execute them.

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Le Docteur / Franklin A Passy.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This undated note is the only trace in BF’s papers of Hervey Redmond Morres, 2nd Viscount Mountmorres (174½–1797), a political writer and member of the Irish House of Lords who met BF in London and dined with him on at least one occasion in May, 1769. He later claimed to have been an intimate acquaintance: ODNB; J. Bennett Nolan, Benjamin Franklin in Scotland and Ireland, 1759 and 1771 (Philadelphia and London, 1938), p. 132; [Mountmorres], The Letters of Themistocles (London, 1795), p. XXIV.

Lord Mountmorres came to France by way of Brussels in December, 1782: London Courant and Daily Advertiser, Dec. 30, 1782. We now realize that he, and not Baron Mountnorris, was the Irish member of Parliament who attended Fitzherbert’s dinner in Paris on Dec. 17: XXXVIII, 440. (In XXXVIII, 440n, we misidentified him based on JA’s spelling of the name: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 96.) In a posthumous sketch of BF Mountmorres mentioned spending a day at Passy in March, 1783, and noted how remarkable it was that BF “made no secret” of his humble origins. To illustrate this point he recalled a conversation in Paris, in company with La Rochefoucauld and the conde de Aranda, during which BF admitted to having vast knowledge about paper manufacturing in America since he “was originally in the printing trade”: Letters of Themistocles, pp. XXIV, 2–3 of Appendix.

6We do not know when Mountmorres left Paris, but he attended court at St. James’s on Thursday, May 29: Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, May 30, 1783. If the “Thursday morning” he left Paris was May 22, then May 19 is the last possible Monday in 1783 that he could have written this note. Another possibility, however, is February, 1785, when he was back in Paris. He dined at BF’s on Feb. 14 with a large company of family, friends, and notables. He was back in London by March 4, when he presented himself at court: [Caroline A. Smith de Windt, ed.], Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, Daughter of John Adams … (2 vols., New York and London, 1841–42), I, 47–8; Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, March 5, 1785.

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