Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Marquis de Lafayette, [20 October 1783]

From the Marquis de Lafayette

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris Monday Morning [October 20, 1783]8

My dear Sir

The famous William Pitt is just Arrived in Paris, and is just Returning to London— He Has Expressed a warm desire to Get Acquainted with You, and As I Hoped You would Come to day to the American dinner, I Have invited Him together with Lord Camden’s, duke of Grafton’s Sons, and two other of His friends—it is Possible You will be Glad to know a Young Man Whose Abilities and Circumstances are So Uncommon— So that, Unless the Going Very Gently in a Carriage Hurts you, You will do me an extreme pleasure to dine with us, as You are the Center Upon Which Moves the Whole Party—9 Butt I would not Have You do Yourself Any Harm on that Account—Most Respectfully and Affectionately Yours


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The date of one of the most remarkable of the marquis and marquise de Lafayette’s Monday night dinners (for which see XL, 118n). The 18 at table included BF, WTF, Lewis Littlepage (XL, 563–4), the vicomte de Noailles (XXVIII, 188n), the comtesse de Boufflers (XXXV, 20n), William Pitt the younger, who was making his first and only visit to the continent (ODNB), and four of Pitt’s friends. These friends were William Wilberforce (XXXIII, 320n), George Henry Fitzroy, the future fourth Duke of Grafton (ODNB), John Jeffreys Pratt, the future second Earl and later first Marquess Camden (ODNB), and Edward James Eliot (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, II, 390): Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, v, 158–9; Robert I. Wilberforce and Samuel Wilberforce, The Life of William Wilberforce (5 vols., London, 1838), I, 41; Louis Gottschalk, Lafayette between the American and the French Revolution (1783–1789) (Chicago, 1950), pp. 34–7.

9Lafayette had sent BF an invitation to this dinner on Oct. 17; it was an engraved form identical to the one published in XL, 118. Eight similar engraved invitations to Monday dinners survive among BF’s papers; seven are addressed to BF and one is to WTF. Of the former, six have firm dates: Dec. 18, 1783; Jan. 3 and 8, Feb. 10 and 26, and March 9, 1784. The seventh is dated only “the 18 1784”, and must have been issued before the end of June, when Lafayette left for America. The final example, addressed to WTF, is dated March 30, 1784. All are at the APS except the one of March 9, 1784 (Columbia University Library).

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