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ciety in peace, among our honest, worthy, ingenious friends at the London.

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Secretary to the treasury of Great Britain.

Passy, November 7, 1780. I understand that Mr. Laurens, an American gentleman, for whom I have a great esteem, is a prisoner in the Tower, and that his health suffers by the closeness and rigor of his confinement. As I do not think that your affairs receive any advantage from the harshness of this proceeding, I take the freedom of requesting your kind interposition, to obtain for him such a degree of air and liberty on his parole or otherwise, as may be necessary for his health and comfort. The fortune of war, which is daily changing, may possibly put it in my power to do the like good office for some friend of yours, which I shall perform with much pleasure, not only for the sake of humanity, but in respect to the ashes of our former friendship.

With great regard, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.



Passy, March 8, 1781. I received the letter you have done me the honor of writing to me the 2d instant, wherein, after overwhelming me with a flood of compliments, which I can never hope to merit, you request my opinion your translation of a Latin verse, that has been




applied to me.* If I were, which I really am not, sufficiently skilled in your excellent language to be a proper judge of its poesy, the supposition of my being the subject must restrain me from giving any opinion on that line, except that it ascribes too much to me, especially in what relates to the tyrant, the → revolution having been the work of many able and brave men, wherein it is sufficient honor for me if I am allowed a small share.

I am much obliged by the favorable sentiments you are pleased to entertain of me; and I shall be glad to see your remarks on Gay's Fan, as well as your own poem on the same subject.

With regard, I have the honor to be, Sir,



Passy, March 12, 1781.

I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself, a subject with which I have not often troubled the congress. I have passed my seventy-fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout which I had the last winter has shaken me exceedingly; and I am yet far from having recovered the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do


Eripuit cœlo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis.

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Tu vois le sage courageux,
Dont l'heureux et måle génie
Arracha le tonnerre aux dieux,

Et le sceptre à la tyrannie."

He snatch'd the bolt from Heaven's avenging hand,
Disarm'd and drove the tyrant from the land."

not know that my mental faculties are impaired. Perhaps I shall be the last to discover that; but I am sensible of great diminution in my activity, a quality I think particularly necessary in your minister at this court. I am afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also that the business is too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant attendance at home, which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange (a matter foreign to my ministerial functions), to answer letters, and perform other parts of my employment, prevent my taking the air and exercise which my annual journies formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health. There are many other little personal attentions which the infirmities of age age render necessary to an old man's comfort, even perhaps in some degree to the continuance of his existence, and with which business often interferes. I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed public confidence in some shape or other during the long term of fifty years, an honor sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition, and I have now no other left but the repose which I hope the congress will grant me, by sending some person to supply my place. At the same time I beg they may be assured, that it is not any the least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and simply the reasons above mentioned; and as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage, (the last having been almost too much for me,) and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and

imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose to remain here at least till the peace; perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life; and if any knowledge or experience I have acquired here may be thought of use to my successor, I shall freely communicate it, and assist him with any influence I may be supposed to have, or counsel that may be desired of me.

I have one request more to make, which, if I have served the congress to their satisfaction, I hope they will not refuse me. It is this; that they will be pleased to take under their protection my grandson, William Temple Franklin. I have educated him from his infancy, and I brought him over with an intention of placing him where he might be qualified for the profession of the law; but the constant occasion I had for his services as a private secretary, during the time of the commissioners, and more extensively since their departure, has induced me to keep him always with me; and-indeed being continually disappointed of the secretary congress had at different times intended me, it would have been impossible for me, without this young gentleman's assistance, to have gone through the business incumbent on me: he has thereby lost so much of the time necessary to law studies, that I think it rather advisable for him to continue, if it may be, in the line of public foreign affairs for which he seems qualified by a sagacity and judgment above his years. Great diligence and exact probity, a genteel address, a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowledge of business to be obtained by a four years' constant employment in the secretary's office, where he may be said to have served a kind

of apprenticeship. After all the allowance I am capable of making for the partiality of a parent to his offspring, I cannot but think he may in time make a very able foreign minister for the congress, in whose service his fidelity may be relied on; but I do not at present propose him as such, as a few years more of experience will not be amiss. In the mean time, if they shall think fit to employ him as a secretary to their minister at any European court, I am persuaded they will have reason to be satisfied with his conduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment as a favor to me.


Passy, March 14, 1781.

You mention my having enemies in America. You are luckier, for I think you have none here, nor any where. Your friends have heard of your being gone against the traitor Arnold, and are anxious to hear of your success, and that you have brought him to justice. Enclosed is a copy of a letter from his agent in England, by which the price of his treason may be nearly guessed at. Judas sold only one man, Arnold three millions; Judas got for his one man 30 pieces of silver, Arnold not a halfpenny a head. A miserable bargainer !-especially when one considers the quantity of infamy he has acquired to himself, and entailed on his family.

The English are in a fair way of gaining still more enemies; they play a desperate game. Fortune may favor them as it sometimes does a drunken dicer. But by their tyranny in the east they have at length roused the powers there against them; and I do not know that they have in the west a single friend. If

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