Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de (1757-1834) to Henry Knox
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03155 Author/Creator: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de (1757-1834) Place Written: Chavaniac, Auvergne, France Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 June 1785 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 23.2 x 19 cm.
Previously thought Knox's brother William had returned to America, but he recently received news that he had been confined in a house in London since January because he was "disordered in His Head." Reports William is better and "in a few weeks will be able to go out, which he very much desires." Says he wanted to go to London upon hearing the news, but thought better of it as his travels would no doubt be noticed by many and might cause unseemly news about William to get in the newspapers. Sent a trusted family member instead, who has made sure William received proper care. Hopes that William will travel to Paris after he improves. Lafayette claims he will travel to London under a false name if need be, however. Mentions arrangements of getting William to France. With these arrangements in place, he says he will travel to Berlin at some point in the next month to review the Prussian and Austrian troops. Will also visit several battlefields and hopes to be back in Paris by October. Goes on to say "I confidentially intrust to you, my dear Sir, that I am about purchasing a fine plantation in a french Colony, to make the Experiment for Enfranchising Our Negro Brethren, god grant it may Be propagated!"
Chavaniac, Auvergne, june the 12th 1785
My dear friend
It grieves me to think I am going to wound your good Heart, and yet find it my duty as a friend Rather to give you a pain, perhaps unnecessary, than to leave you in the cruellest [sic] Anxiety - When I returned to France, I endeavoured to find out your Brother Billy, and intended [struck: to] calling Him to me, and pleading of Him to Return to Boston - after much inquiries I was assured He Had left England and inland, and Had gone to America - However as I knew His Heart, I could not be made easy, and continued my efforts to [trace] Him out - Six days ago, as I was getting into a port chaise, with an Aged Aunt of mine whom I was Conducting into this Country seat, I Received a letter from doctor Bancroft, a sensible and good Natured American, Acquainting me that poor  Billy Has been since january last Confined in an House, and, as you probably know, and it grieves me to Repeat, disordered in His Head - that He is However Better, and in a few weeks will be able to go out, which He very much desires - shocked at the intelligence as you may Conceive, my first motion was to post off to london, and see Him properly Attended, or take Him a way to Paris - but upon Recollection, I thought my journey there Could not be so Concealed as to avoid notice, and that if the true Cause was unfortunately discovered it would be an object for the Newspapers - at last I determined to send a most intelligent and trusty person in My family to wait on Your Brother, see Him well attended in Every Respect, and when He is permitted to go abroad accompagny [sic] Him to My House - I Have writen to doctor Bancroft, Recommending secrecy to Him, [Encouraging] Him to see that Billy is well attended with phisicians, and Begging He will differ His intended departure until they can travel together - in a few days I will be Back in Paris, and if my presence in london  May do Him good, I will go there under a fictitious name - What I have most Recommended is not to Hurry the treatment, and to wait until the phicisians think proper - now, my dear friend, that I Have found Him out, you may Be as easy as if you were yourself in Europe - the doctor writes me, He was glad to Hear I Had inquired after Him, and spocken [sic] of Him with tenderness and Regard - But they did not deliver my former letter - The last one I have dispatched is an invitation to come to paris, and live in the family - towards the Middle of next month, [Mde] de Lafayette is Coming to this Country seat, in a remote province, where she will spend two months, and I think the Best way for Your Brother is to accompagny [sic] Her and if necessary I will prevail upon doctor Bancroft to be one in the partie - on my arrival in the city where I am just Returning, I will get more particular accounts and forward them immediately - in the mean while rest assured Billy is much Better, and in a fair way of Recovery.
Every plan of mine will be subordinate to this unhappy Circumstance - But in Case, by the Arrangements I will Have made, my presence is unnecessary I will in the course of the next month set off for Berlin, and visit the prussian and Austrian troops which are to be assembled in several camps for the ground maneuvore,  and I will examine the fields of Battle in Hellia, prussia, Bohemia, Silesia, Saxony, and perhaps Flanders, so as to be in paris by the End of october
I confidentially intrust to you, my dear Sir, that I am about purchasing a fine plantation in a french Colony, to make the experiment for enfranchising our Negro Brethen, god grant it may be propagated!
Adieu, my good friend, my most affectionate Respects to Mrs Knox, and a kiss to lucy, my Son, and the little one -
Your affectionate friend
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From the Marquis de
27 June 1785
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