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On the arrival of Mr. Boylston, I carried him to the Marquis De La Fayette, who received from him communications of his object. This was to get a remission of the duties on his cargo of oil, and he was willing to propose a future contract. I suggested however to the Marquis, when we were alone, that instead of wasting our efforts on individual applications, we had better take up the subject on general ground, and whatever could be obtained, let it be common to all. He concurred with me. As the jealousy of office between ministers does not permit me to apply immediately to the one in whose department this was, the Marquis's agency was used. The result was to put us on the footing of the Hanseatic towns, as to whale-oil, and to reduce the duties to eleven livres and five sols for five hundred and twenty pounds French, which is very nearly two livres on the English hundred weight, or about a guinea and a half the ton. But the oil must be brought in American or French ships, and the indulgence is limited to one year. However, as to this, I expressed to Count de Vergennes my hopes that it would be continued; and should a doubt arise, I should propose, at the proper time, to claim it under the treaty on the footing "gentis amicissimae". After all, I believe Mr. Boylston has failed of selling to Sangrain, and from what I learn, through a little too much hastiness of temper. Perhaps they may yet come together, or he may sell to somebody else.
When the general matter was thus arranged, a Mr. Barrett arrived here from Boston, with letters of recommendation from Governor Bowdoin, Gushing, and others. His errand was to get the whale business here put on a general bottom, instead of the particular one which had been settled, you know, the last year, for a special company. We told him what was done. He thinks it will answer, and proposes to settle at L'Orient for conducting the sales of the oil and the returns. I hope, therefore, that this matter is tolerably well fixed, as far as the consumption of this country goes. I know not as yet to what amount that is; but shall endeavor to find out how much they consume, and how much they furnish themselves. I propose to Mr. Barrett, that he should induce either his State, or individuals, to send a sufficient number of boxes of the spermaceti candle to give one to every leading house in Paris; I mean to those who lead the ton: and at the same time to deposite a quantity for sale here, and advertise them in the "petites affiches". I have written to Mr. Carmichael to know on what footing the use and introduction of the whale-oil is there, or can be placed.
I have the honor to be, with very sincere esteem, Dear Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
- The Project Gutenberg EBook of Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The Papers Of Thomas Jefferson, by Thomas Jefferson