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this by a very worthy man, who is leaving this country; but I have hopes, that we may all meet some day again in peace. I am, dear Sir, &c.
FROM BENJAMIN VAUGHAN TO B. FRANKLIN.
Debate in Parliament on a Peace with America.
London, 5 March, 1778.
My Dear Sir,
There is a great variety of opinions concerning America. It would take a volume to explain them, as it would be necessary to state the grounds upon which they go, and the objects to which they point. To foreigners they must be totally unintelligible, as they cannot combine the different managements which such a government as ours requires to effect any good. Several opinions are founded upon supposed intelligence from you and your friends. Those whom I converse with, having no such lights, continue exactly their old plan of conduct, wishing an end to the war at all events, and a free and equal union, if possible, afterwards; foreseeing the utmost pitch of wealth, freedom, and happiness to be attainable on such a system, and nothing but war, confusion, poverty, and ruin upon any other.
You have too much penetration, and these ideas were formerly too much your own, for you to require, at present, much explanation of them. It is therefore sufficient to assure you of the sincerity of those that propose them, and their unalterable determination to pursue them with every degree of liberality and confidence. The distractions, which to a common eye appear so formidable, may lay the foundation of what, however right and just, would otherwise be unattainable. I write this, for obvious reasons, in perfect confidence. In the debate of yesterday, Lord Shelburne was for returning to as much of the old connexion as wotild be attainable. He thought any allusions to the doctrine of independence from the court, like the robber firing the house to cover his escape and hide his theft; and that the connexion ought to be tried. He contrasted the advantages to America of a free union, and the disadvantages of a uti possidetis; and made light of a commercial alliance upon general principles. As to the present state of things, he thought the Spanish statesman's advice a proper address for the city. "For your Majesty's comfort, you have but two enemies upon earth; one, the whole world; the other, your own ministers."
There was some question out of doors about the phrase of "one purse"; by which I do not find any thing more was meant than the original idea of bringing in America, more as a check upon our extravagance, than as contributor; or, at least, so far as the last goes, in an honest and fair proportion, such as shall suit the circumstances of both, and contribute to the real union, by having more locks than one to a chest that of late has had none.
The Duke of Grafton was thoroughly convinced of a commercial treaty. Lord Weymouth said he knew no commercial treaty. Lord Radnor wished the American war ended on any terms. * The Duke of Richmond took a manly line, and attacked your old friend Lord Hillsborough, who usually blundered against himself, but now against his friends. Lord Suffolk had his usual pomp and hardness; looked for efficacy from his bills, yet supposed you ab origine inclined to independence; said that many would be detached, and the force be rendered efficacious; that he kept all his principles, and yielded only to the necessity of prudence, which made early concession with misfortune and disappointment better than later concessions upon complete victory; upon victory terms were always intended. Lord Temple reprobated the concessions, and equally the mad, foolish minister, who could neither keep peace, make war, nor negotiate peace again. He wanted a treaty without Parliament, and preliminaries settled before concession. Yours ever most affectionately, BENJAMIN WAUGHAN.
TO ARTHUR LEE.
Concerning Bills drawn by Congress on the
One of the Messrs. Beaumann of Bordeaux some time since told me, that they intended to send a packet every month to America, on their own account, they having great concerns there. He offered, indeed, to carry our despatches; but, as at this distance we could not know the captains, nor the degree of confidence that might be placed in them, and having other conveyances, I have not yet seen occasion to make use of that offer. These are the packets I mentioned to the gentleman, as likely to afford him the convenience of a passage, and he understood more than I said to him, when he imagined there was a packet to sail soon with our despatches. I knew of no such thing proposed; and certainly, if it had been proposed by me, or with my knowledge, I should have acquainted you with it.
A gentleman, lately arrived from Boston, has presented for acceptance bills drawn on us by Mr. Hancock, as the President of the Congress, for about one hundred and eighty thousand livres. I have also received a letter, mentioning that other bills are drawn on us by Mr. Laurens, the present President, of which an account is promised in a future letter, this not giving the amount, but only directing us to accept them when they appear. The one hundred and eighty thousand livres are an old debt contracted by our army in Canada, and not for interest of money. What the others are, I know not; and I cannot conceive what encouragement the Congress could have had from any of us to draw on us for any thing but that interest. I suppose their difficulties have compelled them to it. I see we shall be distressed here by these proceedings, and I want to consult with you about the means of paying the bills. If you will name an hour, when you shall be at leisure to-day, I will call upon you. I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
TO JAMES HTJTTON.
Passy, 24 March, 1778.
My dear old friend was in the right, not "to call in question the sincerity of my words, where I say, February the 12th, we can treat, if any propositions are made to vs." They were true then, and are so still, if Britain has not declared war with France; for in that case we shall undoubtedly think ourselves obliged to continue the war as long as she does. But methinks you should have taken us at our word, and have sent immediately your propositions in order to prevent such a war, if you did not choose it. Still I conceive it would be well to do it, if you have not already rashly begun the war. Assure yourself, nobody more sincerely wishes perpetual peace among men than I do; but there is a prior wish, that they would be equitable and just, otherwise such peace is not possible, and indeed wicked men have no right to expect it. Adieu. I am ever yours most affectionately,
TO RALPH IZARD.
Passy, 30 March, 1778.
From the account you give me of the man, who pretends to be of Carolina, as well as from my own observation of his behaviour, I entertain no good opinion of him, and shall not give him the pass he desires.
Much and very important business has hitherto prevented my giving you the satisfaction you desired, but you may depend upon my endeavouring to give it to you as soon as possible.* An answer was written to
* The same grievance is here alluded to, as in the letter of January 29th. Mr. Izard thought himself slighted by the Commissioners, in regard to the treaty, and particularly by Dr. Franklin, and requested an explanation. See above, p. 230. Mr. Izard waited impatiently for this explanation in writing, but, not receiving it, he sent his secretary, Mr. John J. Pringle, with a letter to Dr. Franklin. The following is Mr. Pringle's account of the interview, as he reported it to Mr. Izard.
"In compliance with your request, I waited on Dr. Franklin and delivered to him your letter; he had scarcely read it when he said, 'Mr. Izard has written me a very angry letter; please to tell him, that he has only made use of general assertions of my having done wrong, which I cannot otherwise answer than by denying. If I have given him any causes of offence, he should let me know what they are.' To this I replied, 'that you had been kind enough to form so good an opinion of me, as to admit me into a share of your confidence; therefore I could take upon me to say, that you were persuaded you had