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These sentiments are suggested to my mind upon the report of the late negotiation between the Congress and the Commissioners.* If I can judge of the disposition of the two nations, I think that terms of safe and honorable mediation might be offered between them, but we must wait for the favorable moment. A premature anxiety repels, instead of inviting its object. Peace will ever be my object; when the opportunity offers favorably, then will be the time to strike. A man of feeling cannot be indifferent at such a critical time, especially when the parties seem nearer together, than they think themselves. Jealousies and punctilios make the greatest difficulties. If, instead of the distance of three thousand miles, the treaty were set on foot only at the distance of three hundred, and conducted with confidence, a more fortunate end might be expected. I shall be glad to hear from you soon. Believe me ever yours most affectionately,
TO JOHN PAUL JONES.
Passy, 6 September, 1778. DEAR CAPTAIN, I received your favors of the 24th and 31st of August. I am told, by M. de Cthat M. de Sis sorry you did not go with M. d'Orvilliers. He had sent orders for that purpose, and your staying at L'Orient occasioned your missing the opportunity. Your letter was sent to the Prince de Nassau. I am confident something will be done for you, though I do not yet know what.
* Commissioners sent to America by the British ministry with propositions for a reconciliation. See Almon's Remembrancer, 1778, p. 11.Washington's Writings, Vol. V. pp. 344, 397, 401; Vol. VI. pp. 16, 79, 96. B. FRANKLIN.
Dr. Bancroft has been indisposed, and I have not lately seen him; but I hear he is getting better, and suppose he has written. I go out of town early this morning for a few days, but the other. Commissioners will answer your letter. I am glad you have procured a guard for the prisoners. It is a good piece of service. They have concluded in England to send us an equal number of ours, and we expect to-morrow to send the passport for their cartel ship, which is to bring them. If we are to deliver theirs at Calais, I should be for accepting thankfully the offer you mention,
We have no news from America, but what comes through England. Clinton's letter is in the London Gazette, and for style and coloring is so like Keppel's, that I cannot help thinking neither of them originals, but both the performance of some under-secretary, , whose business, it is to cook the news for the ministers. Upon the whole, we learn that the English army was well worried in its march,* and that their whole fleet and forces are now blocked up in New York by Washington and Gates on the land side, and by Count d'Estaing by sea, and that they will soon be in want of provisions. I sympathize with you in what I know you must suffer from your present inactivity ; but have patience. I am, &c.
* The march across New Jersey to New York, after the evacuation of Philadelphia. During this march was fought the battle of Monmouth.
TO F. GRAND.
Regulations of Congress respecting Privateers.
Passy, 14 October, 1778. SIR, I have considered the note you put into my hands, containing a complaint of the conduct of Captain Conyngham in the Revenge privateer. We have no desire to justify him in any irregularities he may have committed. On the contrary, we are obliged to our friends, who give us information of the misconduct of any cruisers, that we may take the occasion of representing the same to our government, and recommending more effectual provisions for suppressing, punishing, and preventing such practices in future.
By the papers I have the honor to send you enclosed, and which I request you would put into the hands of his Excellency, Count d'Aranda, the care of the Congress to avoid giving offence to neutral powers will appear most evident; First, in the commission given to privateers, wherein it appears that sureties are taken of their owners, that nothing shall be done by them “inconsistent with the usage and custom of nations,” and those sureties are obliged to make good all damages. Courts of admiralty are regularly established in every one of the United States for judging of such matters, to which courts any person injured may apply, and will certainly find redress. Secondly, in the proclamation of Congress, whereby strict orders are given to all officers of armed vessels, to pay a sacred regard to the rights of neutral powers, and the usage and customs of civilized nations, and a declaration made, that, if they transgress, they shall not be allowed to claim the protection of the States, but shal suffer such punishment as, by the usage and custom of nations, may be inflicted on them. Lastly, in the particular care taken by Congress to secure the property of some subjects of Portugal (a power that has not been very favorable to us), although no reclamation has been made.
All these will show, that the States give no countenance to acts of piracy; and, if Captain Conyngham has been guilty of that crime, he will certainly be punished for it when duly prosecuted; for not only a regard to justice in general, but a strong disposition to cultivate the friendship of Spain, for whose sovereign they have the greatest respect, will induce the Congress to pay great attention to every complaint, public and private, that shall come from thence. I have the honor to be, &c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Extracts from a Scotch Song. — Terms of Peace. —
Indiscreet Conduct of the British Commissioners in America.
Passy, 26 October, 1778 MY DEAR FRIEND, I received yours, without date, containing an old Scotch song, full of natural sentiment and beautiful simplicity. I cannot make an entire application of it to present circumstances; but, taking it in parts, and changing persons, some of it is extremely apropos. First, Jennie may be supposed Old England, and Jamie, America. Jennie laments the loss of Jamie, and recollects with pain his love for her; his industry in business to promote her wealth and welfare, and her own ingratitude.
Young Jamie loved me weel,
And sought me for his bride,
He had naithing beside.
And the crown and the pound were all for me." Her grief for this separation is expressed very pathetically.
“The ship was a wreck,
Why did na Jennie die;
Wae is me!" There is no doubt that honest Jamie had still so much love for her as to pity her in his heart, though he might, at the same time, be not a little angry with her.
Towards the conclusion, we must change the persons; and let Jamie be Old England; Jennie, Amer, ica. Then honest Jennie, having made a treaty of marriage with Gray, expresses her firm resolution of fidelity, in a manner that does honor to her good sense, and her virtue.
“I may not think of Jamie,
For that would be a sin.
A gude wife to be;
Is very kind to me." You ask my sentiments on a truce for five or seven years, in which no mention should be made of that stumblingblock to England, the independence of America.
I must tell you fairly and frankly, that there can be no treaty of peace with us, in which France is not included. But I think a treaty might be made between the three powers, in which England expressly renouncing the dependence of America seems no more necessary, than her renouncing the title of King of