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money to defray the expense of their journeys; for which, they therefore requested us to furnish them with a credit on our banker; — the Commissioners, fearing that the public interests might possibly suffer, if those journeys were delayed till the necessary provision or orders should arrive from America, thought they might be justified in giving such a credit, for the expense of those journeys; and Mr. Lee, being asked what sum he imagined would be necessary, said, justly, that the expense of his journey could not be exactly ascertained beforehand; but, if he were empowered to draw on our banker, he should certainly only take from time to time what was absolutely necessary, and therefore it was of little importance for what sum the credit should be ordered ; it would however look handsome and confidential, if the sum were two thousand louis. We thereupon, confiding that no more of this money would be taken out of our disposition, than the expenses of the journeys as they should accrue, did frankly but unwarily give the orders.
Mr. Deane and myself were, however, soon surprised with the intelligence, that the gentlemen had gone directly to the banker, and by virtue of these orders had taken out of our account the whole sum mentioned, and carried it to their own; leaving the money indeed in his hands, but requiring his receipt for it as their money, for which he was to be accountable to them only.
This enormous sum having been received by those gentlemen not above ten months, I was still more surprised, when the following letters were communicated to me by my present colleagues, requiring more money. My colleague, Mr. Adams, was at first as much surprised as myself. — *
• Here the manuscript breaks off, apparently in an unfinished state, FROM DAVID HARTLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.
The Alliance between France and the United States an Obstacle to Peace.
London, 23 January, 1779. MY DEAR FRIEND, You know my constant and earnest desire for peace. You are so fully possessed of my principles upon these subjects, that you cannot doubt but that the sentiments expressed in the fourth letter on the American war, lately written by a member of Parliament in this country to his constituents, do perfectly accord with mine.*
In your letter of 26th October last, you seem to express, that a visit from a friend would not be unwelcome, if that friend were in the character of plenipotentiary, to treat of a sincere peace between all parties. You must know from the course of public transactions in England, that the alliance between France and America is a great stumblingblock. Whatever engagements America may have entered into, they may, at least by consent of parties, be relinquished for the purpose of removing so material an obstacle to any general treaty of free and unengaged parties. If the parties could meet for the sake of peace, upon free and open ground, I should think that a very fair proposition to be offered to the people of England, and an equitable proposition in itself. The universal destruction attending war to all parties ought to be a motive for the restoration of peace, superseding all
and it is uncertain whether this letter was sent. The substance of it, however, is contained in a letter to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, dated May 26th, 1779.
* The letters were written by Mr. Hartley, and published by Almon.
minute considerations. Knowing the sincerity of your desire for peace, I throw out to you the cursory thoughts, which present themselves to me, to take the chance of starting any idea, which may lead to that blessed end. I am yours affectionately,
TO MRS. MARGARET STEVENSON.
Private Incidents. — His Mode of living in France.
Passy, 25 January, 1779. It is always with great pleasure, when I think of our long continued friendship, which had not the least interruption in the course of twenty years (some of the happiest of my life), that I spent under your roof and in your company. If I do not write to you as often as I used to do, when I happened to be absent from you, it is owing partly to the present difficulty of sure communication, and partly to an apprehension of some inconvenience, that my correspondence might possibly occasion you. Be assured, my dear friend, that my regard, esteem, and affection for you, are not in the least impaired or diminished ; and that, if circumstances would permit, nothing would afford me so much satisfaction, as to be with you in the same house, and to experience again your faithful, tender care, and attention to my interests, health, and comfortable living, which so long and steadily attached me to you, and which I shall ever remember with gratitude.
I thought I had mentioned to you before, (and I believe I did, though my letter may have miscarried,) that I had received the white cloth suit, the sword,
See the note, p. 175.
and the saddle for Temple, all in good order: I mention them now again, because Polly tells me you had not heard of their arrival. I wore the clothes a good deal last summer. There is one thing more, that I wish to have, if you should meet with an opportunity of sending it. I mean the copper pot, lined with silver, to roast fowls in by means of a heater. I should also be glad of the piece of elephant's tooth. It is old ivory, perhaps of the time before the flood, and would be a rarity to some friends here. But I doubt you will not be able to send them.
I rejoice to learn, that your health is established, and that you live pleasantly in a country town, with agreeable neighbours, and have your dear children about you. My love to every one of them. I long to see them and you; but the times do not permit me the hope of it. Why do you never write to me? I used to love to read your letters, and I regret your long silence. They were seasoned with good sense and friendship, and even your spelling pleased me. Polly knows I think the worst spelling the best. I do not write to her by this conveyance. You will let her know, that I acknowledge the receipt of her pleasing letter, dated the 11th instant. I shall now only observe to you upon it, that I know not how the patent can be taken out in Jacob's name. I am sure he had no claim to it; for when I first proposed to him the making of such wheels at Mr. Viny's, in the country, he objected to it as impracticable. But Mr. Viny, who seized the thought, and carried it into execution, had certainly the best right to the patent. I wish he would send me a good drawing, with the proportions, of the little carriage with horses, which his children came once in to see us. How do they all do, and particularly my little patient Bessum ?
Since my coming here, I have been told, that Mr. Henley, the linen-draper, had said, on my going to America, that I had gone away in his debt. I can hardly believe it. Let me know if you have heard such a thing, and what is the meaning of it. I thought he had been fully paid, and still think so, and shall, till I am assured of the contrary. Let me know, at the same time, how my account stands with you.
You wish to know how I live. It is in a fine house, situated in a neat village, on high ground, half a mile* from Paris, with a large garden to walk in. I have abundance of acquaintance, dine abroad six days in seven. Sundays I reserve to dine at home, with such Americans as pass this way; and I then have my grandson Ben, with some other American children from the school.
If being treated with all the politeness of France, and the apparent respect and esteem of all ranks, from the highest to the lowest, can make a man happy, I ought to be so. Indeed, I have nothing to complain of, but a little too much business, and the want of that order and economy in my family, which reigned in it when under your prudent direction. My paper gives me only room to add, that I am ever yours most affectionately,
* William Temple Franklin says the distance was “about a league," meaning, probably, from the central parts of the capital; whereas Dr. Franklin here reckons the distance from the extreme part of the city towards Passy.