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Poor Henly’s dying in that manner is inconceivable to me. Is any reason given to account for it, besides insanity?
Remember me affectionately to all your good family, and believe me, with great esteem, my dear friend, yours, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO JOHN BAPTIST BECCARIA.
Having some time since heard of your illness with great concern, it gave me infinite pleasure to learn this day from M. Chantel, who did me the honor of a visit, that you were so far recovered as to be able to make little excursions on horseback. I pray God that your convalescence may be quick and perfect, and your health be again firmly established. Science would lose too much in losing one so zealous and active in its cause, and so capable of accelerating its progress and augmenting its dominions.
I find myself here immersed in affairs, which absorb my attention, and prevent my pursuing those studies in which I always found the highest satisfaction; and I am now grown so old, as hardly to hope for a return of that leisure and tranquillity so necessary for philosophical disquisitions. I have, however, not long since thrown a few thoughts on paper relative to the Aurora Borealis, which I would send you, but that I suppose you may have seen them in the Journal of the Abbé Rozier. If not I will make out a copy, and send it to you; perhaps with some corrections.
Every thing of your writing is always very welcome to me; if, therefore, you have lately published any new experiments or observations in physics, I shall be happy to see them, when you have an opportunity of sending them to me. With the highest esteem, respect, and affection, I am, &c.
To R. BERNSTorf F, MINISTER of For EIGN AFFAIRs IN DENIMARK.
Remonstrating against the Seizure of American Prizes at Bergen in JWorway. Passy, 22 December, 1779. SIR, I have received a letter from M. de Chezaulx, consul of France at Bergen in Norway, acquainting me, that two ships, viz. the Betsey and the Union, prizes taken from the English on their coasts by Captain Landais, commander of the Alliance frigate, appertaining to the United States of North America, which prizes having met with bad weather at sea, that had damaged their rigging and had occasioned leaks, and being weakly manned had taken shelter in the supposed neutral port of Bergen, in order to repair their damages, procure an additional number of sailors, and the necessary refreshments; that they were in the said port enjoying, as they conceived, the common rights of hospitality, established and practised by civilized nations, under the care of the above said consul, when, on the 28th of October last, the said ships, with their cargoes and papers, were suddenly seized by officers of his Majesty, the King of Denmark, to whom the said port belongs; the American officers and seamen turned out of their possession, and the whole delivered to the English consul. M. de Chezaulx has also sent me the following as a translation of his Majesty's order, by which the above proceedings are said to be authorized, viz. “The English minister having insisted on the restitution of two vessels, which had been taken by the American privateer called the Alliance, commanded by Captain Landais, and which were brought into Bergen, viz. the Betsey of Liverpool, and the Union of London, his Majesty has granted this demand on this account, because he has not as yet acknowledged the independence of the colonies associated against England, and because that these vessels for this reason cannot be considered as good and lawful prizes. Therefore, the said two ships shall be immediately liberated, and allowed to depart with their cargoes.” By a subsequent letter from the same consul, I am informed, that a third prize belonging to the United States, viz. the Charming I’olly, which arrived at Bergen after the others, has also been seized and delivered up in the same manner; and that all the people of the three vessels, af. ter being thus stripped of their property (for every one had an interest in the prizes), were turned on shore to shift for themselves, without money, in a strange place, no provision being made for their subsistence, or for sending them back to their country. Permit me, Sir, to observe on this occasion, that the United States of America have no war but with the English; they have never done any injury to other nations, particularly none to the Danish nation; on the contrary, they are in some degree its benefactors, as they have opened a trade of which the English made a monopoly, and of which the Danes may now have their share, and, by dividing the British Empire, have made it less dangerous to its neighbours. They conceived, that every nation whom they had not offended was by the rights of humanity their friend; they confided in the hospitality of Denmark, and thought themselves and their property safe when under the roof of his Danish Majesty. But they find themselves stripped of that property, and the same given up to their enemies, on this principle only, that no acknowledgment had yet been formally made by Denmark of the independence of the United States; which is to say, that there is no obligation of justice towards any nation with whom a treaty, promising the same, has not been previously made. This was indeed the doctrine of ancient harbarians, a doctrine long since exploded, and which it would not be for the honor of the present age to revive; and it is hoped that Denmark will not, by supporting and persisting in this decision, obtained of his Majesty apparently by surprise, be the first modern nation that shall attempt to revive it.” The United States, oppressed by, and at war with, one of the most powerful nations of Europe, may well be supposed incapable in their present infant state of exacting justice from other nations not disposed to grant it; but it is in human nature, that injuries as well as benefits received in times of weakness and distress, national as well as personal, make deep and lasting impressions; and those ministers are wise, who look into futurity and quench the first sparks of misunderstanding between two nations, which, neglected, may in time grow into a flame, all the consequences whereof no human prudence can foresee, which may produce much mischief to both, and cannot possibly produce any good to either. I beg leave, through your Excellency, to submit these considerations to the wisdom and justice of his Danish Majesty, whom I infinitely respect, and who, I hope, will reconsider and repeal the orders above recited; and that, if the prizes, which I hereby reclaim in behalf of the United States of America, are not actually gone to England, they may be stopped and re-delivered to M. de Chezaulx, the consul of France at Bergen, in whose care they before were, with liberty to depart for America when the season shall permit. But, if they should be already gone to England, I must then claim from his Majesty's equity the value of the said prizes, which is estimated at fifty thousand pounds sterling, but which may be regulated by the best information that can by any means be obtained. With the greatest respect, I am, Sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
* “The ancients,” says Wattel, “did not conceive themselves bound under any obligation towards a people with whom they were not connected by a treaty of friendship. At length the voice of nature was heard by civilized nations; they acknowledged all mankind as brothers.” An injustice of the same kind, done a century or two since by some English in the East Indies, Grotius tells us, “was not without its partisans, who maintained, that by the ancient laws of England, no one was liable to punishment in that kingdom for outrages committed against foreigners, when no treaty of alliance had been contracted with them.” But this principle he condemns in the strongest terms. – History of the Troubles in the Netherlands, Book xvi.
FROM THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO B. FRANKLIN.
JMilitary Supplies for the American Army. Paris, 9 January, 1780. DEAR SIR, According to an appointment I had requested from M. de Montbarrey,” I had this morning a conversation with that minister, wherein I earnestly urged the necessity of sending from the royal magazines to America fifteen thousand stands of arms, and a large quantity of powder. I cannot say my endeavours, though exerted to the best of my power, have met with an immediate success. But, from this first inter
* Minister of War.