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view, I flatter myself we may, in some measure, carry the desired point.
I was at first told by the minister, that you had a bargain ready made for arms, but did not much dwell on the argument. He kindly desired the affair might be in time duly considered, but, upon my assuring him, that no time was to be lost, and that the arms should go with other articles you were about to send, he, in obliging terms for us, promised he would in a few days give me a positive answer. I am to have, towards the middle of the week, a conference with M. de Maurepas,* and a second one with M. de Vergennes, on the same subject, upon which I have this morning written to this last minister, so that I shall before long be able to tell you how my little negotiation has ended. With the most perfect regard and tender affection, I have the honor to be, &.c.
• , Lafayette.
FROM THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO B. FRANKLIN
Paris, 10 January, 1780.
Dear Sir, From a ministerial letter, which I have just received from Versailles, I begin to hope that my little negotiation will take a good turn, and, as I made it a point to succeed in this affair, no exertions will be untried for the purpose. I should have done myself the honor of waiting on you this morning, if I had not been seized with a violent cold, which I the more carefully attend to, as I want to be on Wednesday in the situation of making a tolerable figure at Versailles, where I am to entertain M. de Maurepas and the
:• The prime minister of the French cabinet.
other ministers with a final conversation on the affair of arms and powder, that I have so much at heart. From their good dispositions towards America, and the sincere desire they have of helping our fellow citizens, the sons of liberty, I flatter myself that the money of Congress will be employed in any thing but buying the powder and the stands of arms, that are wanted in the continent.
How happy I shall ever feel to be the instrument of any thing good for them, I need not mention to my good friend, Dr. Franklin; and, for reasons no less obvious, I will not dwell upon the assurance of the private sentiments of affection and regard, with which I have the honor to be, &c.
TO CHARLES W. F. DUMAS.
Passy, 27 January, 1780.
I received yours of the 10th instant . I shall be glad to learn how the taking of the Dutch ships has been accommodated. We have yet no news of the Mliance, but suppose she is cruising. We are more in pain for the Confederacy, which sailed the 28 th of October from the Capes of Delaware. There is some hope that she went to Charleston to take in Mr. Laurens; for some passengers arrived in France, who left Philadelphia several weeks after her sailing, say, that it was a general opinion she would call there before she departed for Europe. If this was not the case, we fear she must be lost, and the loss will be a very severe one.
I send you enclosed a translation of a letter, that I think I sent you the original of before. Perhaps it may serve our Leyden friend.
I am sony you have any difference with the ambassador, and wish you to accommodate it as soon as possible. Depend upon it, that no one ever knew from me that you had spoken or written against any person. There is one concerning whom I think you sometimes receive erroneous information. In one particular, I know you were misinformed, that of his selling us arms at an enormous profit; the truth is we never bought any of him. I am &.c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
America will not treat without her Allies. — England not disposed to Peace. — Conduct of the British Army in America.
Passy, 2 February, 1780.
It is some time since I procured the discharge of your Captain Stephenson. He did not call here in his way home. I hope he arrived safely, and had a happy meeting with his friends and family.
I have long postponed answering your letter of the 29th of June. A principal point in it, on which you seemed to desire my opinion, was, the conduct you thought America ought to hold, in case her allies should, from motives of ambition or resentment of former injuries, desire her to continue the war, beyond what should be reasonable and consistent with her particular interests. As often as I took up your letter in order to answer it, this suggestion displeased me, and I laid it down again. I saw no occasion for discussing such a question at present, nor any good end it could serve to discuss it before the case should happen; and I saw inconveniences in discussing it. I wish, therefore, you had not mentioned it. For the rest, I am as much for peace as ever I was, and as heartily desirous of seeing the war ended, as I was to prevent its beginning; of which your ministers know I gave a strong proof before I left England, when, in order to an accommodation, I offered at my own risk, without orders for so doing, and without knowing whether I should be owned in doing it, to pay the whole damage of destroying the tea at Boston, provided the acts made against that province were repealed. This offer was refused. I still think it would have been wise to have accepted it. If the Congress have therefore intrusted to others, rather than to me, the negotiations for peace, when such shall be set on foot, as has been reported, it is perhaps because they may have heard of a very singular opinion of mine, that there hardly ever existed such a thing as a bad peace, or a good war, and that I might therefore easily be induced to make improper concessions. But at the same time they and you may be assured, that I should think the destruction of our whole country, and the extirpation of our whole people, preferable to the infamy of abandoning our allies. As neither you nor I are at present authorized to treat of peace, it seems to little purpose to make or consider propositions relating to it. I have had so many such put into my hands, that I am tired of them. I will, however, give your proposal of a ten years' truce this answer, that, though I think a solid peace made at once a much better thing, yet, if the truce is practicable and the peace not, I should be for agreeing to it. At least I see at present no sufficient reasons for refusing it, provided our allies approve of it. But this is merely a private opinion of mine, which perhaps may be changed by reasons, that at present do not offer themselves. This, however, I am clear in, that withdrawing your troops will be best for you, if you wish a cordial reconciliation, and that the truce should produce a peace. To show that it was not done by compulsion, being required as a condition of the truce, they might be withdrawn beforehand, for various good reasons. But all this is idle chat, as I am persuaded, that there is no disposition for peace on your side, and that this war will yet last many years. I know nothing, and believe nothing, of any terms offered to Sir Henry Clinton.
The prisoners taken in the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough being all treated for in Holland, and exchanged there, I hope Mr. Brown's son is now safe at home with his father. It grieved me, that the exchange there, which you may remember I immediately proposed, was so long delayed. Much human misery might have been prevented by a prompt compliance; and so might a great deal by the execution of parole promises taken at sea; but, since I see no regard is paid to them in England, I must give orders to our armed ships that cruise in Europe to secure their prisoners as well as they can, and lodge them in French or Spanish prisons. I have written something on this affair to Mr. Hodgson,* and sent to him the second passport for a cartel to Morlaix, supposing you to be out of town. The number of prisoners we now have in France is not easily ascertained. I suppose it exceeds one hundred; yet you may be assured, that the number which may be brought over by the two cartels shall be fully exchanged, by adding to those taken by us as many as will make up the complement out
* William Hodgson was an agent in London for supplying the wants of American prisoners in England, and transacting business in relation to exchanges.