Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

on board, I know of nothing to retard your proceeding directly to such port in North America, as you shall judge most likely to be reached with safety. If in other respects equal, Philadelphia is to be preferred.

I wish the prize money due to your people could be paid, before they go. I have spoken often about it. As to the prizes sent in to Norway, you know they were delivered back to the English by the court of Denmark. I have reclaimed them by a strong memorial, but have yet received no answer; and it is doubted whether we shall recover any thing, unless by letters of marque and reprisal from the Congress, against the subjects of that kingdom, which, perhaps, in the present circumstances, it may not be thought proper soon to grant. The ships of war, that you took, are, I hear, to be valued, the King intending to purchase them; and the muster-roll of the Bon Homme Richard is wanting, in order to regulate the proportions to each ship. These things may take time. I have considered, that the people of the Bon Homme may want some little supplies for the voyage, and, therefore, if these proportions should not be regulated and paid before you sail, and you find it necessary, you may draw on me as far as twenty-four thousand livres to advance to them, for which they are to be accountable; but do not exceed that sum. I do this to prevent, as much as in me lies, the bad effects of any uneasiness among them; for I suppose that regularly all payments to seamen should be made at home.

A grand convoy, I understand, is to sail from Brest about the end of this month, or beginning of the next. It is of great importance to the United States, that not only the Alliance, but the merchantmen that may sail under her convoy, should safely arrive there. If it will be convenient and practicable for you to join that convoy, and sail with it till off the coast, I wish it may be done. But I leave it to your discretion and judgment. . I have no farther instructions to give, but, committing you to the protection of Providence, I wish you a prosperous voyage, and a happy sight of your friends in America; being with great esteem, &c.

- B. FRANKLIN.

TO JOSEPH REED, PRESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA.

Introducing the Chevalier de Chastellur. Passy, 19 March, 1780. SIR, - I beg leave to introduce to your Excellency’s acquaintance and civilities the Chevalier de Chastellux; major-general in the French troops, now about to embark for America, whom I have long known and esteemed highly in his several characters of a soldier, a gentleman, and a man of letters. His excellent book on Public Happiness shows him the friend to mankind, and as such entitles him, wherever he goes, to their respect and good offices. He is particularly a friend to our cause, and I am sure your Excellency will have great pleasure in his conversation.” With great esteem and respect, B. FRANKLIN.

* The Chevalier de Chastellux came to the United States with Count de Rochambeau's army. He travelled much in various parts of the country, and, after he returned to France, published an account of his travels, in a work entitled Voyages dans l'Amérique Septentrionale. It was well received both in Europe and America, and was translated into English and German. After his return to France the title of Marquis was conferred on him.

TO JOSEPH REED.

JMr. Pulteney. Errors corrected. Arthur Lee.

Passy, 19 March, 1780. SIR,

I have just received the pamphlet you did me the honor to send me by M. Gérard, and have read it with pleasure. Not only as the clear state of facts it does you honor, but as it proves the falsehood of a man, who also showed no regard to truth in what he said of me, “that I approved of the propositions he carried over.”* The truth is this. His brother, Mr. Pulteney, came here with those propositions; and after stipulating, that, if I did not approve of them, I should not speak of them to any person, he communicated them to me. I told him frankly, on his desiring to know my sentiments, that I DID Not approve of them, and that I was sure they would Not be accepted in JAmerica. “But,” I said, “there are two other Commissioners here; I will, if you please, show your propositions to them, and you will hear their opinions. I will also show them to the ministry here, without whose knowledge and concurrence we can take no step in such affairs.” “No,” said he, “as you do not approve of them, it can answer no purpose to show them to anybody else; the reasons that weigh with you will also weigh with them; therefore I now pray, that no mention may be made of my having been here, or my business.” To this I agreed, and therefore nothing could be more astonishing to me, than to see, in an American newspaper, that direct lie, in a letter from Mr. Johnstone, joined with two other falsehoods relating to the time of the treaty, and to the opinion of Spain! In proof of the above, I enclose a certificate of a friend of Mr. Pulteney's, the only person present at our interview; and I do it the rather at this time, because I am informed, that another calumniator (the same who formerly in his private letters to particular members accused you, with Messrs. Jay, Duane, Langdon, and Harrison, of betraying the secrets of Congress in a correspondence with the ministry) has made this transaction with Mr. Pulteney an article of accusation against me, as having approved the same propositions. He proposes, I understand, to settle in your government. I caution you to beware of him; for, in Sowing suspicions and jealousies, in creating misunderstandings and quarrels among friends, in malice, subtilty, and indefatigable industry, he has I think no equal.” I am glad to see that you continue to preside in our new State, as it shows that your public conduct is approved by the people. You have had a difficult time, which required abundance of prudence, and you have been equal to the occasion. The disputes about the Constitution seem to have subsided. It is much admired here, and all over Europe, and will draw over many families of fortune to settle under it, as soon as there is a peace. The defects, that may on seven

* Alluding to a statement made by Governor Johnstone, one of the British Commissioners for treating with Congress. See REMEMBRANCER, Wol. VII. pp. 8–18; also above, p. 230.

* The person here alluded to was Arthur Lee. This severe censure was not without just grounds. We have heretofore seen (above, pp. 59, 257) evidences of Mr. Lee's hostility to Dr. Franklin. There are others, which, considering their nature and tendency, justice requires should not be withheld in this work. Some of them are contained in the following extract from the “North American Review.”

“It seems to us, that there is another and much deeper cause of the settled enmity of Mr. Lee to Dr. Franklin, which he never pretended to conceal in conversation, or in writing to his friends, after he had been a few months in Paris. It is well known, that all his interest, and that of his friends in Congress, were used to procure Dr. Franklin's recall from France, with the view of securing Mr. Lee's appointment in his stead. His letters were filled with censures of Franklin's conduct, boldly affirming his unfitness for such a station, and at all events recommending, that, if it was impossible to effect his recall, he should be sent to an interior government, where he could do neither harm nor good. A few paragraphs from Mr. Lee's letters will set this subject in a clearer light. To Samuel Adams he writes, on the 4th of October, 1777; “I have within this year been at the several courts of Spain, Vienna, and Berlin, and I find this of France is the great wheel, that moves them all. Here therefore the most activity is requisite, and if it should ever be a question in Congress about my destination, I should be much obliged to you for remembering, that I should prefer being at the court of France.”— Life of Arthur Lee, Vol. II. p. 113. Again, on the same day he writes to his brother, Richard Henry Lee, then in Congress. “My idea of adapting characters and places is this; Dr. Franklin to Vienna, as the first, most respectable, and quiet. Mr. Deane to Holland; and the Alderman, [William Lee,) to Berlin, as the commercial department; Mr. Izard where he is; Mr. Jennings at Madrid, his reserve and circumspection being excellently well adapted to that court. France remains the centre of political activity, and here, therefore, I should choose to be employed.’ p. 115. Again, to Richard Henry Lee. ‘Things go on worse and worse every day among ourselves, and our situation is more painful. I see in every department neglect, dissipation, and private schemes. Being in trust here, I am responsible for what I cannot prevent; those very men will probably be the instruments of having me called to an account one day for their misdeeds. There is but one way of redressing this, and remedying the public evil; that is, the plan I before sent you, of appointing the Doctor, honoris causá, to Vienna; Mr. Deane to Holland; Mr. Jennings to Madrid; and leaving me here. In that case I should have it in my power to call those to an account, through whose hands I know the public money has passed, and which will either never be accounted for, or misaccounted for by the contrivance of those, who are to share in the public plunder.’ p. 127. Here truly is a most persuasive argument for Congress to make Mr. Lee minister to France. What a frightful picture is here drawn of the mismanagement, disorders, and distracted condition of the American affairs at that court, and what deplorable consequences must ensue, unless that “one way’ is resorted to, of sending Dr. Franklin to the capital of Austria, and setting Mr. Lee to turn the ‘great wheel” at Paris; by the magical movements of which, under his control, an infallible remedy will be applied, and a radical reform suddenly effected. “In another letter to Samuel Adams, the same alluring prospect is

« ZurückWeiter »