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the satisfaction of the neutral nations now entering into the confederacy, which is considered here as a great stroke against England.
In truth, that country seems to have no friends on this side of the water; no other nation wishes it success in its present war, but rather desires to see it effectually humbled; no one, not even their clq friends the Dutch, will afford them any assistance. Such is the mischievous effect of pride, insolence, and injustice on the affairs of nations, as well as on those of private persons !
The English party in Holland is daily diminishing, and the States are arming vigorously to maintain the freedom of their navigation. The consequence may possibly be a war with England, or a serious disposition in that mad nation to save what they can by a timely peace.
Our cartel for the exchange of American prisoners has been some time at a stand. When our little squadron brought near five hundred into Holland, England would not at first exchange Americans for them there, expecting to take them in their passage to France. But at length an agreement was made between the English and French ambassadors, and I was persuaded to give them up, on a promise of having an equal number of English delivered to my order at Morlaix. So those were exchanged for Frenchmen. But the English now refuse to take any English in exchange for Americans, that have not been taken by American cruisers. They also refuse to send me any Americans in exchange for their prisoners released, and sent home by the two flags of truce from Boston. Thus they give up all pretensions to equity and honor, and govern themselves by caprice, passion, and transient views of present interest.
Be pleased to present my duty to Congress, and believe me to be, with great respect, your Excellency's, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
To THE PRESIDENT of congress.
Recommending Commodore Jones.
Commodore Jones, who by his bravery and conduct has done great honor to the American flag, desires to have that also of presenting a line to the hands of your Excellency. I cheerfully comply with his request, in recommending him to the notice of Congress, and to your Excellency’s protection; though his actions are a more effectual recommendation, and render any from me unnecessary. It gives me, however, an opportunity of showing my readiness to do justice to merit, and of professing the esteem and respect with which I am your Excellency's, &c.
TO ROBERT MORRIS.
State of Affairs in Europe. — JVeutral Trade.
Passy, 3 June, 1780. DEAR SIR,
I received your kind letter of March 31st, acquainting me with your having engaged in M. de la Frété's affairs, on my recommendation. I thank you very much, and beg you to be assured that any recommendation of yours will be regarded by me with the greatest attention. The letter you enclosed to M. Domas
WOL. VIII. 30
is forwarded to him. We are impatient to hear from America, no account of the operations before Charleston, later than the 9th of March, having yet come to hand. Every thing here in Europe continues to wear a good face. Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland are raising a strong naval force to establish the free navigation for neutral ships, and of all their cargoes, though belonging to enemies, except contraband, that is, military stores. France and Spain have approved of it, and it is likely to become henceforth the law of nations, that free ships make free goods. England does not like this confederacy. I wish they would extend it still farther, and ordain, that unarmed trading ships, as well as fishermen and farmers, should be respected, as working for the common benefit of mankind, and never be interrupted in their operations, even by national enemies; but let those only fight with one another, whose trade it is, and who are armed and paid for the purpose. With great and sincere esteem, I am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO CHARLES. W. F. DUMAS.
JWeutral Ships. – Private Property ought not to be disturbed in Time of War. — Letter of General
The gentleman, whose name you wished to know, in one of your late letters, is .M. Westhuysen, Echevin et Conseiller de la Ville de Harlem. I shall probably send an order to that place for some of the types, of which you have sent me the prices, before I leave Europe. I think them very good and not dear.
A Dutch ship belonging to Messrs. Little, Dale, & Co., of Rotterdam, being brought into France as having an English cargo on board, I have followed your opinion with regard to the condemnation of the cargo, which I think the more right, as the English have in the West Indies confiscated several of our cargoes found in Dutch ships. But, to show respect to the declaration of the Empress of Russia, I have written to the owners of our privateers a letter, of which I enclose a copy, together with a copy of the judgment, for your use, if you hear of any complaint.” I approve much of the principles of the confederacy of the neutral powers, and am not only for respecting the ships as the house of a friend, though containing the goods of an enemy, but I even wish, for the sake of humanity, that the law of nations may be further improved, by determining, that, even in time of war, all those kinds of people, who are employed in procuring subsistence for the species, or in exchanging the necessaries or conveniences of life, which are for the common benefit of mankind, such as husbandmen on their lands, fishermen in their barques, and traders in unarmed vessels, shall be permitted to prosecute their several innocent and useful employments without in. terruption or molestation, and nothing taken from them, even when wanted by an enemy, but on paying a fair price for the same.
I think you have done well to print the letter of Clinton; for, though I have myself had suspicions whether some parts of it were really written by him, yet I have no doubt of the facts stated, and think the piece valuable, as giving a true account of the British and American affairs in that quarter. On the whole, it has the appearance of a letter written by a general, who did not approve of the expedition he was sent upon, who had no opinion of the judgment of those who drew up his instructions, who had observed, that the preceding commanders, Gage, Burgoyne, Keppel, and the Howes, had all been censured by the ministers for having unsuccessfully attempted to execute injudicious instructions with unequal force; and he therefore wrote such a letter, not merely to give the information contained in it, but to be produced in his vindication, when he might be recalled, and his want of success charged upon him as a crime; though, in truth, owing to the folly of the ministers, who had ordered him on impracticable projects, and persisted in them, notwithstanding his faithful informations, without furnishing the necessary number of troops he had demanded. In this view, much of the letter may be accounted for, without supposing it fictitious; and therefore, if not genuine, it is ingeniously written. But you will easily conceive, that, if the state of public facts it contains were known in America to be false, such a publication there would have been ab. surd, and of no possible use to the cause of the country. I have written to M. Neufville concerning the bills you mention. I have no orders or advice about them, know nothing of them, and therefore cannot prudently meddle with them; especially as the funds in my power are not more than sufficient to answer the Congress bills for interest and other inevitable demands. He desired to know, whether I would engage to reimburse him, if he should accept and pay them; but, as I know not the amount of them, I cannot enter into any such engagement; for though, if they are genuine Congress bills, I am persuaded all possible
* See the letter to “An Agent of American Cruisers,” above, p. 458; and the Judgment, p. 453.