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TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Foreign Merchants ought not to suffer from the Depreciation of American Paper JMoney.
Passy, 10 July, 1780. SIR,
I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me, dated June 30th, together with the papers accompanying it, containing the correspondence of Mr. Adams. I have taken some pains to understand the subject, and obtain information of facts from persons recently arrived, having received no letters myself that explain it. I cannot say, that I yet perfectly understand it; but in this I am clear, that if the operation directed by Congress in their resolution of March the 18th occasions, from the necessity of the case, some inequality of justice, that inconvenience ought to fall wholly on the inhabitants of the States, who reap with it the advantages obtained by the measure; and that the greatest care should be taken, that foreign merchants, particularly the French, who are our creditors, do not suffer by it. This I am so confident the Congress will do, that I do not think any representations of mine necessary to persuade them to it.
I shall not fail, however, to lay the whole before them; and I beg that the King may be assured, that their sentiments, and those of the Americans in general, with regard to the alliance, as far as I have been able to learn them, not only from private letters, but from authentic public facts, differ widely from those that seem to be expressed by Mr. Adams in his letter to your Excellency, and are filled with the strongest impressions of the friendship of France, of the generous manner in which his Majesty was pleased to enter into an equal treaty with us, and of the great obligations our country is under for the important aids he has since afforded us. I have the honor to be, &c. - B. FRANKLIN.
FROM DAVID HARTLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.
Conciliatory Bill rejected in the House of Commons. London, 17 July, 1780. MY DEAR FRIEND,
Enclosed I send you a copy of a conciliatory bill, which was proposed in the House of Commons on the 27th of last month.” It was rejected. You and I have had so much intercourse upon the subject of restoring peace between Great Britain and America, that I think there is nothing further left to be said upon the subject. You will perceive, by the general tenor of the bill, that it proposes a general power to treat. It chalks out a line of negotiation in very general terms. I remain in the sentiments which I ever have, and which I believe I ever shall entertain, viz. those of seeking peace upon honorable terms. I shall always be ready, and most desirous, to join in any measure which may facilitate peace. I am ever your
most affectionate D. HARTLEy.
* By the tenor of this bill, the King was empowered “to treat, consult, and finally to agree upon the means of restoring peace with the Provinces of North America.” Nothing was said in it concerning independence, nor does such a concession on the part of Great Britain seem to have been designed. A cessation of hostilities was recommended, and a repeal of all the acts of Parliament, of which the colonies had complained, for the space of ten years. The project was more favorable to the United States than Lord North's bill sent out by the Commissioners in 1778, but was not such, if it had succeeded in Parliament, as Congress would have accepted. See Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. III. p. 157.
To ALEXANDER SMALL.”
You see, my dear Sir, that I was not afraid my masters would take it amiss, if I ran to see an old friend, though in the service of their enemy. They are reasonable enough to allow, that differing politics should not prevent the intercommunication of philosophers, who study and converse for the benefit of mankind. But you have doubts about coming to dine with me. I suppose you will not venture it; your refusal will not indeed do so much honor to the generosity and good nature of your government, as to your sagacity. You know your people, and I do not expect you. I think, too, that in friendship I ought not to make you more visits, as I intended; but I send my grandson to pay his duty to his physician.
You inquired about my gout, and I forgot to acquaint you, that I had treated it a little cavalierly in its two last accesses. Finding one night that my foot gave me more pain after it was covered warm in bed, I put it out of bed naked; and, perceiving it easier, I let it remain longer than I at first designed, and at length fell asleep leaving it there till morning. The pain did not return, and I grew well. Next winter, having a second attack, I repeated the experiment; not with such immediate success in dismissing the gout, but constantly with the effect of rendering it less painful, so that it permitted me to sleep every night. I should mention, that it was my son who gave me the first intimation of this practice. He being in the old opinion, that the gout was to be drawn out by transpiration; and, having heard me say, that perspiration was carried on more copiously when the body was naked, than when clothed, he put his foot out of bed to increase that discharge, and found ease by it, which he thought a confirmation of the doctrine. But this method requires to be confirmed by more experiments, before one can conscientiously recommend it. I give it you, however, in exchange for your receipt of tartar emetic; because the commerce of philosophy as well as other commerce, is best promoted by taking care to make returns. I am ever yours most affectionately, B. FRANKLIN.
* A surgeon of eminence in the British army, then passing through Paris; brother to Colonel Small, who particularly distinguished himself by his humanity at the battle of Bunker's Hill, near Boston. —W. T. F.
WOL. VIII. 31
TO CHARLES W. F. DUMAS.
Capture of Charleston. —Jones and Landais. Passy, 26 July, 1780. DEAR SIR, I wrote to Messrs. de Neufville by the last post, in answer to theirs of the 14th. I hope they received my letter. It signified, that I could accept the bills drawn on Mr. Laurens. I find, by a vote of Congress on the 4th of March, that they then stopped drawing, and I am informed, no more bills have been issued since. I could not relish those gentlemen's proposal of mortgaging all our estates, for the little money Holland is likely to lend us. But I am obliged to them for their zeal in our cause. I received, and thank you for, the protest relating to the election of the coadjutor. You seem to be too much affected with the taking of Charleston It is so far a damage to us, as it will enable the enemy to exchange a great part of the prisoners we had in our hands; otherwise their affairs will not be much advanced by it. They have successively been in possession of the capitals of five provinces, viz. Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia; but were not therefore in possession of the provinces themselves. New York and Georgia still continue their operations as free States; and so I suppose will South Carolina. The cannon will be recovered with the place; if not, our furnaces are constantly at work in making more. The destroying of our ships by the English is only like shaving out beards, which will grow again. Their loss of provinces is like the loss of a limb, which can never again be united to their body. I was sorry to hear of your indisposition. Take care of yourself. Honey is a good thing for obstructions in the reins. I hope your health is by this time reëstablished.
I am less committed than you imagine in the affair between Jones and Landais. The latter was not dispossessed by me of his command, but quitted it. He afterwards took it into his head to resume it, which the former's too long stay at Paris gave him an opportunity of effecting. Captain Jones is going in the Jiriel frigate to America, where they may settle their affairs as they can.
The captain commandant of Dunkirk, who occasioned the loss of our despatches, is himself taken by the English. I have no doubt of the truth of what Mr. White told you, about the facility with which the tax was collected.
The same Baron de Wulffen has not pleased me, having left little debts behind him unpaid, though I furnished him with twenty guineas. As he had been with his brother at Wenloo, before he saw you, where he might get money, I wonder at his borrowing of YOu.