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TO DAVID BARCLAY.
Death of Dr. Fothergill.
I condole with you most sincerely on the loss of our dear friend, Dr. Fothergill. I hope that some one, that knew him well, will do justice to his memory, by an account of his life and character. He was a great doer of good. How much might have been done, and how much mischief prevented, if his, your, and my joint endeavours, in a certain melancholy affair, had been attended to.” With great respect and esteem, I
am, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO SIR EDWARD NEWIENHAM.
Passport for Provisions and Clothing sent to the West Indies.
Passy, 12 February, 1781. SIR,
I have received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me the 12th ultimo. Enclosed with this, I send you the passport desired, which I hope will be respected and effectual. With great esteem, I have
* The allusion here is to the negotiation, which was attempted between Dr. Franklin, Dr. Fothergill, Mr. Barclay, and Lord Howe, a short time before Dr. Franklin left England. See Vol. V. p. 1. In a letter to Dr. Lettsom, respecting Dr. Fothergill, dated March 17th, 1783, he wrote as follows. “Our late excellent friend was always proposing something for the good of mankind. You will find instances of this kind in one of his letters, which I enclose, the only one I can at present lay my hand on. I have some very valuable ones in America, if they are not lost in the late confusions. Just before I left England, he, in conjunction with Mr. Barclay and myself, labored hard to prevent the coming war; but our endeavours were fruitless. This transaction is alluded to in the first page. If we may estimate the goodness of a man by his disposition to do good, and his constant endeavours and success in doing it, I can hardly conceive that a better man has ever existed.”— LETTsom's Life of Dr. Fothergill, p. 177.
the honor to be, Sir, &c.
“To all Captains and Commanders of Wessels of War belonging to the Thirteen United States of America, or either of them, or to any of the Citizens of the said States, or to any of the Allies thereof. “GENTLEMEN, “It being authentically represented to me, that the worthy citizens of Dublin, touched with the general calamities with which Divine Providence has thought fit lately to visit the West India Islands, have charitably resolved to contribute to their relief, by sending them some provisions and clothing; and, as the principles of common humanity require of us to assist our fellow creatures, though enemies, when distressed by the hand of God, and by no means to impede the benevolence of those, who commiserate their distresses, and would alleviate them; I do hereby earnestly recommend it to you, that, if the ship or vessel, in which the said charitable supplies will be sent to the said Islands, should by the fortune of war fall into any of your hands, and it shall appear to you by her authentic papers, that the cargo is bond fide composed of such beneficent donations only, and not of merchandise, intended to be sold for the profit of the shippers, you would kindly and generously permit the said vessel to pass to the place of her destination; in doing of which you will not only have the present and lasting satisfaction of having gratified your own humane and pious feelings as men and as Christians, but will undoubtedly recommend yourselves to the favor of God, of the Congress, of your employers, and of your country. “Wishing you success in your cruises, I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, &c. “B. FRANKLIN, “JMinister Plenipotentiary from the United States at the Court of France.”
TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Transmitting Letters of Congress to the King. – Instructions of Congress. – Critical Situation of America. — Mecessity of immediate Aid. Passy, 13 February, 1781. SIR, I have just received from Congress their letter for the King, which I have the honor of putting herewith into the hands of your Excellency. I am charged, at the same time, to “represent, in the strongest terms, the unalterable resolution of the United States to maintain their liberties and independence; and inviolably to adhere to the alliance at every hazard, and in every event; and that the misfortunes of the last campaign, instead of repressing, have redoubled their ardor; that Congress are resolved to employ every resource in their power to expel the enemy from every part of the United States, by the most vigorous and decisive coöperation with marine and other forces of their illustrious ally; that they have accordingly called on the several States for a powerful army and ample supplies of provisions; and that the States are disposed effectually to comply with their requisitions. That if, in aid of their own exertions, the court of France can be prevailed on to assume a naval superiority in the American seas, to furnish the arms, ammunition, and clothing, specified in the estimate heretofore transmitted, and to assist with the loan mentioned in the letter, they flatter themselves, that, under the divine blessing, the war must speedily be terminated, with glory and advantage to both nations.” By several letters to me from intelligent persons it appears, that the great and expensive exertions of the last year, by which a force was assembled capable of facing the enemy, and which accordingly drew towards New York, and lay long near that city, was rendered ineffectual by the superiority of the enemy at sea; and that their successes in Carolina had been chiefly owing to that superiority, and to the want of the necessary means for furnishing, marching, and paying the expense of troops sufficient to defend that province. The Marquis de Lafayette writes to me, that it is impossible to conceive, without seeing it, the distress which the troops have suffered for want of clothing; and the following is a paragraph of a letter from General Washington, which I ought not to keep back from your Excellency, viz. “I doubt not that you are so fully informed by Congress of our political and military state, that it would be superfluous to trouble you with any thing relative to either. If I were to speak on topics of the kind, it would be to show that our present situation makes one of two things essential to us; a peace, or the most vigorous aid of our allies, particularly in the article of money. Of their disposition to serve us, we cannot doubt; their generosity will do every thing which their means will permit.” They had in America great expectations, I know not on what foundation, that a considerable supply of money would be obtained from Spain; but that expectation has failed, and the force of that nation in those seas has been employed to reduce small forts in Florida, without rendering any direct assistance to the United States; and indeed the long delay of that court, in acceding to the treaty of commerce, begins to have the appearance of its not inclining to have any connexion with us; so that, for effectual friendship, and for the aid so necessary in the present conjuncture, we can rely on France alone, and in the continuance of the King's goodness towards us. I am grown old. I feel myself much enfeebled by my late long illness, and it is probable I shall not long have any more concern in these affairs. I therefore take this occasion to express my opinion to your Excellency, that the present conjuncture is critical; that there is some danger lest the Congress should lose its influence over the people, if it is found unable to procure the aids that are wanted; and that the whole system of the new government in America may thereby be shaken; that, if the English are suffered once to recover that country, such an opportunity of effectual separation as the present may not occur again in the course of ages; and that the possession of those fertile and extensive regions, and that vast seacoast, will afford them so broad a basis for future greatness, by the rapid growth of their commerce, and breed of seamen and soldiers, as will enable them to become the terror of Europe, and to exercise with impunity that insolence, which is so natural to their nation, and which will increase enormously with the increase of their power. I am, with great respect, your Excellency's, &c. B. FRANKLIN.