Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

continue a war four years without money, and how we could pay with paper that had no previously fixed fund appropriated specifically to redeem it. This currency, as we manage it, is a wonderful machine. It performs its office when we issue it; it pays and clothes troops, and provides victuals and ammunition; and, when we are obliged to issue a quantity excessive, it pays itself off by depreciation.

Our affairs in general stand in a fair light throughout Europe. Our cause is universally-approved. Our constitutions of government have been translated and printed in most languages, and are so much admired for the spirit of liberty that reigns in them, that it is generally agreed we shall have a vast accession of national property after the war, from every part of this continent, and particularly from the British islands. We have only to persevere and to be happy. Yours, &c.

B. FRANKLIN. .

To the Hon. Josiah Quincy, Esg. Character of the French nation-Censures the people of

America. , DEAR SIR,

Passy, April 22, 1779. · I received your very kind letter by Mr. Bradford, who appears a very sensible and amiable young gentleman, to whom I should with pleasure render any service here, upon your much respected recommendation ; but, I understand he returns immediately.

It is with great sincerity I join you in acknowledging and admiring the dispensations of Providence in our favor. America has only to be thankful and persevere. God will finish his work, and establish their freedom ; and the lovers of liberty will flock from all parts of Europe with their fortunes to participate with us of that freedom-as soon as the peace is restored.

· I am exceedingly pleased with your account of the French

politeness and civility, as it appeared among the officers and people of their feet. They have certainly advanced in those respects many degrees beyond the English. I find them here a most amiable nation to live with. The Spaniards are, by common opinion, supposed to be cruel, the English proud, the Scotch insolent, the Dutch avaricious, &c.; but I think the French have no national vice ascribed to them. They have some frivolities, bụt they are harmless. To dress their heads so that a hat caunot be put on them, and then wear their hats under their arms, and to fill their noses with tobacco, may be called follies perhaps, but they are ,not vices; they are only the effects of the tyranny of custom. In short, there is nothing wanting in the character of a Frenchman that belongs to that of an agreeable and worthy man. They have only some trifles, a surplus of which might be spared.

Will you permit me, while I do them this justice, to hint a little censure on our own country people ? which I do in good-will, wishing the cause removed. You know the necessity we are under of supplies from Europe, and the difficulty we have at present in making returns. The interest bills would do a good deal towards purchasing arms, ammunition, clothing, sailcloth, and other necessaries for defence. Upon inquiry of those who present those bills to me for acceptance, what the money is to be laid out in, I find that most of it is for superfluities, and more than half of it for tea! How unhappily in this instance the folly of our people, and the avidity of our merchants, concur to weaken and impoverish our country! I formerly computed that we consumed before the war, in that single article, the value of 500,0001. sterling annually. Much of this was saved by stopping the use of it. I honored the virtuous resolution of our women in foregoing that little gratification, and I lament that such virtue should be of so short duration !' Five hundred thousand pounds sterling annually laid out in defending ourselves, or annoying our enemies, would have great effects. With what face can we ask aids and subsidies from our friends while we are wasting our own wealth in such prodigality? With great and sincere esteem, I am, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

To the MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE, AT HAVRE DE

GRACE.
Dear Sir,

Passy, August 19, 1779. I have just now received your favor of the 17th. I wrote to you a day or two ago, and have little to add. You ask my opinion what conduct the English will probably - hold on this occasion,' and whether they will not rather propose a negociation for a peace? I have but one rule to go by in judging of those people, which is, that whatever is prudent for them to do they will ounit, and what is most imprudent to be done, they will do it. This, like other general rules, may sometimes have its exceptions ; but I think it will hold good for the most part, at least while the present ministry continues, or rather while the present madman has the choice of ministers. You desire to know whether I am -satisfied with the ministers here? It is impossible for any body to be more so. I see they exert themselves greatly in the common cause, and do every thing for us they can. We can wish for nothing more, unless our great want of money should make us wish for a subsidy, to enable us to act more vigorously in expelling the enemy from their remaining posts, and reducing Canada. But their own expenses are so great,

· Proposed descent of a French army in England.

that I cannot press such an addition to it. I hope, however, that we shall get some supplies of arms and ammunition; and perhaps, when they can be spared, some ships to aid in reducing New York and Rhode Island. At present I know of no good opportunity of writing to America. There are merchant ships continually going, but they are very uncertain conveyances. I lovg to hear of your safe arrival in England: but the winds are adverse, and we must have patience. With the sincerest esteem and respect, I am ever, &c.

ii.

B. FRANKLIN.

TO THE MArguis de la FAYETTE, AT HAVRE.

.: (With the sword ordered by congress.) SIR, ..

Passy, Aug. 24, 1779. ! The congress, sensible of your merit towards the United States, but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a sword, as a small mark of their grateful acknowledgment. They, directed it to be ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal actions of the war in which you distinguished yourself by your bravery and conduct, are therefore represented upon it. These, with a few emblematic figures, all admirably well executed, make its principal value. By the help of the exquisite artists France affords, I find it easy to express every thing but the sense we have of your worth, and our obligations to you. For this, figures and even words are found insufficient. I therefore only add, that with the most perfect esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

P.S.-My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, and will have the honor of presenting it to you.

Description of the sword given by congress to the Marquis

de la Fayette. On one side of the pommel are the marquis's arms, and on the other the device of a new moon, reflecting rays of light on a country partly covered with wood, and partly cultivated. Symbol of the republic of the United States, with this motto, Crescam ut Prossim. By this it was intended modestly to express,1. Her present mediocrity of strength, as the light of the moon,

though considerable, is weaker than that of the sun. 2. Her expectation of becoming more powerful as she increases, and

thereby rendering herself more useful to mankind.. 3. The gratitude with which she remembers that the light she

spreads, is principally owing to the kind aids of a greater lumi

nary' in another hemisphere." On the bow is the legend, from the American congress to the Marquis

. de la Fayette, 1779. The handle is ornamented with two medallions. In one, America represented by a woman presenting a branch of laurel to a Frenchman; in the other, a Frenchman is treading on a lion. . On the guard are separately represented, in fine relievo

The affair at Gloucester.
: The retreat off Rhode Island.

The battle of Monmouth.

And the retreat at Barren Hill.
The hilt is of massive gold, and the blade two-edged.

Cost two hundred Louis d'ors.
Made by Liger, sword cutler, Rue Coquilliére.

The Marquis's' Reply. SIR,

Havre, August 29, 1779. Whatever expectations might have been raised from the sense of past favors, the goodness of the United States for me has ever been such, that on every occasion it

.' ; ''The king of France, whose symbol is the sun.

« ZurückWeiter »