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a time when the treaty was a topic of vehement discussion, and it was eagerly seized upon to gratify the malevolence of a disappointed party. When it appeared in print, it was immediately contradicted by Mr. Whitefoord, who was present at the signing of the treaty, and who affixed his name to it as secretary to the English Commissioner. “This absurd story,” says Mr. Whitefoord, “has no foundation but in the imagination of the inventor. He supposes that the act of signing the peace took place at the house of Dr. Franklin. The fact is otherwise; the conferences, were held, and the treaty was signed, at the hotel of the British Commissioner, where Dr. Franklin, and the other American Commissioners gave their attendance for that purpose. The court of Versailles having at that time gone into mourning for the death of some German prince, the Doctor of course was dressed in a suit of black cloth ; and it is in the recollection of the writer of this, and also, he believes, of many other people, that when the memorable philippic was pronounced against Dr. Franklin in the Privy Council, he was dressed in a suit of figured Manchester velvet,” See Gentleman's Magazine, for July, 1785, p. 561. The error may have arisen from the circumstance that when the treaty of alliance between France and the United States was signed, Franklin was dressed in this suit of velvet.
The provisional treaty of peace was violently assailed in the British parliament, and became one of the principal causes of the dissolution of the cabinet under Lord Shelburne. The coalition ministry which followed, probably hoped to obtain some favourable change in the definitive treaty, or, at all events, to introduce modifications and counmercial principles, which would render it more acceptable to the nation. Mr. Hartley was accordingly sent over to Paris, duly commissioned by the King, and instructed, to negotiate with the American envoys, not only, “ for perfecting and establishing the peace, friendship, and good understanding so happily commenced by the provisional articles,” but also “ for opening, promoting, and rendering perpetual, the mutual intercourse of trade and commerce, between the two countries.” Mr. Hartley was the bearer of a letter from Mr. Fox, then one of the ministers, to Dr. Franklin, containing professions of personal friendship, and expressing a hope that the treaty of peace would terminate in a substantial reconciliation,
A commercial article was proposed to Mr. Hartley by the American envoys, which they said they were ready to confirm. By this article, it was agreed, that whenever his Britannic Majesty should withdraw his
fleets and armies from the United States, all the harbours and ports should be open to British trading vessels in the same manner as to American ships, and without any other charges or duties. It was required, as a reciprocal privilege, that American vessels should be admitted on the same footing into British ports. Mr. Hartley was not prepared to assent to this proposal. He represented the Navigation Act as a barrier to such an arrangement, and proposed that the commerce between the two countries should stand on the same basis as before the war; adding, that this was only a temporary provision, which might be gradually matured into a more complete compact. The West India trade offered other embarrassments. For months nothing was accomplished. All the propositions went to England, and were returned with unsatisfactory
The American negotiators drew up a series of new articles, chiefly relating to commerce, which they were willing should be inserted, and which embraced Dr. Franklin's philanthropic scheme for protecting private property in time of war, and for suppressing the practice of privateering. None of them was accepted ; and the preliminary articles were finally adopted as a definitive treaty, and signed as such at Paris, on the 3rd of September, 1783.
The definitive treaty being finally ratified by the two governments, the drama of the revolution was closed. The sentiments expressed by Dr. Franklin on this occasion, in a letter to his friend Charles Thomson, are worthy to be held in perpetual remembrance by his countrymen.
" Thus the great and hazardous enterprise we have been engaged in is, God be praised, happily completed ; an event I had hardly expected ) should live to see. A few years of peace, well-improved, will restore and increase our strength; but our future safety will depend on our union and our virtue. Britain will be long watching for advantages to recover what she has lost. If we do not convince the world, that we are a nation to be depended on for fidelity in treaties; if we appear negligent in paying our debts, and ungrateful to those who have served and befriended us; our reputation, and all the strength it is capable of procuring will be lost, and fresh attacks upon us will be encouraged and promoted by better prospects of success. Let us, therefore, beware of being lulled into a dangerous security, and of being both enervated and impoverished by luxury; of being weakened by internal contentions and divisions ; of being shamefully extravagant in contracting private debts, while we are backward in discharging honourably those of the public; of neglect in military exercises and discipline, and in providing stores of
arms and munitions of war, to be ready on occasion: for all these are circumstances that give confidence to enemies and diffidence to friends; and the expenses required to prevent a war, are much lighter than those that will, if not prevented, be absolutely necessary to maintain it."
After the peace, Franklin's duties as minister plenipotentiary had become less burdensome. His correspondence, however, was at all times a heavy task. During the war the relatives of the foreign officers, who served in America, wrote to him continually for information about their friends. Memoirs and projects innumerable were communicated to him on scientific subjects and particularly on politics, government and finance. People all over Europe, proposing to emigrate to America, applied to him for an account of the country, and of the advantages it held out to new settlers, each asking advice suited to his particular case. To diminish the trouble of answering these inquiries, and to diffuse such a knowledge of his country 98 might be useful to persons who intended to settle there, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “Information to those wlio would remove to America,” which he caused to be printed and distributed. It was translated into German. In some instances he was much annoyed by correspondents who had no claims upon him, and who wrote to him upon all sorts of subjects. It was published in a newspaper, that Dr. Franklin knew a sovereign remedy for the dropsy. This was repeated far and near, and letters came from every quarter, beseeching him to impart so invaluable a secret.
Human undertakings are not often accomplished so successfully as were all the ends of Dr. Franklin's mission to France. His country had obtained the alliances and every important aid she sought in the war ; she had conquered a glorious and satisfactory peace; and if her commercial relations with Europe were as yet unsettled, it was attributable in a great degree to the magnitude and novelty of her claims. She rose before the rest of the world, as the great proginator of men rose upon earth-at once mature! Well might the situation she was to occupy puzzle those who were only learned in books and precedents.
The plenipotentiary, who for a long time had striven largely, perhaps principally, towards the great work of an actual peace, was occupied for nearly two succeeding years of his life, in endeavouring to perfect what he justly called a greater work still that of reconciliation between the United States and Great Britain.
in various passages of his correspondence, there can be traced the alterations in Franklin's sentiments with respect to England and her
rulers ; nor is there anything more instructive than to view the progress of these changes : for there is no doubt that he felt like all the rest of the well-informed colonists, and consequently his sentiments were either an exponent of the popular opinion, or must have influenced it sooner or later. By attending, then, to the measures which produced the alienation of this distinguished patriot, one may trace the steps by which England lost her colonial dominions; an empire of incalculable value, and which, as Franklin said, she might have continued to govern at the expense of a little pen, ink, and paper for ages. Now, it is plain from his correspondence, that the original bent of Franklin's mind was a strong affectionate attachment to the mother country. This is to be seen in every point of view in which such a feeling can be expected to show itself. It appears in his distrust, and even personal dislike of the French, afterwards the objects of his constant love and gratitude, when they had rendered America the highest services; in the general good will expressed towards England and her constitution, and in his anxiety to perpetuate the connexion, and avoid a war; and, perhaps, still more strikingly, in warm expressions of what is commonly called loyalty, that is, attachment to the sovereign, as distinct from other branches of the state, and a disposition to excuse the king at the expense of his ministers, his parliament and his people ;-the same monarch, be it remarked, of whom he afterwards spoke on so many occasions with extreme personal dislike and resentment. It is due to Franklin to add, that no sooner was peace restored between the two countries, than he resumed his liberal and enlightened views of the attachment that was becoming towards the parent state. Even though he had at length imbibed so strong a personal aversion to George the Third, he seerns ever to have done justice to his character as a man. Wishing to illustrate to Lord Fitzmaurice, Lord Shelburne's son, who called upon him at Paris in 1784, the importance of a good private character to public men, Franklin told him, that he believed if the king had had a bad private character, and the notorious John Wilks a good one, that the latter might at one period of the war have turned the former out of his kindom.
How proud was the position which Benjamin Franklin had gained on the declaration of peace between bis native land and the parent state ! From the condition of an humble mechanic, he raised himself, in a manner the most honourable, to be an associate of the most learned and powerful of his fellow-beings. He had negotiated the independence of his country, and placed it on a level with the greatest empires of the
earth; and in thus accomplishing what had become the leading object of his life, he was, as he informs us, disposed to ask, in the language of Simeon of old, for permission to retire from the present sphere of existence.
He had more than once felt a great desire to return to America. After he had completely established a firm and most important friendship between the court of France and the United States, he had applied to Congress to appoint his successor. The trade of a minister had pretty well tired him out, and he wished for a little repose, he said, “ before he went to sleep for good and all,”-also“ peace seeming at a greater distance to him than the end of his days, he grew impatient-but that yet he would not quit the service of his country, if he did not sincerely believe she would easily find an abler man.” He therefore, in his letter of March the 12th, 1781, applied to the president of the Congress for a re-call; but this, in the then state of affairs, they very wisely declined granting, and assured him respectfully, that when peace should be made, if he persisted in the same request, it should be complied with.
The important ends of Franklin's mission being achieved, and the infirmities of age and disease coming upon him, he became more desirous than ever of returning home. However, at the urgent request of Congress, he consented to remain in order to execute the office of minister plenipotentiary at the French court until the year 1785.
During the period of eight years and a half, which he spent at Passy, he kept up a correspondence with many learned men in different parts of Europe ; and here a number of his most admired papers were composed. He had also attracted around him during these years a large number of personal friends. Besides his numerous acquaintances in the great world of Paris, he found not a few whose society he valued among his neighbours at Passy. They vied with each other in bestowing upon him their civilities and kindness. We have already seen that he was almost domesticated in the family of M. Brillon. The house of Madame Helvetius, at Anteuil, was another of his favourite resorts. This lady, then advanced in years, had associated in the lifetime of her husband, with the first wits and most eminent men of the day. It has been said that Franklin thought somewhat seriously at one time of offering her terms of marriage. At any rate the following translated letter to her takes a playful view of such an alliance :
“Mortified at the barbarous resolution by you so positively yesterday evening, that you would remain single the rest of your life, as a compli