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TO DR BANCROFT.
Passy, April 16th, 1778. Dear Sir, I wish you would assure our friend, that Dr Franklin never gave any such expectations to Mr Pultney. On the contrary, he told him, that the commissioners could not succeed in their mission, whether they went to recover the dependence or to divide. His opinion is confirmed by the enclosed resolves, which perhaps it may not be amiss to publish in England. Please to send me the newspaper. Yours affectionately,
DAVID HARTLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.
Paris, April 23d, 1778. Dear Sir, I will take care of all your commissions. This moment a second packet of infinite value is received, which I shall cherish as a mark of affection from you. I opened the letter by mistake, which came with it, and soon saw it was not for me. I hope you will excuse it. I choose rather to throw myself upon your goodness for the excuse, than anything else. I shall not set out till between one and two; therefore, if you will be so good as to send me another copy, I will take care of it and deliver it safely.
God bless you, my dear friend. No exertion or endeavor on my part shall be wanting, that we may some time or other meet again in peace. Your powers are infinitely more influential than mine. To those powers I trust my last hopes. I will conclude, blessed are the peace makers. Your affectionate friend,
P. S. If tempestuous times should come, take care of your own safety ; events are uncertain, and men may be capricious.
ANSWER. I thank you for your kind caution, but having nearly finished a long life, I set but little value on what remains of it. Like a draper, when one chaffers with him for a remnant, I am ready to say, “As it is only the fag end, I will not differ with you about it; take it for what you please.” Perhaps the best use such an old fellow can be put to, is to make a martyr of him.
TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Passy, April 24th, 1778. Sir, Mr Hartley, a member of Parliament, an old acquaintance of mine, arrived here from London on Sunday last. He is generally in the opposition, especially on American questions, but has some respect for Lord North. In conversation he expressed the strongest anxiety for peace with America, and appeared extremely desirous to know my sentiments of the terms, which might probably be acceptable if offered ; whether America would not, to obtain peace, grant some superior advantages in trade to Britain, and enter into an alliance offensive and defensive; whether, if war should be declared against France, we had obliged ourselves by treaty to join with her against England.
My answers have been, that the United States were not fond of war, and with the advice of their friends would probably be easily prevailed with to make peace.
on equitable terms; but we had no terms committed to us to propose, and I did not choose to mention any; that Britain, having injured us heavily by making this unjust war upon us, might think herself well off, if on reparation of those injuries we admitted her to equal advantages with other nations in commerce; but certainly she had no reason to expect superior; that her known fondness for war, and the inany instances of her readiness to engage in wars on frivolous occasions, were probably sufficient to cause an immediate rejection of every proposition for an offensive alliance with her; and that if she made war against France on our account, a peace with us, at the same time, was impossible ; for that having met with friendship from that generous nation, when we were cruelly oppressed by England, we were under ties stronger than treaties could form, to make common cause ; which we should certainly do to the utmost of our power. . Here has also been with me a Mr Chapman, who says he is a member of the parliament of Ireland, on his way home from. Nice, where he had been for the recovery of his health. He pretended to call on me only from motives of respect for my character, &c. But after a few compliments, he entered on a similar discourse, urging much to know what terms would satisfy America, and whether, on having peace and independence granted to us, we should not be willing to submit to the navigation act, or give equivalent privileges in trade to Britain. The purport of my answer to him was in short, that peace was of equal value to England as to us, and independence we were already in possession of; that, therefore, England's offer to grant them to us could not be considered as pro
posing any favor, or as giving her a right to expect peculiar advantages in commerce. By his importunity, I found his visit was not so occasional as he represented it; and from some expressions, I conjectured he might be sent by Lord Shelburne to sound me, and collect some information. On the whole, I gather from these conversations, that the opposition as well as the Ministry are perplexed with the present situation of affairs, and know not which way to turn themselves, whether it is best to go backward or forward, or what steps to take to extricate that nation from its present dangerous situation.
I thought it right to give your Excellency an account of these interviews, and to acquaint you with my intention of avoiding such hereafter, as I see but little prospect of utility in them, and think they are very liable to hurtful misrepresentations.
By advices from London we learn, that a fleet for Quebec, with goods valued at five hundred thousand pounds sterling, is to sail about the end of this month, under convoy only of a single frigate of thirty guns, in which is to go Governor Haldimand.
Enclosed I send a paper I have just received from London. It is not subscribed by any name, but I know the hand. It is from an old friend of general and great acquaintance, and marks strongly the present distress and despair of considerate people in England.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your Excellency's, &c. .
COUNT DE VERGENNES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Versailles, April 25th, 1778. I have made known to the King, Sir, the substance of the letter, which you did me the honor of writing to me yesterday; and I am directed by his Majesty to express to you the satisfaction he has experienced from the information, which you have communicated on your conferences with Mr Hartley. The grand principle of the English policy has always been to excite divisions; and it is by such means she expects to sustain her empire; but it is not upon you, nor upon your colleagues, that she can practise such arts with success. I entertain the same sentiments of confidence in the United States. As to the rest, it is impossible to speak with more dignity, frankness, and firmness, than you have done to Mr Hartley ; he has no reason to be very well satisfied with his mission. I doubt whether this member of Parliament has any mission for us; but he desires to see me, and I expect him in the course of the morning. I should not be at all surprised, if his purpose be to sow distrust between us, by proposing a double negotiation. That I can obviate ; but whatever passes between us, however trifling it may be, you shall be made acquainted with. .
I have the honor to be, with the most perfect consideration, Sir, your most humble and most obedient servant,