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JAMES LOVELL TO B. FRANKLIN.
Yorktown, June 20th, 1778. Sir, By a most unlucky mistake, I did not forward the resolve of the 5th of May, with the ratifications of the treaties sent in that month, in the packets A B C, but I have sent it in D Е via Martinique, and now forward it via Boston in F G, not allowing myself to wait for the .concurrence of the Committee in a joint letter.
Our troops were in the city of Philadelphia on the morning of the 13th. The intentions of the enemy in evacuating it cannot yet be explained. Our army is in motion and will press them. The Gazettes contain every thing material. By the arrival of Messrs Simeon Deane, May 2d, Courter, May 18th, Stevenson, June 10th, Holker and Carmichael, June 18th, we have the favors of yourself and other friends in continuance. Commissioners will be particularly nominated to transact affairs for us at Lisbon and the Hague, if those Courts are well disposed towards us. We are now growing anxious about our worthy friend J. Adams. Your most humble servant,
ANSWER TO A LETTER FROM BRUSSELS.
Passy, July 1st, 1778.
I received your letter, dated at Brussels the 16th past.
My vanity might possibly be flattered by your expressions of compliment to my understanding, if your proposals did not more clearly manifest a mean opinion of it. .
You conjure me in the name of the omniscient and just God, before whom I must appear, and by my hopes of future fame, to consider if some expedient cannot be found to put a stop to the desolation of America, and prevent the miseries of a general war. As I ain conscious of having taken every step in my power to prevent the breach, and no one to widen it, I can appear cheerfully before that God, fearing nothing from his justice in this particular, though I have much occasion for his mercy in many others. As to my future fame, I am content to rest it on my past and present conduct, without seeking an addition to it in the crooked, dark paths, you propose to me, where I should most certainly lose it. This, your solemn address, would therefore have been more properly made to your sovereign and his venal Parliament. He and they, who wickedly began, and madly continue, a war for the desolation of America, are alone accountable for the consequences.
You endeavor to impress me with a bad opinion of French faith ; but the instances of their friendly endeavors to serve a race of weak princes, who, by their own imprudence, defeated every attempt to promote their interest, weigh but little with me, when I consider the steady friendship of France to the Thirteen United States of Switzerland, which has now continued inviolate two hundred years. You tell me that she will certainly cheat us, and that she despises us already. I do not believe that she will cheat us, and I am not certain that she despises us ; but I see clearly that you are endeavoring to cheat us by your conciliatory bills; that you actually despised our un-, derstandings when you flattered yourselves those artifices would succeed ; and that not only France, but all Europe, yourselves included, most certainly and for ever would
despise us, if we were weak enough to accept your insidious propositions.
Our expectations of the future grandeur of America are not so magnificent, and therefore not so vain or visionary, as you represent them to be. The body of our people are not merchants, but humble husbandmen, who delight in the cultivation of their lands, which, from their fertility and the variety of our climates, are capable of furnishing all the necessaries and conveniences of life without external commerce; and we have too much land to have the least temptation to extend our territory by conquest from peaceable neighbors, as well as too much justice to think of it. Our militia, you find by experience, are sufficient to defend our lands from invasion ; and the commerce with us will be defended by all the nations who find an advantage in it. We, therefore, have not the occasion you imagine, of fleets, or standing armies, but may leave those expensive machines to be maintained for the pomp of princes, and the wealth of ancient states. We propose, if possible, to live in peace with all mankind; and after you have been convinced to your cost, that there is nothing to be got by attacking us, we have reason to hope that no other power will judge it prudent to quarrel with us, lest they divert us from our own quiet industry, and turn us into corsairs preying upon theirs. The weight therefore of an independent empire, which you seem certain of our inability to bear, will not be so great as you imagine. The expense of our civil government we have always borne, and can easily bear, because it is small. A virtuous and laborious people may be cheaply governed.. Determining as we do, to have no offices of profit, nor any sinecures or useless appoint
ments, so common in ancient or corrupted states, we can govern ourselves a year, for the sum you pay in a single department, or for what one jobbing contractor, by the favor of a Minister, can cheat you out of in a single article.
You think we flatter ourselves, and are deceived into an opinion that England must acknowledge our independency. We, on the other hand, think you flatter yourselves in imagining such an acknowledgment a vast boon, which we strongly desire, and which you may gain some great advantage by granting or withholding. We have never asked it of you; we only tell you, that you can have no treaty with us but as an independent State ; and you may please yourselves and your children with the rattle of your right to govern us, as long as you have done with that of your King's being King of France, without giving us the least concern, if you do not attempt to exercise it. That this pretended right is indisputable, as you say, we utterly deny. Your Parliament never had a right to govern us, and your King has forfeited it by his bloody tyranny. But I thank you for letting me know a little of your mind, that even if the Parliament should acknowledge our independency, the act would not be binding to posterity, and that your nation would resume and prosecute the claim as soon as they found it convenient from the influence of your passions, and your present malice against us. We suspected before, that you would not be actually bound by your conciliatory acts, longer than till they had served their purpose of inducing us to disband our forces; but we were not certain, that you were knaves by principle, and that we ought not to have the least confidence in your offers, promises, or treaties, though confirmed by Parliament.
I now indeed recollect my being informed, long since, when in England, that a certain very great personage, then young, studied much a certain book, entitled Arcana imperii. I had the curiosity to procure the book and read it. There are sensible and good things in it, but some bad ones; for, if I remember rightly, a particular king is applauded for his politically exciting a rebellion among his subjects, at a time when they had not strength to support it, that he might, in subduing them, take away their privi- , leges, which were troublesome to him ; and a question is formally stated and discussed, Whether a prince, who, to appease a revolt, makes promises of indemnity to the revolters, is .obliged to fulfil those promises ? Honest and good men would say, aye ; but this politician says, as you say, no. And he gives this pretty reason, that though it was right to make the promises, because otherwise the revolt would not be suppressed, yet it would be wrong to keep them, because revolters ought to be punished to deter future revolts.
If these are the principles of your nation, nò confidence can be placed in you; it is in vain to treat with you, and the wars can only end in being reduced to an utter inability of continuing them.
One main drift of your letter seems to be to impress me with an idea of your own impartiality, by just censures of your Ministers and measures, and to draw from me propositions of peace, or approbations of those you have enclosed to me, which you intimate may by your means be conveyed to the King directly, without the intervention of those Ministers. You would have me give them to, or drop them for, a stranger whom I may find next Monday in the church of Notre Dame, to be known by a rose in his hat. You your
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