« ZurückWeiter »
were not thought of weight sufficient to stop the signing of the treaty, till the King should, in another council, reconsider those articles, and after agreeing to omit them, order new copies to be drawn, though all was then ready engrossed on parchment as before settled. I did not think the articles of much consequence; but I thought it of consequence, that no delay should be given to the signing of the treaty after it was ready. But if I had known that those objections would have been sent to the Committee, I should have sent the answers they received, which had been satisfactory to all the Commissioners when the treaty was settled, and until the mind of one* of them was altered by the opinion of two other persons.f It is now too late to send those answers. But I wish for the future, if such a case should again happen, that Congress would acquaint their Commissioners with such partial objections, and hear their reasons before they determine that they have done wrong. In the meantime this only to you in private ; it will be of no use to communicate it, as the resolutions of Congress will probably be received and executed before this letter comes to hand. :
Speaking of Commissioners in the plural, puts me in mind of inquiring if it can be the intention of Congress to keep three Commissioners at this Court; we have indeed four with the gentleman intended for Tuscany, who continues here, and is very angry that he was not consulted in making the treaty, which he could have mended in several particulars ; and perhaps he is angry with some reason, if the instructions to him do, as he says they do, require us
* Arthur Lee.--See his Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 127.
+ Ralph Izard and William Lee.See Mr Izard's Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 372
to consult him. We shall soon have a fifth, for the envoy to Vienna not being received there, is, I hear, returning hither. The necessary expense of maintaining us all, is, I assure you, enormously great. I wish that the utility may equal it. I imagine every one of us spends nearly as much as Lord Stormont did. It is true, he left behind him the character of a niggard; and when the advertisement appeared for the sale of his household goods, all Paris laughed at an article of it, perhaps very innocently expressed, “Une grande quantité du linge de table, qui n'a jamais servi.” “Cela est tres vraisemblable,” say they, “car il n'a jamais donné à manger.” But as to our number, whatever advantage there might be in the joint counsels of three for framing and adjusting the articles of the treaty, there can be none in managing the common business of a resident here. On the contrary, all the advantages in negotiation that result from secrecy of sentiment, and uniformity in expressing it, and in common business from despatch, are lost. In a Court, too, where every word is watched and weighed, if a number of Commissioners do not every one hold the same language, in giving their opinion on any public transaction, this lessens their weight; and when it may be prudent to put on, or avoid certain appearances of concern, for example, or indifference, satisfaction, or dislike, where the utmost sincerity, and candor should be used, and would gain credit, if no semblance of art showed itself in the inadvertent disçourse, perhaps of only one of them, the hazard is in proportion to the number. And where every one must be consulted on every particular of common business, in answering every letter, &c. and one of them is offended if the smallest thing is done without his consent, the difficulty
of being often and long enough together, the different opinions, and the time consumed in debating them, the interruptions by new applicants in the time of meeting, &c. &c. occasion so much postponing and delay, that correspondence languishes, occasions are lost, and the business is always behindhand.
I have mentioned the difficulty of being often and long enough together; this is considerable, where they cannot all be accommodated in the same house ; but to find three people whose tempers are so good, and who like so well one another's company and manner of living and conversing, as to agree well themselves, though being in one house, and whose servants will not by their indiscretion quarrel with one another, and by artful misrepresentations draw their masters in to take their parts, to the disturbance of necessary harmony, these are difficulties still greater and almost insurmountable. And in consideration of the whole, I wish Congress would separate us.
The Spanish galiots, which have been impatiently expected, are at length happily arrived. The fleet and army returning from Brazil is still out, but supposed to be on the way homewards. When that and the South Sea ships are arrived, it will appear whether Spain's accession to the treaty has been delayed for the reasons given, or whether the reasons were only given to excuse the delay.
The English and French fleets of nearly equal force are now both at sea. It is not doubted but that if they meet, there will be a battle, soș though England through fear affects to understand it to be still peace, and would excuse the depredations she has made on the commerce of France, by pretences of illicit trade, &c. yet France considers the war begun, from the time of the King's message
to Parliament, complaining of the insult France had given by treating with us, and demanding aids to resist it, and the answer of both Houses offering their lives and fortunes. And the taking several frigates are deemed indisputable hostilities. Accordingly, orders are given to all the fleets and armed ships to return hostilities, and encouragement is offered to privateers, &c. An Ambassador from Spain is indeed gone to London, and joyfully received there, in the idea that peace may be made by his mediation. But as yet we learn nothing certain of his mission, and doubt. his effecting anything of the kind.
War in Germany seems to be inevitable, and this occasioning great borrowings of money in Holland and elsewhere, by the powers concerned, makes it more difficult for us to succeed in ours. When we engaged to Congress to pay their bills for the interest of the sums they should borrow, we did not dream of their drawing on us for other occasions. We have already paid of Congress' drafts, to returned officers, eightytwo thousand two hundred and eleven livres, and we know not how much more of that kind we have to pay, because the Committee have never let us know the amount of those drafts, or their account of them never reached us, and they still continue coming in. And we are now surprised with advice of drasts from Mr Bingham, to the amount of one hundred thousand more. If you reduce us to bankruptcy here, by a nonpayment of your drafts, consider the consequences. In my humble opinion, no drafts should be made on us without first learning from us that we shall be able to answer them.'
M. de Beaumarchais has been out of town ever since the arrival of your power to settle with him. I hope he will be able to furnish the supplies mentioned in the invoice and contract. The settlement may be much better made with the assistance of Mr Deane, we being not privy to the transactions.
We have agreed to give Monsieur Dumas two hundred louis a year, thinking that he well deserves it. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
INSTRUCTIONS TO B. FRANĶLIN, AS MINISTER PLENIPO
TENTIARY TO THE COURT OF FRANCE.
We, the Congress of the United States of North America, having thought it proper to appoint you their Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of His Most Christian Majesty, you shall in all things, according to the best of your knowledge and abilities, promote the interest and honor of the said States, at that Court, with a particular attention to the following instructions.
1. You are immediately to assure His Most Christian Majesty, that these States entertain the highest sense of his exertions in their favor, particularly by sending the respectable squadron under the Count d'Estaing, which would probably have terminated the war in a speedy and honorable manner, if unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances had not intervened.
You are further to assure him, that they consider this speedy aid not only as a testimony of his Majesty's fidelity to the engagements he has entered into, but as an earnest of that protection, which they hope from his power and magnanimity, and as a bond of gratitude to the union, founded on mutual interest.