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agreed to, or perhaps proposed, if alone. But this as the parties please.
To the 2d,—The term of twentyone years would be better for all sides. The suspension of hostilities should be expressed to be between all parties at war; and that the British troops and slips of war now in any of the United States be withdrawn.
To the 3d,—This seems needless, and is a thing that may be done or omitted as you please ; America has no concern about those acts of parliament.
To the 4th -The reason of proposing this is not understood, nor the use of it, nor what inducement there can be for us to agree to it. When you come to treat with both your enemies, you may negotiate away as much of these engagements as you can; but powers, who have made a firm solid league, evidently useful to both, can never be prevailed with to dissolve it, for the vague expectation of another in nubibus ; nor even on the certainty, that another will be proposed, without knowing what are to be its articles. America has no desire of being free from her engagements to France. The chief is, that of continuing the war in conjunction with her, and not making a separate peace; and this is an obligation not in the power of America to dissolve, being an obligation of gratitude and justice towards a nation, which is engaged in a war on her account, and for her protection; and would be forever binding, whether such an article existed or not in the treaty; and
though it did not exist, an honest American would cut off · his right hand, rather than sign an agreement with England contrary to the spirit of it.
To the 5th -As soon as you please.
sion of arms, I should have immediately shown it to the Minister, and have endeavored to support that idea. As it stands, I am in doubt whether I shall communicate your paper or not, though by your writing it is so sair it seems as if you intended it. Jf I do, I shall acquaint you with the result.
The bill, of which you send me a copy, was an excellent one at the time, and might have had great and good effects, if, instead of telling us haughtily, that our humble petition should receive no answer, the Ministry had received and enacted that bill into a law. It might have erected a wall of brass round England, if such a measure had been adopted, when Friar Bacon's brazen head cried out, TIME IS! But the wisdom of it was not seen, till after the fatal cry of TIME'S PAST! I am, my dear friend, &c.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
Passy, May 26th, 1779. - Gentlemen, The Marquis de Lafayette, who arrived here the 11th of February, brought me yours of October 28th, and the new commission, credentials, and instructions, which the Congress have honored me with. I have not since had an opportunity of writing, that I could trust, for I see by several instances, the orders given to private captains to throw their despatches into the sea, when likely to be taken, are some times neglected, and sometimes so badly executed, that the letters are recovered by the enemy, and much inconvenience has attended their interception. You mention, that you should speedily have opportunities of forwarding duplicates,
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and triplicates of the papers; none of them has ever come to hand, nor have I received any other line from you of later date.
I immediately acquainted the Minister of Foreign Affairs with my appointment, and communicated to him as usual, a copy of my credential letter, on which a day was named for my reception. A fit of the gout prevented my attendance at that time, and for some weeks after, but as soon as I was able to go through the ceremony I went to Versailles, and was presented to the King, and received in all the forms. I delivered the letter of Congress into his Majesty's own hands, who in the most gracious manner expressed his satisfaction. And I have since constantly attended the levee every Tuesday, with the other Foreign Ministers, and have taken every proper occasion of repeating the assurances I am instructed to give, of the grateful sentiments of Congress, and their determined resolution to fulfil religiously their engagements. Much pains is constantly taken by the enemy to weaken the confidence of this Court in their new allies, by representing our people as weary of the war, and of the government of Congress; which body, too, they represent as distracted by dissensions, &c. but all this has very little effect; and when on some occasions it has seemed to inake a little impression, and create some apprehensions, I have not found it difficult to remove them. And it is my firm opinion, that notwithstanding the great losses suffered by the commerce of this kingdom, since the commencement of the war, the disposition of the Court to continue it (till its purpose of establishing our independence is completed,) is not the least changed, nor their regard for us diminished.
The end of that part of the instructions, which relates to
American seamen, taken by the French in English ships, had already been obtained, Captain Jones having had for some time an order from Court, directed to the keepers of the prisoners, requiring them to deliver to him such Americans as should be found in their hands, that they might be at liberty to serve under his command. Most of them have accordingly been delivered to him, if not all. The Minister of the Marine, having entertained a high opinion of him, from his conduct and bravery in taking the Drake, was desirous of employing him in the command of a particular enterprise, and to that end requested us to spare him, which we did, and sent the Ranger home, under the command of his Lieutenant. Various accidents have hitherto postponed his equipment, but he now has the command of a fifty gun ship with some frigates, all under American commissions and colors, fitted out at the King's expense, and will sail, it is said, about the 1st of June.
The Marquis de Lafayette was, with some land troops, to have gone with him, but I now understand the Marquis is not to go, the plan being a little changed. The Alliance being weakly manned at first, and the Captain judging it necessary to be freed from thirtyeight of his men, who had been concerned in a conspiracy, and unwilling to take French seamen, I thought it best to send him directly home, as his ship might be of some protection to the vessels then about sailing to America, and Mr Adams, who was desirous of returning soon, might be accommodated with a passage in a swist sailing vessel. I accordingly offered her as a convoy to the trade at Nantes, but the gentlemen concerned did not think fit to wait for getting ready, as a French convoy offered, for at least part of the voyage, and the Minister requesting she might be added to
Captain Jones's little squadron, and offering to give a passage to Mr Adams in the frigate with the new Ambassador, and to complete the Alliance's compliment of men, I thought it best to continue her a little longer in Europe, hoping she may, in the projected cruise, by her extraordinary swiftness, be a means of taking prisoners enough to redeem the rest of our countrymen, now in the English gaols. With this view, as well as to oblige the Minister, I ordered her to join Captain Jones at L'Orient, and obey his orders, where she is now accordingly. There have been great misunderstandings between the officers of that ship and their Captain, and great discontents among the men for want of clothes and money. I have been obliged to make great advances to appease those discontents, and I now hope the authority and prudence of Captain Jones will be able to remove, or at least to prevent, the ill effects of those misunderstandings. The conspirators are detained in prison, and will remain there subject to such directions as Congress may think fit to give concerning them. The courts here would not, because they properly could not, undertake to try them; and we had not Captains enough to make a Court martial for the purpose. The sending them to America, with evidence to convict them, will be a great trouble and expense, and perhaps their offence cannot be so clearly made out as to justify a punishment sufficient to deter by its exemplary severity. Possibly, the best use that can be made of them, is to give them in exchange for as many Americans in the cartel now operating here. The perfidious conduct of the English and Scotch sailors in our service, a good deal discourages the idea of taking them out of those prisons in order to employ them.