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and honest men, such as Sir George Saville, the Bishop of St. Asaph, and yourself, were to come over here immediately with powers to treat, you might not only obtain peace with America, but prevent a war with France.
TO JAMES HUTTON.
Passy, March 24th, 1778. My dear old friend was in the right not “to call in question the sincerity of my words, where I say, February the 12th, we can treat if any propositions are made to us.” They were true then, and are so still, if Britain has not declared war with France ; for in that case we shall, undoubtedly, think ourselves obliged to continue the war as long as she does. But methinks you should have taken us at our word, and have sent immediately your propositions in order to prevent such a war, if you did not choose it. Still 1 conceive it would be well to do it, if you have not already rashly begun the war. Assure yourself, nobody more sincerely wishes perpetual peace among men than I do; but there is a prior wish, that they would be equitable and just ; otherwise such peace is not possible, and, indeed, wicked men have no right to expect it. Adieu! I am ever yours most affectionately,
NOTE FROM WILLIAM PULTNEY TO B. FRANKLIN.*
March 29th, 1778. Mr. Williams returned this morning to Paris, and will be glad to see Dr. Franklin, whenever it is convenient for the Doctor, at the Hotel Frasiliere, rue Tournon. It is near the hotel where he lodged when the Doctor saw him a fortnight ago. He does not propose to go abroad, and therefore the Doctor will find him at any hour. He understands that Mr. Alexander is not yet returned from Dijon, which he regrets.
* Mr. Pultney writes under the assumed name of Williams.
TO WILLIAM PULTNEY.
Passy, March 30th, 1778. Sir, When I first had the honor of conversing with you on the subject of peace, I mentioned it as my opinion that every proposition which implied our voluntarily agreeing to return to a dependence on Britain, was now become impossible; that a peace on equal terms undoubtedly might be made ; and that though we had no particular powers to treat of peace with England, we had general powers to make treaties of peace, amity, and commerce, with any State in Europe, by which I thought we might be authorised to treat with Britain ; who, if sincerely disposed to peace, might save time, and much bloodshed, by treating with us directly.
I also gave it as my opinion that, in the treaty to be made, Britain should endeavor by the fairness and generosity of the terms she offered, to recover the esteem, confidence, and affection of America, without which the peace could not be so beneficial, as it was not likely to be lasting; in this I had the pleasure to find you of my opinion.
But I see by the propositions you have communicated to me, that the Ministers cannot yet divest themselves of the idea that the power of Parliament over us is constitutionally absolute and unlimited; and that the limitations they may be willing now to put to it by treaty are so many favors, or so many benefits, for which we are to make compensation.
As our opinions in America are totally different, a treaty on the terms proposed appears to me utterly impracticable, either here or there. Here we certainly cannot make it, having not the smallest authority to make even the declaration specified in the proposed letter, without which, if I understood you right, treating with us cannot be commenced.
I sincerely wish as much for peace as you do, and I have enough remaining of good will for England to wish it for her sake, as well as for our own, and for the sake of humanity. In the present state of things, the proper means of obtaining it, in my opinion, are to acknowledge the independence of the United States, and then enter at once into a treaty with us for a suspension of arms, with the usual provisions relating to distances; and another for establishing peace, friendship, and commerce, such as France has made. This might prevent a war between you and that kingdom, which, in the present circumstances and temper of the two nations, an accident may bring on every day, though contrary to the interest, and without the previous intention of either. Such a treaty we might probably now make, with the approbation of our friends; but if you go to war with them, on account of their friendship for us, we are bound by ties stronger than can be formed by any treaty to fight against you with them, as long as the war against them shall continue.
May God, at last, grant that wisdom to your national councils which he seems long to have denied them, and which only sincere, just, and humane intentions can merit or expect. With great personal esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, &c.,
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 DR. 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 any thing 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,
D. HARTLEY. P. S. If tempestuous times should come, take care of your own safety ; events are uncertain, and men may be capricious.
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