« ZurückWeiter »
that has happened, and which is now so wide, | being in every respect the worst of mankind ! that no endeavours of mine can possibly heal I am obliged to you, however, for the friendly it. You know the treatment I met with from part you have always taken in the defence that imprudent court: but I keep a separate of my character; and it is indeed no small account of private injuries, which I may for- argument in my favour, that those who have give; and I do not think it right to mix them known me most and longest, still love me and with public affairs. Indeed there is no occa- trust me with their most important interests, son for their aid to whet my resentment of which my election into the congress by the against a nation, that has burnt our defence- unanimous voice of the assembly, or parlialess towns in the midst of winter, has excited ment of Pennsylvania, the day after my arthe savages to assassinate our innocent farm- rival from England, and my present mission ers with their wives and children, and our hither by the congress itself, are instances inslaves to murder their masters! It would contestable.” therefore be deceiving you, if I suffered you to remain in the supposition you have taken Dr. Franklin was privately received with up, that I am come to Europe to make peace: every demonstration of regard and respect by I am in fact ordered hither by the congress the minister for foreign affairs, monsieur le for a very different purpose ; viz. to procure compte de Vergennes; who assured him and such aids from European powers, for enabling the other American commissioners, that they us to defend our freedom and independence, should personally enjoy in France “all the which it is certainly their interest to grant; security and all the good offices which stranas by that means the great and rapidly grow- gers could receive."** ing trade of America will be open to them A conviction of the advantages to be deall, and not a monopoly to Great Britain as rived from commercial intercourse with heretofore : : a monopoly, that if she is suffered America, and a desire of weakening the Briagain to possess, will be such an increase of tish empire, by dismembering it, induced the her strength by sea, and if she can reduce us French court secretly to give assistance in again to submission, she will have thereby so military stores to the Americans, and to listen great an addition to her strength by land, as to proposals of an alliance. But they at first will, together, make her the most formidable showed rather a reluctance to the latter meapower the world has yet seen; and from her sure, which, however, by Dr. Franklin's adnatural pride and insolence in prosperity, of dress, aided by a subsequent important success all others the most intolerable."
attending the American arms, was eventually To the same.
The American commissioners began priYou desire to know my opinion of vately to grant letters of marque to a number what will probably be the end of this war; of French American privateers, which haand whether our new establishments will not rassed the English coasting trade, intercepted ix thereby reduced again to deserts. I do a great number of British merchant vessels, not, for my part, apprehend much danger of and took many prisoners. Lord Stormont, his so great an evil to us. I think we shall be Britannic majesty's ambassador at Versailles, able, with a little help, to defend ourselves, when applied to by the American commisour possessions, and our liberties so long, that sioners relative to an exchange of those priEngland will be ruined by persisting in the soners, haughtily and unfeelingly gave them wicked attempt to destroy them. I must ne- for answer, “ that he received no letters from vertheless regret that ruin, and wish that her rebels, unless they were to petition his majesinjustice and tyranny had not deserved it: and ty's pardon !!” or words to that effect. His I sometimes Hatter myself that, old as I am, lordship presented several memorials to the
may possibly live to see my country settled French minister, complaining of the equipm peace and prosperity, when Britain shall ment of American vessels in the ports of nike no more a formidable figure among the France, bringing in of their prizes, &c., and powers of Europe.
of the assistance France was underhandedly " You put me in mind of an apology for my affording the insurgents; demanding at the conduct, which has been expected from me, same time a catagorical answer respecting in answer to the abuses thrown upon me be- such conduct. fure the privy council. It was partly written, On this occasion, count de Vergennes afbut the affairs of public importance I have fected to remonstrate with the American combeen ever since engaged in, prevented my missioners, and on the 16th July, 1777, wrote finishing it
. The injuries too that my coun- to them that they had exceeded the bounds try has suffered, have absorbed private resent- limited at their first interview with him, ments, and made it appear trifling for an in- which were expressly, " That the navigation dividual to trouble the world with his particu- and commerce with the Americans, should lar justification, when all his compatriots were
* "Toute la sureté et tous les agréments que nous y stigmatized by the king and parliament as faisons éprouver aux étrangers.”
VOL. I. ...T 13
obtain all the facilities in France which were to the French ministry," that there was not compatible with the due observance of her a moment to be lost, if they wished to secure treaties with England; that to these princi- the friendship of America, and detach her en ples the king would religiously adhere." tirely from the mother-country.” Urged by
This remonstrance might also in some mea- these considerations, and fearful lest an acsure have been influenced by the very unfa- commodation might take place between Great vourable accounts latterly received from Ame- Britain and her colonies, the court of France rica, and which bore a most unpromising instantly determined to declare its intentions, aspect for the success of the American cause. and accordingly on the 6th December, 1777, In England it was generally thought, even by monsieur Gerard, secretary to the council of the friends of America, that her struggle for state, repaired to the hotel of the American independence was at an end, and that nothing commissioners, and informed them, by order was left for her but unconditional submission of the king, “that after a long and mature Dr. Fothergill, a particular friend of Dr. deliberation upon their propositions, his maFranklin, and a well-wisher to America, in a jesty had determined to recognize the indeletter to his nephew, Mr. John Chorley, dated pendence of, and to enter into a treaty of June, 1777, written with a view to its being commerce and alliance with, the United States communicated to Dr. Franklin, (which it of America; and that he would not only acshortly after was,) thus expresses himself:- knowledge their independence, but actually
Should thy friend think proper to go to support it with all the means in his power: Passy, he may say to Dr. Franklin, that if he that perhaps he was about to engage himself has enemies in this country, he has also in an expensive war upon their account, but friends; and must not forget these, because that he did not expect to be reimbursed by the former are ignorant and malicious, yet them: in fine, the Americans were not to all-powerful. He will doubtless inform the think that he had entered into this resolution doctor, that there remains not a doubt on this solely with a view of serving them, since inside the water, that American resistance is dependently of his real attachment to them all at an end—that the shadow of congres- and their cause, it was evidently the interest sional authority scarce exists—that a general of France to diminish the power of England, defection from that body is apparent—that by severing her colonies from her.” their troops desert by shoals—that the officers In consequence of this amicable and frank are discontented—that no new levies can be declaration, treaties were soon after entered made—that nothing can withstand the British upon with monsieur Gerard, who, on the 30th forces, and prevent them from being masters of January, 1778, had received two distinct of the whole continent; in short, that the war commissions from the king for that purpose : is at an end, and that nothing remains to be and on the 6th day of February following, a done, but to divide the country among the treaty of amity and commerce, and another of conquerors. This is the general language; alliance eventual and defensive, between his and that neither France nor Spain will afford most Christian majesty and the thirteen Unitthem any other than a kind of paralytic aid; ed States of North America, were concluded enough to enable them to protract a few and signed at Paris by the respective plenimonths longer a miserable existence!" potentiaries. In the midst of this supposed gloomy state
This forms a memorable epoch in the poof affairs in America, the news of the surren- litical life of Dr. Franklin, as well as in the der of the British army, commanded by gene- annals of the United States, because it was in ral Burgoyne, to that of the Americans under a great measure owing to the aid derived from general Gates, at Saratoga, on the 17th Octo- this powerful alliance, that the American ber, 1777, arrived in France; and at the very colonies were enabled to resist the mother moment when the French cabinet was as yet country, and eventually to establish their inundecided in regard to the steps to be adopted dependence. relative to the United States. This memora It was mutually agreed that these trenties ble event_immediately turned the scale, and should be kept secret till the ratifications fixed the French nation in their attachment were exchanged; but some time after, acto the infant republic.
counts having been received of the intention The news of the defeat and capture of this of the English ministry to send lord Carlisle, British general and his whole army, was re- Mr. W. Eden, and governor Johnstone as adceived in France with as great demonstra- ditional commissioners to America, to be jointions of joy, as if it had been a victory gaineded to the commanders-in-chief of the British by their own arms. Dr. Franklin took ad- land and sea forces there, with full powers to vantage of this circumstance, and suggested treat, settle, and agree on terms, even with
Que le navigation et commerce Américans éprou. congress, but subject to the confirmation of veroient toutes les facilitiés en France, qui seroient parliament; the French government, with the compatibles avec l'exacte observance de ses traits view to counteract any favourable result toavec l'Angleterre; qu'il étoit dans les principes du roi de remplir religieusement."
Great Britain from this project, immediately
instructed their ambassador at St. James'sed for him in the passage, and hailed him with (the marquis de Noailles) to communicate their acclamations." officially to the English government, that the Dr. Franklin was undoubtedly the fittest abovementioned treaties had been concluded person that could have been found for renderand signed. On this the British cabinet in- ing essential services to the United States at stantly dispatched instructions to lord Stor- the court of France. He was well known as mont, to withdraw from the court of France, a philosopher throughout all Europe, and his without taking leave; and this having been character was held in the highest estimation. intimated to the marquis de Noailles, he left In France he was received with the greatest England about the same time.
marks of respect by all the literary characters; These circumstances, however, did not and this was extended amongst all classes of prevent the new British commissioners from men, and particularly at the court. His perproceeding to America; but their presence sonal influence was hence very considerable. there was of no avail, notwithstanding every To the effects of this were added those of vaart and deception was made use of by them to rious writings which he published, tending to effect their purpose. Governor Johnstone, in establish the credit and character of the Unitparticular had publicly asserted, that Dr. ed States; and to his exertions in this way, Franklin had approved of the propositions may in no small degree be ascribed, not only the commissioners had carried over with the free gifts obtained from the French govthem. This was an absolute falsehood, of ernment, but also the loans negotiated in which Dr. Franklin, as soon as apprized of it, Holland, which greatly contributed to bring expressed his indignation to the president of the war to a favourable conclusion, and the the state of Pennsylvania, in his letter dated establishment of American independence. Passy, March 19, 1780.
During the progress of these transactions Hostilities now commenced between Great at the court of France, Dr. Franklin had reBritain and France; and monsieur Gerard was ceived from congress their commission to ne sent by his most Christian majesty as envoy gotiate a treaty of friendship and commerce to the new States of America. The American with the court of Spain. On this occasion he commissioners plenipotentiary were imme- waited on the count d'Aranda, the Spanish diately presented at court in their public ambassador at Paris, and left with him a copy character, with the accustomed forms, and of his commission ; and some time after adwere very graciously received by the king dressed to him the following letter., and all the royal family.
A French historian, M. Hilliard D’Auber-1" To his Excellency the Count d'Aranda, teuil, thus notices Dr. Franklin's first appear
c. fc. ance at the court of Versailles.
“Passy, April 7, 1777. ** Dr. Franklin, at length, had an interview “Sir,-I left in your excellency's hands, to with his most Christian majesty ; he was pre- be communicated, if you please, to your court, sented to him, in the gallery of Versailles, by a duplicate of the commission from the conthe comte de Vergennes, minister for foreign gress, appointing me to go to Spain as their affairs. On this occasion, he was accompanied minister plenipotentiary. But as I understand, and followed by a great number of Ameri- that the receiving such a minister is not at cans, and individuals of foreign states, who present thought convenient, and I am sure the were collected together by curiosity. His congress would have nothing done that might age, his venerable appearance, the simplicity incommode in the least a court they so much of his dress on such an occasion, every thing respect, I shall therefore postpone that journey that was either singular or respectable in the till circumstances may make it more suitable. life of this American, contributed to augment In the mean time, I beg leave to lay before the public attention. Clapping of hands, and his Catholic majesty, through the hands of a variety of other demonstrations of joy, an- your excellency, the propositions contained in nounced that warmth of affection, of which a resolution of congress, dated Dec. 30, 1776, the French are more susceptible than any viz. : other people, and of which their politeness “ • That if his Catholic majesty will join and civility augments the charm to him who with the United States in a war against Great is the object of it.
Britain, they will assist in reducing to the “ His majesty addressed him as follows: possession of Spain the town and harbour of
You may assure the United States of Pensacola; provided the inhabitants of the America of my friendship; I beg leave also to United States shall have the free navigation observe, that I am exceedingly satisfied in of the Mississippi, and the use of the harbour particular with your own conduct
, during your of Pensacola; and will, (provided it shall be residence in my kingdom. When the new true that his Portuguese majesty has insultingambassador, after this audience, crossed the ly expelled the vessels of these states from his court, in order to repair to the office of the ports, or has confiscated any such vessels), minister of foreign affairs, the multitude wait- declare war against the said king, if that
be found proper.
measure shall be agreeable to, and supported minister of the grand duke of Tuscany. The by, the courts of France and Spain.' intention of it was, to give the emperor an
" It is understood that the strictest union opportunity of an interview with me, that subsists between those two courts; and in case should appear accidental. Monsieur Turgot Spain and France should think fit to attempt and the abbe were there to be present, and the conquest of the English sugar islands, the by their knowledge of what passed, to precongress have further proposed to furnish pro- vent or contradict false reports. visions to the amount of two millions of dol- ror did not appear, and the abbe Niccoli since lars, and to join the fleet employed on the tells me, that the number of other persons occasion, with six frigates of not less than who occasionally visited him that morning, twenty-four guns each, manned and fitted for of which the emperor was informed, preventservice; and to render any other assistance ed his coming ; that at twelve, understanding which may be in their power, as becomes they were gone, he came; but I was gone good allies; without desiring for themselves also." the possession of any of the said islands. “ These propositions are subject to discus
The cause of America becoming so popular sion, and to receive such modifications as may employ being so considerable, Dr. Franklin
in France, and the number of officers out of “With great respect I have the honour to
was extremely harassed by the numerous þe, your excellency's most obedient and most applications for service in the armies of the humble servant, B. FRANKLIN."
United States. The following letter to a
friend is so fully and strongly descriptive of This negotiation was not carried further at
his sentiments and feelings on this subject, the time, and subsequently Mr. Jay was sent
and in other respects so entertaining, that we
here insert it. by congress as their special minister to the court of Spain; were his patience and ability
" TO *** were equally displayed to his own credit, and the interest of his country, which he ever had at heart.
“ You know, my dear friend, that I am not We must now revert to some less import- capable of refusing you any thing in my ant circumstances that occurred about this power, which would be a real kindness to time, and which have been omitted in the you or any friend of yours; but when I am precise order of their dates, in order not to certain that what you request would be diinterrupt the account of transactions of greater rectly the contrary, I ought to refuse it. I
know that officers going to America for emAn incident, though trifling of itself, yet as ployment will probably be disappointed; that relating to a great personage, and as con- our armies are full, that there are a number nected with Dr. Franklin's memoirs, ought of expectants unemployed and starving for not to be omitted.
want of subsistence, that my recommendation At the time of the visit to Paris of the will not make vacancies, nor can it fill them, emperor Joseph II., brother to the queen of to the prejudice of those who have a better France, (then travelling under the title of claim; that some of those officers I have been count de Falkenstein,) Dr. Franklin received prevailed on to recommend, have by their the following note from the envoy of the conduct given no favourable impression of my grand duke of Tuscany, resident at Paris. judgment in military merit; and then the " A Monsieur le Docteur Franklin.*
voyage is long, the passage very expensive,
and the hazard of being taken and imprisoned “L'Abbe Niccoli prie monsieur Franklin by the English, very considerable. If, after de lui faire l'honneur de venir déjeuner chez all, no place can be found affording a livelilui Mercredi matin, 28 de ce mois, a 9 heures. hood for the gentleman, he will perhaps be Il lui donnera une bonne tasse de chocolat. distressed in a strange country, and ready to II l'assure de son respect.
blaspheme his friends who by their solicita" Du petit Luxembourg, Lundi, 26 Mai. 1777."
tions procured for him so unhappy a situation. To this note, found among Dr. Franklin's Permit me to mention to you, that in my papers, is added the following memorandum opinion the natural complaisance of this counin his hand-writing.
try often carries people too far in the article * The above is from the abbe Niccoli, of recommendations. You give them with
too much facility to persons of whose real (* TRANSLATION.)
characters you know nothing, and sometimes
at the request of others of whom you know The abbe Niccoli begs Dr. Franklin will do him the honour to come and take breakfast with him on
Frequently, if a man has no useful Wednesday morning, 28th of this month, at 9 o'clock. talents, is good for nothing, and burdensome He will give him a fine cup of chocolate. He assures to his relations, or is indiscreet, profligate, him of his respect.
Little Luxembourg, Monday, 26th May, 1777. and extravagant, they are glad to get rid of
To Dr. Franklin,
him by sending him to the other end of the some officer or officer's friend, who as soon as world; and for that purpose scruple not to I am put in good humour by a glass or two of recommend him to those they wish should champaigne, begins his attack upon me. recommend him to others, as un bon sujet- Luckily I do not often in my sleep dream of plein de merite,' &c. &c. In consequence these vexatious situations, or I should be of my crediting such recommendations, my afraid of what are now my only hours of own are out of credit, and I cannot advise comfort. If therefore you have the least reany body to have the least dependence on maining kindness for me, if you would not them. if, after knowing this, you persist in help to drive me out of France, for God's sake, desiring my recommendation for this person, my dear friend, let this your twenty-third apwho is known neither to me nor to you, I will plication be your last. Yours, &c. give it,* though, as I said before, I ought to
“ B. FRANKLIN." refuse it. " These applications are my perpetual tor
The following letter, on the same subject, ment. People will believe (notwithstanding nent and unknown applicant ; and contains
was addressed by Dr. Franklin to an impertimy repeated declarations to the contrary,) that I am sent hither to engage officers. In some wholesome advice in a tart and pithy truth I never had any such orders. It was
style. never so much as intimated to me that it
** Passy, near Paris, April 6, 1777. would be agreeable to my constituents. I “Sir,- I have just been honoured with a have even received for what I have done of letter from you, dated the 26th past, in which the kind, not indeed an absolute rebuke, but you express yourself as astonished, and apsune pretty strong hints of disapprobation. pear to be angry that you have no answer to Not a day passes in which I have not a num- a letter you wrote me of the 11th of December of soliciting visits, besides letters. If I ber, which you are sure was delivered to me. could gratify all or any of them it would be a
“ In exculpation of myself, I assure you
that pleasure. I might indeed give them the re- I never received any letter from you of this commendation, and the promises they desire, date. And indeed, being then but four days and thereby please them for the present; but landed at Nantes, I think you could scarce when the certain disappointment of the ex- have heard so soon of my being in Europe. pectations with which they will so obstinately “ But I received one from you of the 8th Alatter themselves shall arrive, they must of January, which I own I did not answer. curse me for complying with their mad re- It may displease you if I give you the reason ; quests, and not undeceiving them; and will but as it may be of use to you in your
future become so many enemies to our cause and correspondences, I will hazard that for a gencountry. You can have no conception how I tleman to whom I feel myself obliged, as an am harassed. All my friends are sought out American, on account of his good will to our and teazed to teaze me. Great officers of all ranks in all departments, ladies great and " Whoever writes to a stranger should obsmall, besides professed solicitors, worry me serve three points: 1. That what he proposes from morning to night. The noise of every be practicable. 2. His propositions should be coach now that enters my court, terrifies me. made in explicit terms, so as to be easily unI am afraid to accept an invitation to dine derstood. 3. What he desires, should be in abroad, being almost sure of meeting with itself reasonable. Hereby he will give a fa
vourable impression of his understanding, and • For cases of this kind, and where it was absolutely impossible to refuse, Dr. Franklin drew up the follow create a desire of further acquaintance. Now ing as a model for such letters of recommendation, and it happened that you were negligent in all actually employed ii in some instances, to shame the these points: for first, you desired to have persons making such indiscreet applications; and to endeavour in some measure to put a stop to them. means procured for you of taking a voyage to Mode of a Letter of Recommendation of a person you
America avec sureté ;' which is not possible, are unacquainted with.
as the dangers of the sea subsist always, and PARIS, April 2, 1777.
at present there is the additional danger of Sır.-- The bearer of this, who is going to America, being taken by the English. Then you depresses me to give him a letter of recommendation, sire that this may be . sans trop grandes déthough I know nothing of bim, not even his name. penses,' which is not intelligible enough to This may seem extraordinary, but I assure you it is Sometimes, indeed, one un.
be answered, because, not knowing your abicommend him; and sometimes they recommend one "what may be trop grandes. Lastly, you known person brings another equally unknown to re. lity of bearing expenses, one cannot judge himself for his character and merits, with which he is sire letters of address to the congress and to certainly better acquainted than I can possibly be ; I general Washington; which it is not reasonrecommend him however to those civilities which able to ask of one who knows no more of you every stranger, of whom one knows no harm, has a rigti to, and I request you will do him all the good than that your name is LITH, and that you offices and show him all the favour that, on further live at BAYREUTH. acquaintance, you shall find him to deserve. I have the honour to be, &c.
“ In your last, you also express yourself in
not uncommon here.