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ing the friendship contracted by these treaties may be durable, which probably might not be, if a contrary conduct had taken place.
Several of the American ships, with stores for the Congress, are now about sailing, under the convoy of a French squadron. England is in great consternation, and the minister, on the 17th instant, confessing that all his measures had been wrong, and that peace was necessary, proposed two bills for quieting America; but they are full of artifice and deceit, and will, I am confident, be treated accordingly by our country.
I think you must have much satisfaction in so valuable a son, whom I wish safe back to you, and am with great esteem, &c.
P. S. The treaties were signed by the plenopotentiaries on both sides, February 6th, but are still for some reasons kept secret, though soon to be published. It is understood that Spain will soon accede to the same. The treaties are forwarded to Congress by this conveyance.
TO ARTHUR LEE.
Lord North. — Rumor of a Treaty between General Washington and General Howe.
Passy, 23 February, 1778.
The enclosed, which you sent me, contained a letter from Mr. Hartley, in which he acquaints me, that on the 17th Lord North had made his propositions towards a conciliation with America, and asked leave to bring in two bills, one to renounce all claim of taxation, the other to empower commissioners to treat with any persons or bodies of men in America on a peace; which was unanimously agreed to. He tells me Lord North had expressed to him the strongest desire of accommodation, and even wished him to come over to Paris and talk with us. I should send you the letter, which marks strongly the consternation they are in; but, M. Gérard having written a note acquainting Mr. Deane that they had news from Eng. land that a treaty was on foot between Washington and Howe, and desiring to know if we had any intelligence of it, I wrote the enclosed in answer, and sent Mr. Hartley's letter to him, to show that the ministers in England had no such news. Mr. Hartley resers me to Mr. Thornton for the titles of the two bills. I return Mr. Thornton's letters. I am, very respectfully, &c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Lord North's Conciliatory Bill. — Advice to the
Passy, 26 February, 1778. DEAR SIR, I received yours of the 18th and 20th of this month, with Lord North's proposed bill. The more I see of the ideas and projects of your ministry, and their little arts and schemes of amusing and dividing us, the more I admire the prudent, manly, and magnanimous propositions contained in your intended motion for an address to the King. What reliance can we have on an act expressing itself to be only a declaration of the intention of Parliament concerning the exercise of the right of imposing taxes in America, when, in the bill VOL. VIII.
itself, as well as in the title, a right is supposed and claimed, which never existed; and a present intention only is declared not to use it, which may be changed by another act next session, with a preamble, that, this intention being found inexpedient, it is thought proper to repeal this act, and resume the exercise of the right in its full extent. If any solid permanent benefit was intended by this, why is it confined to the colonies of North America, and not extended to the loyal ones in the sugar islands ? But it is now useless to criticize, as all acts that suppose your future government of the colonies can be no longer significant.
In the act for appointing Commissioners, instead of full powers to agree upon terms of peace and friendship, with a promise of ratifying such treaty as they shall make in pursuance of those powers, it is declared, that their agreements shall have no force nor effect, nor be carried into execution, till approved of by Parliament; so that every thing of importance will be uncertain. But they are allowed to proclaim a cessation of arms, and revoke their proclamation, as soon as, in consequence of it, our militia have been allowed to go home; they may suspend the operation of acts, prohibiting trade, and take off that suspension when our merchants, in consequence of it, have been induced to send their ships to sea; in short, they may do everything that can have a tendency to divide and distract us, but nothing that can afford us security. Indeed, Sir, your ministers do not know us. We may not be quite so cunning as they, but we have. really more sense, as well as more courage, than they have ever been willing to give us credit for; and I am persuaded, these acts will rather obstruct peace than promote it, and that they will not answer in America the mischievous and malevolent ends for which
they were intended. In England they may indeed amuse the public creditors, give hupes and expectations, that shall be of some present use, and continue the mismanagers a little longer in their places. Voilà tout !
In return for your repeated advice to us, not to conclude any treaty with the House of Bourbon, permit me to give (through you) a little advice to the Whigs in England. Let nothing induce them to join with the Tories, in supporting and continuing this wicked war against the Whigs of America, whose assistance they may hereafter want to secure their own liberties, or whose country they may be glad to retire to for the enjoyment of them.
If peace, by a treaty with America, upon equal terms, were really desired, your Commissioners need not go there for it; supposing, as by the bill they are empowered “to treat with such person or persons, as in their wisdom and discretion they shall think meet," they should happen to conceive, that the Commissioners of the Congress at Paris might be included in that description. I am ever, dear Sir, &c.
P. S. Seriously, on further thoughts, I am of opinion, that, if wise 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 MRS. CATHERINE GREENE.
Paris, 28 February, 1778. MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, Don't be offended at the word old. I don't mean to call you an old woman; it relates only to the age of our friendship; which, on my part, has always been a sincerely affectionate one, and, I flatter myself, the same on yours.
I received your kind letter from Boston of October 28th, which gave me great pleasure, as it informed me of the welfare of you and your family. I continue hearty, as do my two grandsons, who present their respects to you and Mr. Greene, being pleased with your remembrance of them. We are all glad to hear of Ray, for we all love him. I have been often much concerned for my friends at Warwic, hearing that the enemy was so near them. I hope your troubles will not be of much longer duration; for, though the wickedness of the English court, and its malice against us, are as great as ever, its horns are shortened, its strength diminishes daily, and we have formed an alliance here, and shall form others, that will help to keep the bull quiet, and make him orderly.
I chat, you see, as usual, any how with you, who are kind enough never to criticize improprieties in my compositions, or any thing else. I see by yours that my sister's granddaughter is married. I wish the young folks joy and lasting happiness. I pity my poor old sister, to be so harassed and driven about by the enemy; for I feel a little myself the inconvenience of being driven about by my friends.
I live here in great respect, and dine every day with great folks; but I still long for home and for repose; and should be happy to eat Indian pudding