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quishing our alliance with France in order to a treaty, any more than of your relinquishing yours with Holland. I am, very affectionately, yours,
TO PATRICK HENRY, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
On the Subject of procuring military Supplies in Europe for the State of Virginia.
Passy, 26 February, 1779. SIR, I had the honor of receiving your Excellency's letter of March 3d, 1778, by Captain Lemaire, acquainting me, that the State of Virginia has desired Mr. William Lee, your agent, to procure a quantity of arms and military stores, and requesting me to assist him with my influence in obtaining them on credit.
Being glad of any opportunity of serving Virginia, and showing my regard to the request of a person whom I so highly esteem, and Mr. William Lee being absent, I found immediately three different merchants here, men of fortune, who were each of them willing to undertake furnishing the whole, and giving the credit desired. But, Mr. Arthur Lee being understood to have taken the management of the affair into his own hands, one of the three soon after refused to have any thing to do with it; a second, whose letter to me I enclose, apprehending difficulties from Mr. Lee's temper, required my name and Mr. Adams's to the agreement, which he supposes Mr. Lee did not like, as his offer was not accepted. I know not why the offer of the third was not taken. I was afterwards not at all consulted in the business. Poor Lemaire was sent about Germany to find goods and credit, which consumed a great deal of time to little purpose. Several of the manufacturers wrote to me, that they would furnish him on my promise of payment. I referred them to Mr. Lee. On his return, Mr. Lee and he differed about his expenses. He complained frequently to me of Mr. Lee's not supplying him with necessary subsistence, and treating him with great haughtiness and insolence. I thought him really attentive to his duty, and not well used, but I avoided meddling with his affairs, to avoid, if possible, being engaged in quarrels myself. Mr. Lee, in fine, contracted with Messrs. Penet and Dacosta to supply great part of the goods. They, too, have differed, and I have several letters of complaints from those gentlemen; but I cannot remedy them, for I cannot change Mr. Lee's temper. They have offered to send the things you want which he has refused, on my account; but, not knowing whether he has not provided them elsewhere, or in what light he may look upon my concerning myself with what he takes to be his business, I dare not meddle, being charged by the Congress to endeavour at maintaining a good understanding with their other servants, which is, indeed, a hard task with some of them. I hope, however, that you will at length be provided with what you want, which I think you might have been long since, if the affair had not been in hands, which men of honor and candor here are generally averse to dealing with, as not caring to hazard quarrels and abuses in the settlement of their acCountS. Our public affairs at this court continue to go on VOL. VIII. 11
* North America. The letter was written by Dr. Franklin, but signed with these initials.
well. Peace is soon expected in Germany, and we hope Spain is now near declaring against our enemies. I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Delay in the Exchange of Prisoners. — Losses of the British. Growth of America.
Passy, 21 March, 1779. DEAR SIR, I received duly yours of the 2d instant. I am sorry you have had so much trouble in the affair of the prisoners. You have been deceived as well as I. No cartel ship has yet appeared ; and it is now evident, that the delays have been of design, to give more opportunity of seducing the men by promises and hard. ships to seek their liberty in engaging against their country; for we learn from those who have escaped, that there are persons continually employed in cajoling and menacing them; representing to them that we neglect them; that your government is willing to exchange them; and that it is our fault it is not done; that all the news from America is bad on their side ; we shall be conquered and they will be hanged, if they do not accept the gracious offer of being pardoned, on condition of serving the King, &c. A great part of your prisoners have been kept these six months on board a ship in Brest road, ready to be delivered; where I am afraid they were not so comfortably accommodated, as they might have been in French prisons. They are now ordered on shore. Dr. Bancroft has received your letter here. He did not go to Calais.*
* It had been intended, that Dr. Bancroft should proceed to England, B. FRANKLIN.
Knowing how earnestly and constantly you wish for peace, I cannot end a letter to you without dropping a word on that subject, to mark that my wishes are still in unison with yours. After the barbarities your nation has exercised against us, I am almost ashamed to own, that I feel sometimes for her misfortunes and her insanities. Your veins are open, and your best blood continually running. You have now got a little army into Georgia, and are triumphing in that success. Do you expect ever to see that army again? I know not what General Lincoln or General Thompson may be able to effect against them; but, if they stay through the summer in that climate, there is a certain General Fever, that I apprehend will give a good account of most of them. Perhaps you comfort yourselves, that our loss of blood is as great as yours. But, as physicians say, there is a great difference in the facility of repairing that loss between an old body and a young one. America adds to her numbers annually one hundred and fifty thousand souls. She, therefore, grows faster than you can diminish her, and will outgrow all the mischief you can do her. Have you the same prospects? But it is unnecessary for me to represent to you, or you to me, the mischiefs that each nation is subjected to by the war; we all see clear enough the nonsense of continuing it; the difficulty is, where to find sense enough to put an end to it. Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me, &c.
with a power from Dr. Franklin to negotiate an exchange of prisoners; but some difficulty having arisen, of which Mr. Hartley's letter contained an intimation, that journey did not take place. – W. T. F.
FROM JOHN ADAMS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Nantes, 13 April, 1779. SIR, I had yesterday the honor of yours of the 3d of this month. Captain Landais had so much diffidence in some of his crew, that he could not think of carrying home any of the most culpable of the conspirators, especially as he was so weakhanded. The naval code of the United States has great occasion for amendments in many particulars, without which there will be little discipline, subordination, or obedience.
I am happy, that you approve of clothing the petty officers, and thank you for the confidence you have put in me, in desiring that I would give directions in your behalf for what I may judge for the good of the service, funds and circumstances considered ; a trust, however, that will involve me in difficulties, because I fear the demands of officers and men will be greater than I could wish. Obedience on board is so imperfect, that I do not expect the ship can possibly be got to sea without some money to the officers and men. I expect the ship here every day, and I hope in fifteen days to be at sea. If you have any letters, I should be glad to carry them.
I am much pleased with your reception at court in the new character, and I do not doubt that your opinion of the good will of this court to the United States is just. This benevolence is the result of so much wisdom, and is founded on such solid principles, that I have the utmost confidence in its perseverance to the end. Spain, too, must sooner or later see her true interests, and declare in favor of the same generous cause. I wish and hope with you, that it will be soon; if it is not, there is great reason to fear