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possible to gratify, and disagreeable to refuse. It was in vain that he assured them, that he had no power to engage officers, that the army was already full, that his recommendation could not create vacancies, and that they would inevitably be disappointed when they arrived in America. Writing to a friend on this subject, he says; "Not a day passes in which I have not a number of soliciting visits, besides letters. You can have no idea how I am harassed. All my friends are sought out and teased to tease me. Great officers of rank in all departments, ladies, great and small, besides professed solicitors, worry me from morning to night." To a person, who importuned him in this way, he wrote as follows.
"You demand whether I will support you by my authority in giving you letters of recommendation. I doubt not your being a man of merit; and, knowing it yourself, you may forget that it is not known to everybody; but reflect a moment, Sir, and you will be convinced, that, if I were to practise giving letters of recommendation to persons of whose character I knew no more than I do of yours, my recommendations would soon be of no authority at all. I thank you, however, for your kind desire of being serviceable to my countrymen; and I wish in return, that I could be of service to you in the scheme you have formed of going to America. But numbers of experienced officers here have offered to go over and join our army, and I could give them no encouragement, because I have no orders for that purpose, and I know it extremely difficult to place them when they arrive there. I cannot but think, therefore, that it is best for you not to make so long, so expensive, and so hazardous a voyage, but to take the advice of your friends, and stay in Franconia."
One officer, however, he recommended without reluctance or reserve, and he afterwards had the satisfaction of finding, in common with the whole American people, that his judgment was not deceived, nor his hopes disappointed. In a letter to Congress, signed by him and Mr. Deane, they say; "The Marquis de Lafayette, a young nobleman of great family connexions here, and great wealth, is gone to America in a ship of his own, accompanied by some officers of distinction, in order to serve in our armies. He is exceedingly beloved, and everybody's good wishes attend him. We cannot but hope he may meet with such a reception as will make the country and his expedition agreeable to him. Those, who censure it as imprudent in him, do nevertheless applaud his spirit; and we are satisfied, that the civilities and respect, that may be shown him, will be serviceable to our affairs here, as pleasing not only to his powerful relations and to the court, but to the whole French nation. He has left a beautiful young wife, and, for her sake particularly, we hope that his bravery and ardent desire to distinguish himself will be a little restrained by the General's prudence, so as not to permit his being hazarded much, except on some important occasion."
Dr. Franklin had been ten months in France before the court of Versailles manifested any disposition to engage openly in the American contest. The opinion. of the ministers was divided on this subject. Count de Vergennes and Count Maurepas, the two principal ministers, were decidedly in favor of a war with England, and of bringing it on by uniting with the Americans. Some of the others, among whom was Turgot while he was in the cabinet, disapproved this policy, and the King himself came into it with reluctance.
Moreover, the events of the campaign of 1776 afforded little encouragement to such a step. The evacuation of Canada by the American troops, the defeat on Long Island, the loss of Fort Washington, the retreat of Washington's army through New Jersey, and the flight of Congress from Philadelphia to Baltimore, were looked upon in Europe as a prelude to a speedy termination of the struggle. This was not a time to expect alliances. The ability of the Americans to maintain the war for any length of time, as well as their union, spirit, and determination, was regarded as extremely problematical. The French ministry feared, that, embarrassed if not discouraged by their difficulties, they would, sooner or later, yield to the force of old habits, and seek, or at least accept, a reconciliation with the mother country. This was the main reason, added, to the obstacles thrown in the way by those who opposed a war on grounds of policy, why they did not at an earlier day enter into an alliance with the United States. Had this measure been premature, and, after an alliance was formed, had the Americans returned to their allegiance to the British King, the French would have found themselves in an awkward position, with a war on their hands against England, and the censure of the world upon them for having recognised the independence and taken up the cause of insurgent colonists, who had neither the will, the resolution, nor the internal force to support the character they had assumed.
But the tide of affairs soon began to turn in another direction. In the campaign of 1777, the losses of the preceding year were more than retrieved. The capture of Burgoyne's army, and the good conduct of the forces under General Washington in Pennsylvania, gave sufficient evidence that the Americans were
in earnest, and that they wanted neither physical strength nor firmness of purpose. On the 4th of December, an express arrived in Paris from the United States, bringing the news of the capture of Burgoyne and the battle of Germantown. The commissioners immediately communicated this intelligence to the French court. Two days afterwards, M. Gérard, the secretary of the King's Council, called on Dr. Franklin at Passy, and said he had come, by order of Count de Vergennes and Count Maurepas, to congratulate the commissioners on the success of their countrymen, and to assure them that it gave great pleasure at Versailles. After some conversation, he advised them to renew their proposition for a treaty.*
A memorial was accordingly prepared by Dr. Franklin, signed by the commissioners, and presented to Count de Vergennes; and, on the 12th, by the appointment of that minister, a meeting took place at Versailles between Count de Vergennes and M. Gérard on one part, and the American commissioners on the other, for the purpose of discussing the prelimina
* When some one mentioned to Dr. Franklin, that General Howe had taken Philadelphia, he replied; "You are mistaken; Philadelphia has taken General Howe." And so it turned out, for the British were shut up in that city during eight months, and were at last obliged to retreat from it precipitately, without having derived any advantage from their conquest. Mr. Bache and his family retired into the country when the enemy approached, and Dr. Franklin's house was occupied by British officers. After the evacuation, Mr. Bache wrote; "I found your house and furniture, upon my return to town, in much better order than I had reason to expect. They carried off some of your musical instruments, a Welch harp, a bell harp, the set of tuned bells which were in a box, a viola a gamba, all the spare Armonica glasses, and one or two of the spare cases. Your Armonica is safe. They took likewise the few books that were left behind. Some of your electrical apparatus is also missing. A Captain André took with him the picture of you, which hung in the dining-room. The rest of the pictures are safe."— July 14th, 1778.
ries of a treaty. Count de Vergennes complimented them on the prosperous state of their affairs, and spoke with particular commendation of the movements of Washington's army in the face of a superior force. He then asked them what they had to propose. Franklin referred him to the draft of a treaty, which they had brought from Congress, and said, if there were objections to any part of it, they were ready to consider them. Count de Vergennes mentioned some objections, which were examined, but these related to points of secondary importance, without touching the fundamental articles. The minister remarked, that the relations between France and Spain were of such a nature, as to render it necessary to consult his Catholic Majesty before a treaty could be concluded, and to give him an opportunity to join in it, if he should think proper; and that a courier would be immediately despatched to Spain, who would be absent three weeks.
Before this time expired, M. Gérard called again on the commissioners, and told them that the King, by the advice of his Council, had determined to acknowledge the independence of the United States, and to enter into a treaty of amity and commerce with them; that it was the desire and intention of his Majesty to form such a treaty as would be durable, and this could be done only by establishing it on principles of exact reciprocity, so that its continuance should be for the interest of both parties; that no advantage would be taken of the present situation of the United States to obtain terms, which they would not willingly agree to under any other circumstances; and that it was his fixed determination to support their independence by all the means in his power. This would probably lead to a war with England, yet the King