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upon me; that I should not have voluntarily intruded. a visit, and that, in this case, I had only done what I was informed the etiquette required of me; but, if it would be attended with any inconvenience to Prince Bariatinski, whom I much esteemed and respected, I thought the remedy was easy; he had only to erase my name out of his book of visits received, and I would burn their card."
Preparations for War between France and England. - M. Gérard. — Mr. John Adams. - Secret Advances made to Dr. Franklin for ef fecting a Reconciliation between England and the United States. — Mr. Hutton.—Mr. Pulteney. - Mr. Hartley.-An Emissary in Disguise. Franklin's personal Friends in Paris. - Interview with Voltaire. — Franklin appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France. Machinations of his Enemies to procure his Recall. — Mr. Arthur Lee. Mr. Ralph Izard.- Visit of Sir William Jones to Paris. - Franklin instructs the American Cruisers not to seize Captain Cook's Vessel. Grants Passports to Vessels carrying Supplies to the Moravian Missionaries on the Coast of Labrador. — Paul Jones. - The Marquis de Lafayette. - Paper on the Aurora Borealis. - Sir Humphrey Davy.- Mr. Vaughan's Edition of Franklin's Political and Miscellaneous Writings.
THE French ambassador in London, as instructed by his court, informed the British ministry, that a treaty of amity and commerce had been concluded between France and the United States. This was considered tantamount to a declaration of war, and Lord Stormont was directed to withdraw from Paris. Anticipating this event, the court of Versailles had already begun to prepare for hostilities. A squadron was fitted out at Toulon, under the command of Count d'Estaing, which sailed from that port for America about the middle of April. M. Gérard and Mr. Deane were passengers on board the admiral's ship. The former went out as minister to the United States; the latter had been recalled, in consequence of the agree ments he had entered into with French officers for their serving in the American army, by which Congress had been much embarrassed. His successor was Mr. John Adams, who arrived in Paris just at the time of Mr. Deane's departure.
The British ministers were now convinced, that the
contest was likely to be of longer duration and more serious than they had apprehended. There was little doubt that Spain would soon follow the example of France. A reconciliation with the Americans, therefore, on such terms as would comport with the dignity of Parliament and the interests of the crown, was a thing most ardently to be desired. After warm debates in Parliament, it was resolved to despatch commissioners to treat with Congress, invested with such powers as, it was fondly hoped, would insure their
In the mean time other measures were put in operation to effect the same end through the instrumentality of secret agents. Their advances were chiefly made to Dr. Franklin. Even before the treaties were signed, an emissary of this description appeared in Paris, who endeavoured to obtain from him propositions, which he might carry back to England. This was Mr. Hutton, secretary to the Society of Moravians; an old friend, for whom he had great esteem; a grave man, advanced in years, respected for his virtues, and possessing the confidence of persons in pow
Franklin replied, that neither he nor his colleagues had any authority to propose terms, although they could listen to such as should be offered, and could treat of peace whenever proposals should be made. Mr. Hutton returned to London, and immediately wrote to him, renewing his request for some hints or suggestions upon which he might proceed, and adding, that he believed every thing satisfactory to the Americans, short of independence, might be obtained.
Dr. Franklin was still reserved, however, and only intimated, that a peace could not be expected while the cabinet and Parliament of Great Britain continued in their present temper. Mr. Hutton had asked his
advice. He answered; "I think it is Ariosto who says, that all things lost on earth are to be found in the moon; on which somebody remarked, that there must be a great deal of good advice in the moon. If so, there is a good deal of mine, formerly given and lost in this business. I will, however, at your request give a little more, but without the least expectation that it will be followed; for none but God can at the same time give good counsel, and wisdom to make use of it." He then mentioned certain terms, which he said it would be good policy for the British government to propose, if they meant to recover the respect and affection of the Americans.
Mr. Hutton was followed by Mr. William Pulteney, a member of Parliament, who assumed in Paris the name of Williams, and who was understood to have come from Lord North, although not invested with any official character. He held a long conversation with Dr. Franklin, and presented to him a paper containing the outlines of a treaty. Franklin told him at once, that every plan of reconciliation implying a voluntary return of the United States to a dependence on Great Britain was now become impossible.
"I see," he remarked, "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.” *
The ministry were not discouraged by the failure of these attempts. Mr. David Hartley, likewise a member of Parliament, was next employed on a similar mission. He had opposed all the measures of government in relation to the American war; but his character was so high and honorable, that he was confided in by both parties. An intimate friendship between him and Dr. Franklin, formed while the latter resided in England, had been preserved ever since by a correspondence on public and private affairs. His benevolence and philanthropy were eminently manifested during the war, by the lively interest he took in the condition of the American prisoners in England. He visited them often, collected money by subscrip
Mr. Pulteney had recently published a pamphlet, entitled, "Thoughts on the Present State of Affairs with America, and the Means of Conciliation." The author's views are expressed with moderation and apparent candor. He disapproves the scheme of Parliamentary taxation, which had brought on the controversy, although he thinks the Americans had taken unjustifiable grounds in their opposition; and he endeavours to show, that they did not aim at independence, till after the petitions of Congress to the King had been rejected. He fortifies his remarks by Dr. Franklin's celebrated letters to Governor Shirley, which are appended to the pamphlet.