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was wounded by this refusal. He neither suppressed nor concealed his resentment; and he never practised any reserve in avowing his settled hostility to Dr. Franklin.*
The imputations of these gentlemen, and of some others with whom they were allied in opinions and sympathy, reiterated in letters to members of Congress, would necessarily produce a strong impression, especially as Dr. Franklin took no pains whatever to vindicate himself, or to counteract the arts of his enemies. He was not ignorant of their proceedings. The substance of their letters, which the writers seemed not to desire should be kept secret, was communicated to him by his friends. † Relying on his character, and conscious of the rectitude of his course, he allowed them to waste their strength in using their own weapons, and never condescended to repel their charges or explain his conduct. This apparent apathy on his part contributed to give countenance to the suspicions, which had been infused into the minds of many, by the persevering industry of his adversaries. At one time those suspicions had gained so much ascendancy, that his recall was proposed in Congress. There were thirty-five members present, eight of whom voted for his recall, and twenty-seven against it. Some of the latter were probably not his friends,
* His daughter said, in a letter to him, after referring to some of these particulars; "Your friends thought it best you should know what is doing on this side of the water, what wicked things pride and ambition make people do; but I hope these envious men will be disappointed in every scheme of theirs to lessen your character, or to separate you from those you love. Your knowing their intentions in time may be a means of disappointing them in their plan.” — Philadelphia, October 22d, 1778.
+ See Vol. VIII. 250, 308, 388. The whole burden of Mr. Izard's complaints is laid open in his letters to Congress. - Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. II. pp. 367-448,
but yielded to the motives of a patriotic policy, rather than to the impulse of personal feeling. That he was the best man to fill a public station abroad, no one could doubt; that he should be sacrificed to gratify the spleen of disappointed ambition and offended pride, few could reconcile to their sense of justice, or to their regard for the true interests of their country.
It is interesting to see in what manner he speaks of his enemies, and of the artifices they employed to injure him. In writing to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, eighteen months after Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard began their opposition, he says; "Congress have wisely enjoined the ministers in Europe to agree with one another. I had always resolved to have no quarrel, and have, therefore, made it a constant rule to answer no angry, affronting, or abusive letters, of which I have received many, and long ones, from Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard, who, I understand, and see indeed by the papers, have been writing liberally, or rather illiberally, against me, to prevent, as one of them says here, any impressions my writings against them might occasion to their prejudice; but I have never before mentioned them in any of my letters." To his sonin-law, who had informed him of the efforts used against him by certain persons, he replies, that he is very easy" about these efforts, and adds; "I trust in the justice of Congress, that they will listen to no accusations against me, that I have not first been acquainted with, and had an opportunity of answering. I know those gentlemen have plenty of ill will to me, though I have never done to either of them the smallest injury, or given the least just cause of offence. But my too great reputation, and the general good will this people have for me, and the respect
they show me, and even the compliments they make me, all grieve those unhappy gentlemen."
He writes in a similar tone, whenever he has occasion to allude to the subject, which rarely occurs, except when his attention is called to it by his correspondents. At a date two years later than that of the above extracts, he says to Mr. Hopkinson; “As to the friends and enemies you just mention, I have hitherto, thanks to God, had plenty of the former kind; they have been my treasure; and it has perhaps been no disadvantage to me, that I have had a few of the latter. They serve to put us upon correcting the faults we have, and avoiding those we are in danger of having. They counteract the mischiefs flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make our friends more zealous in serving us and promoting our interest. At present I do not know more than two such enemies that I enjoy.* I deserved the enmity of the latter, because I might have avoided it by paying him a compliment, which I neglected. That of the former I owe to the people of France, who happened to respect me too much and him too little; which I could bear, and he could not. They are unhappy, that they cannot make everybody hate me as much as they do; and I should be so, if my friends did not love me much more than those gentlemen can possibly love one another."
The British ministry were still intent on some scheme of reconciliation. In May, 1779, Mr. William Jones, afterwards Sir William Jones, visited Paris. Dr. Franklin had been acquainted with him in England as a member of the Royal Society, and an intimate friend of the Shipley family. Without openly avowing him
The names of the persons here alluded to are denoted by blanks in the printed letter, and the manuscript has not been found.
self an authorized agent, he contrived to insinuate ideas, which may be presumed to have had their origin in a higher source. He put into Dr. Franklin's hands an ingenious paper, which he called a Fragment of Polybius, purporting to have been taken from a treatise by that historian on the Athenian government. It relates to a war in which Athens was engaged with the Grecian Islands, then in alliance with Caria. A close parallel is drawn between this pretended Grecian war and the actual war between England, France, and the United States. It ends with the plan of a treaty proposed by the Athenians, which, by merely changing the names of the parties, is intended to apply to the existing situation of the belligerent powers. The performance is elaborated with skill, and as a composition it shows the hand of a master. The terms are somewhat more favorable to the Americans, than any that had been before suggested, but the idea of independence is not admitted.
Dr. Franklin was ever ready to promote whatever could be useful to mankind. When Captain Cook's vessel was about to return from a voyage of discovery, he wrote a circular letter to the commanders of American cruisers, in his character of minister plenipotentiary, requesting them, in case they should meet with that vessel, not to capture it, nor suffer it to be detained or plundered of any thing on board, but to "treat the captain and his people with civility and kindness, affording them, as common friends of mankind, all the assistance in their power." This act of magnanimity was properly estimated by the British government. After Cook's Voyage was published, a copy of the work was sent to him by the Board of Admiralty, with a letter from Lord Howe, stating that it was forwarded with the approbation of the King.
One of the gold medals, struck by the Royal Society in honor of Captain Cook, was likewise presented to him.*
Acts of a similar kind were repeated in other instances. There was a settlement of Moravian missionaries on the coast of Labrador, to which the Society in London annually despatched a vessel laden with supplies. Dr. Franklin, at the request of Mr. Hutton, granted a passport to this vessel, which was renewed every year during the war. He afforded the same protection to a vessel, which sailed from Dublin with provisions and clothing for sufferers in the West Indies, contributed by charitable persons in that city.
When Paul Jones came to France, after his cruise in the Ranger, and his fortunate action with the Drake, a British sloop of war, the French ministry planned a descent upon the coast of England by a naval armament combined with land forces. The Marquis de Lafayette, who had recently returned from America, where he had won laurels by his bravery and good conduct in two campaigns, was to be at the head of the expedition. Paul Jones was to command the squadron, under the American flag, and he received his instructions from Dr. Franklin. The plan was changed, just as it was on the point of being executed, in consequence of larger designs of the French cabinet; but Jones sailed with his little fleet some
* Dr. Kippis, in his "Life of Captain Cook," said, that Dr. Franklin's circular letter was disapproved by Congress, and that orders were sent out to seize the vessel, if an opportunity should occur. Dr. Belknap took pains to investigate the grounds of this charge, and ascertained that it was erroneous in every particular. Congress neither issued orders nor passed any resolve on the subject. The facts were communicated to Dr. Kippis, and he publicly acknowledged the error, into which he had been led by false information. See the Collections of the Mass. Hist. Society, Vol. IV. pp. 79-85; V. p. 1; and the Gentleman's Magazine for September, 1795, p. 715.