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be for ever binding, whether such an article existed or not in the treaty; and, though it did not exist, an honest American would cut off his right hand, rather than sign an agreement with England contrary to the spirit of it."
Mr. Hartley's next proposition, which had likewise been shown to Lord North, was for a truce of ten years, during which America was not to assist France, yet England, if she saw fit, was to carry on the war against her; "a truce," said Franklin, "wherein nothing is to be mentioned, that may weaken your pretheretensions to dominion over us, which you may fore resume at the end of the term, or at pleasure; when we should have so covered ourselves with infamy, by our treachery to our first friend, as that no other nation could ever after be disposed to assist us, Behowever cruelly you might think fit to treat us. lieve me, my dear friend, America has too much understanding, and is too sensible of the value of the world's good opinion, to forfeit it all by such perfidy."
This project of dividing the United States from their ally was industriously pursued by the British cabinet. Without doubt, it was an object worth striving for. The advances were not confined to one side. Tempting offers were held out to France, as an inducement to draw her into a separate treaty. But the King and his ministers were as true to their engagements as Franklin; and they steadily affirmed, that no propositions would be listened to, either for a peace or truce, which should not have for their basis the independence and sovereignty of the United States.
Besides his numerous acquaintances in the great world of Paris, Dr. Franklin found friends, whose society he valued, among his neighbours at Passy. They vied with each other in bestowing upon him their ci
vilities and kindness. the family of M. Brillon, where he was entertained rather as one of the family than as a visiter, and where the charm of an affectionate welcome was heightened by the frankness, refinement, and intelligence of those from whom it was received. The house of Madame Helvétius, at Auteuil, was another of his favorite resorts. This lady, then advanced in years, had associated, in the lifetime of her husband, with the first wits and most eminent men of the day. In these families he constantly met the Abbé Morellet, the Abbé La Roche, Cabanis, Le Roy, Le Veillard, and La Rochefoucauld. Some of his most popular essays were composed for the amusement of this little circle at Passy and Auteuil. The Ephemera, and the Whistle, were addressed to Madame Brillon, whom, in his playful mood, he used to call "the amiable Brillante." The Dialogue with the Gout, and several other humorous pieces, were written at the same time and for the same object. He classed them all under the title of Bagatelles. They served as a relief from his weighty cares, and contributed to the enjoyment of those around him. The friendships, formed by this social intercourse, were not transient; they were kept fresh after his return to America, by a correspondence, which continued as long as he lived.
He was almost domesticated in
Negotiations for Peace.-Debates on the Subject in the British Parliament. Change of Ministry. - Mr. Oswald sent to Paris to consult Dr. Franklin on the Mode of Negotiating. — Grenville's Commission; disapproved by Franklin. - Mr. Fox's Views of Independence.Lord Shelburne's Administration. Mr. Fitzherbert. Mr. Oswald commissioned to negotiate the American Treaty.- Essential Articles of the Treaty proposed by Franklin. Advisable Articles. — Mr. Jay disapproves Mr. Oswald's Commission. An Alteration required and obtained. Progress of the Treaty. - Independence, Boundaries, Fisheries. Attempts of the British Ministry to secure the Indemnification of the Loyalists.—Mr. Adams joins his Colleagues and resists the British Claims. Franklin proposes an Article for Indemnifying the Americans for their Losses during the War. - British Claims relinquished. - Treaty signed. Ratified by Congress.
EARLY in the year 1782, the subject of peace began to occupy the attention of the British Parliament. The capture of Lord Cornwallis's army at Yorktown, the inability of the ministers to supply the place of these troops for another campaign, the fact that Holland had recently joined the belligerents against England, the enormous expenses of the war; all these things had contributed to open the eyes of the people, and to raise a general clamor for peace. The tone of the King's speech to Parliament, which convened soon after the intelligence of Cornwallis's defeat reached England, was somewhat more subdued than it had been before; yet such was the force of habit in wording the royal speeches, that even now, when the Americans had nobly sustained themselves as an independent nation for more than five years, captured two British armies, and taken away the last hope from their enemies of conquering them, the King could not refrain from talking of his rebellious and deluded subjects; although he did not, as on former occasions, boast of his prow
ess, and of the ample means of subjugation, which he had at command.
It was soon discovered in Parliament, that the public sentiment had communicated itself to that body, and that the overwhelming majority, which had sustained the ministers through the war, was greatly reduced, if not annihilated. The matter was brought to a trial by a motion of General Conway, that an address should be presented to his Majesty, praying that the war in America might cease, and that measures should be taken for restoring tranquillity and a reconciliation. The motion gave rise to a debate, which was animated on both sides, and it was finally lost by a majority of one only in favor of the ministers, and for continuing the war.
This vote was the signal for a dissolution of the ministry. Lord North resigned, and there was a total change of ministry and measures. The new administration was formed in March. The Marquis of Rockingham was prime minister; the Earl of Shelburne and Mr. Fox, the two principal secretaries of state. This ministry came into power, as Mr. Fox more than once declared in Parliament, with the express understanding, that the fundamental principle of their measures was to be "the granting of unequivocal and unconditional independence to America." For some time they seemed to act on this principle. The two secretaries corresponded directly with Dr. Franklin on the subject of peace, and they sent Mr. Richard Oswald over to Paris early in April, with authority to consult him on the mode of beginning and pursuing a negotiation. Mr. Thomas Grenville was likewise. sent to confer with Count de Vergennes in reference to the preliminaries for a general peace between all the powers at war. Nothing more could be done till
Parliament should pass an act enabling the King to enter into a formal negotiation.
As to the mode of conducting the negotiations, Dr. Franklin said he thought it would be best for the British negotiators to appear under separate commissions, one for the American treaty, and another for those of the European powers, since the topics to be discussed were entirely distinct; and, as this mode would have greater simplicity, the object might be the sooner and more easily attained. The British ministry approved and adopted this suggestion, and their envoys were accordingly furnished with separate commissions.
Both Mr. Grenville and Mr. Oswald, at their several interviews, assured Count de Vergennes and Dr. Franklin, that the point of independence had been conceded, and that it was to be granted in the first instance, before the treaty was begun. It was agreed between the British and French cabinets, that the negotiations should take place at Paris. Mr. Grenville remained there. Mr. Oswald went back to London, but returned in a few days. In the mean time Mr. Grenville received a commission, which he understood to authorize him to treat with France and America; but there was not a word in it about any other power than France. When this defect was pointed out to Mr. Grenville, he said, that, though his commission was silent in regard to America, yet his instructions gave him ample powers. Dr. Franklin was not satisfied with this explanation, and he said that the commission must be put in a proper form for treating with the United States, or no treaty could be held. Finding him firm in this decision, Mr. Grenville despatched an express to London with the commission, which came back so altered as to authorize