Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

standing since, that a courier will soon go from Wersailles, I rather choose that conveyance. I received duly your letter of November 21st, but it found me in a very perplexed situation. I had great payments to make for the extravagant and very inconvenient purchase in Holland, together with large acceptances by Mr. Adams, of bills drawn on Mr. Laurens and himself, and I had no certainty of providing the money. I had also a quarrel upon my hands with Messrs. de Neufville and others, owners of two vessels, hired by Gillon to carry the goods he had contracted to carry in his own ship. I had worried this friendly and generous court with often repeated afterclap demands, occasioned by these unadvised (as well as ill advised) and, therefore, unexpected drafts, and was ashamed to show my face to the minister. In these circumstances, I knew not what answer to make you. I could not encourage you to expect the relief desired; and, having still some secret hope, I was unwilling to discourage you, and thereby occasion a protest of bills, which possibly I might find means of enabling you to pay. Thus I delayed writing perhaps too long. But, to this moment, I have obtained no assurance of having it in my power to aid you, though no endeavours on my part have been wanting. We have been assisted with near twenty millions' since the beginning of last year, besides a fleet and army; and yet I am obliged to worry them with my solicitations for more, which makes us appear insatiable. This letter will not go before Tuesday. Perhaps by that time I may be able to say explicitly, Yes or No. I am very sensible of your unhappy situation, and I believe you feel as much for me. You mention my proposing to repay the sum you want in America. I tried that last year. I drew a bill on Congress for a considerable sum to be advanced me here, and paid there in provisions for the French troops. My bill was not honored. I was in hopes the loan in Holland, if it succeeded, being for ten millions, would have made us all easy. It was long uncertain. It is now completed. But, unfortunately, it has most of it been eaten up by advances here. You see, by the letter of which I sent you a copy, upon what terms I obtain another million of it. That, if I get it, will enable me to pay the thirty thousand dollars you have borrowed; for we must not let your friend suffer. What I am to do afterwards, God knows. . . - I am much surprised at the dilatory and reserved conduct of your court. I know not to what amount you have obtained aids from it; but, if they are not considerable, it were to be wished you had never been sent there, as the slight they have put upon our of. fered friendship is very disreputable to us, and, of course, hurtful to our affairs elsewhere. I think they are shortsighted, and do not look overy far into futurity, or they would seize with avidity so excellent an opportunity of securing a neighbour's friendship, which may hereafter be of great consequence to their American affairs. - If I were in Congress, I should advise your being instructed to thank them for past favors, and take your leave. As I am situated, I do not presume to give you such advice, nor could you take it, if I should. But I conceive there would be nothing amiss in your mentioning in a short memoir, the length of time elapsed since the date of the secret article, and since your arrival, to urge their determination upon it, and pressing them to give you an explicit, definitive, immediate answer, whether they would enter into treaty with us or not, and, in case of refusal, solicit your recall, that you may not continue from year to year, at a great expense, in a constant state of uncertainty with regard to so important a matter. I do not see how they can decently refuse such an answer. But their silence, after the demand made, should in my opinion be understood as a refusal, and we should act accordingly. I think I see a very good use that might be made of it, which I will not venture to explain in this letter. I know not how the account of your salary stands, but I would have you draw upon me for a quarter at present, which shall be paid; and it will be a great pleasure to me, if I shall be able to pay up all your arrearS. Mr. Laurens, being now at liberty, perhaps may soon come here, and be ready to join us, if there should be any negotiations for peace. In England they are mad for a separate one with us, that they may more effectually take revenge on France and Spain. I have had several overtures hinted to me lately from different quarters, but I am deaf. The thing is impossible. We can never agree to desert our first and our faithful friend on any consideration whatever. We should become infamous by such abominable baseness. With great and sincere esteem, I am ever, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

FROM DAVID HARTLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.

Correcting JMisapprehensions of his Propositions.

Cases in which the United States might treat sepa

rately.

London, 24 January, 1782. MY DEAR SIR,

I received yours of the 15th instant this day. I must take the earliest opportunity of setting you right in one mistake, which runs through your whole letter, and which to you, under that mistake, must be a very delicate point. You seem to apprehend, that America has been stated, in the proposition to Lord North, as “disposed to enter into a separate treaty with Great Britain”; but you meet the condition, viz. in the words immediately following, “ and that their allies were disposed to consent to it.” There cannot possibly be any supposition of treachery to allies, in any proposition to which they may consent. A separate treaty, with the consent of the allies of America, was the proposition communicated to me by Mr. Alexander, and which I laid before the minister, and which I reported back again to Mr. Alexander in writing, when I showed him the paper entitled “Conciliatory Propositions,” which I took care to reduce to writing, with a view of avoiding mistakes; therefore I have not misunderstood Mr. Alexander. I have since seen Mr. Alexander many times, and he has always stated one and the same proposition, viz. that America was disposed to enter into a separate treaty, because their allies were disposed to consent that they should; therefore there cannot exist a suspicion of treachery. It occurred to me once, while I was writing, to bar against that misconstruction; but, having specified the consent of the allies of America in the same sentence, I could not conceive such a misconstruction to have been possible.

You have mistaken another point greatly. You say, “a truce for ten years.” There is not in the bill any such disposition or thought; on the contrary, it is specified in the enclosed paper that it is kept indefinite, for the sole purpose of avoiding the suspicion which you have suggested. The truce may be for twenty, or fifty, or one hundred years; in my opinion, the longer the better. But, in any case, what I mean now to state is, the indefinite term in the bill. The articles of intercourse are only proposed for ten years certain, just to strew the way with inviting and conciliatory facilities, in the hope that a little time given for cooling would confirm a perpetual peace. If I were permitted to be the mediator, I should certainly propose the truce for twenty years; but if no more than ten years could be obtained, I would certainly not refuse such a ground of pacification and treaty. I refer you to several of my letters, two or three years ago, for the justification of my sentiments on that head.

Another point; look at all my letters since 1778, and see if I have at any time suggested any breach of treaty or of honor; on the contrary, I think a faithless nation, if exterminated, would not deserve the pity of mankind. I speak of all I know in the treaty between America and France, and what I think reasonable upon the case itself. If America is further bound than we know of they must abide by it. I speak to the apparent and public foundation of the treaty, article second, with the provision of tacitly, from article eighth; and now I refer you to my letter to you, as long ago as April 10th, 1779; “If beyond this essential and directed end, and -upon grounds totally unconnected with that alliance, not upon motives of

« ZurückWeiter »