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applauded for his politically exciting a rebellion among his subjects at a time when they had not strength to support it, that he might, in subduing them, take away their privileges which were troublesome to him ; and a question is formally stated and discussed, Whether a prince, to appease a revolt, makes promises of indemnity to the revoliers, is obliged to fulfil those promises ? Honest and good men would say ay; but this politician says as you say, no. And he gives this pretty reason, that though it was right to make the promises, because otherwise the revolt would not be suppressed, yet it would be wrong to keep them, because revolters ought to be punished to deter future revolts. If these are the principles of your nation, no confidence can be placed in you; it is in vain to treat with you, and the wars can only end in being reduced to an utter inability of continuing them.
“One main drift of your letter seems to be to impress me with an idea of your own impartiality, by just censures of your ministers and measures, and to draw from me propositions of peace, or approbations of those you have enclosed me, which you intimate may by your means be conveyed to the king directly, without the intervention of those ministers. Would you have me give them to, or drop them for a stranger I may find next Monday in the Church of Notre Dame, to be known by a rose in his hat? You yourself, sir, are quite unknown to me; you have not trusted me with your right name, Our taking the least step towards a treaty with England, through you, might, if you are an enemy, be made use of to ruin us with our new and good friends, I may be indiscreet enough in many things, but certainly, if I were disposed to make propositions (which I cannot do, having none committed to me to make), I should never think of delivering them to the Lord knows who, to be carried the Lord knows where, to serye no one knows what purposes. Be.
mng at this time one of the most remarkable figures in Paris, even my appearance in the Church of Notre Dame, where I cannot have any conceivable business, and especially being seen to leave or drop any letter to any person there would be a matter of some speculation, and might, from the suspicions it must naturally give, have very mischievous consequences to our credit here. The very proposing of a correspondence so to be managed, in a manner not necessary where fair dealing is intended, gives just reason to suppose you intend the contrary. Besides, as your court has sent commissioners to treat with the Congress, with all the powers that would be given them by the crown under the act of Parliament, what good purpose can be served by privately obtaining propositions from us? Before those commissioners went, we might have treated in virtue of our general powers (with the knowledge, advice, and approbation of our friends), upon any propositions made to us. But, under the present circumstances, for us to make propositions while a treaty is supposed to be actually on foot with the Congress, would be extremely improper, highly presumptuous with regard to our honourable constituents, and answer no good end whatever.
“I write this letter io you, notwithstanding (which I think I can convey in a less mysterious manner ; and guess it may come to your hands); I write it because I would let you know our sense of your procedure, which appears as insidious as that of your conciliatory bills. Your true way to obtain peace, if your ministers desire it, is to propose openly to the Congress fair and equal terms; and you may possibly come sooner to such a resolution, when you find that personal flatteries, general cajolings, and panegyrics on our virtue and wisdom are not likely to have the effect you seem to expect; the persuading us to act basely and foolishly in betraying our country and posterity into the hands of
our most bitter enemies; giving up or selling of our arms and warlike stores, dismissing our ships of war and troops, and putting those enemies in possession of our forts and ports. This proposition of delivering ourselves, bound and gagged, ready for hanging, without even a right to complain, and without even a friend to be found afterward among all mankind, you would have us embrace on the faith of an act of Parliament! Good God! an act of your Parliament! This demonstrates that you do not yet know us, and that you fancy we do not know you : but it is not merely this flimsy faith that we are to act upon; you offer us hope, the hope of PLACES, PENSIONS, and PEERAGE. These, judging from yourselves, you think are motives irresistible. This offer to corrupt us, sir, is with me your credential, and convinces me that you are not a private volunteer in your application. It bears the stamp of British court intrigue, and the signature of your king. But think for a moment in what light it must be viewed in America. By PLACES which cannot come among us, for you take care by a special article to keep them to yourselves. We must then pay the salaries in order to enrich ourselves with these places. But you will give us PENSIONS ; probably to be paid, too, out of your expected American revenue ; and which none of us can accept without deserving, and, perhaps, obtaining a suspension. PEERAGES ! Alas ! sir, our long observation of the vast servile majority of your peers, voting constantly for every measure proposed by a minister, however weak or wicked, leaves us small respect for them, and we consider it a sort of tar-and-feathered honaur, or a mixture of foulness and folly ; which every man among us who should accept from your king, would be obliged to renounce or exchange for that conferred by the mobs of their own country, or wear it with everlasting shame,
6 B. FRANKLIN."
• Dr. Price, London.
“Passy, February 6, 1780. DEAR SIR, 5. I received but very lately your kind favour of October 14. Dr. Ingenhausz, who brought it, having stayed long in Holland. I sent the enclosed directly to Mr. L. It gave me great pleasure to understand that you continue well. Your writings, after all the abuse you and they have met with, begin to make serious impressions on those who at first rejected the counsels you gave; and they will acquire new weight every day, and be in high esteem when the cavils against them are dead and forgotten. Please to present my affectionate respects to that honest, sensible, and intelligent soci. ety, who did me so long the honour of admitting me to share in their instructive conversations. I never think of the hours I so happily spent in that company, without regretting that they are never to be repeated; for I see no prospect of an end to this unhappy war in my time. Dr. Priestley, you tell me, continues his experiments with success. We make daily great improvements in natural—there is one I wish to see in moral philosophy; the discovery of a plan that would induce and oblige nations to settle their disputes without first cutting one another's throats. When will human reason be sufficiently improved to see the advantage of this? When will men be convinced that even successful wars at length become misfortunes to those who unjustly commenced them, and who triumphed blindly in their success, not seeing all its consequences. Your great comfort and mine in this war is, that we honestly and faithfully did everything in our power to prevent it. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours, &c.,
“ B. FRANKLIN."
“ Dr. Priestley.
Passy, February 8, 1780. " Dear Sir, “ Your kind letter of September 27 came to hand but very lately, the bearer having stayed long in Holland.
“ I always rejoice to hear of your being still employed in experimental researches into nature, and of the success you meet with. The rapid progress true science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon: it is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter; we may perhaps learn to deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labour and double its produce; all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured (not excepting even that of old age), and our lives lengthened at pleasure even beyond the antediluvian standard. Oh! that moral science were in as fair a way of improvement; that men would cease to be wolves to one another; and that human beings would at length learn what they now improperly call humanity!
“I am glad that my little paper on the Aurora Borealis pleased. If it should occasion farther inquiry, and so produce a better hypothesis, it will not be wholly useless.
“ B. FRANKLIN.”
[Enclosed in the foregoing letter; being an answer to a sep.
arate paper received from Dr. Priestley.] I have considered the situation of that person very attentively; I think that, with a little help from