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stop, strike no more, but borrow on interest those we had issued. This was not then approved of, and more bills were issued. When from the too great quantity they began to depreciate, we agreed to borrow on interest, and I proposed that in order to fix the value of the principal, the interest should be promised in hard dollars. This was objected to as impracticable: but I still continue of opinion, that by sending out cargoes to purchase it we might have brought in money sufficient for that purpose, as we brought in powder, &c. &c. And that though the attempt must have been attended with a disadvantage, the loss would have been a less mischief than any measure attending the discredit of the bills, which threatens to take out of our hands the great instrument of our defence. The congress did at last come into the proposal of paying the interest in real money. But when the whole mass of the currency was under way in depreciation, the momentum of its descent was too great to be stopped by a power that might at first have been sufficient to prevent the beginning of the motion. The only remedy now seems to be a diminution of the quantity by a vigorous taxation, of great nominal sums, which the people are more able to pay in proportion to the quantity and diminished value ; and the only consolation under the evil is, that the public debt is proportionably diminished with the depreciation; and this by a kind of imperceptible tax, 'every one having paid a part of it in the fall of value that took place between the receiving and paying such sums as passed through his hands. For it should always be remembered, that the original intention was to sink the bills by tases, which would as effectually extinguish the debt as an actual redemption. This effect of paper currency is not understood on this side the water. ' And indeed the whole is a mystery even to the politicians, how we have been able to
continue a' war four years without money, and how we could pay with paper that had no previously fixed fund appropriated specifically to redeem it. This currency, as we manage it, is a wonderful machine. It performs its office when we issue it; it pays and clothes troops, and provides victuals and ammunition; and, when we are obliged to issue a quantity excessive, it pays itself off by depreciation.
Our affairs in general" stand in a fair light throughout Europe. Our cause is universally approved." Our constitutions of government have been translated and printed in most languages, and are so much · admired for the spirit of liberty that reignis in them, that it is generally agreed we sball have a vast accession of national property after the war, from every part of this continent, and particularly from the British islands. We have only to persevere and to be happy. Yours, &c.
To the Hon. Josiah QUINCY, Esg. Character of the French nation-Censures the people of
America. DEAR SIR,
· Passy, April 22, 1779. I received your very kind letter by Mr. Bradford, who appears a very sensible and amiable young gentleman, to whom I should with pleasure render any service here, upon your much respected recommendation ; but I understand he returns immediately.
It is with great sincerity I join you in acknowledging and admiring the dispensations of Providence in our favor. America has only to-be thankful and persevere. God will finish his work, and establish their freedom; and the lovers of liberty will fock from all parts of Europe with their fortunes to participate with us of that freedom-as soon as the peace is restored.
I am exceedingly pleased with your account of the French politeness and civility, as it appeared among the officers and people of their feet. They have certainly advanced in those respects many degrees beyond the English. I find them here a most amiable nation to live 'with. The Spaniards are, by common opinion, supposed to be cruel, the English proud, the Scotch insolent, the Dutch avaricious, &c. ; but I think the French have no national vice ascribed to them. They have some frivolities, but they are harmless. To dress their heads so that a hat cannot be put on them, and then wear their hats under their arms, and to fill their poses with tobacco, may be called follies perhaps, but they are not vices; they are only the effects of the tyranny of custom. In short, there is nothing wanting in the character of a Frenchman that belongs to that of an agreeable and worthy mạn. They have only some trifles, a surplus of which might be spared.
Will you permit me, while I do them this justice, to hint a little censure on our own country people ? which I do in good-will, wishing the cause removed. You know the necessity we are under of supplies from Europe, and the difficulty we have at present in making returns. The interest bills would do a good deal towards purchasing arms, ammunition, clothing, sailcloth, and other necessaries for defence. Upon inquiry of those who present those bills to me for acceptance, what the money is to be laid out in, I find that : most of it is for superfluities, and more than half of it for : tea! How unhappily in this instance the folly of our peo.. ple, and the avidity of our merchants, concur to weaken and impoverish our country! I formerly computed that we consumed before the war, in that single article, the value of 500,000l. sterling annually. Much of this was saved by stopping the use of it. I honored the virtuous resolution of
our women in foregoing that little gratification, and I lament that such virtue should be of so short duration! Five bundred thousand pounds sterling annually laid out in defending ourselves, or annoying our enemies, would have great effects. With what face can we ask aids and subsidies from our friends while we are wasting our own wealth in such prodigality? With great and sincere esteem, I am, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE, AT HAVRE DE
GRACE. DEAR SIR,
Passy, August 19, 1779. I have just now received your favor of the 17th. I wrote to you a day or two ago, and have little to add. You ask my opinion what conduct the English will probably hold on this occasion, and whether they will not rather propose a négociation for a peace? I have but one rule to go by in judging of those people, which is, that whatever is prudent for them to do they will oinit, and what is most imprudent to be done, they will do it. This, like other general rules, may sometimes have its exceptions ; but I think it will hold good for the most part, at least while the present ministry continues, or rather while the present madman has the choice of ministers. You desire to know whether I am satisfied with the ministers here? It is impossible for any body to be more so. I see they exert themselves greatly in the common cause, and do every thing for us they can. We can wish for nothing more, unless our great want of money should make us wish for a subsidy, to enable us to act more vigorously in expelling the enemy from their remaining posts, and reducing Canada. But their own expenses are so great,
Proposed descent of a French army in England,
that I cannot press such an addition to it. I hope, however,
am ever, &c.
To The MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE, AT HAVRE. .. :: (With the sword ordered by congress.)
Passy, Aug 24, 1779. si; 1. The congress, sensible of your merit towards the United States, but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a sword, as a small mark of their grateful acknowledgment. They directed it to be ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal actions of the war in which you distinguished yourself by your bravery and conduct, are therefore represented upon ito These, with a few emblematic figures, all admirably well exécuted, make its principal value. By the help of the exquisite artists France affords, I find it easy to express every thing but the sense we haře of your worth, and our obligations to you. For this, figures and even words are found insufficient. I therefore only add, that with the most perfect esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
P.S.-My grandson goes to Havre with the sword, and will have the honor of presenting it to you.