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set out the next morning early. I conceived the gentlemen were engaged in business, so I withdrew, and went to write a few letters, among which was the following to Lord Shelburne, being really concerned at the thought of losing so good a man as Mr. Oswald.
To LORD SHELBURNE.
Passy, May 13, 1782.
I did myself the honor of writing to your Lordship a few days since by Mr. Grenville's courier, acknowledging the receipt of yours of the 28th past by Mr. Oswald. I then hoped that gentleman would have remained here some time, but his affairs it seems recal him sooner than he imagined. I hope he will return again, as I esteem him more, the more I am acquainted with him, and believe his moderation, prudent counsels, and sound judgment may contribute much, not only to the speedy conclusion of a peace, but to the framing such a peace as may be firm and long-lasting. With great respect, I am, your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,
I went in the evening to Mr. Oswald's lodging with my letters; when he informed me his intention was to return immediately hither from England; and to make the more dispatch in going and returning, he should leave his carriage at Calais, as the embarking and debarking of carriages in the packet-boats often occasioned a tide's delay. I did not enquire the reason of this movement. We had but little conversation, for Mr. Grenville coming in, I soon after wished him a good journey and retired, that I might not interrupt their consultations.
Since his departure Mr. Grenville has made me a visit;
and entering into a conversation with me, exactly of the same tenor with the letters I formerly received from Mr. Hartley, stating suppositions that France might insist on points totally different from what had been the object of our alliance, and that in such case he should imagine we were not at all bound to continue the war to obtain such points for her, &c. I thought I could not give him a better answer to this kind of discourse than what I had given in two letters to Mr. Hartley, and therefore calling for those letters I read them to him. He smiled, and would have turned the conversation: but I gave a little more of my sentiments on the general subject of benefits, obligation, and gratitude. I said I thought people had often imperfect notions of their duty on those points, and that a state of obligation was to many so uneasy a state, that they became ingenious in finding out reasons and arguments to prove they had been laid under no obligation at all, or that they had discharged it: and they too easily satisfied themselves with such arguments. To explain clearly my ideas on the subject, I stated a case. A. a stranger to B. sees him about to be imprisoned for debt by a merciless creditor. He lends him the sum necessary to preserve his liberty. B. then becomes the debtor of A. and after some time repays the money. Has he then discharged the obligation? No. He has discharged the money debt, but the obligation remains, and he is debtor for the kindness of A. in lending the same so seasonably. If B. should afterwards finds A. in the same circumstances, that he, B., had been in when A. lent him the money, he may then discharge, this obligation or debt of kindness in part by lending him an equal sum. In part, I said, and not wholly, because when A. lent B. the money, there had been no prior benefit received to induce him to it. And therefore if A. should a second time need the same assistance, I thought B., if in his power, was in duty bound to afford it to him. Mr. Grenville con
ceived that I was carrying gratitude very far, to apply this doctrine to our situation in respect to France; who was really the party served and obliged by our separation from England, as it lessened the power of her rival and increased her own. I told him I was so strongly impressed with the kind assistance afforded us by France in our distress, and the generous and noble manner in which it was granted without exacting or stipulating for a single privilege or particular advantage to herself in our commerce or otherwise; that I could never suffer myself to think of such reasonings for lessening the obligation, and I hoped, and indeed did not doubt, but my countrymen were all of the same sentiments. Thus he gained nothing of the point he came to push; we parted however in good humour. His conversation is always polite and his manner pleasing.
As he expressed a strong desire to discourse with me on the means of a reconciliation with America, I promised to consider the subject, and appointed Saturday the 1st of June, for our conversation, when he proposed to call
The same day I received another letter from my old friend Mr. Hartley. Our former correspondence on the subject of peace since the beginning of this year, I have kept by itself, as it preceded this, was in the time of the old ministry, and consisted wholly of letters unmixed with personal conversation. This being the first letter from him under the new ministry, and as it may be followed by others which may relate to the negociation, I insert it here, with my answer, and shall continue to insert the future letters I may receive from him relative to the same subject.
To DR. FRANKLIN.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
London, May 3, 1782.
I write to you only one line, just to inform you that a general order is issued, by our government, for the release of all the American prisoners every where. have had this from Lord Shelburne, who informed me that the order was not partial or conditional, but general and absolute. I heartily congratulate you upon this first step towards sweet reconciliation. I hope other things will follow. I have had a long conversation with Lord Shelburne, relating to America, in which he expressed himself in most favorable terms. I shall have the honor of seeing and conversing with him again. But at present, as you know, certain matters are depending from your side of the water. Mr. Laurens is entirely at liberty. I see him very frequently, and when you see him he will tell you many things from me, which have occurred to me in the course of my poor endeavours to promote the cause of peace. Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris. Your affectionate, &c. D. HARTLEY.
TO DAVID HARTLEY, ESQ. M. P.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Passy, May 13, 1782. I have just received your favor of the 3rd instant. I thank you much for the good news you give me, that "an order is issued by your government for the release of all the American prisoners every where, an order not partial or conditional, but general and absolute." I rejoice with you in this step not only on account of the unhappy captives, who by it will be set at liberty, and restored to their friends and families, but as I think it will tend greatly towards reconciliation, on which alone the hope of a durable peace
can be founded. I am much indebted to your good brother, for a very kind and obliging letter, which was mislaid when it should have been answered. I beg you would present to him my thankful acknowledgments, and my very sincere respects. I join with you most heartily in the prayer that ends your letter, Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris! I am ever, my friend, yours most affectionately,
Our business standing still at present till the return of Mr. Oswald, gives me a void that I may fill up with two or three. circumstances, not at present connected with this intended treaty, but which serve to show something of the disposition of courts, who have, or may have, a concern in it...
Mr. Jay had written to me from time to time of the unaccountable delays he had met with since his residence at the court of Spain, and that he was now no nearer in the business he had been charged with than when he first arrived. Upon the first coming of Mr. Oswald, and the apparent prospect of a treaty, I wrote to press his coming hither, and being a little out of humour with that court, I said, they have taken four years to consider whether they should treat with us, give them forty, and let us mind our own business; and I sent the letter under cover to a person at Madrid, who I hoped would open and read it. It seems to me that we have in most instances hurt our credit and importance, by sending all over Europe begging alliances, and soliciting declarations of our independence. The nations, perhaps, thence seem to think, that our independence is something they have to sell, and that we do not offer enough for it.. Mr. Adams has succeeded in Holland, owing to their war with England, and a good deal to the late votes in the Commons towards a reconciliation; but the ministers of the other powers refused, as I hear, to return his visits, because our independence was