Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

possible stipulation to the future disadvantage of British interests, and above all things would probablyl stipulate that America should never make peace with Great Britain without the most formal and explicit recognition of their Independence, absolute and unlimited.

1 Private Journal of Proceedings, as kept by Dr.

Franklin, relative to the Negociations for Peace , between Great Britain and the United States of Ame rica, in the period between the 21st of March and the 1st of July, 1782


- Pussy, May 9; 17821! oli! Asistade the change of ministry in Englandy sbnie serious professions have been made of their dispositions to peace, and of their readiness to enter into a general-treaty for that purpose; and as the concerns and claims of five nations are to be discussed in that 'treaty, which must thereforesbe interesting to the present age and to posterity, I am inclined to keep a vjournak of the proceedings as far as they coine to any knowledge, and to make citi more complete wills first endeavour to recollect what has already past...

Great affairs, sometimes taken their rise from smalkicircum- i stances. My good friend and neighbour Madame Brillont being at Niceriallast winter for ber health, with her very amiable family, woteoto me that she had met with somer Englislugentry there whose acquaintance proved agreeable ; among then she named Lord Cholmondeley, who she said. had promised to call in his creturn to England, and drinkal tėa with us atPassy. He left Ņicei saoner than shes supis posed, and came to Paris long before sherb: Om the 21st of March !I received the following aótes!:

“ Lord. Cholmandeloyd's complimentacte eDr. Franklinyi he sets out for London to-morrow evening, and should be

glad to see him for five minutes before he went. Lord C. will call upon him at any time in the morning he shall please to appoint.

“ Thursday Evening, Hotel de Chartres."

I wrote for answer that I should be at home all the next morning, and glad to see his Lordship, if he did me the honor of calling upon me. He came accordingly. I had before no personal knowledge of this nobleman.' We walked of our friends whom he left at Nice, then of affairs in England, and the late resolutions of the Commons on Mr. Conway's motion. He told me that he knew Lord Shelburne had a great regard for me, and he was sure his Lordship would be pleased to hear from me, and that if I would write a line he should have a pleasure in carrying it. On which I . wrote the folļowing.


Passy, March 22, 1782.:: Lord Cholmondeley having kindly offered to take a letter from me to your Lordship, I embrace the opportunity of assuring the continuance of my ancient respect for your talents and virtues, and of congratulating you on the returning good disposition of your country in favor of: America, which appears in the late resolutions of the Commons. I am persuaded it will have good effects. I hope it will tend to produce a general peace, which I am sure your Lordship with all good mén desires, which I wish to see before I die, and to which I shall with infinite pleasure contribute every thing in my power. Your friends the Abbé Morellet, and Madame Helvetius are well. With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servant,


Soon after this we heard from England that a total change had taken place in the ministry, and that Lord Shelburne was come in as Secretary of State. But I thought po more of uy letter till an old friend and near neighbour of mine, many. years in London,' appeared at Passy, and introduced a Mr. Oswald, who he said had a great desire to see me; and Mr. Oswald after some little conversation gave me the following letters from Lord Shelburne, and Mr. Laurens.


London, April 6, 1782. I have been favored with your letter, and ama much obliged by your remembrance. I find myself returned Dearly, to the same situation, which you remember me to have occupied nineteen years ago, and should be very glad to talk to you as I did then, and afterwards in, 1767, upon the means of promoting the happiness of mankind; a subject much more agreeable to my nature, than the best concerted plans for spreading misery and 'devastation. I have had a high opinion of the compass of your mind, and of your foresight. I have often beèn beholden to both, and shall be glad to be so again, so far as is compatible with your situation. Your letter discovering the same disposition has made me send to you Mr. Oswald. I have had a longer acquaintance with him, than even I have had the pleasure to have with you. I believe him an honest man, and after consulting some of our common friends, I have thought him the fittest for the purpose. He is a practical man, and conversant in those negociations, which are most interesting to mankind. This has made me prefer him to any of our speculative friends, or to any person of higher rank. He is fully apprized of my mind, and

you may give full credit to every thing he assures you of. At the same time if any other channel occurs to you, I am IT

'1 Caleb Whiteford, Esq.

ready to embrace it.' I wish to retain the same simplicity and good faith, which subsisted between us in transactions of less importance. I have the honor to be, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your faithful and most obedient servant,




London, April 7, 1782. Richard Oswald, Esq. who will do me the honor of delivering this, is a gentleman of the strictest candor and integrity. I dare give such assurance from an experience' little short of thirty years; and to add, you will be perfectly safe in conversing freely' with him on the business which he will introduce a business in which Mr. Oswald has disinterestedly engaged from mótives of benevolence; and from the choice of the man a 'persuasion follows that the' electors mean to be in earnest. Some people in this country, who have too long indulged themselves in abusing every thing American, have been pleased to circulate an opinion that Dr. Franklin is a very cunding man; in answer to which I have remarked to Mr. Oswald," Dr. Franklin knows very well how to manage a cunning man, but when the doctor converses or treats with a man of candor, there is no man more candid than himself." I do not know whether you will ultimately agree in political sketches, but I am sure, as gentlemen, you will pårt very well pleased with each other:

Should you, Sir, think it proper to communicate to me your sentiments and advice on our affairs, the more ample the more acceptable, and probably the more serviceable. Mr. Oswald will take charge of your dispatches, and afford a secure means of conveyance; to this gentleman I refer you for general information of a journey which I am imme diately to make partly in his company; at Ostend to file off for the Hague. I feel a willingness, infirm as I an, to attempt doing as much good as can be expected from such a prisoner on parole. As General Burgoyne is certainly exchanged, (a circumstance by the bye which possibly might have embarrassed us had your late proposition been accepted,) may

I presume at my return to offer another. Lieutenant General now in England a prisoner upon parole, in exchange; or, what shall I offer in England for myself, a thing in my own estimation of no great value? I have the honor to be, with great respect, and permit me to add, great reverence, Sir, your faithful fellow labourer and obedient servant,


I entered into conversation with Mr. Oswald. He was represented in the letter as fully apprized of Lord Shelbtine's mind, and I was desirous of knowing it. All I could learn was, that the new ministry sincerely wished for peace; that they considered the object of the war to France and America as obtained. That if the Independence of the United States' was agreed to, there was no other point in dispute, and therefore nothing left to hinder a pacification. That they were ready lo treat of peace, but intimated that if France should insist upon terms too humiliating to England, they could still continue the war, having yet great strength and many resources left. I let him know that America would not treat but in concert with France, and that my colleagues not being here, I could do nothing of importance in the affair; but that if he pleased I would present him to M. de Vergennes, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He consenting, I wrote and sent the following letter.

VOL. 11.

« PreviousContinue »