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The subscription for the prisoners will have excellent effects in favor of England and Englishmen. The Scotch subscriptions for raising troops to destroy us, though amounting to much greater sums, will not do their nation half so much good. If you have an opportunity, I wish you would express our respectful acknowledgments and thanks to your committee and contributors, whose benefactions will make our poor people as comfortable as their situation can permit. Adieu, my dear friend. Accept my thanks for the excellent papers you enclosed to me. Your endeavors for peace, though unsuccessful, will always be a comfort to you; and in time, when this mad war shall be universally execrated, will be a solid addition to your reputation. I am ever with the highest esteem, &c.
P.S. An old friend of mine, Mr. Hutton, a chief of the Moravians, who is often at the queen's palace, and is sometimes spoken to by the king, was over here lately. He pretended to no commission, but urged me much to propose some terms of
which I avoided. He has written to me since his return, pressing the same thing, and expressing with some confidence his opinion that we might have every thing short of absolute independence, &c. Enclosed I send my answers, open, that you may read them, and if you please copy, before you deliver or forward them.' They will serve to show you more fully my sentiments, though they serve no
To D. HARTLEY, Esg: M. P. DEAR SIR,
Passy, Feb. 26, 1778. I received yours of the 18th and 20th of this month, with Lord North’s proposed bills. The more I see
See the two preceding letters,
of the ideas and projects of your ministry, and their little arts and schemes of amusing and dividing us, the more I admire the prudent, manly, and magnanimous propositions contained in your intended motion for an address to the king. What reliance can we have on an act expressing itself to be only a declaration of the intention of parliament concerning the crercise of the RIGAT of imposing taxes in America, when in tlie bill itself, as well as in the title, a right is supposed and claimed which never existed; and a present intention only is declared not to use it, which may be changed by another act next session, with a preamble that this intention being found inexpedient, it is thought proper to repeal this act and resume the exercise of the right in its full extent? If any solid permanent benefit was intended by this, why is it confined to the colonies of North America, and not extended to the loyal ones in the sugar islands ? But it is now needless to criticise, as all acts that suppose your future government of the colonies can be no longer significant.
In the act for appointing commissioners, instead of full powers to agree upon terms of peace and friendship, with a promise of ratifying such treaty as they shall make in pursuance of those powers, it is declared, that their agreements shall have no force nor effect, nor be carried into execution till approved of by parliament; so that every thing of importance will be uncertain. But they are allowed to proclaim a cessation of arms, and revoke their proclamation as soon as in consequence of it our militia have been allowed to go home: they may suspend the operation of acts prohibiting trade, and take off that suspension when our merchants in consequence of it have been induced to send their ships to sea; in short, they may do every thing that can have a tendency to divide and distract us, but nothing that can afford us security. Indeed, sir, your ministers do not know us. We
e may not be
quite so cunning as they, but we have really more sense, as well as more courage than they have ever been willing to give us credit for; and I am persuaded these acts will rather obstruct peace than promote it, and that they will not answer in America the mischievous and malevolent ends for which they were intended. In England they may indeed amuse the public creditors, give hopes and expectations that shall be of some present use, and continue the mis-managers a little longer in their places, Voilà tout !
In return for your repeated advice to us not to conclude any treaty with the house of Bourbon, permit me to give (through you) a little advice to the Whigs in England. Let nothing induce them to join with the Tories in supporting and continuing this wicked war against the Whigs of America, whose assistance they may hereafter want to secure their own liberties; or whose country they may be glad to retire to for the enjoyment of them.
If peace by a treaty with America upon equal terms were really desired, your commissioners need not go there for it, supposing, as by the bill they are empowered to treat with such person or persons as in their wisdom and discretion they shall think meet," they should happen to conceive that the commissioners of the congress at Paris might be included in that description. I am ever, dear sir, &c.
P.S. Seriously, on farther thoughts, I am of opinion, that if wise and honest men, such as Sir George Saville, the bishop of St. Asaph,' and yourself, were to come over here immediately with powers to treat, you might not only obtain peace with America, but prevent a war with France.
To MR. HUTTON.
Passy, March 24, 1778. My dear old friend was in the right not “to call in question the sincerity of my words, where I say, February 12, we can treat if any propositions are made to us.” They were true then, and are so still, if Britain has not declared war with France; for in that case we shall undoubtedly think ourselves obliged to continue the war as long as she does. But methinks you should have taken us at our word, and have sent immediately your propositions in order to prevent such a war, if you did not choose it. Still I conceive it would be well to do it, if you have not already rashly begun the war. Assure yourself nobody more sincerely wishes perpetual peace among men than I do; but there is a prior wish, that they would be equitable and just, otherwise such peace is not possible; and indeed wicked men have no right to expect it. Adieu! I am ever yours most affectionately,
Note from WILLIAM PULTENEY, Esg. M. P. (under the
assumed name of Williams.)
Mr. Williams returned this morning to Paris, and will be glad to see Dr. Franklin, whenever it is convenient for the doctor, at the Hotel Frasiliere, Rue Tournon. It is near the hotel where he lodged when the doctor saw him a fortnight ago. He does not propose to go abroad, and therefore the doctor will find him at any hour. He understands that Mr. Alexander is not yet returned from Dijon, which he regrets. Sunday Morning, March 29, 1778.
[The following letter to Mr. Pulteney, was not sent, but con
tains what was said in a conversation Dr. Franklin had with him in Paris.]
To William PULTENEY, Esq. M. P.
Passy, March 30, 1778, When I first had the honor of conversing with you on the subject of peace, I mentioned it as my opinion. that every proposition which implied our voluntarily agreeing to return to a dependence on Britain was now become impossible; that a peace on equal terms undoubtedly might be made; and that though we had no particular powers to treat of peace with England, we had general powers to make treaties of peace, amity, and commerce, with any, state in Europe, by whịch I thought we might be authorised to treat with Britain; who, if sincerely disposed to peace, might save time and much bloodshed by treating with us directly:
I also gave it as my opinion, that in the treaty to be made, Britain should endeavor, by the fairness and generosity of the terms she offered, to recover the esteem, confidence, and affection of America, without which the peace could not be so beneficial, as it was not likely to be lasting. In this I had the pleasure to find you of my opinion.
But I see by the propositions you have communicated to me, that the ministers cannot yet divest themselves of the idea, that the power of parliament over us is constitutionally absolute and unlimited, and that the limitations they may be willing now to put to it by treaty, are so many favors, or so many benefits for which we are to make compensation.
As our opinions in America are totally different, a treaty on the terms proposed, appears to me utterly impracticable either here or there. Here we certainly cannot make it, hav