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To M. LE Comte de VerGenNES,
Minister for Foreign Affairs, 8c. Versailles.

Passy, April 15, 1782. An English nobleman, Lord Cholmondeley, lately returning from Italy called upon me here, at the time when we received the news of the first resolutions of the

House of Commons relating to America. In conversation -he said, that he knew his friend Lord Shelburne had a great regard for me, that it would be pleasing to him to hear of my welfare, and to receive a line from me, of which he, Lord Cholmondeley, should like to be the bearer; adding, that if

there should be a change of ministry he believed Lord Shel. *. burne would be employed. I thereupon wrote a few lines

of which I enclose a copy. This day I received an answer .: which I also enclose, together with another letter from

Mr. Laurens. They both, as your Excellency will see, recommend the bearen Mr. Oswald, as a very honest sensible man. I have had a little conversation with him. He tells me, that there has been a desire of making a separate peace with America, and of continuing the war with France and

Spain, but that now all wise people give up that idea as 1. inpracticable, and it is bis private opinion that the ministry

do sincerely desire a general peace, and that they will readily

come into it, provided France does not insist upon conditions 1 too humiliating for England; in which case she will make

great and violent efforts rather than submit to them, and that much is still in her power, &c., I told the gentleman that I could not enter into particulars with him, but in concert with the ministers of this Court, and I proposed introducing him to your Excellency after communicating to you the letters he had brought me in case you should think fit to see him ; with

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which he appeared to be pleased." I intend waiting on you to-morrow, when you will please to acquaint me" with your intentions and favor me with your counsels. "He had heard nothing of Forth's mission and imagined the old ministry had not acquainted the new with that transaction. Mr. Laurens came over with him in the same vessel, and went from Ostend to Holland. I have the honor to be, &c.


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The next day being at Court with the foreign ministers as usual on Tuesdays, I saw M. de Vergernes, who acquainted me that he had caused the letters to be translated, had considered the contents, and should like to see Mr. Oswald. We agreed that the interview should be on Wednesday at jo o'clock.

Immediately on my return home, I wrote to Mr. Oswald, acquainting him with what had passed at Versailles, and proposing that he should be with me at half-past eight the next morning in order to proceed thither.

I received from him the following answer.


I have the honor of yours by the bearer, and shall be sure to wait on you to-morrow at half past eight. I am with much respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

RICHARD OSWALD. Paris, 16th April.

He came accordingly, and we arrived at: Versailles punctually., M. de Vergennes received us with much civility. Mr. Oswald not being ready in speaking French, M. de Rayneval i interpreted. The conversation continued near


• Under Secretary for foreiga affairs.

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hour. Mr. Oswald at first thought of sending an express with an account of it, and was offered a passport, but finally concluded to go himself; and I wrote the next day to Lord Shelburne the letter following.


Passy, April 18, 1782! I have received the letter your Lordship did me the honor of writing to me the 6th instant. I congratulate you on your new appointment to the honorable and important office you formerly filled so worthily; an office which

mustribe so far pleasing to you as it affords you more nd opportunities of doing good and of serving your country

essentially in its great concerns. I have conversed a good * · deal with Mr. Oswald, and am much pleased with him. He appears to me a wise and honest man. I acquainted bim,

that I was commissioned with others to treat of and conclude - a peace. That full powers were given us for that purpose,

and that the Congress promised in good faith to ratify, confirm, and cause to be faithfully observed, the treaty we should make : but that we would not treat separately from France, and I proposed introducing him to M. le Comte de Vergennes, to whom I communicated your Lordship's letter containing Mr. Oswald's character, as a foundation for the interview. He will acquaint you that the assurance he gave of his Britannic Majesty's good dispositions towards peace, was well 'received, and assurances returned of the same dispositions in his most Christian Majesty. With regard to circumstances relative to a treaty, M. de Vergennes observed, that the King's engagements were such as that he could not treat without the concurrence of his allies; that the treaty should therefore be for a general not a partial peace; that if

the parties were disposed to finish the war speedily by themselves, it would perhaps be best to treat at Paris, as an ainbassador from Spain was aiready there, and the Commis

sioners froin America might easily and soon be assembled there. Or if they chose to make use of the proposed media=" tion, they might treat at Vienna: but that the King was sou truly willing to put a speedy'end to the war, that he would agree to any place the King of England should think proper.' I leave the rest of the conversation to be related to your Lordship by Mr. Oswald, and that he might do it more easily and fully than he could by letter, I was of opinion with him that it would be best to return immediately, and do it virâ voce. Being myself but one of the four persons now in Europe commissioned by the Congress to treat of peace, I can make no proposition of such importance without them; I can only express my wish, that if Mr. 'Oswald returns hither, he may bring with him the agreeinent of your court to treat for a general peace, and the proposal of place and time, that I may immediately write to Messrs. Adams, Laurens, and Jay. I suppose that in this case your Lordship will think it proper to have Mr. Laurens discharged from the engagements he entered into when he was admitted to bail. I desire no other channel of communication between us than Mr. Oswald, which I think your Lordship has chosen with much judgment. He will be witness of my acting with all the simplicity and good faith which you do me the honor to expect from me; and if he is enabled when he returns hither to communicate more fully your Lordship’s mind on the principal points to be settled, I think it may contribute much to the blessed work our hearts are engaged in.

By the act of parliament relative to American prisoners, I see the king is empowered to exchange them. I hope those you have in England and Ireland may be sent home soon to their country in flags of truce, and exchanged for an equal number of your people; permit me to add that I think it would be well if some kindness were mixed in the transaction,

with regard to their comfortable accommodation on ship board : as those poor unfortunate people have been long absent from their families and friends, and rather hardly treated. With great and sincere respect, I have the honor to be, my Lord, your Lordship's, &c. &c.


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To the account contained in this letter of what passed in the conversation wịth the minister, I should add his frank declaration, that as the foundation of a good and durable peace should be laid in justice, whenever a treaty was entered upon, he had several demands to make of justice from Eng. land. Of this, said he, I give you previous notice. What those demands were, he did not particularly say; one occurred to me, viz. reparation for the injury done in taking a number of Freych ships by surprise before the declaration of the preceding war, contrary to the law of nations. Mr. Oswald seemed to wish obtaining some propositions to carry back with him, but M. de Vergennes said to him very properly; 6 there are four nations engaged in the war against you, who cannot till they bave consented and know each other's minds, be ready to make propositions. Your court being without allies and alone, knowing its own mind, can express it imme. diately. It is therefore more natural to expect the first propositions from you.”

On our return from Versailles, Mr. Oswald took occasion to impress me with ideas, that the present weakness of the governmeot in England with regard to continuing the war, was owing chiefly to the division of sentiments about it. That in case France should make demands too humiliating for England to submit to, the spirit of the nation would be roused, unanimity would prevail, and resources would not be wanting. He said there was no want of money in the nation; that the chief difficulty lay in the finding out new taxes to

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