Page images

We set out accordingly the next morning in my coach from Passy, and arrived punctually at M. de Vergennes’s, who received Mr. Grenville in the most cordial manner, on account of the acquaintance and friendship, that had formerly subsisted between his uncle and M. de Vergennes when they were ambassadors together at Constantinople. After some little agreeable conversation, Mr. Grenville presented his letters from Mr. Secretary Fox, and I think from the Duke of Richmond. When these were read the subject of peace was entered on. What my memory retains of the discourse amounts to little more than this, that after mutual declarations, of the good disposition of the two Courts, Mr. Grenville having intimated that in case England gave America independence, France, it was expected, would restore the conquests she had made of British Islands, receiving back those of Miquelon and St. Pierre. • And the original object of the war being obtained, it was supposed that France would be contented with that. The minister seemed to smile at the proposed exchange. America, said he, does not ask it of you; there is Mr. Franklin, he will answer you as to that point., To be sure, I said, we do not consider ourselves as under any necessity of bargaining for a thing that is our own, which we have bought at the expence of much blood and treasure, and which we are in possession of. As to our being sậtisfied with the original object of the war, continued he, look back to the conduct of your nation in former wars. In the last war, for example, what was the object ? It was the disputed right to some waste lands on the Ohio, and the frontier of Nova Scotia'; did you content yourselves with the recovery of those lands ? No, you retained at the peace all Canada, all Louisiana, all Florida, Grenada, and other West India islands, the greatest part of Northern Fisheries ; with all your conquests in Africa and the East Indies. Something being mentioned of its not being reasonable that a nation,

after making an unprovoked zud unsuccessful war upon its, neighbours, should expect to sit down whole, and have every thing restored which she had lost in such a war, I think Mr. Grenville remarked that the war had been provoked by the encouragement given by France to the Americans to revolt. On which, M. de Vergennes grew a little warm, and declared firmly, that the breach was made and our independence declared long before we received the least encouragement from France; and he defied the world to give the smallest proof of the contrary. There sits, said he, Mr. Franklin who knows the fact and can contradict me, if I do not speak the truth, is. He repeated to Mr. Grenville, what he had before said to Mr. Oswald, respecting the King's intention of treating fairly, and keeping faithfully the conven-, tjons he should enter into; of which disposition he should, give at the treaty convincing proofs by the fidelity and exactitude with which he should obserye his engagements with his present allies; and added that the points which the King bad chiefly in view were justice and dignity; these he could not depart from. He acquainted Mr. Grenville that he should immediately write to Spain, and Holland, communicate to those Courts what had passed, and report their answers.; that in the mean time he hoped Mr. Grenville would find means of amusing himself agreeably, to which he should be glad to contribute, that he would communicate what had passed to the King, and he invited him to come again the next day.

On our return Mr. G. expressed himself as not quite satisfied with some part of M. de Vergennes's discourse, and was thoughtful. ,,He told me that he had brought two state messengers with him, and perhaps after he had had another interview with the minister, he might dispatch one of them to London: I then requested leave to answer by that opporm, tunity the letters I had received from Lord Shelburne and, Mr. Fox and he kindly promised to acquaint me the time

of the messenger's departure. He did not ask me to go with him the next day to Versailles, and I did not offer it.

The coming and going of these gentlemen was observed, and made much talk at Paris ; and the Marquis de la Fayette having learned something of their business from the ministers, discoursed with me about it. Agreeable to the resolutions of Congress directing me to confer with him, and take his assistance in our affairs, I comunicated to him what had passed. He told me that, during the treaty at Paris for the last peace, the Duke de Nivernois had been sent to reside in London, that this Court might through hiny state what was from time to time transacted in the light they thought best, to prevent misrepreseritations and misunderstandings. That such an employ would be extremely agreeable to him on many acedutits; that as he was now an American citizeny spoke both languages, and was well acquainted with our interests, he believed he might be useful in it, and that all peace was likely from' appearances to take place, his return to America, was perhaps not so immediately necessary. He then wished I would make him acquainted with Messrs. Oswald and Grenville, and for that end promised meeting them at breakfast with me, which I proposed to contrive if I could, and endeavour to engage them for Saturday.

Friday morning the 10th of May, I went to Paris and visited Mr. Oswald. I found him in the same friendly dispositions, and very desirous of doing good, and of seeing an end put to this ruinous war. But I got no farther light as to the sentiments of Lord S. respecting the terms. I told him the Marquis de la Fayette would breakfast with me to-more row, and as he, Mr. Oswald, might have some curiosity to see a person, who had in this war rendered himself sò remarkable, 'I proposed his doing me the same honor. He agreed to it cheerfully. I canie home intending to write to Mr. Grenville, whom I supposed might stay and dine at

[ocr errors]

Versailles, and therefore did not call on him. But he was returned, and I found the following note from him.

Paris, May 10. “ Mr. Grenville presents his compliments to Mr. Franklin : be proposes sending a courier to England, at 10 o'clock this night, and will give him in charge any letters Mr. Franklin may wish to send by him.”

I sat down immediately and wrote the two short letters following, to the Secretaries of State.


To The Right Hon. C. J. Fox, Esg.
Secretary of State.

Passy, May, 10, 1789. I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me by Mr. Grenville, whom I find to be a very sensible, judicious, and amiable gentleman. The name, I assure you,

does not with me lessen the regard that his excel. lent qualities inspire. I introduced bim as soon as possible to M. de Vergennes; he will himself give you an account of his reception. I hope his coming may forward the blessed work of pacification, in which for the sake of humanity no time should be lost; no reasonable cause, as you observe, existing at present, for the continuance of this abominable

Be assured of my endeavours to put an end to it. I am much flattered by the good opinion of a person whom I have long highly esteemed, and I hope it will not be lessened by my conduct in the affairs that have given rise to our correspondence. With great respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c. &c.



VOL. 14



Passy, May 10, 1782. I have received the honor of your Lordship’s letter dated the 28th past, by Mr. Oswald, informing me that he is sent back to settle with me the preliminaries of time and place. Paris, as the place, seemed to me yesterday to be agreed on between Mr. Grenville and M. de Vergennes, and it is perfectly agreeable to me. The time cannot well be settled till this court has received answers from Madrid and the Hague, and until my colleagues are arrived. I. expect daily Messrs. Jay and Laurens : Mr. Adams doubts whether he can be here, but that will not hinder our proceeding It

gave me great pleasure to hear that Mr. Laurens is discharged entirely from the obligations he had entered into. I am much obliged by the readiness with which your Lord ship has conferred that favor. Please to accept my thankful acknowledgments.

I am happy too in understanding from your letter, that transports are actually preparing to convey our prisoners to America, and that attention will be paid to their accommodation and good treatment. Those people on their returu will be dispersed through every part of America, and the accounts they will have to give of any marks of kindness received by them under the present ministry, will lessen mucha the resentment of their friends against the nation for the hardships they suffered under the past.

Mr. Oswald rests here awhile by my advice, as I think his presence likely to be useful With great and sincere respect, I have the honor to be, my Lord, your Lordship’s, &c. &e.


« PreviousContinue »