Page images

the vast servile majority of your peers voting constantly for every measure proposed by a minister, however weak or wicked, leaves us small respect for them; and we consider it as a sort of tar-and-feather honor, or a mixture of foulness and folly ; which every man among us who should accept from your king, would be obliged to renounce or exchange for that conferred by the mobs of their own country, or wear it with everlasting shame. I am, sir, your humble servant,


[ocr errors]

Letter in answer to the propositions of quitting the alliance

with France.
Supposed to be to DAVID HARTLEY, Esq.
Dear Sir,

Passy, Feb. 3, 1779. I have just received your favor of the 23d past, in which you mention, " that the alliance between France and America, is the great stumbling-block in the way of making peace;" and you go on to observe, that " whatever engagements America may have entered into, they may, at least by the consent of parties, be relinquished, for the purpose of removing so material an obstacle to any geveral treaty of free and unengaged parties." Adding that “if the parties could meet for the sake of peace upon free and open ground, you should think that a very fair proposition to be offered to the people of England, and an equitable proposition in itself.” The long, steady, and kind regard you have shown for the welfare of America by the whole tenor of your conduct in parliament, satisfies me, that this proposition never took its rise with you, but has been suggested from some other quarter ; and that your excess of humanity, your love of peace, and your fear for us that the destruction we are threatened with, will certainly be effected, have thrown

a mist before your eyes, which hindered you from seeing the malignity and mischief of it. We know that your K. hates Whigs and Presbyterians; that he thirsts for our blood; of which he has already drunk large draughts; that weak and unprincipled ministers are ready to execute the wickedest of his orders, and his venal parliament equally ready to vote them just. Not the smallest appearance of a reason can be imagined capable of inducing us to think of relinquishing a solid alliance with one of the most amiable as well as most powerful princes of Europe, for the expectation of unknown terms of peace to be afterwards offered to us by such a government ;-a government that has already shamefully broken all the compacts it ever made with us. This is worse than advising us to drop the substance for the shadow. The dog, after he found his mistake, might possibly have recovered his mutton ; but we could never hope to be trusted again by France, or indeed by any other nation under heaven. Nor does there appear any more necessity for dissolving an alliance with France before you can treat with us, than there would of dissolving your alliance with Holland, or your union with Scotland, before we could treat with you. Ours is therefore no material obstacle to a treaty, as you suppose it to be. Had Lord North been the author of such a proposition, all the world would have said it was insidious, and meant only to deceive and divide us from our friends, and then to ruin us ; supposing our fears might be strong enough to procure an acceptance of it. But, thanks to God, that is not the case! We have long since settled all the account in our own minds. We know the worst you can do to us, if you

have your wish, is to confiscate our estates and take our lives, to rob and murder us; and this you have seen we are ready to hazard, rather than come again under your detested government.


You must observe, my dear friend, that I am a little Excuse me! 'Tis over. Only let me counsel you not to think of being sent hither on so fruitless an errand as that of making such a proposition.

It puts me in mind of the comic farce intitled God-send, or the Wreckers. You may have forgotten it; but I will endeavor to amuse you by recollecting a little of it.

Scéne. Mount's Bay. A ship riding at anchor in 'à great storm. A lee shore full of rocks, and lined with

people, furnished with axes and carriages to cut up wrecks,

nock the sailors on the head, and carry off the plunder ; according to custom.

1st Wrecker. This ship rides it out longer than I expected. She must have good ground tackle.

2d Wrecker. We had better send off a boat to her, and persuade her to take a pilot, who can afterwards run her a-shore, where we can best come at her.

3d Wrecker. I doubt whether the boat can live in this sea. But if there are any brave fellows willing to hazard themselves for the good of the public, and a double share,let

them say aye.

Several Wreckers. I, I, I, I.

The boat goes off, and comes under the ship’s stern.
Spokesman. So ho, the ship, ahoa!
Captain. Hulloa.
Sp. Would you have a pilot.?
Cupt. No, no!
Sp. It blows hard, and you are in danger.
Capt. I know it.

Sp. Will you buy a better cable we have one in the boat here.

Capt. What do you ask for it?

Sp. Cut that you have, and then we'll talk about the price of this.

Capt. I shall do no such foolish thing. I have lived in your parish formerly, and know the heads of ye too well to trust ye: keep off from my cable there; I see you have a mind to cut it yourselves. If you go any nearer to it, I'll fire into you and sink you.

Sp. It is a damn'd rotten French cable, and will part of itself in half an hour. Where will you be then, captain ? you

had better take our offer. Capt. You offer nothing, you rogues, but treachery and mischief. My cable is good and strong, and will hold long enough to baulk all your projects.

Sp. You talk unkindly, captain, to people who came here only for your good.

Capt. I know you come for all our goods, but, by God's help, you shall have none of them. You shall not serve us as you did the Indiamen.

Sp. Come, my lads, let's be gone. This fellow is not so great a fool as we took him to be.

[blocks in formation]


Passy, Feb. 22, 1779. I received your proposition for removing the stumbling-block. Your constant desires of peace ought to endear you to both sides; but this proposition seems to be naturally impracticable. We can never think of quitting a solid alliance made and ratified, in order to be in a state for receiving unknown proposals of peace which may vanish in the discussion. The truth is, we have no kind of faith in your government, which appears to us as insidious and de



ceitful, as it is unjust and cruel. Its character is that of the spider in Thompson,

cunning and fierce, Mixture abhorr'd! Besides, we cannot see the necessity of our relinquishing our alliance with France in order to a treaty, any more than of your relinquishing yours with Holland. I am, very affectionately, yours,

N. A.'


Passy, March 21, 1779. I received duly yours of the 2d instant. I am sorry you have had so much trouble in the affair of the prisoners. You have been deceived as well as we. No cartel ship has yet appeared, and it is now evident that the delays have been of design, to give more opportunity of seducing the men by promises and hardships to seek their liberty in engaging against their country. For we learn from those who have escaped, that there are persons continually employed in cajoling and menacing them, representing to them that we neglect them, that your government is willing to exchange them, and that it is our fault it is not done: that all the news from America is bad on their side ; we shall be conquered and they will be hanged, if they do not accept the gracious offer of being pardoned on condition of serving the king, &c. A great part of your prisoners have been kept these six months on board a ship in Brest Road, ready to be delivered: where I am afraid they were not so comfortably accommodated as they might have been in the French prisons. They are now ordered on shore.

' North America.

« PreviousContinue »