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he shall be desired to delay making any use of his powers. The count observes, it would be disagreeable to congress that their plenipotentiary should meet with a refusal, that their dignity would be offended, and that such a satisfac ought not to be given to the court of London, especially when negociations of a greater moment, are about to commence. However, the French minister had orders to assure the committee that his court would use all their endeavours in proper time to facilitate the admission of the plenipotentiary of congress.
The minister communicated to the committee several observations respecting the conduct of Mr. Adams; and in doing justice to his patriotic character, he gave notice to the committee of several circumstances which proved it necessary that congress should draw a line of conduct to that minister, of which he might not be allowed to loose sight. The minister dwelt especially on a circumstance already known to congress, namely the use which Mr. Adams thought he had a right to make of his powers, to treat with Great Britain. The minister concluded on this subject, that if congress put any confidence in the king's friendship and benevolence; if they were persuaded of his inviolable attachment to the principle of the alliance, and of his firm resolution constantly to support the cause of the United States, they would be impressed with the necessity of prescribing to their plenipotentiary a perfect and open confidence in the French ministers, and a thorough reliance on the king, and would direct him to take no steps, without the approbation of his majesty; and after giving him, in his instructions, the principal and most important outlines for his conduct, they would order him, with respect to the manner of carrying them into execution, to receive his direction from the count de Vergennes, or from the person who might be charged with the negociation in the name of the king. The minister observed that this matter is the more important, because, being allied with the United States, it is the business of the king to support their cause with those powers with whom congress has no connection, and can have none, until their independence is in a fair train to be acknowledged. That the king would make it a point of prudence and justice to support the minister of Congress; but in case the minister, by aiming at impossible things, forming exorbitant demands, which disinterested mediators might think ill founded, or perhaps by misconstruing his instructious, should put the French negociators under the necessity of proceeding in the course of the negociation without a constant connection with him, this would give rise to an unbecoming contradiction between France and the thirteen United States, which could not but be of very bad effect in the course of the negociations.
In making these observations, the minister remarked, that it was always to be taken for granted, that the most perfect independency is to be the foundation of the instructions, to be given to Mr. Adams, and that without this, there would be no treaty at all. The count de Vergennes observes that it is of great importance that the instruc VOL. II. 66
tions aforesaid be given as soon as possible to Mr. Adams. And the minister desired the committee to press congress to have this done with all possible despatch. He communicated to the committee the following particulars, as a proof that this matter admits of no delay, and that it is probable the negociation will very soon be opened. He told the committee that the English ministry, in the false supposition that they might prevail on the court of Madrid to sign a separate peace, had begun a secret negociation with that court, by the means of Mr. Cumberland, but without any success. That the court of Spain had constantly founded her answer on her engagements with his most christian majesty. That on the other side, the king of France had declared to the king his cousin, that the independence of the United States, either in fact, or acknowledged by a solemn treaty, should be the only foundation of the negociations of the court of France with that of London. That the British court not seeming to be disposed to grant the independency, it appeared the negociation of Mr. Cumberland was superfluous. However, this English emissary continued and still continues his residence at Madrid, although he cannot have any expectation of obtaining the object of his commission. That this direct negociation, was known to all Europe; and that it seemed to render every mediation useless. That, however, the empress of Russia, excited by motives of friendship, to the belligerent powers, and in consequence of the share which the association of the neutral powers had given her in the general emergency, has invited the king of France and the court of London, to require her mediation. That the court of London has accepted the invitation with a kind of eagerness, and at the same time desired the emperor of Germany to take a part in it. That the answer of the king of France to the overtures of the court of Petersburg was, that he would be glad to restore peace by the mediation of Catharine, but that it was not in his power immediately to accept her offers, as he had allies whose consent was necessary for that purpose. To the same application made by the court of Petersburg to that of Madrid, this court answered, that having entered into a direct negociation with the court of London, by the means of Mr. Cumberland, it thought proper to wait the issue of it before it had recourse to a mediation. The emperor, as has already been observed, having been desired by the court of London to take part in the mediation, immediately informed the king of France, as well as his catholic majesty, of this circumstance. offering his co-mediation to both the allied monarchs. To this the king of France gave the same answer which he had given to the empress of Russia. As to the king of Spain, he again expressed his surprise at the English ministry's requesting a mediation, after having entered into a direct negociation; and he declared that unless this negotiation should be broken off by the English themselves, it would be impossible for him to listen to a mediation which, in any other circumstance, would be infinitely agreeable to him.
These answers, though of a dilatory nature, may be looked upon as an eventual acceptation of the mediation. The minister observed that it will be, in effect, difficult to avoid it. That a refusal will not be consistent with the dignity of the two powers that had offered their interposition. That the king is obliged, from friendship and good policy, to treat them with attention. He further observed, that the demands of the king of France will be so just and so moderate, that they might be proposed to any tribunal whatever. That the only reason the king could have to suspend a formal acceptation is, that at the time the offer was made, he was not acquainted with the intentions of his allies, namely, Spain and the United States.
The minister observed to the committee, that, in his opinion, this conduct must afford congress a new proof of the perseverance of the king in the principle of the alliance, and of his scrupulous attention to observe his obligations; he added that, however, it is not without inconveniency that this dilatory plan has been adopted. The distance between the allied powers of France and the United States has obliged the court of Versalles to adopt that plan, though liable to inconveniences, in order to conform to the engagements made by the treaties to determine nothing into a negociation without the participation of congress. Besides, several states being invaded by the enemy, the French council thought it inconvenient to begin a negociation under these unfavorable circumstances. And being in hopes that the diversions made by the king's arms will prevent the British from making very great exertions against the thirteen United States, the French minister expected that during the course of the present campaign they might be enabled to present the situation of their allies in a more favorable light to the congress that might assemble for peace. These delays, however, cannot with propriety take place for any long time; and it was the opinion of the French ministry that it would be contrary to decency, prudence, and the laws of sound policy again to refuse listening to the propositions of peace made by friendly powers; for which reason the chevalier de la Luzerne was directed to lay all these facts confidentially before congress. The minister informed the committee that it was necessary that the king should know the intentions of the United States with regard to the proposed mediation; and that his majesty should be authorized by congress to give notice of their dispositions to all the powers who would take part in the negociation for a pacification. The minister delivered his own opinion, that he saw no inconveniency arising from the congress imitating the example of the king, by showing themselves disposed to accept peace from the hands of the emperor of Germany and the empress of Russia. He added, that congress should rely on the justice and wisdom of those two sovereigns; and at the same time, he renewed the assurances that his majesty will defend the cause of the United States as zealously as the interests of his own crown. He informed the committee that, according to all accounts, the British ministry were removing as far as possible, in this negociation, every idea of
acknowledging the independence of what they call their thirteen colonies; and he said that congress would judge by themselves that the court of London would debate with the greatest energy and obstinacy, the articles relating to America. He availed himself of this reflection to impress the committee with the necessity congress are under of securing in their favor the benevolence and good will of the mediating powers, by presenting their demands with the greatest moderation and reserve, save independence, which will not admit of any modification. He further observed, that it was possible the difficulty of making a definitive peace might engage the mediators to propose a truce; and that it was necessary therefore to authorize eventually the plenipotentiary of the United States to declare their intention thereon.
He further observed that whatever might be the resolution of congress, they would do well to recommend to their plenipotentiary to adopt a line of conduct that would deprive the British of every hope of causing divisions between the allies, and to assume a conciliating character as much as can be consistent with the dignity of his constituents, and to show such a confidence in the plenipotentiary of his most christian majesty as is due to a power so much interested to support the dignity and honor of a nation whose independence they have acknowledged.
The minister told the committee that whatever might be the resolution of congress respecting a peace or a truce, it was necessary to carry on the war with the utmost vigor. He urged reasons too well known to congress to be related.
He desired the committee to inform congress, that in case the offer of mediation from the two imperial courts should become so serious and so pressing as to oblige the king to give a decisive answer, his majesty would accept of it conditionally for himself and the United States. The taking this resolution would have no inconvenience, as the court of France knew no reasons which could prevent them from following the example of the king by trusting their interests into the hands of just and wise mediators, and the refusal being liable to very dangerous concequences. The minister concluded the conference by observing, that a great object was to secure the United States from the proposition of uti possidetis: that the surest way to obtain that end was to reduce the English to confess that they are not able to conquer them. That present circumstances require great exertions from the consideration; and that it was plain that every success gained by the army of congress would infinitely facilitate the negociations of their plenipotentiaries.
A FRAGMENT OF POLYBIUS.
From his treatise on the Athenian government.
This was presented by Sir William Jones, to Dr. Franklin at Paris, about the last of June, 1782. It was, no doubt, drawn by him, and was supposed to be an indirect mode of sounding Dr. Franhlin, as to terms of accommodation with Great Britain, short of an express and open acknowledgment of the independence of the United States.
Athens had long been an object of universal admiration, and consequently of envy; her navy was invincible, her commerce extensive; Europe and Asia supplied her with wealth; of her citizens, all were intrepid, many virtuous; but some too much infected with principles unfavorable to freedom. Hence an oligarchy was, in a great measure established; crooked counsels were thought supreme wisdom; and the Athenians, having lost their true relish for their own freedom, began to attack that of their colonies, and of the states which they had before protected! Their arrogant claims of unlimited dominion, had compelled the Chians, Coans, Rhodians, Lesbians, to join with nine other small communities in the social war, which they began with inconceivable ardor, and continued with industry surpassing all example, and almost surpassing belief. They were openly assisted by Mausolus, king of Caria, to whose metropolis the united islands had sent a philosopher, named Eleutherion, eminent for the deepest knowledge of nature, the most solid judgment, most approved virtue, and most ardent zeal for the cause of general liberty. The war had been supported for three years with infinite exertions of valor on both sides, with deliberate firmness on the part of the allies, and with unabated violence on the part of the Athenians; who had, nevertheless, dispatched commissioners to Rhodes, with intent to propose terms of accommodation; but the states, (perhaps too pertinaciously,) refused to hear any proposal whatever, without a previous recognition of their total independence by the magistrates and people of Athens. It was not long after this, that an Athenian, who had been a pupil of Isæus together with Demosthenes, and began to be known in his country as a pleader of causes, was led by some affair of his clients to the capital of Caria. He was a man, unauthorized, unemployed, unconnected; independent in his circumstances as much as in his principles: admitting no governor, under Providence, but the laws; and no laws but those which justice and virtue had dictated, which wisdom approved, which his country had freely enacted. He had been known at Athens to the sage Eleutherion; and, their acquaintance being renewed, he sometimes took occasion in their conversations to lament the increasing calamities of war, and to express his eager desire of making a general peace on such terms as would produce the greatest good from the greatest evil; for "this," said he, "would be a work not unworthy