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ticular members, accused you, with Messrs. Jay, Duane, Langdon, and Harrison, of betraying the secrets of congress in a correspondence with the ministry) has made this transaction with Mr. Pultney an article of accusation against me, as having approved the same propositions. He proposes, I understand, to settle in your government. I caution you to beware of him; for in sowing suspicions and jealousies, in creating misunderstandings and quarrels among friends, in malice, subtilty, and indefatigable industry, he has, I think, no equal.*

I am glad to see that you continue to preside in our new state, as it shows that your public conduct is approved by the people. You have had a difficult time, which required abundance of prudence; and you have been equal to the occasion. The disputes about the constitution seem to have subsided. It is much admired here and all over Europe, and will draw over many families of fortune to settle under it, as soon as there is a peace. The defects that may on seven years' trial be found in it, can be amended, when the time comes for considering them. With great and sincere esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.

(Enclosed in the foregoing.)

I do hereby certify whom it may concern, that I was with Mr. Pultney and Dr. Franklin at Paris, when in a conversation between them on the subject of certain propositions for a reconciliation with America, offered by Mr. Pultney, Dr. Franklin said. he did not approve of them, nor did he think they would

*

Supposed to allude to Dr. Arthur Lee, of Virginia.

be approved in America, but that he would communicate them to his colleagues and the French ministry. This Mr. Pultney opposed, saying, that it would answer no good end, as he was persuaded that what weighed with Dr. Franklin would weigh also with them; and therefore desired that no mention might be made of his having offered such propositions, or even of his having been here on such business; but that the whole might be buried in oblivion, agreeable to what had been stipulated by Mr. Pultney, and agreed to by Dr. Franklin, before the propositions were produced, which Dr. Franklin accordingly promised. (Signed) WILLIAM ALEXANDER.

Paris, March 19, 1780.

DEAR SIR,

TO DR. FRANKLIN, PASSY.

I send you adjoined the certificate you desire; and am perfectly convinced from conversations I have since had with Mr. Pultney, that nobody was authorized to hold the language which has been imputed to him on that subject; and as I have a high opinion of his candor and worth, I know it must be painful to him to be brought into question in matters of fact with persons he esteems. I could wish that this matter may receive no farther publicity than what is necessary for your justification. I am, &c. W. ALEXANder.

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, VERSAILLES.

SIR,

Passy, April 24, 1778.

Mr. Hartley, member of parliament, an old acquaintance of mine, arrived here from London on

Sunday last. He is generally in the opposition, especially on American questions, but has some respect for Lord North. In conversation he expressed the strongest anxiety for peace with America, and appeared extremely desirous to know my sentiments of the terms which might probably be acceptable if offered; whether America would not, to obtain peace, grant some superior advantages in trade to Britain, and enter into an alliance offensive and defensive; whether, if war should be declared against France, we had obliged ourselves by treaty to join with her against England. My answers have been, That the United States were not fond of war, and with the advice of their friends would probably be easily prevailed with to make peace on equitable terms; but we had no terms committed to us to propose, and I did not choose to mention any. That Britain, having injured us heavily by making this unjust war upon us, might think herself well off, if on reparations of those injuries we admitted her to equal advantages with other nations in commerce; but certainly she had no reason to expect superior. That her known. fondness for war, and the many instances of her readiness to engage in wars on frivolous occasions, were probably sufficient to cause an immediate rejection of every proposition for an offensive alliance with her. And that if she made war against France on our account, a peace with us at the same time was impossible; for that, having met with friendship from that generous nation when we were cruelly oppressed by England, we were under ties stronger than treaties could form, to make common cause, which we should certainly do to the utmost of our power. Here has also been with me a Mr. Chap

man, who says he is a member of parliament of Ireland, on his way home from Nice, where he had been for the recovery of his health. He pretended to call on me only from motives of respect for my character, &c. But after a few compliments he entered on a similar discourse, urging much to know what terms would satisfy America, and whether on having peace and independence granted to us, we should not be willing to submit to the navigation act, or give equivalent privileges in trade to Britain. The purport of my answer to him was, in short, that peace was of equal value to England as to us, and independence we were already in possession of: that there- . fore England's offer to grant them to us, could not be considered as proposing any favor, or as giving her a right to expect peculiar advantages in commerce. By his importunity I found his visit was not so occasional as he represented it: and from some expressions I conjectured he might be sent by Lord Shelburne, to sound me, and collect some information. On the whole, I gather from these conversations, that the opposition, as well as the ministry, are perplexed with the present situation of affairs, and know not which way to turn themselves, whether it is best to go backward or forward, or what steps to take to extricate that nation from its present dangerous situation.

I thought it right to give your excellency an account of these interviews, and to acquaint you with my intention of avoiding such hereafter, as I see but little prospect of utility in them, and think they are very liable to hurtful misrepresentations.

By advices from London we learn, that a fleet for Quebec, with goods valued at 500,000l. sterling, is

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to sail about the end of this month under convoy only of a single frigate of thirty guns, in which is to go Governor Haldimand.

Enclosed I send a paper I have just received from London. It is not subscribed by any name, but I know the hand. It is from an old friend of general and great acquaintance, and marks strongly the present distress and despair of considerate people in England. I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your Excellency's, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

FROM COUNT DE VERGENNES TO DR. FRANKLIN,

IN ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING.

A Versailles, Avril 25, 1778.

J'ai rendu compte au Roi, Monsieur, du contenu de la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire hier, et Sa Majesté me charge de vous témoigner toute sa satisfaction de votre empressement à nous informer de l'objet de vos conférences avec M. Hartley. Le grand art de l'Angleterre fut toujours de chercher à diviser, c'est un bon moyen en effet pour s'assurer l'empire; mais ce n'est ni auprès de vous ni auprès de vos collègues qu'il peut être employé avec succès; je porte avec confiance le même jugement des Etats-Unis. Au reste, il n'est pas possible, Monsieur, de répondre avec plus de noblesse, de franchise et de fermeté que vous l'avez fait à M. Hartley: il n'a pas lieu d'être content de sa mission. J'ignore si ce membre du parlement en a une pour nous; il désire de me voir, et je l'attends dans la matinée. Je ne serois pas surpris qu'il ne se proposât de semer la défiance entre nous, en introduisant une double négociation; mais je saurai y obvier, et

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