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(to wave other instances) Britain, by her duty on exported tea, has lost the trade of her colonies. But as we produce no commodity that is peculiar to our country, and which may not be obtained elsewhere, the discouraging ours by duties on exportation, and thereby encouraging a rivalship from other nations in the ports we trade to, is absolute folly, which indeed is mixed more or less with some knavery. For my own part, if my protest were of any consequence, I should protest against our ever doing it, even by way of reprisal. It is a meanness with which I would not dirty the conscience or character of my country. The objections stated against the last of the two articles, had all been made, considered here, and were sent hence, I imagine, by one who is offended that they were not thought of weight sufficient to stop the signing of the treaty, till the king should, in another council, reconsider those articles, and, after agreeing to omit them, order new copies to be drawn, though all was then ready engrossed on parchment as before settled. I did not think the articles of much consequence, but I thought it of consequence that no delay should be given to the signing of the treaty after it was ready. But if I had known those objections would have been sent to the committee, I should have sent the answers they received, which had been satisfactory to all the commissioners, when the treaty was settled, and until the mind of one of them was altered by the opinion of two other perIt is now too late to send those answers. But I wish for the future, if such a case should again happen, that congress would acquaint their commissioners with such partial objections, and hear their reasons, before they determine they have done

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wrong. In the mean time, this is only to you in private. It will be of no use to communicate it, as the resolution of congress will probably be received and executed before this letter comes to hand.

Speaking of commissioners in the plural, puts me in mind of inquiring if it can be the intention of congress to keep three ambassadors at this court? we have indeed four, with the gentleman intended for Tuscany, who continues here, and is very angry that he was not consulted in making the treaty, which he could have mended in several particulars; and perhaps he is angry with some reason, if the instructions to him do, as he says they do, require us to consult him. We shall soon have a fifth; for the envoy to Vienna not being received there, is, I hear, returning hither. The necessary expense of maintaining us all, is, I assure you, enormously great: I wish the utility may equal it: I imagine every one of us spends nearly as much as Lord Stormont did. It is true he left behind him the character of a niggard; and when the advertisement appeared for the sale of his household furniture, all Paris laughed at an article of it, perhaps very innocently expressed: "Une grande quantité de linge de table, QUI N'A JAMAIS SERVI. "Cela est très-vraisemblable," say they, "car il n'a jamais donné à manger."-But as to our number, whatever advantage there might be in the joint counsels of three for framing and adjusting the articles of the treaty, there can be none in managing the common business of a resident here. On the contrary, all the advantages in negotiation that result from secresy of sentiment, and uniformity in expressing it, and in common business, from dispatch, are lost. In a court, too, where every word is

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watched and weighed, if a number of commissioners do not every one hold the same language, in giving their opinion on any public transaction, this lessens their weight; and where it may be prudent to put on or avoid certain appearances, of concern, for example, or indifference, satisfaction, or dislike, where the utmost sincerity and candor should be used, and would gain credit, if no semblance of art showed itself in the inadvertent discourse perhaps of only one of them, the hazard is equal to the number: and where every one must be consulted on every particular of common business, in answering every letter, &c. and one of them is offended if the smallest thing is done without his consent, the difficulty of being often and long enough together, the different opinions, and the time consumed in debating them, the interruption of new applicants in the time by meeting, &c. &c. occasion so much postponing and delay, that correspondence languishes, occasions are lost, and the business is always behind-hand. I have mentioned the difficulty of being often and long enough together: this is considerable, where they cannot all be accommodated in the same house: but to find three people whose tempers are so good, and who like so well one another's company, and manner of living and conversing, as to agree well themselves, though being in one house, and whose servants will not, by their indiscretion, quarrel with one another, and by artful misrepresentations draw their masters in to take their parts, to the disturbance of necessary harmony; these are difficulties still greater, and almost insurmountable: and in consideration of the whole, I wish the congress would separate us.

The Spanish galeons, which have been impatiently

expected, are at length happily arrived. The fleet and army returning from Brazil is still out, but supposed to be on the way homewards. When that and the South Sea ships are arrived, it will appear whether Spain's accession to the treaty has been delayed for the reasons given, or whether the reasons were only given to excuse the delay.

The English and French fleets, of nearly equal force, are now both at sea. It is not doubted but that if they meet there will be a battle. For though England, through fear, affects to understand it to be still peace, and excuses the depredations she has made on the commerce of France by pretences of illicit trade, &c. yet France considers the war as begun from the time of the king's message to parliament, complaining of the insult France had given by treating with us, and demanding aids to resent it, and the answers of both houses offering their lives. and fortunes, and the taking several frigates, are deemed indisputable hostilities. Accordingly, orders are given to all the fleets and armed ships to return hostilities, and encouragement is offered to privateers, &c. An ambassador from Spain is indeed gone to London, and joyfully received there, in the idea that peace may be made by his mediation. But as yet. we learn nothing certain of his mission, and doubt his effecting any thing of the kind.

War in Germany seems to be inevitable; and this occasioning great borrowings of money in Holland and elsewhere, by the powers concerned, makes it more difficult for us to succeed in ours. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

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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 general 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

VOL. I.

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