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Dr. Franklin to Count de Vergennes, August 16, 1783 ib.
day of Sept. 1783
LETTERS RELATING TO NEGOCIATIONS FOR
To David HARTLEY, Esg. M.P.
I received duly your letter of May 2, 77, including a copy of one you had sent me the year before, which never came to hand, and which it seems has been the case with some I wrote to you from America. Filled though our letters have always been with sentiments of good-will to both countries, and earnest desires of preventing their ruin and promoting their mutual felicity, I have been apprehensive that if it were known a correspondence subsisted between us, it might be attended with inconvenience to you. · I have therefore been backward in writing, not caring to trust the post, and not well knowing who else to trust with my letters. But being now assured of a safe conveyance, I venture to write to you, especially as I think the subject such a one as you may receive a letter
without VOL. II
Happy should I have been, if the honest warnings I gave
I of the fatal separation of interests as well as of affections, that must attend the measures commenced while I was in England, had been attended to, and the horrid mischief of this abominable war been thereby prevented. I should still be happy in any successful endeavors for restoring peace, consistent with the liberties, the safety, and the honor of America. As to our submitting to the government of Great Britain, it is vain to think of it. She has given us by het numberless barbarities (by her malice in bribing slaves to murder their masters, and savages to massacre the families of fariners, with her baseness in rewarding the unfaithfulness of servants, and debauching the virtue of honest seamen intrusted with our property) in the prosecution of the war, and in the treatinent of the prisoners, so deep an impression of her depravity, that we never again can trust her in the management of our affairs and interests. It is now impossible to persuade our people, as I long endeavored, that the war was merely ministerial, and that the nation bore still a good will to us. The infinite number of addresses printed in your gazettes
all approving the conduct of your governnrent towards us, and encouraging our destruction by every possible means, the great majority in parliament constantly manifesting the same sentiments, and the popular public rejoicings on occasion of
of the slaughter of an innocent and virtuous people fighting only in defence of their just rights; these, together with the recommendations of the same measures by even your celebrated moralists and divines in their writings and sermons, that are still approved and applauded in your great national assemblies, all join in convincing us that you are no longer the magnanimous enlightened nation we once esteemed you, and that you are unfit and unworthy to govery us, as not being able to goveru your own passions.
But, as I have said, I should be nevertheless happy in seeing peace restored. For though if my friends and the friends of liberty and virtue, who still remain in England, could be drawn out of it, a continuance of this war to the ruin of the rest would give me less concern, I cannot, as that removal is
1 impossible, but wish for peace for their sakes, as well as for the sake of bumanity and preventing further carnage. · This wish of mine, ineffective as it may be, induces me to mention to you that between nations long exasperated against each other in svar, some act of generosity and kindness towards prisoners on one side, has softened resentment and abated animosity on the other, so as to bring on an accommodation. You in England, if you wish for peace, have at present the opportunity of trying this means, with regard to the prisoners now in your gaols. They complain of very severe treatment: they are far from their friends and families, and winter is coming on, in which they must suffer extremely if continued in their present situation, fed scantily on bad provisions, without warm lodging, clothes, or fire; and not suffered to invite or receive visits from their friends, or even from the humane and charitable of their enemies. I can assure you from my Onn certain knowledge, that your people, prisoners in Amer rica, hare been treated with great kindness: they have been served with the same rations of wholesome provisions with our own troops ; comfortable lodgings have been provided for them, and they bave been allowed large bounds of villages in the healthy air, to walk and amuse themselves with on their parole. Where you have thought fit to employ contractors to supply your people, these contractors have been protected and aided in their operations. Some considerable act of kindness towards our people would take off the reproach of inhumanity in that respect from the nation, and leave it where it ought with more certainty to lay, on the conductors of your