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use to you, they are at your service. Only do not say that you had it from us."
This was indeed, under the doubtful circumstances, a very generous offer. It was at this dark hour that the noble Lafayette decided to consecrate his fortune, and to peril his life, for the cause of American freedom. It was proclaimed that Burgoyne's expedition was fitted out to rouse the slaves to insurrection, and to lay the mansions of the planters in ashes. Arthur Lee was very much alarmed. These splendid estates were generally situated in romantic spots, upon the banks of the navigable rivers, where the dwellings, often quite magnificent, could easily be demolished by shot and shell thrown from any frigate.
The Reprisal, Captain Wickes, was the first American vessel of war which ventured into European waters. The channel swarmed with British vessels. The Reprisal took prize after prize, and conveyed them into Nantes. As France was not at war with England, Count de Vergennes was compelled to order the Reprisal, with her prizes, to leave the harbor. Captain Wickes took some of the Nantes merchants on board his vessel, and, just outside the port, sold the prizes to them. The French merchants then returned, with their property, into the harbor.
Captain Wickes soon united with him the Lex. ington of fourteen guns, and a cutter, the Dolphin, of ten guns. With this little fleet the hero sailed completely around Ireland, capturing or destroying sixteen prizes. The British were astounded at this audacity. Merchants and under-writers were quite terror-stricken. They had never dreamed that the despised Americans could strike them any blows. And when, soon after, Paul Jones, one of the noblest of all naval heroes, appeared in their waters, it is not too much to say that consternation pervaded the coasts of both England and Ireland.*
It requires many and aggravated wrongs to rouse a naturally amiable man to the highest pitch of indignation. But when thus roused, he is ready for any vigor of action. Franklin's blood was up. England was bribing slaves to murder their masters; was rousing the savages to massacre the families of poor, hard-working frontiersmen; was wantonly bombarding defenceless sea-ports, and with inhumanity, rarely known in civilized warfare, was laying villages in ashes, consigning women and children to beggary and starvation. In the prison hulks of New York, our most illustrious men were in the endurance, as prisoners of war, of woes unsurpassed by Algerine barbarism. Many of our common sailors, England was compelling, by the terrors of the lash, to man her ships, and to fight their own countrymen. Maddened by these atrocities, Mr. Franklin wrote to his English friend, David Hartley, a member of Parliament, a letter, which all the few friends of America in England, read with great satisfaction, and which must have produced a very powerful moral impression in France. It is too long to be inserted here. In conclusion he said to his friend,
* The wonderful achievements of this patriot are fully recorded in one of the volumes of this series.
“In reviewing what I have written, I found too much warmth in it, and was about to strike out some parts. Yet I let them go, as it will afford you this one reflection,
“If a man naturally cool, and rendered still cooler by old age, is so warmed by our treatment of his country, how much must those people in general be exasperated against us. And why are we making inveterate enemies, by our barbarity, not only of the present inhabitants of a great country, but of their infinitely more numerous posterity; who will, in future ages, detest the name of Englishman, as much as the children in Holland now do those of Alva and Spaniard.'”
William Temple Franklin inherited the attractions of person, and the fascination of manners, so conspicuous in his grandfather. He was a great
favorite in the social circles of the gay metropolis. Dark days came, with tidings of discomfiture. Franklin devoted twelve hours out of the twentyfour, to the arduous duties of his mission. Philadelphia fell.
“Well, Doctor,” said an Englishman in Paris, with the customary courtesy of his nation, “Howe has taken Philadelphia.”
“I beg your pardon," Franklin replied, “ Philadelphia has taken Howe.”
The result proved that Franklin's joke was almost a reality.
Burgoyne surrendered. His whole army was taken captive. Massachusetts immediately sent John Loring Austin to convey the rapturous tidings to Franklin. This great success would doubtless encourage France to open action. No tongue can tell the emotions excited in the bosoms of Franklin, Lee and Deane, as Austin entered their presence at Passy, with the announcement, “ General Burgoyne and his whole army are prisoners of war.”
There were no shoutings, no rushing into each other's arms. But tears filled their eyes. They felt assured that France would come openly to their aid, and that the independence of their country was no longer doubtful. Silently they returned to Franklin's spacious apartment, where they spent the