網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

still unaer parole, but at liberty to say what he pleased to me. I told him, that I could not communicate to him, being a prisoner, even his own instructions, nor enter into any consultation with him as one of our colleagues in the commission for peace; that all I should say to him would be as one private citizen conversing with another; but that, upon all such occasions, I should reserve a right to communicate whatever should pass to our colleagues and allies.

“ He said, that Lord Shelburne, and others of the new ministers, were anxious to know, whether there was any authority to treat of a separate peace, and whether there could be an accommodation upon any terms short of independence; that he had ever answered them, that nothing short of an express or tacit acknowledgment of our independence, in his opinion, would ever be accepted, and that no treaty ever would, or could, be made separate from France. He asked me, if his answers had been right. I told him, that I was fully of that opinion. He said, that the new ministers had received Digges's report, but his character was such, that they did not choose to depend upon it; that a person by the name of Oswald, I think, set off for Paris to see you, about the same time he came away to see me.

“I desired him, between him and me, to consider, without saying any thing of it to the ministry, whether we could ever have a real peace, with Canada or Nova Scotia in the hands of the English; and whether we ought not to insist, at least, upon a stipulation, that they should keep no standing army, or regular troops, nor erect any fortifications, upon the frontiers of either. That, at present, I saw no motive that we had to be anxious for a peace; and, if the nation VOL. IX.

17

on

was not ripe for it upon proper terms, we might wait patiently till they should be so.

“I found the old gentleman perfectly sound in his system of politics. He has a very poor opinion, both of the integrity and abilities of the new ministry, as well as the old. He thinks they know not what they are about ; that they are spoiled by the same insincerity, duplicity, falsehood, and corruption, with the former. Lord Shelburne still flatters the King with ideas of conciliation and a separate peace, &c.; yet the nation, and the best men in it, are for universal peace and an express acknowledgment of American independence, and many of the best are for giving up Canada and Nova Scotia. His design seemed to be solely to know how far Digges's report was true. After an hour or two of conversation, I returned to Amsterdam, and left him to return to London. .“ These are all but artifices to raise the stocks; and, if you think of any method to put a stop to them, I will cheerfully concur with you. They now know sufficiently, that our commission is to treat of a general peace, and with persons vested with equal powers; and, if you agree to it, I will, never to see another messenger that is not a plenipotentiary.

“It is expected that the seventh Province, Guelderland, will this day acknowledge American independence. I think we are in such a situation now, that we ought not, upon any consideration, to think of a truce, or any thing short of an express acknowl. edgment of the sovereignty of the United States. I should be glad, however, to know your sentiments upon this point. I have the honor to be, &c.

“ John Adams." To the above, I immediately wrote the following answer.

TO JOHN ADAMS.

“Passy, 20 April, 1782.

« SIR,

“I have just received the honor of yours, dated the 16th instant, acquainting me with the interview between your Excellency and Mr. Laurens. I am glad to learn, that his political sentiments coincide with ours, and that there is a disposition in England to give us up Canada and Nova Scotia.

“I like your idea of seeing no more messengers, that are not plenipotentiaries; but I cannot refuse seeing again Mr. Oswald, as the minister here considered the letter to me from Lord Shelburne as a kind of authentication given that messenger, and expects his return with some explicit propositions. I shall keep you advised of whatever passes.

“The late act of Parliament, for exchanging American prisoners as prisoners of war, according to the law of nations, any thing in their commitments notwithstanding, seems to me a renunciation of their pretensions to try our people as subjects guilty of high treason, and to be a kind of tacit acknowledgment of our independency. Having taken this step, it will be less difficult for them to acknowledge it expressly. They are now preparing transports to send the prisoners home. I yesterday sent the passports desired of me.

“Sir George Grand shows me a letter from Mr. Fizeau, in which he says, that, if advantage is taken of the present enthusiasm in favor of America, a loan might be obtained in Holland, of five or six millions of florins, for America, and, if their house is empowered to open it, he has no doubt of success; but that no time is to be lost. I earnestly recommend this

ec

matter to you, as extremely necessary to the operations of our financier, Mr. Morris, who, not knowing that the greatest part of the last five millions had been consumed by purchase of goods, &c., in Europe, writes me advice of large drafts, that he shall be obliged to make upon me this summer.

“ This court has granted us six millions of livres for the current year; but it will fall vastly short of our occasions, there being large orders to fulfil, and near two millions and a half to pay M. Beaumarchais, besides the interest, bills, &c. The house of Fizeau and Grand is now appointed banker for France, by a special commission from the King, and will, on that, as well as other accounts, be, in my opinion, the fittest for this operation. Your Excellency being on the spot, can better judge of the terms, &c., and manage with that house the whole business, in which I should be glad to have no other concern than that of receiving assistance from it, when pressed by the dreaded drafts. With great respect, I am, Sir, &c.

“B. FRANKLIN.” In reply to this, Mr. Adams wrote to me as follows.

FROM JOHN ADAMS TO B. FRANKLIN.

“ Amsterdam, 2 May, 1782. “Sir, “I am honored with your favor of the 20th of April, and Mr. Laurens's son proposes to carry the letter to his father forthwith. The instructions by the courier from Versailles came safe, as all other despatches by that channel no doubt will do. The correspondence with Mr. Hartley I received by Captain Smedley, and will take the first good opportunity by a private hand to return it, as well as that with the Earl of Shelburne.

“Mr. Laurens and Mr. Jay will, I hope, be able to meet at Paris ; but when it will be in my power to go, I know not. Your present negotiation about peace falls in very well to aid a proposition, which I am instructed to make, as soon as the court of Versailles shall judge proper, of a triple or quadruple alliance. This matter, the treaty of commerce, which is now under deliberation, and the loan, will render it improper for me to quit this station, unless in case of necessity. If there is a real disposition to permit Canada to accede to the American association, I should think there would be no great difficulty in adjusting all things between England and America, provided our allies are contented too. In a former letter I hinted, that I thought an express acknowledgment of our independence might now be insisted on; but I did not mean, that we should insist upon such an article in the treaty. If they make a treaty of peace with the United States of America, this is acknowledgment enough for me.

“The affair of a loan gives me much anxiety and fatigue. It is true, I may open a loan for five millions ; but I confess, I have no hopes of obtaining so much.

The money is not to be had. Cash is not infinite • in this country. Their profits by trade have been ruined for two or three years; and there are loans open for France, Spain, England, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and several other powers, as well as their own national, provincial, and collegiate loans. The undertakers are already loaded with burdens greater than they can bear; and all the brokers in the republic are so engaged, that there is scarcely a ducat to be lent, but what is promised.

“This is the true cause why we should not succeed; yet they will seek a hundred other pretences. It is considered such an honor and such an introduction to American trade to be the house, that the eagerness to

« 上一頁繼續 »