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country, he could speak or write with more weight than Mr. Grenville, and, therefore, I wished him to continue in the service; and I asked him, whether he would like to be joined in a general commission for treating with all the powers at war with England, or to have a special commission to himself for treating with America only. He said, he did not choose to be concerned in treaty with the foreign powers, for he was not sufficiently a master of their affairs, or of the French language, which, probably, would be used in treating; if, therefore, he accepted of any commission, it should be that of treating with America. I told him I would write to Lord Shelburne on the subject; but Mr. Grenville having some time since despatched a courier, partly on account of the commission, who was not yet returned, I thought it well to wait a few days, till we could see what answer he would bring, or what measures were taken. This he approved of.
The truth is, he appears so good and so reasonable a man, that, though I have no objection to Mr. Grenville, I should be loth to lose Mr. Oswald. He seems to have nothing at heart but the good of mankind, and putting a stop to mischief; the other, a young statesman, may be supposed to have naturally a little ambition of recommending himself as an able negotiator.
In the afternoon, M. Boeris, of Holland, called on me, and acquainted me, that the answer had not yet been given to the last memorial from Russia, relating to the mediation ; but it was thought it would be in respectful terms, to thank her Imperial Majesty for her kind offers, and to represent the propriety of their connexion with France in endeavours to obtain a general peace, and that they conceived it would be still more glorious for her Majesty to employ her influence in procuring a general, than a particular pacification. M. Boeris further informed me, that they were not well satisfied in Holland with the conduct of the Russian court, and suspected views of continuing the war for, particular purposes.
Tuesday, June 4th. I have received another packet from Mr. Hartley. It consisted of duplicates of former letters and papers already inserted, and contained nothing new but the following letter from Colonel Hartley, his brother.
FROM W. H. HARTLEY TO B. FRANKLIN.
“Soho Square, 24 May, 1782 “DEAR SIR, “It is with the greatest pleasure I take up my pen to acknowledge your remembrance of me in yours to my brother, and to thank you for those expressions of regard which I can assure you are mutual. My brother has desired me to copy some letters and papers, by way of sending you duplicates. I am particularly happy at the employment, because the greatest object of my parliamentary life has been to cooperate with him in his endeavours to put a period to this destructive war, and forward the blessed work of peace. I hope to see him again in that situation, where he can so well serve his country with credit to himself; and while I have the honor of being in Parliament, my attention will be continued to promote the effects, which will naturally flow from those principles of freedom and universal philanthropy you have both so much supported. While I copy his words, my own feelings and judgment are truly in unison, and I have but to add the most ardent wish, that peace and happiness may crown the honest endeavours towards so desirable an end. I am, dear Sir, with the greatest respect and esteem, yours sincerely,
“W. H. Hartley.”
Wednesday, June 5th. Mr. Oswald called again to acquaint me, that Lord Cornwallis, being very anxious to be discharged from his parole as soon as possible, had sent a Major Ross hither to solicit it, supposing Mr. Laurens might be here with me. Mr. Oswald told me, what I had not heard before, that Mr. Laurens, while prisoner in the Tower, had proposed obtaining the discharge of Lord Cornwallis in exchange for himself, and had promised to use his utmost endeavours to that purpose, in case he was set at liberty, not doubting of the success. I communicated to Mr. Oswald what had already passed between Mr. Laurens and me, respecting Lord Cornwallis, which appears in the preceding letters; and told him I should have made less difficulty about the discharge of his parole, if Mr. Laurens had informed me of his being set at liberty in consequence of such an offer and promise; and I wished him to state this in a letter to me, that it might appear for my justification in what I might, with Mr. Laurens, do in the affair, and that he would procure for me from Major Ross a copy of the parole, that I might be better acquainted with the nature of it. He accordingly in the afternoon sent me the following letter.
FROM RICHARD OSWALD TO B. FRANKLIN.
“Paris, 5 June, 1782. “SIR, “ While Mr. Laurens was under confinement in England, he promised, that, on condition of his being liberated upon his parole, he would apply to you for an exchange in favor of Lord Cornwallis, by a discharge of his Lordship’s granted upon the surrender of his garrison at the village of York in Virginia ; and, in case of your being under any difficulty in making such exchange, he undertook to write to the Congress, and
to request it of that assembly, making no doubt of obtaining a favorable answer, without loss of time.
“ This proposal, signed by Mr. Laurens's hand, I carried and delivered, I think, in the month of December last, to his Majesty's then secretaries of state, which was duly attended to; and, in consequence thereof, Mr. Laurens was soon after set at full liberty. And though not a prisoner under parole, yet it is to be hoped, a variation in the mode of discharge will not be supposed of any essential difference.
“And with respect to Mr. Laurens, I am satisfied he will consider himself as much interested in the success of this application, as if his own discharge had been obtained under the form, as proposed by the representation, which I delivered to the secretaries of state, and, I make no doubt, will sincerely join my Lord Cornwallis in an acknowledgment of your favor and good offices, in granting his Lordship a full discharge of his parole above mentioned. I have the honor to be, with much respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“P. S. Major Ross has got no copy of Lord Cornwallis's parole. He says it was in the common form, as in like cases.
“Since writing the above, I recollect I was under a mistake, as if the proposal of exchange came first from Mr. Laurens; whereas, it was made by his Majesty's secretaries of state to me, that Mr. Laurens should endeavour to procure the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, so as to be discharged himself. Which proposal I carried to Mr. Laurens, and had from him the obligation above mentioned, upon which the mode of his discharge was settled.
To this I wrote the following answer.
TO RICHARD OSWALD.
“ Passy, 6 June, 1782.
· "I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me, respecting the parole of Lord Cornwallis. You are acquainted with what I wrote some time since to Mr. Laurens. To-morrow is póst day from Holland, when possibly I may receive an answer, with a paper drawn up by him for the purpose of discharging that parole, to be signed by us jointly. I suppose the staying at Paris another day will not be very inconvenient to Major Ross, and, if I do not hear to-morrow from Mr. Laurens, I will immediately, in compliance with your request, do what I can towards the liberation of Lord Cornwallis. I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
« B. FRANKLIN."
· Friday, June 7th. Major Ross called upon me, to thank me for the favorable intentions I had expressed in my letter to Mr. Oswald, respecting Lord Cornwallis, and to assure me, that his Lordship would for ever remember it with gratitude, &c. I told him it was our duty to alleviate, as much as we could, the calamities of war; that I expected letters from Mr. Laurens, relating to the affair, after the receipt of which I would immediately complete it. Or, if I did not hear from Mr. Laurens, I would speak to the Marquis de Lafayette, get his approbation, and finish it without further delay.
Saturday, June 8th. I received some newspapers from England, in one of which is the following paragraph. · vol. IX.