declarations of being desirous of peace. We spoke of all
its attempts to separate us, and of the prudence of our
holdij^g together, and treating in concert. I made one re
mark, that as they had shown so strong a desire of dis
uniting us, by large oilers to each particular power, plainly
in the view of dealing more advantageously with the rest ;
ajnd had reluctantly agreed to make a general treaty, it was
possible that after making a peace with all, they might
pick out one of us to make war with separately. Against
which project, I thought it would not be amiss if, before
the treaties of peace were signed, we who were at war
against England, should enter into another treaty, engaging
ourselves that in such case we should again make it a com
mon cause, and renew the general war ; which he seemed
to approve of. He read Lord Shelburne s letter relating
to Mr. Walpole, said that gentleman had attempted to
open a negociation through the Marquis de Castries, who
had told him he was come to the wrong house, and should
go to M. de Vergennes; but he never ha4 appeared.
That he was an intriguer, knew many people about the
Court, and was accustomed to manage his affairs by hid
den round-about ways ; " but, said he, " when people
have any thing to propose that relates to my employment,
I think they should come directly to me, my cabinet is the
place where such affairs are to be treated." On the whole,
he seemed rather pleased that Mr. Walpole had not come
224 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART 111.
to him, appearing not to like him. I learnt that Mr. Jay
had taken leave on the 7th past of the Spanish minister in
order to come hither, so that he may be daily expected.
But I hear nothing of Mr. Laurens or Mr. Adams.
Wednesday June 12. I visited Mr. Oswald this morn
ing. He said he had received the paper I sent him re
lating to the parole of Lord Cornwallis, and had by con
versing with Major Ross convinced him of his error in re
fusing it. That he saw I had done every thing that^could
be fairly desired of me, and said every thing in the paper,
that could give weight to the temporary discharge, and
tend to prevail with the Congress to confirm and complete
it. Major Ross coming in made an apology for not hav
ing accepted it at first, declared his perfect satisfaction
with it, and said he was sure Lord Cornwallis would be
very sensible of the favour. He then mentioned the cus
tom among military people, that in discharging the parole
of a General, that of his Aid s was discharged at the same
time. I answered that I was a stranger to the customs
of the army ; that I had made the most of the authority I
had for exchanging General Burgoyne by extending it as
a foundation for the exchange of Lord Cornwallis ; but
that I had no shadow of authority for going farther : that
the Marquis de la Fayette having been present when the
parole was given, and one of the Generals who received it,
was I thought more competent to the discharge of it than
myself, and I could do nothing in it. He went then to
the Marquis, who in the afternoon sent me the draft of a
limited discharge which he should sign, but requested my
approbation of it, of which 1 made no difficulty ; though I
observed he had put into it that it was by my advice. He
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
appears very prudently cautious of doing any thing that
may seem assuming a power that he is not vested with.
Friday the 14th Mr. Boeris called again, wishing to
know if Mr. Grenville s courier was returned, and whether
the treaty was likely to go on. 1 could give him no infor
mation. He told me that it was intended in Holland in
answer to the last Russian memorial to say, that they
could not now enter into a particular treaty with England,
that they thought it more glorious for her Imperial Ma
jesty to be the mediatrix in a general treaty, and wished
her to name the place. I said to him, " as you tell me
their H. M. are not well satisfied with Russia, and had
rather avoid her mediation, would it not be better to omit
the proposition at least of her naming the place, especially
as France, and England, and America have already agreed
to treat at Paris ?" He replied, " it might be better,
but," said he, " we have no politicians among us." I ad
vised him then to write, and get that omitted, as I un
derstood it would be a week, before the answer was con
cluded on. He did not seem to think his writing would
be of much importance. I have observed that his col
league M. Vanderpierre has a greater opinion by far of his
own influence and consequence.
Saturday 15th June. Mr. Oswald came to breakfast
with me. We afterwards took a walk in the garden, when
he told me Mr. Grenville s courier returned last night :
that lie had received by him a letter from Mrs. Oswald,
but not a line froili the ministry, nor had he heard a word
from them since his arrival ; nor had he heard of any news
brought by the courier. That he should have gone to
see Mr. Grenville this morning, but had omitted it, that
gentleman being subject to morning head aches, which
VOL, n. P
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART lit
prevented his rising so early. I said I supposed he would
go to Versailles, and call on me in his return. We had
but little farther discourse having no new subject.
Mr. Oswald left me about noon, and soon after Mr.
Grenville came, and acquainted me with the return of his
courier, and that he had brought the full powers. That
he Mr. G. had been at Versailles, and left a copy with
M. de Vergennes. That the instrument was in the same
terms with the former, except that after the power to trat
with the king of France or his ministers, there was an ad
dition of words importing a power to treat with the minis
ters of any other prince or state whom it might concern.
That M. de Vergennes had at first objected to these ge
neral words, as not being particular enough, but said he
would lay it before the King, and communicate it to the
ministers of the belligerent powers, and that Mr. Gren
ville should hear from him on Monday. Mr. Gren
ville added, that he had fanither informed M. de Vergennes
of his being now instructed to make a proposition, as a
basis for the intended treaty, to wit, the peace of 1763.
That the proposition intended to be made under his first
powers, not being then received, was now changed, and
instead of proposing to allow the independence of Ame
rica on condition of England s being put into the situation
she was in at the peace of 1763, he was now authorized to
declare the independence of America previous to the
treaty as a voluntary act, and to propose separately as a
basis the treaty of 1763. This also M. de Vergennes un
dertook to lay before the King, and communicate to me.
Mr. Grenville then said to me, he hoped all difficulties
were now removed, and that we might proceed in the good
work. I asked him, if the enabling bill was passed. He
said, No. It had passed the commons and had been once
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 227
read in the House of Lords, but was not yet completed.
I remarked, that the usual time approached for the proro
gation of parliament, and possibly this business might be
omitted. He said there was no danger of that, the par
liament would not rise this year till the middle of July.
The India affairs had put back other business, which must
be done, and would require a prolongation of the session
till that time. I then observed to him, that though we
Americans considered ourselves as a distinct independent
power or state, yet as the British government had always
hitherto affected to consider us only as rebellious subjects,,
and as the enabling act was not yet passed, I did not
think it could be fairly supposed that his court intended by
the general words any other prince or state to include a
people whom they did not allow to be a state ; and that
therefore I doubted the sufficiency of his power as to treat
ing with America, though it might be good as to Spain
and Holland. He replied, that he himself had no doubt
of the sufficiency of his power, and was willing to act upon
it. I then desired to have a copy of the power, which he
accordingly promised me. He would have entered into
conversation on the topic of reconciliation, but I chose
still to wave it, till I should find the negociation more cer
tainly commenced ; and I showed him the London paper
containing the article above transcribed P. that he might
see how our conversations were misrepresented, and how
hazardous it must be for me to make any propositions of
the kind at present. He seemed to treat the newspaper
lightly as of no consequence ; but I observed that before
he had finished the reading of the article, he turned to the
beginning of the paper to see the date, which made me
.:- : ;/
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
suspect that he doubted \vhether it might not have taken its
rise from some of his letters.
When he left me I went to dine with M. de Chaumont,
who had invited me to meet there Mr. Walpole at his re
quest. We shook hands, and he observed that it was near
two years since we had seen each other. Then stepping
aside, he thanked me for having communicated to him
Lord Shelburne s letter to Mr. Oswald ; thought it odd
that Mr. Oswald himself had not spoken to him about it ;
said he had received a letter from Mr. Fox upon the affair
of St. Eustatia, in which there were some general words
expressing a desire of peace ; that he had mentioned this
to M. de Castries, who had referred him to M. de Ver-
gennes, but he did not think it a sufficient authority to go
to that minister. It was known that he had business with
the minister of the marine on the other affair, and therefore
his going to him was not taken notice of ; but if he had
gone to M. de Vergennes minister of foreign affairs, it
would have occasioned speculation and much discourse ;
that he had therefore avoided it till he should be autho
rized, and had written accordingly to Mr. Fox, but that in
the mean time Mr. Oswald had been chosen upon the
supposition that he (Mr. Walpole) and I were at variance.
He spoke of Mr. Oswald as an odd kind of man, but that
indeed his nation were generally odd people, &c. We
dined pleasantly together with the family, and parted
agreeably without entering into any particulars of the bu
siness. Count d Estaing was at this dinner, and I met him
again in the evening at Madame Brillon s. There is at
present among the people much censure of Count de
Grasses conduct, and a general wish that Count d Estaing
/*!offi *- M oJ rjjvjjjlyf i9qfi<| d
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
had the command in America. I avoid meddling, or even
speaking on the subject, as improper for me, though 1
much esteem that commander.
Sunday 16th I heard nothing from Versailles. I re
ceived a letter from Mr. Adams acquainting me he had
drawn upon me for a quarter s salary, which he hoped
would be the last, as he now found himself in a way of
getting some money there, though not much ; I have not a
line from Mr. Laurens which I wonder at. I received
also a letter from Mr. Carmichael dated June 5th at Ma
drid. He speaks of Mr. Jay being on his journey, and
supposes he would be with me before that letter, so that I
may expect him daily. We have taken lodgings for him
at Paris. :>dlij
Monday 17th I received a letter from Mr. Hodgson
acquainting me that the American prisoners at Ports
mouth, to the number of 330, were all embarked on
board the transports ; that each had received twenty shil
lings worth of necessaries at the expence of government,
and went on board in good humour. That contrary winds
had prevented the transports arriving in time at Plymouth,
but that the whole number now there of our people,
amounting to 700 with those arrived from Ireland, would
be soon on their way home.
In the evening the Marquis de la Fayette came to see
me, and said he had seen M. de Vergennes who was sa
tisfied with Mr. Grenville s powers. He asked me what
I thought of them, and i told him what I had said to Mr.
Grenville of their imperfection with respect to us. He
agreed in opinion with me. I let him know that J pro
posed writing to M. de Vergennes to-morrow. He said
he had signed the paper relating to Major Ross s parole,
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PAKT III.
and hoped Congress would not take it amiss ; and added,
that in conversation with the Major, he had asked him,
why England was so backward to make propositions ?
\Veare afraid, said the Major, of offering you more than
you expect or desire,
I find myself in some perplexity, with regard to these
two negotiators. Mr. Oswald appears to have been the
choice of Lord Shelburne : Mr. Grenville that of Mr.
Secretary Fox. Lord Shelburne is said to have lately ac
quired much of the King s confidence : Mr. Fox calls him
self the minister of the people, and it is certain his popu
larity is lately much increased. Lord S. seems to wish to
have the management of the treaty; Mr. Fox seems to
think it in his department. I hear that the understanding
between those ministers is not quite perfect. Mr. Gren
ville is^ clever, and seems to feel reason as readily as Mr.
Oswald, though not so ready to own it. Mr. Oswald ap
pears quite plain and sincere. I sometimes a little doubt
Mr. Grenville. Mr. Oswald, as an old man, seems to
have now no desire but that of being useful in doing good.
Mr. Grenville, a young man, naturally desirous of ac
quiring reputation, seems to aim at that of being an able
negociator. Oswald does not solicit to have any share in
the business, but submitting the matter to Lord S. and me
expresses only his willingness to serve, if we think he may
be useful, and is equally willing to be excused if we judge
there is no occasion for him. Grenville seems to think
the whole negociation committed to him, and to have no
idea of Oswald s being concerned in it ; and is therefore
willing to extend the expressions in his commission, so
as to make them comprehend America, and this beyond
what I think they will bear. I imagine we might however
PART HI. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 231
go on very well with either of them, though I should pre
fer Oswald ; but I apprehend difficulties if they are both
employed, especially if there is any misunderstanding be*-
tween their principals. I must however write to Lord S.
proposing something in consequence of his offer of vesting
Mr. Oswald with any commission that gentleman and I
should think proper.
Tuesday 18th. I found myself much indisposed with
a sudden and violent cold, attended w ? ith a feverishness
and head-ache. I imagined it to be an effect of the in^
fluenza, a disorder now reigning in various parts of Europe.
This prevented my going to Versailles.
Thursday 20th. Weather excessively hot, and my dis
order continues, but is lessened, the head-ache having left
me. I am however not yet able to go to Versailles.
Friday 21st. I received the following note from the
Marquis de la Fayette.
Fersailles, Thursday Morning, June 20, 1782.
Mv DEAU SIR,
Agreeable to your desire 1 have waited
upon Count de Vergennes, and said to him what I had in
command from your Excellency. He intends taking the
King s orders this morning, and expects he will be able to
propose Mr. Grenville a meeting for to-morrow, where he
will have time to explain himself respecting France and
her allies, that he may make an official communication
both to the King and the allied ministers. What Count de
Vergennes can make out of this conversation will be com-
raumeated by him to your Excellency in case you are not
able to come, in the other case I shall wait upon you to-
PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
morrow evening with every information I can collect. 1
have the honour to be very respectfully, my dear Sir, your
obedient servant, and affectionate friend,
In the evening the Marquis called upon me, and
acquainted me that Mr. Grenville had been with Count
de Vergennes, but could riot inform me what had passed.
Saturday, 22d. Mr. Oswald and Mr. Whiteford his
secretary came and breakfasted with me. Mr. O. had
received no letter or instructions. I told him I would
write to Lord Shelburne respecting him, and call on him
on Monday morning to breakfast, and show him what I
proposed to write, that it might receive such alterations as
he should judge proper.
Sunday, 23. In the afternoon Mr. Jay arrived, to my
great satisfaction. I proposed going with him the next
morning to Versailles, and presenting him to M. de Ver
gennes. He informed me, that the Spanish ministers had
been much struck with the news from England respecting
the resolutions of parliament to discontinue the war in
America, Sec., and that they had since been extremely civil
to him, and he understood intended to send instructions to
the ambassador at this court, to make the long talked of
treaty with him here.
Monday, 24th. Wrote a note of excuse to Mr. Os
wald, promising to see him on Wednesday, and went with
Mr. Jay to Versailles. M. de Vergennes acquainted us,
that he had given to Mr. Grenville the answer to his pro
positions, who had immediately dispatched it to his court.
He read it to us, and I shall endeavour to obtain a copy
of it. M. de Vergennes informing us that a frigate was
PART TIT. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
about to be dispatched for America, by which we might
write, and that the courier who was to carry down the
dispatches would set off on Wednesday morning, we con
cluded to omit going to court on Tuesday, in order to
prepare our letters. M. de Vergennes appeared to have
some doubts about the sincerity of the British court, and
the bonne foi of Mr. Grenville ; but said the return of
Mr. G/s courier might give light.
I received the following letter from Mr. Adams, dated
the Hague, June 13, 1782.
FROM HIS EXCELLENCY JOHN ADAMS, Es. TO
3 d /ia<.>y*j.fi^pj| f ^ -!> - .^s - \ i * .;>;,
SIR, The Hague, June 13, 1782.
1 had yesterday at Amsterdam, the honour
of receiving your Excellency s letter of June 2nd.
The discovery that Mr. Grenville s power was only to
treat with France does not surprize me at all. The
British ministry are too divided among themselves, and
have too formidable an opposition against them, in the
king and the old ministers, and are possessed of too liftle
of the confidence of the nation, to have courage to make
concessions of any sort, especially since the news of their
successes in the East and Wesjt Indies. What their vanity
will end in God only knows : for my own part, I cannot
see a probability that they will ever make peace, until
their finances are ruined, and such distresses brought upon
them, as will work up their parties into a civil war.
I wish their enemies could by any means be persuaded
to carry on the war against them in places, where they
might be sure of triumphs, instead of insisting upon pur-
234 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
suing it, where they are sure of defeat. But we must
take patience, and wait for time to do, what wisdom might
easily and soon do.
I have not as yet taken any engagements with the Dutch
not to make peace without them ; but I will take such
engagements in a moment, if the Dutch will take them,
and I believe they would very cheerfully. I shall not
propose it however till I have the concurrence of the
Duke de la Vauguyon, who will do nothing without the
instructions of his court. I would not delay it a moment
from any expectation that the English will acknowledge
our independence and make peace with us, because I have
no such expectations. The permanent friendship of the
Dutch may be easily obtained by the United Stales.
That of England never : it is gone with the days before
the flood. If we ever enjoy the smallest degree of sin
cere friendship again from England, I am totally incapable
of seeing the character of a nation or the connections of
kings ; which however may be the case for what 1 know,
They have brought themselves into such a situation f
Spain, Holland, America, the armed neutrality have all
such pretensions and demands upon them, that where is
the English minister, or member of parliament that dares
to vote for the concession to them ? The pretensions of
France I believe would be so moderate, that possibly they
might be acceded to. But it is much to be feared that
Spain, who deserves the least, will demand the most : in
short, the work of peace appears so impracticable and
chimerical, that I am happy in being restrained to this
country, by my duty, and by this means excused from
troubling my head much about it. I have a letter from
America that infermed me, that Mr. Jay had refused tQ
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 235
act in the commission for peace ; but if he is on the way
to Paris, as you suppose, I presume my information must
be a mistake, which I am very glad of. Mr. Laurens did
me the honour of a very short visit, in his way to France,
but I was very sorry to learn from him, that in a letter to
your Excellency from Ostend, he had declined serving in
the commission for peace. I had vast pleasure in his
conversation, for I found him possessed of the most exact
judgment concerning our enemies, and of the same noble
sentiments in all things, which I saw in him in Congress.
What is the system of Russia r Does she suppose that
England has too many enemies upon her, and that their
demands and pretensions are too high r Does she seek to
embroil affairs, and to light up a general war in Europe ?
Is Denmark in concert with her, or any other power ?
Her conduct is a phenomenon. Is there any secret nego-
ciation or intrigue on foot to form a party for England
among the powers of Europe ? and to make a balance
against the power of the enemies of England ?
The states of Holland and several other provinces have
taken a resolution against the mediation for a separate
peace, and this nation seems to be well tixed in its system,
and in the common cause.
My best respects and affections to my old friend Mr.
Jay, if you please. I have the honour to be, Sir, your
most obedient and most humble servant, J. ADAIMS.
I wrote to Mr. Secretary Livingston, and Mr. Robert
Morris, of which the following are extracts.
- (> PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
To ROB. R. LIVINGSTON, ESQ.
Passy, June 25, 1782.
" By the newspapers 1 have sent, you will
see that the general disposition of the British nation to
wards us had been changed. Two persons have been
sent here by the new ministers, to propose treating for
peace. They had at first some hopes of getting the belli
gerent powers to treat separately, one after another, but
finding that impracticable, they have, after several mes
sengers sent to and fro, come to a resolution of treating
\vith all together for a general peace, and have agreed that
the place shall be Paris. Mr. Grenville is now here with
full powers for that purpose, (if they can be reckoned full
\vith regard to America, till a certain act is completed for
enabling his majesty to treat, &c. which has gone through
the commons, and has been once read in the lords.) I
keep a very particular journal of what passes every day, in
the affair, which is transcribing to be sent you. I shall
therefore need to say no more of it in this letter, except
that though I still think they were at first sincere in their
desire of peace, yet since their success in the West Indies,
1 imagine that 1 see marks of their desiring rather to draw
the negotiations into length, that they may take the chance
of what the rest of the campaign shall produce in their
favour ; and as there are so many interests to adjust, it
will be prudent for us to suppose, that even another cam
paign may pass before all can be agreed. Something too
may happen to break off the negociations, and we should
be prepared for the worst. 1 hoped for the assistance of
Mr. Adams and Mr. Laurens. The first is too much en
gaged in Holland to come hither, and the other declines
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 237
serving ; but I have now the satisfaction of being joined
by Mr. Jay, who happily arrived here from Madrid last
Sunday. The Marquis de la Fayette is of real use in our
affairs here, and as the campaign is not likely to be very
active in North America, 1 wish I may be able to prevail
with him to stay a few weeks longer. By him you will
receive the journal abovementioned, which is already
pretty voluminous, and yet the negociations cannot be
said to be opened.
" Ireland you will see has obtained all her demands
triumphantly. 1 meet no one from that country who