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being once broken, the separate parts could not retain even their share of the strength or value that existed in the whole, and that a perfect reunion of those parts could scarce ever be hoped for. Your Lordship may possibly remember the tears of joy that wet my cheek, when, at your good sister's in London, you once gave me expectations that a reconciliation might soon take place. I had the misfortune to find those expectations disappointed, and to be treated as the cause of the mischief I was laboring to prevent. My consolation under that groundless and malevolent treatment was, that I retained the friendship of many wise and good men in that country, and, among the rest, some share in the regard of Lord Howe.” The door to a negotiation being closed, the battle of Long Island was fought, in which General Sullivan was taken prisoner. He was conveyed on board Lord Howe's ship, and discharged on parole. Lord Howe intrusted to him a verbal message for Congress, the purport of which was, that he should be glad to confer with some of the members in their private capacity, and would himself meet them in that capacity at such time and place as they might appoint. Congress accordingly deputed three of their number, Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge, to go and learn what propositions he had to offer. The interview took place, September 11th, at a house within the British lines on Staten Island, opposite to Amboy, where they were politely received and entertained. His Lordship began the conversation by informing them, that he could not treat with them as a committee of Congress, but that his powers authorized him to confer and consult with any private gentlemen in the colonies on the means of reconciling the differences and restoring peace. The committee replied, that it was their business to hear what he had to propose; that he might look upon them in what light he chose; that they were, nevertheless, members of Congress, and, being appointed by that body, they must consider themselves in that character. After the conference was ended, the committee passed over to Amboy in Lord Howe's boat, went back to Congress, and reported, that his Lordship had made no explicit proposition for peace, and that, as far as they could discover, his powers did not enable him to do any thing more, than to grant pardon upon submission. This was the last attempt of the commissioners to effect what Mr. Burke called in Parliament an “armed negotiation ”; and it would be allowing too little credit to the understanding of the ministers themselves, to suppose that they did not anticipate its failure when they set it on foot. At this time Congress had under consideration the subject of foreign alliances. The American States being now an independent power, declared to be such by the solemn act of a united people, they might properly assume and maintain this character in relation to other governments. Aids in money and all kinds of military supplies were wanted. Congress had the benefits of a lucrative commerce to offer in exchange. It was decided to make the first application to the court of France, and to proffer a commercial treaty, which should be mutually advantageous to the two countries. The hard terms, which England had extorted from the misfortunes of France in the treaty at the close of the last war, as impolitic on the part of the former as they were humiliating to the latter, afforded but a feeble guaranty of a lasting peace. Time and reflection had increased the discontent, which was manifested by loud complaints when the treaty was made. It was believed that France, in this temper, would not view with indifference the contest between England and her colonies, nor forego so good an opportunity of contributing to weaken the power of a rival, against whom she had laid up heavy charges for a future adjustment. Congress deemed it advisable, at all events, to act upon this presumption. They appointed three commissioners, Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, “to transact the business of the United States at the court of France.” They were furnished with the draft of a treaty, credentials, and instructions. The members enjoined secrecy on themselves in regard to these proceedings. Silas Deane was already in France, having been sent thither as a commercial and political agent, instructed to procure munitions of war and forward them to the United States, and to ascertain, as far as he could, the views and disposition of the French court. Arthur Lee was in England. Franklin made immediate preparations for his voyage. He left Philadelphia on the 26th of October, accompanied by two of his grandsons, William Temple Franklin and Benjamin Franklin Bache. They passed the night at Chester, and the next day embarked on board the Continental sloop of war Reprisal, carrying sixteen guns, and commanded by Captain Wickes. As a proof of Franklin's zeal in the cause of his country, and of his confidence in the result, it may be stated, that, before he left Philadelphia, he raised all the money he could command, being between three and four thousand pounds, and placed it as a loan at the disposal of Congress.
Voyage to France. — Arrives at Nantes — Proceeds to Paris, and takes up his Residence at Passy. — His Reception in France.—Influence of his Name and Character.— Pictures, Busts, and Prints of him. — Interview with Count de Vergennes. – Money obtained from the French Court, and Military Supplies sent to the United States.— Contract with the Farmers-General. — Franklin disapproves the Policy of seeking Alliances with the European Powers. —Lord Stormont. — Application of Foreign Officers for Employment in the American Army.—Lafayette. — Reasons why the French delay to enter into a Treaty with the United States. – Interview with Count de Vergennes on that Subject. — Treaty of Amity and Commerce. — Treaty of Alliance. — Franklin and the other Commissioners introduced at Court.
AFTER a boisterous passage of thirty days from the Capes of Delaware, the Reprisal came to anchor in Quiberon Bay, near the mouth of the Loire. While crossing the Gulf Stream, Dr. Franklin repeated the experiments which he had made on his last voyage from England, for ascertaining the temperature of the sea. The result was the same as he had then found it. The water was warmer in the Gulf Stream, than in other parts of the ocean. The sloop was sometimes chased by British cruisers, and Captain Wickes prepared for action; but he had been instructed to avoid an engagement if possible, and to proceed directly to the coast of France. By good management he escaped his pursuers, and no action occurred during the voyage. Two days before he came in sight of land he took two prizes, brigantines, one belonging to Cork, the other to Hull, laden with cargoes obtained in French ports.
The wind being contrary, Captain Wickes could not sail up the river to Nantes, the port to which he was bound. After a detention of four days in Qui
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beron Bay, Dr. Franklin was set on shore with his grandsons at the little town of Auray. Thence he travelled by land to Nantes, a distance of seventy miles, where he arrived on the 7th of December. His arrival in France was entirely unexpected. The news of his appointment had not preceded him, this having been kept secret in Congress. It was easily conjectured, however, that he would not come so far without being invested with some important public mission, and the friends of America greeted him with cordiality and lively expressions of joy. The event was celebrated by a dinner, at which he was invited to be present, and which was attended by a large number of persons. Fatigued with the voyage and his journey from Auray, he sought repose for a short time at the country-seat of M. Gruel, near the town; but in this retreat many visiters called to see him, as well to testify their personal respect, as to make inquiries concerning the state of affairs in America. From Nantes he wrote as follows to the President of Congress. “Our voyage, though not long, was rough, and I feel myself weakened by it; but I now recover strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any public character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the court is ready and willing to receive ministers publicly from the Congress; that we may neither embarrass it on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other. I have despatched an express to Mr. Deane, with the letters that I had for him from the Committee, and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In the mean time I find it generally supposed here, that I