I am, with sentiments of the highest respect, Gentlemen,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXV.—TO JOHN JAY, July 12,1785
TO JOHN JAY.
Paris, July 12,1785.
My last letter to you was dated the 17th of June. The present serves to cover some papers put into my hands by Captain Paul Jones. They respect an ancient matter, which is shortly this.
While Captain Jones was hovering on the coast of England, in the year 1779, a British pilot, John Jackson by name, came on board him, supposing him to be British. Captain Jones found it convenient to detain him as a pilot, and, in the action with the Serapis, which ensued, this man lost his arm. It is thought that this gives him a just claim to the same allowance with others, who have met with the like misfortune in the service of the United States. Congress alone being competent to this application, it is my duty to present the case to their consideration; which I beg leave to do through you.
Dr. Franklin will be able to give you so perfect a state of all transactions relative to his particular office in France, as well as to the subjects included in our general commission, that it is unnecessary for me to enter on them. His departure, with the separate situation of Mr. Adams and myself, will render it difficult to communicate to you the future proceedings of the commission, as regularly as they have been heretofore. We shall do it, however, with all the punctuality practicable, either separately or jointly, as circumstances may require and admit.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXVI.—TO MONSIEUR BRIET, July 13, 1785
TO MONSIEUR BRIET.
Paris, July 13, 1785.
I am glad to hear that the Council have ordered restitution of the merchandise seized at L'Orient, contrary to the freedom of the place. When a court of justice has taken cognizance of a complaint, and has given restitution of the principal subject, if it refuses some of the accessories, we are to presume that some circumstance of evidence appeared to them, unknown to us, and which rendered its refusal just and proper. So, in the present case, if any circumstances in the conduct of the owner, or relative to the merchandise itself, gave probable grounds of suspicion that they were not entitled to the freedom of the port, damages for the detention might be properly denied. Respect for the integrity of courts of justice, and especially of so high a one as that of the King's Council, obliges us to presume that circumstances arose which justified this part of their order. It is only in cases where justice is palpably denied, that one nation, or its ministers, are authorized to complain of the courts of another. I hope you will see, therefore, that an application from me as to the damages for detention, would be improper.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXVII.—TO MESSRS. FRENCH AND NEPHEW, July 13,1785
TO MESSRS. FRENCH AND NEPHEW.
Paris, July 13,1785.
I had the honor of receiving your letter of June the 21st, enclosing one from Mr. Alexander of June the 17th, and a copy of his application to Monsieur de Calonne. I am very sensible that no trade can be on a more desperate footing than that of tobacco, in this country; and that our merchants must abandon the French markets, if they are not permitted to sell the productions they bring, on such terms as will enable them to purchase reasonable returns in the manufactures of France. I know but one remedy to the evil; that of allowing a free vent: and I should be very happy in being instrumental to the obtaining this. But while the purchase of tobacco is monopolized by a company, and they pay for that monopoly a heavy price to the government, they doubtless are at liberty to fix such places and terms of purchase, as may enable them to make good their engagements with government. I see no more reason for obliging them to give a greater price for tobacco than they think they can afford, than to do the same between two individuals treating for a horse, a house, or any thing else. Could this be effected by applications to the minister, it would only be a palliative which would retard the ultimate cure, so much to be wished for and aimed at by every friend to this country, as well as to America.
I have the honor to be, Gentlemen,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER LXXVIII.—TO DR. STILES, July 17,1785
TO DR. STILES.
Paris, July 17,1785.
I have long deferred doing myself the honor of writing to you, wishing for an opportunity to accompany my letter with a copy of the Bibliotheque Physico-oeconomique, a book published here lately in four small volumes, and which gives an account of all the improvements in the arts which have been made for some years past. I flatter myself you will find in it many things agreeable and useful. I accompany it with the volumes of the Connoissance des Terns for the years 1781, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787. But why, you will ask, do I send you old almanacs, which are proverbially useless? Because, in these publications have appeared, from time to time, some of the most precious things in astronomy. I have searched out those particular volumes which might be valuable to you on this account. That of 1781 contains De la Caillie's catalogue of fixed stars reduced to the commencement of that year, and a table of the aberrations and nutations of the principal stars. 1784 contains the same catalogue with the nebuleuses of Messier. 1785 contains the famous catalogue of Flamsteed, with the positions of the stars reduced to the beginning of the year 1784, and which supersedes the use of that immense book. 1786 gives you Euler's lunar tables corrected; and 1787, the tables for the planet Herschel. The two last needed not an apology, as not being within the description of old almanacs. It is fixed on grounds which scarcely admit a doubt, that the planet Herschel was seen by Mayer in the year 1756, and was considered by him as one of the zodiacal stars, and, as such, arranged in his catalogue, being the 964th which he describes. This 964th of Mayer has been since missing, and the calculations for the planet Herschel show that, it should have been, at the time of Mayer's observation, where he places his 964th star. The volume of 1787 gives you Mayer's catalogue of the zodiacal stars. The researches of the natural philosophers of Europe seem mostly in the field of chemistry, and here, principally, on the subjects of air and fire. The analysis of these two subjects presents to us very new ideas. When speaking of the Bibliotheque Physico-oeconomique, T should have observed, that since its publication, a man in this city has invented a method of moving a vessel on the water, by a machine worked within the vessel. I went to see it. He did not know himself the principle of his own invention. It is a screw with a very broad, thin worm, or rather it is a thin plate with its edge applied spirally round an axis. This being turned, operates on the air, as a screw does, and may be literally said to screw the vessel along: the thinness of the medium, and its want of resistance, occasion a loss of much of the force. The screw, I think, would be more effectual, if placed below the surface of the water. I very much suspect that a countrymen of ours, Mr. Bushnel of Connecticut, is entitled to the merit of a prior discovery of this use of the screw. I remember to have heard of his submarine navigation during the war, and, from what Colonel Humphreys now tells me, I conjecture that the screw was the power he used. He joined to this a machine for exploding under water at a given moment. If it were not too great a liberty for a stranger to take, I would ask from him a narration of his actual experiments, with or without a communication of his principle, as he should choose. If he thought proper to communicate it, I would engage never to disclose it, unless I could find an opportunity of doing it for his benefit. I thank you for your information as to the greatest bones found on the Hudson river. I suspect that they must have been of the same animal with those found on the Ohio: and if so, they could not have belonged to any human figure, because they are accompanied with tusks of the size, form, and substance of those of the elephant. I have seen a part of the ivory, which was very good. The animal itself must have been much larger than an elephant. Mrs. Adams gives me an account of a flower found in Connecticut, which vegetates when suspended in the air. She brought one to Europe. What can be this flower? It would be a curious present to this continent.
The accommodation likely to take place between the Dutch and the Emperor, leaves us without that unfortunate resource for news, which wars give us. The Emperor has certainly had in view the Bavarian exchange of which you have heard; but so formidable an opposition presented itself, that he has thought proper to disavow it. The Turks show a disposition to go to war with him; but if this country can prevail on them to remain in peace, they will do so. It has been thought that the two Imperial courts have a plan of expelling the Turks from Europe. It is really a pity, so charming a country should remain in the hands of a people, whose religion forbids the admission of science and the arts among them. We should wish success to the object of the two empires, if they meant to leave the country in possession of the Greek inhabitants. We might then expect, once more, to see the language of Homer and Demosthenes a living language. For I am persuaded the modern Greek would easily get back to its classical models. But this is not intended. They only propose to put the Greeks under other masters; to substitute one set of barbarians for another.
Colonel Humphreys having satisfied you that all attempts would be fruitless here, to obtain money or other advantages for your college, I need add nothing on that head. It is a method of supporting colleges of which they have no idea, though they practise it for the support of their lazy monkish institutions.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect and esteem, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXIX.—TO JOHN ADAMS, July 28, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, July 28, 1785.
Your favors of Jury the 16th and 18th came to hand the same day on which I had received Baron Thulemeyer's, enclosing the ultimate draught for the treaty. As this draught, which was in French, was to be copied into the two instruments which Dr. Franklin had signed, it is finished this day only. Mr. Short sets out immediately. I have put into his hands a letter of instructions how to conduct himself, which I have signed, leaving a space above for your signature. The two treaties I have signed at the left hand, Dr. Franklin having informed me that the signatures are read backwards. Besides the instructions to Mr. Short, I signed also a letter to. Mr. Dumas, associating him with Mr. Short. These two letters I made out as nearly conformably as I could, to your ideas expressed in your letter of the 18th. If any thing more be necessary, be so good as to make a separate instruction for them, signed by yourself, to which I will accede. I have not directed Mr. Dumas's letter. I have heretofore directed to him as 'Agent for the United States at the Hague,' that being the description under which the journals of Congress speak of him. In his last letter to me, is a paragraph, from which I conclude that the address I have used is not agreeable, and perhaps may be wrong. Will you be so good as to address the letter to him, and to inform me how to address him hereafter. Mr. Short carries also the other papers necessary. His equipment for his journey requiring expenses which cannot come into the account of ordinary expenses, such as clothes, &,c. what allowance should be made him? I have supposed somewhere between a guinea a day, and one thousand dollars a year, which I believe is the salary of a private secretary. This I mean as over and above his travelling expenses. Be so good as to say, and I will give him an order on his return. The danger of robbery has induced me to furnish him with only money enough to carry him to London. You will be so good as to procure him enough to carry him to the Hague and back to Paris. The confederation of the King of Prussia with some members of the Germanic body, for the preservation of their constitution, is, I think, beyond a doubt. The Emperor has certainly complained of it in formal communications at several courts. By what can be collected from diplomatic conversation here, I also conclude it tolerably certain, that the Elector of Hanover has been invited to accede to the confederation, and has done or is doing so. You will have better circumstances however, on the spot, to form a just judgment. Our matters with the first of these powers being now in conclusion, I wish it was so with the Elector of Hanover. I conclude, from the general expressions in your letter, that little may be expected. Mr. Short furnishing so safe a conveyance that the trouble of the cipher may me dispensed with, I will thank you for such details of what has passed, as may not be too troublesome to you.
The difficulties of getting books into Paris, delayed for some time my receipt of the Corps Diplomatique left by Dr. Franklin. Since that, we have been engaged with expediting Mr. Short. A huge packet also, brought by Mr. Mazzei, has added to the causes which have as yet prevented me from examining Dr. Franklin's notes on the Barbary treaty. It shall be one of my first occupations. Still the possibility is too obvious that we may run counter to the instructions of Congress, of which Mr. Lambe is said to be the bearer. There is a great impatience in America for these treaties. I am much distressed between this impatience and the known will of Congress, on the one hand, and the uncertainty of the details committed to this tardy servant.
The Duke of Dorset sets out for London to-morrow. He says he shall be absent two months. There is some whisper that he will not return, and that, Lord Carmarthen wishes to come here. I am sorry to lose so honest a man as the Duke. I take the liberty to ask an answer about the insurance of Houdon's life.
Congress is not likely to adjourn this summer. They have passed an ordinance for selling their lands. I have not received it.
What would you think of the enclosed draught to be proposed to the courts of London and Versailles? I would add Madrid and Lisbon, but that they are still more desperate than the others. I know it goes beyond our powers; and beyond the powers of Congress too; but it is so evidently for the good of all the States, that I should not be afraid to risk myself on it, if you are of the same opinion. Consider it, if you please, and give me your thoughts on it by Mr. Short: but I do not communicate it to him, nor any other mortal living but yourself.
Be pleased to present me in the most friendly terms to the ladies, and believe me to be, with great esteem,
Dear Sir, your friend and servant,
LETTER LXXX.—TO HOGENDORP, July 29, 1785
Paris, July 29, 1785.
By an American gentleman who went to the Hague, about a month ago, I sent you a copy of my Notes on Virginia. Having since that received some copies of the revisal of our laws, of which you had desired one, I now send it to you. I congratulate you sincerely on the prospect of your country's being freed from the menace of war, which, however just, is always expensive and calamitous, and sometimes unsuccessful.
Congress, having made a very considerable purchase of land from the Indians, have established a land office, and settled the mode of selling the lands. Their plan is judicious. I apprehend some inconveniences in some parts of it; but if such should be found to exist, they will amend them. They receive in payment their own certificates, at par with actual money. We have a proof the last year, that the failure of the States to bring money into the treasury, has proceeded, not from any unwillingness, but from the distresses of their situation. Heretofore, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had brought in the most money, and Virginia was among the least. The last year, Virgjnia has paid in more than all the rest together. The reason is, that she is at liberty to avail herself of her natural resources and has free markets for them; whereas the others which, while they were sure of a sale for their commodities, brought more into the treasury; now, that that sale is, by circumstances, rendered more precarious, they bring in but little.
The impost is not yet granted. Rhode Island and New York hold off. Congress have it in contemplation to propose to the States, that the direction of all their commerce shall be committed to Congress, reserving to the States, respectively, the revenue which shall be laid on it. The operations of our good friends, the English, are calculated as precisely to bring the States into this measure as if we directed them ourselves, and as they were, through the whole war, to produce that union which was so necessary for us. I doubt whether Congress will adjourn this summer.
Should you be at the Hague, I will beg leave to make known to you bearer hereof, M, William Short. He of Virginia, has come to stay some time with me at Paris being among my most particular friends. Though young, his talents and merit are such as to have placed him in the Council of State of Virginia; an office which he relinquished to make a visit to Europe.
I have the honor to be, with very high esteem, Dear Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXXI.—TO MESSRS. N. AND J. VAN STAPHORST, July 30, 1785
TO MESSRS. N. AND J. VAN STAPHORST, Amsterdam.
Paris, July 30, 1785.
I received yesterday your favor of the 25th. Supposing that the funds, which are the object of your inquiry, are those which constitute what we call our domestic debt, it is my opinion that they are absolutely secure: I have no doubt at all but that they will be paid, with their interest at six per cent. But I cannot say that they are as secure and solid as the funds which constitute our foreign debt: because no man in America ever entertained a doubt that our foreign debt is to be paid fully; but some people in America have seriously contended, that the certificates and other evidences of our domestic debt, ought to be redeemed only at what they have cost the holder; for I must observe to you, that these certificates of domestic debt, having as yet no provision for the payment of principal or interest, and the original holders being mostly needy, have been sold at a very great discount. When I left America (July, 1784,) they sold in different States at from 15s. to 2s. 6d. in the pound; and any amount of them might, then have been purchased. Hence some thought that full justice would be done, if the public paid the purchasers of them what they actually paid for them, and interest on that. But this is very far from being a general opinion; a very great majority being firmly decided that they shall be paid fully. Were I the holder of any of them, I should not have the least fear of their full payment. There is also a difference between different species of certificates; some of them being receivable in taxes, others having the benefit of particular assurances, &c. Again, some of these certificates are for paper-money debts. A deception here must be guarded against. Congress ordered all such to be re-settled by the depreciation tables, and a new certificate to be given in exchange for them, expressing their value in real money. But all have not yet been re-settled. In short, this is a science in which few in America are expert, and no person in a foreign country can be so. Foreigners should therefore be sure that they are well advised, before they meddle with them, or they may suffer. If you will reflect with what degree of success persons actually in America could speculate in the European funds, which rise and fall daily, you may judge how far those in Europe may do it in the American funds, which are more variable from a variety of causes.
I am not at all acquainted with Mr. Daniel Parker, farther than having once seen him in Philadelphia. He is of Massachusetts, I believe, and I am of Virginia. His circumstances are utterly unknown to me. I think there are few men in America, if there is a single one, who could command a hundred thousand pounds' sterling worth of these notes, at their real value. At their nominal amount, this might be done perhaps with twenty-five thousand pounds sterling, if the market price of them be as low as when I left America. I am with very great respect, Gentlemen,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER LXXXII.—TO JOHN ADAMS, July 31, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, July 31, 1785.
I was honored yesterday with yours of the 24th instant. When the first article of our instructions of May 7th, 1784, was under debate in Congress, it was proposed that neither party should make the other pay, in their ports, greater duties, than they paid in the ports of the other. One objection to this was, its impracticability; another, that it would put it out of our power to lay such duties on alien importation as might encourage importation by natives. Some members, much attached to English policy, thought such a distinction should actually be established. Some thought the power to do it should be reserved, in case any peculiar circumstances should call for it, though under the present, or perhaps, any probable circumstances, they did not think it would be good policy ever to exercise it. The footing gentis amicissimae was therefore adopted, as you see in the instruction. As far as my inquiries enable me to judge, France and Holland make no distinction of duties between aliens and natives. I also rather believe that the other states of Europe make none, England excepted, to whom this policy, as that of her navigation act, seems peculiar. The question then is, should we disarm ourselves of the power to make this distinction against all nations, in order to purchase an exemption from the alien duties in England only; for if we put her importations on the footing of native, all other nations with whom we treat will have a right to claim the same. I think we should, because against other nations, who make no distinction in their ports between us and their own subjects, we ought not to make a distinction in ours. And if the English will agree, in like manner, to make none, we should, with equal reason, abandon the right as against them. I think all the world would gain, by setting commerce at perfect liberty. I remember that when we were digesting the general form of our treaty, this proposition to put foreigners and natives on the same footing, was considered: and we were all three, Dr. Franklin as well as you and myself, in favor of it. We finally, however, did not admit it, partly from the objection you mention, but more still on account of our instructions. But though the English proclamation had appeared in America at the time of framing these instructions, I think its effect, as to alien duties, had not yet been experienced, and therefore was not attended to. If it had been noted in the debate, I am sure that the annihilation of our whole trade would have been thought too great a price to pay for the reservation of a barren power, which a majority of the members did not propose ever to exercise, though they were willing to retain it. Stipulating for equal rights to foreigners and natives, we obtain more in foreign ports than our instructions required, and we only part with, in our own ports, a power, of which sound policy would probably for ever forbid the exercise. Add to this, that our treaty will be for a very short term, and if any evil be experienced under it, a reformation will soon be in our power. I am, therefore, for putting this among our original propositions to the court of London.
If it should prove an insuperable obstacle with them, or if it should stand in the way of a greater advantage, we can but abandon it in the course of the negotiation.
In my copy of the cipher, on the alphabetical side, numbers are wanting from 'Denmark' to 'disc' inclusive, and from 'gone' to 'governor' inclusive. I suppose them to have been omitted in copying; will you be so good as to send them to me from yours, by the first safe conveyance.
With compliments to the ladies and to Colonel Smith,
I am, dear Sir,
your friend and servant,
[* The original of this letter was in cipher. But annexed to the copy in cipher, is the above literal copy by the author.]
LETTER LXXXIII.—TO M. DE CASTRIES, August 3,1785
TO M. DE CASTRIES.
Paris, August 3,1785.
The enclosed copy of a letter from Captain John Paul Jones, on the subject on which your Excellency did me the honor to write me, on the day of July, will inform you that there is still occasion to be troublesome to you. A Mr. Puchilburg, a merchant of L'Orient, who seems to have kept himself unknown till money was to be received, now presents powers to receive it, signed by the American officers and crews: and this produces a hesitation in the person to whom your order was directed. Congress, however, having substituted Captain Jones, as agent, to solicit and receive this money, he having given them security to forward it, when received, to their treasury, to be thence distributed to the claimants, and having at a considerable expense of time, trouble, and money, attended it to a conclusion, are circumstances of weight, against which Mr. Puchilburg seems to have nothing to oppose, but a nomination by individuals of the crew, under which he has declined to act, and permitted the business to be done by another without contradiction from him. Against him, too, it is urged that he fomented the sedition which took place among them, that he obtained this nomination from them while their minds were under ferment; and that he has given no security for the faithful payment of the money to those entitled to it.
I will add to these, one more circumstance which appears to render it impossible that he should execute this trust. It is now several years since the right to this money arose. The persons in whom it originally vested, were probably from different States in America. Many of them must be now dead; and their rights passed on to their representatives. But who are their representatives? The laws of some States prefer one degree of relations, those of others prefer another, there being no uniformity among the States on this point. Mr. Puchilberg, therefore, should know which of the parties are dead; in what order the laws of their respective States call their relations to the succession; and, in every case, which of those orders are actually in existence, and entitled to the share of the deceased. With the Atlantic ocean between the principals and their substitute, your Excellency will perceive what an inexhaustible source of difficulties, of chicanery, and delay, this might furnish to a person who should find an interest in keeping this money, as long as possible, in his own hands. Whereas, if it be lodged in the treasury of Congress, they, by an easy reference to the tribunals of the different States, can have every one's portion immediately rendered to himself, if living; and if dead, to such of his relations as the laws of his particular State prefer, and as shall be found actually living. I the rather urge this course, as I foresee that it will relieve your Excellency from numberless appeals which these people will continually be making from the decisions of Mr. Puchilberg; appeals likely to perpetuate that trouble of which you have already had too much, and to which I am sorry to be obliged to add, by asking a peremptory order for the execution of what you were before pleased to decide, on this subject.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect,
your Excellency's most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER LXXXIV.—TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES, August 3,1785
TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES.
Paris, August 3,1785.
I received yesterday your favor of the 29th, and have written on the subject of it to the Marechal de Castries this morning. You shall have an answer as soon as I receive one. Will you be so good as to make an inquiry into all the circumstances relative to Peyrouse's expedition, which seem to ascertain his destination. Particularly what number of men, and of what conditions and vocations, had he on board? What animals, their species and number? What trees, plants, or seeds? What utensils? What merchandise or other necessaries? This inquiry should be made with as little appearance of interest in it as possible. Should you not be able to get satisfactory information without going to Brest, and it be inconvenient for you to go there, I will have the expenses, this shall occasion you, paid. Commit all the circumstances to writing, and bring them when you come yourself, or send them by a safe hand.
I am, with much respect, Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER LXXXV.—TO JOHN ADAMS, August 6, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, August 6, 1785.
I now enclose you a draught of a treaty for the Barbary States, together with the notes Dr. Franklin left me. I have retained a press copy of this draught, so that by referring to any article, line, and word, in it, you can propose amendments and send them by the post, without any body's being able to make much of the main subject. I shall be glad to receive any alterations you may think necessary, as soon as convenient, that this matter may be in readiness. I enclose also a letter containing intelligence from Algiers. I know not how far it is to be relied on. My anxiety is extreme indeed, as to these treaties. We know that Congress have decided ultimately to treat. We know how far they will go. But unfortunately we know also, that a particular person has been charged with instructions for us, these five months, who neither comes nor writes to us. What are we to do? It is my opinion that if Mr. Lambe does not come in either of the packets (English or French) now expected, we ought to proceed. I therefore propose to you this term, as the end of our expectations of him, and that if he does not come, we send some other person. Dr. Bancroft or Captain Jones occurs to me as the fittest. If we consider the present object only, I think the former would be the most proper: but if we look forward to the very probable event of war with those pirates, an important object would be obtained by Captain Jones's becoming acquainted with their ports, force, tactics, &c. Let me know your opinion on this. I have never mentioned it to either, but I suppose either might be induced to go. Present me affectionately to the ladies and Colonel Smith, and be assured of the sincerity with which I am,
Dear Sir, your friend and servant,
LETTER LXXXVI.—TO DR. PRICE, August 7,1785
TO DR. PRICE.
Paris, August 7,1785.
Your favor of July the 2nd came duly to hand. The concern you therein express as to the effect of your pamphlet in America, induces me to trouble you with some observations on that subject. From my acquaintance with that country, I think I am able to judge, with some degree of certainty, of the manner in which it will have been received. Southward of the Chesapeake it will find but few readers concurring with it in sentiment, on the subject of slavery. From the mouth to the head of the Chesapeake, the bulk of the people will approve it in theory, and it will find a respectable minority ready to adopt it in practice; a minority, which, for weight and worth of character, preponderates against the greater number, who have not the courage to divest their families of a property, which, however, keeps their consciences unquiet. Northward of the Chesapeake, you may find here and there an opponent to your doctrine, as you may find here and there a robber and murderer; but in no greater number. In that part of America, there being but few slaves, they can easily disencumber themselves of them; and emancipation is put into such a train, that in a few years there will be no slaves northward of Maryland. In Maryland, I do not find such a disposition to begin the redress of this enormity, as in Virginia. This is the next State to which we may turn our eyes for the interesting spectacle of justice, in conflict with avarice and oppression: a conflict wherein the sacred side is gaining daily recruits, from the influx into office of young men grown and growing up. These have sucked in the principles of liberty, as it were, with their mothers' milk; and it is to them I look with anxiety to turn the fate of this question. Be not therefore discouraged. What you have written will do a great deal of good: and could you still trouble yourself with our welfare, no man is more able to give aid to the laboring side. The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, since the re-modelling of its plan, is the place where are collected together all the young men of Virginia, under preparation for public life. They are there under the direction (most of them) of a Mr. Wythe, one of the most virtuous of characters, and whose sentiments on the subject of slavery are unequivocal. I am satisfied, if you could resolve to address an exhortation to those young men, with all that eloquence of which you are master, that its influence on the future decision of this important question would be great, perhaps decisive. Thus you see, that, so far from thinking you have cause to repent of what you have done, I wish you to do more, and wish it on an assurance of its effect. The information I have received from America, of the reception of your pamphlet in the different States, agrees with the expectations I had formed.
Our country is getting into a ferment against yours, or rather has caught it from yours. God knows how this will end; but assuredly in one extreme or the other. There can be no medium between those who have loved so much. I think the decision is in your power as yet, but will not be so long.
I pray you to be assured of the sincerity of the esteem and respect, with which I have the honor to be, Sir,
your most obedient,
LETTER LXXXVII.—TO JOHN ADAMS, August 10,1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, August 10,1785.
Your favor of the 4th instant came to hand yesterday. I now enclose you the two Arrets against the importation of foreign manufactures into this kingdom. The cause of the balance against this country in favor of England, as well as its amount, is not agreed on. No doubt, the rage for English manufactures must be a principal cause. The speculators in exchange say, also, that those of the circumjacent countries, who have a balance in their favor against France, remit that balance to England from France. If so, it is possible that the English may count this balance twice: that is, in summing their exports to one of these States, and their imports from it, they count the difference once in their favor; then a second time, when they sum the remittances of cash they receive from France. There has been no Arret relative to our commerce, since that of August, 1784. And all the late advices from the French West Indies are, that they have now in their ports always three times as many vessels as there ever were before, and that the increase is principally from our States. I have now no further fears of that Arrets standing its ground. When it shall become firm, I do not think its extension desperate. But whether the placing it on the firm basis of treaty be practicable, is a very different question. As far as it is possible to judge from appearances, I conjecture that Crawford will do nothing. I infer this from some things in his conversation, and from an expression of the Count de Vergennes, in a conversation with me yesterday. I pressed upon him the importance of opening their ports freely to us, in the moment of the oppressions of the English regulations against us, and perhaps of the suspension of their commerce. He admitted it; but said we had free ingress with our productions. I enumerated them to him, and showed him on what footing they were, and how they might be improved. We are to have further conversations on the subject. I am afraid the voyage to Fontainebleau will interrupt them. From the inquiries I have made, I find I cannot get a very small and indifferent house there, for the season, (that is, for a month) for less than one hundred or one hundred and fifty guineas. This is nearly the whole salary for the time, and would leave nothing to eat. I therefore cannot accompany the court thither, but I will endeavor to go there occasionally from Paris.
They tell me it is the most favorable scene for business with the Count de Vergennes, because he is then more abstracted from the domestic applications. Count d'Aranda is not yet returned from the waters of Vichy. As soon as he returns, I will apply to him in the case of Mr. Watson. I will pray you to insure Houdon's life from the 27th of last month till his return to Paris. As he was to stay in America a month or two, he will probably be about six months absent; but the three per cent, for the voyage being once paid, I suppose they will insure his life by the month, whether his absence be longer or shorter. The sum to be insured is fifteen thousand livres tournois. If it be not necessary to pay the money immediately, there is a prospect of exchange becoming more favorable. But whenever it is necessary, be so good as to procure it by selling a draft on Mr. Grand, which I will take care shall be honored. With compliments to the ladies,
I am, dear Sir, your friend and servant,
LETTER LXXXVIII.—TO MRS. SPROWLE, August 10, 1785
TO MRS. SPROWLE.
Paris, August 10, 1785.
In your letter of June the 21st, you asked my opinion whether yourself or your son might venture to go to Virginia, to claim your possessions there? I had the honor of writing you, on the 5th of July, that you might safely go there; that your person would be sacredly safe, and free from insult. I expressed my hopes, too, that the Assembly of Virginia would, in the end, adopt the just and useful measure of restoring property unsold, and the price of that actually sold. In yours of July the 30th, you entreat my influence with the Assembly for retribution, and that, if I think your personal presence in Virginia would facilitate that end, you were willing and ready to go. This seems to propose to me to take on myself the solicitation of your cause, and that you will go, if I think your personal presence will be auxiliary to my applications. I feel myself obliged to inform you frankly, that it is improper for me to solicit your case with the Assembly of Virginia. The application can only go with propriety from yourself, or the minister of your court to America, whenever there shall be one. If you think the sentiments expressed in my former letter will serve you, you are free to exhibit it to members individually; but I wish the letter not to be offered to the Assembly as a body, or referred to in any petition or memorial to them.
I am, with much respect, Madam,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER LXXXIX.—TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES, August 13, 1785
TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES.
Paris, August 13, 1785.
Supposing you may be anxious to hear from hence, though there should be nothing interesting to communicate, I write by Mr. Cairnes merely to inform you, that I have, as yet, received no answer from the Marechal de Castries. I am in daily expectation of one. Should it not be received soon, I shall urge it again, which I wish to avoid however, if possible; because I think it better to await with patience a favorable decision, than by becoming importunate, to produce unfavorable dispositions, and, perhaps, a final determination of the same complexion. Should my occupations prevent my writing awhile, be assured that it will only be as long as I have nothing to communicate, and that as soon as I receive any answer, it shall be forwarded to you.
I am, with much esteem, Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER XC.—TO MESSRS. BUCHANAN AND HAY, August 13, 1785
TO MESSRS. BUCHANAN AND HAY.
Paris, August 13, 1785.
Your favor of March the 20th came to hand the 14th of June, and the next day I wrote to you, acknowledging the receipt, and apprizing you, that between that date and the 1st of August, it would be impossible to procure, and get to your hands, the drafts you desired. I did hope, indeed, to have had them prepared before this, but it will yet be some time before they will be in readiness. I flatter myself, however, they will give you satisfaction when you receive them, and that you will think the object will not have lost by the delay. It was a considerable time before I could find an architect whose taste had been formed on a study of the ancient models of his art: the style of architecture in this capital being far from chaste. I at length heard of one, to whom I immediately addressed myself, and who perfectly fulfils my wishes. He has studied twenty years in Rome, and has given proofs of his skill and taste, by a publication of some antiquities of this country. You intimate that you should be willing to have a workman sent to you to superintend the execution of this work. Were I to send one on this errand from hence, he would consider himself as the superintendant of the Directors themselves, and probably, of the government of the State also. I will give you my ideas on this subject. The columns of the building, and the external architraves of the doors and windows, should be of stone. Whether these are made here or there, you will need one good stone-cutter; and one will be enough; because, under his direction, negroes, who never saw a tool, will be able to prepare the work for him to finish. I will therefore send you such a one, in time to begin work in the spring. All the internal cornices, and other ornaments not exposed to the weather, will be much handsomer, cheaper, and more durable in plaister, than in wood. I will therefore employ a good workman in this way, and send him to you. But he will have no employment till the house is covered; of course he need not be sent till next summer. I will take him on wages so long before hand, as that he may draw all the ornaments in detail, under the eye of the architect, which he will have to execute when he comes to you. It will be the cheapest way of getting them drawn, and the most certain of putting him in possession of his precise duty. Plaister will not answer for your external cornice, and stone will be too dear. You will probably find yourselves obliged to be contented with wood. For this, therefore, and for your window sashes, doors, frames, wainscoting, &c. you will need a capital house-joiner; and a capital one he ought to be, capable of directing all the circumstances in the construction of the walls, which the execution of the plan will require. Such a workman cannot be got here. Nothing can be worse done than the house-joinery of Paris. Besides that his speaking the language perfectly would be essential, I think this character must be got from England. There are no workmen in wood, in Europe, comparable to those of England. I submit to you, therefore, the following proposition: to wit, I will get a correspondent in England to engage a workman of this kind. I will direct him to come here, which will cost five guineas. We will make proof of his execution. He shall also make, under the eye of the architect, all the drawings for the building, which he is to execute himself: and if we find him sober and capable, he shall be forwarded to you. I expect that in the article of the drawings, and the cheapness of passage from France, you will save the expense of his coming here. But as to this workman, I shall do nothing unless I receive your commands. With respect to your stone work, it may be got much cheaper here than in England. The stone of Paris is very white and beautiful; but it always remains soft, and suffers from the weather. The cliffs of the Seine, from hence to Havre, are all of stone. I am not yet informed whether it is all liable to the same objections. At Lyons, and all along the Rhone, is a stone as beautiful as that of Paris, soft when it comes out of the quarry, but very soon becoming hard in the open air, and very durable. I doubt, however, whether the commerce between Virginia and Marseilles would afford opportunities of conveyance sufficient. It remains to be inquired, what addition to the original cost would be made by the short land carriage from Lyons to the Loire, and the water transportation down that to Bordeaux;, and also, whether a stone of the same quality may not be found on the Loire. In this, and all other matters relative to your charge, you may command my services freely.
Having heard high commendations of a plan of a prison, drawn by an architect at Lyons, I sent there for it. The architect furnished me with it. It is certainly the best plan I ever saw. It unites, in the most perfect manner, the objects of security and health, and has, moreover, the advantage, valuable to us, of being capable of being adjusted to any number of prisoners, small or great, and admitting an execution from time to time, as it may be convenient. The plan is under preparation as for forty prisoners. Will you have any occasion for slate? It may be got very good and ready prepared at Havre; and a workman or more might be sent on easy terms. Perhaps the quarry at Tuckahoe would leave you no other want than that of a workman.
I shall be glad to receive your sentiments on the several matters herein mentioned, that I may know how far you approve of them, as I shall with pleasure pursue strictly whatever you desire. I have the honor to be, with great respect and esteem, Gentlemen,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER XCI.—TO JOHN JAY, August 14, 1785
TO JOHN JAY.
Paris, August 14, 1785.
I was honored, on the 22nd ultimo, with the receipt of your letter of June the 15th; and delivered the letter therein enclosed, from the President of Congress to the King. I took an opportunity of asking the Count de Vergennes, whether the Chevalier Luzerne proposed to return to America. He answered me that he did; and that he was here, for a time only, to arrange his private affairs. Of course, this stopped my proceeding further in compliance with the hint in your letter. I knew that the Chevalier Luzerne still retained the character of minister to Congress, which occasioned my premising the question I did. But, notwithstanding the answer, which indeed was the only one the Count de Vergennes could give me, I believe it is not expected that the Chevalier will return to America: that he is waiting an appointment here, to some of their embassies, or some other promotion, and in the mean time, as a favor, is permitted to retain his former character. Knowing the esteem borne him in America, I did not suppose it would be wished, that I should add any thing which might occasion an injury to him; and the rather, as I presumed that, at this time, there did not exist the same reason for wishing the arrival of a minister in America, which perhaps existed there at the date of your letter. Count Adhemar is just arrived from London, on account of a paralytic disease with which he has been struck. It does not seem improbable, that his place will be supplied, and perhaps by the Chevalier de la Luzerne.
A French vessel has lately refused the salute to a British armed vessel in the channel. The Charge des Affaires of Great Britain at this court (their ambassador having gone to London a few days ago) made this the subject of a conference with the Count de Vergennes, on Tuesday last. He told me that the Count explained the transaction as the act of the individual master of the French vessel, not founded in any public orders. His earnestness, and his endeavors to find terms sufficiently soft to express the Count's explanation, had no tendency to lessen any doubts I might have entertained on this subject. I think it possible the refusal may have been by order: nor can I believe that Great Britain is in a condition to resent it, if it was so. In this case, we shall see it repeated by France and her example will then be soon followed by other nations. The news-writers bring together this circumstance with the departure of the French ambassador from London, and the English ambassador from Paris, the manoeuvring of the French fleet just off the channel, the collecting some English vessels of war in the channel, the failure of a commercial treaty between the two countries, and a severe Arret here against English manufacturers, as foreboding war. It is possible that the fleet of manoeuvre, the refusal of the salute, and the English fleet of observation, may have a connexion with one another. But I am persuaded the other facts are totally independent of these, and of one another, and are accidentally brought together in point of time. Neither nation is in a condition to go to war: Great Britain, indeed, the least so of the two. The latter power, or rather its monarch, as Elector of Hanover, has lately confederated with the King of Prussia and others of the Germanic body, evidently in opposition to the Emperor's designs on Bavaria. An alliance, too, between the Empress of Russia and the Republic of Venice, seems to have had him in view, as he had meditated some exchange of territory with that republic. This desertion of the powers heretofore thought friendly to him, seems to leave no issue for his ambition, but on the side of Turkey. His demarkation with that country is still unsettled. His difference with the Dutch is certainly agreed. The articles are not yet made public; perhaps not quite adjusted. Upon the whole, we may count on another year's peace in Europe, and that our friends will not, within that time, be brought into any embarrassments, which might encourage Great Britain to be difficult in settling the points still unsettled between us.
You have, doubtless, seen in the papers, that this court was sending two vessels into the south sea, under the conduct of a Captain Peyrouse. They give out, that the object is merely for the improvement of our knowledge of the geography of that part of the globe. And certain it is, that they carry men of eminence in different branches of science. Their loading, however, as detailed in conversations, and some other circumstances, appeared to me to indicate some other design: perhaps that of colonizing on the western coast of America; or, it may be, only to establish one or more factories there, for the fur-trade. Perhaps we may be little interested in either of these objects. But we are interested in another, that is, to know whether they are perfectly weaned from the desire of possessing continental colonies in America. Events might arise, which would render it very desirable for Congress to be satisfied they have no such wish. If they would desire a colony on the western side of America, I should not be quite satisfied that they would refuse one which should offer itself on the eastern side. Captain Paul Jones being at L'Orient, within a day's journey of Brest, where Captain Peyrouse's vessels lay, I desired him, if he could not satisfy himself at L'Orient of the nature of this equipment, to go to Brest for that purpose: conducting himself so as to excite no suspicion that we attended at all to this expedition. His discretion can be relied on, and his expenses for so short a journey will be a trifling price for satisfaction on this point. I hope, therefore, that my undertaking that the expenses of his journey shall be reimbursed him, will not be disapproved.
A gentleman lately arrived from New York tells me, he thinks it will be satisfactory to Congress, to be informed of the effect produced here by the insult of Longchamps on Monsieur de Marbois. Soon after my arrival in France last summer, it was the matter of a conversation between the Count de Vergennes and myself. I explained to him the effect of the judgment against Longchamps. He did not say that it was satisfactory, but neither did he say a word from which I could collect that it was not so. The conversation was not official, because foreign to the character in which I then was. He has never mentioned a word on the subject to me since, and it was not for me to introduce it at any time. I have never once heard it mentioned in conversation, by any person of this country, and have no reason to suppose that there remains any uneasiness on the subject. I have indeed been told, that they had sent orders to make a formal demand of Longchamps from Congress, and had immediately countermanded these orders. You know whether this be true. If it be, I should suspect the first orders to have been surprised from them by some exaggeration, and that the latter was a correction of their error, in the moment of further reflection. Upon the whole, there certainly appears to me no reason to urge the State, in which the fact happened, to any violation of their laws, nor to set a precedent which might hereafter be used in cases more interesting to us than the late one.
In a late conversation with the Count de Vergennes, he asked me if the condition of our finances was improving. He did not make an application of the question to the arrearages of their interest, though perhaps he meant that I should apply it. I told him the impost still found obstacles, and explained to him the effects which I hoped from our land office. Your letter of the 15th of April did not come to hand till the 27th ultimo. I enclose a letter from Mr. Dumas to the President of Congress, and accompany the present with the Leyden Gazette and Gazette of France, from the date last sent you to the present time. I have the honor to be, with high esteem, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER XCII.—TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES, August 15, 1785
TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Paris, August 15, 1785.
In the conversation which I had the honor of having with your Excellency, a few days ago, on the importance of placing, at this time, the commerce between France and America on the best footing possible, among other objects of this commerce, that of tobacco was mentioned, as susceptible of greater encouragement and advantage to the two nations. Always distrusting what I say in a language I speak so imperfectly, I will beg your permission to state, in English, the substance of what I had then the honor to observe, adding some more particular details for your consideration.
I find the consumption of tobacco in France estimated at from fifteen to thirty millions of pounds. The most probable estimate, however, places it at twenty-four millions.
This costing eight sous the pound, delivered in
a port of France, amounts to...............9,600,000 livres.
Allow six sous a pound, as the average cost of the
The revenue which the King derives from this, is
something less than.......................30,000,000
Which would make the cost of the whole... 46,800,000
But it is sold to the consumers at an average of
three livres the pound....................72,000,000
There remain then for the expenses
of collection............................ 25,200,000 livres.
This is within a sixth as much as the King receives, and so gives nearly one half for collecting the other. It would be presumption in me, a stranger, to suppose my numbers perfectly accurate. I have taken them from the best and most disinterested authorities I could find. Your Excellency will know how far they are wrong; and should you find them considerably wrong, yet I am persuaded you will find, after strictly correcting them, that the collection of this branch of the revenue still absorbs too much.
My apology for making these remarks will, I hope, be found in my wishes to improve the commerce between the two nations, and the interest which my own country will derive from this improvement. The monopoly of the purchase of tobacco in France, discourages both the French and American merchant from bringing it here, and from taking in exchange the manufactures and productions of France. It is contrary to the spirit of trade, and to the dispositions of merchants, to carry a commodity to any market where but one person is allowed to buy it, and where, of course, that person fixes its price, which the seller must receive, or reexport his commodity, at the loss of his voyage thither. Experience accordingly shows, that they carry it to other markets, and that they take in exchange the merchandise of the place where they deliver it. I am misinformed, if France has not been furnished from a neighboring nation with considerable quantities of tobacco, since the peace, and been obliged to pay there in coin, what might have been paid here in manufactures, had the French and American merchants bought the tobacco originally here. I suppose, too, that the purchases made by the Farmers General, in America, are paid for chiefly in coin, which coin is also remitted directly hence to England, and makes an important part of the balance supposed to be in favor of that nation against this. Should the Farmers General, by themselves, or by the company to whom they may commit the procuring these tobaccos from America, require, for the satisfaction of government on this head, the exportation of a proportion of merchandise in exchange for them, it would be an unpromising expedient. It would only commit the exports, as well as imports, between France and America, to a monopoly, which, being secure against rivals in the sale of the merchandise of France, would not be likely to sell at such moderate prices as might encourage its consumption there, and enable it to bear a competition with similar articles from other countries. I am persuaded this exportation of coin may be prevented, and that of commodities effected, by leaving both operations to the French and American merchants, instead of the Farmers General. They will import a sufficient quantity of tobacco, if they are allowed a perfect freedom in the sale; and they will receive in payment, wines, oils, brandies, and manufactures, instead of coin; forcing each other, by their competition, to bring tobaccos of the best quality; to give to the French manufacturer the full worth of his merchandise; and to sell to the American consumer at the lowest price they can afford; thus encouraging him to use, in preference, the merchandise of this country.
It is not necessary that this exchange should be favored by any loss of revenue to the King. I do not mean to urge any thing which shall injure either his Majesty or his people. On the contrary, the measure I have the honor of proposing, will increase his revenue, while it places both the seller and buyer on a better footing. It is not for me to say, what system of collection may be best adapted to the organization of this government; nor whether any useful hints may be taken from the practice of that country, which has heretofore been the principal entrepot for this commodity. Their system is simple and little expensive. The importer there, pays the whole duty to the King: and as this would be inconvenient for him to do before he has sold his tobacco, he is permitted, on arrival, to deposite it in the King's warehouse, under the locks of the King's officer. As soon as he has sold it, he goes with the purchaser to the warehouse; the money is there divided between the King and him, to each his proportion, and the purchaser takes out the tobacco. The payment of the King's duty is thus ensured in ready money. What is the expense of its collection, I cannot say; but it certainly need not exceed six livres a hogshead of one thousand pounds. That government levies a higher duty on tobacco than is levied here. Yet so tempting and so valuable is the perfect liberty of sale, that the merchant carries it there and finds his account in doing so.
If, by a simplification of the collection of the King's duty on tobacco, the cost of that collection can be reduced even to five per cent., or a million and a half, instead of twenty-five millions; the price to the consumer will be reduced from three to two livres the pound. For thus I calculate.
The cost, manufacture, and revenue, on twenty-four million pounds
of tobacco being (as before stated)................46,800,000 livres.
Five per cent, on thirty millions of livres,
expenses of collection .............................1,500,000
Give what the consumers would pay, being
about two livres a pound...........................48,300,000
But they pay at present three livres a pound...... 72,000,000
The difference is..................................23,700,000
The price being thus reduced one third, would be brought within the reach of a new and numerous circle of the people, who cannot, at present, afford themselves this luxury. The consumption, then, would probably increase, and perhaps in the same if not a greater proportion, with the reduction of the price; that is to say, from twenty-four to thirty-sis millions of pounds: and the King, continuing to receive twenty-five sous on the pound, as at present, would receive forty-fire instead of thirty millions of livres, while his subjects would pay but two livres for an object which has heretofore cost them three. Or if, in event, the consumption were not to be increased, he would levy only forty-eight millions on his people, where seventy-two millions are now levied, and would leave twenty-four millions in their pockets, either to remain there, or to be levied in some other form, should the state of revenue require it. It will enable his subjects, also, to dispose of between nine and ten millions' worth of their produce and manufactures, instead of sending nearly that sum annually, in coin, to enrich a neighboring nation.
I have heard two objections made to the suppression of this monopoly. 1. That it might increase the importation of tobacco in contraband. 2. That it would lessen the abilities of the Farmers General to make occasional loans of money to the public treasury. These objections will surely be better answered by those who are better acquainted than I am with the details and circumstances of the country. With respect to the first, however, I may observe, that contraband does not increase on lessening the temptations to it. It is now encouraged, by those who engage in it being able to sell for sixty sous what cost but fourteen, leaving a gain of forty-six sous. When the price shall be reduced from sixty to forty sous, the gain will be but twenty-six, that is to say, a little more than one half of what it is at present. It does not seem a natural consequence, then, that contraband should be increased by reducing its gain nearly one half. As to the second objection, if we suppose (for elucidation and without presuming to fix) the proportion of the farm on tobacco, at one eighth of the whole mass farmed, the abilities of the Farmers General to lend will be reduced one eighth, that is, they can hereafter lend only seven millions, where heretofore they have lent eight. It is to be considered, then, whether this eighth (or other proportion, whatever it be) is worth the annual sacrifice of twenty-four millions, or if a much smaller sacrifice to other monied men, will not produce the same loans of money in the ordinary way.
While the advantages of an increase of revenue to the crown, a diminution of impost on the people, and a payment in merchandise instead of money, are conjectured as likely to result to France from a suppression of the monopoly on tobacco, we have also reason to hope some advantages on our part; and this hope alone could justify my entering into the present details. I do not expect this advantage will be by an augmentation of price. The other markets of Europe have too much influence on this article, to admit any sensible augmentation of price to take place. But the advantage I principally expect, is an increase of consumption. This will give us a vent for so much more, and, of consequence, find employment for so many more cultivators of the earth: and in whatever proportion it increases this production for us, in the same proportion will it procure additional vent for the merchandise of France, and employment for the hands which produce it. I expect too, that by bringing our merchants here, they would procure a number of commodities in exchange, better in kind, and cheaper in price. It is with sincerity I add, that warm feelings are indulged in my breast by the further hope, that it would bind the two nations still closer in friendship, by binding them in interest. In truth, no two countries are better calculated for the exchanges of commerce. France wants rice, tobacco, potash, furs, and ship timber. We want wines, brandies, oils, and manufactures. There is an affection, too, between the two people, which disposes them to favor one another. They do not come together, then, to make the exchange in their own ports, it shows there is some substantial obstruction in the way. We have had the benefit of too many proofs of his Majesty's friendly disposition towards the United States, and know too well his affectionate care of his own subjects, to doubt his willingness to remove these obstructions, if they can be unequivocally pointed out. It is for his wisdom to decide, whether the monopoly, which is the subject of this letter, be deservedly classed with the principal of these. It is a great comfort to me too, that in presenting this to the mind of his Majesty, your Excellency will correct my ideas where an insufficient knowledge of facts may have led me into error; and that while the interests of the King and of his people are the first object of your attention, an additional one will be presented by those dispositions towards us, which have heretofore so often befriended our nation.
I avail myself of this occasion to repeat the assurance of that high respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be
your Excellency's most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER XCIII.—TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES, August 17, 1785
TO CAPTAIN JOHN PAUL JONES.
Paris, August 17, 1785.
Mine of the 13th informed you that I had written to the M. de Castries on the subject of Puchilberg's interference. Yesterday I received his answer dated the 12th. In that, he says that he is informed by the Ordonnateur, that he has not been able to get an authentic roll of the crew of the Alliance, and that, in the probable case of there having been some French subjects among them, it will be just that you should give security to repay their portions. I wrote to him this morning, that as you have obliged yourself to transmit the money to the treasury of the United States, it does not seem just to require you to be answerable for money which will be no longer within your power; that the repayment of such portions will be incumbent on Congress; that I will immediately solicit their orders to have all such claims paid by their banker here: and that should any be presented before I receive their orders, I will undertake to direct the banker of the United States to pay them, that there may be no delay. I trust that this will remove the difficulty, and that it is the last which will be offered. The ultimate answer shall be communicated the moment I receive it. Having pledged myself for the claims which may be offered, before I receive the orders of Congress, it is necessary to arm myself with the proper checks. Can you give me a roll of the crew, pointing out the French subjects? If not, can you recollect personally the French subjects, and name them to me, and the sums they are entitled to? it there were none such, yet the roll will be material, because I have no doubt that Puchilberg will excite claims upon me, either true or false,
I am, with much respect, Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER XCIV.—TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL, August 18, 1785
TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.
Pads, August 18, 1785.
My last to you was of June the 22nd, with a postscript of July the 14th. Yours of June the 27th came to hand the 23rd of July, and that of July the 28th came to hand the 10th instant. The papers enclosed in the last shall be communicated to Mr. Adams. I see with extreme satisfaction and gratitude, the friendly interposition of the court of Spain with the Emperor of Morocco, on the subject of the brig Betsy, and I am persuaded it will produce the happiest effects in America. Those who are entrusted with the public affairs there, are sufficiently sensible how essentially it is for our interest to cultivate peace with Spain, and they will be pleased to see a corresponding disposition in that court. The late good office of emancipating a number of our countrymen from slavery is peculiarly calculated to produce a sensation among our people, and to dispose them to relish and adopt the pacific and friendly views of their leaders towards Spain. We hear nothing yet of Mr. Lambe. I have therefore lately proposed to Mr. Adams, that if he does not come in the French or English packet of this month, we will wait no longer. If he accedes to the proposition, you will be sure of hearing of, and perhaps of seeing, some agent proceeding on that business. The immense sum said to have been proposed, on the part of Spain, to Algiers, leaves us little hope of satisfying their avarice. It may happen then, that the interests of Spain and America may call for a concert of proceedings against that State. The dispositions of the Emperor of Morocco give us better hopes there. May not the affairs of the Musquito coast, and our western ports, produce another instance of a common interest? Indeed, I meet this correspondence of interest in so many quarters, that I look with anxiety to the issue of Mr. Gardoqui's mission; hoping it will be a removal of the only difficulty at present subsisting between the two nations, or which is likely to arise.
Congress are not likely to adjourn this summer. They have purchased the Indian right of soil to about fifty millions of acres of land, between the Ohio and lakes, and expected to make another purchase of an equal quantity. They have, in consequence, passed an ordinance for disposing of their lands, and I think a very judicious one. They propose to sell them at auction for not less than a dollar an acre, receiving their own certificates of debt as money. I am of opinion all the certificates of our domestic debt will immediately be exchanged for land, Our foreign debt, in that case, will soon be discharged. New York and Rhode Island still refuse the impost. A general disposition is taking place to commit the whole management of our commerce to Congress. This has been much promoted by the interested policy of England, which, it was apparent, could not be counter-worked by the States separately. In the mean time, the other great towns are acceding to the proceedings of Boston for annihilating, in a great measure, their commercial connections with Great Britain. I will send the cipher by a gentleman who goes from here to Madrid about a month hence. It shall be a copy of the one I gave Mr. Adams. The letter of Don Gomez has been delivered at the hotel of the Portuguese ambassador, who is, however, in the country. I am with much respect, Dear Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER XCV.—TO PETER CARR—Advice to a young man, Aug. 19, 1785
TO PETER CARR.
Paris, August 19, 1785.
I received, by Mr. Mazzei, your letter of April the 20th. I am much mortified to hear that you have lost so much time; and that when you arrived in Williamsburg, you were not at all advanced from what you were when you left Monticello. Time now begins to be precious to you. Every day you lose, will retard a day your entrance on that public stage whereon you may begin to be useful to yourself. However, the way to repair the loss is to improve the future time. I trust, that with your dispositions, even the acquisition of science is a pleasing employment. I can assure you, that the possession of it is, what (next to an honest heart) will above all things render you dear to your friends, and give you fame and promotion in your own country. When your mind shall be well improved with science, nothing will be necessary to place you in the highest points of view, but to pursue the interests of your country, the interests of your friends and your own interests also, with the purest integrity, the most chaste honor. The defect of these virtues can never be made up by all the other acquirements of body and mind. Make these then your first object. Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose, that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you. Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly. Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual. From the practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive the most sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment of death. If ever you find yourself environed with difficulties and perplexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. Though you cannot see, when you take one step, what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth, in the easiest manner possible. The knot which you thought a Gordian one, will untie itself before you. Nothing is so mistaken as the supposition, that a person is to extricate himself from a difficulty by intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by trimming, by an untruth, by an injustice. This increases the difficulties ten fold; and those who pursue these methods, get themselves so involved at length, that they can turn no way but their infamy becomes more exposed. It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till a length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.
An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second. It is time for you now to begin to be choice in your reading; to begin to pursue a regular course in it; and not to suffer yourself to be turned to the right or left by reading any thing out of that course. 1 have long ago digested a plan for you, suited to the circumstances in which you will be placed. This I will detail to you, from time to time, as you advance. For the present, I advise you to begin a course of ancient history, reading every thing in the original and not in translations. First read Goldsmith's History of Greece. This will give you a digested view of that field. Then take up ancient history in the detail, reading the following books in the following order: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Hellenica, Xenophontis Anabasis, Arrian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form the first stage of your historical reading, and is all I need mention to you now. The next, will be of Roman history.* From that we will come down to modern history. In Greek and Latin poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles. Read also Milton's Paradise Lost, Shakspeare, Ossian, Pope's and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own language. In morality, read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophies, Antoninus, and Seneca.
* Livy, Sullust, Caesar, Cicero's Epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, Gibbon.
In order to assure a certain progress in this reading, consider what hours you have free from the school and the exercises of the school. Give about two of them every day to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but I doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained, by the use of this animal. No one has occasioned so much the degeneracy of the human body. An Indian goes on foot nearly as far in a day, for a long journey, as an enfeebled white does on his horse; and he will tire the best horses. There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue. I would advise you to take your,exercise in the afternoon: not because it is the best time for exercise, for certainly it is not; but because it is the best time to spare from your studies; and habit will soon reconcile it to health, and render it nearly as useful as if you gave to that the more precious hours of the day. A little walk of half an hour in the morning, when you first rise, is advisable also. It shakes off sleep, and produces other good effects in the animal economy. Rise at a fixed and an early hour, and go to bed at a fixed and early hour also. Sitting up late at night is injurious to the health, and not useful to the mind. Having ascribed proper hours to exercise, divide what remain (I mean of your vacant hours) into three portions. Give the principal to History, the other two, which should be shorter, to Philosophy and Poetry. Write to me once every month or two, and let me know the progress you make. Tell me in what manner you employ every hour in the day. The plan I have proposed for you is adapted to your present situation only. When that is changed, I shall propose a corresponding change of plan. I have ordered the following books to be sent you from London, to the care of Mr. Madison. Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon's Hellenics, Anabasis, and Memorabilia, Cicero's works, Baretti's Spanish and English Dictionary, Martin's Philosophical Grammar, and Martin's Philosophia Britannica. I will send you the following from hence. Bezout's Mathematics, De la Lande's Astronomy, Muschenbroeck's Physics, Quintus Curtius, Justin, a Spanish Grammar, and some Spanish books, You will observe that Martin, Bezout, De la Lande, and Muschenbroeck are not in the preceding plan. They are not to be opened till you go to the University. You are now, I expect, learning French. You must push this; because the books which will be put into your hands when you advance into Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Natural History, &c. will be mostly French, these sciences being better treated by the French than the English writers. Our future connection with Spain renders that the most necessary of the modern languages, after the French. When you become a public man, you may have occasion for it, and the circumstance of your possessing that language may give you a preference over other candidates. I have nothing further to add for the present, but husband well your time, cherish your instructors, strive to make every body your friend; and be assured that nothing will be so pleasing, as your success, to, Dear Peter,
LETTER XCVI.—TO JOHN PAGE, August 20 1785
TO JOHN PAGE.
Paris, August 20 1785.
I received your friendly letter of April the 28th, by Mr. Mazzei, on the 22nd of July. That of the month before, by Monsieur La Croix, has not come to hand. This correspondence is grateful to some of my warmest feelings, as the friendships of my youth are those which adhere closest to me, and in which I most confide. My principal happiness is now in the retrospect of life.
I thank you for your notes of your operations on the Pennsylvania boundary. I am in hopes that from yourself, Madison, Rittenhouse, or Hutchings, I shall receive a chart of the line as actually run. It will be a great present to me. I think Hutchings promised to send it to me. I have been much pleased to hear you had it in contemplation, to endeavor to establish Rittenhouse in our college. This would be an immense acquisition, and would draw youth to it from every part of the continent. You will do much more honor to our society, on reviving it, by placing him at its head, than so useless a member as I should be. I have been so long diverted from this my favorite line, and that, too, without acquiring an attachment to my adopted one, that I am become a mongrel, of no decided order, unowned by any, and incapable of serving any. I should feel myself out of my true place too, to stand before McLurg. But why withdraw yourself? You have more zeal, more application, and more constant attention to the subjects proper to the society, and can, therefore, serve them best.
The affair of the Emperor and Dutch is settled, though not signed. The particulars have not yet transpired. That of the Bavarian exchange is dropped, and his views on Venice defeated. The alliance of Russia with Venice, to prevent his designs in that quarter, and that of the Hanoverian Elector with the King of Prussia and other members of the Germanic body, to prevent his acquisition of Bavaria, leave him in a solitary situation. In truth, he has lost much reputation by his late manoeuvres. He is a restless, ambitious character, aiming at every thing, persevering in nothing, taking up designs without calculating the force which will be opposed to him, and dropping them on the appearance of firm opposition. He has some just views and much activity. The only quarter in which the peace of Europe seems at present capable of being disturbed, is on that of the Porte. It is believed that the Emperor and Empress have schemes in contemplation for driving the Turks out of Europe. Were this with a view to re-establish the native Greeks in the sovereignty of their own country, I could wish them success, and to see driven from that delightful country, a set of barbarians, with whom an opposition to all science is an article of religion. The modern Greek is not yet so far departed from its ancient model, but that we might still hope to see the language of Homer and Demosthenes flow with purity from the lips of a free and ingenious people. But these powers have in object to divide the country between themselves. This is only to substitute one set of barbarians for another, breaking, at the same time, the balance among the European powers. You have been told with truth, that the Emperor of Morocco has shown a disposition to enter into treaty with us: but not truly, that Congress has not attended to his advances, and thereby disgusted him. It is long since they took measures to meet his advances. But some unlucky incidents have delayed their effect. His dispositions continue good. As a proof of this, he has lately released freely, and clothed well, the crew of an American brig he took last winter; the only vessel ever taken from us by any of the States of Barbary. But what is the English of these good dispositions? Plainly this; he is ready to receive us into the number of his tributaries. What will be the amount of tribute, remains yet to be known, but it probably will not be as small as you may have conjectured. It will surely be more than a free people ought to pay to a power owning only four or five frigates, under twenty-two guns: he has not a port into which a larger vessel can enter. The Algerines possess fifteen or twenty frigates, from that size up to fifty guns. Disinclination on their part has lately broken off a treaty between Spain and them, whereon they were to have received a million of dollars, besides great presents in naval stores. What sum they intend we shall pay, I cannot say. Then follow Tunis and Tripoli. You will probably find the tribute to all these powers make such a proportion of the federal taxes, as that every man will feel them sensibly, when he pays those taxes. The question is whether their peace or war will be cheapest. But it is a question which should be addressed to our honor, as well as our avarice. Nor does it respect us as to these pirates only, but as to the nations of Europe. If we wish our commerce to be free and uninsuked, we must let these nations see that we have an energy which at present they disbelieve. The low opinion they entertain of our powers, cannot fail to involve us soon in a naval war.
I shall send you with this, if I can., and if not, then by the first good conveyance, the Connoissance des Tems for the years 1786 and 1787, being all as yet published. You will find in these the tables for the planet Herschel, as far as the observations, hitherto made, admit them to be calculated. You will see, also, that Herschel was only the first astronomer who discovered it to be a planet, and not the first who saw it. Mayer saw it in the year 1756, and placed it in the catalogue of his zodiacal stars, supposing it to be such. A Prussian astronomer, in the year 1781, observed that the 964th star of Mayer's catalogue was missing: and the calculations now prove that at the time Mayer saw his 964th star, the planet Herschel should have been precisely in the place where he noted that star. I shall send you also a little publication here, called the Bibliotheque Physico-oeconomique. It will communicate all the improvements and new discoveries in the arts and sciences, made in Europe for some years past. I shall be happy to hear from you often. Details, political and literary, and even of the small history of our country, are the most pleasing communications possible. Present me affectionately to Mrs. Page, and to your family, in the members of which, though unknown to me, I feel an interest on account of their parents. Believe me to be with warm esteem, dear Page, your sincere friend and servant,
LETTER XCVII.—TO JOHN JAY, August 23, 1785
TO JOHN JAY.
(Private.) Paris, August 23, 1785.
I shall sometimes ask your permission to write you letters, not official, but private. The present is of this kind, and is occasioned by the question proposed in yours of June the 14th; 'Whether it would be useful to us, to carry all our own productions, or none?'
Were we perfectly free to decide this question, I should reason as follows. We have now lands enough to employ an infinite number of people in their cultivation. Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests, by the most lasting bonds. As long, therefore, as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans, or any thing else. But our citizens will find employment in this line, till their numbers, and of course their productions, become too great for the demand, both internal and foreign. This is not the case as yet, and probably will not be for a considerable time. As soon as it is, the surplus of hands must be turned to something else. I should then, perhaps, wish to turn them to the sea in preference to manufactures; because, comparing the characters of the two classes, I find the former the most valuable citizens. I consider the class of artificers as the panders of vice, and the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned. However, we are not free to decide this question on principles of theory only. Our people are decided in the opinion, that it is necessary for us to take a share in the occupation of the ocean, and their established habits induce them to require that the sea be kept open to them, and that that line of policy be pursued, which will render the use of that element to them as great as possible. I think it a duty in those entrusted with the administration of their affairs, to conform themselves to the decided choice of their constituents: and that therefore, we should, in every instance, preserve an equality of right to them in the transportation of commodities, in the right of fishing, and in the other uses of the sea.
But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars without a doubt. Their property will be violated on the sea and in foreign ports, their persons will be insulted, imprisoned, &c. for pretended debts, contracts, crimes, contraband, &c. &c. These insults must be resented, even if we had no feelings, yet to prevent their eternal repetition; or, in other words, our commerce on the ocean and in other countries must be paid for by frequent war. The justest dispositions possible in ourselves will not secure us against it. It would be necessary that all other nations were just also. Justice indeed, on our part, will save us from those wars which would have been produced by a contrary disposition. But how can we prevent those produced by the wrongs of other nations? By putting ourselves in a condition to punish them. Weakness provokes insult and injury, while a condition to punish, often prevents them. This reasoning leads to the necessity of some naval force; that being the only weapon with which we can reach an enemy. I think it to our interest to punish the first insult: because an insult unpunished is the parent of many others. We are not, at this moment, in a condition to do it, but we should put ourselves into it, as soon as possible. If a war with England should take place, it seems to me that the first thing necessary, would be a resolution to abandon the carrying trade, because we cannot protect it. Foreign nations must, in that case, be invited to bring us what we want, and to take our productions in their own bottoms. This alone could prevent the loss of those productions to us, and the acquisition of them to our enemy. Our seamen might be employed in depredations on their trade. But how dreadfully we shall suffer on our coasts, if we have no force on the water, former experience has taught us. Indeed, I look forward with horror to the very possible case of war with an European power, and think there is no protection against them, but from the possession of some force on the sea. Our vicinity to their West India possessions, and to the fisheries, is a bridle which a small naval force, on our part, would hold in the mouths of the most powerful of these countries. I hope our land office will rid us of our debts, and that our first attention then will be, to the beginning a naval force, of some sort. This alone can countenance our people as carriers on the water, and I suppose them to be determined to continue such.
I wrote you two public letters on the 14th instant, since which I have received yours of July the 13th. I shall always be pleased to receive from you, in a private way, such communications as you might not choose to put into a public letter.
I have the honor to be, with very sincere esteem, Dear Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER XCVIII.—TO COLONEL MONROE, August 28, 1735
TO COLONEL MONROE.
Paris, August 28, 1735.
I wrote you on the 5th of July by Mr. Franklin, and on the 12th of the same month by Monsieur Houdon. Since that date, yours of June the 16th, by Mr. Mazzei, has been received. Every thing looks like peace here. The settlement between the Emperor and Dutch is not yet published, but it is believed to be agreed on. Nothing is done, as yet, between him and the Porte. He is much wounded by the confederation of several of the Germanic body, at the head of which is the King of Prussia, and to which the King of England, as Elector of Hanover, is believed to accede. The object is to preserve the constitution of that empire. It shows that these princes entertain serious jealousies of the ambition of the Emperor, and this will very much endanger the election of his nephew as King of the Romans. A late Arret of this court against the admission of British manufactures produces a great sensation in England. I wish it may produce a disposition there to receive our commerce in all their dominions, on advantageous terms. This is the only balm which can heal the wounds that it has received. It is but too true, that that country furnished markets for three fourths of the exports of the eight northernmost states. A truth not proper to be spoken of, but which should influence our proceedings with them.
The July French packet having arrived without bringing any news of Mr. Lambe, if the English one of the same month be also arrived, without news of him, I expect Mr. Adams will concur with me in sending some other person to treat with the Barbary States. Mr. Barclay is willing to go, and I have proposed him to Mr. Adams, but have not yet received his answer. The peace expected between Spain and Algiers will probably not take place. It is said the former was to have given a million of dollars. Would it not be prudent to send a minister to Portugal? Our commerce with that country is very important; perhaps more so than with any other country in Europe. It is possible too, that they might permit our whaling vessels to refresh in Brazil, or give some other indulgences in America. The lethargic character of their ambassador here, gives a very unhopeful aspect to a treaty on this ground. I lately spoke with him on the subject, and he has promised to interest himself in obtaining an answer from his court.
I have waited to see what was the pleasure of Congress, as to the secretaryship of my office here; that is, to see whether they proposed to appoint a secretary of legation, or leave me to appoint a private secretary. Colonel Humphreys' occupation in the despatches and records of the matters which relate to the general commissions, does not afford him leisure to aid me in my office, were I entitled to ask that aid. In the mean time, the long papers which often accompany the communications between the ministers here and myself, and the other business of the office, absolutely require a scribe. I shall, therefore, on Mr. Short's return from the Hague, appoint him my private secretary, 'til congress shall think proper to signify their pleasure. The salary allowed Mr. Franklin, in the same office, was one thousand dollars a year. I shall presume that Mr Short may draw the same allowance from the funds of the United States here. As soon as I shall have made this appointment, I shall give official notice of it to Mr. Jay, that Congress may, if they disapprove it, say so.
I am much pleased with your land ordinance, and think it improved from the first, in the most material circumstances. I had mistaken the object of the division of the lands among the States. I am sanguine in my expectations of lessening our debts by this fund, and have expressed my expectations to the minister and others here. I see by the public papers, you have adopted the dollar as your money unit. In the arrangement of coins, I proposed, I ought to have inserted a gold coin of five dollars, which, being within two shillings of the value of a guinea, would be very convenient.