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the king's eldest brother, and his wife ; then to Madame the king's maiden sister. The youngest brother, Count d'Artois, was at this time under a temporary banishment from court, for having fought a duel with Duke Bourbon, a prince of the blood. They then visited the chancellor, whose office is for life, and he is obliged always to wear the robe of it. After this they dined with the Americans in their suite, at Mons. Girard's.
(c) Continuation of Extracts from the Journal of Arthur Lee, kept by him while he was a commissioner of the United States, at the court of France.
27th Nov. 1778. Mr Lee got to Versailles some time before his colleagues, and conversing with Count Vergennes upon the proceedings in Holland, the Count made this observation, « The Hollanders must be much embarrassed, for they have no treaty with us, securing to them the privileges of commerce ; they are therefore of grace, and we may alter them at our pleasure, so that if they comply with the desire of the court of London, and alter their treaty with England, we will immediately withdraw from them those privileges which they have neglected to secure by treaty.” This shows how necessary it is for commercial nations to have treaties of commerce with those kingdoms with which it is their interest to trade, and how unwise it is to leave their commerce thus at the mercy of political events.
Dec. 4th. In a conference of the commissioners on the subject of a memorial to Count Vergennes, drawn up by Dr. Franklin, to obtain funds to enable them to pay the interest of the loan, Mr. Adams observed, “ that he thought we ought to state the interest France had in supporting us, how little the expense was in proportion to that interest, and not make it a matter of mere grace." It was his opinion, he said, “ that this court did not treat us with any confidence, nor give us any effectual assistance.” Dr. Franklin took it up with some warmth, and said “ he did not see how they were defective; they had
sent a fleet and given us money.” Mr. Adams replied, " that the monied assistance was pitiful, and the fleet had done us no service." Dr. Franklin answered, that was not their fault, as they took the wisest method of making it useful." Upon this Mr. Lee observed, “ that he did not know by whose advice the wise method was taken, of sending a fleet from Toulon, to be six weeks before it could get to sea, in order to surprise Lord Howe in America. But it seemed very obvious that if the fleet had been sent from Brest, it would have been in America, in all probability, before the other was out of the straits." The Dr. answered, “ that the sending it from Toulon concealed the design from the enemy; otherwise Byron's fleet would have been out immediately to stop it.” Mr. Lee replied, " that it was most notorious that the court of England had a daily account from Toulon of the preparation and destination of that feet, and that what really prevented them from ordering a force against it was their not being then prepared ; that if any doubt ever existed concerning its actual destination, it was whether the islands or the continent were the object, and that this doubt must have been the same from Brest as from Toulon. The passage of the straits was known to be generally from four to six weeks; this gave them time to fit out Byron's fleet, and to warn Lord Howe, and it was most obvious that this could not but be the consequence of advising the fleet to be sent from Toulon, which was not only frustrating the enterprise, but leading our allies into a dangerous situation. "Mr. Lee then
proposed to add to the memorial these words, “We flatter ourselves that the great and manifest injuries, which will follow to Great Britain, and the advantages which must be derived to France, from the establishment of the independence of the United States, will make it appear that the assisting of them, with these essentially necessary means of effecting it, will be a measure of the soundest wisdom and policy, on the part of his most Christian majesty.
But the Dr. opposing it strongly, and desiring it might be postponed till we saw the effect of begging it as a fa
vour, it was not insisted on. Dr. Franklin desired to know whether Spain had made any farther remittances, as Mr. Lee objected to putting in the memorial, “ that she gave us no assistance.” Mr. Lee answered, “ that there was reason to believe some had been made through the Havannah, but no certainty; and that a similar sum to the former had been remitted to him,"
Dec. 20th. Mr. Lee dined with Count Vergennes, who desired Mr. L. to procure for him the pamphlet entitled “ Anticipation,” which he said the king desired much to read.
A lady of the court, upon the Duke de Chartres telling her that the Count d'Artois and he had marked the ladies down as they came to pay their court, under the titles - Belles douces et affreuses,” answered, “ Mon. le Duc, vos entendez mieux des signialements, que des signaux,” the severity of which arose from the duke having been charged with not obeying Count d'Orvilliers' signals in the action off Ushant.
Jan. 8th, 1779. We visited the Marquis d'Ossun, who was now a minister, and lately ambassador at Madrid, and much in favour with the king of Spain. He told Mr. Lee that he believed Spain had been prevented from declaring by the hope of making peace, but that this winter would decide that court, and that he had no doubt, as we wished; that the Count Florida Blanca and Mons. de Galvis, Ministre pour les Indes, were able men, and the former would act either with perfect candour or cunning, as he was acted with. He promised Mr. Lee every instruction in his power, for his government at the Spanish court.
22d. Advices from Holland and England were filled with the eagerness of monied men to purchase in the stocks for the rencontre in May, upon the supposition that matters would be accommodated. Great discontent in France at their losses, charging them to the alliance with America. A person of rank told me at the Dutchess d'Anville’s, where we dined, that he had reason to believe that Mons. Girard would not stay long in America. He
said the Duke de Grimaldi had lost all his influence, which made things go on so slow in Spain.
24th. A gentleman of rank called upon me, and told me that Mons. Girard was no longer minister in America; that Chevalier de Luzerne, formerly minister plenipotentiary at the court of Bavaria, was appointed to succeed him. He represented him as a man of abilities, and of good principles. He desired me to keep the information secret, as it was not yet known at Passy.
20th. Had a long conversation with the minister from Florence. He thought our connexion with France had ruined our cause, and that we should be obliged to make terms with England. I was of a different opinion.
He advised the representing the condition of the United States as desperate, unless France would
exert herself, especially in furnishing money. He said England kept Vienna in awe, by threatening to give the king of Prussia a subsidy, if the court of Vienna declared in our favour.
31st. Dined at Count Sarsefeild's, with M. de la Luzerne, the minister nominated for congress; M. Marbois, secretary of the embassy; Mons. de Heredia, secretary of the Spanish embassy here; Mons. Descaranno, secretary to that at London, on his way to Rome; Mr. Izard; Com. Gillon, and Capt. Joiner.
Told Mons. de la Luzerne that the sine qua non in America was a large subsidy in money to support our funds, without which the war could not be maintained; that he could not do a better thing for himself and the public, than be the bearer of such a subsidy. Discoursing with Mons. Marbois, who had been much in Germany, he told me that Great Britain was considered the natural ally of Austria, and therefore the king of Prussia, it might be depended on, whatever might be his temporary engagements, would see with pleasure her power diminished by the independency of America.
Feb. 3d. Mr. Edward Jenings told me that Count Almedovar was exerting himself in London, to obtain an acknowledgment of our independence.
April 4th. Count Sarsefeild called on me, and told me
he had desired Mons. Descaranno to suggest to his court, the necessity of supporting us immediately with twenty millions. He told me, as did Mr. Jenings soon after, that it was said the court here was going to send a fleet of twenty sail to America. I observed, that it was talking of what they were to do so long beforehand, that frustrated all their plans, and that they would never succeed until they talked less and did more; that such a fleet ought now to be in America.
12th. The minister from Florence informed me that the treaty was not signed in Germany, but was sure. It was his opinion, that I could not penetrate into the designs of Spain better at Rome or Naples than here; that however, neither the French ambassador at Madrid, nor the court here, were in the secret; that a courier had just passed to London from Madrid, and one had arrived here, but what were their despatches was not known.
Soon after the Count Sarsefeild called on me to inform me that he had it from good authority that Spain would soon declare ; and advised me to draw up a short statement in refutation of Mr. Deane's charges against me, that I might give it to Count d'Ossun, which would be of much weight with him.
16th. Visited Mons. Turgot, late minister, and famous for his abilities in finance. He was determining the freezing point of ice, to make a thermometer. He preferred Reaumur's to Fahrenheit's scale, and wondered that the English used the latter.
I told him that finances were what required most of our attention now; that we wanted a system of finance. He did not know what a system of finance was ; that he had told me his opinion was that taxes should be laid on proprietors of land only, and that manufactures, consumption, and commerce ought to be free; that this was the only natural and wise way of imposing taxes. plied that there was an apparent inequality in this method, which rendered it odious, though in truth the consumer must repay it at last to the proprietor. He said it was a mistake, that the consumer paid the tax, but why, he did not explain.