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In this state of things, I persuade myself, Franklin is come to Paris, to draw from that Court a definitive and satisfactory answer concerning the support of the Colonies. If he cannot get such an answer (and I am of opinion, that at present he cannot) then it is to be presumed, he is authorized to negotiate with Lord Stormont on the basis of dependance on the Crown. This I take to be his errand : for I never can believe, that he is come thither as a fugitive from his cause in the hour of its distress, or that he is going to conclude a long life, which has brightened every hour it has continued, with so foul and dishonourable a flight. On this supposition, I thought it not wholly impossible, that the Whig Party might be made a sort of Mediators of the Peace. It is unnatural to suppose, that, in making an accommodation, the Americans should not choose rather to give credit to those, who all along have opposed the measure of Ministers, than to throw themselves wholly on the mercy of their bitter, uniform, and systematick enemies. It is indeed the victorious enemy, that has the terms to offer; the vanquished Party, and their friends, are, both of them, reduced in their power; and it is certain that those, who are utterly broken and subdued, have no option. But, as this is hardly yet the case of the Americans, in this middle state of their affairs (much impaired, but not perfectly ruined,) one would think it must be their interest to
provide, if possible, some further security for the terms, which they may obtain from their enemies. If the Congress could be brought to declare in favour of those terms, for which 100 members of the House of Commons voted last year, with some civility to the Party, which held out those terms, it would undoubtedly have an effect to revive the cause of our liberties in England, and to give the Colonies some sort of mooring and anchorage in this country. It seemed to me, that Franklin might be made to feel the propriety of such a step; and as I have an acquaintance with him, I had a strong desire of taking a turn to Paris. Every thing else failing, one might obtain a better knowledge of the general aspect of affairs abroad, than, I believe, any of us possess at present. The Duke of Portland approved the idea. But when I had conversed with the
few of your Lordship's friends, who were in town, and considered a little more maturely the constant temper and standing maxims of the Party, I laid aside the design; not being desirous of risking the displeasure of those, for whose sake alone I wished to take that fatiguing journey at this severe season of the year.
The Duke of Portland has taken with him some heads of deliberation, which were the result of a discourse with his Grace and Mr. Montagu at Burlington House. It seems essential to the cause, that your Lordship should meet your friends with
some settled plan either of action or inaction. Your friends will certainly require such a plan, and I am sure the state of affairs requires it, whether they call for it or not. As to the measure of a Secession with Reasons, after rolling the matter in my
head a good deal, and turning it an hundred ways, I confess I still think it the most advisable, notwithstanding the serious objections, that lie against it, and indeed the extreme uncertainty of all political measures, especially at this time. It provides for your honour. I know of nothing else, that can so well do this: it is something, perhaps all, that can be done in our present situation. Some precaution, in this respect, is not without its motives. That very estimation, for which you have sacrificed every thing else, is in some danger of suffering in the general wreck; and perhaps it is likely to suffer the more, because you have hitherto confided more, than was quite prudent, in the clearness of your intentions, , and in the solidity of the popular judgment upon them. The former, indeed, is out of the power of events; the latter is full of levity, and the very creature of fortune. However, such as it is (and for one I do not think I am inclined to overvalue, it) both our interest and our duty make it necessary for us to attend to it very carefully, so long as we act a part in publick. The measure you take for this purpose may produce no immediate effect; but with regard to the Party and the Principles, for
whose sake the Party exists, all hope of their preservation or recovery depends upon your préserving your reputation.
By the conversation of some friends, it seemed as if they were willing to fall in with this design, because it promised to emancipate them from the servitude of irksome business, and to afford them an opportunity of retiring to ease and tranquillity. If that be their object in the Secession and Addresses proposed, there surely never were means worse chosen to gain their end; and if this be any part of the project, it were a thousand times better it were never undertaken.—The measure is not only unusual, and as such critical, but it is in its own nature strong and vehement in a high degree. The propriety, therefore, of adopting it depends entirely upon the spirit, with which it is supported and followed. To pursue violent measures with languor and irresolution is not very consistent in speculation, and not more reputable or safe in practice. If your Lordship’s friends do not go to this business with their whole hearts, if they do not feel themselves uneasy without it, if they do not undertake it with a certain degree of zeal, and even with warmth and indignation, it had better be removed wholly out of our thoughts. A measure of less strength, and more in the beaten circle of affairs, if supported with spirit and industry, would be, on all accounts, infinitely more eligible.We have to consider, what
it is, that, in this undertaking, we have against us : we have the weight of King, Lords, and Commons, in the other scale: we have against us, within a trifle, the whole body of the Law: we oppose the more considerable part of the landed and mercantile interests : we contend, in a manner, against the whole Church: we set our faces against great armies, flushed with victory, and navies, who have tasted of civil spoil
, and have a strong appetite for more: our strength, whatever it is, must depend, for a good part of its effect, upon events not very probable. In such a situation, such a step requires not only great magnanimity, but unwearied activity and perseverance, with a good deal too of dexterity and management, to improve every accident in our favour. The delivery of this paper may
important consequences. It is true, that the Court may pass it over in silence with a real or affected contempt. But this I do not think so likely. If they do take notice of it, the mildest course will be such an address from Parliament, as the House of Commons made to the King on the London Remonstrance in the year 1769. This address will be followed by addresses of a similar tendency, from all parts of the kingdom, in order to overpower you with what they will endeavour to pass as the united voice and sense of the Nation. But if they intend to proceed further, and to take steps