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The Instructions of Congress to their foreign Ministers to consult with him was very ill judged; it was lowering themselves and their Servants. There is no American Minister who would not have been always ready and willing to consult with him; but to enjoin it and make it a Duty, was an humiliation that would astonish all the World if it was known. Your Ministers will never be respected, never have any Influence, while you depress them in this manner. Every Frenchman of Course who knows it, and enough do know it, will consider your Servants as mere Instruments in their hands. If Dr. Franklin Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, Mr. Dana, have occasion for the Advice of the Marquis, it would be wonderfull. It may be said that he is a convenient Go-between. I say for this very Reason it should have been avoided. There ought to be no Go-between. Your Ministers should confer directly with the Ministers of other Powers, and if they choose at any time to make Use of a third Person, they ought to choose him.
The Marquis may live these fifty years. Ten years may bring him by the order of Succession to the Command of your Army. You have given him a great deal too much of Popularity in our own Country. He is connected with a Family of vast Influence in France. He rises fast in the French Army. He may be soon in the Ministry. This Mongrel Character of French Patriot and American Patriot cannot exist long, and if hereafter it should be seriously the Politicks of the French Court to break our Union, Imagination cannot conceive a more Proper Instrument for the Purpose than the Marquis. He is now very active, everlastingly busy, ardent to distinguish himself every Way, especially to increase his Merit towards America, aiming as I believe at some Employment from Congress. Pains are taken to give him the Credit of every Thing. believe me it is of infinite Importance that you yourselves and your Servants should have the Reputation of their own Measures and of doing your Service.
I know the Confederation of our States to be a brittle Vessell, I know it will be an object of Jealousy to France. Severe strokes will be aimed at it; if We are not upon our Guard to ward them off, it will be broken and what a scene of Misery to our Country does this Idea open.
Amidst all the Joys of Peace and the glorious Prospect before Us I see in Europe so many Causes of Inquietude that I cannot be longer easy without laying my Thoughts open to a friend. I have freely hinted at the Characters which have given me unutterable Distress, because they have endangered and dishonoured our Country, and I now give you my apprehensions of another.
Our Country is a singular one. It is a Temple of Liberty set open to all the World. If there is anything on Earth worthy of being contended for it is this glorious object. I never had thro my whole Life any other Ambition than to cherish, promote and protect it, and never will have any other for myself nor my children. For this object however I have [endured] as much as any Conqueror ever had; for this I have run as great Risques and made as great Sacrifices as any of the pretended Heroes whose object was Domination and Power, Wealth and Pleasure. For this I have opened to you Characters with Freedom which it is to me personally dangerous to touch, but it is necessary and come what will I will not flinch. These People know me, they know I stand in their Way, and therefore you will hear of insinuations enough darkly circulated, to lessen me at home. I care not. Let me come home and tell my own story your Frd.
MILTON, May 4th, 1783
SIR, Did not the stronger motive of friendship excite, I think the Gratitude due from each individual of your Country would be a stimulus sufficient to set the pen in motion. Urged by such Laudable principles an apology for calling aside your Attention from objects of Greater Magnitude is unnecessary. And if I am the Last to Congratulate you on the success of your Negotiations, I will venture to say I am not the Least sensible of their importance. and among the Multitude of your friends you have few who enjoy more pleasure in your Triumph over your Enemies, or in that Firmness, Intrepidity, and Perseverance that at once ob
MERCY WARREN TO JOHN Adams
tained it and secured the Claims of America on a Basis that promisses Wealth and Honor (and if not incompatible) I will add Happiness to posterity.
And do you think now, sir, to retire to sit down Quietly and enjoy the sweets of Domestic life. No. Never, till Weary Nature diminishes your Capacity for acting in the sphere of Dignified Difficulty. you was not made for the purpose of Resting in the cool sequestered shade of life. it is yours to tread the bold and craggy path of politics, to Counteract the Intrigues of statesmen and Princes, to settle the Boundaries of Nations and mark the line of Empire. and what is more difficult to Atchieve, to convince Mankind that probity is the surest Road to Honour.
A people destitute of public or private Virtue cannot be long Happy by the Exertions of a few of the best or Wisest of her Citizens. Yet I believe the Example of one Good Man unawed by threats, uncorrupted by Gold and unmoved by the Machinations, Refinements and Duplicity of systematical Villany, has a Greater tendency to keep alive the Respect due to Real Merit than either judiciary Restraints or the best digested Code of Moral injunction.
I feel myself disposed to Loquacity (Nothing Novel in my pen) but least the subject before me should betray me into some Expressions that might bear the semblance of Flattery, instead of that just mean of applause due to Distinguished Worth, I leave all Panegirick to the Historian and the Poet. And in the simple familiar style of unadorned Friendship, inquire whether the American Minister at the Hague Received several Letters under the signature of Marcia, and if the Cold Phlegmatic Dutchman, more Honest than polite, Delayed a return, surely the influence of a Milder Clime will soften to Condesention, and the Ettiquette of Varsellies and Paris forbid such an affront to a Lady.
Therefore I shall peep as eagerly into the next paket as an inspector to a Plenipo, for a Letter Directed to one who asks not forgiveness for these short interruptions. the little interludes of common Life Give fresh Exhileration to the spirits and fill up the Vacant Moment when the mind is Worn down by the Higher Avocations to Bussiness, or Fatigued by the parade of Courts and the pomp and Glare of Grandeur.
Political connexions, the state of parties and the Internal Feuds in your Beloved Country, you doubtless have through the hands of more Interested Observers. And if, through the Inattention of public or the Negligence of private Men you have not all the Intelligence you might Expect, you have Every thing Worthy of your Notice from a quarter that Enhances the Value of the Communication.
I therefore only add that your American Friends wish most Ardently to see; that the Friends of America wish your Residence in Europe, and that wherever you Reside, or whatever is your Mode of Life an affectionate prayer for your Happiness will be Breathed from the Lips of, Sir, your assured Friend and Humble
P.S. Please to make particular Compliments to the American Gentlemen of my acquaintance. A Letter from Mr. J[ohn] in the high style of Russian politeness would be very pleasing to his young Friends on Milton Hill.
May 9th. Mr. Warren expecting a more direct opportunity soon will write you Largely. this will be handed you by a Mr. Watson 1 of Marblehead, formerly of Plimouth, who wishes for an opportunity to wait on you.
JAMES WARREN TO JOHN ADAMS
MY DEAR SIR, - I thank you for your Letters of the 6th September and 15th December and should have done it long before now, but I expected to do it viva voce at Braintree or Milton, in the Month of June at furthest, but as that may probably be postponed to November, I will not loose another Opportunity of writing to you and especially so good an one as this by the America. I congratulate you on the Peace and the honourable Share you have had in making it. they both give me pleasure. Your Countrymen
1 Elkanah Watson.
at present feel and express their Gratitude for your Conduct on this occasion, and those that have lead to it, and if you return soon you may enjoy it but it is not a permanent plant in your Country at least in every Instance. every Body thinks the Terms honourable on our part, and quite equal to the most sanguine Expectations and yet every Body is not pleased. had such an Event taken place in 1778, we should have received it with Extacy, every Body would have rejoiced without any other Exception than the Tories. but we love Money now better than we did then. the Farmer cant bear to see the fall of his produce, and the Merchant regrets that there is an End of the prospects of making a fortune by a single Voyage. Indeed the Contrast is great. every thing is getting into its old Station. European Goods have got below it. our Harbours are crouded with Ships. Boston and Philadelphia can furnish those Goods as cheap as London or Paris, but that matter will come right when the European Merchants have paid for the Experiment and learn'd to leave the Importation of Goods here to our Merchants.
I suppose you are now engaged in the Treaty of Commerce with Britain. shall we have the Transport Trade as before from the West Indies, to enable us to get our Ships to Market. that is a matter of Importance to this State, and perhaps more so to New Hampshire. The other States will be Indifferent which way it is decided, and some of them will prefer our being Excluded from it, because they may get their Goods to Market cheaper if our Ships have nothing else to do. The English Islands cannot be Indifferent. if we cannot carry their freights they must pay dear for our Lumber on one hand while freight may rise on the other. but if Britain should think it right to confine that Business to their own Ships, they cant complain if we do the same with regard to the Transport of Tobacco, rice, oil, etc., etc.; for if the cases are not exactly similar they are near enough for policy to accomodate the
same measures to.
The Tories in all parts of America reprobate the Article that relates to their Brother refugees and say it would have been better for them if no mention had been made of them, while it gives some Uneasiness to the Whiggs who think it may produce dissensions