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ralty, consul, &c. &c., besides my ministerial function, toc multifarious and too heavy for my old shoulders; and have therefore requested Congress that I may be relieved; for in this point I agree even with my enemies, that another may easily be found who can better execute them.
Το Messrs. I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me on the 31st past, relating to your ship, supposed to be retaken from the English by an American privateer, and carried into Morlaix. I apprehend that you have been misinformed, as I do not know of any American privateer at present in these seas. I have the same sentiments with you of the injustice of the English, in their treatment of your nation. They seem at present to have renounced all pretension to any other honor, than that of being the first piratical state in the world. There are three employments, which I wish the law of nations would protect, so that they should never be molested or interrupted by enemies even in time of war; I mean farmers, fishermen, and merchants; because their employments are not only innocent, but for the common subsistence and benefit of the human species in general. As men grow more enlightened, we may hope that this will in time be the case. Till then we must submit, as well as we can, to the evils we cannot remedy.
To John Mr. Grand has communicated to me a letter Adams, dated from your Excellency to him, relating to cerPassy, June, 1781. tain charges in your account, on which you seem to desire to have my opinion. As we are all new in these matters, I consulted, when I was making up my account, one of the oldest foreign ministers here, as to the
custom in such cases. He informed me, that it was not perfectly uniform with the ministers of all courts, but that in general, where a salary was given for service and expenses, the expenses understood were merely those necessary to the man, such as housekeeping, clothing, and coach; but that the rent of the hotel in which he dwelt, the payment of couriers, the postage of letters, the salary of clerks, the stationery for his bureau, with the feasts and illuminations made on public occasions, were esteemed the expenses of the Prince, or State that appointed him, being for the service or honor of his prince or nation, and either entirely, or in great part, expenses, that, as a private man, he would have been under no necessity of incurring. These, therefore, were to be charged in his accounts. He remarked, it was true, that the minister's housekeeping as well as his house was usually, and in some sort necessarily more expensive, than those of a private person; but this, he said, was considered in his salary, to avoid trouble in accounts; but that, where the Prince or State had not purchased or built a house for their minister, which was sometimes the case, they always paid his house rent.
I have stated my own accounts according to this information; and I mention them, that, if they seem to you reasonable, we may be uniform in our charges, by your charging in the same manner; or, if objections to any of them occur to you, that you would communicate them to me for the
Thus you see my opinion, that the articles you mention, of courtage, commission, and port de lettres, are expenses that ought to be borne, not by you, but by the United States. Yet it seems to me more proper that you should pay them, and charge them with the other articles above
mentioned, than that they should be paid by me, who, not knowing the circumstances, cannot judge (as you can) of the truth and justice of such an account when presented, and who, besides, have no orders to pay more on your account, than your net salary.
With regard to that salary, though your receipts to Fizeau and Grand, shown to me, might be quite sufficient to prove they had paid you the sums therein mentioned, yet, as there are vouchers for them, and which they have a right to retain, I imagine it will be clearest if you draw upon me, agreeably to the order of Congress; and, if this is quarterly, it will be the most convenient to me.
Το William Jackson, dated Passy, 5 July, at 6 in the morning. 1781.
I have this instant received your letter of the 2d, urging the delivery of the money. must be short in my reply, as your express waits.
Colonel Laurens indeed obtained a promise of ten millions to be raised by a loan in Holland. I understood, while he was here, that that loan was in train, and that the million and a half to be sent with you was a part of it. I since learn, that nothing has yet been obtained in Holland, that the success is not yet certain, and that the money in question is a part of the six millions I had obtained before. his arrival, upon the strength of which I accepted the bills drawn on his father, and on Mr. Jay, and without which acceptances the Congress's credit in America would have been ruined, and a loss incurred of twenty per cent. upon the protests. I cannot obtain more money here at present; and those bills, being accepted, must be paid, as well as those I accepted on your earnest request, for the great unexpected purchase you made in Holland.
Colonel Laurens has carried two millions and a half of that six millions with him, which will serve till the loan in Holland produces a further supply. In the mean time I cannot suffer the credit of our country to be destroyed, if, by detaining this money, it may be saved. And, if I were to consent to its going, our banker would be obliged to arrest great part of it as belonging to the States, he being in advance for them, which would occasion much disagreeable noise, and very ill consequences to our credit in Europe.
I find, by Mr. Viemerange's account just received, that Mr. Laurens's orders have more than absorbed all the money he did not take with him. I applaud the zeal you have both shown in the affair; but I see, that nobody cares how much I am distressed, provided they can carry their own points. I must, therefore, take what care I can of mine, theirs and mine being equally intended for the service of the public. I am sorry to learn that the vessel is detained for this express. I understood by your last, that she waited for convoy. I heartily wish you a good voyage, and am, with great esteem, &c.
Το William I received your letter of the 2d instant, by Jackson, dayour first express, this morning at six, answered ted Passy, 5 July, 1781. it, and sent him away immediately. I have just now received your second express, of the same date, in which you threaten me with a proceeding, that I apprehend exceedingly imprudent, as it can answer no good end to you, must occasion much scandal, and be thereby very prejudicial to the affairs of the Congress.
But I cannot, therefore, consent to suffer their bills, to the amount of more than a million accepted and expected,
to go back protested for want of this money. I have nothing to change in the answer above mentioned. You will however follow your own judgment, as I must follow mine; and you will take upon yourself the consequences.
I received and answered two of your ex
ted Passy, 6 presses yesterday morning, and in the evening I received a third letter from you, all dated
the 2d instant.
In this last you tell me, "that I must be sensible I cannot have the disposal of the money, as it was obtained without either my knowledge or concurrence, by Colonel Laurens, appointed special minister for that purpose." I do not desire to diminish the merit of Colonel Laurens. I believe he would have been glad, if it had been in his power, to have procured ten times the sum; and that no application or industry on his part for that purpose would have been wanting. But I cannot let this injurious assertion of yours pass, without expressing my surprise, that you, who were always with that gentleman, should be so totally ignorant of that transaction. The six millions, of which he took with him two and a half, of which one and a half were sent to Holland, and of which more than the remainder is ordered in stores from hence, was a free gift from the King's goodness (not a loan to be repaid with interest), and was obtained by my application, long before Colonel ·Laurens's
I had also given in a list of the stores to be provided, though on his coming I cheerfully gave up the further prosecution of that business into his hands, as he was better acquainted with the particular wants of the army, than I could be, and it was one of the purposes of his appointment.