To David Hartley6
Copies: Massachusetts Historical Society, William L. Clements Library (two), Library of Congress (two)
Passy Sept. 6. 1783
My dear friend,
Inclosed is my Letter to Mr. Fox.7 I beg you would assure him, that my Expressions of Esteem for him are not mere Professions. I really think him a Great Man; & I could8 not think so, if I did not believe he was at Bottom, and would prove himself, a good One. Guard him against Mistaken Notions of the American People. You have deceived yourselves too long with vain Expectations of reaping Advantage from our little Discontents. We are more thoroughly an enlightned People, with respect to our political Interests, than, perhaps, any other under Heaven. Every man among us reads, and is so easy in his Circumstances, as to have Leisure for Conversations of Improvement, & for acquiring Information. Our domestic Misunderstandings, when we have them, are of small Extent; tho’ monstrously magnified by your microscopic Newspapers. He, who judges from them that we are on the Point of falling into Anarchy, or returning to the Obedience of Britain, is like one, who, being shown some Spots in the Sun, should fancy that the whole Disk would soon be overspread with them, and that there would be an End of Day Light. The great Body of Intelligence, among our People, surrounds and overpowers our petty Dissensions, as the Sun’s great Mass of Fire diminishes and destroys his Spots. Do not, therefore, any longer delay the Evacuation of New York, in the vain hope of a new Revolution in your Favour, if such a hope has indeed had any Effect in occasioning the Delay. It is now nine Months since the Evacuations were promised.9 You expect, with Reason, that the People of New-York should do your Merchants Justice in the Payment of their old Debts; consider the Injustice you do them, in keeping them so long out of their Habitations, and out of their Business, by which they might have been enabled to make Payment. There is no Truth more clear to me than this, that the great Interest of our two Countries is a thorough Reconciliation. Restraints on the Freedom of Commerce & Intercourse between us can afford no Advantage equivalent to the Mischief they will do by keeping up Ill Humour & promoting a total Alienation. Let you and I, my dear Friend, do our best towards advancing and securing that Reconciliation. We can do nothing that will in a dying Hour, afford us more solid Satisfaction.
To D. Hartley Esqr.—
6. BF wrote this letter on the morning of a day when Hartley had planned to come to Passy for one final meeting with the American commissioners before leaving for England. Instead, ill health forced Hartley to send word to JA asking whether the commissioners could come to him as early as they could arrange it, after which he would be bled: Adams Papers, XV, 264.
BF did not take this letter and its enclosure with him to Paris. He sent it the next day; see his letter (I) to Hartley, Sept. 7.
7. Immediately above.
8. We have corrected this word (miscopied as “would”) based on all other copies of the letter.
9. By Article 7 of the preliminary peace agreement of Nov. 30, 1782 (XXXVIII, 386).
1. Hartley’s intention, as he wrote to Fox on Sept. 1, was to leave for England a few days after the signing, to deliver the treaty and receive further instructions: Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 930–1.
2. His half-brother Winchcombe Henry Hartley (XXXVI, 624n) and his half-sister Mary Hartley (XXVII, 343n).