AMERICA SEEKS FOREIGN AID.
FRANCE and the thirteen American colonies were attracted toward each other, and it is not easy to decide which of them made the first overture. “Chatham as the conciliator of America, that is the man to fear,” wrote the Count De Guines* from London, in June 1775.
Vergennes, with wonderful powers of penetration, analyzed the character of the British ministers and their acts, and as a courtier contrasted the seeming anarchy of England with the happiness of the French in “living peacefully under a good and virtuous king.” The British secretary of state desired to draw from the French ambassador at London a written denial of Lee’s assertion that the Americans had a certainty of receiving support from France and Spain; but “the king of France would not suffer himself to be used as an instrument to bend the resistance of the Americans.” “The principles of moderation and of justice which constantly animate the councils of the king ought,” said Vergennes, “to reassure his Britannic majesty against disquiet as to our views. Far from wishing to take advantage of the embarrassments in which England is involved by American affairs, we would rather seek to give our aid in disengaging her from them. The spirit of revolt, wherever it breaks out, is always a troublesome example. Moral maladies become contagious; so that we ought to be on our guard that the spirit of independence, so terrible in North America, may not be communicated to points which interest us in both hemispheres.
*Letter of De Guines to Vergennes, 16 June 1775. MS.