FRANKLIN SOON DISCOVERED he would need his subtle and genial skills in abundance to fulfill his mission in France. Surrounded by suspicions and crosscurrents, he had to bring a republic taught recently to despise kings and long schooled in hatred for France into alliance with a French monarch who abhorred republicanism. Had he been perfectly direct and outspoken he would, though asking for money and support, have reproached Louis XVI for his tyranny, and he would have told his countrymen to shun the aid of a Catholic despot. The approach to France could neither have been begun nor consummated. Understanding his complex objective, however, Franklin had to show both sides the benefit of alliance. He was detached enough from doctrinaire republicanism (apostasy, his enemies charged) to see the advantage in a humble, even flattering approach to the court of Versailles, and he was good- humored enough to see that his countrymen were not as untainted by vanity and frivolity (treason, his enemies said) as they sometimes proclaimed. Franklin brought highly valuable personal traits to the weighty matters of war and diplomacy he managed in France for more than eight years.
In crossing the ocean as the agent of an independent country, Franklin, of course, had to abandon the vision of British imperial greatness which had inspired him for twenty-five years. He had