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Insignificant, however, as
the piece is, it was capable of having some ill effects, had it arrived
in France during my imprisonment, and in the time of Robespierre; and I
am not uncharitable in supposing that this was one of the intentions of
the writer.(*)

* I know not who the writer of the piece is, but some of the
Americans say it is Phineas Bond, an American refugee, but
now a British consul; and that he writes under the
signature of Peter Skunk or Peter Porcupine, or some such
signature.--Author.

This footnote probably added to the gall of Porcupine's
(Cobbett's) "Letter to the Infamous Tom Paine, in Answer to
his Letter to General Washington" (Polit. Censor, Dec.,
1796), of which he (Cobbett) afterwards repented. Phineas
Bond had nothing to do with it.--Editor.

I have now done with Mr. Washington on the score of private affairs. It
would have been far more agreeable to me, had his conduct been such as
not to have merited these reproaches. Errors or caprices of the temper
can be pardoned and forgotten; but a cold deliberate crime of the heart,
such as Mr. Washington is capable of acting, is not to be washed away. I
now proceed to other matter.

After Jay's note to Grenville arrived in Paris from America, the
character of every thing that was to follow might be easily foreseen;
and it was upon this anticipation that _my_ letter of February the 22d
was founded. The event has proved that I was not mistaken, except that
it has been much worse than I expected.

It would naturally occur to Mr. Washington, that the secrecy of Jay's
mission to England, where there was already an American Minister, could
not but create some suspicion in the French government; especially
as the conduct of Morris had been notorious, and the intimacy of Mr.
Washington with Morris was known.

The character which Mr. Washington has attempted to act in the world, is
a sort of non-describable, camelion-colored thing, called _prudence_. It
is, in many cases, a substitute for principle, and is so nearly allied
to hypocrisy that it easily slides into it. His genius for prudence
furnished him in this instance with an expedient that served, as is
the natural and general character of all expedients, to diminish the
embarrassments of the moment and multiply them afterwards; for
he authorized it to be made known to the French government, as a
confidential matter, (Mr. Washington should recollect that I was a
member of the Convention, and had the means of knowing what I here
state) he authorized it, I say, to be announced, and that for the
purpose of preventing any uneasiness to France on the score of Mr. Jay's
mission to England, that the object of that mission, and of Mr. Jay's
authority, was restricted to that of demanding the surrender of the
western posts, and indemnification for the cargoes captured in American
vessels. Mr. Washington knows that this was untrue; and knowing this,
he had good reason to himself for refusing to furnish the House of
Representatives with copies of the instructions given to Jay, as he
might suspect, among other things, that he should also be called upon
for copies of instructions given to other Ministers, and that, in
the contradiction of instructions, his want of integrity would be
detected.(1) Mr. Washington may now, perhaps, learn, when it is too late
to be of any use to him, that a man will pass better through the world
with a thousand open errors upon his back, than in being detected in
_one_ sly falsehood. When one is detected, a thousand are suspected.

The first account that arrived in Paris of a treaty being negotiated by
Mr. Jay, (for nobody suspected any,) came in an English newspaper, which
announced that a treaty _offensive and defensive_ had been concluded
between the United States of America and England. This was immediately
denied by every American in Paris, as an impossible thing; and though
it was disbelieved by the French, it imprinted a suspicion that some
underhand business was going forward.(*) At length the treaty itself
arrived, and every well-affected American blushed with shame.

1 When the British treaty had been ratified by the Senate
(with one stipulation) and signed by the President, the
House of Representatives, required to supply the means for
carrying into effect, believed that its power over the
supplies authorized it to check what a large majority
considered an outrage on the country and on France. This was
the opinion of Edmund Randolph (the first Attorney General),
of Jefferson, Madison, and other eminent men. The House
having respectfully requested the President to send them
such papers on the treaty as would not affect any existing
negotiations, he refused in a message (March 30, 1796),
whose tenor Madison described as "improper and indelicate."
He said "the assent of the House of Representatives is not
necessary to the validity of a treaty." The House regarded
the message as menacing a serious conflict, and receded.--
_Editor._

* It was the embarrassment into which the affairs and credit
of America were thrown at this instant by the report above
alluded to, that made it necessary to contradict it, and
that by every means arising from opinion or founded upon
authority. The Committee of Public Safety, existing at that
time, had agreed to the full execution, on their part, of
the treaty between America and France, notwithstanding some
equivocal conduct on the part of the American government,
not very consistent with the good faith of an ally; but they
were not in a disposition to be imposed upon by a counter-
treaty. That Jay had no instructions beyond the points above
stated, or none that could possibly be construed to extend
to the length the British treaty goes, was a matter believed
in America, in England, and in France; and without going to
any other source it followed naturally from the message of
the President to Congress, when he nominated Jay upon that
mission. The secretary of Mr. Jay came to Paris soon after
the treaty with England had been concluded, and brought with
him a copy of Mr. Jay's instructions, which he offered to
shew to me as _justification of Jay_. I advised him, as a
friend, not to shew them to anybody, and did not permit him
to shew them to me. "Who is it," said I to him, "that you
intend to implicate as censureable by shewing those
instructions? Perhaps that implication may fall upon your
own government." Though I did not see the instructions, I
could not be at a loss to understand that the American
administration had been playing a double game.--Author.

That there was a "double game" in this business, from first
to last, is now a fact of history. Jay was confirmed by the
Senate on a declaration of the President in which no
faintest hint of a treaty was given, but only the
"adjustment of our complaints," "vindication of our rights,"
and cultivation of "peace." Only after the Envoy's
confirmation did the Cabinet add the main thing, his
authority to negotiate a commercial treaty. This was done
against the protest of the only lawyer among them, Edmund
Randolph, Secretary of State, who said the exercise of such
a power by Jay would be an abridgment of the rights of the
Senate and of the nation. See my "Life of Randolph," p. 220.
For Jay's Instructions, etc., see I. Am. State Papers,
Foreign Relations.--Editor.

It is curious to observe, how the appearance of characters will change,
whilst the root that produces them remains the same. The Washington
faction having waded through the slough of negociation, and whilst it
amused France with professions of friendship contrived to injure her,
immediately throws off the hypocrite, and assumes the swaggering air of
a bravado. The party papers of that imbecile administration were on
this occasion filled with paragraphs about _Sovereignty_. A paltroon may
boast of his sovereign right to let another kick him, and this is the
only kind of sovereignty shewn in the treaty with England. But those
daring paragraphs, as Timothy Pickering(1) well knows, were intended
for France; without whose assistance, in men, money, and ships, Mr.
Washington would have cut but a poor figure in the American war. But of
his military talents I shall speak hereafter.

I mean not to enter into any discussion of any article of Jay's treaty;
I shall speak only upon the whole of it. It is attempted to be justified
on the ground of its not being a violation of any article or articles
of the treaty pre-existing with France. But the sovereign right of
explanation does not lie with George Washington and his man Timothy;
France, on her part, has, at least, an equal right: and when nations
dispute, it is not so much about words as about things.

A man, such as the world calls a sharper, and versed as Jay must be
supposed to be in the quibbles of the law, may find a way to enter into
engagements, and make bargains, in such a manner as to cheat some other
party, without that party being able, as the phrase is, _to take the law
of him_. This often happens in the cabalistical circle of what is called
law. But when this is attempted to be acted on the national scale of
treaties, it is too despicable to be defended, or to be permitted to
exist. Yet this is the trick upon which Jay's treaty is founded, so
far as it has relation to the treaty pre-existing with France. It is a
counter-treaty to that treaty, and perverts all the great articles of
that treaty to the injury of France, and makes them operate as a bounty
to England, with whom France is at war.

1 Secretary of State.--_Editor._.

The Washington administration shews great desire that the treaty between
France and the United States be preserved. Nobody can doubt their
sincerity upon this matter. There is not a British Minister, a British
merchant, or a British agent or sailor in America, that does not
anxiously wish the same thing.



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