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[146]

The secretary of state desired to draw from the

Chap. L.} 1775. Sept.
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 intimation was evaded, for ‘the king of France would not suffer himself to be made an instrument to bend the resistance of the Americans.’ ‘If they should make us any application,’ said Vergennes, ‘we shall dismiss them politely, and we shall keep their secret.’

Beaumarchais who was then in England as an emissary from Louis the Sixteenth, and who from the charms of his conversation, his ability to write verses and to sing well, his generous style of living, and his apparent want of an official character, had opportunities of gaining information from the most various sources, encouraged the notion that England might seek to recover her colonies by entering on a war with France, and thus reviving their ancient sympathies. Having become acquainted with Arthur Lee, and having received accurate accounts of the state of America from persons newly arrived, he left London abruptly, ran over to Paris, and through De Sartine, presented to the king a secret memorial in favor of taking part with the insurgents. ‘The Americans,’ said he, ‘are full of the enthusiasm of liberty, and resolve to suffer everything rather than yield; such a people must be invincible; all men of sense are convinced that the English colonies are lost for the mother country, and that is my opinion too.’

On the twenty-second of September, the day after the subject was discussed in the council of the king, De Sartine put a new commission into the hands

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