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[216] committee, consisting of one member from each
Chap. LV.} 1775. Dec.
colony; yet as they still would not open their ports, they were in no condition to solicit an alliance. But Dumas, a Swiss by birth, a resident inhabitant of Holland, the liberal editor of Vattel's work on international law, had written to Franklin, his personal friend, that ‘all Europe wished the Americans the best success in the maintenance of their liberty:’ on the twelfth of December the congressional committee of secret correspondence authorised Arthur Lee, who was then in London, to ascertain the disposition of foreign powers; and Dumas, at the Hague, was charged with a similar commission.

Just then De Bonvouloir, the discreet emissary of Vergennes, arrived in Philadelphia, and through Francis Daymon, a Frenchman, the trusty librarian of the Library Company in that city, was introduced to Franklin and the other members of the secret committee, with whom he held several conferences by night. ‘Will France aid us? and at what price?’ were the questions put to him. ‘France,’ answered he, ‘is well disposed to you; if she should give you aid, as she may, it will be on just and equitable conditions. Make your proposals, and I will present them.’ ‘Will it be prudent for us to send over a plenipotentiary?’ asked the committee. ‘That,’ replied he, ‘would be precipitate and even hazardous, for what passes in France is known in London; but if you will give me any thing in charge, I may receive answers well suited to guide your conduct; although I can guarantee nothing except that your confidence will not be betrayed.’ From repeated interviews De Bonvouloir obtained

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