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[330] the emancipation of America with resoluteness
Chap. LXI.} 1776. Mar.
and prudence, remaining always master of himself, and always mindful that he was a subordinate in the cabinet of which he was in truth the stay and the guide. As minister of foreign affairs, he employed French diplomacy to bring in a steady current of opinion and statements that would supersede the necessity of his advice, which was given so tardily and so calmly, that it seemed to flow not from himself but from his attachment to monarchy and to France. The quiet and steady influence of his department slowly and imperceptibly overcame the scruples of the young and inexperienced prince, whose instincts were dull, and whose reflective powers could not grasp the question. Sartine, the minister of the marine, and St. Germain, the new secretary of war, who had been called from retirement and poverty to reform the abuses in the French army, sustained the system of Vergennes. On the other side, Maurepas, the head of the cabinet, was for peace, though his frivolity and desire to please left his opinions to the control of circumstances. Peace was the wish of Malesherbes, who had the firmness of sincerity, yet was a man of meditation and study rather than of action; but Turgot, who excelled them all in administrative ability, and was the ablest minister of finance that ever served a Bourbon, was immovable in his opposition to a war with Britain.

The faithful report from Bonvouloir, the French agent at Philadelphia, reached Vergennes in the very first days of March; and furnished him an occasion for bringing before the king with unusual solemnity these ‘considerations:’

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