“‘Mirabeau seemed to mean what he said,’ was my answer.
“’Yes. He is one of those who often speak from the heart. All these players love the note of sincerity when they hear it. In the salon it is out of key, but away from the ladies the men are often living and not playing. Mirabeau, Condorcet, Turgot and others have heard the call of Human Liberty. Often they come to this house and speak out with a strong candor.’
“’I suppose that this great drama of despotism in France will end in a tragedy whose climax will consume the stage and half the players,’ I ventured to say.
“‘That is a theme, Jack, on which you and I must be silent,’ Franklin answered. ‘We must hold our mouths as with a bridle.’
“For a moment he sat looking sadly into the glowing coals on the grate. Franklin loved to talk, but no one could better keep his own counsel.
“‘At heart I am no revolutionist,’ he said presently. ’I believe in purifying—not in breaking down. I would to God that I could have convinced the British of their error. Mainly I am with the prophet who says:
“’"Stand in the old ways. View the ancient paths. Consider them well and be not among those who are given to change."’
“I sat for a moment thinking of the cruelties I had witnessed, and asking myself if it had been really worth while. Franklin interrupted my thoughts.
“’I wish we could discover a plan which would induce and compel nations to settle their differences without cutting each other’s throats. When will human wisdom be sufficient to see the advantage of this?’
“He told me the thrilling details of his success in France; how he had won the kingdom for an ally and secured loans and the help of a fleet and army then on the sea.
“’And you will not be surprised to learn that the British have been sounding me to see if we would be base enough to abandon our ally,’ he laughed.
“In a moment he added:
“’Come, it is late and you must write a letter to the heart of England before you lie down to rest.’
“Often thereafter he spoke of Margaret as ‘the heart of England.’”
Jack began to assist Franklin in his correspondence and in the many business details connected with his mission.
“I have never seen a man with a like capacity for work,” the young officer writes. “Every day he is conferring with Vergennes or other representatives of the King, or with the ministers of Spain, Holland and Great Britain. The greatest intellect in the kingdom is naturally in great request. To-day, after many hours of negotiation with the Spanish minister, in came M. Dubourg, the most distinguished physician in Europe.