The debts due before the war ought to be distinguished from the debts contracted since, and all and every mode of payment and remittance under which they might have been discharged at the time they were contracted, ought to accompany those debts so long as any of them shall continue unpaid, because the circumstances of payment became united with the debt, and cannot be separated by subsequent acts of one side only. If this was taken up in America, and insisted on as a right coeval with, and inseparable from those debts, it would force some of the restrictions here to give way. While writing this, I am informed that the minister has had a conference with some of the American creditors, and proposed to them to assume the debts, and give them ten shillings in the pound. The conjecture is, that he means, when the new Congress is established, to demand the payment. If you are writing to General Washington, it may not be amiss to mention this, and if I hear further on this matter, I will inform you. But as, being a money matter, it cannot come forward but through parliament; there will be notice given of the business. This would be a proper time to show that the British acts since the peace militate against the payment, by narrowing the means by which those debts might have been paid when they were contracted, and which ought to be considered as constituent parts of the contract.’
TO JAMES MADISON.
Paris, May 11,1789.
My last to you was of the 15th of March. I am now in hourly expectation of receiving my leave of absence. The delay of it a little longer will endanger the throwing my return into the winter, the very idea of which is horror itself to me. I am in hopes this is the last letter I shall have the pleasure of writing you before my departure.
The madness of the King of England has gone off, but left him in a state of imbecility and melancholy. They talk of carrying him to Hanover. If they do, it will be a proof he does not mend, and that they take that measure, to authorize them to establish a regency. But if he grows better, they will perhaps keep him at home, to avoid the question, Who shall be regent? As that country cannot be relied on in the present state of its executive, the King of Prussia has become more moderate; he throws cold water on the fermentation he had excited in Poland.