« ZurückWeiter »
sions some difficulty. If Congress approves of my continuing to issue commissions, I wish to have a fresh supply, with the other necessary instructions, rules, bonds, &x., of which none are now lelt.
M. le Comte de Mallebois, esteemed one of the best generals in this country, and who loves our cause, has given me a memorial, containing a project for a corps here for your service, which I promised to Jay before Congress, and accordingly enclose a copy. I know nothing of the sentiments of Congress on the subject of introducing foreign troops among us, and therefore could give no expectation that the plan would be adopted. It will, however, be a pleasure to him to know, that his good will to serve them has been acceptable to the Congress.
A Major Deborre, who has been in America, and some other officers who have quitted our service in disgust, endeavour to give an idea, that our nation does not love the French. I take all occasions to place in view the regard shown by Congress to good French officers, as a proof that the slight these gentlemen complain of is particular to themselves, and probably the effect of their own misbehaviour. I wish for the future, when any of this sort of people leave our armies to come home, some little sketch of their conduct or character may be sent me, with the real causes of their resignation or departure, that I may be the more able to justify our country.
Here are returned in the last cartel a number of French sailors, who had engaged with Captain Conyngham, were taken in coming home in one of his prizes, and have been near two years in English prisons. They demand their wages and share of prize money. I send their claim, as taken before the officers of the classes at Dunkirk. I know nothing of the agreement, which they allege was made with them. Mr. Hodge perhaps can settle the affair, so that they may have justice done them. This sort of things gives me a great deal of trouble. Several of those men have made personal applications to me, and I must hear all their stories, though I cannot redress them. I enclose also the claim of two gunners, upon a prize made by the Boston, Captain Tucker. I am persuaded that Congress wish to see justice done to the meanest stranger that has served them. It is justice that establishes a nation.
The Spanish ambassador here delivered me several complaints against our cruisers. I imagine, that all the injuries complained of are not justly chargeable to us, some of the smaller English cruisers having pillaged Spanish vessels under American colors, of which we have proof upon oath; and also, that no such American privateers, as are said to have committed these robberies after coming out of Nantes, have ever been known there, or in any other part of France, or even have existed. But, if any of the complaints are well founded, I have assured the ambassador that the guilty will be punished, and reparation made.
The Swedish ambassador also complains of the taking of a ship of his nation by Captain Landais, the master of which lays his damages at sixty thousand livres. I understand it was his own fault that he was stopped, as he did not show his papers. Perhaps this, if proved, may enable us to avoid the damages.
Since writing the above, I have received the following further particulars of the action between Commodore Jones and the English men-of-war. The fortyfour-gun ship is new, having been but six months off the stocks; she is called the Serapis; the other of twenty guns is the Countess of Scarborough. He had before taken a number of valuable prizes, particularly a rich ship bound to Quebec, which we suppose he may have sent to America. The English, from mistaken intelligence, imagining he had a body of troops with him to make descents, have had all their northern coasts alarmed, and have been put to very expensive movements of troops, &.c.
The extravagant luxury of our country, in the midst of all its distresses, is to me amazing. When the difficulties are so great to find remittances to pay for the arms and ammunition necessary for our defence, I am astonished and vexed to find upon inquiry, that much the greatest part of the Congress interest bills come to pay for tea, and a great part of the remainder is ordered to be laid out in gewgaws and superfluities. It makes me grudge the trouble of examining, and entering, and accepting them, which indeed takes a great deal of time.
I yesterday learned from M. de Monthieu, that every thing necessary for equipping two frigates, of thirty-six guns each, such as sailcloth, cordage, anchors, &c. &.C., which we sent to the Congress from hence two years since, remains stored in the warehouses of his correspondent, Mr. Carrabas, at Cape Francois, having never been called for. Probably by the miscarriage of letters, the Navy Board never heard of those goods being there. I shall, nevertheless, leave the application I have lately made for materials for a frigate of thirty-six guns to take its course. But I send you herewith copies of two invoices of the cargo of the Therese, one of which is what was sent by us, the other by M. de Beaumarchais, to the end that inquiry may be made after the whole.
On this occasion give me leave to remark, that, of all the vast quantities of goods we have sent you by many different vessels since my being in France, we never were happy enough to receive the least scrip of acknowledgment that they had ever come to hand, except Irom Mr. Langdon, of a cargo arrived at Portsmouth, and I think of one more. This is doubtless owing to the interruption our correspondence has met with, and not altogether to neglect. But, as such advices of receipt may be made in short letters, it would be well to send more copies. The following is a matter of less importance. It is two years, I believe, since I sent the monument of General Montgomery. I have heard that the vessel arrived in North Carolina, but nothing more. I should be glad to know of its coming to hand, and whether it is approved. Here it was admired for the goodness and beauty of the marble, and the elegant simplicity of the design. The sculptor has had an engraving made of it, of which I enclose a copy. It was contrived to be affixed to the wall within some church, or in the great room where the Congress met. Directions for putting it up went with it. All the parts were well packed in strong cases.* With the greatest respect, &.c.
P. S. October 28th. I kept the packet in hopes of sending a more explicit account of what might be expected in regard to the supplies. The express, which was daily expected from Spain, when I began this letter, arrived but a few days since. I am now informed, that court is understood to be in treaty with the Congress in America, to furnish a sum of hard money there, and, on that account, excuses itself from sharing in the expense of furnishing these supplies. This has a little deranged the measures intended to be taken here, and I am now told, that the whole quantity of goods demanded can hardly be furnished, but that, as soon as the court returns from Marly, the ministers will consult, and do the best they can for us. The arms, I hear, are in hand at Charleville. I am unwilling to keep the packet any longer, lest she should arrive on our coasts too far in the winter, and be blown off. I therefore send away the despatches; but, if I have the result of the council in time to reach her by post, I will send it in a separate letter. The hearty good will of the ministry may be depended on; but it must be remembered, that their present expenses are enormous.
* This monument is erected in the front of St. Paul's Church, in New York
FROM RICHARD PRICE TO B. FRANKLIN.
Newington Green, 14 October, 1779.
Will you be so good as to get the enclosed letter conveyed to Mr. Arthur Lee, if he is near you, and it can be done easily. If not, be so good as to burn it. Being obliged for particular reasons to avoid politics, it is a short acknowledgment of the favor he did me by a letter I received from him at the beginning of last summer, and contains nothing of much importance.
I received the greatest pleasure from the note, which you sent me by Mr. Jones and Mr. Paradise. They were much gratified by your kind notice of them. Dr. Priestley is well, and much engaged in prosecuting his experiments on air. Dr. Ingenhousz, by whose hands this is conveyed, has lately been warmly employed in the same pursuit. He will tell you what, great success he has met with. The Society of honest Whigs, which you used to honor with your com