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this court, I must acquaint you, that there is not the least probability of obtaining it, and therefore I cannot ask it. I hear too much already of the extraordinary expense you made in Holland, to think of proposing an addition to it, especially as you seem to impute the damage she has sustained more to Captain Landais' negligence, than to accidents of the cruise. The whole expense will, therefore, fall upon me, and I am ill provided to bear it, having so many unexpected calls upon me from all quarters. I therefore beg you will have mercy on me, put me to as little charge as possible, and take nothing that you can possibly do without.
As to sheathing with copper, it is totally out of the question. I am not authorized to do it, if I had money; and I have not money, if I had orders. The purchase of the Serapis is in the same predicament. I believe the sending of cordage and canvass from Amsterdam has already been forbidden; if not, I shall forbid it. I approve of your applying to Messrs. Gourdale & Moylan for what repairs you want, having an exceedingly good opinion of those gentlemen; but, let me repeat, for God's sake be sparing, unless you mean to make me a bankrupt, or have your drafts dishonored for want of money in my hands to pay them.
We are likely to obtain fifteen thousand stands of good arms from the government. They are much wanted in America. M. de Lafayette has just now proposed, that you should take them as ballast. You know best if this is practicable.
Mr. Ross requests to be permitted to take his passage with you. As he has been a servant of the States, in making their purchases in Europe, it seems to me, that it would be wrong to refuse him, if you can accommodate him. There is also a particular friend of mine, Mr. Samuel Wharton of Philadelphia, who
desires to go with you. These gentlemen will doubtless lay in their own stores, and pay as customary for their accommodations, and I am persuaded you will find them agreeable company. Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard also propose to take their passages in your ship, whom I hope you can likewise accommodate. Pray write me immediately your sentiments on these particulars; and let me know, at the same time, when you think you can be ready, that I may forward my despatches.
I am glad to hear, that your indisposition is wearing off. I hope your health will soon be reëstablished. I
FROM THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO
Arms and Clothing for the American Troops.
Paris, 29 February, 1780. DEAR SIR, In consequence of the assent, that your Excellency was pleased to honor my request with, I shall beg your obliging help positively to fix my ideas on some affairs relating to our army, in which I had the happiness of acting as one of your agents at the court of Versailles.
From the ministers of war, and the minister of foreign affairs, I get the most positive assurance, that our fifteen thousand stands of arms, with the same number of accoutrements, will be soon delivered for the use of the American army, and safely conveyed. The other demands I have made in that department have not been as yet positively answered to, but I shall get a return of such articles as may be obtained from M. de Montbarrey; and that return I shall have
the honor of sending to your Excellency, as soon as it comes into my hands.
According to your request, I have made it a point to carry with me about four thousand complete suits, and have got from the minister of the navy such an order as will direct the captain of the frigate appointed for my passage, not only to take on board the clothing, that will be brought to Rochelle, but even, if necessary for making room, to disembark a part of his provisions.
In consequence of positive ministerial assurances, I make no doubt but that you will have the safest convoy for the remaining six thousand suits of clothes, that are making at Nantes. I have heard of a hundred and twenty bales of cloth for public service, that are sent by you on board of the Alliance, but do not know exactly how much clothing they will afford for the army. Notwithstanding your despatches to Congress, which I hope I shall be intrusted with, I confess it would be very agreeable for me to know exactly the quantity and the kind of the several articles, that you are preparing for us; so that I may give to General Washington a positive basis, which his Excellency can depend upon.
I had this morning the honor of imparting to you the ideas I proposed to Count de Vergennes, for providing new clothing for the army, that might arrive before the winter; and, as to the conversation on money affairs, in my private capacity I may be much less moderate than the ministers of the United States. I beg your pardon, my good friend, for the trouble I am giving you, but your friendship encourages me to do it; and I know such a note, as I beg leave to require, will be extremely agreeable when I arrive at head-quarters. * With the most sincere attachment. and perfect regard, I have the honor to be &c.
TO SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Seizure of Prizes in Norway. — Commodore Jones and
Captain Landais. — Necessity of appointing a Consul. — Exchange of Prisoners. - Prospects of England.
Passy, 4 March, 1780. SIR, M. Gérard, under whose care I understand the despatches from Congress to me were forwarded, is not yet arrived here, and I have not received them. I cannot, therefore, at present answer any thing that may be contained in them. He is, however, expected next week, and I may afterwards have time to write further by the Alliance. Mr. Adams is come, but did not bring duplicates of those despatches. I have, in obedience to the order of Congress, which he produced to me, furnished him with one thousand louis-d'ors. I have also given a credit to Mr. Jay upon the correspondent of our banker at Madrid for an equal sum. I have not yet heard of his arrival there. His letter to me was from Cadiz, of the 28th of January.
In my last I gave some account of the success of our little squadron under Commodore Jones. Three
The Marquis de Lafayette was on the eve of departing for America, having been successful, not only in procuring from the French government a large quantity of military supplies for the American army, but also in persuading the ministry to send auxiliary troops to the United States. These followed soon afterwards under the command of Count de Rochambeau. See the history of these transactions in Washington's Writings, Vol. VII. pp. 477 -506.
of their prizes sent into Bergen in Norway, were, at the instance of the British minister, seized by order of the court of Denmark, and delivered up to him. I have, with the approbation of the ministry here, drawn up and sent to that court a memorial reclaiming those prizes. It went through the hands of the French minister residing there, who has delivered it; but I have yet no answer. I understand from the French consul at Bergen, that the prizes remain still in that port, and it is said there is some hope that the order may be reversed; but this is doubtful, and I suppose the Congress will immediately consider this important affair, and give me such instructions upon it as they may judge proper. With this, I send a copy of the memorial.
During the cruise a mortal quarrel took place between the Commodore and Captain Landais. On their arrival in Holland, M. de Sartine, Minister of the Marine, proposed to me the sending for Landais, in order to inquire into his conduct. I doubted the propriety of my meddling in the affair; but Captain Landais' friends conceiving it a measure that might be serviceable to him, and pressing it, I complied, and he came accordingly to Paris. I send the minutes of the inquiry for the consideration of Congress. I have not presumed to condemn or acquit him, doubting as well my own judgment as my authority. He proposes to demand a court-martial in America. In his absence from the ship, the Commodore took the command of her, and on quitting the Texel made a cruise through the channel to Spain, and has since returned to L'Orient, where the ship is now refitting in order to return to America. Captain Landais has not applied to me to be replaced in her, and I imagine has no thought of that kind, having before on several occasions ex