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pressed to me and others his dissatisfaction with his officers, and his inclination on that account to quit her. Captain Jones will therefore carry her home, unless he should be prevailed with to enter another service, which, however, I think is not likely, though he has gained immense reputation all over Europe for his bravery.
As vessels of war under my care create me a vast deal of business, of a kind too, that I am unexperienced in, and by my distance from the coast is very difficult to be well executed, I must repeat my earnest request, that some person of skill in such affairs may be appointed in the character of consul, to take charge of them. I imagine that much would by that means be saved in the expense of their various refittings and supplies, which to me appears enormous.
Agreeably to the order of Congress, I have employed one of the best artists here in cutting the dies for the medal intended for M. de Fleury. The price of such work is beyond my expectation, being a thousand livres for each die. I shall try if it is not possible to have the others done cheaper.
Our exchange of prisoners has been for some time past at a stand, the English admiralty refusing, after long consideration, to give us any men in return for those who had been dismissed by our armed vessels on parole, and the actual prisoners we had being all exchanged. When the squadron of Commodore Jones arrived in the Texel with five hundred English prisoners, I proposed exchanging there; but this was declined, in expectation, as I heard from England, of retaking them in their way to France. The stay of our ships in Holland, through the favor of the States, being prolonged, and the squadron stationed to intercept us being tired of cruising for us, the British ministry consented at length to a cartel with France, and brought Frenchmen to Holland to exchange for those prisoners instead of Americans. These proceedings have occasioned our poor people to be kept longer in confinement; but the Minister of the Marine, having given orders that I should have as many English, another cartel charged with Americans is now daily expected, and I hope in a few months to see them all at liberty. This for their sakes, and also to save expense; for their long and hard imprisonment induces many to hazard attempts of escaping; and those who get away through London and Holland, and come to Paris in their way to some seaport in France, cost one with another, I believe, near twenty pounds sterling a head. The delays in the exchange have I think been lengthened by the Admiralty, partly with the view of breaking the patience of our people and inducing them to enter the English service. They have spared no pains for this purpose, and have prevailed with some. The number of these has not indeed been great, and several of them lost their lives in the blowing up of the Quebec. I am also lately informed from London, that the flags of truce with prisoners from Boston, one of which is seized as British property, will obtain no Americans in exchange; the returned English being told, that they had no authority or right to make such agreements with rebels, &,c. This is not the only instance in which it appears, that a few late successes have given that nation another hour of insolence. And yet their affairs upon the whole wear a very unpromising aspect. They have not yet- been able to find any allies in Europe. Holland grows daily less and less disposed to comply with their requisitions; Ireland is not satisfied, but is making new demands; Scotland, and the Protestants in England are uneasy, and the associations of counties in England, with committees of correspondence to make reforms in the government, all taken together, give a good deal of apprehension at present, even to their mad ministers; while their debt, on the point of amounting to the amazing sum of two hundred millions, hangs as a millstone upon the neck of their credit, and must ere long sink it beyond redemption.
The disposition of this court continues as favorable as ever, though it cannot comply with all our demands. The supplies required, in the invoice sent me by the Committee, appeared too great and numerous to be immediately furnished. Three millions of livres were, however, granted me, with which, after deducting what will be necessary to pay the interest bills, and other late drafts of Congress, I could not venture in ordering more than ten thousand suits of clothes. With these, we shall have fifteen thousand arms and accoutrements. A good deal of the cloth goes over in the Alliance, purchased by Mr. Ross, which, it is computed, may make seven or eight thousand suits more. But although we have not obtained that invoice of goods, this court being at immense expense in the preparations for the next campaign, I have reason to believe that a part of those preparations will be employed in essential assistance to the United States, and I hope effectual, though at present I cannot be more particular.
I have sent to Mr. Johnson the vote of Congress relative to the settlement of the accounts. He has expressed his readiness to enter on the service. Mr. Deane is soon expected here, whose presence is very necessary, and I hope with his help they may be gone through without much difficulty. I could have wished it had suited Mr. Lee to have been here at the same time.
The Marquis de Lafayette, who, during his residence in France, has been extremely zealous in supporting our cause on all occasions, returns again to fight for it. He is infinitely esteemed and beloved here, and I am persuaded will do every thing in his power to merit a continuance of the same affection from America. With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON.
The Marquis de Lafayette. — Invitation to visit Europe.
Passy, 5 March, 1780.
I have received but lately the letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me in recommendation of the Marquis de Lafayette. His modesty detained it long in his own hands. We became acquainted, however, from the time of his arrival at Paris; and his zeal for the honor of our country, his activity in our affairs here, and his firm attachment to our cause and to you, impressed me with the same regard and esteem for him that your Excellency's letter would have done, had it been immediately delivered to me.
Should peace arrive after another campaign or two, and afford us a little leisure, I should be happy to see your Excellency in Europe, and to accompany you, if my age and strength would permit, in visiting some of its ancient and most famous kingdoms. You would, on this side of the sea, enjoy the great reputation you have acquired, pure and free from those little shades that the jealousy and envy of a man's countrymen and contemporaries are ever endeavouring to cast over living merit. Here you would know, and enjoy, what posterity will say of Washington. For a thousand leagues have nearly the same effect with a thousand years. The feeble voice of those grovelling passions cannot extend so far either in time or distance. At present I enjoy that pleasure for you; as I frequently hear the old generals of this martial country, who study the maps of America, and mark upon them all your operations, speak with sincere approbation and great applause of your conduct; and join in giving you the character of one of the greatest captains of the age.
I must soon quit this scene; but you may live to see our country flourish, as it will amazingly and rapidly after the war is over; like a field of young Indian corn, which long fair weather and sunshine had enfeebled and discolored, and which in that weak state, by a thunder gust of violent wind, hail, and rain, seemed to be threatened with absolute destruction; yet the storm being past, it recovers fresh verdure, shoots up with double vigor, and delights the eye, not of its owner only, but of every observing traveller.
The best wishes that can be formed for your health, honor, and happiness, ever attend you from yours, &c.
TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE.*
M. de Malesherbes. — Spain. — Advantage of great
Passy, 5 March, 1780.
Sir, I received with great pleasure the letter you did me the honor of writing to me from Boston. I rejoiced
* Successor to M. Gferard, as minister from the French court to the Uiiited States