« ZurückWeiter »
mione, with M. Corny. As the arrival of the Marquis diffused a general joy, every expression of it was given here, that circumstances would allow, and particular respects paid by the government, as well as the people, to this prudent and gallant young nobleman, who keeps the cause of America so warm at his heart. In these respects M. Corny had his share, as well as Captain Latouche, commander of the frigate. The former, a gentleman of letters and great politeness, who acquired much esteem in this town in a little time, is gone on to head-quarters, and from thence to Congress; the latter, who offered the service of the frigate he commanded to the government of this State in the true spirit of the alliance, has just returned from a short cruise on our coast undertaken at the desire of the Council. He has visited Penobscot, taken a near view of the fort, made two British sloops-of-war commanded by Mowat, who burnt Falmouth, retire up the river, brought us an accurate plan of the fortress, and done every thing that time and circumstances would allow for our service. The presence of this frigate, under the command of so brave an officer, and so warmly affected to the common cause, will be of great advantage to the trade of this State, and particularly to the supply of this town with wood, which has been at an exorbitant price since the enemy have taken possession of Penobscot. Such instances of friendship make the most agreeable impressions on the minds of the people here, and cultivate the alliance; and I cannot but observe with pleasure evident marks of the growing friendship between the two nations.
It is impossible, my dear Sir, that I should ever lose the deep respect, and affection I have for you, diim mentor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus. Your friendship has united two things in my bosom that seldom meet, pride and consolation; it has been the honor and balm of my life. It has much affected me, that the turbulence and uncertainty of the times, together with the weakness of my nerves, which has often unfitted me for writing, should occasion to your view any semblance of neglect. I confess, I have not written so often as my heart dictated; but I have written repeatedly. I have been the more concerned at the miscarriage of my letters, because they contained some things relating to the Count d'Estaing, for whom I have the greatest respect; whose great talents as a commander, whose intrepidity, vigilance, secrecy, assiduity, quick decision, prudence, and unabated affection to the common cause, united with a surprising command of himself in delicate circumstances, and on the most trying occasions (an instance of which we had at Newport), I can never sufficiently commend. 1 thought it ought to be known at the court of France, in what high estimation he was held here; but for whose uncommon prudence, the alliance might have received, from the indiscretion of some among us, an early wound.
Mr. Bradford, to whom I commit the care of this letter, intended to have sailed directly to Holland in his way to France; but the owners have altered the destination of the vessel first to Gottenburg. As another vessel will soon sail for France or Holland, I hope to write more particularly by that; and am, Sir, with every sentiment of esteem and friendship, &c.
TO AN AGENT FOR AMERICAN CRUISERS.
Free Ships make free Goods.
Passy, 30 May, 1780.
Sir, In my last, of the 27th instant, I omitted one thing I had intended, viz. to desire you would give absolute orders to your cruisers not to bring in any more Dutch vessels, though charged with enemy's goods, unless contraband. All the neutral States of Europe seem at present disposed to change what had before been deemed the law of nations, to wit, that an enemy's property may be taken wherever found; and to establish a rule, that free ships shall make free goods. This rule is itself so reasonable, and of a nature to be so beneficial to mankind, that I cannot but wish it may become general. And I make no doubt but that the Congress will agree to it, in as full an extent as France and Spain. In the mean time, and until I have received their orders on the subject, it is my intention to condemn no more English goods found in Dutch vessels, unless contraband; of which I thought it right to give you this previous notice, that you may avoid the trouble and expense likely to arise from such captures, and from the detention of them for a decision. With great regard, and best wishes for the success of your enterprise, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Trouble of maritime Affairs. — Difficulty of meeting Drafts. — Capture of neutral Vessels. — Rule adopted by the European Powers. — Unfavorable Disposition in Europe towards England. — Difficulties in the Exchange of Prisoners.
Passy, 31 May, 1780.
I wrote to your Excellency the 4th of March past, to go by this ship, the Alliance, then expected to sail immediately. But, the men refusing to go till paid their shares of prize money, and sundry difficulties arising with regard to the sale and division, she has been detained thus long, to my great mortification, and I am yet uncertain when I shall be able to get her out. The trouble and vexation which these maritime affairs give me is inconceivable. I have often expressed to Congress my wish to be relieved from them, and that some person better acquainted with them, and better situated, might be appointed to manage them; much money as well as time would, I am sure, be saved by such an appointment.
The Alliance is to carry some of the cannon long since ordered, and as much of the powder, arms, and clothing (furnished by government here), as she, together with a frigate, the Ariel, we have borrowed, can take. I hope they may between them take the whole, with what has been provided by Mr. Ross. This gentleman has, by what I can leam, served the Congress well in the quality and prices of the goods he has purchased. I wish it had been in my power to discharge his balance here, for which he has importuned me rather too much. We furnished him with about twenty thousand pounds sterling to discharge his first accounts, which he was to replace as soon as he received remittances from the Committee of Commerce. This has not been done, and he now demands another nearly equal sum, urging as before, that the credit of the States as well as his own will be hurt by my refusal.
Mr. Bingham too complains of me for refusing some 'of his drafts, as very hurtful to his credit, though he owns he had no orders from Congress to authorize those drafts. I never undertook to provide for more than the payment of the interest bills of the first loan. The Congress have drawn on me very considerably for other purposes, which has sometimes greatly embarrassed me, but I have duly accepted and found means to pay their drafts; so that their credit in Europe has been well supported. But, if every agent of Congress in different parts of the world is permitted to run in debt, and draw upon me at pleasure to support his credit, under the idea of its being necessary to do so for the honor of Congress, the difficulty upon me will be too great, and I may in fine be obliged to protest the interest bills. I therefore beg that a stop may be put to such irregular proceedings. , j
Had the loans proposed to be made in Europe succeeded, these practices might not have been so inconvenient; but the number of agents from separate States running all over Europe, and asking to borrow money, has given such an idea of our distress and poverty as makes everybody afraid to trust us. I am much pleased to find, that Congress has at length resolved to borrow of our own people, by making their future bills bear interest. This interest duly paid in hard money, to such as require hard money, will fix the value of the principal, and even make the payment of