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month, while party and political disunion prevailed amonjf the inhabitants of Bristol, he attempted, first to burn the shipping, and afterward the cky. He succeeded only so far as to set fire •to some ware-houses near the quay, six or seven of which were consumed. He was soon after his departure from Bristol, taken ■up on some suspicious circumstances; and being circumvented by one Baldwin, another painter, the whole scene of iniquity was brought to light. Baldwin pretended to sympathiie with him under his misfortunes, and to hold principles similar to his own; and often visited him, till he at length obtained his confidence, "and drew from him the history of his crimes. He told Baldwin that he had been in France, and seen Mr. Silas Deane, ■who had given him some money, and encouraged him to set 4ire to the dock-yards at Portsmouth, Plymouth, &c. as the best means of distressing Great-Britain, and had promised to reward him according to the service he should do to the American cause. He said that Deane, as an earnest of what should follow, had given him a recommendation to, and bills upon a merchant in London, to the amount of £.',100, which however, he had found it necessary to burn, to prevent a discovery; and that in consequence of this encouragement he procured a passport'from the French king. He was condemned at Winchester assizes, and executed at Portsmouth dock gate, the tenth of Match, and then hung in chains. While he lay at Winchester, after condemnation, and before taken away to execution, he denied his having recommendations and bills, and burning the same. It was while working at Titchfield, in Hampshire, thac he conceived the idea of setting fire to the dock-yards. He then went, as he said, to France, and applied to Mr. Deane, who told him that when the work was done he should be rewarded. •He added, that on his return, and after setting fire to the ropeyard at Portsmouth, he went to London, and waited on Dr. Bancroft, to whom he had a verbal recommendation from Mr. Deane, but that the doctor gave him no countenance, and did hot approve of his conduct.
When general Lee's capture came to be known by the gazette •of February the 25th, the rejoicing in Great-Britain on the -«ccasioTi, was great. Personal animosities contributed not a little to the triumph and exultation it produced. But the sauie gazette furnished more than a counterpoise to the joy, in the •aecouuts it contained of general.Washington's successes at'l'rentoa and Princeton. *
The name of Lee reminds me of Mr. Arthur Lee. The latter received, timely notice of the acts of congress, so as to withdraw and get to Paris a few days after Dr. Franklin's arrival. Vol. II. A a While
While in England he was particularly commissioned by a certain body, and that under every sacred promise of secrecy, to make discoveries and transmit them to America; he was also personally consulted by Monsieur Caron de Beaumarchais, upon a pitfc. ject which the latter had formed, of establishing a commercial house, sufficiently powerful and spirited to hazard the risks of the sea and enemy in carrying stores and merchandise forr ths£ American troops. A correspondence was afterward opened between them; and on the 21st of June, 1116, Mr. Lee, under the name «f Mary Johnson, wrote in cyphers to Mr. Beaumarchas) that the army of Great-Britain in America, would~consist of forty thousand men, and their fleet of a hundred ships, and 'but two only of seventy-four guns. He advised the dispatching secretly ten large ships of war to the Cape or Martinico; and their joining the American fleet, scouring the American coast, anil destroyiag the whole British fleet, dispersed as it would be, upon which success the land army could be easily defeated. "By this stroke," says he "the English fleet will be mortally wounded. £>o you fear that this will kindle a war between the two nations? But how will England be able to support a war withbirt fleets, without colonies, without seamen, without resources^ On the contrary, if you suffer America to fall again under thfe dominion ot England, the latter will be forever invincible." If this proposal was communicated to the French minister, k was adjudged too venturous to be prosecuted. Though France must, for her own interest, wish to have the American stated perpetually separated from Great-Britain,, yet the court will be cautious of risking a war with this country till the prospects of success are extremely encouraging. This accounts for the French king's issuing out, about the month of February, a proclamation, prohibiting the sale of English prizes taken by Arnfcrican privateers, in any of the ports of France; but as the purchase of them is not prohibited, and the sale of them only in the ports, the Americans will find no difficulty in disposing of them to Frenchmen.. The police of France is so well constructed, that they can easily convey to the extremities of the kingdom, the views and sentiments of the court, and secure a ready compliance with them. It is only for the minister to give the farmers-general his instructions, and for them, through their lines of connection with every province, city, town and village to distribute their directions; on which the inhabitants of the most distant parts will think, speak and act mechanically1, Hi unison with their betters at Versailles. .. ..i I.
On the 20th of February, the British ambassador at the Hague, /presented a memorial to their high mightinesses, containing varU ous complaints; and closing with an express demand of a formal disavowal of the salute i. Fort George at St. Eustatia, to the American flag, and of the dismission and immediate recal of the ;: followed by a further declaration, that till that satisaction was given, they were not to expect that his majesty would suffer himself to be amused by mere assurances, or would delay one instant to take such measures as he should think due to the interests and dignity of his crown. Their high mightinesses disdaining the spirit and manner of the complaint, passed by the ambassador. (Sir Joseph Yorke) and slso the secretary of state, and commanded their minister at London, the count de Walderen, to address himself directly to the king, and to deliver their answer, into his own hands; which was done. March the 26th. They complained of the reproaches contained in the ambassador's memorial, and the menacing tone which reigns in it, strained beyond what ought to take place between two sovereign and independent powers. They did not disguise the poignant sensation with which it had impressed them. They afterward mentiQned their having ordered the governor home to give the necessary information of what had passed, and their resolution to disavow every actor mark of honor that actually tended in the least degree to recognise the independence of the North-Amerigan colonies. On the 10th of April, lord Suffolk, by letter, assured the court, that his majesty accepted with satisfaction, the memorial he had addressed to him; but that his majesty could not perceive in Sir Joseph Yorke's memorial, any thing contrary to what ought to take place between sovereigns and independent powers in the weighty circumstances in question. ... In February and April, Messrs. Franklin, and Deane sent to lord Stormont, two letters on the subject of an exchange of British seamen, prisoners in the hands of the captain of an American frigate, for an equal number of American seamen, prisoners in England; and of the cruel treatment the American prisoners meet with in Europe, in being ether compelled b chains, stripes and famine, to fight against their friends and relations, or sent to Africa and Asia, remote from all probability of exchange. They had for answer—“The king's ambassador receives no applications from rebels, unless they come to implore his majesty's mercy.” They pronounced it an indecent paper, and returned it for his lordship's more mature consideration. The news of gen, Clinton's being created a Knight of the Bath, will be no otherwise important to the Americans, than as a direction how to address him in future. . . . ... A fresh effort was made in the house of lords, to bring about a reconciliation between Great-Britain and her colonies, as they - - - - as C
are here still called. The earl of Chatham had been prevented: of late, by his advanced age and infirm state of health, from taking an active part in the disputes of the house. . But viewing with concern the dangers which menaced the kingdom, he determined again to come forth from his retreat, and endeavor to: influence the contending parties to listen to terms of accommodation. On the 30th of May he entered the house, wrapped in flannel, and bearing a crutch in each hand. His lordship, sitting in his place and with his head covered, delivered a speech, wherein he explained the grounds of the motion he was about to make. He recapitulated and reprobated the measures which had been taken with the Americans, from the voting away of their property without their consent, to the attempting of their conquest by the aid of German mercenaries. He endeavored to show the absurdity of relying longer on the force of arms, and very pathetically pressed the necessity of a speedy conciliation. After speaking for fifty minutes, he moved for an address to the throne, “most humbly to advise his majesty to take the most speedy and effectual measures, for putting a stop to hostilities, upon the only just and solid foundation, namely, the removab of accumulated grievances; and to assure his majesty, that the house will enter upon this great and necessary work with cheerfulness and dispatch, in order to open to his majesty the only means of regaining the affection of the British colonies, and of securing to Great-Britain, the commercial advantages of those invaluable possessions; fully persuaded that to heal and redress. will be more prevalent over the hearts of generous and free born subjects, than the rigors of chastisement and the horrors of civil war, which have hitherto served only to sharpen resentments and consolidate union, and if continued, must end finally, in dissolving all ties between Great-Britain and the colonies. . . .3 This brought on an interesting and animating debate, which terminated in the question's being put, when lord Chatham's motion was rejected by a majority of 99 to 28. The ministry had obtained all they wanted from parliament; were confident in their own conceit and in the success of their measures; and would attend to no remonstrances of reason. The general assembly of the church of Scotland, in an address to his majesty, among many expressions of loyalty, declared that, sensible of their own felicity, they observed with concern, the first appearance of a turbulent and ungovernable spirit among the people of North-America; that they had with astonishment contemplated its alarming progress, and beheld fellow-subjects, who enjoyed in common with them, the blessings of his majesty's mild administration, take up arms in opposition to lawful authority, disclaim the supremacy of the British legislature, reject with disdain the means of reconciliation, and labour to erect their unlawful confederacy into separate states. They then, with reverence and gratitude to Divine Providence, offer their congratulations for the success which has attended the fleets and armies, that have been employed to oppose the violence of rebellious, subjects, and to reclaim them to a sense of their duty: and conclude with acknowledging it their immediate duty, in the present situation of public affairs, to increase their diligence, not only in confirming the people under their care in sentiments of loyalty, but by inciting them to such reformation in their hearts and lives, as will avert from their country those judgments which their iniquities justly deserve.
i [June 6.] His majesty went to the house of peers, and after giving his royal assent to a number of bills, closed the session with a speech which finished with saying, " My lords and gentlemen, I trust in Divine Providence, that by a well-concerted and vigorous exertion of the great foice you hav* put into my bands, the opperations of this campaign, by sea and land, will be blessed with such success as may most effectually tend to the suppression of the rebellion in America, and to the re-establishment ©f that constitutional obedience which all the subjects of a free" state owe to the authority of the law."
• -In/the beginning of May,-a captain Cunningham, in a privateer fitted out from Dunkirk, took and carried into that port the British packet going to Holland. Not understanding thoroughly the business on which he was sent, and being hurried, he was not careful to secure insantly, upon the capture of the vessel, the packet intrusted with the king's messenger, which he therefore missed of; but the mail was taken and forwarded to the American commissioners at Paris. Adieu.
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