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POLITICAL PAPERS, SUBSEQUENT TO THE REVOLUTION.
From October, 1776, to June, 1782,
To John Hancock, President of Congress,
Nantes, October 8, 1776. Sir, IN thirty days after we left the Capes of Delaware, we came to an anchor in the Quiberon Bay. I remained on board four days, expecting a change of wind proper to carry the ship into the river Loire, but the wind seeming fixed in an opposite quarter, I landed at Auray, and with difficulty got hither, the road not being well supplied with means of conveyance. Two days before we saw land, we met a brigantine from Bordeaux belonging to Cork, and another from Rochefort belonging to Hull, both of which were taken. The first has on board, staves, tar, turpentine, and claret: the other Coniac brandy and flaxseed. There is some difficulty in determining what to do with them, as they are scarce worth sending to America, and the mind of the French court with regard to prizes brought into their ports, is not yet known. It is certainly contrary to their treaties with Britain to permit the sale of them, and we have no regular means of trying and condemning them. There are, however, many here who would purchase prizes, we having already had several offers from persons who are willing to take upon themselves all consequences as to the illegality.
Captain Wickes, as soon as he can get his refreshments intends a cruise in the channel. Our friends in France have been a good deal dejected with the gazette accounts of advantages obtained against us by the British troops, I have helped them here to recover their spirits a little, by assuring them that we still face the enemy, and were under no apprehensions of their two armies being able to complete their junction.
I understand Mr. Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr. Deane is still there, and that an underhand supply is obtained from the goverment, of two hundred brass field pieces, thirty thousand firelocks, and some other military stores, which are now shipping for America, and will be convoyed by a ship of war.
The court of England, Mr. Penet tells me (from whom I have the above intelligence) had the folly to demand Mr. Deane to be delivered up, but were refused.
Our voyage though not long was rough, and I feel myself weakened by it, but I now recover strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any public character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the court is ready and willing to receive ministers publicly from the congress; that we may neither embarrass her on the one hand, nor subjectourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other, I have dispatched an express to Mr. Deane, with the letters I had for him from the committee and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In the mean time, I find it is generally supposed here, that I am sent to negociate, and that opinion appears to give great pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civilities I meet with from numbers of the principal people who have done me the honor to visit me. I have desired Mr. Deane, by some speedy and safe means, to give Mr. Lee notice of his appointment. I find several vessels here laden with military stores for America, just ready to sail; on the whole there is the greatest prospect that we shall be well