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interruption of new applicants in the time by meeting, &c. &c. occasion so much postponing and delay, that correspondence languishes, occasions are lost, and the business is always behind-hand. I have mentioned the difficulty of being often and long enough together: this is considerable, where they cannot all be accommodated in the same house : but to find three people whose tempers are so good, and who like so well one another's company, and manner of living and conversing, as to agree well themselves, though being in one house, and whose servants will not, by their indiscretion quarrel with one another, and by artful misrepresentations draw their masters in to take their parts, to the disturbance of necessary harmony ; these are difficulties still greater, and almost insurmountable : and in consideration of the whole, I wish the congress would separate us. .
The Spanish galeons, which have been impatiently expected, are at length happily arrived. The fleet and army returning from Brasil, is still out, but supposed to be on the way homewards. When that and the South Sea ships are arrived, it will appear whether Spain's accession to the treaty has been delayed for the reasons given, or whether the reasons were only given to excuse the delay
The English and French fleets, of nearly equal force, are now both at sea. It is not doubted but that if they meet there will be a battle. For though England, through fear, affects to understand it to be still peace, and excuses the depredations she has made on the commerce of France by pretences of illicit trade, &c. yet France considers the war as begun from the time of the king's message to parliament, complaining of the insult France had given by treating with us, and demanding aids to resent it, and the answers of both houses offering their lives and fortunes, and the taking several frigates are deemed indisputable hostilities. Accordingly orders are given, to all the fleets and armed ships, to return hostilities, and encouragement is offered to privateers, &c. An embassador from Spain is indeed gone to London, and joyfully received there, in the idea that peace
· may be made by his mediation. But as yet we learn noth
ing certain of his mission, and doubt his effecting any thing of the kind.
War in Germany seems to be inevitable, and this occasioning great borrowings of money in Holland and elsewhere, by the powers concerned, makes it more difficult for us to succeed in ours. When we engaged to congress to pay their bills for the interest of the sums they should borrow, we did not dream of their drawing on us for other occasions. We have already paid of congress drafts, to returned officers, eighty-two thousand two hundred and eleven livres, and we know not how much more of that kind we have to pay, because the committee have never let us know the amount of those drafts, or their account of them never reached us, and they still continue coming in: and we are now surprised with advice of drafts from Mr. Bingham, to the amount of one hundred thousand more. If you reduce us to bankruptcy here, by a non-payment of your drafts, consider the consequences. In my humble opinion, no drafts should be made on us, without first learning from us that we shall be able to answer them.
Mr. Beaumarchais has been out of town ever since the arrival of your power to settle with him. I hope he will be able to furnish the supplies mentioned in the invoice and contract. The settlement may be much better made with the assistance of Mr. Deane ; we being not privy to the transactions.
We have agreed to give Monsieur Dumas two hundred louis a year, thinking that he well deserves it. . With great esteem. I have the honor to be, &c.
To the Committee for Foreign Affairs.
· Passy, May 26, 1779. . GENTLEMEN, THE Marquis de la Fayette, who arrived here the 11th of February, brought me yours of October 28th, and the
new commission, credentials, and instructions the congress have honored me with. I have not since had an opportunity of writing that I could trust; for I see by several instances, that the orders given to private captains, to throw their dispatches into the sea, when likely to be taken, are sometimes neglected, and sometimes so badly executed, that the letters are recovered by the enemy, and much inconvenience has attended their interception. You mention that you should speedily have opportunities of forwarding duplicates and triplicates of these papers: none of them have ever come to hand; nor have I received any other line from you of later date.
I immediately acquainted the minister for foreign affairs with my appointment, and communicated to him, as usual a copy of my credential letter, on which a' day was named for my reception. A fit of the gout prevented my attendance at that time, and for some weeks after, but as soon as I was able to go through the ceremony, I went to Versailles, and was presented to the king, and received in all the forms. I delivered the letter of the congress into his majesty's own hands, who in the most gracious manner expressed his satisfaction: and I have since constantly attended the levee, every Tuesday, with the other foreign
the assurances I am instructed to give, of the grateful sentiments of congress, and their determined resolution to fulfil religiously their engagements. Much pains is constantly taken by the enemy to weaken the confidence of this court in their new allies, by representing our people as weary of the war, and of the government of congress, which body too, they represent as distracted by dissentions, &c. but all this has very little effect; and when on some occasions it has seemed to make a little impression, and create some apprehensions, I have not found it difficult to remove them: and it is my firm opinion, that notwithstanding the great losses suffered by the commerce of this kingdom, since the commencement of the war, the disposition of the court to continue it (till its purpose of establishing ows:
independence is completed) is not in the least changed, nor their regard for us diminished.
The end of that part of the instructions which relates to American seamen taken by the French in English ships, had already been obtained ; captain Jones having had for some time an order from court directed to the keepers of the prisoners, requiring them to deliver to him such Americans
liberty to serve under his command. Most of them have accordingly been delivered to him, if not all. The minister of the marine having entertained a high opinion of him from his conduct and bravery in taking the Drake, was desirous of employing him in the command of a particular enterprise; and, to that end, requested us to spare him, which we did, and sent the Ranger home under the command of his lieutenant. Various accidents have hitherto postponed his equipment, but he now has the command of a fifty gun ship, with some frigates, all under American commissions and colors, fitted out at the king's expense, and will sail it is said about the first of June. The marquis de la Fayette was, with some land troops, to have gone with him; but I now understand the marquis is not to go, the plan being a 'little changed. The Alliance being weakly manned at first, and the captain judging it necessary to be freed from thirty eight of his men, who had been concerned in a conspiracy, and unwilling to take French seamen, I thought it best to send him directly home, as his ship might be of some protection to the vessels then about sailing to America; and Mr. Adams, who was desirous of returning soon might be accommodated with a passage in a swift sailing vessel. I accordingly offered her as a convoy to the trade at Nantes; but the gentlemen concerned, did not think fit to wait for her getting ready, as a French convoy offered for at least part of the voyage, and the minister requesting she might be added to captain Jones's little squadron, and offering to give a passage to Mr. Adams in the frigate with the new embassador, and to complete the Alliance's complement of men, I thcught it best to continue her a little longer in Europe, hoping she may, in the projected cruise, by her extraordinary swiftness, be a means of taking prisoners enough to redeem the rest of our countrymen now in the English gaols. With this view, as well as to oblige the minister, I ordered her to join captain Jones at L'Orient, and obey his orders, where she now is accordingly. There have been great misunderstandings between the officers of that ship and their captain, and great discontents among the latter for want of clothes and money. I have been obliged to make great advances to appease those discontents, and I now hope the authority and prudence of captain Jones will be able to remove, or at least prevent the ill effects of those misunderstandings. The conspirators are detained in prison, and will remain there, subject to such direction. as the congress may think fit to give concerning them.
The court here would not, because they properly could not, undertake to try them; and we had not captains enough to make a court martial for the purpose. The sending them to America, with evidence to convict them, will be a great trouble and expense, and perhaps their offence cannot be so clearly made out as to justify a punishment sufficient to deter by its exemplary severity: possibly the best use that can be made of them is to give them in exchange for as many Americans, in the cartel now operating here. The perfi, dious conduct of English and Scotch sailors in our service, a good deal discourages the idea of taking them out of those prisons in order to employ them.
This cartel is at length brought about by the indefatigable endeavors of an old friend of mine and a long declared one to America.a The ship employed has already brought us one cargo from the prison at Plymouth. The number was intended for an hundred, but proved ninety-seven and she is re. , turned with as many in exchange, to bring us a second number from the prison at Portsmouth. This is to continue till all are exchanged. The Americans are chiefly engaged with captains Jones and Landais. This exchange is the more remarkable, as our people were all committed as for high treason.
a Supposed to be Mr. Hartley member of parliament for Hull.