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expectation of them, indeed if I had them, I should not be able to do much with them, or to controvert any thing I might doubt in them, being unacquainted with the transactions and agreements on which they must be founded, and having small skill in accounts. Mr. Ross and Mr. Williams pressing me to examine and settle theirs, I have been obliged to request indifferent persons, expert in such business, to do it for me, subject to the revision of congress; and I should wish that my time and attention were not taken up by any concerns in mercantile affairs, and thereby diverted from others more important.
The letters of congress to the king were very graciously received ; I have earnestly pressed the supplies desired, and the ministers (who are extremly well disposed towards us) are now actually studying the means of furnishing them. The assistance of Spain is hoped for. We expect to hear from thence in a few days. The quantity is great and will cost a vast sum. I have this day accepted three of your drafts, part of the three hundred and sixty thousand livres drawn for on the 9th of June: but when I ask for money to pay them, I must mention that as they were drawn to purchase military stores, an abatement equal to the value, may be made of the quantity demanded from hence. For I am really ashamed to be always worrying the ministers for more money. And as to the private loans expected, I wrote in a former letter that our public credit was not yet sufficiently established, and that the loan in Holland had not exceeded eighty thousand florins, to which there has since been no addition. A Mr. Neufville came from thence to me last spring, proposing to procure great sums if he might be employed for that purpose, and the business taken away from the house that had commenced it. His terms at first were very extravagant, such as that all the estates real and personal in the thirteen provinces should be mortgaged to, him, that a fifth part of the capital sum borrowed should every year for five years be laid out in commodities and sent to Holland consigned to him, to remain in his hands till the term (ten years) stipulated for final payment was completed,
as a security for the punctuality of it; when he was to draw the usual commissions : that all vessels or merchandize, coming from America to Europe, should be consigned to him or his correspondents, &c. &c. As I rejected these with some indignation, he came down to the more reasonable ones of doing the business as it was done by the other house, who, he said, could do no more, being destitute of the interest which he possessed. I did not care abruptly to change a house that had in other respects been very friendly and serviceable to us, and thereby throw a slur upon their credit without a certainty of mending our affairs by it; and therefore, told Mr. Neufville that if he could procure and show me a list of subscribers amounting to the sum he menmentioned, or near it, I would comply with his proposition. This he readily and confidently undertook to do. But after three months, during which he acquainted me from time to time, that the favorable moment was not yet come, I received instead of the subscription, a new set of propositions, among the terms of which were an additional one per cent. and a patent from congress, appointing him and his sons “ commissioners for trade and navigation, and treasurers of the general congress, and of every private state of the thirteen United States of North America, through the seven United Provinces" with other extravagancies, which I mention, that it may be understood, why I have dropt correspondence on this subject, with a man who seemed to me a vain promiser, extremely self interested, and aiming chiefly to make an appearance without solidity; and who, I understand intends applying directly to congress, some of his friends censuring me as neglecting the public interest in not coming into his measures.
The truth is that I have no expectations from Holland, whilst interest received there from other nations is so high, and our credit there so low; while particular American states offer higher interest than the congress; and even our offering to raise our interest tends to sink our credit. My sole dependence now is upon this court: I think reasonable assistance may be obtained here, but I wish I may not be obliged to fatigue it too much with my applications, lest it should grow tired of the connection.
Mr. Ross has lately demanded of me near twenty thousand pounds sterling, due to him from the committee of commerce, but I have been obliged to refuse him, as well as an application made last week by Mr. Izard for more money, though he has already had 2,500 guineas, and another from Mr. Arthur Lee, though he has had five hundred guineas, since the news of his being out of this commission. He writes me that he will return to America forthwith if I do not undertake to supply his expenses: as I see no likelihood of his being received at Madrid, I could not but
approve his resolution.
We had reason to expect some great events from the action of the fleets this summer in the Channel, but they are all now in port without having effected any thing. The junction was late, and the length of time the Brest squadron was at sea, equal to an East India voyage, partly on the hot Spanish coast, occasioned a sickness among the people that made their return necessary: they had chased the English fleet, which refused the combat..... The sick men are recovering fast since they were landed; and the proposed descent on England does not yet seem to be quite given up, as the troops are not withdrawn from the ports. Holland has not yet granted the succors required by the English, nor even given an answer to the requisition presented by sir Joseph York. The aids will be refused, and as the refusal must be disagreeable, it is postponed from time to time. The expectations of assistance from Russia and Prussia seem also to have failed the English, and they are as much at a loss to find effective friends in Europe, as they have been in America. Portugal seems to have a better disposition towards us than heretofore. About thirty of our people taken, and set ashore on one of her islands by the English, were maintained comfortably by the governor during their stay there, furnished with every necessary, and sent to Lisbon, where, on inquiry to whom payment was to be made for the expence they had occa-, sioned, they were told that no reimbursement was expected, that it was the queen's bounty, who had a pleasure in shewing hospitality to strangers in distress. I have presented
thanks by the Portuguese ambassador here in behalf of the congress : and I am given to understand that probably, in a little time, the ports of that nation will be as open to us as those of Spain. What relates to Spain I suppose Mr. Lee informs you of.
The sword ordered by congress for the marquis de la Fayette, being at length finished, I sent it down to him at Havre, where he was with the troops intended for the invasion. I wrote a letter with'it, and received an answer, copies of both which I enclose, together with a description of the sword, and drawings of the work upon it, which was executed by the best artists in Paris, and cost altogether two hundred guineas. The present has given him great pleasure, and some of the circumstances have been agreeable to the nation.
Our cartel goes on; a second cargo of American prisoners, one hundred and nineteen in number, being arrived and ex changed. Our privateers have dismissed a great number at sea, taking their written paroles, to be given up in exchange for so many of our people in their gaols. This is not yet quite agreed to on the other side, but some expectations are given me that it may take place. Certainly humanity would find its account in the practice of exchanging upon parole, as all the horrors of imprisonment, with the loss of time and health, might be prevented by it.
We continue to insult the coasts of these lords of the ocean with our little cruisers. A small cutter, which was fitted out as a privateer at Dunkirk, called the Black Prince, has taken, ransomed, burnt, and destroyed above thirty sail of their vessels within these three months. ers are about to give her a consort, called the Black Princess, for whom they ask a commission. The prisoners brought in, serve to exchange our countrymen, which makes me more willing to encourage such armaments, though they occasion a good deal of trouble.
Captain, now commodore, Jones, put to sea this sum.
d This paper does not appear.
mer with a little squadron consisting of a ship of forty guns, the Alliance, another frigate of twenty, with some armed cutters, all under American colors, with congress commissions. He has sent in several prizes, has greatly alarmed the coast of Ireland and Scotland ; and we just now hear, that going north about, he fell in with a number of ships from the Baltic, convoyed by a fifty gun ship and a twenty four gun frigate, both of which he took after an obstinate engagement, and forced several of the others ashore. This news is believed, but we wait the confirmation and the
The blank commissions remaining of those sent to us here, are all signed by Mr. Hancock, which occassions some difficulty. If congress approves of my continuing to issue such commissions, I wish to have a fresh supply, with the other necessary papers, instructions, rules, bonds, &c. of which none are now left
M. le comte de Maillebois, esteemed one of the best general's in this country, and who loves our cause, has given me a memorial, containing a project for raising a corps here for your service, which I promised to lay before congress, and accordingly enclose a copy : I know nothing of the sentiments of congress on the subject of introducing foreign troops among us, and therefore could give no expectation that the plan would be adopted. It will, however, be a pleasure to him to know, that his good will to serve them has been acceptable to congress.
A major Borre, who has been in America, and some other officers who have quitted our service in disgust, endeavor to give an idea here that our nation does not love the French. I take all occasions to place in view the regard shewn by congress to goud French officers, as a proof that the slight these gentlemen complain of is particular to themselves, and probably the effect of their own misbehavior. I wish for the future, whenever any of this sort of people leave our armies to come home, some little sketch of their conduct or character may be sent me, with the real causes of their resigning or departure, that I may be more able to justify our country.