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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. IX
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That you may be better able to answer some questions, which will probably be put to you concerning our present situation, we inform you, that the whole continent is very firmly united, the party for the measures of the British Ministry being very small, and much dispersed; that we have had on foot the last campaign an army of near twentyfive thousand men, wherewith we have been able, not only to block up the King's army in Boston, but to spare considerable detachments for the invasion of Canada, where we have met with great success, as the printed papers sent herewith will inform you, and have now reason to expect that whole Province may be soon in our possession; that we purpose greatly to increase our force for the ensuing year, and thereby, we hope, with the assistance of well disciplined militia, to be able to defend our coast, notwithstanding its great extent; that we have already a small squadron of armed vessels to protect our coasting trade, which have had some success in taking several of the enemy's cruisers and some of their transport vessels and store-ships. This little naval force we are about to augment, and expect it may be more considerable in the next summer.

We have hitherto applied to no foreign power. We are using the utmost industry in endeavoring to make saltpetre, and with daily increasing success. Our artificers are also everywhere busy in fabricating small arms, casting cannon, &c. Yet both arms and ammunition are much wanted. Any merchants, who would venture to send ships laden with those articles, might make great profit; such is the demand in every Colony, and such generous prices are, and will be given, of which, and of the manner of conducting such a voyage, the bearer, Mr Story, can more fully inform you. And whoever brings in those articles is allowed to carry off the value in provisions to our West Indies, where they will fetch a very high price, the general exportation from North America being stopped. This you will see more particularly in a printed resolution of the Congress.

We are in great want of good engineers, and wish you could engage and send us two able ones in time for the next campaign, one acquainted with field service, sieges, &c. and the other with fortifying sea-ports. They will, if well recommended, be made very welcome, and have honorable appointments, besides the expenses of their voyage hither, in which Mr Story can also advise them. As what we now request of you, besides taking up your time, may put you to some expense, we send you, for the present, enclosed, a bill for one hundred pounds sterling, to defray such expenses, and desire you to be assured that your services will be considered and honorably rewarded by the Congress.

We desire, also, that you would take the trouble of receiving from Arthur Lee, agent for the Congress in England, such letters as may be sent by him to your care, and of forwarding them to us with your despatches. When you have occasion to write to him to inform him of anything, which it may be of importance that our friends there should be acquainted with, please to send your letters to him under cover, directed to Mr Alderman Lee, merchant, on Tower Hill, London, and do not send it by post, but by some trusty shipper, or other prudent person, who will deliver it with his own hand. And when you send to us, if you have not a direct safe opportunity, we recommend sending by way of St Eustatia, to the care of Messrs Robert & Cornelius Stevens, merchants there, who will forward your despatches to me.

With sincere and great esteem and respect, I am, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

* * * * *

B. FRANKLIN TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Philadelphia, March 22d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you lately by Mr Story, and since by another conveyance. This line will be delivered to you by Mr Deane, who goes over on business of the Congress, and with whom you may freely converse on the affairs committed to you in behalf of that body. I recommend him warmly to your civilities. Messrs Vaillant & Pochard continue close at their new business, and are already able to subsist by it; as they grow more expert, they will be able to make more money.

Mr Deane will inform you of everything here, and I need not add more, than that I am, with esteem and respect, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

* * * * *

TO B. FRANKLIN, CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Utrecht, April 30th, 1776.

Sir,

I received on the 6th instant at the Hague, from Mr Thomas Story, the despatches of the 19th December, 1775, of which he was the bearer.

I am deeply penetrated by the honor done me, and the confidence reposed in me by the committee appointed by the General Congress to maintain the correspondence between the American United Provinces and Europe, and of which you, Sir, are one of the worthy members. I shall die content if the remainder of my life can be devoted to the service of so glorious and just a cause. I accept, therefore, joyfully the commission you have bestowed, and whatever you may think fit to give me in future, and I promise a hearty good will and an untiring zeal. I hope my ability will justify the favorable opinion you entertain of me. This promise on my part is in fact an oath of allegiance, which I spontaneously take to Congress; receive it as such.

When I remarked in my last letter to you, "that all Europe wishes you the most happy issue in your defence of your liberty," I meant the unprejudiced, equitable, humane, European public; in a word, the citizens of universal society, men in general. You must except from this number the holders of English funds, and those Courts of Europe who have an understanding with England; these, far from assisting you, will sacrifice you to their interests or their fears. The allies, which under such circumstances are suitable for you, are France and Spain; for it is their interest that you should be free and independent of England, whose enormous maritime power fills them with apprehensions. I have, therefore, opened myself to the French Minister, and a copy and translation of your requests and letters of credence to me have been for a fortnight in his hands. In the conversation I had with this Minister I observed, that the wishes of his nation are for you. He said, that there was one difficulty in affording aid to the Colonies; if they should be reconciled with England, they would assist her against the power which had aided them, and would imitate the dog in the fable. I had no reply to make to this, except that in this case reasonable beings were concerned, that if they saw the object was not to deprive them of the liberty for which they were contending, but to assure it to them, they would not be so ungrateful as to join against their benefactors, those who wished to destroy that liberty. Finally, he desired to know from me positively, what I would ask for the Colonies of his Court. I answered, that you wished to be informed, 1. If the King of France would, from motives of humanity and magnanimity, interpose his mediation on behalf of an oppressed people and effect a reconciliation, which should preserve to them all the liberties they formerly enjoyed. 2. In case such a reconciliation could not be effected, would the nations, subjects of the house of Bourbon, be willing to accede to an alliance with the Colonies, with the advantages of an immense commerce? He was pleased with the former proposition to offer to his young king the glory of conferring peace on the subjects of others as well as on his own. The other proposition is not disagreeable to him, were it not for the dreadful war which would ensue in Europe. I then delivered to him, together with your letter, a memorial, showing how important it was for France not to allow the subjugation of the Colonies. The whole was sent to his Court about a fortnight since, and if the answer should be delayed it will be of no disadvantage. Meanwhile, we have gained this advantage, that an opening is made, which must dispose France in your favor, and engage her to tolerate and secretly to encourage even any assistance your vessels can derive from France, Spain, and the Indies. I have, therefore, in the extract, copied exactly what you pointed out to me as the most necessary, as engineers, arms, munitions, &c.

I have done all this with the most profound secrecy. The person of whom I have spoken to you required it from me, and promised it in return, so that no one in this country, excepting him and me, knows anything of it. It is more advantageous to you and safer for me, that I should not be known as your agent.

Mr Story, not daring to take two letters with him to England, one for Arthur Lee, the other for Mrs Hannah Philippa Lee, left them in safe keeping with me, and he did well. I learn by two letters, which I have received from Mr A. Lee, of the 20th and 23d of April, that on Mr Story's landing in England, they took from him a letter, which I had sent by him for Mr Lee; fortunately it was not signed with any true name, and could give no information to your adversaries. They have, therefore, committed this additional violence to no purpose. I have sent those letters to a friend at Rotterdam, according to the request of Mr Lee, and that friend informs me under date of May 3d, that he has forwarded the packet by a captain of a sloop, one of his old friends, who promised him to deliver them himself to the address which I put upon them by Mr Lee's directions. The sudden departure of the vessels will prevent me from informing you whether they have been safely delivered. I shall do it by some future opportunity. I joined to the packet a cypher for Mr Lee, like that I sent to you, but grounded on different words, so that we shall be able to communicate with each other in perfect safety. I informed him also, that I had the honor of writing you frequently, so that he can send his letters through me, if he has no better way.

I know an engineer over thirty years of age, able, experienced, and very well qualified not only in his branch, but in the whole art of war; in a word, a fine officer, but very inadequately rewarded. I shall not be able to speak with him for several weeks, when I will propose to him the service of the Colonies. But as he is a widower, without means, and has several children, it will probably be necessary if he accepts, to make him some advances to enable him to go over. I will give you an account in due time of the conversation I shall have with him.

I have endorsed today your bill of exchange of L100 sterling to the order of M. Rey, bookseller at Amsterdam. Good reasons prevented me from doing it sooner and at any other place than Amsterdam. May the conscientious use which I shall make of this fund entirely satisfy your wishes, and the confidence with which you have honored me. I am persuaded of the generosity of Congress, and I pray heaven that I may deserve by my services to be the object of it, when God shall have blessed their labors for the welfare and prosperity of the Colonies, either by a firm and sincere reconciliation, or by the success of your righteous and just arms. In reality, I hope much more than I fear on this point. The wisdom of Congress, so constantly manifested, the perfect union and harmony which prevail there, encourage me more and more. By this rare, happy, and admirable union, much more surely than by all the alliances in the world, you are, and you will finally be superior to your enemies, however formidable they may appear. Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia maximae dilabuntur; may this great truth and the sublime words of Themistocles to Eurybiades, who raised a weapon against him in the Council, "Strike but hear," be constantly present to your minds and hearts as well as to those of your constituents. What power will then be able to withstand yours? Ascribe the freedom of this address to the enthusiasm with which I am animated for your union, the noblest edifice that liberty has ever reared. In it centres all that the political world contains attractive for me.

I thank you, Sir, for your fatherly kindness to the two French gentlemen. They are young, and ought not therefore to entertain even the idea of being an instant a burden to any one, and a useless load to society.

I am very glad that the Statement of the Points in Dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies has been approved, so far as to cause it to be printed for the instruction of your friends, the Canadians. This is the only effect of that paper, for the printer not having sold enough of his journals to be at any other expense than the impression, has ceased to pay the author of those pieces. I have obtained his address for the purpose of engaging him to assist me in refuting the Jew, Pinto, whose venal pen has been employed in the most insolent manner against the Americans. A certain person, whom you know, regrets having allowed himself to be dazzled by his financial system, so far as to approve it without reserve in a letter, or advertisement, at the head of the treatise on "Circulation;" for although there are some good things in it here and there, yet that person has long since bean enlightened, in regard to many false brilliants, which the Jew passed on for genuine.

As for the Idea on Government and Royalty, I learn with pleasure, that it has been agreeable, and that the time will perhaps come when it will receive more attention. This idea renders me more happy and proud, than if I had written the Iliad; for I think with Phaedrus, nisi utile est quod fucimus, stulta est gloria. It is a seed, which I thought myself bound to sow in your country, the only place in the known world where it could spring up. I consider that idea more and more practicable and true, and of all political systems the most completely proof against all objections. It requires only to be developed. God grant that we may soon be able to do it in peace and at leisure. I shall then beg you, Sir, with the estimable and learned author of the Pennsylvania Farmer, to correspond with me on this subject, and to prove it, if not to our contemporaries, at least to posterity.

I thank you, Sir, for the Journal of Congress from the 10th of May to the 1st of August, 1775, which you have had the kindness to send me; be good enough to complete it by sending what precedes and follows; for we have here nothing authentic relating to your affairs. All that we know of you, we get from the gazettes, imperfectly, by scraps, in a vague and uncertain manner, a mixture of truth and falsehood.

May 9th. I have just received the following letter without signature. "You will perhaps be tempted to come to the fair at the Hague. I shall have the honor to renew the expressions of my sincere esteem. I shall be at your orders every day at noon or sooner, if you will write me from your lodgings to let me know what hour will be most convenient for you. We shall be able to moralise some moments upon subjects, which we have already discussed. I have but little to say to you, which I shall do with a sincerity and candor, which I trust you will approve." I shall make this visit Saturday night, so as to return here Sunday night or Monday, not being able to do it otherwise. I shall send this letter today to Amsterdam, as they tell me the vessels will else sail without it. I shall therefore give you an account of the conversation in another letter, either by the same vessel or by some other. I am sorry to be obliged to leave you in suspense on a subject so interesting.

Receive, Sir, for all the members of Congress in general, and for yourself, Mr Dickinson and Mr Jay in particular, the sincere assurances of my profound respect.

DUMAS.[20]

FOOTNOTES:

[20] M. Dumas commonly wrote his despatches in French, but sometimes in English. It has not been thought necessary to designate between those translated, and those written originally in English. Although he wrote the language with a good deal of accuracy, yet foreign idioms and other defects will occasionally be perceived. In some instances the editor has taken the liberty to make free corrections of the author's style, and to omit a good deal of irrelevant matter.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Utrecht, May 14th, 1776.

Gentlemen,

I wrote the 9th to the person who wrote me the letter of the 6th, of which I have given you a copy, that if what he had to say to me was pressing, I would go and return in two succeeding nights, to be with him Sunday the 12th, which is between the two; but if the interview could admit a week's delay, I should be able to make the journey more conveniently. He answered the next day, 10th of May, as follows.

"I have received, Sir, the letter you did me the honor to write. I obey instantly the order you have given to answer you as to the day when I shall be able to have the pleasure of seeing you. As what I shall have the honor of saying to you is not pressing, you may put off, till Saturday next, eight days hence, that is to say the 18th of this month, the visit with which you flatter me. Nay, I take the liberty to anticipate you in the offer of expenses in all cases where your good offices will be useful to me. Flattered, honored as I am with the acquaintance I have made with you, I should be very sorry to be a burden to you, and to abuse your kindness.

"I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir, at your command."

Do not think, Gentlemen, that a childish vanity leads me to recite to you this letter, and to take to myself sincerely the compliments which are addressed to me.

May 21st. I am at length returned from my journey, with which I have been much satisfied, because I think you will have reason to be so. After we had conversed some time on the great and very late news of the evacuation of Boston by your enemies, as a new mark of the wisdom of your operations, our friend, (whose name I have promised not to reveal,) said, the King of England does not forget himself, nevertheless, as you see; and he showed me in a gazette a prohibitory edict very severe, of the Empress Queen of Hungary, against all exportation of arms and munitions from her States for America. I had already seen it, and I told him so. But what you do not know, said he, is that the King has demanded this of the Empress by a letter written with his own hand. I gave him to understand, that I hoped his Court would not be so partial. You shall know, he replied, for you will comprehend it. As to your first demand, the mediation of the King cannot take place whilst the Colonies are subjects of the King of England, who, besides, would not accept it. As to your second demand, the King is a true knight, his word is sacred. He has given it to the English to live in peace with them. He will hold to it. While France is not at war with the English, he will not ally himself against them with the Colonies, and will not furnish aids to the latter. But on the other hand, for the same reason, the Americans have the same protection and liberty as all other English to resort to France, to export thence merchandise, arms, and munitions of war, without however forming magazines of them in France, which is not permitted by any nation. Besides, added he, the Colonies have no need that either France or Spain should enter into this war. Commerce alone will furnish to the Americans all that they want to defend themselves.

I am of his opinion. I think even that it will be more advantageous to you and to France also, that she should not be hasty to declare openly for you. Once more, gentlemen, your union, your constant love of liberty, your fortitude in turning from all that looks like luxury and in despising it, your hatred of tyranny and despotism, which are the sad fruits of luxury; in fine, all your republican virtues will render you superior to your enemies, and invincible even without allies. These, however, will not be wanting, be assured, for it cannot be thought, that with what is passing in your part of the world, ours can long remain at peace. The time will come when your friends will show themselves, and when your alliance will not only be accepted but sought. Meanwhile you have struck a great and wise blow in driving your enemies from Boston. They publish, that they have evacuated the place, with profound political motives; the public laughs at this pretence.

I forgot to mention to you, that the person in question offered to reimburse to me the expenses of my journey; and that I answered they were already paid. On which he requested me to tell him at least in what he could do me a favor. I answered, that he was doing me such in rendering great services to the Americans. Finally, he desired me to correspond from time to time with him. I engaged to do it, and shall not fail. Thus it depends only on you, Gentlemen, to render this correspondence more and more interesting. On my part I will be vigilant to profit by all events that can make any change in Europe. Those which happen in America will require, without doubt, that you give me frequently new instructions and orders provided always with letters of credence, or at least with one that will serve for the time, as you judge proper. I know to whom to address myself to ask for intelligence at the Court of France, and to have an answer in a few days.

June 6th. Here you have a copy of a letter from London, dated May 21st. You know well from whom it is.[21] I have sent to him under the envelope the two letters which Mr Story had left with me, and I added a cypher, which he has already used with success.

"Everything is safe. I shall write you fully next week by our friend Story. One Hortalez will apply to you on business that concerns our friends. He has your address. Be so good as to assist him."[22]

I expect these gentlemen with impatience, and shall do all that depends on me for your service and theirs.

I trust you will always answer me speedily, and inform me if my letters reach you. I will send you once more a general copy of my preceding letters, to supply the loss of one or both, in case the vessels that carry them are lost or are taken.

When I promised the Minister, with whom I had an interview on your affairs, not to name him to you, it is only until you expressly require that I make him known to you; for in that case you may know him when you will.

In about eight days I shall leave Utrecht for a country house within seven leagues of the Hague, where I expect to pass the summer.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DUMAS.

FOOTNOTES:

[21] The person here referred to is Arthur Lee. See Arthur Lee's Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 16.

[22] This note refers to Beaumarchais, who proposed to go to Holland, when he saw Mr Lee in London. But he afterwards altered his mind and returned directly to Paris.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

August 10th, 1776.

Gentlemen,

Mr Arthur Lee in his letter of the 11th of June observes, that "Mr Story goes from hence directly to America. A French gentleman named Hortalez having something to negotiate for the Congress, I have given him your address." On the eve of my departure from Utrecht, on the 21st of June, I wrote as follows to the person whom you know.[23]

"Sir,

"In the hope that you have consented to make me understand that I shall be one day useful to you, I think it my duty to advise you, that I shall depart tomorrow from this city to pass the summer at a country house half way from here to ——. I shall receive there in all safety your orders, if you send your letters to, &c.

"I propose also, to pass to —— as soon as I can, merely to profit by the permission you have given me to render you my services from time to time. Without having any new plan to propose, the work already marked out has need of your good directions, and I shall be very sorry to fail of the honor of an interview with you at least once more before your departure, if it is near."

To this I received the following answer, dated June 23d.

"Sir,

"I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me the 21st of this month. You flatter me with the hope of seeing you at —— to which you are brought near by the residence you intend to make during the summer at a country house. This proximity will afford you opportunity to make journeys, by which I shall profit with much pleasure. I am sensible of the esteem which is your due, and of the advantage of meriting the friendship of an experienced man like yourself, uniting literature to the duties of society. I shall listen to you always with an eager desire of profiting by your counsels, and this on all subjects that have engaged your thoughts. I do not yet know the time that I shall remain at ——. Perhaps it will be sufficiently long to enjoy often the honor of receiving you. This depends on the orders of my Court. We are in the least active, or most dissipated season. Business will not flourish much till the fall of the leaves, or even not get warm till the return of snow. I speak of the old world; for I wish not to extend the picture too much.

"Have you any news of the Doctor and his friends? I shall be obliged to you to follow my instructions in this respect. I will bear willingly the charge of an express, whom you may send to me when you shall judge proper; otherwise write uniformly by the post. Should I be on a journey, I shall have the honor to inform you of my residence and address. I do not know how to express to you sufficiently, Sir, the desire I have to serve you and to deserve a place in your thoughts."

About fifteen days after, I replied to this letter as follows.

"Sir,

"The letter with which you honored me, dated 23d of June, has given me the assurance, which was needed to console me for the disappointments that have detained me here. Perhaps I shall be at the Hague on Sunday morning. Be assured, Sir, that if anything comes to my knowledge worthy of your attention, you shall be informed of it immediately. I have no reason to expect soon to receive news directly. I have written two letters by two different vessels, that have sailed from Amsterdam for St Eustatia; and I expect when another vessel departs to despatch a third. Before I have an answer much time will pass, and in this time many events. There is, however, a man charged with some commission on their part, to whom they have given my address at Leyden; and I have received two letters from that city, the one of the 21st of May, the other of the 11th of June, in which they pray me to render him service. This is all that I know of him, for the man has not yet appeared.

"The more I am favored with your letters, Sir, the more I wish to deserve your good opinion. In the meantime, I ought to be on my guard against too much presumption, and to think how natural it is to give a gracious reception to the servant for the love of the master. I own to you, Sir, that in giving an account to the Doctor and his friends of our correspondence, I have thought proper to forewarn them thereon. They will be informed of the obliging interest with which you ask news of them. I hope that the time will come, when you will be able to permit me to reveal your name.

"After having thought long and much, it seems to me, that in order to answer completely their intention, I ought to present myself also to the Hotel d'Espagne, to be known there simply as charged with such a commission, to open to myself thereby ways of serving my constituents on diverse occasions, which may present themselves at one moment or another, and not incur the blame, which may be reflected even on these gentlemen, of having neglected a power so worthy of their efforts. For the rest, I shall not do or say anything in this respect till I have had the honor of seeing you, Sir, and I pray you to believe that I shall observe scrupulously, the conduct and the discretion that you have had the goodness to prescribe to me."

In consequence, I have again conferred with this gentleman. He went to dine at that same house, said that I had been with him, and that I told him I would go also to the other house the next day at eleven o'clock. I went in fact, and was received tete a tete with great ceremony in the hall of audience. I opened briefly my business and drew out a memoir to read to him. He told me that he could not hear me without the order of his master. I read, notwithstanding, and he did not stop his ears. I prayed him to receive and keep the memoir. He refused, alleging continually that he could do nothing without orders. I drew out then my originals and showed him my three signatures, which he looked at eagerly. In separating, I asked him to keep my name concealed at ——. He said to me that he would keep it secret everywhere. He asked me, however, if that was my true name. I assured him it was; he paid me some personal compliments, and we parted. I learnt on the next day by another channel, that he had, notwithstanding, given an account to his master of this visit; which suffices me, for I have need, as you know, of only one of these good houses. I am always very politely received, and as a friend. This is all that I ask. I do not multiply too much my visits, but to render them always desirable, I never appear there without having something interesting to say; and to this end, the letters of my worthy correspondent at London are very useful to me. This last has addressed to me lately a person, whose conversation, joined to the contents of the letter of which he was bearer, has served me in the composition of a memoir which they approve, and I have reason to think they have sent.

This person has induced me to write a letter to you, dated the 4th of August, by way of Bordeaux to St Domingo, under an envelope of Mr Caton, merchant at Port St Nicholas in that island, of which here is an extract.

"A gentleman belonging to Jamaica, a particular friend of Dr Franklin, and very well known to him, has charged me to write to him, to assure him on good authority, of the singular esteem that he has for him and his friends; that they ought to think, and that he prays him to let them know it, that the present voice of Parliament is the voice of the English people; that there exists, and gathers strength, a great body, which, in truth, is not the strongest, but which regards the cause of the Americans as its own, their safety and liberty as its own, which will prefer to see them independent rather than subjugated, and which will make, at the future meeting of Parliament, the greatest efforts in their favor; that the basis of this party is already forty Peers, and one hundred and sixty members of the Commons."

The letter which this gentleman brought me began thus; "This will be delivered to you by Mr Ellis, a friend of Dr Franklin, of liberty, and of America. He is a philosopher, very well instructed on the subject of America, and, I trust, will be both an agreeable and useful acquaintance while he remains near you." This assuring me, I discovered to him that I was the man whom he was seeking, provided with credentials and orders from Congress sufficient to do all the good offices that his friends could wish to render. Thereupon I showed him my credentials; he was satisfied with them, and we exchanged addresses. He promised to write me; and we separated satisfied with each other.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DUMAS.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] Meaning the person with whom he had the interview, mentioned in the preceding letter, doubtless the French Ambassador.

* * * * *

ARTHUR LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

London, July 6th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

This will be delivered you by Mr Ellis, a friend of Dr Franklin, of liberty, and of America. He is a philosopher, very well instructed on the subject of America, and, I trust, will be both an agreeable and useful acquaintance while he remains near you.

I thank you for your favor of the 21st of last month. By the last advices from America, General Howe was prepared to sail for Halifax, and, it is imagined, to land at New York, where he will certainly be strongly opposed. He numbers ten thousand regulars, and it will be fortunate for us, if he makes his attempt before he is joined by the Germans, who sailed the 6th of May.

The Americans have taken post upon the river Richelieu and the lakes, so that Montreal, not being tenable, is evacuated. General Lee is in Virginia, with ten thousand men, expecting Lord Cornwallis and General Clinton. General Washington commands at New York, and General Ward in Boston.

The strange timidity de la Cour Francaise requires great patience and management; but I think it will at last be brought to act an avowed and decided part. When that happens, Angleterre must submit to whatever terms they please to impose, for she is totally incapable of sustaining a war with France.

Adieu,

ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, July 26th, 1776.

Sir,

The enclosed letter from Dr Franklin will hint at my business in this city, where I arrived the 7th instant, and I should have sent forward this earlier, had I not had hopes of having the honor of presenting it to you in person. This I now find I cannot expect, without delaying it beyond all bounds. I therefore forward it by the common conveyance, and inform you that my address in this city is to Messrs Germany, Guardot & Co. bankers; that I shall tarry here till the last of August, when I propose going to Dunkirk, thence to Amsterdam and Hamburg, in which journey I hope for the pleasure of seeing you. In the meantime, I shall be happy in a correspondence with you on the subject of the dispute between the United Colonies and Great Britain, or any other that shall be agreeable to you; and I wish to be informed if I shall be in danger of any disagreeable treatment in my journey through Holland, in a private capacity, though it should be known that I was in the service of the United Colonies. It has been suggested to me, that I might meet with some interruption or difficulties from the friends of the British Ministry, which occasions my making this inquiry.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

P. S. I read and understand the French language tolerably well, though I am unable to write it.

* * * * *

ARTHUR LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

London, August 13th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I answered your last letter immediately. I now enclose you several pamphlets, which contain such an authentic state of facts, and such arguments on the American question, as will enable its advocates with you to maintain their ground against the pensioner of this Court. I beg particularly, that you will send some of them to the gentleman who has answered Pinto, the pensioner of this Court.

The pamphlet entitled the Rights of Great Britain, &c. is full of the grossest falsehoods. A very material one is exposed by the enclosed extracts from the acts of Parliament, granting bounties upon American produce, which proves by their own words, that those bounties were given for their own interests only. Yet that pamphlet has given a long list of the amount of those bounties, and charged it to the Colonies. The fact is, as Dr Smith, a Scotchman, and an enemy to American rights, has stated it, in his late labored and long expected book on the Wealth of Nations. "Whatever expense," says he "Great Britain has hitherto laid out in maintaining this dependency, has really been laid out in order to support their monopoly." Speaking of the debt incurred last war, he says,—"This whole expense is, in reality, a bounty, which has been given in order to support a monopoly. The pretended purpose of it was to encourage the manufactures, and to increase the commerce of Great Britain." The operation of this monopoly against the Colony he states thus,—"The monopoly of the Colony trade, therefore, like all the other mean and malignant expedients of the mercantile system, depresses the industry of all other countries, but chiefly that of the Colonies."

When you write to the Congress it would be well, I think, to mention that as all the evils have been produced by Scotch counsel, and those people prosecute the business with more rancor and enmity, a distinction ought to be made between the treatment of them and other people, when made prisoners.

We expect every day some decisive news from New York. The last gazette gives us no reason to fear anything but the chance of war, against which no prudence can provide. We have certain intelligence from Canada, that it will be the last of August before the boats will be ready upon Lake Champlain for the Ministerial army; so that there is no possibility of their joining Howe. They are putting eleven ships of the line in commission, here, which is kept very secret, or it would shake the stocks exceedingly.

Adieu,

ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, August 18th, 1776.

Sir,

Your favor of the 8th, and one earlier, but without a date, are before me, and I return you my thanks for the attention paid to mine, and more especially for the good opinion you entertain of my countrymen, and your tenders of service. The business before me is of such a nature, that I must be detained some time in this city. If I take a journey to Holland, it will be my choice to make it as a private gentleman; as such I am in Paris, and that character I shall keep, unless obliged to alter it. Parade and pomp have no charms in the eyes of a patriot, or even a man of common good sense; but at the same time, I can never submit to the changing of my name, unless I am convinced that so humiliating a step will promote the service of my country. I can pass unnoticed under that name, as well as any other, whilst I conduct in every other step as a private gentleman. I have now but little hopes of being in Holland till October, before which, such intelligence may arrive from America, as may alter my present designs.

The declaration of independency, made by the United Colonies, is announced in the English papers, but I have received no despatches on the event, though I am in daily expectation of them. You ask me two questions in your first letter; to the former, I answer at once affirmatively, that I have a certain prospect of succeeding in my business; but as to the latter, or second query, I cannot so readily reply, for I know not how far the knowledge of me and my concerns may have extended. I am here as a private merchant, and appear as such, whatever suspicion may circulate. As such, I can travel, I trust, in your country, which I most ardently wish to see, and the more so on account of the kind, simple, and engaging invitation you have given me. It really affected me, and brought instantaneously to view those happy and peaceful scenes of domestic felicity, to which I am at present a stranger. You have all I can give you, a grateful acknowledgment of your kindness, and depend that I will in person acknowledge it on my first arrival in Holland.

It is the policy of the United Provinces of Holland to be neuter to every attention. The United Colonies only wish them to keep steady to their only true system of policy in the present case; and give me leave to say, that a reflection on their former struggles must show them in what point of light the Americans are to be considered. The United Colonies ask no aid or alliances. Let Britain court every, even the most petty and mercenary power in Europe, the United Colonies only ask for what nature surely entitles all men to, a free and uninterrupted commerce and exchange of the superfluities of one country for those of another; and the first power in Europe, which takes advantage of the present favorable occasion, must exceed every other in commerce.

But I am rambling. I pray to know in your next letter, what sums are due to Holland from the government of England. Whether the King of Prussia is wholly inattentive to the present proceedings, and on which side his wishes are. Omnia tentanda. I really hope to be at the Hague in October, and promise myself great pleasure in seeing you and your lady, to whom, though otherwise unknown, since you have introduced me, you cannot refuse presenting my best respects.

I am, with great esteem, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

WILLIAM LEE TO C. F. W. DUMAS.

London, September 10th, 1776.

Sir,

The 27th ult. and the 7th instant, in the absence of my brother, Arthur Lee, your two letters for him came safe to my hands. My brother is now on the continent, and perhaps may write to you from where he is. The declaration of independence on the part of America, has totally changed the nature of the contest between that country and Great Britain. It is now on the part of Great Britain a scheme of conquest, which few imagine can succeed. Independence is universally adopted by every individual in the Thirteen United States, and it has altered the face of things here. The tories, and particularly the Scotch, hang their heads and keep a profound silence on the subject; the whigs do not say much, but rather seem to think the step a wise one, on the part of America, and what was an inevitable consequence of the measures taken by the British Ministry. In short every one wants to form his judgment by the event of the present campaign, as something decisive is expected to happen from the arrangements under General and Lord Howe, and General Carleton, before the meeting of Parliament, which will be the 24th of October.

In the meantime every effort is made to prevent France from taking any open or even private part with America, for which purpose Mr Stanley, Mr Jenkinson, one of the Lords of the Treasury, and confidential friend of Lord Bute, and of the Solicitor-General, Mr Wedderburne, have been at Paris some time to aid the negotiations of the British Minister, Lord Stormont. As far as money will answer their purpose, it will not be spared. The French are generally acute enough in observing what is for their interest, but most people here are at a loss to conceive what plan they have in view, as they have not hitherto, as we know of, taken any part with America.

The public papers will tell you all the material news we have from America, but in general it is supposed the Americans will stand greatly in want of arms, ammunition, and artillery, to oppose such a force as is sent against them, and it is evident they have not experienced officers sufficient to manage such extensive operations as they have in hand. Should you have occasion to write to me, you may address, under cover, as you do to my brother.

I am, with esteem, Sir, &c.

WILLIAM LEE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, September 11th, 1776.

Sir,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 29th ultimo, of the 2d, 5th and 7th of this month, and at the same time to make my excuses for not answering them earlier; which was owing to my hurry of business, in part, and part to my hopes of being able to send you something agreeable from America, when I should next write you. Forgive therefore this seeming inattention, and accept my warmest thanks for the kind sentiments, which you and your good lady entertain for me and my country. The cause of the Americans is the cause of mankind in general, and naturally interests the generous and the good in every part of the world.

The measures you took before my arrival, respecting this Court, were perfectly right, and you may rely on my secrecy as to your concerns. Our commerce is now on as good a footing in this kingdom and in Spain, as the commerce of any other nation; and I trust will very soon have an important preference. When I said in a former letter we wanted only a friendly intercourse by way of commerce, I had not the vanity to suppose the actual assistance of European powers was not an object deserving attention; but I must say seriously, that if the American commerce can be established with the trading powers of Europe, and if those powers of Europe would protect that commerce, it would be all the assistance necessary; and the Colonies by land would be more than equal to anything Great Britain could bring against them. You are entirely right in saying, that the House of Bourbon are the allies we should first and principally court. France is at the head of this House, and therefore what is done here is sure to be done by the whole. This, therefore, requires my whole attention, and I can only say to you, my prospects are nowise discouraging.

As to the King of Prussia, I will in my next explain more fully my meaning, and at the same time send to you a state of the United Colonies, of their commerce, of their present contest, with some thoughts or observations on the manner in which Europe must be affected, and what part they ought to take in the present important crisis. My name and business have long since been known to the British Ambassador here, and to the Court of London; and they have remonstrated, but finding remonstrances to no purpose, they have wisely determined to take no notice of me, as I do not appear as yet in a public character.

Let me ask of you, if a workman skilful in the founding of brass and iron cannon can be engaged in Holland to go to America? Also, if I can engage two or three persons of approved skill in lead mines, to go to America on good engagement. Your answer will oblige me, and by the next post I will write you more particularly. The British arms will not, probably, effect anything in America this season, as they had not begun to act the 8th of August, and that brings winter to the very door, as I may say, and an indecisive campaign must prove to Great Britain a fatal one.

I am, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

ARTHUR LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

London, September 23d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

My absence from town till now prevented my answering your two last favors of September 3d.

By our latest and best accounts from America the die is now cast, and we may every day expect to hear of a decisive action at New York; decisive I mean as to the fate of General Howe and New York, but not of America, which depends very little upon the event of New York being taken or saved.

There is a public torpor here, which, without being superstitious, one may regard as a visitation from heaven. The people in general think the declaration of independence as a thing of course, and do not seem to feel themselves at all interested in the vast consequences, which that event must inevitably draw after it. The Ministry have by certain manoeuvres contrived to keep up the demand for, and price of manufactures; and while trade and manufactures apparently prosper, the people are so deaf, that wisdom may cry out in the streets and not be heard. But the course of the seasons is not more fixed, than it is certain that these ministerial arts must be temporary in their operation and fatal in their issue; because the more men are flattered, the more desperate they are when the calamity comes upon them. Already the West India Islands begin to cry out, as you will have seen in the address from the Island of Barbadoes. The great number of captures lately made of West India ships by the Americans, have already had very visible effects upon the Royal Exchange. Holland taking the alarm, which the least movement on the part of France would produce, must shake our stocks to the foundation, and give an equal shock to a deluded prince and a deluded people.

The characters you desire me to touch upon are such as seldom occur in the same period. Lord Sandwich has been noted through a long life for everything in word and deed, directly opposite to honesty and virtue. With moderate abilities, and little real application, he maintains an appearance of both by impositions and professions, which at a time so averse to inquiry as the present pass for facts. Lord George Germain, though cradled in England, has all the principles of a Scotchman; subtle, proud, tyrannical, and false. In consequence of his patronising the Scots, they have always been his panegyrists and his advocates, and as they are a people indefatigable in all interested pursuits, they have procured him a character for ability, which he very little deserves. Dissimulation and craft in worldly occurrences too often pass for real wisdom; and, in that sense, Lord George is a wise man. Such a man could not long pass unnoticed and unpatronised by a Court, which searches with Lyncean eyes for the basest hearts, and is actuated by Scotch principles and Scotch counsels. Lord Suffolk is a peer of sullen pride and arbitrary principles. He listed in the public cause with Mr Wedderburne, under the banner of George Grenville; and while his life gave the hope of success in getting preferment, they were the loudest in opposition; but immediately upon his death, they made their terms, and have been ever since the most devoted tools of the Court. Lord Suffolk recommends himself very much to the King, by an indefatigable attention to the little detail business of his department, and an obsequiousness that knows no bounds. Lord Rochford is by birth a tory, and is linked with Lord Mansfield; but his fears have made him withdraw himself upon an ample pension, for he is persuaded, that France will soon strike a blow, which will endanger the heads of those who conduct these measures.

I have been apprized by Hortalez, that the business for which I recommended him to you is to be transacted through France, which is the reason of your not seeing him.

I do not conceive you need be under any alarm about intercepted letters, as the Ministry have too much upon their thoughts, and too many more immediately dangerous and known opponents at home, to suffer them to look abroad for victims. Their success must be certain and decisive before they will venture to attack the friends of America in Europe, and provoke retaliation. I flatter myself with being as much within the eye of their enmity as any man can be. But I think that the enmity of bad men is the most desirable testimony of virtuous merit.

Adieu,

ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

September 30th, 1776.

Gentlemen,

After having sent to your correspondent at St Eustatia, whose address you gave me in your letter of the 12th of December, 1775, my third letter of which you have here annexed a large extract, I commence my fourth despatch.

M. Hortalez, of whom Mr Arthur Lee spoke in two of his letters, has not yet appeared; nor have I received the letter that you say you have written to me between that of the 12th of December, 1775, and that of the 2d of March, 1776. The non-appearance of this gentleman, and of the letter here referred to, disquiets me somewhat, not only because all that comes to me from you, Gentlemen, and from your friends, is dear and precious to me, but also, and above all, because I fear that the service of the general Congress may suffer by it.

The bearer of your letter of the 2d of March, (Silas Deane) arrived at Paris the 7th of July, whence he sent it to me with one of his own, dated the 26th. I have another from him of the 18th of August, in which he remarks to me, "that he has a certain prospect of succeeding in his business." He proposes also to visit Holland.

I have before told you, that the letters I received had contributed much to render my visits, my letters, and memoirs agreeable in a certain quarter. This will be seen from the following note, which I received a short time since, dated August 26th. After having spoken to me of a service, which he had consented to render me in his country, where I had some affairs to settle, and which we had agreed upon as a pretext to mark our interviews, the writer thus proceeds; "Madame —— has taken the trouble to send me your letters, and I beg you to send me by her all interesting particulars, including the narration of the person whom you expect, (Silas Deane.) I pray you to send me all that you have received since your last letter. I receive packets from all quarters; it pertains to my office. So I shall receive with gratitude whatever you may have the goodness to send me."

I have sent to him open, with a flying seal, the letter that I wrote you by St Domingo. We agreed on this verbally, and he promised me to send it to Bordeaux well recommended. I have cause to think that this letter has been forwarded and pleased certain persons, on whose account I had expressed, at the close of the letter, that when by legislation and a wise constitution you shall have crowned the work of your liberty, I shall die content with having seen a great King and a great Republic sincerely wish the good of the people.

I received some days ago another letter from Mr Deane, dated at Paris, 14th of September. All the letters that I have received from him, as well from you, are precious to me, and this one doubly so, since besides the kind expressions with which it is filled, my zeal for your cause is recompensed by the testimony that I have well served it.

If I continue not to sign my name,[24] it is not from fear, but because I think your service requires that I remain yet some time unknown, at least until Mr Deane arrives here, for then I shall be known everywhere for the most zealous American in all the Republic, and it will be my pride. All that can come of it will be the loss of my present post; but in this case I am sure that Congress will indemnify me by a subsistence suitable for me and mine, seeing that I shall be able to continue useful to them as much and even more than in time past, because I shall not be encumbered with other duties, and all my faculties will be employed in the service of America. I have been much mortified in not being at liberty, as I have expressed to Mr Deane. I should have flown to Paris to assist him, at least by the knowledge I have of many European languages.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DUMAS.

FOOTNOTES:

[24] M. Dumas usually signed his despatches with a fictitious name.

* * * * *

B. FRANKLIN TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Philadelphia, October 1st, 1776.

Sir,

I have just time to acknowledge the receipt of your two packets, with the pamphlets enclosed, the contents of which are very satisfactory. You will hear from me more fully in a little time.

With great esteem, I am, Sir, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

P. S. We have a great force brought against us here, but continue firm.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, October 3d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

Since my last, in which I mentioned the King of Prussia, I have obtained a method of sounding that monarch's sentiments more directly through another channel, which voluntarily offering, I have accepted, and therefore waive writing on the subject for the present anything, save that you may undoubtedly serve the United States of America most essentially in this affair in a few weeks from this. The attention to my business here, which is not merely political, but partly commercial, the critical situation of affairs at this Court, and the anxious suspense for the events at New York and Canada have actually fixed me here, and the having received no intelligence for some time past has well nigh distracted me. I have, however, favorable prospects, and the most confirmed hopes of effecting my views in Europe. I am too much engaged to say more in this, and will be more particular in my next.

I am, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, October 6th, 1776.

Sir,

Yours of the 1st instant I received, and observe by the contents, that Mr Lee is returned to London. I have not seen Mr Ellis. In answer to your queries; first, a reconciliation between Great Britain and the United States of America is improbable ever to take place; it is absolutely impossible, until after the sitting of Parliament. Secondly, Admiral Howe joined his brother early in August, and sent on shore to General Washington a letter, which was returned unopened, as no title was given to General Washington; a second was sent, and met the same fate. The Congress justified the General in his conduct, and ordered him to receive no letters, except they were directed to him with his proper title. Lord Howe sent to the Governors of several Colonies his proclamation, which, by the army and people of New York, was treated with contempt and ridicule.

Thus matters continued until the 20th of August, when General Howe had collected his whole force, and was preparing to attack New York. On the other side, all the eminences and advantageous posts near the city were secured and fortified, and the Americans strongly entrenched on them; the city of New York fortified with batteries next to the water, and all the principal streets with barriers across them, and, at the same time, the houses filled with combustibles ready to be set on fire, should the city be found tenable. The two men-of-war, which had passed up the river above the city, were returned terribly damaged by attacking a battery. This, in a word, was the state of affairs in New York on the 20th of August, from which important news may be expected every hour.

Thirdly, I know what Dr Franklin's sentiments were when I left America, and that nothing but a miracle could convert him to wish for an accommodation on other terms, than the independence of the Colonies. Depend upon it, my good friend, the Ministry of Great Britain labor incessantly to propagate stories of an accommodation, for it is well known, that they despair of reducing the Colonies by arms this campaign; at the close of which, the national debt will amount to nearly L150,000,000 sterling, part of which will remain unfunded; and where are their resources for supporting the next campaign? He that can discover the philosopher's stone can answer.

To your fourth query, you will excuse my answering more, than that your conjecture is not far out of the way. My letter will inform you why I must still delay sending what I promised you the 14th ultimo. In the meantime, Sir, you may add to indigo and rice, tobacco, logwood, redwood, sugar, coffee, cotton, and other West India produce, which pass through the hands of the North Americans, in payment for their supplies to the West India Islands, which cannot exist without their produce. Also, in course of trade, spermaceti oil and salt-fish may be supplied to Prussia and Germany as cheap, or cheaper from the Colonies, than from Holland and Germany. The United Colonies exported to Europe chiefly, indeed, to Great Britain, fish-oil, whalebone, spermaceti, furs, and peltry of every kind, masts, spars, and timber, pot and pearl ashes, flax-seed, beef, pork, butter and cheese, horses and oxen; to the West Indies chiefly, wheat-flour, bread, rye, Indian corn, lumber, tobacco, iron, naval stores, beeswax, rice, and indigo, &c. &c. to the amount of more than L4,000,000 sterling annually, and for some years past, and received the pay in European manufactures; and when I remind you that the inhabitants of that country double their number every twenty years, and inform you that this exportation has increased for the last century in the same ratio, you will be able to form some idea of this commerce, and of how much importance it is to Europe. I hope, by the coming post, to send you some favorable news from America, and I may not add to this without missing the post.

I am, with the most sincere esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant,

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, October 9th, 1776.

Sir,

I wrote you by last post. This comes by Mr Carmichael, a gentleman of Maryland, in America, who has for some time lived with, and assisted me in my business. You can have the fullest confidence in him, and as he knows I place the most absolute in you, it would be trifling to swell a letter with news or observations, of both which he can viva voce satisfy you. He will communicate to you his business in Holland, and I am sure you will assist him to the utmost of your power. He can tell you what an anxious and laborious life I lead here; and, what adds to my misfortune, how impossible it is, in the present critical situation of affairs, for me to quit this post for a single day; much more it is as yet impossible for me to leave long enough to visit you in Holland, which having long promised to myself, and anticipated with pleasure, the disappointment greatly chagrins me. To have so kind and hospitable, and, at the same time, so judicious and safe a friend, inviting me to what must at once yield me the purest pleasure and the most solid advantage, viz. an interview, and not to be able to profit by it at once, is a misfortune I feel most sensibly.

Mr Carmichael can give you the best intelligence of our present affairs in America, and his observations and inferences will be from the best grounds, and made with precision and judgment. My most grateful and respectful acknowledgments to your lady, whom I yet may have the honor of waiting on in the course of a month.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, October 13th, 1776.

Sir,

Before the receipt of this, you will have seen Mr Carmichael, to whom I refer you on many subjects. Yours of the 8th I received since his departure, and have only to ask of you to procure the proper testimonials of this very extraordinary and cruel proceeding at H——, respecting Mr Shoemaker, a family of which name I knew in Philadelphia. These testimonials will be a proper ground to go upon in demanding satisfaction, which I do not think, however, had best be asked, until the independence of the Colonies has been formally announced; and proper powers for this step have been delayed strangely, or, perhaps, interrupted. Your zeal in this cause reflects honor on your private, as well as public sentiments of justice and rectitude, and I will transmit to the honorable Congress of the United States in my first letters a copy of your memoir. I am still without intelligence of any kind from America, save that on the 20th of August a battle was hourly expected at New York. No prospect of reconciliation. The British forces in Canada are not likely to effect anything this season; and, consequently, all hopes in England rest on the event of a single action at New York, which the public are made to believe will prove decisive; and so it may, if the fate of the day should be for us, and the enemy have no retreat or resources in America; but by no means decisive if it incline the other way. I trouble you with the enclosed for Mr Carmichael.

I am, with great respect, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Amsterdam, October 22d, 1776.

Sir,

I enclose a letter, which I expected to deliver ere this in person. I arrived here last Friday, and had so many inquiries to make to gratify Mr Deane's curiosity, that it has not been in my power to attend to you so soon as I could wish. For fear that I should not be able to leave this tomorrow, to do myself the honor of waiting upon you, I have sent this letter. When I come to the Hague, I shall put up at the Hotel de Turenne, where you will do me much pleasure to leave your address particularly. The knowledge I have had of you for many months by Mr Deane and others, makes me regret every moment that delays me here, and denies me the pleasure of assuring you in person, how much I am, what every true American is,

Your very humble servant,

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.

* * * * *

COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Philadelphia, October 24th, 1776.

Sir,

Our worthy friend, Dr Franklin, being indefatigable in the labor of his country, and few men so qualified to be useful to the community of which he is a member, you will not be surprised that the unanimous voice of the congress of delegates from the United States of America has called upon him to visit the Court of France, in the character of one of their Commissioners for negotiating a treaty of alliance, &c. with that nation. He is the bearer of this letter, and on his arrival will forward it. To him we refer you for information as to the political state of this country; our design in addressing you at this time being only to continue that correspondence, which he has opened and conducted hitherto on our behalf.

We request to hear from you frequently; and if you make use of the cypher, the Doctor has communicated the knowledge of it to one of our members. Your letters, via St Eustatia, directed to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, then put under a cover to Mr Robert Morris, merchant, Philadelphia, and that letter covered to Mr Cornelius Stevenson, or Mr Henricus Godet, merchants at St Eustatia, or under cover to Mr Isaac Gouveneur, merchant at Curracoa, will certainly come safe, and if you can send with them regular supplies of the English and other newspapers, you will add to the obligation. The expense of procuring them shall be reimbursed, together with any other charges, and a reasonable allowance for your time and trouble in this agency. The members of this committee, styled the Committee of Secret Correspondence, are John Jay, Thomas G. Johnson, Robert Morris, Richard Henry Lee, William Hooper, and John Witherspoon; and as vacancies happen by death or absence, the Congress fill them up with new members, which we mention for your information, and with great respect and esteem remain, Sir, your most obedient, humble servants,

ROBERT MORRIS, RICHARD HENRY LEE, JOHN WITHERSPOON, WILLIAM HOOPER.

* * * * *

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Amsterdam, October 27th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

You owe to my forgetfulness what ought only to proceed from my respect, yet I will not quarrel with anything that gives me an opportunity of writing to you.

I left the Memoir on Commerce in your hands, and it is necessary I should have it as soon as possible. I send you Common Sense, but you must look on my presents as Indian ones, for I, like they, expect much larger in return; as much as you please, and I am sure you can spare a great deal of what I send you. My present is only the rough material of America, your returns will be elegant and superb manufactures of Europe.

The English mail is not arrived. I have a very angry letter from Mr William Lee on the subject I mentioned to you, respecting Dr B. I am happy to know that I acted for the public good, and that, without partiality to any person, will, I hope, always be the rule of my conduct.

I am, &c.

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.

* * * * *

ARTHUR LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

London, November 15th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

The indispensable business of my profession has hitherto prevented me from complying, as I wished, with the desire of your very obliging favors.

You will have seen, by the proceedings of Parliament, how decided the King is in prosecuting the American war. For, in truth, he alone is Minister, and his will governs with absolute sway. At the same time the powers which he has given to Lord Howe appear, from his declaration in America, to be most ample. That, however, I rather attribute to what is deemed the art of government, than to any pacific or redressing intention. We can never forget the perfidy of making Lord Botetourt declare to the assembly, that the revenue acts should be repealed, when in fact no such thing was intended or done; and the Secretary of State being ordered to tell the agents of Congress, that his Majesty had received their petition very graciously, and from the importance of it would lay it before his two Houses of Parliament, when, at the same time, the same Secretary wrote, by his Majesty's commands, to all the governors of America, denominating that very Congress an illegal meeting, their grievances pretended, and ordering them to prevent their meeting again. These facts are too decisive to leave a doubt of the credit that is due to the promises of this Court, and, at this very time, they are abusing the Howes for negotiating; the language of Court being, "we sent them to use their hands, and they are employing their heads."

The Rockingham part of the opposition are determined upon seceding from Parliament, in which Lord Shelburne, Lord Camden, and the Duke of Grafton refuse to accompany them for two reasons; 1st, because the feelings of the public are not high enough for so decisive a measure; and, 2dly, because the others will not agree to make the great fundamental abuse of the constitution, as well as the temporary misconduct of government, the groundwork of that secession. In a word, because they will not declare, that the object of the measure is to obtain the abolition of corruption, and not merely the change of those who minister it. This schism will, however, reduce opposition so as to leave the Court at perfect ease from that quarter.

I thank you for the magnanimity of your sentiments towards our friends, on the supposition that the late occurrences are events of consequence. I am by no means of that opinion. After the affair of Long Island, the loss of New York was inevitable; but is not the successful army still faced and kept at bay, by that over which it is supposed to have obtained, these decisive advantages? Could any one expect more from a new raised army, than that it should face the disciplined invaders, almost equal in numbers, and much superior in equipments, to win its way by inches. Where, then, is the ground for despair, when our friends are looking the enemy in the face, and he does not dare to attack them? Of two things, Sir, you may be satisfied, that the advantage on Long Island was obtained neither by the superiority of the troops nor of the General, but by his having bribed the officer who commanded the first pass,[25] who giving up his post, without suffering a gun to be fired, enabled Clinton to march in the night and take the left wing of the Americans, so as to put them between two fires, from much superior numbers, with an immense train of artillery. The other fact is, that the officer who brought the last despatches declares, that the American lines upon New York island cannot be forced, but with a certainty of so much loss as cannot be hazarded. General Howe will therefore try his former art of treachery and corruption, from which alone I am satisfied we have anything to fear.

The talk of the Congress having sent Deputies to Staten Island, to negotiate with Lord Howe is not, that I know of, authenticated.

Adieu,

ARTHUR LEE.

FOOTNOTES:

[25] This wants proof before it can be adopted as a historical fact.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Without date.

Dear Sir,

I am still indebted to you for your favors of the 29th ultimo, and the 15th instant, to which I should earlier have replied, but for a slight indisposition, and much chagrin at some unfavorable news. However, I am recovering in health, with which my spirits return, and I keep ever in my mind the motto de republica nil desperandum. I counted the cost when I entered the lists, and balanced private fortune, ease, leisure, the sweets of domestic society, and life itself in vain, against the liberties of my country; the latter instantly predominated, and I have nothing to complain of, though much to grieve at, occasioned by the miscarriage or delay of my full powers for open and public application. I sent you a memoir on American commerce, and wish to know your sentiments on that subject. The vessel detained at Bilboa has been dismissed, and the commissary reprimanded for her detention, and ordered to lend the Captain every assistance he needed. This is a great point gained. I must suspend saying anything on the proposals of officers for entering the service of the American States, as also anything further on the other artists I wrote about, until I receive intelligence, which I hourly have long expected, and which I think cannot possibly be far off, as I despatched a vessel early in September, express, with an account of my situation, and that of affairs here; besides, a war is evidently at hand here in Europe.

Mr Carmichael warmly described the kind reception you gave him, and your zeal for the interest of the United States, and friendship for me, which he might have spared, as every one of your letters demonstrates the sincerity and disinterestedness of your friendship, as well for my country as for myself; and as you value your being the first Plenipotentiary of the American States, I equally value myself on your friendship and correspondence in the part I have the honor of acting with you in this important scene, and am happy to think, that to the present or coming actors in, or spectators of, the foundation and rise of this State in a new world, our correspondence will show that our sentiments ever coincided. Be not discouraged, my dear friend, America must come off in the end triumphant, and under new and unprecedented laws, liberty, and commerce, be the happy asylum for the sons of men in future ages. Whatsoever disappointments I may meet with, I never will despair of my country, for which I shall count it my glory to suffer all things, if it receive any advantage therefrom, and if not, I shall at least enjoy the pleasure, the unalienable pleasure, resulting from a consciousness of having done all in my power for its happiness, and connectedly for the happiness of mankind in general.

The temper of the times is in favor of America, and it is now as fresh and striking an object to Europe as when first discovered and called the new world. It is among my principal mortifications, that I cannot have a few days at least personal conversation with you; but the situation of affairs here will not allow of a moment's absence, which Mr Carmichael, I doubt not, explained to you. With persons in public or private, who are friendly, yet equally apprehensive of consequences, willing to aid, yet timid, and at the same time not well acquainted and informed, the task you are sensible is as laborious as delicate, and at a time when events bear down arguments, one cannot be released a moment from the closest attention to everything rising real or imaginary. Your lady's kind preparations for me, Mr Carmichael most affectionately mentioned, and I will, life permitting, the moment I can quit Paris, in person acknowledge, as far as words are capable of expressing, how sensible I am of this more than hospitable kindness, since to provide for and receive the stranger on arrival is the duty of hospitality, but here is a work of supererogation, and though no Roman Catholic myself, yet so catholic as not the less to love and esteem generous actions on all occasions. My most respectful and affectionate regards, with my ardent wishes for your mutual felicity, attend you.

I am, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

P. S. Pray for what sum per annum can a young man be educated at Leyden, adhering to the strictest economy?

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, December 13th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I am indebted for two letters, and the same cause of my neglect, viz. a hurry of business still subsisting, I cannot make amends by a long letter in this, but the substance will be agreeable, which is, that Dr Franklin is arrived at Nantes, and I expect him at Paris tomorrow. He left Philadelphia the last of October, and everything was favorable in America. On his passage the ship he was in made two prizes on this coast. I received a letter from my venerable friend on his landing, who was in high spirits and good health. Here is the hero, and philosopher, and patriot, all united in this celebrated American, who, at the age of seventyfour, risks all dangers for his country. I know your heart rejoices with me on this occasion.

I am, with respect, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Havre, January 21st, 1777.

Dear Sir,

Were I to acknowledge the receipt of all the letters you mention having written, it would be necessary to apologise for my silence; this I fear would require a detail long enough to need still another apology, which would be making it a labor ad infinitum. I shall, therefore, only say, that from the heart of Germany, I am now on the borders of the Atlantic, and that I have been on the gallop ever since I parted with you at Leyden. No Saint in the calendar ever ran through countries with more zeal to gain inhabitants for heaven, than I have to do miracles on earth. But unfortunately it is not an age for miracles. I am at present here to botch up a piece of work, which was originally well imagined but badly executed.

You will no doubt have our Paris news from the prophet, who draws down fire from heaven. I shall, therefore, only give you my comment on the text, which is, that France has done too much and much too little. Too much, since she alarmed England, and made that country put itself in a better posture of defence than before; or at least, strengthened the hands of her Ministers for that purpose; much too little, because, depending even on that little, we looked not out elsewhere in time.

I am, &c.

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.

* * * * *

ARTHUR LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, January 26th, 1777.

Dear Sir,

My having quitted London some time since to join my colleagues here, is the reason you did not hear from me, as you complain in your last letter to Mr Deane. As I am soon to leave this place for one very remote,[26] I am afraid this will be the last letter I shall have the honor of writing to you.

There are so many and more immediate calls for the attention of the Congress, that we are not surprised at not receiving any intelligence from them. We learn too, from Havre, that despatches for us have been intercepted at sea, so that we remain totally uninformed by authority relative to the state of things in America. We hope the best, and if the powers of Europe are not so totally blind to their own interest as to refuse maintaining that freedom and enjoyment of our commerce, which our declaration of Independence offers them, their support will save us much distress and blood. The liberties, however, and redemption which we work out through labor and endurance will be more precious.

By accounts from London, the press for seamen produces little, though their merchant ships are stopped in their ports, and insurance from Jamaica, with convoy, is risen to twentyfive per cent. During the last war it never amounted to more than seven.

Our cruisers, therefore, appear to do their duty. Had we anything of a fleet to assist them, England would soon repent of a war, they have so unjustly engaged in, and from which they have not wisdom to retreat.

No nation seems more interested in opening our commerce, by abolishing the British monopoly, than the Dutch. The carrying trade by which they flourish must be greatly increased by the change. It would also very infallibly reduce that natural power and superiority at sea, which the English exercise with so much insolence, and the sinews of which are derived from America by their usurpation and tyranny; and yet, such is the pusillanimity of the times, the States are crouching to the English, and in effect aiding them in confirming that tyranny and those advantages. It is astonishing, that the smallest power in Europe should fear Great Britain, at a time when she is set at defiance by America alone, yet in its infancy, and laboring under so many disadvantages.

I wish you every happiness, &c.

ARTHUR LEE.

FOOTNOTES:

[26] A journey to Spain.

* * * * *

B. FRANKLIN TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, January 29th, 1777.

My dear friend may be assured, that the omission of writing to him for so long a time either by Mr Deane, or myself, was not in the least owing to any want of respect, or change of sentiment towards him, but merely from the extreme hurry we have been engaged in ever since my arrival, which has prevented our writing to many other of our correspondents. I now enclose several letters, one of which was written by me when in Philadelphia, and sent via Martinique; Mr Deane has but this day received it; another that I wrote soon after my arrival, which has been mislaid.

I hope you and yours are in good health, and good spirits, as we are, not doubting of the success of our affairs, with God's blessing. We have nothing to complain of here.

I have taken a lodging at Passy, where I shall be in a few days, and hope there to find a little leisure, free from the perpetual interruption I suffer here, by the crowds continually coming in, some offering goods, others soliciting offices in our army, &c. I shall then be able to write you fully. Be of good cheer, and do not believe half what you read in the English gazettes.

With great esteem, I am ever,

B. FRANKLIN.

* * * * *

WILLIAM LEE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

London, March 21st, 1777.

Sir,

Government here has received within these ten days past, several expresses from General Howe, at New York, in North America, as late as the 19th of last February, which are, in every respect, very disagreeable indeed. He writes in severe terms against General Heister, whom he calls an old woman in the field, and a stupid and incorrigible blockhead in the cabinet; he also says, that the Hessians and other Germans are the worst troops under his command, and are not fit to be trusted in any business; he has, therefore, desired several particular English officers to be sent to command them; some of them that he has pointed out have refused to go on such a forlorn hope; but General Burgoyne, much against his will, is, it seems, obliged to go, and one Colonel Charles Gray, who was only a Lieutenant-Colonel upon half pay, has agreed to go, being appointed to a regiment, with the rank of a Major-General in America.

General Howe has with some difficulty and considerable loss got his troops back to New York, that had attempted to make good their situation at Brunswick, in the Jersies. He has recalled the greater part of those troops that had been sent to Rhode Island. At New York they were in the greatest distress for all kinds of fresh provisions and vegetables; at the same time, a fever, similar to the plague, prevailed there, that in all probability before the Spring will carry off to the Elysian shades, at least one half of the troops that remain there, and prepare an immediate grave for the Germans, and all the other troops that are about to be sent to that infected place. At the same time we learn that the American army under General Washington increases in numbers every day, and being accustomed to the climate, have kept the field in all the severe weather. Notwithstanding this melancholy prospect of affairs, our papers talk of a foreign war, but in my opinion we are in no condition to engage in one, for you may be assured, that we have not in the kingdom sailors enough to man fifteen ships of the line, though you may see thirty or forty ships put in commission, as the public prints will tell you. And as to soldiers, the draft for America has been so great, that we have not ten thousand in the whole island, yet our Ministers have lately attempted to bully the States of Holland by a high flying memorial relative to the conduct of some of their governors in the West Indies. It might, however, be attended with very serious consequences if the Hollanders were to take their money out of the English funds.

WILLIAM LEE.

P. S. If you please, insert the foregoing in the Dutch, Brussels, Francfort and Hamburg papers.

* * * * *

SILAS DEANE TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, April 2d, 1777.

Sir,

Mr Carmichael, who has regularly corresponded with you, has given you the salutation from time to time for myself. I have really had no leisure for several months to write a single letter, but what the instant necessity of the time required, and am much obliged to you for the regular information we have through him from you. Enclosed I send you a bill for one thousand florins, which you will receive, and credit the Congress for the same. As you have said nothing, at any time, on the subject of your disbursements for the Congress, the Commissioners are ignorant of your situation in that respect, and have desired me to send you the enclosed bill, and to ask of you to favor them with the general state of your disbursements, and to assure you that they are too sensible of the services you are rendering their country, to wish you to remain without an adequate reward. We have no intelligence of any kind from America since the 1st of March last, and you have been informed of the situation of our affairs at that time.

I am, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

The Hague, April 12th, 1777.

Gentlemen,

The letter of the date of October 24th, 1776, with which you have honored me, did not arrive till the 4th of February of this year. Sensible, as I ought to be, Gentlemen, of the great honor you do me in charging me to continue with you the correspondence, which Dr Franklin commenced and maintained with me on the affairs of the United States, I am only able to repeat, what I have written to him and to the honorable Committee of Foreign Affairs, of which he was then a member, that I will ever impose on myself a sacred law to answer your confidence and expectation. You will have here annexed a copy of letters, which have been written to me by the French Ministers at the Hague, the Abbe Desnoyers and the Duc de la Vauguyon. You will easily conjecture the contents of those, which I wrote to them, and which are too long to recite here; moreover, a copy of the whole was not preserved.

As to what you add, Gentlemen, that my expenses and labors shall be reimbursed and compensated, I have the honor to say to you, that I should esteem myself the most happy of men, in being able to make without return all the advances and services of which you have need, to sustain this memorable war. The Supreme Being, who sees the depth of my heart, is witness to the truth of this sentiment in all its extent. But to my great regret, although without shame, I avow myself as poor in means as rich in good will. The draft remitted to me by Dr Franklin, of one hundred pounds sterling, on London, has been paid. On the other hand, since I received Dr Franklin's letter and the orders of the Committee, I have not hesitated to sacrifice to a commission so important, so honorable, and so agreeable to my principles and taste, not only a small running pension of sixty pounds, which a bookseller paid me for a part of my time, that was devoted to a work, an account of which I communicated to Dr Franklin some years since, but also about seventy pounds, which I have already received for part of the work delivered, without which, considering my other actual duties, it would have been impossible for me to have time to attend to the execution of these orders. If I add to this at least fifty pounds, that I have spent in postages, travelling charges, and other expenses, I find myself at this time seventy pounds at least in advance. But I should be very sorry, Gentlemen, that what I say here, should turn you an instant from the important duties requiring your constant attention. For the same reason, I have been unwilling to interrupt with these details the occupations of our gentlemen at Paris. If (which God forbid) America have not the success which my heart desires, her misfortunes will afflict me infinitely more than my loss. But if, on the contrary, I shall have the satisfaction to see liberty established and her prosperity secured, I doubt not she will render me an ample indemnity and reward.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DUMAS.

* * * * *

WILLIAM CARMICHAEL TO C. W. F. DUMAS.

Paris, April 28th, 1777.

Sir,

Although nothing new has happened to us here worthy of notice, I take up my pen merely to assure you, that our want of punctuality is not owing to want of friendship or respect. To entertain you with continued complaints of the inactivity of the European powers, is a subject which I wish to banish as much from my thoughts, as I do our enemies from our country. We are now acting a play which pleases all the spectators, but none seem inclined to pay the performers. All that we seem likely to obtain from them is applause. When I say all, I mean anything that will materially help our cause. This campaign will decide the fate of the war, though it may not finish it. The want of resolution in the House of Bourbon to assist us in the hour of distress will be an argument with our people, if successful, to form no binding connexions with them. If conquered, they will follow the conduct of the unsupported Scots, in the war of 1745.

In the meantime, they, to secure the little assistance which other Princes may be induced to give them, must offer a share of that commerce to others, which France might have wholly to itself. England is now offering to relinquish a share of a lucrative commerce to France, on condition that the latter shuts its ports against us. But a few weeks ago an English agent assured me, that the English Administration saw through the designs of the House of Bourbon, saw that they meant to weaken us both, and by that means command us, and he offered every security America could wish, to preserve its liberties as they stood in the year 1763, and a repeal of such acts as bound their trade previous to that, only that they must so far comply with the King's humor, as not to give up his sovereignty, which would be of no use to him, were the privileges of the Americans extended to the latitude mentioned.

To be the instrument of inducing my countrymen to accept these terms, the possession of an affluent income was offered to be secured to me in any part of the world I chose, whether successful or not in the attempt. You may judge how our conference ended. One reason why I am induced to stay in Europe is, that I should be obliged to give, in America, a faithful account of the situation of their affairs in Europe; as I am sure that the picture would be worth more to England, than their subsidies to your hero, the Margrave of Hesse. We shall never be the subjects of the British Crown, I believe, but unless openly assisted by a power in Europe, we shall be an impoverished people, unable to distress our enemies abroad, or to assist our friends. I am so confident myself of the interior weakness of England, that I would sacrifice my life on the issue, that if France, Spain, and the Emperor, would only agree to acknowledge the independence of the United States, there would not be occasion to strike a blow; from that moment the credit of England would be no more inspirited by such a resolution taken in our favor in Europe; we would drive her armies from America, and soon her fleets from our coasts; but these generous resolutions subsist not in European politics. I hoped to have soon seen you, but your last letter, and one from Sir George Grand, have altered my resolution on that head. I have been laboring here to put you in such a situation as to enable you to follow the dictates of your own generous hearts in serving us more effectually, but the torpedo has struck us too.

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