<br /> Lee Letter: b162

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear Sir,

Accept my thanks for your obliging favor of the third instant with the inclosures mentioned therein which I duly received on the 9th., three days after I had dispatched to the Post a letter for you dated the 6th. of this month. Living thirteen miles from the line of post, and being obliged to send one day for my letters and four days afterwards with my letters, it is not in my power to reply to my friends by the return of the post that brings me their favors.

We wait with great impatience for confirmation of the southern news, which has come to us by such various ways, and corresponding so well with the last authentic accounts of the situation of the enemy and of our Troops, that most people here credit the account of the former being defeated. Mr. Smith (alias Dogberry) has been famous here for being a very vain and a very troublesome man – But his vanity, for certain reasons, has been so powerfully fed at Philadelphia, that it hath eaten him up – I can no otherways account for the publication of the yeas and nays in Dunlaps paper of the 29th., wch. I presume will set all the world to laughing at him as they do here – Perhaps, like the “Aspiring youth who fired the Ephesian Dome,” he means to establish his fame upon the reverse of right. So that his monument may be, not for building but for destroying Temples. It has been very obvious to me for some months past that Deane and his party were planning a second publication, or why those repeated letters to Congress boldly demanding trial when he knew the public business and his faction were ready to prevent it? But there is so much rottenness at the bottom and in every part of their System, that no stratagem, or combination of stratagems, can sustain the putrid fabric – It must be dissolved by the judicious probings of honest whiggism. I therefore wish that Mr. Deane were brought to an open door, full and thorough examination into his political and commercial conduct. For, though commerce be an employment in itself honorable and useful, yet the trading on public funds, making the public interest bend before private views, and endeavoring to cover all this with the veil of mystery, and by recrimination to turn the public attention from and prevent examination into the proper men and proper things, is a conduct highly reprehensible, and being properly exposed to public view, would presently bring to punishment and to contempt, the authors and abettors of such nefarious proceeding. It has happened as I imagined, that I should be called upon about the letters I inclosed you concerning the misconduct of a Mr. Penn employed by Mr. Braxton to purchase Tobo. for the Continent in this State. I have received a letter since my return, from a Member of our Assembly, desiring to know what has been done in the affair. Be so good Sir as press this matter to a conclusion, as well on principles of public good, as that my unprincipled enemies may not suggest that I have collusively suppressed enquiry. I hope by this time you will have received good news from Europe – Perhaps Spain, or Prussia, or the Empire, or Holland has declared for our Alliance – It will give me much pleasure to know this, and that our foreign affairs and finance have been finished with tolerable wisdom. The two last I suppose depend much on the pleasure of the Table – It will be well for these people if the curse of David does not at length overtake them “Let their Table be made a snare to take themselves withal: and let the things that should have been for their wealth, be unto them an occasion of falling” – I have the honor to be with great respect and esteem dear Sir

your much obliged and most obedient servant,


Laurens CorrespondenceLong Island Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 70 – 72.