<br /> Lee Letter: b170

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear Sir,

I am to thank you, which I do very sincerely, for your favor of the 22d. ulto. – It would give me infinitely more pleasure if my friends could inform me that the essential parts of business were duly attended to and executed. But when these are neglected, and with studied delays obstructed, candor itself must impute the cause to something else than folly, and something worse too. There is not a man in these States but knows the necessity of speedy appretiation, and it is impossible there should be a man in Congress ignorant of the importance of quickly determining on our foreign affairs. Yet, after more than 5 months, very little is done in either of these! It is impossible that such conduct can fail to ruin us in the opinion of the European powers, atten<tive> and sagacious as they are. There are some men so artful in garnishing falsehood with truth that the varnished tale goes down with, perhaps the greater number, who neither are, or will take pains to be informed – Goddards Baltimore Journal of June 29th. & Hall & Sellers gazette No. 2558 contain Samples of artful misrepresentation – I know the knaves who write these things have the advantage, because they cannot be complete<ly> exposed, without exposing secrets that it would be very unwise to publish at present, this the true friends of America will not do, and this those Scribblers know well, which induces the to come forward with so much effrontery. Yet I think both these deceivers might be handsomely scourged without making improper communications. There has not been, that America knows, a shadow of reason to suppose that G.B. meant to accept the proffered mediation of Spain – And when such a mediation took place, was the proper time for the Belligera<nt> powers to prepare and offer their terms, upon being duly notified by the Mediatorial power – The reason is plain, whilst war continues, the events of that, may between the proffered and the accepted mediation, between the last & the conclusion, have so changed the state of things as to derange totally the terms proposed by either party – The information therefore of feby. last, was no ground for poisoning the public mind with assurances of great news, such news as would rejoice everybody – &c. &.

This served only to lull when vigilance & vigor were necessary; to deceive with false hopes where such deception might be fatal – The authors of this ill grounded propogation are now apprehensive of popular resentment, and with their usual effrontery are charging others with preventing a peace, a loan & what not, because they would not agree so to act, as must in their opinion, inevitably loose to America her own fisheries, which are so indispensable to the being of a Navy – The most essential part of the february information was contained in Dr. Lees letter to Congress dated in August last which they had long before february been in possession of – Had this letter been answered and in a satisfactory manner to Spain, the conjecture is too strong not to be entertained that this power would eer now have been with the Alliance – But those, whom a Writer calls, “execrable faction” had rather that America should be lost than saved thro the medium of Mr. Lee, and so neither that letter of August, nor a subsequent one on the same subject have ever been noticed! Here is the crime, which the Criminals cannot answer for at the bar of a judicious public – By Mr. Wm. Lees letter to me of december the 20, extract of which I had the honor to send you it is plain that the party had settled their plan of recal last Fall, because Mr. Deane had written to Europe so long before as that his letter was arrived prior to the 20 of december, informing that Congress had design to change all their European appointments, & that he was to return in a lucrative employment – Now we know that the party have been working to this end for many months past. And the Scribbler in the Baltimore journal alluded to, is still working at this lucrative employment for Mr. Deane – The very satisfactory account already given of his expenditure of the public treasure formerly trusted to him, is to be sure a strong reason for allowing him to finger more public money. But this letter writer would imply that we failed to get a loan because Mr. Deane was not sent presently back to obtain it – Yet, most certain it is, that so long since as winter 1776 when Congress sat at Baltimore, Mr. Deane & his Colleagues were all empowered & directed to obtain if possible a loan of 2 or 3 millions of pounds sterling – If it could be done, why had it not been done, – But we know that the American Commissioners had been and were endeavoring in vain to obtain this loan – Yet it is in this letter insinuated that Mr. Deane could do it – Oh impudentia! – Mr. Lovel sends me an extract from a french Newspaper in which is inserted a letter of Dr. Lee’s to the printer on Deanes Libel of 5 december – Would it not be proper to publish in the Phila. papers that letter & a translation of it? I have written to Mr. Lovel on the subject, and pray you Sir to consult with him about it – I enclose you two scraps of Purdies newspaper, the one containing Charlestown news, the other our late Act of Assembly restraining their Delegates from Trade – The former tho not equal to our raised expectations, is comfortable, and the latter I think it will be well to publish in the Pennsylva. gazettes – If this latter should be too troublesome for you, please give the paper to Dr. Shippen Senr. who in his walks can step into the Office & get it done –

I shall be happy to receive the letter you propose writing to me, and after begging pardon for the length of this, conclude by assuring you that I am with very eat esteem and affection dear Sir

your most obliged friend.

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Laurens CorrespondenceLong Island Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 87 – 90.