<br /> Lee Letter: b216

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My Dear Brother,

After more than four months from its date your letter from Orient, of April the 3d. reached me at this place. I very much approve the plan you propose to pursue on your arrival at Philadelphia – to obtain from the present Congress a full justification of yourself is highly proper, and it is most justly due to you upon the strong principles of your public services, and the injuries you have received from “public acts” which in consideration of the former, ought to have conveyed honor and favor, not countenance to the false, wicked, and vile insinuations and arts of your abandoned enemies. When this full and unequivocal justification is obtained, some repose may be necessary, as it is certainly due to your long and active services. But in a cause like ours your patriotism will suggest that “whilst any thin remains to do, nothing is done” – At all events I hope we shall have the happiness of seeing you here when you have done with Congress – But previous to your coming, might it not be well to consider upon, and fix with your friends your future residence at the best for practising the law. This profession you may depend upon it, entered on and practised with reputation, will presently secure to you the influence you deserve, and enable you to command what you please in the state where you live. Philadelphia or Boston seem to me to be the only Theatres for great Actors to play upon. Our most worthy and wise friend Samuel Adams Esqr. can advise you respecting the latter; and intelligence of the former may be well obtained from Chief Justice McKean, the Attorney General, Mr. Sergeant and President Read – The first of these gentlemen is your friend, and he is one of those few whom I have known in Congress from its commencement in 1774, and whom I have found uniformerly firm, sensible, and attached to the cause of America upon the best principles. I recommend that gentleman to your particular attention. Mr. Sargeant is popular, of republican principles, and very industrious in pursuit of his objects – his information and services may be useful, . . . [omitted text in cipher] You know President Reed and his family – he is in general esteem, and from his knowledge of men and things in Pennsylvania, I should suppose he can give you the best advice concerning the practise of law in Philadelphia – Surely where such a flutterer upon the surface as Governeur Morris can live at all, that you may greatly profit by the pursuit of law. With respect to the obtaining of your full justification from Congress, altho it is so justly your due, and so necessary to be obtained, yet you know that Men are such things as renders it wise to take measures even for coming at justice – You are too well acquainted with human nature not fully to feel the wisdom of Polonius’s advice to his son, “give every man your ear, but few your voice” – I would not seem to know who were my enemies in Congress – but you will know your friends – the latter will have your voice, whilst the former have only your ear. Mr. Samuel Adams may be “grappled to your soul with hooks of steel – his friendship for you, his knowlege of men, and his wise penetration can and will wonderfully assist you with regard to men and measures. Most of the Eastern Delegates were your friends. Mr. Vandyke from Delaware is very sensible, honest, and much your friend. Governor Bee of South Carolina, is a gentleman of worth and sensible of the injustice you have received – But your friend Mr. Izard can inform you exactly concerning the South Carolina gentleman. I must confess that I was surprised, you had so far put your return to America in the power of Dr. Franklin as to commit yourself to the Alliance – the conscious guilt of that old man and the wicked enmity he has practised and encouraged against you, must conspire to make him fear your arrival here, and instigate the fullest exertion of his art and malicious cunning, supported by his present power to procure your detention in Europe. A thousand plausible pretexts would not be wanting to effect that purpose – It will give me infinite pleasure to learn that you are removed fro[m within.] the sphere of that wicked old man’s power and influence – and therefore I hope you will give me the earliest notice of your arrival at Philadelphia – If Ludwell is not useful to you there, I think he may benefit himself by repairing to Williamsburg and finishing his law studies under Mr. Wythe, who is now most worthily employed in the character of Law professor at Willim. & Mary College – which professorship he discharges the duty of with wonderful ability both as to theory and practise. The sooner therefore that Ludwell gets under his tuition the better! meaning always that he must remain with you so long as he is useful to you. The times are amazingly expensive, more so by far than my means to hold pace with the general extravagance – Dr. Shippen can inform you whether Ludwell cannot conveniently get a passage for himself and baggage down the Delaware by water to Christeen in the passageboat, and so hire a conveyance over from thence to the Head of Elk – From thence he may readily get a passage to Annapolis by the way of Baltimore. At the latter of these places my friend Mr. Purveyance (either of the Brothers) will advise and assist his further progress. Governor Lee of Maryland is his relation, If he passes thro’ Annapolis let him wait on the Governor, & Colo. Lloyd, if in Town. When he is at the head of Elk or Baltimore, if he can get certain intelligence that the Bay is clear of the enemies’ privateers, and that our Vessels of war are in the Bay, he may then come by water from those places with his baggage either to Potowmack or Rappahannock – But on no account let him venture this water passage unless he is informed certainly of both the above circumstances, because the small armed Boats of the enemy are incessantly pushing in and out of the Bay, and they take many of the small vessels going down and use the people ill – this risk must not be encountered by Ludwell – if he comes by land from Philadelphia let him call on my friends Jacob Giles at Susquehanna, Mr. Purveyance at Baltimore – Mr. Diggs or Mr. West near Upper Marlborough, and Squire Lee at Cedar Point. I am my dear brothers most affectionate faithful friend.

Richard Henry Lee


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Another copy of this letter is in the Cabell Papers, Virginia Historical Society. Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 196 – 200. Addressed to Arthur Lee at “Philadelphia, Care of Mrs. Shippen.”