<br /> Lee Letter: n394

Washington and Lee University

Sender: James Lovell
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir

I shall leave you to get news at large respecting our army, and the
transactions of Congress, from your worthy brother, only saying as to
the first, that the extremity of those injuries which were prophesied
some months ago are now realized in the Commissariate; and that we also
now find most of our high expectations from the expensive establishment
of the Quarter-master had not a thorough foundation; Genl. W – – n has
made this evident, and shown it fairly to be the clue to unravel our
many seemingly misterious past miscarriages in the Field.

As to the second I will remark that few in number we have vaste business,
and tho’ we have had particular reason to regret your absence &
that of other antient members, we must & will go thro with what
times and circumstances demand to be immediately done.

From me, you will chiefly look for foreign affairs. What I have before
written did not fully destroy Bingham’s narrative; what I now
communicate goes near to do it; but it leaves our Intelligence from St.
Pierre’s Miquilon in good force. Private persons at Nantes Sepr. 5th
might easily be ignorant of what Bingham might know thro a public
chanel at Martinique Octr. 13th. But, Mr. Williams gives me the
following in a private correspondence of Octr.
18th.1 “The politics of this country seem
still to be as from the beginning of the war. They rejoyce at every
event in favor of America, because they wish to see their old enemy
crushed, but that enemy is still so formidable to them that they do not
seem inclined to lend an helping hand to us openly; and every peice of
bad news from America, as it raises the tone of the English ambassador,
increases their fears, and the effect is felt throughout all the
seaports of the kingdom. We have lately had two Jamaicamen seized by
the Admiralty, and I suppose they will be returned to the English. It
is true prizes are still brought in & privately sold; but the
purchasers, on account of the risque of having them given up, do not
allow above 1/3 of the value. Thus, do the French merchants make great
sums of money; and the policy of the nation goes hand in hand with the
interest of individuals.

[“]It is indeed pretended that matters will take a turn soon. The reason, they
say, that war is not more thought of at present,
is,2 that their Fishermen & Baltic ships
are still out: by the first they expect an additional No. of Seamen
& by the last a full supply of naval stores which would be
intercepted should a rupture take place now, but, that when these shall
be safely arrived, they will hold a very different Language to the
English. Two or three months will convince us whether these professions
are sincere or not; but, I apprehend some singular success on the part
of America would do more in our favor than any other Circumstance.”

The Rawleigh & Alfred arrived at L’orient the 6th of Octr. Between that
and the 15th they had suddenly sold two Jamaicamen for only 9,700
sterlg. as the other two at Nantes taken by a Massachusetts Capt.
Kendrick had been seized. One Nicholson, brother of the Baltimore
Commander, had a fine Frigate just launched at Nantes, of 24 Twelves on
her Gun Deck & 6 Sixes on her Quarters, and would be at sea in
Novr. with the other two which were hove down at L’orient, the
Commissary of which port had orders from the ministry to supply every
thing out of the royal magazines for Thompson & Hindman.

Poor Johnston was taken two days after he left Morlaix by a Cutter of
heavier mettal than his, having fought 5 Hours, lost many men as well
as his enemy and being towed a wreck into Dover. I doubt not our
Gentlemen will exert every nerve to protect him from the malice which
will be ready to show itself against him after his late successes in
the Irish Chanel. Our old Holland correspondent gives us on the 2d. of
Augst.3 a long detail of Sam & John
Adams’s wife & children at the Hague, where it seems one or other
of those Gentlemen was born & married, but forsook his wife &
family to make his fortune in America. “Sr Joseph York knows this but
pretends to be ignorant of it,” say the Relations. “And tho’,” says
Dumas, “this is at bottom only a bagatelle, yet I wish to have some
short account of the honourable persons of Mr Sam & Mr John Adams
that I may undeceive our public & confound the imposture which
characterizes impudent & base enemies. They decry you in Europe as
Poltrons, and they at the same time pray & intreat the European
Powers not to permit you to buy arms from them; and, while they fear
they shall not be able to destroy Virtue, they seek to blacken &
calumniate it.”

“Let us pass,” says he, “from this miserable tale to what is more important
& more agreable.”

The Pri[n]ce of Waldeck has two fine Regiments of his subjects in the
service of this republic the contract for whom is near expiring. The
Court of London, knowing this pressed that Prince to let her have
them-but he answered that he had proposed a new contract to their High
Mightenesses and had demanded some conditions in his own favor to be
added to the former ones; that if their H. Msses. would not consent to
them, he would let the King have them upon the conditions last
demanded; but, that he could not refuse them to the Republic if she
preferred to keep them. Upon this, Sr
Joseph4

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, American Philosophical Society.

1 Jonathan Williams’ October 18, 1777, letter has not been found, but Lovell
also discussed the intelligence contained in it in his second letter
of December 23 to William Whipple.

2 Lovell drew a hand in the margin at this point to draw attention to the
remainder of this sentence.

3 Charles W. F. Dumas’ August 2, 1777, letter to the Committee of Secret
Correspondence is in PCC, item 93, fols. 88 – 93.

4 Remainder of MS missing.