<br /> Lee Letter: n410

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Brother

Your favors of Octr. 24, Decr. 6, 8, & 19 by Capt. Young and Mr. Deane
came safe to hand and deserve my thanks on many accounts, but on none
more than for the care you have taken, and propose to take of my dear
Son Ludwell. Under your kind protecting hand I hope he will be reared
to much use both public and private. I approve altogether of your
designs respecting him. It grieves me extremely to hear of the
indolence and extravagence of my son Thom. They are qualities the
direct reverse of those that must carry him thro life, if he passes
with honor and ease to himself. I hope his Uncle Alderman’s attention
to him, and your advice, with wllat I have written him will work a
change. It is with infinite pain that I inform you our dear brother of
Belleview1 departed this Life on the 13 of
April last after sustaining a severe Rheumatic fever for 6 weeks. Dr.
Steptoe attended him the whole time, and I was also with him. Both
public and private considerations render the loss most lamentable. He
had been just appointed one of our five Judges of the General Court, in
which station he was well qualified to clo his Country eminent service.
He has left behind him a numerous little family (7 children) and a
very disconsolate Widow. It is not necessary now to say much about
{Deane}.2 His {recall} which I now rejoice
at will prevent all future {machinatiolls} from him, at least in
{Europe} and himself as well as all others shall be well attended to
here. Our friend Mr. Adams wllo {succeeds Deane} is a wise and worthy
Whig who will not {form cabals} for any private sinister purpose. I
adsise you to {cultivate} his {friendship}. Congrcss has now resolved
the same for the support of their Commissioners at Madrid, Vienna,
Berlin & Tuscany as for those at Paris, and they are authorised to
draw bills of exchange on the Commissioner or Commissioners that may be
at Paris for the money they want to defray their
expences.3 This makes each {independent} and
will, for a time at least, render it unnecessary to send particular
remittances to those places in the way of Commodities. You may be
assured that Congress are ready and willing to send powerful
remittances to Europe in the way of commodities; but the attempt now
would be only supplying the enemy, wllose Cruisers are so numerous on
our Coast and in our Bays, that almost every Vessel is taken. When a
war with France and Spain shall take place, the numerous Ships of
England will find some other employment than bending their whole force
against us. Then it will be in our power to make the remittances we
wisll to make. Congress has not yet taken up the consideration of
appointing another Commissioner. Wllen they do, I think there can be no
objection to the Gentlenlan you recommend or that lle shotlld be
appointed to Spain.4 Gen. Burgoyne has leave
to return to England upon parole, but his Army is detained until the
Court of London shall notify to Congress their ratification of the
Convention of Saratoga. The detention of this Army u as founded partly
on the reasons you assign, and for other powerful ones which Burgoyne
himself furnished us with. In the inclosures which our public letter
contains you will see the reasons more at large. I am very happy to be
able to observe to you, that the Ullalterable attachment of Congress to
Independence is clearly evidenced by their resolutions upon Ld. Norths
insidious bills of pacification some days before they had any notice of
the Treaty with France. I think you may make a good use of this with
those who may doubt our firmness. We have now no danger but what may
arise from our {funds}. Necessity has made our {paper emissions} very
large, and may render it indispensable that a solid support shd. be
derived from {specie}. Therefore {loans} from {Europe} are necessary,
and the desires of Congress on this head demand great attention. New
Orleans is so removed from us, and so situated, as to make the
difficulty of getting anything from thence very great, that the
Havannah would answer much better. The English Ships have taken and
destroyed so many French & some Spanish Vessels the last winter and
spring upon our Coast, that it appears to me upon every principle of
policy unwise for these powers to keep their Marine force unemployed,
whilst the whole active Naval force of England is warring upon their
Commerce. That part of it at least, which approaches our Shores. I
should be glad to know the particulars of Mr. Elliot’s theft of your
papers.5 If you can contrive me any valuable
new publications in England I shall be glad to have them, and I pray
you not to forget an annual supply of Jesuits Bark for we have very
little here. I have yet received only 8 pounds of what you formerly
mentioned, but I thank you greatly for this.

God bless and preserve you.

Richard Henry Lee.

[P.S.] The British Army have been closely confined in Philadelphia this
winter. It is yet there, our Army is daily growing stronger both in
numbers and discipline, and we expect soon to begin offensive
operations against them. My brother Frank and myself, are both of us
eligible to Congress for three years to come; our brother appears
inclinable to quit the service, but it shall depend upon my Country
whether I do so or not until I see a proper peace upon proper
principles. – 6


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 403 – 5. Printed also in the December 1859 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger, 29:431.

1 Thomas Ludwell Lee.

2 Words in braces here and below are uritten in cipher in the receiver’s copy. The key was
an early edition of John Entick’s New Spelling Dictionary, with the
cipher number indicating the page in Arabic numerals, the column as a
or b, and the placc of the word in the column in Roman numerals. For
example, the cipher for “Deane” is “5bXXXVIII.” Although the edition
used by the Lee brothers has not been found, Edmund C. Burnett used
various letters containing interlined deciphered words and a 1782
edition of the dictionary to develop the code list from which the
words in braces have been supplied.

3 For the resolution of, see Committee for Foreign Affairs to Ralph Izard,
14 May 1778, note 2.

4 In his 4 October 1777, letter to Richard Henry, Arthur had recommended
that Edmund Jenings be appointed commissioner to Madrid, “his reseree
and circumspection being excellently adapted to that court.” Richard
H. Lee, A Life of Arthur Lee, 2 vols. (Boston: Wells and Lilly,
1829), 2:114 – 17.

5 Arthur Lee considered British ensoy Hugh Elliott responsible for the theft
of his papers during his June 1777 mission to Berlin. For Lee’s
description of the circumstances surrounding the theft, see his
letters of 28 June and 29 July 1777, to the Commissioners at Palis
and the Committee for Foreign Affairs, respectively, in Wharton,
Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:351 54, 369 – 72.

6 Francis Lightfoot Lee was granted a leave of absence on 30 May, but
returned to Congress in early November 1778, soon after Richard Henry
returned home on his next leave. See JCC, 11:556, 12:1087, 1112.