<br /> Lee Letter: n457

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Nathaniel Scudder
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir,

I have not written to you sooner, because in reality I had little of
Importance to write. The ancient Motto of “festina lente” or that of
“Nil operose agendo” will yet apply to us with too great Propriety.

The Decision of General Lee’s affair was never obtained untill Saturday
last, when the Sentence of the Court martial was confirmed by a great
Majority. The Sentence respecting General Schuyler is also confirmed,
but General St. Clair’s yet remains undetermined.

We have unfortunately consumed much Time for some Days past on a Matter of
Privilege consequent upon a Charge exhibited against General Thompson
for great Abuse given to Congress in General, & personally to the
Honble Mr. McKean on Account of the preference shewn to Mr. McKinly in
his Exchange for Governor Franklin; and after all it remains yet
undecided.

What shall I say as to the great Business of our Finances? I cannot yet
determine that I have learned any Thing concerning them, much indeed I
have unlearned; for although an amazing Deal of Time has been spent on
this important Subject; tho one Hypothesis has been piled upon another
like Pelion on Ossa; tho Scheme has been tacked to Scheme, and System
succeeded System, while the speculative Genius & playful Fancies of
some of our Brethren have again & again in Amendments & a
variety of Substitutes exhausted themselves; & finally, when all
their pretty wisedrawn Plans were crumbled away in the handling, have
often in common Consent assisted to sweep away the rubbish, and begin
de novo; I say tho we have ranged in this Way the boundless Facts of
Finance & with great Labor & Diligence too, I have for my own
Part obtained no more than to determine what will not do for the
Support of our public Credit & the prevention of a general
Depreciation. When I shall be happy enough to determine what will do
Heaven only knows – my Enthusiasm only remains.

Our foreign affairs are in a most deplorable Situation; Mr. Carmichael
having taken his Seat in Congress I suppose there is an End to
Interrogation with him. Mr. Dean has never yet been heard in Congress
since you left us, except an Evening or two ago, when he was before us
only a few Minutes to receive Orders from the Chair to deliver in all
he had to say in Writing as soon as he thought
proper;1 and in the mean Time that, if he
had any Thing very urgent to communicate, he might be heard the Evening
following; which then he rather declined, & in fine has not
asked-how soon we shall have his written Narration I know not; When it
comes I expect it will be interwoven with all those curious
Criminations, which, notwithstanding he never even hinted them to
Congress, either in his verbal Narration or in any of his subsequent
Letters, he has within this few Days in a very extraordinary Manner
thrown out to the World through the Channel of a News Paper, which I
doubt not you have received.

Thus far I had written in the Morning. I am this Moment come out of
Congress, where an extraordinary Event has taken Place-it is this, that
President Lawrans has resigned his Seat & to morrow is assigned for
a new Election. The Causes of this Occurrence will no

Doubt be given to you by your Brother; Time will not admit of my doing it.

The Enemy have a few Days since made a Movement in Force up Hudson’s River.
I judge their Object to have been an Interuption of the Convention
Troops – in this however they have been disappointed as they were
advanced so far as to be out of their Reach – it is said they landed near
King’s Ferry, burnt a few huts, & returned.

I expect to set out for home some Time
tomorrow,2 and to return in about a
Fortnight-shall be glad of a Line from you by the first convenient
Conveyance.

I have the Honor to present my most respectfull Complements to your Lady,
Family & Connections, & am, Dear Sir, with Esteem &

Sincerity, your Obedt. Hble Servt.

Nath. Scudder

Notes:

Roberts Autograph CollectionHaverford College

1 See JCC, 12: 1200 – 1201.

2 Scudder’s departure is confirmed by his fellow New Jersey delegate, John
Fell, who noted in his diary for 11 December: “Coll Scudder gone
home, State of New Jersey not Represented.” John Fell Diary, DLC.