<br /> Lee Letter: n506

Washington and Lee University

Sender: James Lovell
Recipient: Arthur Lee

Dear Sir

I wrote to you on the 13th of June, but to my Surprise found the Letter in
the commercial Committee Rooms on the 10th of July, the Martinico man
having left it behind though he took the Journals & Gazettes to be
forwarded by Mr. Bingham to France & the Hague. My above mentioned
Letter was sent under Cover to Mr. Adams to the Care of Doctr.
Franklin, it seems Mr. A will have left France before the Polacre comd.
by Capt. Sapet can reach it.1 It is needless
to copy the whole as, now, the Weeks of the Journals are printed to
which I there referred largely. Some parts however I shall now
repeat.2

Extr June 13. “The Term recalled having been used in regard to Wm. Lee and
Rph. Izard with an Idea strenuously supported by some of bringing them
to America, tho others who were affirmative meant only vacating the
Commissions a second Resolve passed that they need not repair to
America. I give them no official notice now nor shall I without the
particular order of Congress because I am again left alone, your
Brother Richd. having resigned his Seat as I hear, and gone home; and
further, because something definitive ought to be decided in regard to
Compensation for Services of the Commissioners.

“An attempt has several times lately been made to chuse a new Committee of
for. Affrs. instead of filling up the old one. This you will perceive
to be singularly decent towards the one who had steadily attended. Nay
it is said that such a Comtee. is useless. I am sure I find an immense
deal that ought to be done, and have found a great Burthen in what has
been done by a Member of Congress without Secretary or Clerk, little as
you and the other Gentlemen abroad may have been benefited by my
Labors. Quires of my Writing have been sunk in the Seas most of it near
these Capes.

“I expect further attempts to get rid of you. It was a fear of that and a
desire to scrutinize Mr. D – – that made Mr Laurens, I imagine, give
into the late motion.3 But I think you will
rise above the Malice of the Faction which you have long known or, if
you find your Usefulness destroyed, you will readily tell us so, and
desire to make way for some other person. I have by me large packets
left by yr. Brother, with Copies of Proceedings respecting you, but I
will not send them round about as a Frigate must soon go directly from
hence, or at least a Pacqt. Boat. I tell Mr. J Adams more on that head.
I suspect Roguery in the Stoppage of yr. Letters; how else is it that
we have not a Line from any of you?

“Mr. S Adams goes home Tomorrow – for good & all as he says. This goes
Via Cadiz, a Copy via Martinque.

“Your Friend and humble Servant, JL.

“Vid Journals, Apr 6, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30, May 3, 22, 24, 25, 27,
June 8, 10.

“Letters from A Lee, Aug. 7, 11, 21, 27, 31, Sep 9, 30, Oct 19 P.S. Nov 29,
Novr. 4, 15, 18, 20.”

I will now, Sir, add a few remarks. Your Quotation from Whitlock I have
read in the Congress to strengthen what I have often urged
there.4 Nothing can more naturally suggest
itself to a Politician, one would think yet I have affirmed Truth when
I told you that the Comtee. was said to be now an useless Institution.

What remark am I to now make upon some of yr. Conduct referable to the 5th
Line of the 3d page of this Sheet?5 I will
not trust my own Judgement, but I suspect your most steady friends here
will differ. I presume you meant to take their Opinions as you could
not at such a distance judge of all Circumstances. Else why cover to RH or F.L6 At present a Veil of Secresy is
on the Business, as well as on that committed to R.H. or F.L. or J.L.7 Your Letter defensery has been
read.8 Yr. first Letter to Shelburn brought
that Water up to the Eyes of some, who are evidently unfriendly to you,
which is the Consequence of strong unexpected Admiration. The Letter
from Jennings and your Answer are as valuable as a marble Pillar
erected to the honor of yr. Probity and prophetic sound Judgement.
Beux’s is as honorary to him as a sensible spirited Gentleman as it is
disgraceful to others. All the other Vouchers were familiar to me. I
have been so engaged & so unwell that I have only had the single
chance of listning in Congress; but I shall renew my Pleasure soon.

The Report respectg. Supporting the Ministers was again recommitted this
day but I told the House that I could not risque Censure by not
officially informing Mr. W Lee & Mr. Izard of the Proceedings of
the 8th of June. How easy & how tollerably decent would it have
been to have recalled their Commissions for the Reasons h[anded] down
in the original Report of the Committee of 13 – vid 2d head Apr. 15th,
but the 4th head was meant to accomplish the point with you; the most
sanguine not being discouraged at the Idea of Killing Doctr.
F9 secondarily, or sacrificing all Character
in themselves of Impartiality upon the Ground work on which they meant
to gibit your Fame. But I have said all my Eye sight will allow at this
late hour of the Night and the Express goes off at Dawn. Yr.
affectionate Friend,

Js L

Notes:

Lee Family PapersHoughton Library

1 See Committee for Foreign Affairs to Captain Sapet, July 10, 1779.

2 See Lovell to Arthur Lee, June 13, 1779.

3 Lovell wrote in the margin at this point “June 10th.”

4 In the December 4, 1778, letter to which Lovell refers, Lee had taken a
quotation from Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, Journal of the Swedish
Ambassy in the Years MDCLIII and MDCLIV, 2 vols. (London: T. Beckt
and P.A. de Hondt, 1772).

“Whitlocke, in the journal of his embassy, says: – ‘By this constant and
perfect intelligence from Thurloe, Whitlocke had great advantage in
his negotiation, being thereby enabled to give a perfect account of
affairs, not only of his own country, but of most other places, to
the great satisfaction of the queen and her court, and grandees, with
whom Whitlocke had frequent converse, and from his private and public
letters, was able to satisfy their curious enquiries after news; so
that it became to pass that no news (especially from England) was
authentic, until it was ratified by the English ambassador; which
raised the credit both of him and his intelligence.’

“I am sorry to assure you that our situation is exactly the reverse. We
never go to court but the first question is, Messieurs, (in French,
have you any American news? – Editor.)

“In all companies it is the same; and trifling as it may appear, yet it is
a fact, that as the reverse raised Whitlocke’s credit, so this sinks
ours.” Richard H. Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, LLD, 2 vols. (Boston:
Wells and Lilly, 1829), 2:152.

5 Lovell had asked Lee to notify Congress “if you find your usefulness
destroyed . . . and desire to make way for some other person.”

6 That is, Richard Henry or Francis Lightfoot Lee.

7 James Lovell.

8 That is, Lee’s February 10, 1779, letter to the President of Congress. See
Lovell to Samuel Adams, July 16, 1779, note 2; and the following
entry, note 3.

9 Benjamin Franklin.