<br /> Lee Letter: n512

Washington and Lee University

Sender: James Lovell
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir

Your Favor of the 7th is in my hand. I am surprized that you had not then
heard of the Arrival of Ford on the 1st at
Metompkin.1

Mr. J. Adams was at Braintree on the 3d and Count Luzerne in
Boston.2 I have no Dispatches from either;
but I have a Letter from Nantes of May 25th, Extract of which you will
see in the Paper of Tomorrow, as well as the Continuation of Rowlands
Communications,3 of Part of what you think
ought to be published.

You talk of your having a Sort of right to a Copy of the Papers sent by
Arthur, you little know of the droll motion made by your merry
Friend,4 to stigmatize Ar[thu]r for having
enclosed to an Individual what he desired might be communicated to a
secret Commtee of Congress to prevent the Consequences of a palam
Examination of the Vouchers. But, as on the one hand I contended for an
open reading of the whole that was sent, I most easily convinced the
House that every Officer in their Service has a Right to communicate
such Papers as these in question to any Individual Friend, on whose
Judgment he chuses to depend either to present or burn Resignations,
Memorials and Defenses, these being personal Concerns; and I mentioned
having by me some Things thus inclosed upon which I should act my
sovereign Pleasure. I thought this necessary, that I may act with a
good Grace, if I should see cause to give in any of the Papers now in
my Trunk at a Time when it will not be possible to prove a late
Arrival. The Motion was withdrawn Inch by Inch. I, pledging myself to
prove that Congress never had an official Paper kept from them by the
Mode mentioned in the Motion vizt. covering Dispatches of a Minister to
an Individual. I mean I pledged myself so far as concerns Ar Lee Esqr.
Your Brother was totally mistaken as to D’s Credit here. But I wait
with impatience to know more by Mr. Adams. Our Penobscot Expedition is
not yet well over. Collier may do great hurt there: I have a few Lines
from Mr. SA he is as you think greatly engaged in Town and Body
Meetings & in the general Assembly. They have great Expectation of
mending the Currency by vigorous Taxation & Loan. But I look for
Credit to the poor eastern States mainly from a successful Expedition,
though even in that Case W.H.D. will be against them: he spouted an
invidious motion about their sending their Fleet to relieve 5th Carol.
& Georgia. Observe the cursed Rascality of sending to New York as
well as to Boston the Paca-drayton Effort, though in the former case
there is a superrogatory Lie of its being a Comtee. Information.

I find that Paper is stolen from me. It was either Pokipsie or Fiskill you
can get it by Enquiry of yr Printer.5 I have
recovered it.

The Party are provoked beyond measure at seeing the Vouchers sent out by
Rowland; but I tell them, “they are free for any member who chuses to
use them, only it is at his Peril if he does not guard against
offending France, Spain or Prussia or exposing honest Whigs to Danger.”
The affair of Berkenhout can be put in a Light to damn
D’s6 Virulence exerted under pretended Care
of the public Safety. Simple Views must be first given of the State of
Facts and at the Close a Freedom in Inferences, Reflections &
Brands may be taken. Indeed this Part may be performed in the different
States upon an Exhibition of Vouchers here. It will have more effect by
springing from different Quarters. The main point will be to establish
the Propriety of supporting Merit in Republics against Envy &
Falsehood, rather than suffering it to be crushed from a foolish Idea
of Convenience to the Public. The contrary would be to induce
eventually a maximum to avoid a present quid detrimenti. I wish yr.
Health may suffer you to attend to this. Specs should be short to be
generally read.

J.L.

[P.S.] I will attend to yr. Request about Beaumarchais charge. I have no
reasons, now in favr. of giving the Resig. but rather the opposite.
Neither perhaps shall I consult more than Laurens, Whip. &
March.7

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society.

1 For the recent arrival of Arthur Lee’s former secretary Hezekiah Ford, see
Lovell to Abigail Adams, 11 August 1779.

2 Anne-Cesar de La Luzerne (1741 – 91) had reached Boston on August 3. La
Luzerne, the son of the comte de Beuzeville, had a varied military
and diplomatic career. Before his appointment as French minister to
the United States in April 1779, La Luzerne had served as French
charge d’affairs in Bavaria during the crisis of the Bavarian
Succession, 1777 – 78. For a detailed discussion of his career, see
William E. O’Donnell, The Chevalier de La Luzerne: French Minister to
the United States, 1779 – 1784 (Bruges: Desclee de Brouwer, 1938).

3 A reference to a series of essays written by Richard Henry Lee over the
pseudonym “Rowland,” in defense of his brother Arthur. They were
printed in the Pennsylvania Packet on August 10, 17, 24, and 31, 1779,
and are reprinted in the Deane Papers (NYHS Colls.), 22:49 – 53,
63 – 67, 73 – 83.

4 That is, Meriwether Smith. For the handling of Arthur Lee’s proffered
resignation by his friends in Congress, see Lovell to Samuel Adams,
July 16, 1779, note 6.

5 For the issue of the New York Journal (printed in Poughkeepsie) referred to
here by Lovell, see Lovell to Samuel Adams, 17 August 1779, note 2.

6 Silas Deane.

7 That is Henry Laurens, William Whipple, and Henry Marchant.