<br /> Lee Letter: n530

Washington and Lee University

Sender: James Lovell
Recipient: Arthur Lee

Dear Sir

Mr. Bonfield on the 30th of June & 22d of July wrote to
us1 and forwarded many Letters from you one
only of which was new.2 A Letter of May 31
which was read in Congress Oct 13th and produced an Entry somewhat
paliative in regard to the Doings of Sept. 27.
3 I know not whether you was in France at
the Time Mr. Bonfield wrote. I had been hoping that you would finish
yr. Commission in Spain before Mr. Jay’s Voyage could be compleated.
The late Conduct of the Court of Madrid seemed to give a fair opening
for it. I lament the Length of Time between the Dates & Receipt of
yr. Letters. I was sure that if you found your Ability to serve us to
be in fact impaired by the malignant Proceeding of Deane & the
unbecoming Tameness of those who ought to have shewn themselves the
Patrons & Guardians of yr. Honor, you would tell us so, and make
way for a Successor. Your Letter of May 31st was listened to with
gravity, and commented upon with Approbation as well by former Cons as
by constant Pros. Mercer owned he conceived new Ideas of you, and he
looked Repentance. He has a curious Correspondent, a
Brother4 of the same name in France who is
very ready wth his Opinions on Our Affairs there. I would have you know
his real Business. It has been hinted to me that he is in Pay as a Spy
upon our Agents at Court.5

I cannot but hope to find you very speedily in America & think it
highly interesting to yr. Suit that you should be on the Spot.

The Circumstance of yr having only 3 Months allowed after yr. Recall may
prevent you from waiting the Arrival of the Confederacy with Mr. Gerard
&c. I have therefore covered to Mr. Bondfield & Mr.
Schweighauser what is for you of Importance by that Opportunity which
is expected to sail in a very few Days. I really cannot send Copies of
the many Sheets put up to go by her.

Doctr. Shippens Family are in Health. Your Friends in Virginia were so
Sepr. 25th.

Your affectionate humble Servant,

J.L.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Lee Family Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University.:
Lee Papers).

1 John Bondfield’s June 30 and July 22 letters were read in Congress on
October 11, 1779. See JCC, 15:1161; and PCC, item 92, fols. 429 – 35.

2 According to the journals, letters from Lee of April 22 and 26, May 21, and
June 21 to the Committee for Foreign Affairs were also read in
Congress on October 11. PCC, item 83, 2:172 75, 224 – 27, 260 – 67, 272 – 75; and Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, 3:131, 138, 171 – 74,
229. Lee’s June 21 letter was actually directed to President Jay
rather than to the committee.

3 See Committee for Foreign Affairs to Arthur Lee, October 13, 1779, note.

4 That is, George Mercer, brother of James and former Stamp Act distributor
in Virginia. Louis W. Potts, Arthur Lee: A Virtuous Revolutionary
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981), pp. 40 – 41, 81.

5 Lovell also sent a second copy of this letter to Arthur, which is marked
“Duplicate AL” on the cover. The first two paragraphs, which he
significantly revised when copying it, contain additional information
and read as follows.

“By Letters from Mr. Bonfield of the 30th of June and 22d of July I do not
discover that you were gone to Spain as has been reported, nor do I
know by them that you were yet in France. A Copy of yr. Letter to the
Presidt. of Congress to which the inclosed Resolve refers, has come
to hand dated June 5th from Paris. I had been hoping that the late
Turn in the affairs of Spain would have been embraced by you so far
as that you would gain an Acknowledgement of us openly if not
conclude a Treaty, before Mr. Jay could perform his Voyage.

“Many Things have concurred to give force to the Schemes of yr. inveterate
Foe. But I lament most of all the Length of Time between the Dates
and Receipt of yr. Letters. The principle on which you asked to be
recalled May 31 st governed the Votes of some good men in the
Business of appointing a Minister Plenipotentiary in Lieu of a
Commissioner, and in their consequent Ballot, while others went on
fas aut nefas. Some of the Delegates of Virginia have conceived as
they say new Ideas of you from yr. Letter, particularly Mr. Mercer
who has a curious Correspondent near our Plenipo at Paris. I Pray you
to get and bring with you accurate accounts of the real Business of
that Correspondent at this Time in France. He is Brother of the
Delegate of the Same Name. I am told he is a Spy on our affairs.” bMS
Am 811.5, MH-H.