<br /> Lee Letter: n763

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams

My dear Sir,

The same cause that deprived me of the pleasure of hearing from you sooner
in answer to my former letter, has in great degree prevented me from
sooner acknowledging the receipt of your favor of Septr. 23d 1783;
which I received in the following winter, when laboring under a long
continued, severe illness, that had nearly ended my days. I thank God
that I am now pretty well recovered. Insomuch, that I have been
prevailed on, once more to take a seat in Congress; my brothers three
years having ended with this federal year. I am much grieved my dear
friend, to observe the wonderful lassitude that prevails in public
affairs. It is now eighteen days since Congress ought to have assembled
here, and as yet we have but five States. It surprises me that these
five are all Southern. None but the worthy Dr. Holten from your State
being yet arrived from the eastward; whence, formerly we used to derive
most punctuality, alacrity, and judicious dispatch of public business.
Yet there are many subjects of great importance, that demand the
speedy, temperate, wise, and firm discussion of Congress. We have seen
here the late report of a Committee of the Privy Council in G. Britain
upon the petition of the W. India planters and Merchants, soliciting an
open and liberal trade with these United States. In this report, all
the illiberal & senseless principles of commerce that are scattered
thro Lord Sheffields book, are taken up and recommended. The report was
laid upon the Table of the House of Commons – But it seems that the
Parliament is prorogued without touching the subject of their Commerce
with us. So that it remains on the old ground of proclamation,
interdicting our Trade with the B. West Indies, but thro the medium of
British Vessels. It is not difficult for an attentive and diligent
enquirer to discern the old Leaven working in the British councils. The
same men still rule in secret, the same measures are wished to be
practised upon. Nor does it signify much whether a Pitt or a North
comes forward upon the Stage. The Nation too, like a strong, proud,
& sullen Man angry from unexpected defeat, and imputing misfortunes
to Casualties, would seem not averse to a second trial. I remember when
once I detested the moderate character. At this moment I think that
moderation, wisdom, firmness, and attention, are the principles proper
for our adoption: and highly becoming the dignity of our successful
situation. Being always prepared for the worst, the best events will
not be unpleasing. It is observable that great hopes are entertained
beyond the waters from the expectation of discord, disunion, &
apathy on our part. I sincerely wish that they may be disappointed. We
understand that Silas Deane & Arnold are in frequent conversation
with the British M[iniste]rs – And it is said that the former composed
part of the book adopted by Lord Sheffield. Indeed, the principles of
that book are precisely the same with those contained in one of Mr.
Deane’s intercepted letters in 1781. What kind of conduct are we to
expect from G. Britain, when its councils are mixt with gall, and when
the acrimony of blasted ambition and avarice is permitted to insinuate
itself? I shall be extremely happy to be aided by your counsels during
my residence in Congress. Our letters may, in this direct line of post,
be secure – especially as the times are not quite so inquisitive as
formerly. I beg that my best respects may be presented to Mrs. Adams,
and remember me, if you please, to Gen. Warren, to Mr. Gerry & Mr.
Lovell.

I am dear Sir most sincerely and affectionately your friend,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Samuel Adams Papers, New York Public Library.