Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
The unfortunate cause, which hath prevented me from attending to your last favor sooner, will, I hope, be my excuse. The long sickness and death of my much-loved brother of Bellevue, has for some time past confined me in Virginia, and removed every other consideration from my mind. I now embrace the first good opportunity of sending you the pamphlet of forgeries, that I formerly mentioned. It is among the pitiful arts of our enemies, to endeavour at sowing dissension among the friends of liberty and their country. With me, such tricks can never prevail.
Give me leave, dear Sir, to congratulate you on the happy event of our treaty with France being so effectually concluded. Congress have ratified it on their part, and ordered the ratification to be delivered in due form. This will be announced to the public immediately. The counsels of France have been governed, in this affair, by true magnanimity and sound policy. It was magnanimous in his Most Christian Majesty, not to avail himself of our situation to demand unequal and oppressive terms; and it was wise to leave the commerce of America open to all the maritime states, which will prevent their jealous} and enmity, and make them foes instead of friends to England. Great Britain has its choice now of madness or meanness. She will not war with the house of Bourbon and North America at the same time ; so that I incline to think meanness will be her choice, as best befitting her present state and the minds of her rulers. It will probably happen, that the trade of France will not now be interrupted ; and thus, by affording no pretext for war, the whole force of our enemies may be devoted to one last and vigorous campaign against us. As wise men, we ought to be prepared for such an event, by collecting a strong army, and by every other means that can discourage and defeat such intentions of our inveterate enemies. Being disappointed this campaign, must infallibly compel the acknowledgment of our independence, and keep the world, for some time longer, in peace. Eng land alone will pay, for her wickedness and folly, by the loss of North America.
Our information is good, that very few troops can come here from Germany ; and private letters, as well as public papers, say that the plan of getting regiments by subscription, though much boasted of at first, has fallen very low. From the Highlands of North Britain some men will be obtained, and per haps a few from England and Ireland, but there seems no reason to suppose that their every exertion can add more than four or five thousand to the present force in North America. But this will re quire a very considerable strength, on our part, to make the event certain. An unsettled dispute between the Emperor and the King of Prussia (which England will undoubtedly foment) concerning the di vision of the estate of the late Elector of Bavaria, has threatened a rupture in Europe, not for our ad vantage, because the former of these princes being with us, the latter might be disposed to favor the views of Great Britain, to our injury.
Alderman Lee writes, that there is some hope of this being negotiated happily. An intelligent correspondent in England writes to Alderman Lee, that it was uncertain whether Lord North's Bills would be agreed to or not, but that they were industriously sent over here, and circulated, to prevent our treaty with France from being concluded. Vain and unwise men ! Their means are always destructive of their ends. North's delusive and indecent propositions have accelerated an adoption of the agreement with France.
I am much concerned to find, in Virginia, such want of method and industry in collecting and bringing forward the drafts. When I came away, there were all the men (amounting to forty-one or two), both of the former and the latter drafts, remaining in King George, merely for want of an officer to bring them away ; and I am misinformed if it is not the case in other counties. As far as I have been able to learn, it is probable that, if dexterous recruiting officers were properly furnished for the business, and sent out, almost all these veterans, that have been discharged from our nine regiments, would reenlist in a short time. I am, with sincere esteem, dear Sir,
Your most affectionate and obedient servant,
P. S. Alderman Lee says, they talk of sending Lord Westcote and Hans Stanley here, to treat with us, and that they are to bring half a million of guineas to bribe the Congress. From their own corruptions, these men reason to the corruption of all others.
I had almost forgot to mention, that four expresses were sent from St. James's, on the subject of Generals Howe and Clinton. The latter had leave to go home ; the Court was disgusted with the , former, and had recalled him, but recollecting that Clinton might be come away, another messenger was sent to stop Howe, if that should be the case. I hoped, they are both gone.
- Richard Henry Lee
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume II., Jared Sparks, 1853