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to john laurens 2 - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 9 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 9.
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to john laurens2
Sept. 11, 1779.
From the current of intelligence, an embarkation is on foot at New York. A little time will develop its destination. I hope it may disappoint my conjectures. The general opinion points to the West Indies; and, upon the whole, I believe myself the plan of Southern operations is too bold and enlarged for the feeble, shivering, contracted councils of Britain. The naval force that arrived under Arbuthnot, by the best intelligence, consists of two ships-of-the-line, two fifty-gun, and two smaller frigates. Some seamen—deserters—report that they made at sea two detachments of troops: one for Quebec, the other to Halifax—each under convoy of a vessel of the line. If Arbuthnot goes to the West Indies, Byron will still be inferior to D‘Estaing, to say nothing of the Spanish fleet in that quarter. The troops and seamen arrived in a very sickly condition.
We have just received an account that looks like the approach of D‘Estaing to our continent. A vessel arrived at Boston mentions having parted with him in lat. 25°, long. 70°; steering N. W., with six thousand troops on board taken in at the Cape, bound for Georgia, and afterwards northward. If this should be true, you will probably hear of him before this reaches you; but he may, perhaps, push directly northward, to lay the axe to the root. This will be a master-stroke, and fix D‘Estaing’s character as a first-rate officer. The reduction of the enemy’s fleets and armies in America will make all their islands fall of course, deprive them of supplies from this continent, and enable us to second operations of the French with ample succors of provisions. If he touches at Georgia for your relief, and continues his progress northward, you, I know, will endeavor to keep pace with him and make us happy again. The lads all join me in embracing you most affectionately. Pray let me hear from you frequently, and deal a little in military details, as you expect the same from me. The Philadelphia papers will tell you of a handsome stroke by Lee1 on Powle’s Hook. Some folks in the Virginia line, jealous of his glory, had the folly to get him arrested. He has been tried and acquitted with the highest honor. Lee unfolds himself more and more to be an officer of great capacity, and if he had not a little spice of the Julius Cæsar or Cromwell in him, he would be a very clever fellow. Adieu.
Apropos, speaking of a Cæsar and a Cromwell, don’t you think the Cabal have reported that I declared in a public house in Philadelphia that it was high time for the people to rise, join General Washington, and turn Congress out of doors? I am running the rogues pretty hard. Dana was the first mentioned to me. He has given up Dr. Gordon, of Jamaica Plains. You well remember the old Jesuit. He made us a visit at Fredericksburg, and is writing the history of America. The proverb is verified,—” There never was any mischief, but had a priest or a woman at the bottom.” I doubt not subornation and every species of villainy will be made use of to cover the villainy of the attack. I have written to Gordon, and what do you think is his answer?—he will give up his author if I will pledge my honor “neither to give nor accept a challenge, to cause it to be given or accepted, nor to engage in any encounter that may produce a duel.” Pleasant terms enough. I am first to be calumniated, and then, if my calumniator takes it into his head, I am to bear a cudgelling from him with Christian patience and forbearance; for the terms required, if pursued to their consequences, come to this. I have ridiculed the proposal, and insisted on the author, on the principle of unconditional submission. What the Doctor’s impudence will answer, I know not. But you who know my sentiments will know how to join me in despising these miserable detractors. On revising my work, I find several strokes of the true schoolboy sublime. Pray let them pass, and admire them if you can.1
Col. John Laurens, of South Carolina, whose name has already occurred frequently in this correspondence, was the son of Henry Laurens. He was a member of Washington’s staff, and Hamilton’s most intimate friend. He was one of the most dashing and brilliant of the youthful officers of the Revolution, and fell in a skirmish Aug. 27, 1782, when the war was nearly over. In 1780 he went to France as a commissioner on the loan, and was in all ways one of the most promising men of the period.
Henry Lee, of Virginia, “Light-Horse Harry.”
Reprinted from Moore’s Memoir of Laurens, p. 154.