Front Page Titles (by Subject) MRS. JAY TO HER MOTHER. 1 - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781)
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MRS. JAY TO HER MOTHER. 1 - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 1 (1763-1781).
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MRS. JAY TO HER MOTHER.1
On Board of the “Confederacy,” 12th December, 1779.
About 4 o’clock in the morning of the 7th November, we were alarmed by an unusual noise upon deck, and what particularly surprised me was the lamentations of persons in distress. I called upon the captain to inform me of the cause of the confusion that I imagined to prevail; but my brother desired me to remain perfectly composed, for that he had been upon deck but half an hour before, and left every thing in perfect security.
Perfect security! vain words! Don’t you think so? And so indeed they proved; for in that small space of time we had been deprived of nothing less than our bowsprit, foremast, main-mast, and mizen-mast; so that we were in an awkward situation, rendered still more so by a pretty high sough-east wind, and a very rough sea. However, our misfortunes were only begun. The injury received by our rudder the next morning served to complete them, as we were ready to conclude. The groans that distressed me were uttered by two men who had suffered from the fall of the masts; one of them was much bruised, and the other had his arm and hand broken: the former recovered, but the latter, poor fellow! survived not many days the amputation of his arm.
Will it not be painful to my dear mamma to imagine to herself the situation of her children at that time? Her children did I say? Rather let her imagine the dangerous situation of more than three hundred souls, tossed about in the midst of the ocean in a vessel dismasted and under no command, at a season too that threatened approaching inclemency of weather. And would you for a moment suppose me capable of regretting that I had for a time bid adieu to my native land, in order to accompany my beloved friend? Would you have despaired of ever embracing your affectionate children? or would you have again recommended them to Him who appointed to the waters their bounds—who saith unto the waves thus far shalt thou go, and to the winds, peace, be still! Mamma’s known piety and fortitude sufficiently suggest the answer to the two latter queries; and to the former it becomes me to reply. I assure you that in no period of our distress, though ever so alarming, did I once repine, but incited by his amiable example, I gave fear to the winds, and cheerfully resigned myself to the disposal of the Almighty.
After our misfortunes of the 7th and 8th of November (the memorable era from which we now date all events relative to ourselves), a council of the officers was held to consider where it was most expedient to bend our course. It was unanimously concluded that it would be impossible to reach Europe at this season with a ship in the condition that ours was. They were likewise united in opinion that the southern direction was the only one that offered a prospect of safety; and of the islands, Martinico was the most eligible, for its commodious harbour, and the probability of being supplied with materials to refit. Accordingly, the first fair wind that offered (which was not till near three weeks from the above-mentioned era), was embraced in pursuance of the advice given by the officers; and, after having passed through very squally latitudes, we are now in smooth seas, having the advantage of trade-winds which blow directly for the islands; nor are we, if the calculations made are just, more than 200 miles distant from the destined port.
[1 ]Upon receiving his instructions as Minister to Spain, Jay embarked from Chester, below Philadelphia, October 26, 1779, on the Continental frigate Confederacy, 36 guns, Captain Seth Harding, bound for some port in France. He was to proceed to Madrid by way of Paris. His party consisted of Mrs. Jay, her brother, Lieut.-Col. Brockholst Livingston, as Jay’s private secretary, and Hon. William Carmichael, of Maryland, as Secretary of the Legation. The French Minister, M. Gerard, who had been relieved by Luzerne, was also a passenger with them, returning to France. The above letter, with others following, contain some details of the trying experiences endured by the party before reaching the Continent. Obliged by storm and accidents to sail to Martinique, in the West Indies, they re-embarked from that port in a French ship and arrived at Cadiz, January 22, 1780. It was not until April that Jay was fairly established at Madrid.