ROBERT MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, January 3rd, 1783.
You have not heard from me so often as you had a right to expect. I lament, but cannot help it. Constant employment puts it out of my power to do many things I wish to do, and that of writing to my friends is among the number. My private letters, however, cannot be of much consequence, and you must accept the will for the deed.
I cannot take time at present to enter on any political discussions, but you must allow me to declare my perfect satisfaction in and approbation of your conduct in Europe. All who have had the opportunity of knowing what it has been are struck with admiration at your patience under difficulties, and your firmness in rising superior to them. Go on, my friend; you deserve and will receive the gratitude of your country. History will hand down your plaudits to posterity. The men of the present day, who are generally least grateful to their contemporaries esteem it an honour to be of your acquaintance.
I am sorry to hear that Mrs. Jay and yourself have been indisposed, but I hope you are recovered, and partaking the enjoyments of this season with the gay, sprightly inhabitants of Versailles and Paris. My best wishes ever attend you.
Your friend Gouverneur writes you political letters, but as he tells you nothing of himself, it is just that I tell you how industrious, how useful he is; his talents and abilities, you know; they are all faithfully and disinterestedly applied to the service of his country. I could do nothing without him, and our quiet labours do but just keep the wheels in motion.
With sincere attachment, I am, my dear sir,
Your friend and humble servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, January 4th, 1783.
I have before me your despatches of the 4th and 18th of September last, and the 13th of October. It gives me much uneasiness to find by them, that your health is not yet confirmed, particularly as the extreme shortness of your letters, compared with the importance of the matter, gives me reason to fear, that it has suffered more than you would have us believe.
I am under some anxiety relative to the fate of your letter of the 18th September, as only the duplicate copy has arrived, and I find by that you have risked it without a cypher. Should it get to improper hands, it might be attended with disagreeable consequences.
It is of so much importance, that both you and we should judge rightly of the designs of the Court, to whom we have intrusted such extensive powers, that I most earnestly wish you had enlarged on the reasons which have induced you to form the opinion you intimate; an opinion, which, if well founded, must render your negotiations extremely painful, and the issue of them very uncertain. If on the other hand, it should have been taken up too hastily, it is to be feared, that in defiance of all that prudence and self-possession, for which you are happily distinguished, it will discover itself in a reserve and want of confidence, which may afford hopes to our artful antagonist of exciting jealousies between us and our friends. I so sincerely wish that your conjectures on this head may not be well founded, that I am led to hope you carry your suspicions too far, and the more so as Dr. Franklin, to whom I dare say you have communicated them freely, does not (as you say) agree in sentiment with you. But I pretend not to judge, since I have not the advantage of seeing from the same ground. Perhaps some light may be thrown upon the subject by such facts as I have been able to collect here, and with which it is impossible you should be acquainted.
The policy you suppose to influence the measures of France, can only be founded in a distrust, which I persuade myself she can hardly entertain of those who have put their dearest interest into her hands. She is too well informed of the state of this country, to believe there is the least reason to suppose, that we could have the most distant idea of a separate peace. If such distrust really exists, it would, in my opinion, dictate to them, to let Great Britain acknowledge our independence at once, rather than make it the subject of subsequent negotiation. When satisfied on that point, we can with more advantage contend for those our allies have at heart. Whereas by withholding it, and making it the price of concessions on the part of France, which she may not choose to make, an opportunity would be afforded to embroil and incline us to listen to separate proposals. Upon this principle, France seems to have acted in all the answers, which she has hitherto given, as well to the direct proposals of great Britain as to those made by the imperial Courts. When Mr. Grenville proposed to treat of the independence of the United States with his Most Christian Majesty, an opportunity was afforded to take the lead in the negotiation, and to suspend that part of it; yet we find the reply of the Court of Versailles led to a direct negotiation between Great Britain and us, and ended in the offer of unconditional independence. The reply of the Court of France to that of London, communicated to Mr. Grenville on the 21st of June, speaks the same language.
From these and the following facts you will, when you have compared them with those within your own knowledge, draw your inferences with more judgment than I can pretend to do without those you possess.
Before your letters were received, the Chevalier de la Luzerne showed me a letter from the Count de Vergennes of the 14th of August, in which he speaks of Mr. Grenville’s commission, and the ground it gave him to hope, that negotiations would open an express and unconditional acknowledgment of independence. He mentions the change in the British administration; their assurances, that it should occasion no alteration in the plan of their negotiation, and concludes, by expressing his surprise at the alteration, which afterwards took place in this essential article in the propositions offered by Mr. Fitzherbert, and infers from thence, that Lord Shelburne had no other design than to divide and deceive. In a letter of the 7th of September, he mentions Mr. Oswald’s commission, your objections to it, and his doubts of the manner in which these objections will be received. “If,” says he, “Mr. Oswald is right in his conjecture, that they will be favorably received and removed, then everything is said. If they reject them, because they will not begin where they propose to end, I conceive the negotiations should still go on. We may judge of the intentions of the Court of London by their first propositions. If they have independence for their basis, we may proceed; if not, we must break off.” In his letter of the 14th of October, he mentions with great apparent satisfaction, the alterations in Mr. Oswald’s commission. From the general tenor of these letters, I can discover nothing but an anxious desire for peace, which might very naturally lead him to wish that objections, which he did not conceive essential in the first instance, after having declared to Great Britain that no peace could be made till our independence was acknowledged, should not break off a negotiation which must end in the attainment of an object, which they have as much at heart as we.
Whatever the sentiments of the Count de Vergennes may be, as to the claim of Spain, in a letter which I have seen, he treats them as well as ours, as chimerical and extravagant, and declares, that he does not mean to interfere in them. You can best judge of the sincerity of this declaration. If insincere, I cannot conceive for what purpose it was made, or the subject treated so lightly, or why this should be confided to me. For my own part, I believe their situation with respect to Spain is very delicate, and that they are embarrassed by her demands. I mention these things, that you may, by comparing them with facts within your reach, draw useful inferences from them, and I wish to give you everything that may possibly be of use to you.
As to the letter of Marbois, I am by no means surprised at it, since he always endeavored to persuade us that our claim to the fisheries was not well founded. Yet one thing is very remarkable, and I hope evinces the determination of France to serve us on this point. The advice given to discourage the hope is certainly judicious, and yet we find no steps taken in consequence of it. On the contrary, we have been repeatedly told in formal communications since that period, “that the King would do every thing for us that circumstances will admit, and that nothing but dire necessity shall induce him to relinquish any of the objects we have at heart, and that he does not imagine that such necessity will exist.” This communication was made on the 21st of last November, from letters of the 7th of September, previous to our success at Yorktown, and has been renewed at different periods since. You will undoubtedly avail yourself of this engagement if necessary. Congress relying upon it, have made no alteration in their instructions since the change in their affairs, by the blow the enemy received at Yorktown.
This letter of Marbois, and the conduct of the Court of France, evince the difference between a great politician and a little one. France can, by prohibiting the importation of fish, supply herself; she cannot do more. Our exclusion from the fishery, would only be beneficial to England. The enmity it would excite, the disputes it would give rise to, would, in the course of a few years, obliterate the memory of the favors we have received. England, by sacrificing a part of her fisheries, and protecting us in the enjoyment of them, would render herself necessary to us, our friendship would be transferred to her, and France would in the end be considered as a natural enemy. I am persuaded, she has wisdom enough to see it in its true light.
I know not how far the Marquis may deserve your confidence; you are the best judge of his conduct. I ought, however, in justice to him to mention, that he has steadily, in all his letters, recommended an adherence to our claims, and assured us that both might be obtained if insisted upon.
You see, Sir, I have purposely leaned to the opposite side from that which you appear in some measure to have taken; not because I think you are wrong in the opinion you have adopted, but because you may possibly be so. Such essential injuries may flow from the slightest jealousies, that I wish you to examine yours with all the coolness you are master of. I am persuaded, the last hope of Britain is founded on the distrusts they may sow among their enemies. I wish you had in a private letter in cypher informed me how you got at the letter of Marbois, and why it was copied in English. I more particularly wish to know whether it passed through the hands of either of the British Commissioners. If it has, it will be of some consequence to see the original, not that I doubt its authenticity, but it may possibly have undergone some alterations. That which follows what is said of the great bank is nonsense, or if it conveys any meaning, I think it is not such as a man of common sense would speak.
Count de Vergennes, in his letters dated a day later than yours, gives no account of your propositions. I should conclude from the circumstance, that they had not been communicated. If I were not convinced, that acting under the instructions you do, you would not withhold them, except for the most weighty reasons, and that if such reasons existed you would have assigned them in your letters, and presuming, therefore, that you had communicated them, I have made no secret of them to the Count de la Luzerne, who appeared much pleased with them, though a little surprised at the article, which relates to commerce, which I cannot suppose perfectly agreeable to them in all its extent; since it will render a revolution necessary in the commercial system of France, if they wish to have an extensive trade with us. I am extremely pleased, that in freeing ourselves, we have a prospect of unfettering the consciences and the commerce of the world.
We are far from regretting that the Marquis d’Aranda has no powers to treat. We think, with you, that it is time to adopt the Spanish system. We may treat at any time with more advantage than at present. You have received your instructions on this subject before you wrote your last letters. By your saying nothing of them, I suppose you had not decyphered them. Mr. Jefferson being the bearer of this, it is unnecessary to enlarge. News and general politics will be contained in my letter to Dr. Franklin, to whom I also send an instruction on the subject of your commercial proposition. I enclose you a new cypher, which I pray you to make use of. You will find it very easy on a little practice. I must again entreat you to write more fully to us. I have received from the Count de Vergennes’ letters, the whole progress of the negotiation. Information of this kind it would give me more pleasure to receive through another channel.
I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, with great respect and esteem, &c.
Robert R. Livingston.
JAY TO MRS. JAY.
Rouen, 9th January, 1783.
My Dear Sally:
It is pleasant to observe the goodness of Providence in having made our duty and our happiness consist in the same acts. My attentions to you are stimulated by both these motives, and receive an additional inducement from the reflection that they are never uninteresting.
We arrived here last evening. The country between this and Paris appears to be fertile and well cultivated, and afforded us some agreeable views, notwithstanding the dull drizzling weather which accompanied us almost the whole of the way. Notwithstanding that unfavourable circumstance, I find myself rather better than when I left you; for I have more appetite and less pain in the breast than usual: as to sleep I still continue a stranger to it; though were it not necessary to health, I should not regret the loss of it.
As my principal object in this excursion is exercise, we shall set out for Havre on Saturday morning, where I shall stay only a day or two, and then return here. I am told there will probably be much commerce between that port and America. For that reason, I wish to take this opportunity of acquiring some further information respecting it than I now have. In case I should be soon wanted (which I don’t think very probable), let me instantly know it. A letter under cover to Mr. Holker, at this place, will be carefully delivered. Remember me to our friends; kiss our dear little girl for me, and believe me to be,
MRS. JAY TO JAY.
Paris, 11th Jany. 1783.
My Dear Mr. Jay:
A Mr. Johnston from Virginia who has business to transact with you will be the bearer of this letter. You ’ll readily believe that I am happy in having an opportunity of informing you of the health and welfare of the family. The little girl is in charming spirits, the servants conduct themselves with propriety, and nothing seems wanting to compleat my felicity but a line from you assuring me that my predictions have already been verified by the advantages you have derived from your journey.
On Wednesday evening Lady Juliana Penn, her daughter, and grandaughter, her son, Mr. R. Penn, and Mr. Baker arrived in Paris, and yesterday they were so polite as to call upon me.
Lady Juliana and Mr. R. Penn were so obliging as to regret with warmth your absence, and expressed a great desire of seeing you. I think their company will be an agreeable addition to our society.
Mrs. Ridley and her family drank tea with me last Thursday evening. I have sent her a card to let her know of this opportunity. Please present my compliments to Mr. Ridley.
Miss Kitty Walpole desires me to assure you that if you don’t return soon, she shall be in despair: all your friends express their impatience for your return. I alone am content to endure your absence until you find a real change in your health and I flatter myself length of time will not be necessary for that.
This morning Mr. Laurens and his son set out for London; the gout increases so much upon the old gentleman that he is desirous of making another experiment upon the waters of Bath.
I have not seen Peter since your departure, but expect that pleasure to-morrow: the things that were sent from Nantz I’ve received.
Mr. R. Penn tells me that Charleston is certainly evacuated. Intelligence is received at court (as ’t is said) that the French troops were embarked for the Islands, and it is generally believed that that measure was taken in consequence of the British troops having first left the continent. I believe there are no late arrivals from America; but if any thing new does occur, you may be assured it will give me pleasure to communicate it to you.
May you my dearest Mr. Jay be ever encircled with blessings and may you never cease to think that one, which entitles me to subscribe myself.
Your ever affectionate wife,
MRS. JAY TO JAY.
Paris, 17th Jany, 1783.
My Dear Mr. Jay,
I had just sent for paper and etc. to write to you when your letter of the 13th Jany was handed me. I hope before this you have received mine by Mr. Johnston, who persisted in his resolution of following you, tho’ I told him that you would probably have left Rouen before he would arrive there. You have my thanks, my dear, for both your kind letters. I am sorry that your health has received so little benefit as yet from your journey: my hopes of service was so very sanguine that that consideration almost banished the dread of separation. My disappointment will even exceed my former hopes if your absence is not compensated for by additional health. I believe your sleep and mine have fled together, perhaps to drown the cares of some less happy persons, for my waking hours are not painful ones.
Mrs. Ridley, her cousin and son drank tea with me last evening. She is not well, but as the cause of her illness is a natural one there is less reason to regret it.
Yesterday at 3 o’clock Mr. Whitfield waited upon me to desire me to inform you that a fine bay horse of Lord Mount Stuart’s which you have seen (but not the unsound one) is to be disposed of at present for 40 Guineas with saddle and bridle, and for 36 Guineas without. Mr. Whitfield wishes to know as soon as possible whether you would choose to make the purchase. Did I tell you Mr. Oswald was going to England? He went last Wednesday afternoon calling upon me for my commands and requesting to be remembered to you. I’ve received a letter for you from the Marquis de la Fayette, who is at Cadiz, but am ignorant whether you would wish to have it forwarded. The expectations of a peace seem to be again revived but on what grounds I can’t tell. I suppose you have heard that Captn. Hill has brought some prizes into L’Orient and left a few American Privateers amidst a fleet of Merchantmen consisting of twenty sail and without a convoy, so that it is supposed that they will have their choice. The family are all very well and the servants conduct themselves to a charm. Our neighbours are very friendly and we pass our time very sociably ensemble.
Maria runs about in a kind of go-cart and continues as fond of me as ever. Adieu my dear Mr. Jay, believe me to be most affectionately yours,
JAY TO MRS. JAY.
Rouen, 18th January, 1783.
My Dear Sally:
A little letter I wrote you this morning contained a promise of another by to-morrow’s post, and to perform it I am now retired to my room. I fear your expectations respecting the speedy recovery of my health are too sanguine. As I lost it by almost imperceptible degrees the restoration of it will doubtless be gradual, and I shall think myself happy if I regain it on these terms. If my endeavours succeed, I shall be grateful; if not, I shall be resigned. I hope you will always consider these matters in their true points of view, and not permit vain hopes or causeless fears to distress either you or me. The more easy and happy you are the more I shall be so also, and consequently the better prospects we shall both have of future health. I am better than when I left you, though not much. The weather has been and still is very unfavourable, but it must change soon, and, thank God, it cannot change for the worse.
If the letter from the Marquis came by the post—that is, if there are post-marks on the cover, send it to me; if not, keep it till I return; and observe the same rule as to all other letters you may receive for me.
This town is daily amused with contradictory reports respecting peace; they are anxious about it, and with reason, for the uncertainty of its taking place holds commerce suspended and injures the mercantile interest greatly. I am pleased with this city and the people of it; they are industrious and hospitable. Their manufactures are very considerable and very proper for our country, with whom they will certainly have a great trade, unless it be fettered and embarrassed with superfluous regulations and ill-judged restrictions. I suspect the trade of this country stands in need of revision very generally. Kiss our little girl for me, and believe me to be, my dear Sally,
Your very affectionate husband,
JAY TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Rouen, 19th January, 1783.
Accept my thanks for your obliging letter of the 26th December last, which the Marchioness was so kind as to send me yesterday. I congratulate you on your safe arrival at Cadiz, and you have my best wishes that the same good-fortune you have hitherto experienced may continue to attend you.
The state of my health making a change of air and exercise advisable, I left Paris ten days ago on an excursion into Normandy. Hence, I suppose, it has happened that I have neither heard of nor seen your letters to Dr. Franklin.
If I am not mistaken, a copy of the American preliminaries has been sent to Spain; and I flatter myself that Count de Montmorin will think them perfectly consistent with our engagements to our allies. It appears to me singular that any doubts should be entertained of American good faith; for as it has been tried, and remains inviolate, they cannot easily be explained on principles honourable to those who entertain them. America has so often repeated and reiterated her professions and assurances of regard to the treaty alluded to, that I hope she will not impair her dignity by making any more of them; but leave the continued uprightness of her conduct to inspire that confidence which it seems she does not yet possess, although she has always merited.
Our warmest acknowledgments are due to you for the zeal you manifest to serve America at all times and in all places; but, sir, I have little expectation that your plan of a Spanish loan will succeed. I confess that I am far from being anxious about it. In my opinion, America can with no propriety accept favours from Spain.
My absence from Paris has deprived me of the means of information, and therefore I cannot at present gratify either your wishes or my own on that head. God knows whether or not we shall have peace. A variety of contradictory reports daily reach me, but they deserve little credit. It is again said that Charleston is evacuated—that may be. It is also said the enemy have left New York; but I adhere to my former opinion, and do not believe a word of it. Mrs. Jay writes me that Mr. Oswald is gone to London, but for what purpose I am ignorant. Thus, my dear sir, are we held in a state of suspense, which nothing but time can remove. I purpose to return next week to Paris, and shall then write to you again. Adieu.
I am, with perfect respect and esteem, Dear sir,
Your most obedient servant,
MRS. JAY TO JAY.
Paris, 21st Jany., 1783.
My Dear Mr. Jay:
Immediately upon the receipt of your letter of the 18th, I sent to request the favor of Mr. Whitford’s company a few minutes and communicated to him your sentiments of the horse. He promised to mount him and give me his opinion after the trial, but as the signing the preliminary articles yesterday was an interesting event, he seemed himself too much agitated to execute his intention. This instant Mr. Whitford has left me, he called upon me booted and spurred for the experiment, but as it is already past twelve I fear I shall not have an answer for you before the post leaves Paris.
My spirits are quite exhausted, for tho’ I have in some measure been prepared to expect the welcome tidings, I never was so overcome with joy. At first my spirits were only elevated as upon ordinary pleasing occasions but that was succeeded by such lively emotions of gratitude and wonder that my sensations would have been too painful to support had I not been releived by a very plentiful effusion of tears. I long my dear to embrace you now as well as a deliverer of our Country as an affectionate and tender husband.
Mrs. Ridley has been so good as to send me word that she will spend the day with me and as I expect her every minute I hope you will excuse this scrawl. My compliments to Mr. Ridley and congratulations to you both.
I am, my dear,
THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JAY.
Madrid, February the 15th, 1783.
I am happy in this private Opportunity to write to you, and have long wanted safe means to do it confidentialy; the same reason, I suppose, has prevented my hearing from you to this moment. But as I am just Arrived in Madrid, and the gentleman who carries this is just setting out I shall only write a few lines.
My feelings on the occasion of a general peace are better known to you than I could express them. They are Consistent with my zeal for our Cause and my love to America, and more I cannot say.
On my leaving Paris I had hopes of our plans. On my arriving at Cadiz, I found they had succeeded beyond my expectations. Nay, besides the more Advantageous Coöperation with America, particulars of which I will relate, I had some Hopes that [more] might be got for [from ?] that people. Upon this I wrote to Mr. Carmichael. I had the honor to give you an Account of my Conduct and ideas on the Occasion, but your answer has not come to Hand.
Upon the prospect of a peace, I had a letter from Mr. Carmichael wherein he entreats my Advice upon his future conduct. He had no letters from Paris. My advice being asked for, I gave it in a letter, a Copy of which I enclose, and send it by post for the perusal of the Court of Spain and probably of the Court of Versailles with Spanish Corrections upon it.
I am told Del Campo on his journey to Paris is instructed to settle Matters with you, and I wish it may be upon a popular footing.
I had determined upon going to America, but had a letter from Mr. Carmichael wherein he entreats My coming to Madrid, and says I may be useful in reasoning with this Ministry. I gave up my favourite plan, and contenting myself with sending a letter to Congress, I have posted off to Madrid where now I am, and had only a short Conference with the French Ambassador, and another with Mr. Carmichael whose ideas I am happy to find coincide with mine on the line we ought to follow. In the few days I remain here I would wish 1st to induce this Ministry to give Del Campo liberal instructions; 2dly to see that the American Charge d’Affaires be officially received; 3dly to advise their proposing to you a loan of Money. My expectations are very small, but I have been invited here. The little I can do I must exert to the utmost. Whatever disposition I find them in, I will hasten to Paris, and give you every intelligence I can collect. I look upon Myself as your political Aide de Camp; if I may any how serve America, I am Happy and satisfied.
At all events, when my advice is asked for, No Court, no Country, no Consideration can induce me to advise a thing that is not consistent with the dignity of the United States.
By the Month of June I intend taking up again my plan of a voyage to America. Untill that time I have nothing to do, and towards the first of March, I will offer myself to you with Spanish intelligences, and a great zeal to do any thing that may serve the public.
I beg my best respects to be presented to your Colleagues. I do not write to them, and in this letter they may see what you think worth Communicating. My Most respectful compliments wait upon Mrs. Jay. I have hardly time enough left to write a line to Mde. de Lafayette, and in great haste inscribe Myself
Most Respectfully and Affectionately Yours,
Mr. Littlepage having been pleased to come into my family for the expedition I have advised him to go with me on My journey to Paris. His voyage to America is but little [longer]; and it may prove Agreeable to him to know the best part of France.
JAY TO SILAS DEANE.
Paris, 22d February, 1783.
Your letter of the 10th inst. was delivered to me a few days ago.
The reason to which you ascribe my not having answered the other you wrote me was the true one, viz., that it was unnecessary.
The time has been, when my writing to you would not have depended on such a circumstance, for you are not mistaken in supposing that I was once your friend. I really was, and should still have been so, had you not advised Americans to desert that independence which they had pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour to support.
The charges against you of peculation undoubtedly called for strict and speedy inquiry; but I expected that you would make a satisfactory defence against them. I hope so still.
I will write to Congress about your accounts as you desire. Justice certainly demands that they should be liquidated and settled.
Dr. Bancroft, some time ago, asked my opinion as to your going to England. I told him it would be imprudent, but not that “it would be taken ill.” To my knowledge, you were and are suspected of being in the British interest. Such a step would have strengthened that suspicion, and at that interesting period would have countenanced harsh conjectures as to the motives and objects of your journey, which, for my part, I could not divine. Perhaps the suspicion I mention is new to you; if so, the information is important.
Before this will come to your hands, and you could afterward get to London, the above-mentioned objections will be weakened; and as circumstances press your going, it is probable you will venture. Let me advise you to be prudent, and to be cautious what company you keep and what conversation you hold in that country.
I write thus plainly and fully, because I still indulge an idea that your head may have been more to blame than your heart, and that in some melancholy desponding hour, the disorder of your nerves infected your opinions and your pen. God grant that this may prove to have been the case, and that I may yet have reason to resume my former opinion, that you were a valuable, a virtuous, and a patriotic man. Whenever this may happen, I will, with great and sincere satisfaction, again become
PHILIP V. B. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Nice, 22d February, 1783.
My Dear Sir,
I most heartily congratulate you on the Preliminary Articles of a General Peace being signed, and I hope that the public concerns of your Country will not in future require so much of your attention and application to business as to be prejudicial to your health, which I am convinced was the case when I was at Paris, and that you will have sufficient leizure to make little excursions into the Country to take the advantage of air & exercise, and perfectly re-establish your own health and that of Mrs. Jay.
By the printed Articles of the Preliminaries I observe that Great Britain has stipulated with America for the free navigation of the River Mississippi, and I suppose both Britain and America have done the same with Spain; but our American territory which begins at the 31st. degree of North Latitude is so high up that River, that it will be almost impracticable for any Sea Vessels to get there against the strong Current of the Mississippi. If America could extend her line from the 31st. degree of lattitude to the Southward thro’ the middle of the River Mississippi to its confluence with the Bay of Mexico, and obtain from Spain a strip of Land if only 20 or 30 miles to the Eastward of the River, together with the Island of New Orleans, it would be an invaluable acquisition; but without such an extension or some landing place on the Island of Orleans upon the Banks of the River, (provided it was only two miles square for a port to establish a Custom House, and build Ware Houses upon) all our valuable possessions, if the States establish Settlements in that Western Country, will experience the greatest difficulties in receiving their Supplies and exporting their Commerce. I beg your pardon for mentioning what you are undoubtedly well acquainted with but I am so strong an advocate for that Country that I could not refrain from making this observation.
After I left you at Paris Mr. Curzon and myself determined to go first to Geneva, where we staid a few days, and then came thro Lyons, down to Marseilles, at which place I remained untill the beginning of this month, when I came here.— My purpose in coming has been fully answered with respect to the fine, temperate Climate which I have found to the Southward; but nevertheless I have not enjoyed so much health as I expected for it has been interrupted by frequent Colds, and these brought on some returns of an old complaint in my Stomach.
I am not determined whether I shall go on from hence farther into Italy, or whether I shall return in the spring to Paris, but I hope that I shall have the pleasure of meeting with you and Mrs. Jay in perfect health somewhere in the course of the Summer. Give my affectionate Love to her. I have taken the liberty to inclose a letter for my father which I shall be much obliged to you to forward by the first opportunity. I am with great regard & esteem
Your obliged and obedient Servt.
JAY TO GOVERNOR WILLIAM GREENE.
Paris, 4th March, 1783.
The letter which your Excellency did me the honour to write on the 26th December last was lately delivered to me by President Wheelock.
It has long been my opinion that virtue, knowledge, and arms were the great objects on which the attention of America should be constantly fixed. The two first are essential to the preservation of our liberty and union, and without the latter the duration of peace with other nations will be always precarious. I esteem it therefore to be a duty, particularly incumbent on Americans, to promote the interest of learning throughout the whole Confederacy; and I shall be happy to render service to any of the seminaries whenever it may be in my power.
But independent of these considerations, your Excellency’s recommendation would have insured my attention and good offices to Mr. Wheelock; for on this and every other occasion it will give me pleasure to manifest the sentiments of respect and esteem with which I have the honour to be, your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Paris, 10th March, 1783.
You will receive this letter from the hand of Mr. Penn, whom I take the liberty of recommending to your friendly offices and attention. Lady Juliana has for some time past been with her family in the city, and we have reason to wish they may stay here at least as long as we do. Mr. R. Penn and Mr. Baker came over at the same time, but returned soon afterwards; the former has thought of paying you a visit.
The manner in which Mr. Penn’s family has been affected by the American Revolution need not be explained to you. I am not a Pennsylvanian, and therefore forbear discussing that subject. I will only observe that I have no reason to believe that the family have done us injury, and that I wish the ultimate decision of your Commonwealth may leave them no just cause to complain.
As this young gentleman is going among strangers, and under circumstances which demand much discretion and circumspection, it gives me pleasure to recommend him to a gentleman who possesses both, and whose advice is always dictated by prudence and integrity.
Be pleased to present my best compliments to Mrs. Morris, and believe me to be, with sincere regard and esteem, dear sir, your obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
Paris, 28th March, 1783.
Whence came the idea, that the moment a minister loses a question in Parliament he must be displaced? That kings should adopt such a maxim is not very unnatural, but that a free Parliament should think an influential dictator over them necessary to the government of the kingdom, seems rather a new opinion. Perhaps it arose gradually from the practices of the Court and the decay of public virtue during the last hundred years.
So far as the peace respects France and America, I am persuaded it was wise in Britain to conclude it. The cessions to France are not, in my opinion, extravagant; and the terms settled with America, by removing all causes of future variance, certainly lead to conciliation and friendship.
It appears to me that the discussion of this subject might have been more ample and satisfactory. Why was not Parliament told of our offers as to commerce, and the mutual navigation of the American waters? The word reciprocity would not then have been deemed so nugatory.
We have received particular instructions on the business of commerce, and Mr. Fitzherbert has been informed of our readiness to add to the provisional treaty an article for opening and regulating the trade between us on principles as liberal and reciprocal as you please. What more can be said or done? Mr. Pitt’s bill was a good one, a wise one, and one that will forever do honour to the extent and policy of his views, and to those of the administration under whose auspices it was formed. For my own part, however, I think that America need not be exceedingly anxious about the matter; for it will be in our power to derive, from a navigation act of our own, full as many advantages as we should lose by the restrictions of your laws.
The objections drawn from your treaties with Russia, etc., appear to me weak, and have been answered; but why not give them similar terms, on similar conditions? They furnish you with raw materials chiefly, and you them with manufactures only. The gain, therefore, must be yours. With respect to carriage and navigation, they stand in a very different predicament from us.
As to the tories who have received damage from us, why so much noise about them, and so little said or thought of whigs, who have suffered ten times as much from these same tories, not to mention the desolations of an unjust and licentious war.
We forget our sufferings, and even agree to recommend to favour a set of men of whom very few would consider the having their deserts in the light of a blessing. How does reciprocity stand in this account?
Some, it seems, think that New York should be retained as a rod to drive us on in this business of the tories. Strange that the idea of driving us should still be entertained. I pledge myself to you that, should such a design be adopted and become apparent, the refugees will get nothing, and the progress of reconciliation will be as slow as the warmest Gallican could wish.
I hear there is to be a Congress here; that is, that Britain and France have requested the two imperial Courts to send mediatorial ambassadors here for the purpose of being witnesses to the execution of the definitive treaties,—a very important errand, no doubt, and very complimentary to those sovereigns. Is it probable that a Congress should be called for that poor, single, simple purpose? Why your Court agreed to it is hard to conceive.
I have written to my countrymen, that Lord Shelburne’s system respecting them appeared to me to be liberal and conciliatory, but that his hesitations about avowing the acknowledgment of our independence, discouraged extensive confidence without further facts. I always think it best to be candid and explicit. I hope we shall soon be in the full possession of our country and of peace, and as we expect to have no further cause of quarrel with Great Britain, we can have no inducement to wish or to do her injury; on the contrary, we may become as sensible to her future good offices as we have been to her former evil ones. A little good-natured wisdom often does more in politics than much slippery craft. By the former, the French acquired the esteem and gratitude of America, and by the latter, their minister is impairing it.
Thus I have written you a hasty letter. Since the receipt of yours until this moment I have been promising myself the pleasure of paying you a visit. I now find it probable that I shall be detained here some time longer.
Mrs. Jay charges me to say civil things to you. You are a favourite of hers, and deserve to be so of everybody. Our little girl is well, and when able to speak shall be taught to send you her compliments. I shall reply to certain parts of your letter in my next; at present I am pressed for time. I must not, however, forget my worthy friend, Mr. Oswald. He deserves well of his country, and posterity will not only approve, but commend his conduct. Assure him of my esteem and attachment, and believe me to be, with the best wishes for the health and happiness of Mrs. Vaughan and your little daughter, Dear sir,
Your sincere and affectionate friend,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, April 7, 1783.
After the preliminaries had been settled and ratified, the Spanish Ambassador informed me that his Court was ready to receive me, not only in form, but “très honnêtement.” He then expected full instructions relative to the proposed treaty.
The Marquis de Lafayette, in his journey through Madrid, manifested great zeal to serve us there. A copy of a letter from him to the Minister will be sent you by another opportunity, though I imagine he has already forwarded it.
On the 29th ult. the Spanish Ambassador communicated to me the desire of his Court that I would return to Madrid and there complete the treaty, for that, in their opinion, it ought to be concluded either at Madrid or Philadelphia.
You will have this communication at large in another letter.
No Ministry yet in England, nor any news of Barney, nor from you, since the 3d of January.
The definitive treaties must be concluded and the heats of summer abated, before either my business here or the very delicate state of my health will admit of a journey to Spain. Be assured of my esteem and regard.
I am, dear sir, etc.,
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Paris, 8th April, 1783.
Permit me to introduce to you a gentleman who is going to help you to pay taxes, and to participate in the liberties which render them necessary, viz., Mr. Joshua Grigley. Mr. B. Vaughan writes me that this gentleman has considerable property, which you know will qualify him for the first, and that he has also much virtue and merit, which will enable him to sustain, as well as to enjoy, the latter. Thus you see he will be an addition to our collective property and respectability, and consequently comes naturally within your two departments of financier and patriot. But you have also another department to which I must take the liberty of recommending this gentleman. He is a friend of Mr. Vaughan—he is a gentleman—he is a stranger—he is young. I know you too well to enlarge, or to add any thing except an assurance with which I could, with as little hesitation, conclude my days as my letter, viz., that I am, with great esteem and affectionate regard,
Dear sir, your friend and servant,
THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, April 11th, 1783.
In a letter which I did myself the honour of writing you by the Chevalier De Chastellux I informed you of my being at this place with an intention of joining you in Paris; but the uncommon vigilance of the enemy’s cruisers, immediately after the departure of the French fleet, deterred every vessel from attempting to go out. The arrival of the preliminaries soon after showed the impropriety of my proceeding, and I am just now setting out on my return to Virginia. I cannot, however, take my departure without paying to yourself and your worthy colleagues my homage for the good work you have completed for us, and congratulating you on the singular happiness of having borne so distinguished a part both in the earliest and latest transactions of this revolution. The terms obtained for us are indeed great, and are so deemed by your countrymen, a few ill-designing debtors excepted. I am in hopes you will continue at some one of the European courts most agreeable to yourself, that we may still have the benefits of your talents. Accept my warmest wishes for your happiness, and be assured of the sincerity with which I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, April 11, 1783.
I wrote you a short letter on the seventh instant. Certain intelligence has since arrived from England, that the Duke of Portland is First Lord of the Treasury, Mr. Fox and Lord North Secretaries of State, and Lord John Cavendish Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is also said, that Lord Stormont is President of the Council, and the Duke of Manchester Ambassador to Versailles. I hear that Mr. David Hartley is appointed to conclude a definitive treaty with us.
The Emperor and Russia have been requested in their mediatorial capacity, to send plenipotentiaries to assist at the definitive treaties. The true motives to this measure can as yet be only conjectured. The ostensible one is a mark of respect to their offered, but not accepted, mediation. The proposition originated here. Their answer is expected daily. It is whispered that Russia consents. Safe opportunities of sending important letters from hence to Madrid are so very rare, that I think yours for that place had better be always conveyed directly to Cadiz or other ports in Spain where some American of confidence may be settled.
Numberless applications for consulships continue to be made, and some will probably reach you. In my opinion Americans only should be employed to serve America. I early entertained this opinion, and it has been almost daily gathering strength since my arrival in Europe.
I have the honour to be, etc.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, April 22, 1783.
I wrote to you so lately by Mr. Mason, and there is such a dearth of news, that I now write less to give you information than as a mark of attention.
There are several of your letters which, on account of their length, the importance of their subjects, and the manner in which those subjects were treated, demanded of me more minute answers than my situation admitted of. Mr. Hartley is not yet arrived, but is daily expected. I am told by Mr. Laurens that he will propose that the people of the two countries shall have all the rights of citizens in each. The instruction of Congress on this important point is much to be desired. For my part I think a temporary stipulation of that sort might be expedient. They mean to court us, and in my opinion we should avoid being either too forward or too coy. I have no faith in any Court in Europe, but it would be improper to discover that sentiment. There are circumstances which induce me to believe that Spain is turning her eyes to England for a more intimate connection. They are the only two European powers which have continental possessions on our side of the water, and Spain I think wishes for a league between them for mutual security against us. Perhaps this consideration should lead us to regard the present fervour of the British advances with the less indifference.
On looking over one of my former letters, containing my propositions to Spain, I find that I had omitted to explain the reason of the one for a guaranty of our possessions in North America. That we should so guarantee the Spanish possessions as to fight for them was as distant from my design as it could be from that of Congress. A common guaranty means nothing more than a quit claim, to which we certainly could have had no objection. When more is intended, provisional and express stipulations become necessary. To any such I never would have consented. A confidant of the Minister (and I believe by his directions) had assured me that unless a guaranty was offered any other propositions would not induce the Minister to negotiate for a treaty. To meet that objection I made the offer in the general terms you have seen. I had no doubt but that the Minister was acquainted with my instructions; and I considered this objection as a pretext for delay. My opinion as to a certain proposed cession was known, and uses not advantageous to us or to me had been made of it. It appeared to me advisable that the intention of Spain with respect to us should have a full trial, and such a one as would convince Congress that I was entirely guided by their views and wishes.
I therefore endeavoured so to frame those propositions as that they should not afford the Minister any pretence for refusing to commence the negotiation. The issue you are acquainted with.
I hope nothing will be done by the States for the tories until the British forces shall be withdrawn, and then I confess it would be for our honour to forgive all except the perfidious and cruel.
After the definitive treaties are finished, I hope I shall be excused in trying the waters of Spa and Bath (which are recommended to me) before I proceed to Spain. Whatever may be their effect, I shall not loiter at either place. After my business at Madrid shall be finished, I wish to devote my care to the recovery of my health and the concerns of my family, which must greatly interfere with the duties of my commission. Besides, as my country has obtained her object, my motives for entering into public life are at an end.
The same principles which drew me from the private station I formerly occupied, bid me to return to it. Actions are the only sure proofs of professions, and if I live mine shall not want that evidence.
I am, dear sir, etc.
P. S.—I am told that a vessel, which went last year from our country, on the Ohio, down that river and through the Mississippi to the Havana, took passports from the Count de la Luzerne. This, if a fact, appears to me a singular one. I mention it merely as a matter of information.
JAY TO FRANCIS CHILD.
Paris, 11th May, 1783.
Your letter of the 1st of January last was delivered to me yesterday, and gives me pleasure. You do well to look forward to the means of exercising your profession to advantage. You shall continue to have my aid and protection, in such measure and season as circumstances may render proper and expedient.
You belong to a large and helpless family, and I wish to see you as able, as I hope you would be willing, to provide for them.
I think with you that, on the evacuation of New York, you may set up a press there with a good prospect of success. On speaking to Dr. Franklin yesterday about it, he told me that when the enemy left Philadelphia they carried from thence to New York a printing-press of his, and that it is now in the possession of one Robinson, a printer, at New York. As by the provisional treaty the British forces are not to carry away any effects of the inhabitants, this press may perhaps be recovered. The Dr. has desired me to prepare a letter of attorney for the purpose to some person in New York, and, in case it should be restored, will lend it to you. I shall immediately think of furnishing you with some types, and Dr. Franklin has promised his assistance, so that you may soon expect to hear from me again about these matters. In the meantime, write a letter of thanks to the Dr. for his kind attention.
I must remind you that you should extend your application beyond the mere mechanical part of your business. You will have to compose as well as to print, and you should take pains not only to store your mind with useful knowledge, but also to acquire the talent of writing in a clear, concise, and accurate style. Remember, too, that an acquaintance with accounts, and the method of keeping them, is not to be neglected. It is important to all men, and particularly to those who cannot afford to be careless. If you are industrious, prudent, and punctual in the conduct of your business, you will most certainly succeed; and my desire of helping you, instead of abating, will be increased by your endeavours to help yourself.
I am, with sincere regard, dear Frank,
Your friend and servant,
WILLIAM LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Burlington, 21 May, 1783.
I embrace the opportunity of Doctor Wearing’s going to France (a young Gentleman belonging to South Carolina & strongly recommended to me by President Boudinot) to send you a line which I hope you will never receive provided the non-reception of it is owing to your having left Paris for America, when it arrives in France.
The Treaty is universally applauded; & the American Commissioners who were concerned in making it, have rendered themselves very popular by it. The Whigs in this State are however extremely opposed to admitting the refugees amongst us, & I am apprehensive of some difficulty on that account. There is still a greater difficulty that we have to struggle with. For many strong professional Whigs now openly show what I have long suspected them of, that they love their money better than their liberty by their scandalous aversion to pay the necessary taxes. If this reaches you in Europe, I hope I shall hear from you as soon as possible. I am, Sir,
Your most humble servant,
JAY TO ELIAS BOUDINOT.
Paris, 22d May, 1783.
My letter to Mr. Livingston in November last renders it necessary for me to apologize for the liberty I now take in recommending to you the father and family of Mr. B. Vaughan, who go to America with design to become citizens of it.
I consider every such family removal from England to our country as a valuable acquisition; even if they carry with them much fewer claims to our esteem and regard than Mr. Vaughan’s have justly acquired.
I hope the reception they will meet with on your side of the water will compensate in some measure for the pain of separating from their friends and connections on this; and as you are no less capable of feeling than of seeing the force of this remark, I forbear adding any thing except an assurance of the respect and regard with which I have the honour to be, dear sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, May 30, 1783.
It cannot in my opinion be long before Congress will think it expedient to name a Minister to the Court of London. Perhaps my friends may wish to add me to the number of candidates for that office. If that should be the case, I request the favour of you to declare, in the most explicit terms, that I view the expectations of Mr. Adams on that head as founded in equity and reason, and that I will not by any means stand in his way. Were I in Congress I should vote for him. He deserves well of his country, and is very able to serve her. It appears to me to be but fair that the disagreeable conclusions, which may be drawn from the abrupt repeal of his former commission, should be obviated by its being restored to him. I do therefore in the most unequivocal manner decline and refuse to be a competitor with that faithful servant of the public for the place in question.
As Mr. Barclay has power to settle our accounts in Europe, I wish that orders may be sent to Mr. Carmichael to come here with the books and documents necessary to enable Mr. Barclay to examine and settle the public accounts in my department. I cannot learn that my repeated requests to him to send a state of those accounts to Philadelphia have as yet been complied with.
I am, dear sir, etc.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, June 1st 1783.
I have had the honour of receiving your favour of the 4th of January last. The cipher you mention to have enclosed is missing. My letter by Captain Barney affords an answer to the greater part of your inquiries. Business here goes on heavily. The Dutch and English are not yet agreed, and some points remain still to be adjusted between the latter and the French and Spaniards. Mr. Hartley has an ample and proper commission to conclude with us. We are discussing the terms of a temporary commercial regulation, but as he is waiting for more full instructions, it may be a week or a fortnight before we shall be able to inform you of the real intentions of Britain on that subject.
Before I left Spain, and often since by letters, I desired Mr. Carmichael to make out and transmit to Philadelphia a clear and full state of the public accounts; and also, agreeably to Dr. Franklin’s request, to send him an account of the bills remaining to be paid. The Doctor has not received his account; and I have no reason to suppose that you or Mr. Morris have received the other. I am not easy about this matter, for in case of the death or recall of Mr. Carmichael (by whom all these accounts were kept, and through whom I managed these transactions), I might experience difficulties respecting the accounts, which may now be avoided.
I understand from Mr. Barclay that he is authorized to examine and settle these accounts, and as Mr. Carmichael has not much to do at Madrid, I am very desirous that he should be ordered to bring here all the books and papers relative to these accounts, and with me to attend their settlement by Mr. Barclay. Be so good as to lay this matter before Congress without delay.
I have the honour to be, etc.
JAY TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.
Passy, 13th June, 1783.
My Dear Sir:
I have, within these few days past, read and admired your address to the army, and their proceedings in consequence of it. Such instances of patriotism are rare, and America must find it difficult to express, in adequate terms, the gratitude she owes to both. Such a degree of glory, so virtuously acquired, and so decently sustained, is as new as our political constellation, and will for ever give lustre to it. May every blessing be yours.
Mr. Hartley has just informed me that orders have been sent to the British commander-in-chief to evacuate the United States. Our attention will then, I hope, be turned to the preservation and improvement of what we have gained; and a sense of the importance of that task leads me to wish that the execution of it may be facilitated by your counsels and application.
With perfect esteem and affection,
I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient servant,
JAY TO EGBERT BENSON.
Passy, 10 July, 1783.
I have received and thank you for your letter of the 25th April last. You did well in not writing in it any thing that might not be read by anybody. I receive no letters by the post (unless under cover to a third person) but what are previously inspected. Jealousy and suspicion never sleep in governments of a certain denomination.
The satisfaction you express respecting the peace gave me pleasure. I would tell you more about it than you know, and much that would increase your content with the terms of it; but those matters must be reserved for a future happy day when we shall meet, and which, if God pleases, will be next summer. I am determined to realize my professions, and will now hasten to become a private citizen and attend to the welfare of my family. Peter and Nancy will be particularly pleased with the information; they are ever in my thoughts and hearts, and one of the greatest pleasures I promise myself is that of contributing to their happiness. I think Peter should immediately have the farm at Rye valued and take it at the valuation; but in my opinion he should not move the family there until after New York shall be evacuated. Indeed it appears to me to be advisable to delay moving until next spring; he will then have the summer before him to begin the work of reparation, and be better prepared to pass a comfortable winter than if he moved in the fall.
I desired Mr. Livingston in a former letter to furnish Peter and Fady with money on my account; if this has been omitted and they should want, Fady may draw upon me for three hundred pounds, York money, at thirty days’ sight, of which he must pay one hundred to Peter, one hundred to Nancy, and retain the other hundred for his own disposition.
As soon as public business will permit me, I intend to make a trip to England to receive the money left me by Mr. Peloquin, and to try if the waters at Bath will remove a pain in my breast with which I have been troubled for near a year past.
You say my son is in health. I wish you may have had no particular reason for omitting the word good. The necessity of attending to his education makes a strong impression upon me, and leads me to regret my long absence from him.
When you see Dr. Van Wyck and his brother assure them of my regard, and that I gratefully remember their kind attention to my family. Present my compliments also to my other friends. You know who they are.
JAY TO MRS. M. LIVINGSTON.
Passy, 12th July, 1783.
I have long been accustomed to hear, and I might add read, so much in which the heart has no concern, that the few letters like yours which reach me are particularly welcome.
The peace appears to me, as it does to you, to be seasonable as well as advantageous; and I sincerely join with you in ascribing that and every other of our blessings to the Supreme Author of all the good that ever was and ever will be in the world.
As your letter is of the 12th April, and as I have received others dated late in May, which mention nothing of my sister, I indulge some little hope that she is still alive; if so, I shall be very thankful; if not, God’s will be done. To her, this world has not been a paradise. Her leaving it will be a misfortune to the few who knew her worth, and to whom she was attached. She will have reason to rejoice in the change. I feel most sensibly for the effect it would have on my brother; it would double the pressure of all his afflictions. God grant him resignation, and permit me to return soon to comfort him. He has every right to expect it from me, and if my life be spared he shall not be disappointed. I cannot proceed. God bless you, my dear madam.
I am your affectionate and humble servant,
JAY TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
Passy, 17th July, 1783.
By this time I suppose there is much canvassing for foreign appointments. I thank you for thinking of me, but as I mean to return in the spring, your arrangements, so far as respects me, must be altered. Upon this point I am decided, and beg of you to tell my friends so.
Orders are gone to evacuate New York. The present British Ministry are duped, I believe, by an opinion of our not having decision and energy sufficient to regulate our trade so as to retaliate their restrictions. Our ports were opened too soon. Let us, however, be temperate as well as firm.
Our friend Morris, I suspect, is not a favourite of this Court. They say he treats them as his cashier. They refuse absolutely to supply more money. Marbois writes tittle-tattle, and I believe does mischief. Congress certainly should remove to some remote interior town, and they should send a Minister forthwith to England. The French Ambassador at Petersburg has thrown cold water on Dana’s being received before a peace.
The Ministers of this Court are qualified to act the part of Proteus. The nation, I think, is with us, and the King seems to be well disposed. Adieu.
JAY TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON.
Passy, 19th July, 1783.
On the 1st instant I had the pleasure of receiving your favour of the 21st May last.
I am happy to hear that the provisional articles meet with general approbation. The tories will doubtless cause some difficulty, but that they have always done, and as this will probably be the last time, we must make the best of it. A universal indiscriminate condemnation and expulsion of those people would not redound to our honour, because so harsh a measure would partake more of vengeance than of justice. For my part, I wish that all except the faithless and the cruel may be forgiven. That exception would indeed extend to very few; but even if it applied to the case of one only, that one ought, in my opinion, to be saved.
The reluctance with which the States in general pay the necessary taxes is much to be regretted; it injures both their reputation and interest abroad, as well as at home, and tends to cherish the hopes and speculations of those who wish we may become and remain an unimportant, divided people. The rising power of America is a serious object of apprehension to more than one nation, and every event that may retard it will be agreeable to them. A continental, national spirit should therefore pervade our country, and Congress should be enabled, by a grant of the necessary powers, to regulate the commerce and general concerns of the confederacy; and we should remember that to be constantly prepared for war is the only way to have peace. The Swiss on the one hand, and the Dutch on the other, bear testimony to the truth of this remark.
The general and the army have, by their late moderation, done themselves infinite honour; and it is to be hoped that the States will not only be just, but generous, to those brave and virtuous citizens. America is at present held in a very respectable point of view, but as the eyes of the world are upon her, the continuance of that consideration will depend on the dignity and wisdom of her conduct.
I mean to return next spring. My health is somewhat better.
I am, dear sir,
Your affectionate and humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Passy, 19th July, 1783.
Our despatches by Barney must be ready the day after to-morrow. The many letters I have written and have still to write by him, together with conferences, company, etc., keep me fully employed. You will therefore excuse my not descending so much to particulars as both of us indeed might wish. As little that passes in Congress is kept entirely secret, we think it prudent at least to postpone giving you a more minute detail than you have already received, of the reasons which induced us to sign the provisional articles without previously communicating them to the French Minister. For your private satisfaction, however, I will make a few remarks on that subject.
Your doubts respecting the propriety of our conduct in that instance appear to have arisen from the following circumstances, viz.:
1st. That we entertained and were influenced by distrusts and suspicions which do not seem to you to have been altogether well founded.
2d. That we signed the articles without previously communicating them to this Court.
With respect to the first. In our negotiation with the British commissioner, it was essential to insist on, and, if possible, obtain, his consent to four important concessions.
1st. That Britain should treat with us as being what we were, viz., an independent people. The French Minister thought this demand premature, and that it ought to arise from, and not precede, the treaty.
2d. That Britain should agree to the extent of boundary we claimed. The French Minister thought our demands on that head extravagant in themselves, and as militating against certain views of Spain which he was disposed to favour.
3d. That Britain should admit our right in common to the fishery. The French Minister thought this demand too extensive.
4th. That Britain should not insist on our reinstating the tories. The French Minister argued that they ought to be reinstated.
Was it unnatural for us to conclude from these facts that the French Minister was opposed to our succeeding on these four great points, in the extent we wished? It appeared evident that his plan of a treaty for America was far from being such as America would have preferred; and as we disapproved of his model, we thought it imprudent to give him an opportunity of moulding our treaty by it. Whether the minister was influenced by what he really thought best for us, or by what he really thought would be best for France, is a question which, however easy or difficult to decide, is not very important to the point under consideration. Whatever his motives may have been, certain it is that they were such as opposed our system; and as in private life it is deemed imprudent to admit opponents to full confidence, especially respecting the very matters in competition, so in public affairs the like caution seems equally proper.
Secondly. But admitting the force of this reasoning, why, when the articles were completed, did we not communicate them to the French minister before we proceeded to sign them? For the following reasons:
The expectations excited in England by Lord Shelburne’s friends, that he would put a speedy period to the war, made it necessary for him either to realize those expectations or prepare to quit his place. The Parliament being to meet before his negotiations with us were concluded, he found it expedient to adjourn it for a short term, in hopes of then meeting it with all the advantages that might be expected from a favourable issue of the negotiation. Hence it was his interest to draw it to a close before that adjournment should expire; and to obtain that end, both he and his commissioner became less tenacious on certain points than they would otherwise have been. Nay, we have, and then had, good reason to believe that the latitude allowed by the British Cabinet for the exercise of discretion was exceeded on that occasion.
I must now remind you that the King of Great Britain had pledged himself, in Mr. Oswald’s commission, to confirm and ratify, not what Mr. Oswald should verbally agree to, but what he should formally sign his name and affix his seal to.
Had we communicated the articles, when ready for signing, to the French Minister, he doubtless would have complimented us on the terms of them; but, at the same time, he would have insisted on our postponing the signature until the articles then preparing between France, Spain, and Britain should also be ready for signing—he having often intimated to us that we should all sign at the same time and place.
This would have exposed us to a disagreeable dilemma. Had we agreed to postpone signing the articles, the British Cabinet might, and probably would, have taken advantage of it. They might, if better prospects had offered, have insisted that the articles were still res infectæ—that Mr. Oswald had exceeded the limits of his instructions—and, for both these reasons, that they conceived themselves still at liberty to depart from his opinions, and to forbid his executing, as their commissioner, a set of articles which they could not approve of.
It is true that this might not have happened, but it is equally true that it might; and therefore it was a risk of too great importance to be run. The whole business would, in that case, have been set afloat again; and the Minister of France would have had an opportunity, at least, of approving the objections of the British Court, and of advising us to recede from demands which in his opinion were immoderate, and too inconsistent with the claims of Spain to meet with his concurrence.
If, on the other hand, we had, contrary to his advice and request, refused to postpone the signing, it is natural to suppose that such refusal would have given more offence to the French Minister than our doing it without consulting him at all about the matter.
Our withholding from him the knowledge of these articles until after they were signed was no violation of our treaty with France, and therefore she has no room for complaint, on that principle, against the United States.
Congress had indeed made and published a resolution not to make peace but in confidence and in concurrence with France.
So far as this resolution declares against a separate peace, it has been incontestably observed; and, admitting that the words “in confidence and in concurrence with France” mean that we should mention to the French Minister and consult with him about every step of our proceedings, yet it is most certain that it was founded on a mutual understanding that France would patronize our demands, and assist us in obtaining the objects of them. France, therefore, by discouraging our claims, ceased to be entitled to the degree of confidence respecting them which was specified in the resolution.
It may be said that France must admit the reasonableness of our claims before we could properly expect that she should promote them. She knew what were our claims before the negotiation commenced, though she could only conjecture what reception they would meet with from Britain. If she thought our claims extravagant, she may be excusable for not countenancing them in their full extent; but then we ought also to be excused for not giving her the full confidence on those subjects, which was promised on the implied condition of her supporting them.
But Congress positively instructed us to do nothing without the advice and consent of the French Minister, and we have departed from that line of conduct. This is also true; but then I apprehend that Congress marked out that line of conduct for their own sake, and not for the sake of France. The object of that instruction was the supposed interest of America, and not of France; and we were directed to ask the advice of the French Minister because it was thought advantageous to our country that we should receive and be governed by it. Congress only, therefore, have a right to complain of our departure from the line of that instruction.
If it be urged that confidence ought to subsist between allies, I have only to remark that, as the French Minister did not consult us about his articles, nor make us any communication about them, our giving him as little trouble about ours did not violate any principle of reciprocity.
Our joint letter to you by Captain Barney contains an explanation of our conduct respecting the separate article.
I proceed now to your obliging letter of the 1st May, for which I sincerely thank you.
This will probably find you at Claremont. I consider your resignation as more reconcilable to your plan and views of happiness than to the public good. The war may be ended, but other difficulties of a serious nature remain, and require all the address and wisdom of our best men to manage.
As Benson informed you that my family had no present occasion for supplies from me, I am more easy on that head than I have been. I have some fear, however, that they may rather have been influenced to decline my offers by delicacy with respect to me, than by the ease of their circumstances. I wish you would take an opportunity of talking freely with my brother Peter on this subject. Assure him that it would distress me greatly were he, or indeed any of the family, to experience embarrassments in my power to obviate. He may share with me to the last shilling; and so may Nancy, about whom, until within a day or two, I had been very uneasy. Tell them and Frederick that I mean, if God pleases, to return next spring; and that one of the greatest blessings of my life will be that of rendering it subservient to their ease and welfare. I write to Frederick by this opportunity, and authorize him to draw upon me for £150, New York money, to be divided between the three. If, on conversing with Peter, you should find it to be more convenient to him, be pleased to supply it, and draw upon me for the amount at thirty days’ sight.
I have lately heard of Mr. Kissam’s death. It affected me much. He was a virtuous and agreeable man, and I owed him many obligations.
Thinking of Mr. Kissam’s family calls to my mind the fate of the tories. As far as I can learn, the general opinion in Europe is that they have reason to complain, and that our country ought to manifest magnanimity with respect to them. Europe neither knows nor can be made to believe what inhuman, barbarous wretches the greater part of them have been, and therefore is disposed to pity them more than they deserve. I hope, for my part, that the States will adopt some principle of deciding on their cases, and that it will be such a one as, by being perfectly consistent with justice and humanity, may meet with the approbation, not only of dispassionate nations at present, but also of dispassionate posterity hereafter. My opinion would be to pardon all except the faithless and the cruel, and publicly to declare that by this rule they should be judged and treated. Indiscriminate severity would be wrong as well as unbecoming; nor ought any man to be marked out for vengeance merely because, as King James said, he would make a bonnie traitor. In short, I think the faithless and cruel should be banished for ever, and their estates confiscated; it is just and reasonable. As to the residue, who have either upon principle openly and fairly opposed us, or who, from timidity, have fled from the storm and remained inoffensive, let us not punish the first for behaving like men, nor be extremely severe to the latter because nature had made them like women.
I send you a box of plaster copies of medals. If Mrs. Livingston will permit you to keep so many mistresses, reserve the ladies for yourself, and give the philosophers and poets to Edward.
Now for our girls; I congratulate you on the health of the first, the birth of the second, and the promising appearance of both. I will cheerfully be godfather to the latter; what is her name?
Our little one is doing well. If people in heaven see what is going on here below, my ancestors must derive much pleasure from comparing the circumstances attending the expulsion of some of them from this country, with those under which my family has been increased in it.
Since my removal to this place, where the air is remarkably good, the pain in my breast has abated, and I have now no fever. Mrs. Jay is tolerably well. Assure Mrs. Livingston and our other friends with you of our regard.
I am, your affectionate friend,
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Passy, 20th July, 1783.
By Captain Barney I was favoured with yours of the 31st May. By this time I hope you will have received several letters from me, which were then on the way. Want of health has long made much writing painful to me, so that my letters in general are short.
My jaunt to Normandy did me some service, but less than I expected. The pure air of this place has been useful to me. The pain in my breast has abated, and I have had no fever since I came here, which was about six weeks ago.
Gouverneur is happy in your esteem; it adds to mine for him. I have long been attached to him, and sincerely wish that our friendship, instead of being diminished, may continue to gain strength with time.
Your intended resignation alarmed me, and would have been followed with ill consequences to our affairs. I rejoice that you continue in office, and by no means regret that it will be less in your power than inclination to retire soon. I am well aware of the difficulties you will continue to experience. Every man so circumstanced must expect them. Your office is neither an easy nor a pleasant one to execute, but it is elevated and important, and therefore envy, with her inseparable companion injustice, will not cease to plague you. Remember, however, that triumphs do not precede victory, and that victory is seldom found in the smooth paths of peace and tranquillity. Your enemies would be happy to drive you to resign, and in my opinion both your interest and that of your country oppose your gratifying them. You have health, fortune, talents, and fortitude, and you have children too. Each of these circumstances recommends perseverance.
As to money, this Court will afford you no further supplies. The Minister has said it was easy to be a financier and draw bills when others provided the funds to pay them. At another time, he intimated that his court was not treated with a proper degree of delicacy on that subject, and said “that you treated them as cashiers.” A French officer from America, who is a friend of yours, told me that La Luzerne and Marbois were not pleased with the manner of your applications to them about money matters. I mention these facts, because it may be useful for you to know them.
The loan in Holland goes on, and from that quarter your bills must be saved, if at all. Mr. Adams set out for Amsterdam the day before yesterday, and will push on that business. If the Dutch began to draw more benefit from our trade, they would lend more cheerfully.
The British Ministry have not yet authorized Mr. Hartley to consent to any thing as to commerce. They amuse him and us, and deceive themselves. I told him yesterday that they would find us like a globe—not to be overset. They wish to be the only carriers between their islands and other countries; and though they are apprised of our right to regulate our trade as we please, yet I suspect they flatter themselves that the different States possess too little of a national or continental spirit, ever to agree in any one national system. I think they will find themselves mistaken.
Believe me to be, dear sir,
Your affectionate friend,
JAY TO KITTY LIVINGSTON.
Passy, 20th July, 1783.
I have now your kind letter of the 24th May last before me, and sincerely thank you for it. It is a little singular that so few letters from us have reached you, especially as several of them have been written since the cessation of hostilities.
If God preserves my life and grants my prayers we shall see each other next June or July, and then, my dear Kate, we will exchange much interesting information. During the course of the late Revolution many have been put to a variety of trials, and I think I can better estimate the value both of men and things than I should otherwise have been able to do. It is to be lamented, however, that although experience generally adds to our prudence, it often diminishes our happiness, at least so far as respects this world. My future situation will excite but little envy, and as I shall stand in nobody’s way, I shall cease to be exposed to those little machinations, which, though scarcely ever fatal to honest and prudent men, always cause a certain degree of trouble and indignation.
Mr. Morris it seems has postponed his resignation, and I rejoice at it. That resolution is fortunate for the public, and in my opinion conducive to his reputation. He has his enemies it is true, and so all men so circumstanced ever have had and ever will have.
Farewell, my good and faithful friend. Keep my boy for me, and believe me to be with the most sincere esteem and regard
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Passy, July 20, 1783.
The delays which have postponed the completion of the definitive treaty have hitherto prevented my trying the effect of the waters of Bath for a pain in my breast, which has continued in different degrees for a year past. Were I much longer to neglect that only probable chance of restoring my health, my little family might have much reason to complain.
I fear that the fluctuating counsels of the British Cabinet will protract that business until so late in the season, as not to leave me sufficient time both to give the waters a fair trial, and afterwards go to Spain before the weather will become too inclement for an invalid to travel such a distance in a country so destitute of accommodations. Should that be the case, I shall hope to be excused for not undertaking it, especially as nothing of importance remains there to be done, except preparing the draft of a treaty of commerce, which I hoped to have been able to bring with me to America in the spring, when it was my fixed resolution to resign.
But as I should then pass the winter without being useful to the public, Congress may not perhaps think it reasonable that their allowance to me should be continued. I think it my duty therefore to apprise them of these circumstances, and to refer it to their discretion to assign such earlier date to my resignation as they may think best. I must beg the favour of you to request and to inform me of their decision on this subject without delay, for as I shall not probably have an opportunity of sailing before June next, it is important to me to know by what rule I am to regulate the expenses of my family in the meantime.
As you know upon what principles I have devoted myself to the public for the last nine years, and as those motives would be questionable if after the war I did not return to a private station, I hope the propriety of my resolution to resign will appear manifest, especially when to these considerations are added the circumstances of certain individuals of my family, whose afflictions and whose relation to me give them the strongest claims to my care and attention.
Be pleased, sir, to present to Congress my warmest acknowledgments for the marks of confidence with which they have honoured me, and assure them that by becoming a private citizen I mean not to retreat from any duties which an American owes his country.
I have the honour to be, etc.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, 25th July, 1783.
Though I have not performed my promise of writing to you, which I made when you left this country, yet I have not the less interested myself in your welfare and success. I have been witness with pleasure to every event which has had a tendency to advance you in the esteem of your country; and I may assure you with sincerity that it is as high as you could possibly wish. All have united in the warmest approbation of your conduct. I eannot forbear telling you this, because my situation has given me access to the truth, and I gratify my friendship for you in communicating what cannot fail to gratify your sensibility.
The peace, which exceeds in the goodness of its terms the expectations of the most sanguine, does the highest honour to those who made it. It is the more agreeable as the time was come when thinking men began to be seriously alarmed at the internal embarrassments and exhausted state of this country. The New England people talk of making you an annual fish-offering, as an acknowledgment of your exertion for the participation of the fisheries.
We have now happily concluded the great work of independence, but much remains to be done to reap the fruits of it. Our prospects are not flattering. Every day proves the inefficacy of the present confederation, yet the common danger being removed, we are receding instead of advancing in a disposition to amend its defects. The road to popularity in each State is to inspire jealousies of the power of Congress, though nothing can be more apparent than that they have no power; and that for the want of it the resources of the country during the war could not be drawn out, and we at this moment experience all the mischiefs of a bankrupt and ruined credit. It is to be hoped that when prejudice and folly have run themselves out of breath, we may return to reason and correct our errors.
After having served in the field during the war, I have been making a short apprenticeship in Congress; but the evacuation of New-York approaching, I am preparing to take leave of public life to enter into the practice of the law. Your country will demand your services abroad. I beg you to present me most respectfully to Mrs. Jay, and to be assured of the affection and esteem of,
Your obedient servant,
BENJAMIN VAUGHAN TO JAY.
London, Augt. 8th, 1783.
My dear Sir:
I have not answered your letter, so kindly written to me, for reasons, which will bear me out to you, as they do to my conscience; for had I written confidentially and the whole of what I knew, I believe you are by this time convinced that I should have done mischief prematurely. I have not however been idle in that cause, which is the only one worth our notice, and which, as it was the foundatiou of our first happy acquaintance, will I flatter myself contribute to cement me to you while I live. I am not made for idleness, and I find new objects daily rising, though I am covert in my mode of forwarding them.
As I do not however look upon the post as a safe vehicle for matters of confidence between us, I shall go to the object of this letter, which is to introduce Mr. Dugald Stewart to you, after you have seen whom, you will have seen the most remarkable among the literary young men in Scotland. He is already their first rate mathematician and moral philosopher; and as his diligence and abilities and connections are equal to any thing, there is no knowing where he will stop; and I shall be glad you will have had an opportunity of seeing him, as he wants nothing but a little longer period of life to make him somewhat famous.
I do not boast of his politics. He is a very cautious man, and having turned his thoughts but little that way, he does not suffer himself to decide.—I found indeed so many other things to say, that I seldom talked politics with him. When I did, he was always candid, and inclined to what was right; at least when I was in habits with him.
I shall begin to make you many apologies for taking the liberty of introducing my friends to you, unless you take the same privilege on your side. As I respect you & yours in the utmost possible degree, I think, my dear sir, that you will meditate some employment for a person whom you have obliged and attached in the highest degree.
My father’s family by the time you receive this, will probably be in America and under strong obligations for your introductions. When the larger mass has moved, Mr. Stewart could prove that the smaller cannot resist the attraction and remain at rest, where any other attraction subsists.
Mr. Stewart will introduce with himself his friend Lord Ancram, whom he represents as a pleasing, pretty young man, being the son of the Marquis of Lothian.
I have the honor to be, my dearest sir, with the highest respect and much gratitude,
Your affectionate humble servt.
P. S.—I hope Mrs. Jay has received a little box from me. I beg to present my very respectful regards to her through you, knowing that in that way they will be most acceptable.
COUNT DE VERGENNES TO JAY.
M. de Vergennes begs that Mr. Jay, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, will do him the honor of dining with him at Versailles on Wednesday next, 3d of September.
Versailles, August 28th, 1783.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JAY.
Passy, September 10, 1783.
I have received a letter from a very respectable person in America, containing the following words, viz.
“It is confidently reported, propagated and believed by some among us, that the Court of France was at bottom against our obtaining the fishery and territory in that great extent in which both are secured to us by the treaty; that our Minister at that Court favoured, or did not oppose this design against us; and that it was entirely owing to the firmness, sagacity and disinterestedness of Mr. Adams, with whom Mr. Jay united, that we have obtained those importtant advantages.”
It is not my purpose to dispute any share of the honour of that treaty which the friends of my Colleagues may be disposed to give them; but, having now spent fifty years of my life in public offices and trusts, and having still one ambition left, that of carrying the character of fidelity at least to the grave with me, I cannot allow that I was behind any of them in zealous faithfulness. I therefore think that I ought not to suffer an accusation, which falls little short of treason to my Country, to pass without notice, when the means of effectual vindication are at hand. You, Sir, was a witness of my conduct in that affair. To you and my other Colleagues I appeal by sending to each a similar letter with this, and I have no doubt of your readiness to do a brother Commissioner justice, by certificates that will entirely destroy the effect of that accusation.
I have the honour to be, with much esteem, Sir,
Your most obedient
and most humble Servant,
JAY TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
Passy, 11 September, 1783.
I have been favoured with your letter of yesterday, and will answer it explicitly.
I have no reason whatever to believe that you were averse to our obtaining the full extent of boundary and fishery secured to us by the treaty. Your conduct respecting them throughout the negotiation indicated a strong and steady attachment to both those objects, and in my opinion promoted the attainment of them.
I remember that in a conversation which M. de Rayneval, the first Secretary of Count de Vergennes, had with you and me in the summer of 1782, you contended for our full right to the fishery, and argued it on various principles.
Your letters to me when in Spain, considered our territory as extending to the Mississippi, and expressed your opinion against ceding the navigation of that river, in very strong and pointed terms.
In short, sir, I do not recollect the least difference in sentiment between us respecting the boundaries or fisheries. On the contrary, we were unanimous and united in adhering to, and insisting on them, nor did I ever perceive the least disposition in either of us to recede from our claims, or be satisfied with less than we obtained.
I have the honour to be with great respect and esteem, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.
JAY TO EGBERT BENSON.
Passy, 12 September, 1783.
My Good Friend:
Is it not almost time for me to expect a letter from you?—the one enclosing letters of August was the last.
Mrs. Jay gave me another daughter last month, and you are her godfather; I hope next summer to introduce her to you. Do tell me something about my family; I have not heard of them since my last.
I am preparing despatches to Congress, and therefore cannot write long letters.
Your irregular and violent popular proceedings and resolutions against the tories hurt us in Europe. We are puzzled to answer the question, how it happens that, if there be settled governments in America, the people of town and district should take upon themselves to legislate. The people of America must either govern themselves according to their respective constitutions and the confederation, or relinquish all pretensions to the respect of other nations. The newspapers in Europe are filled with exaggerated accounts of the want of moderation, union, order, and government which they say prevails in our country.
I hope our affairs will soon assume a different aspect; the waves will run high for some time after a storm; these matters give me more regret than surprise, but I do not wonder at their appearing very extraordinary in those countries where the tone of government is high.
We have the fullest assurances that New York will be evacuated without delay. I am impatient for that event; our remonstrances to the British Minister on that subject have been strong and frequent.
I am, dear Benson, your affectionate friend,
JAY TO CHARLES THOMSON.
Passy 12th September, 1783.
Mr. Thaxter, who returns unspoiled, is the bearer of the definitive treaty, and will deliver you this.
Mr. Hartley expects soon to confer with us about commerce, and says he is persuaded that Britain will be liberal. I should not doubt it if it was certain that the States would act like one nation.
I think all commercial treaties should observe exact reciprocity. Mr. Hartley wishes that the American carrying places (why only the carrying places?) on both sides of the boundary line may be in common forever. I doubt the policy of our agreeing to it, except for limited terms or during the duration of the treaty of commerce, which, in my opinion, should be temporary, unless very extensively free and reciprocal, because such treaties, if unequal and full of restrictions, may in time be very disadvantageous, though at present convenient. Dr. Franklin wishes to provide against privateering and depredations on unarmed people in future wars. I agree with him perfectly, except that I wish every army invading us may be a licentious, predatory one, for in that case the inhabitants would oppose them with more vigour and perseverance.
It is my determination to return next summer, and therefore I hope my friends will not think of employing me in Europe in any way that might interfere with it.
The prints herewith enclosed relate to a subject which excites universal attention; they will explain themselves.
Mrs. Jay, who is just getting out of the straw, presents her compliments to you and Mrs. Thomson.
With great regard and attachment, I am, dear sir, your friend and servant,
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Passy, 12th September, 1783.
The definitive treaty is concluded, and we are now, thank God, in the full possession of peace and independence. If we are not a happy people it will be our own fault.
We daily expect the commission for a treaty of commerce. I wish that the sentiments of our country on that important subject may be fully stated in the instructions which will accompany it. I think all our treaties of commerce should be temporary. The circumstances of our country may be greatly changed in twenty or thirty years, and what may now be advantageous may possibly be then inconvenient. Besides, as we increase in wealth and power, we shall find it less difficult to mould treaties to our minds. In my opinion we should constantly look forward to a commercial intercourse with all the ports and places on the American continent and American islands to whomsoever belonging. Perpetual treaties of commerce now made would probably exclude us from that prospect.
In a late letter to G. Morris I conclosed him an account of the invention of globes, wherewith man may literally soar above the clouds. I herewith send you two prints containing representations of the rise and descent of one of them.
I hear your boys go on exceedingly well at Geneva, and have reason to believe that they are in very good hands.
Mrs. Jay has another daughter; both of them are doing well, except that the child has a bad cold. I hope next summer to see you, and to brighten at the hills the chain which I flatter myself will always connect us. Let not, therefore, any idea of keeping me longer in Europe be encouraged. Be pleased to assure Mrs. Morris of our constant regard, and believe me to be, dear sir, your affectionate friend,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Passy, 12th September, 1783.
At your farm, with your family, in peace and in plenty, how happy is your situation! I wish you may not have retired too soon. It is certain you may do much good where you are, and perhaps in few things more than in impressing, by precept, influence, and example, the indispensable necessity of rendering the Continental and State government vigorous and orderly.
Europe hears much and wishes to hear more of divisions, seditions, violences, and confusions among us. The tories are generally and greatly pitied, more indeed than they deserve. The indiscriminate expulsion and ruin of that whole class and description of men would not do honour to our magnanimity or humanity, especially in the opinion of those nations who consider, with more astonishment than pleasure, the terms of peace which America has obtained. General Washington’s letter does him credit as a soldier, patriot, and Christian. I wish his advice may meet with the attention it merits.
Mr. Hartley has gone to London, and expects soon to return and resume the discussion of commercial regulations, etc.; he has assured us officially that Britain is not resolved to adhere to the line marked out in their proclamation respecting the West India trade. I doubt their knowing themselves what they mean to do. In my opinion we should adhere to exact reciprocity with all nations, and were we well united they would yield to it. He assured us also that orders were gone for the evacuation of New York.
On the 13th of last month Mrs. Jay was delivered of a daughter; we have called her Ann, after my sister, about whom I am very anxious, having heard nothing of her or any other of my family these three months. You will oblige me exceedingly by accounts of them. I hope to see you and them next summer. We have had much cool weather lately, and I find myself the better for it.
All the people are running after air globes. The invention of them may have many consequences, and who knows but travellers may hereafter literally pass from country to country on the wings of the wind. One of enclosed prints is no less true than laughable. Assure your good family of our sincere regard, and believe me, to be, dear Robert, your affectionate friend,
JAY TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
Passy, 13th September, 1783.
I am greatly in your debt on the account of letters, but I hope next month to answer them in person, unless unforeseen obstacles to my leaving this place should again occur.
Mrs. Jay received the box you were so kind as to send her, and is exceedingly obliged by that polite and friendly mark of attention. She has another daughter, who, except a bad cold, is well, and she is regaining strength, though slowly.
Our independence treaty is concluded, but your court declined comprehending in it certain objects which, in my opinion, merit their regard as much as ours. We are soon to begin negotiations for a treaty of commerce, but I confess I am not so sanguine as to expect that they will be unembarrassed by the partial politics which seem to prevail in your Cabinet.
With sincere and great regard and esteem, I am, dear sir, your friend,
JAY TO GENERAL SCHUYLER.
Passy, 16th September, 1783.
The day before yesterday I was favoured with your friendly letter of 1st July.
To whatever cause the suspension of our correspondence may have been owing, I am persuaded that it did not originate either with you or with me. How far my conjectures on that subject may be well founded, will be ascertained when we meet.
Had your reason for retiring been less urgent than that of ill-health, I should have thought it premature. While government remains relaxed, and the laws have yet to acquire a due degree of respect and obedience, men of talents, weight, and influence should exert themselves to establish and maintain constitutional authority and subordination.
No less wisdom and perseverance are necessary to preserve and secure what we have gained, than were requisite in the acquisition; and experience informs us that internal commotions and confusion are as injurious to the peace and happiness of society as war and enemies from abroad. Well-ordered government is essential to the duration and enjoyment of the tranquillity and leisure you promise yourself at Saratoga, and therefore domestic as well as public considerations call upon you for such a degree of attention to these subjects as your health will admit of.
I hope and expect next summer to return. Not only my family and my private concerns require it, but also the principles which led me into public life. But if, on my return, I find it my duty to devote more of my time to the public, they shall have it, though retirement is what I ardently desire.
I am not surprised that men of certain characters should censure the terms of peace. There are men who view subjects only on the dark side; there are others who find fault to show their discernment; and we meet with some whose opinions are wholly decided by ideas of convenience and personal politics. I am happy, however, to hear that the great majority are content. In the opinion of Europe, they have great reason to be so.
Your affectionate and very humble servant,
JAY TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
Passy, 24th September, 1783.
The sight of your friendly letter of the 25th of July last, and of those it recommends, gave me much pleasure. Marks of remembrance from old acquaintances, and the society of fellow-citizens in a foreign country, excite agreeable sensations. I have, as yet, met with neither men nor things on this side of the water which abate my predilection, or, if you please, my prejudices, in favour of those on the other. I have but few attachments in Europe much stronger than those we sometimes feel for an accidental fellow-traveller, or for a good inn and a civil landlord. We leave our approbation, and good wishes, and a certain degree of regard with them, by way of paying that part of the reckoning and travelling expenses which money cannot always defray. My affections are deeply rooted in America, and are of too long standing to admit of transplantation. In short, my friend, I can never become so far a citizen of the world as to view every part of it with equal regard; and perhaps nature is wiser in tying our hearts to our native soil, than they are who think they divest themselves of foibles in proportion as they wear away those bonds. It is not difficult to regard men of every nation as members of the same family; but when placed in that point of view, my fellow-citizens appear to me as my brethren, and the others as related to me only in the more distant and adventitious degrees.
I am glad my letter by Mr. Grigby gave you reason to infer an alteration for the better in the state of my health, because I flatter myself it afforded pleasure to my friends. The fact is, that my disorder has been gradually declining ever since I left the city; but although the pain in my breast has diminished, it still continues, and daily tells me memento mori. As to the fever which the influenza left me, it has at last, thank God, taken its leave. During all my sickness I have been happy in preserving a constant flow of spirits; and cheerfulness, that agreeable companion, has never forsaken me. I hope a trip to Bath will so patch up my “house of clay” as to render it tenantable a good while longer; a thorough repair I do not promise myself.
Your account of my son pleases me. I expect and wish to see him next summer; for it is time to lay the foundation of those habits and principles by which I am desirous that his conduct through life should be influenced. Nature has not given to children any instinctive affections for their parents; and youth, that fair season of virtue and ingenuousness, presents the only opportunity for our perfectly gaining their hearts. This conspires with a great variety of other considerations to call me home; and I should not be satisfied with myself if I prolonged my excursion from private life beyond the term which, for public reasons, I at first prescribed it. When a man’s conduct ceases to be uniform and consistent, it ceases to be proper. My little girls are well, and their mother is not much otherwise. So much for domestic matters; now for a few lines on politics.
While there are knaves and fools in the world, there will be wars in it; and that nations should make war against nations is less surprising than their living in uninterrupted peace and harmony.
You have heard that the Ottoman and Russian empires are on the point of unsheathing the sword. The objects of the contest are more easy to discern than the issue; but if Russia should extend her navigation to Constantinople, we may be the better for it. That circumstance is an additional motive to our forming a treaty of commerce with her. Your commercial and geographical knowledge render it unnecessary for me to enlarge on this subject. But whatever we may have to do abroad, it is of little consequence when compared to what we have to do at home.
I am perfectly convinced that no time is to be lost in raising and maintaining a national spirit in America. Power to govern the confederacy, as to all general purposes, should be granted and exercised. The governments of the different States should be wound up, and become vigorous. America is beheld with jealousy, and jealousy is seldom idle. Settle your boundaries without delay. It is better that some improper limits should be fixed, than any left in dispute. In a word, every thing conducive to union and constitutional energy of government should be cultivated, cherished, and protected, and all counsels and measures of a contrary complexion should at least be suspected of impolitic views and objects.
The rapid progress of luxury at Philadelphia is a frequent topic of conversation here; and what is a little remarkable, I have not heard a single person speak of it in terms of approbation.
Believe me to be your friend and servant,
GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, 25 Sepr., 1783.
I have received your letter of the twelfth of March by Mr. Penn, sixth of April by Mr. Redford and twenty-ninth of July by Mr. Hunt for all which I am to thank you. Let me also thank you for your letter of the seventeenth of July. Personally, I shall be very happy to see you in the spring, but I confess that I do not very clearly see how it can prove advantageous either to yourself or to your Country if, as you have written to others, the want of health is among the reasons for your return, I cannot but doubly lament it. Remember me affectionately to all my friends who may be in your circle of acquaintance and particularly present my love to Mrs. Jay.
The British employ themselves about the evacuation of New York, but that business goes on slowly. I am however informed from tolerable authority that they will be gone by the begining of November. If, as you suppose, the British Ministry imagine that we cannot retaliate their restrictions, they are deceived, for their conduct will itself give Congress a power which they might not otherwise be possessed of. Indeed my friend nothing can do us so much good as to convince the eastern and southern States how necessary it is to give proper force to the federal government; and nothing will so soon operate that conviction as foreign efforts to restrain the Navigation of the one, and the Commerce of the other. But for my own part, I have no desire to retaliate commercial restrictions. It is my fixed opinion that a Nation can by such restrictions do nothing more than injure herself; nor is an injury the less because it affects more the remote members than it does the head of the empire. The sovereign may collect, and ought to have revenue from all his dominions which are in condition to afford it, but he acts weakly as well as wickedly if he cramps one part of the community that he may draw more easily the blood and juices from another part. The late prohibition of trade with the British Islands, unless in British bottoms, can do us no harm and can do them no good. Our produce they must and will have and if they employ half a million in carrying on the navigation at a great expence, which we should have performed at a less expence, for two hundred thousand, our two hundred thousand will be left for other operations, even to speculate on their produce and our own, so as to make them pay the speculator a profit on every gallon of rum they sell and every barrell of flour they buy, in our ports. By making the subsistance of their people in the Islands more expensive, they aid the efforts of rival Nations to furnish the commodities of their Islands to others, and even to their own subjects. This kind of policy is so bad, that I am persuaded the British Minister cannot seriously intend the prohibition, altho’ I am equally convinced that a regard to the national prejudices renders it unavoidable at present. I do not therefore think we should labor to undo what is done but leave things awhile to their own course; and as to a treaty of commerce, I think the best way is to make no treaty for some time to come, and if we tell them that we will make no treaty, they will be much more desirous of it than we ought to be.
Congress are, as you will have heard, already removed to an interior town, which by the bye has every disadvantage, without any advantage over this place; whether they will continue there, or remove to some other village, or come hither, are questions which I cannot resolve. It will, in my opinion, be necessary that they sit near to Philadelphia, but improper to reside within it. They ought not to be very distant from the Bank; nor ought they to be where the supreme authority is not in them. You and I can well remember, when every kind of insult was to be apprehended from being under the jurisdiction of an ungoverned (?) State. Happily, the rulers could see no advantage resulting to themselves from any injuries they might commit against Congress.
Mr. Adams seems to be in opinion with you, as to the necessity of sending a Minister to England, as indeed he does in some other points. He will I suppose be the man for sundry reasons which I might assign, but he will, I think, have serious cause to repent of the appointment; under present circumstances, nothing could have more unfavorable effects, than to send a Minister who should feel himself attached or opposed to any of the parties by which that nation is rent asunder. He should hold them in equal indifference of sentiment, with equal appearance of confidence, paying to the ins a respect due to their places, but which neither ins or outs are, or can be, entitled to on the score of their merit and virtue, at least from us. As we may not easily find a man capable of this conduct, perhaps the best Minister is no Minister; for the want of one will shew that we are not precipitate in a desire of close connection, and that, however the old mercantile habits may have revived commercial intercourse, the government has a proper jealousy and caution. This circumstance also must work favorably on our politics with other powers, and give weight and dignity to the Ministers we do send.
As to Mr. Dana, he I know means well but I think it would be very wise for him to leave St. Petersburgh, as he went thither incog; or if he should not, it would be very wise for Congress to recall him, as we have nothing to do with the Empress of all the Russias. We cannot conveniently carry on any traffic with her dominions, for various reasons which might be assigned, such (as for instance) that we produce commodities similar to her’s, and very few to exchange with her—none indeed of consequence but rice—that the distance is too great, that the poverty both of her subjects and our own requires an advance of capital to each, &c. If her Ladyship should drive the Turk out of Europe, and demolish the Algerines and other piratical gentry she will have done us much good, for her own sake, and we may then find it convenient to meet the commodities of the Levant at some entrepot, such as Marseilles, Barcelona, Mahon, or Gibraltar. But it is hardly possible that the other powers will permit Russia to possess so wide a door into the Mediteranean. I may be deceived, but I think England herself would oppose it. As an American, it is my hearty wish that she and the Emperor may effect their schemes, for it will be a source of great wealth to us, both immediate and future. Adieu.
Believe me yours,
JAY TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Passy, 28th September, 1783.
Mr. Carter lately delivered to me your friendly letter of the 25th of July last. You were always of the number of those whom I esteemed, and your correspondence would have been both interesting and agreeable. I had heard of your marriage, and it gave me pleasure, as well because it added to your happiness, as because it tended to fix your residence in a State, of which I long wished you to be, and remain a citizen.
The character and talents of delegates to Congress daily become more and more important, and I regret your declining that appointment at this interesting period. Respect, however, is due to the considerations which influence you; but as they do not oppose your accepting a place in the Legislature, I hope the public will still continue to derive advantage from your services. Much remains to be done, and labourers do not abound.
I am happy to hear that the terms of peace, and the conduct of your negotiators, give general satisfaction; but there are some of our countrymen, it seems, who are not content, and that too with an article which I thought to be very unexceptionable, viz., the one ascertaining our boundaries. Perhaps those gentlemen are latitudinarians.
The American newspapers, for some months past, contain advices that do us harm. Violences, and associations against the tories, pay an ill compliment to government, and impeach our good faith in the opinions of some, and our magnanimity in the opinions of many. Our reputation also suffers from the apparent reluctance to taxes, and the ease with which we incur debts without providing for their payment. The complaints of the army—the jealousies respecting Congress—the circumstances which induced their leaving Philadelphia—and the too little appearance of a national spirit, pervading, uniting, and invigorating the confederacy, are considered as omens which portend diminution of our respectability, power, and felicity. I hope that, as the wheel turns round, other and better indications will soon appear. I am persuaded that America possesses too much wisdom and virtue to permit her brilliant prospects to fade away for the want of either. But, whatever time may produce, certain it is that our reputation and our affairs suffer from present appearances.
The tories are as much pitied in these countries as they are execrated in ours. An undue degree of severity towards them would, therefore, be impolitic as well as unjustifiable. They who incline to involve that whole class of men in indiscriminate punishment and ruin, certainly carry the matter too far. It would be an instance of unnecessary rigour, and unmanly revenge, without a parallel, except in the annals of religious rage, in times of bigotry and blindness. What does it signify where nine tenths of these people are buried? I would rather see the sweat of their brows fertilizing our fields than those of our neighbours, in which it would certainly water those seeds of hatred which, if so cultivated, may produce a hedge of thorns against us. Shall all be pardoned then? By no means. Banish and confiscate the estates of such of them as have been either faithless or cruel, and forgive the rest.
Victory and peace should, in my opinion, be followed by clemency, moderation, and benevolence, and we should be careful not to sully the glory of the revolution by licentiousness and cruelty. These are my sentiments, and however unpopular they may be, I have not the least desire to conceal or disguise them.
Be pleased to present my best compliments to Mrs. Hamilton, and believe me to be, with great esteem and regard, dear sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
REVEREND JOHN PRICE TO JAY.
Great Bourton,near Banbury, Oxfordshire,
October the 29th, 1783.
Permit a Welchman to congratulate you and Congress, on your freedom, liberty, and independency. May Heaven incline the hearts of Britons and Americans to be truly thankful, for the blessings of Peace, and may both parties beg God’s pardon, for the blood spilt and treasures spent in the late war. This application may, perhaps, appear strange to you, especially as it comes from a graduate of the University of Oxford, and a Clergyman of the Church of England; but sir, when you are informed that I, and many more, are so much oppressed, that we cannot bear much longer, as we have no hopes of relief or redress left, the wonder ceases.
I should be infinitely obliged to your Excellency to favour me with a letter, informing me therein, whether or no I can have the honour and pleasure of waiting upon you, and paying my respectful Compliments personally, to the greatest of Embassadors, on the 18th or 19th of November next in London, or elsewhere, as I, with many more of the principality of Wales, intend, if God willing, to cross the Atlantic to a Land of freedom and Liberty where the meanest person is made more happy, if not greater, than Generals, Kings, Emperors, or Popes, by the conduct and Bravery of the Great and Immortal Washington, who has outshined, and Eclipsed, all Asiatic, African, and European Generals, and Commanders from the Creation of the World, to this Day. We humbly hope Congress will give us all reasonable and proper encouragements to emigrate, and become their subjects. Our Submission to the Crown of England for almost five centuries past may be sufficient to recommend us to any Nation or Court on Earth. Our Ancestors were brave and have withstood the force and strength of Rome, Saxony, Normans, Danes, Scots, &c, and we still retain our language in some measure, with some notion of inheritance. Shall conclude subscribing myself
ROBERT MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, Nov. 4th, 1783.
I hear your health is mended since the date of your last letter of the 20th of July, and rejoice at it. Your distant friends suffer irreparable injury if you are indisposed to write; those who write so well should write often, and even your short letters say so much in so few words, that it is impossible not to wish for them, if longer ones cannot be had. I acknowledge the force of all your observations on my intended resignation, and know the necessity of perseverance so long as there is a prospect of being useful; but you must also acknowledge that it is folly in the extreme to continue in the drudgery of office after you see clearly that the public cannot be benefited; your own affairs suffering, your feelings daily wounded, and your reputation endangered by the malice and misrepresentation of envious and designing men. During the war, I was determined to go through with the work I had undertaken, and although my resignation was made before the signing of the provisional treaty was known, yet I made no hesitation to declare to a committee of Congress, that if the war lasted I would continue. The war, however, ceased—Congress feared to dismiss their army without some pay; they had not money, and could only make payment by paper anticipation, and even this could not be effected without my assistance. I was urged to continue, and forced into that anticipation. The army was dispersed, and since their departure, the men who urged these measures most, and who are eternally at war with honour and integrity, have been continually employed in devising measures to prevent my being able to fulfil my engagements, in hopes of effecting my ruin in case of failure. I must, however, in justice to the majority of Congress, which has ever been composed of honest men, declare that the faction I allude to is but inconsiderable in numbers, although they make themselves of some consequence by this assiduity. You know the . . ., &c.: I should disregard these men totally, if I found a disposition in the several Legislatures to support national faith, credit, and character; but, unhappily, there is at present a total inattention on their parts. I am, however, persuaded, that sooner or later, the good sense of America will prevail, and that our governments will be intrusted in the hands of men whose principles will lead them to do justice, and whose understandings will teach the value of national credit. This may be too long in coming to pass, at least for me, and therefore you may rest assured, that I quit all public employ the moment my engagements are fulfilled.
The court of France having refused the last sum asked, I do not wish to trouble them further. I am not sensible of having at any time made an improper application, either as to substance or manner. Those who are solicited in such cases, are in the situation to make whatever objections they find convenient. I wish, however, that the ministers in France were sensible of one truth, which is, that my administration either saved them a good deal of money, or a great deal of disgrace; for if I had not undertaken it when I did, they must either have advanced ten times the amount I received, or have deserted America, after having undertaken her cause, and perhaps have been obliged to subscribe to very indifferent terms of peace for themselves.
It is happy for me that the loan in Holland stepped in to our relief, after the refusal of the court to grant the moderate sum of 3,000,000 livres as the concluding point. This refusal was ill-timed and impolitic. I could show resentment with some effect, if I were so disposed; but so far from it, I retain a grateful remembrance of past favours, and make a point to promote the commercial intercourse between France and this country. I must also show my sense of the obligations conferred on us by the Hollanders. We hear that the definitive treaty is signed. I long to see it; for you may depend that unless some new articles are added respecting our intercourse with the British West Indies, it will be both a work of difficulty and time to carry measures that will justify your opinion of us. I thank you for the kind sentiments which you express of me in several parts of your letters. I will endeavour to deserve them. I do not know whether Gouverneur writes to you by this opportunity; you must cherish his friendship, it is worth possessing. He has more virtue than he shows, and more consistency than anybody believes. He values you exceedingly, and hereafter you will be very useful to each other. Mrs. Morris will write to Mrs. Jay, and say for herself what she has to say; though I don’t believe she will tell her, as she does to everybody else, the high estimation in which she holds Mrs. Jay and yourself. Permit me also, my worthy friend, to assure you both of the sincerity of that affection with which I profess myself
Your most obedient and humble servant,
JAY TO CHARLES THOMSON.
London, 14th November, 1783.
I have been here a month, and well only two days. I came in quest of health, but “seek and you shall find” does not, it seems, always extend to that of the body.
The Parliament is sitting. The king’s speech and its echoes you will see in the papers. I have not had any conversation on politics with either of the ministers. In my opinion, no plan or system of conduct respecting America is yet decided upon by the Cabinet, in which the jarring principles of whig and tory still strive and ferment. The latter persuade themselves that we shall not be able to act as a nation, that our governments are too feeble to command respect, and our credit too much abased to recover its reputation, or merit confidence. I hope better things. We are not without friends in this country, but they have more inclination than power to be friendly. We have also enemies, and bitter ones. If we act wisely and unitedly, we have nothing to fear. It is in our power finally to make a navigation act, and prevent British vessels carrying our productions; provided we should execute it, we would find it of as much value as many treaties of commerce. Let us act, however, with temper; it is more easy to make sores than to heal them. But if Britain should adopt and persist in a monopolizing system, let us retaliate fully and firmly. This nation, like many others, is influenced more by its feelings than reasonings. I am, dear sir, your affectionate friend and servant,
ROBERT MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, November 27th, 1783.
My Dear Sir:
I congratulate you on the signing of the definitive treaty, and on the evacuation of New-York, which took place on Tuesday. Our friend Gouverneur Morris is there. He has been gone about eighteen days, and I expect him back very soon; he will then give you the detail, and inform you of such things as you may wish to know respecting any of your particular friends.
If Great Britain persists in refusing admittance to our ships in their islands, they will probably have great cause to repent, for I shall not be surprised to see a general prohibition to the admittance of theirs into our ports; and if such a measure is once adopted, they may find it very difficult to obtain any alteration, and in that case the advantages of carrying will be much against them. Should the court of France pursue the same policy, we shall fall in with the Dutch, and probably have more connexions in commerce with them than with any other people. I have received the prints of the rise and fall of the balloon. Pray cannot they contrive to send passengers with a man to steer the course, so as to make them the means of conveyance for despatches from one country to another, or must they only be sent for intelligence to the moon and clouds?
We are dismissing the remains of our army, and getting rid of expense, so that I hope to see the end of my engagements before next May, but I doubt whether it will be in my power to observe that punctuality in performing them, which I wish and have constantly aimed at.
I am sending some ships to China, in order to encourage others in the adventurous pursuits of commerce, and I wish to see a foundation laid for an American navy.
I am, dear sir,
Your affectionate friend and humble servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
New-York, 29th Nov., 1783.
I am two letters in your debt, and am conscious that I shall make an ill return for them in offering you this product of a midnight hour, after a day spent in the fatigue of business and ceremony that our present situation exacts. But having just been informed by Mr. Platt that he sails to-morrow morning, I cannot permit him to go, without offering you my congratulations on an event which you have so greatly contributed to bring about, the evacuation of this city by the British on Tuesday last.
Our enemies are hardly more astonished than we are ourselves, and than you will be when you hear that we have been five days in town without the smallest disturbance; that the most obnoxious royalists that had sufficient confidence in our clemency to stay had not met with the least insult. Their shops were opened the day after we came in, and Rivington himself goes on as usual. The State of New York Gazette is as well received as if he had never been printer to the king’s most excellent majesty. So that your friends in Europe will find their apprehensions ill-founded, and that the race of tories will not, after all, be totally extinct in America. Perhaps, by good training and by crossing the breed frequently (as they are very tame), they may be rendered useful animals in a few generations.
I thank you for your prints of the air-balls; but wish to have some fuller account of their composition, and the use proposed to be made of them. As an architect, I cannot but be curious about the first castles in the air that promise to have some stable use.
Receive my congratulations on the birth of your daughter, and make my compliments to Mrs. Jay on the occasion.
I had hardly finished the last line, when I was alarmed by a very loud rumbling noise, accompanied by a quick tremulous motion of the earth. The family are too much alarmed to permit me to add more. Adieu.
R. R. Livingston.
THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON TO JAY.
The Countess of Huntingdon’s best Compliments wait on his Excellency, Mr. Jay. She takes this early opportunity of making her most acceptable thanks to him for his politeness and most obliging attentions in the pleasure of seeing him. She hopes, from the advantages of the waters and change of scene being made useful and agreeable, Bath may have the credit of retaining him longer the subject of such advantages.
Bath, Saturday, Decbr. 6 .
JAY TO THE COUNTESS OF HUNTINGDON.
Bath, December 7th, 1783.
Mr. Jay presents his respectful compliments to the Countess of Huntingdon and is exceedingly obliged by the very polite note which her Ladyship did him the honour to write yesterday. When persons of rank become dignified by virtue and distinguished for active benevolence, they naturally command esteem and excite attention. These considerations give particular value to the kind wishes which her Ladyship is pleased to express for Mr. Jay’s health. He begs her Ladyship to be assured of his perfect respect and esteem, and of the pleasure it would give him to have frequent opportunities of evincing both.
JAY TO KITTY LIVINGSTON.
Bath, 24th December, 1783.
Why so long silent, my good friend? Many months have elapsed since we have been favoured with a line from you. I hope want of health has not obliged you to deny us that satisfaction. Want of inclination, I am sure, has not. Of that we have received too many unequivocal proofs to entertain the most distant doubt. You have long been my faithful, steady friend. I know the value of your esteem and regard, and be assured that you possess mine in a very high degree. Much do I wish for the happy moment when we shall all meet, and when we shall communicate to each other many things, which, however interesting, must be very sparingly trusted to paper. The necessity of this caution has imposed upon us a long and painful reserve, for between friends few things are more agreeable, as well as useful, than free and undisguised communications. This is a pleasure to which I have been greatly a stranger since I left America, and it is in that country alone that I expect again to enjoy it. Experience has taught me reserve, but it has also taught me that with you it will be unnecessary. This is a pleasant idea, and my mind dwells upon it with great satisfaction. How few there are in this world, my dear Kate, capable of a firm, uniform attachment—much fewer, I assure you, than I once thought,—but youth is credulous, and consequently must be often disappointed. I hope my disappointments are nearly at an end; for I expect very little, except from you and a few others.
I have letters from Sally almost every week. Thank God, she continues well. She tells me our little girls grow charmingly. My absence from her has been much longer than I expected. On coming to London I was taken ill of a dysentery, and afterwards with a sore throat. Some remains of the latter still trouble me. Upon the whole, however, I am better, and the waters of this place have done me good. I propose next week to return to London, and from thence make the best of my way to France. I am impatient to be with my little family, and to have my sweet little girls upon my knee, while their mother tells me the domestic occurrences which have happened in my absence. Believe me to be, with great and sincere regard,
Your friend and servant,
KITTY LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Elizabeth Town, Dec. 30th, 1783.
Permit me, my dear Sir, to wish you and sister the Compliments of the season, and to assure you that no one more sincerely wishes the ensuing year may be propitious to your every wish than your friend who has now the pleasure of writing to you.
The Church disputes, far from subsiding, rage with more violence than ever. The Whigs finding the Moore-ans, or in plain English the tories, the strongest party are determined to petition the Legislature for their interposition. They will never stop short of depriving Mr. Moore of the rectorship, in which, though I am no Churchwoman, I think they are perfectly right. They ought indeed to go farther. They should silence Mr. Moore altogether. I am no friend to persecution, but I think in the present critical situation of their City, the Tories will have no reason to complain if we do nothing more than prevent their holding any office which may give them influence, until they can consent, to lay aside their hankering after the flesh pots of Britain.
Yesterday opened the election for their City Members; a very contested one was expected. I am sorry to hear that some men bid fair to succeed who are very unequal to the task of Legislation.
The dancing assembly met with great opposition, some from religious and some from political motives opposed it, but the loyal Managers, (Augustus Van Courtland and Daniel Ludlow), resigning and expunging some of their rules, appeased the populace, and they have carried them into execution. A private ball at the Chancellor’s, another at uncle P. V. B. Livingston’s in compliment to his Excellency, Gen’l Washington, (as he quartered there), are all I have heard of.
Your friend, Dr. Bancroft, spent some time with us going and returning from New York. Mr. Holker introduced him and has assured us that the Dr. has not had for several years so agreeable a relaxation from politicks. When I last heard from Philadelphia that gentleman was preparing to sail for Charleston, but the weather setting in very severe shortly after probably has detained him. The Dr. did not leave us without a promise to repeat his visit in the Spring. I shall consider his doing it a mark of approbation of the reception we gave him. A more agreeable visitor we could not have entertained, as he gave us a more particular account respecting your health and family than any we have received since your residence in France. I believe I mentioned in a former letter that we had not the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Izard. Col. Ogden, if I may judge from his remissness, must make another Voyage to Europe to be instructed in good breeding.
Mr. Robt. Morris I hear seems determined to quit the first of next May; then G. M. will I suppose return to his Mammy. We never have been so at a loss to tell where you are as at present, not having received any letters of a later date than August. Are Mr. and Mrs. Ridley in Paris or London? The Dr. and Mr. Holker differed on that subject. If it be not premature will you wish them joy for me. I wrote to Mr. Ridley the same time I wrote to sister and intended it to go from Philadelphia that you should hear from us before the arrival of Sir Guy [Carleton]. Sister’s letter I detained to go with Major Upham at his particular request. Mr. Holker thought proper to bring back the letter and send it in the L’Orient Packet, which must have occasioned its very late arrival.
The Legislature of this State having risen, we are hourly expecting my Father home. By the enclosed letter you will see it ’s determined that Master Peter stays with us this Winter. He is very ambitious to write equal to his Aunt Susan, his instructress. This morning as I was looking over him I read his copy for the day, “Commend virtuous deeds.” “I must do more than that,” says he, “I must imitate them.” He has read Robinson Crusoe and Don Quixote. He is now reading Nature Delineated, and is exceedingly pleased with the natural history they contain. He begins the exercises of the day and closes the same with reading a few Chapters in the Bible. He has learnt many of the hymns in the book you sent him, and frequently expresses a great desire to see you and his Mamma. He enjoys good health and is often complimented with having his Mammas complextion. It is indeed sun and frost proof. . . .
Kiss Sally and your sweet babes for me and I ’ll pay you with interest when we have the pleasure of meeting. Mamma, Susan, and Peter unite with me in love to sister and you.
Your affectionate friend and sister,
“The hope expressed in this letter, that Mr. Jay would continue at one of the European Courts, was likewise entertained by Congress, who on the 1st of May appointed him, in conjunction with Mr. Adams and Dr. Franklin, a commissioner to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain.
“He had, however, already formed the determination to return as soon as duty would permit to his native country. The court of Spain, probably regretting the opportunity she had lost of forming a connection with the new States before the acknowledgment of their independence, was now desirous to repair the error she had committed, and accordingly invited Mr. Jay to Madrid, to renew his negotiations. This invitation he did not feel himself at liberty to decline, and on the 22d April he expressed his intentions to that effect to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
“It having been rumored that he was to be appointed, after the peace, Minister to England, he addressed the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, May 30, declining in favor of Mr. Adams.
“The delicate state of his health induced him to abandon his design of returning to Spain, and especially as he foresaw that the delays attending the negotiation of the definitive treaty would necessarily detain him in France till the ensuing year.”—Jay’s “Life of Jay,” vol. 1., pp. 171-72.
Mr. Francis Child was an indigent boy, who had been educated at Mr. Jay’s expense. The press mentioned in this letter was obtained, and on it Mr. Child printed the first daily newspaper published in the city of New York after the Revolution.—Jay’s “Life of Jay,” vol. i., p. 117.
The day on which the definitive treaty was signed.