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Letter from Ralph Izard, in England, to Claude Crespigny



Richmond, (England,) August 31, 1776.

DEAR SIR: We are very happy to hear of the favourable change in Mrs˙ Crespigny.

They laugh, you say, at St˙ James' s at the Declaration of Independence. I do not know that they have much cause to do so. When the Duke of Braganza declared Portugal independent of Spain, and himself King of it, the Count-Duke Olivarez affected likewise to laugh. Philip the Fourth was persuaded to think it a very pleasant and comical circumstance. This Minister made him believe that there would be such confiscations as would abundantly recompense him for the trouble these few factious people would give him. The King, however, was deceived, and the Spanish Monarchy dismembered. Perhaps some historian may find a parallel to this Spanish story.

I believe the history of Europe does not furnish so extraordinary an affair as the late defeat at Charlestown. Last year' s Algerine expedition is not to be compared to it. The Ministry must have great confidence in the passive tempers of the nation to impose such an account on them as appeared in last Saturday' s Gazette. There must certainly have been a misunderstanding between the two departments, which, however pleasing it may be to those who are enemies to the doctrine of passive obedience and unconditional submission, much behooves the supporters of the measures to inquire into.

Clinton has always borne the character of a brave and good officer; it is therefore the more extraordinary that he should have been landed on a sand bank, (Long Island and Sullivan' s Island are nothing else,) from the 9th to the 28th, without sounding the water, and knowing that it was too deep to walk across.

Sir Peter Parker tells us that he drove large parlies several times out of the fort, which were replaced by others from the main. This fort was a temporary thing, built to annoy the shipping in their passage to the town. It was not expected that it would have been necessary to defend it for upwards of ten hours against a bomb vessel and eight or nine men-of-war. The powder, I dare say, was very near exhausted, and the men whom Sir Peter supposes he had driven out might probably have been messengers for a fresh supply. The large parties might have been small ones. We know that the Provincial numbers at Bunker' s Hill were, by the Gazette, multiplied at least by five. Objects seen through the medium of smoke and fire are always considerably magnified. If the fort was evacuated for an hour and a half, as he writes, why did he not take possession of it? He would, I believe, have found himself mistaken if he had attempted it. But the fort was totally silenced: very likely, and for the reason just assigned. It requires a great quantity of powder to fire cannon. While this was bringing, I cannot help thinking that my countrymen had sagacity enough to lie perdu behind the parapet — to defend themselves against the boasted coup de main with their small arms.

The Gazette does not announce the actual departure of any of the ships from Charlestown harbour. The want of water will oblige them to be as expeditious as possible. They may accommodate themselves with that article at Staten Island, and nowhere else with safety, that I know of, to the southward of that. If Mrs˙ Crespigny will lend you her plan, you will see that they must pass within the reach of two batteries, which may give them a pretty warm salute at taking leave.

Very important news may be expected every day from New York. The Ministry, I hear, are fully persuaded that Mr˙ Howe will winter in Philadelphia. This is possible, but I have not the least idea that it will happen.

You know my opinion on the probable event of this cruel and unfortunate business. I have had no reason to change it since I saw you.

Pray give my compliments to Mr˙ Townshend and Mr˙ Ley.