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Letters of Charles W. F. Dumas to Committee of Secret Correspondence, September and October



1st September, 1776.

SIR: After having sent to your correspondent at St˙ Eustatia, whose address you gave me in your letter of the 12th December, 1775, my third letter, marked C, of which you will find enclosed an ample extract, which you will please read again, at least the latter part, where I have added something. I commence my fourth despatch, D˙.

Even supposing that only one of my three preceding despatches may have reached you, you ought not to be embarrassed in reading what will be in cypher here, and in future.

This Hortalez, of whom Mr˙ A˙ L˙, your friend, has spoken to me in two of his letters as entrusted with the business of Congress, who was to come to see me, and to whom he had given my address, has not yet presented himself to me.

I have not either received the letter which you wrote me after the one of the 12th December, 1775, and before the one of the 2d March, 1776, as you inform me in this latter.

The non-appearance of this man and of this letter disturbs and afflicts me, not only because everything which comes to me from you, sir, and from your friends, is more dear and precious to me than I can express, but also and especially because I fear that the service of the General Congress may suffer in consequence of it.

The respectable bearer of the one of the 2d March, arrived at Paris on the 7th July, whence he sent it to me with one of his own dated 26th July. I have another from him of the 18th August, in which he tells me that he has a certain prospect of succeeding in his business, He also therein makes me a promise which renders me happy in advance, that he will lodge at my house. My wife has already prepared his apartment, and we shall verify the fable of Philemon and Baucis: for a virtuous man is for me a Jupiter; and I shall think myself more honoured with such a guest, than with a dozen of those princes who have sold their subjects to your enemies. If nothing occurs to alter his intentions, I shall have this pleasure in the month of October next.

30th September — I have stated to you, sir, in my preceding [despatch,] that the letters of Mr˙ A˙ L˙ have greatly contributed to render my visits, my letters, and my memoirs, agreeable in a certain house. Here is one which I have lately received from him, which will prove it to you.

26th August, 1776-After having told me of a service which he consented to render me in his country, where I have some business to arrange, which we agreed, to make use of as a pretext to mask our interviews, he continues as follows: "Madame —— has taken the trouble to send me your letters, and I beg you to send me by her the continuation of so many interesting matters, together with the account of the person you were waiting for [ the bearer of your letter from Philadelphia of the 2d March.] I beg you to send me all that has reached you since the last letter you had the goodness to write me. I am in the habit of receiving packets from every hand; it is the duly of my post; hence I shall receive with gratitude, but of a distinguished character, what you shall have the kindness to send to me, as it will surely be of the best in facts, in portraits, in circumstances. For all pens have not the talent of yours.

"In all that I ask of your friendship, sir, you will often have a great deal new to communicate."

The praise given to my pen, should revert to Mr˙ A˙ L˙, for I have done nothing but translate it.

1st September˙-"I beg you to continue to give me your news. I thank you very sincerely for the last sent. [I informed him about Mr˙ —, the bearer of your letter of the 2d March, after having had the permission of the latter.] Nothing is more interesting, nor perhaps elucidates affairs more fully."

16th September.-"You had nattered me with having the honour to see you in the course of the week which has just closed. It is that expectation which has prevented my answering you, intending to tell you the remainder verbally, as I shall do the first visit you shall make to the Hague.

"All that you have recommended to me has been done and put in train according to your desires. Mine shall always be to merit your confidence and to serve you."

I had sent to him open, with a flying seal, the letter which I wrote you by St˙ Domingo. We had agreed to this verbally, and he had promised me to send it to Bordeaux well recommended. I have reason to believe that this letter has been sent, and read to certain persons, for whom I had put expressly at the close of the letter, that when by a wise legislation and constitution you shall have, gentlemen, crowned the work of your liberty, I shall die contented with having seen a great [King] and a great Rep[ublic] sincerely desire the good of nations.

I received some days ago another letter from Mr˙ S˙ D˙ at Paris, 14th September. All those which I receive from him, as from you, gentlemen, are precious to me; and this one is doubly so, because, besides the most kind expressions with which il is filled, my zeal for your cause, gentlemen, is therein recompensed by the acknowledgment of having well served it. I cannot resist the temptation to transcribe here what he said to me on that point: "The measures you took before my arrival here are perfectly right. You are entirely in the right, in saying that the H˙ of B˙ are the allies we should first and principally court; that F is at the head of this H˙ and therefore what is done here, is sure to be done by the whole. This, therefore, requires my whole attention; and I can only say to you, my prospects are no way discouraging. I hope in person soon to tell you how very much I am yours and your lady' s."

I cannot add anything more analogous to what you have just read, than the assurances of my perfect attachment to the United States of North America, and to their worthy Representatives in the General Congress. Deign to receive, sir, those of my profound respect for all the members in general, and for you and Messrs˙ Dickinson Jay in particular.


You can, sir, in future, put my real name upon your letters, as you have heretofore done, and address them, under cover, either to Mr˙ Marc Michel Rey, bookseller, Amsterdam, or to Mr˙ A˙ Sluckey, merchant, Rotterdam, according to the destination of the vessel which will carry them.

In order to be able to finish this letter at my ease, I have made my two pupils walk out with a lady, I promising to amuse her little boy; this little fellow has amused himself so well, that he has overturned my inkstand upon a sheet of this despatch. I have recopied only what he has spoiled, so as to be able to send my packet without delay.

If I continue to not sign my name, it is not from pusillanimity, but because I believe that your service requires that I should remain still for some time unknown; at least until Mr˙ comes to lodge at my house: for then I shall be known everywhere as the most zealous American in the whole Republic, and I shall glory in it. All that could happen to me, would be the loss of my present post; but in that case I am sure that Congress would indemnify me with an equivalent subsistence for me and mine, because I shall be able to continue to be useful to it, as much, and even more than heretofore, since I shall no longer be pressed by other duties, and my whole person shall be at all times and in all places, in the service of America. I have been mortified (and I have noticed it in my last letter to Mr˙ ) at not being free in the last instance. I would have flown to˙ in order to assist him, at least with the knowledge I have of several European languages.

I have another letter from Mr˙ S˙ D˙, from Paris, 3d October. Here is an extract from it: "Since my last, in which I mentioned the King ofPrussia, I have attained a method of sounding that Monarch' s sentiments more directly through another channel, which voluntarily offering I have accepted, and therefore waive writing on the subject, for the present, anything, [he was speaking to me about a memoir, upon which I would have composed a letter for that Monarch,] save that you may undoubtedly serve the United States of America most essentially in this affair, in a few weeks from this. The attention to my business here, the critical situation of affairs at this Court, and the anxious suspense for the events at New-York and Canada, have actually fixed me here, and having received no intelligence for some time past, has well nigh distracted me. I have, however, favourable prospects, and the most confirmed hopes of effecting my views in Europe."

I have another letter from Mr˙ A˙ L˙ from London, 23d September, in which he tells me, among other things, "we may every day expect to near of a decisive action at New York decisive, I mean, as to the fate of New-York and of General Howe,-but not of America, which depends very little upon the event of New-York being taken or saved. I have been apprised by Hortales that the business for which I recommended him to you is to be transacted through France, which is the reason of your not seeing him.

I shall close this despatch by telling you, sir, that in the last interview which I have had with a certain personage, he has testified to me that they are well satisfied with me. "Continue," he told me, "to give us copies, extracts, translations, of the interesting letters which you receive from your friends beyond and on this side of the sea; extend your correspondence still more and more; multiply your correspondents as much as you can; become the channel, the centre, of what your friends will have to say to their friends in England, and the latter to their friends in America; the confidant, in a word, on each aide, and' take me for yours always, and you will finish by entering at last into a correspondence with the Minister himself. I shall see him frequently this winter, and I shall labour to bring that to bear.

Finally, sir, permit me to recommend to your attention, and to that of the General Congress the memoir enclosed, marked by a N˙ B˙ For abundant precaution, I will enclose in my next despatch a copy of this memoir, and I shall then be able also to inform you, gentlemen, of the success that it will have had in Hamburgh, for the young man who took charge of it has already sent it.

Enclosed is an Exposition, of the Rights of the Colonies to Independence. I do not know the name of the well-wisher, who is the author of it; but the manuscript was sent to me by the printer, to know if it was good, that is to say, in booksellers' language, if it would be worth publishing. I have replied to him that it had all the requisites to merit it

I recommend you, gentlemen, with your brave armies, and all your brave people, to the care and protection of the Being, sovereignly good and wise, with my whole heart, which is entirely yours.

I close, and despatch this packet to day, the 10th October.

10th October, 1776.

Continuation of Despatch D: At the moment, sir, when I was going to close this packet, a letter came to me with this address; à Monsieur, Monsieur Dean, Envoy of the Congress of the Americans, now at the Hague, in Holland.

To-morrow I shall send this letter to its address. I see by certain marks, that it comes from England. The same personage through whom I am in relations with a certain Court, sent it to me with a letter, which says as follows: "The letter which I have the honour to send to you enclosed, has been addressed from Cambray, in France, under cover to me by the last post. You will know better than I where it ought to be sent to. Hence, from my interest for you and for your friends, I think I ought not to delay a moment to confide it to Madam Uloder. Have the goodness to remember, I pray you, that you have promised me a participation in all that shall come into your hands and to your knowledge, from more than one place; I rely upon it, with a real eagerness to serve you."

You will doubtless understand, sir, that it is in the packet of a Power which is a very good friend to the United States of America, that this letter has reached me.



* Ah, how much I share this anxiety with this worthy man! God grant that both be and I may very soon have some good news.