Edmund Burke.

Correspondence of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; between the year 1744 and the period of his decease, in 1797 (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryEdmund BurkeCorrespondence of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; between the year 1744 and the period of his decease, in 1797 (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 27)
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Raffkelle in his first manner, which is the only
picture of consequence of the Roman school.
The collection is made up of Flemish and Dutch
pictures, but they are the best of those schools.
The ease with which this gallery is seen, and the
indulgence to the young painters who wish to
copy any of the pictures, is beyond any thing I
ever saw in any other place. We have had every


attention possible from the keeper of the pictures,
who, as soon as he knew who I was, sent into the
country to his principal, who is likewise president
of the academy, who immediately came to town,
and has been attending us ever since.
Yours sincerely,



Beccles, August 24, 1781.


I have long wanted to write to you, and a pre-
tence of writing. I feared to indulge my pride
by an impertinent familiarity, and to please my-
self by unseasonable declarations of gratitude;
yet I know that you are very kind and partial to
me, and allow equally for the liberties I igno-
rantly assume, and that silence which, proceed-
ing from the highest respect, will not, I know, be
imputed to the want of it.

It is not my happiness only, perhaps sir, not
mine chiefly, that you promote. The family I
am with, admire, honour, and, indeed, venerate the
excellent friend of one to whom they have been
long partial ; they have felt my ill-fortune, and
rejoice in every prospect that tends to my advan-


tage. The applause paid to your public virtues
is not less just, nor is more sincere, than that we
feel to be due to your private. Gratitude is
more pleasing than admiration ; and, selfish in our
virtues, we are thankful to our friend, and almost
forget that he is the friend of all.

I inclose a letter I received from Sir Charles
Bunbury, with a copy of my answer ; in writing
which I lamented my absence from Beconsfield,
though at the only place where that absence
would not, at all times, be lamented. I hope
I need not speak my sentiments of Sir Charles's
generosity, nor of yours, on which it was founded.
Feeling the effect of his kindness, I must be lost
to reflection as well as gratitude, not to see and
be thankful to the cause of it.

I lately visited the Mr. Longs at Saxmundham,
and was received by both with more than civility.
Mr. Dudley Long 10 spoke to me concerning the
Bishop of Norwich n , and the probability of his
consent to my ordination. I had not then re-
ceived Sir Charles's letter, and must beg your
directions on the occasion; as Sir Charles will
probably inquire of the bishop he mentions, and
it is not improbable but Mr. Long may also
make such inquiry, yet I can write to neither,

10 Afterwards Mr. Dudley North, many years member for
Banbury, and subsequently for Richmond.

II Dr. Yonge.


with propriety, of the other's intention; and
should the more fear to do it, as one may not
succeed. I am no little ashamed of the trouble
I give, and, were it to any other than your friends,
should be no less afraid of it being thought too
much to be continued.

I shall certainly prefer the diocese of Norwich ;
both for the reasons you give, and because they
are your reasons; and shall hope to hear the
bishop has no objection strong enough to set
aside an application in my favour, as he cannot
at present suppose his merit so trifling as it is,
for whom it was made.

You do not love repetitions, and I must repeat,
if I speak from the heart, the sense I have of
your repeated favours, perpetually prompting me
to return my earnest thanks, and to tell you how
much I am, with the highest and most unfeigned

Dear, and much-honoured sir,
Your most obliged, and (here also to borrow
your words) affectionate servant,



Cork, September 15, 1781.


I hope you will excuse my addressing you, in con-
sequence of some operations of this week, which
I may hope will not be disagreeable to you to be
informed of. You no doubt have known our
alarm must be much, from an apprehension of
our being visited by the French in this city. Sir
John Irwine, commander-in-chief, came down
here on the occasion. One of his aides-de-camp
came to me a few days since, reporting that Sir
John had been in much distress for money, as
apprehension had run among the people, and he
could not find guineas for Latouche's paper. I
answered him that I was singularly happy to have
in my power some supply. I gave him about
five hundred guineas, and desired his informing
Sir John, I would give to him my last guinea,
and support his Majesty's service, &c. The next
morning I had General Baugh and Lord Ross, to
announce Sir John's feelings at my doing this.
They (that is, the General) wanted some guineas,
and such I gave him. A day or two after, I had
a message from the General by his aide-de-camp,

1 Grandfather of the present Sir George Goold, Bart., of
Old Court, county of Cork.


to know if I could supply them with money for
his Majesty's service. I answered him by letter,
and he, in consequence, sent me that of the 13th,
which I beg leave to send you. My interview
with Sir John was on the 10th, and, I find, my
word was conveyed by Sir John's letter to Lord
Carlisle 2 . The letter I received this day has been
in consequence. Yesterday morning, I paid to
Captain James Allen, aide-de-camp, five thousand
guineas. My letter has been sent to Dublin,
and probably may go further.

Hence, you see, a Roman Catholic stepped forth
in the hour of danger to support the government,
when others would not risk a guinea. Your sense
of us is, in this small instance, proved. I am
singularly happy to have had in my power the
doing what I have done; and hope our legisla-
tors will see that there are not a people more
steady in this quarter, nor a people that less
merit a rod of severity, by the laws, than we.
I took in my fellow-subjects in my report, at the
time when I took every shilling in advance on
my own shoulders. We are quiet, and free from
apprehension just now. Our town full of king's
troops and volunteers. I shall be happy that you
consider me as a man who has every respect for
Mrs. Burke and yourself. I am, dear sir,

Your assured obedient servant,

2 Then lord-lieutenant of Ireland.

VOL. II. F f



Cork, September 13, 1781.


The zeal and loyalty you have manifested in such
an essential manner for the king's service, and your
obliging attention towards me, calls for my warmest
and immediate thanks. I beg of you to accept of
them, and to be persuaded that I shall always en-
tertain a grateful sense of your conduct, which, I
dare believe, will be equally felt by my Lord Lieu-
tenant, and by his Majesty himself, when he comes
to be informed of it; and that he may, I shall take
leave to transmit the letter you did me the favour
to write to me to my Lord Lieutenant, having
already made his excellency acquainted with what
passed between you and me, sir, in conversation.

I believe I shall be under the necessity to profit
of your generous offer, and shall take the liberty
to-morrow to draw on you for five thousand gui-
neas. I am with great regard, and the highest
esteem for your worth and character,

Sir, your most obedient humble servant,





Cork, September 15, 1781.


I this morning received a letter from Mr. Eden,
secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, communicating
his excellency's approbation of your handsome offer
of service, as well for yourself, as in the name of the
gentlemen professing the Roman Catholic religion.
And his excellency has directed me, on his part,
to acquaint you that he entertains the highest
sense of your generous and spirited offer, as well
as of the zeal and loyalty of the gentlemen of
your persuasion ; and his excellency will have great
pleasure in making his Majesty acquainted with
this fresh proof of the attachment of his Roman
Catholic subjects of this kingdom. I am extremely
happy to communicate sentiments that so entirely
coincide with mine.

I am, sir,
Your most obliged humble servant,


F f 2



Thorndon, September 18, 1781.


I received the inclosed edict 3 by the last post, and
thinking it possible you may not have seen it, I
take the liberty of sending you that short but
pleasing and sensible paper. Such an example
of toleration and benevolence cannot fail being
followed by the powers on the continent; and
intolerance and persecution, driven into islands
for shelter, will only be found and caressed in
Scotland, and not entirely banished out of Eng-
land and Ireland ; though it is to be expected
and hoped that their sojournment will be but
short, where the cause of humanity and liberty
meet with such respectable and able advocates.

This edict of the emperor has not appeared in
any of our public prints ; it is not so long, but, I
should think, to the full as agreeable reading, as
Lord G. G.'s 4 book of the resolutions of the Scotch
Presbyters, &c., and if published by way of con-
trast, with a few notes, the cruel and absurd system
of his lordship and his associates would glare more
forcibly in the eyes of the public.

3 An edict of the Emperor Joseph II. in favour of toleration.
Its title or date have not been ascertained.

4 Lord George Gordon.


I received the other day a letter from my son,
expressing how much he is flattered with the hopes
of a letter from you, as I informed him of your
intentions. He will never forget the great and
many obligations we all have to you, no more
than, sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,





I am much obliged to your lordship for the honour
you have done me in communicating to me a new
instance of the liberality and justice which begins
to prevail in the world. I am sorry to find that
we, who ought to have taken the lead in so noble
a work, are but ill followers even of the examples
which are set to us. We are not yet ripe for any
thing very essential. A storm came upon us in
the early spring of our toleration, and whilst it
was shooting out its first tender buds. They had
not strength enough to sustain it. If I can esti-
mate the disposition, either of the people at large,
or the government, we are something more back-
ward than we were two years ago. Neither our
understandings nor our hearts are amiss, but we


want courage and decision of mind; and the
grand principles of justice and policy are not dear
enough to us to carry us through the difficulties
which we should encounter hardily for a paltry
job. As to myself, as far as my little efforts go,
my sentiments are always the same ; and from
whatever quarter a good thing comes, it shall have
my most cordial support. But, indeed, it must
originate in power. I hope and believe the beha-
viour of some Roman Catholic merchants in Cork,
in a late pecuniary exigence of government, when
the combined fleets, a few weeks ago, appeared off
the coast and (as they thought) threatened an in-
vasion, will be of some service.

I beg pardon for the trouble I lately gave your
lordship, in inclosing a letter, which I requested
you to send to Mr. Petre, to make a late and
insufficient, but very sincere acknowledgment, of
the very great honour and pleasure I have re-
ceived from his most ingenious and spirited per-
formance. I am afraid I troubled him with rather
a tedious letter.

I have the honour to be, with my most respect-
ful compliments to Lady Petre,

Your lordship's, &c. &c.



Passy, October 15, 1781.


I received but a few days ago your very friendly
letter of August last, on the subject of General

Since the foolish part of mankind will make
wars, from time to time, with each other, not
having sense enough otherwise to settle their dif-
ferences, it certainly becomes the wiser part, who
cannot prevent these wars, to alleviate as much
as possible the calamities attending them.

Mr. Burke always stood high in my esteem ;
his affectionate concern for his friend renders him
still more amiable, and makes the honour he
does me in admitting me of the number, still
more precious.

I do not think the congress have any wish to
persecute General Burgoyne. I never heard till
I received your letter that they had recalled him.
If they have made such a resolution, it must be,
I suppose, a conditional one; to take place in
case their offer of exchanging him for Mr.
Laurens should not be accepted a resolution
intended to enforce that offer.


I have just received an authentic copy of the
resolve containing that offer, and authorizing me
to make it. As I have no communication with
your ministers, I send it inclosed to you. If
you can find any means of negotiating this busi-
ness, I am sure the restoring another worthy man
to his family and friends will be an addition to
your pleasure.

With great and invariable respect and affection,

I am, sir,

Your most humble and most obedient servant,



By the United States, in Congress assembled,
June 14th, 1781.

Resolved: That the minister plenipotentiary
of these United States, at the court of Versailles,
be authorized and empowered to offer Lieutenant-
general Btirgoyne, in exchange for the Honour-
able Henry Laurens.

(Extract from the minutes.)



Charles-street, December 2, 1781.


It was this day hinted to me through two inter-
mediate (both very respectable) hands, that Mr.
Manning was of opinion, that I ought to be
extremely cautious in what I should advance
concerning Mr. Laurens ; that he was perfectly
satisfied with the treatment he had received in the
Tower, which had been as indulgent as he could
expect; and that the accounts of his sufferings,
in the newspapers, were by no means authentic.

After the communications with which you
favoured me, though somewhat surprised at
receiving such an intimation from such a quarter,
I was not much affected with what I heard. But
as the concerns of others, especially such very
tender concerns, have ever been, and I hope ever
will be, touched by me with a very delicate hand,
I thought it necessary that Mr. Laurens should
be again consulted, before I took any further
steps, either in parliament or elsewhere.

That he may have at once under his eye every
thing which may direct his judgment, I inclose to
you for his perusal, the letter which, in secresy, I
communicated to you, and which I received, not


long since, from Dr. Franklin. You know that I
had written to the doctor, merely from my own
suggestion, on the footing of old acquaintance,
and as to a private character, for the interposi-
tion of his good offices, on the peremptory and
unconditional recal of my friend General Burgoyne
by General Washington, which has been, indeed,
suspended in the execution, but never given up.
I confess I was extremely surprised at the pro-
posal of that specific exchange by congress, as a
means of obtaining the release of Mr. Laurens.
Had I attempted to act on that plan, before the
late event in America 5 , I should infallibly have
double-locked the gates of the Tower on that
gentleman. The ministers have long wished
with as much earnestness to send General Bur-
goyne into captivity, as the congress could desire
to free their late worthy president from his
present restraint ; and they would have the more
obstinately persevered in their strictness with
regard to him, in order to double their triumph,
by making congress itself their instrument in im-
prisoning the man they meant to free, and confin-
ing the man these ministers meant to confine. I
suppose Mr. Laurens knows that the ministers
had ordered General Burgoyne into captivity pre-

The surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army to
General Washington on the 19th October of this year.


viously to any requisition whatsoever; and that
General Burgoyne, from a sense of that unpa-
ralleled indignity, had thrown up all his valuable
military employments.

In this very difficult situation, I thought it
necessary to take the opinion of an able, friendly,
and confidential lawyer, who perfectly understands
the political map, as well as his own profession.
He agreed with me in the effect which such a
proposition must produce to the prejudice of Mr.
Laurens ; and was, besides, clearly of opinion, that
it was not in the power of ministers to exchange,
as a prisoner of war, a person committed on the
ground on which Mr. Laurens was committed.
The proposed exchange must be effected, if it can
be done at all, upon understood compacts of
honour between man and man ; and Mr. Laurens
must be discharged without any particular de-
clared conditions. To this, however, before the
late event, ministers never would consent, for the
reasons I have stated to you. Whether that event
has altered their dispositions in this particular,
I am wholly ignorant, but suspect it may not,
as I know that a great part of their politics is
made up of such miserable managements. As Mr.
Laurens is deeply concerned, I certainly wish to
have his opinion. From the very beginning, I
have been much affected with his condition, even
when I knew nothing of the peculiar rigours at-


tending it. I respected his character, and Dr.
Franklin's interposition, powerful as it ever must
be with me, and on this occasion doubly powerful,
was not necessary to secure my best endeavours
for his service, whenever a proper opportunity
should occur. I have not the honour to be at all
known to Mr. Laurens ; but you, who do know
me, will believe me. I beg you to send me the
papers which you offered to leave. They are
valuable monuments, and I will take care they
are not defaced.

I have the honour to be, with very particular
esteem and regard, dear sir,

Your most faithful and obedient
humble servant,



December 16, 1781.


It is impossible that, in a business like the pre-
sent, transacted with the persons with whom I
must transact it, that I should not inevitably be-
come the medium of delay, indecision, and preva-
rication. I trust that these things are wholly
repugnant to my nature, and inconsistent with my
principles. But those unfortunate people in whom


they are grown into an inveterate habit, and who
have substituted them in the place of a manly
policy, have so entangled themselves in their own
nets, that it is utterly impracticable for them to
make any one declaration, or to pursue any one
measure, which is not in direct contradiction to
some other act, or some other profession. Mr.
Laurens' remarks are as sound as they are acute
and ingenious, and he shows as much magnanimity
as sagacity of mind. But I must beg leave to
observe to him, that he remarks on what was con-
tained in my note, as if it contained the words of
ministers or their assistants. It was only the sub-
stance (or what I thought the substance) of what
I collected in conversation with one of the secre-
taries of the treasury. But to know what these
men do, or do not say, with any degree of clear-
ness and certainty, exceeds my measure of com-
prehension. The secretary with whom I conversed
has withdrawn himself from the business, and the
answer to my last letter to Lord North has come
through the other. It was in the form of minutes,
in writing, a copy of which, though promised, has
not yet been delivered to me. The substance is
(so far as it has any), that Lord G. Germain
apprehended that General Burgoyne was actually
exchanged ; and that, as to the other matter, rela-
tive to the treatment Mr. Laurens had received in
the Tower, Lord Hillsborough had no objection


to my bringing it on as soon as I pleased. To
the fact suggested, I have only to say it is not
true ; and the secretary must know it cannot be
true. The congress could not have so despised
and betrayed their late president, as to transmit
to Europe, to their minister-plenipotentiary, an
offer of exchange, and afterwards to render it null
and delusive by a subsequent act ; particularly as,
at the time of the supposed exchange, they had
no one officer of high rank in their hands to
exchange for him. The Lord Advocate of Scot-
land was, I believe by accident, present at my
conversation with Mr. Robinson, in one of the
committee-rooms. He said that his advice had
been to discharge Mr. Laurens from his confine-
ment, without stipulating any exchange whatever.
On the whole of this transaction as it stands, I am
obliged to suppose that a negative is put upon the
exchange, and that I am charged and defied to
produce any instance of ill treatment which Mr.
Laurens has received. Notwithstanding the change
in the circumstances of public affairs, ministers
seem to me to adhere, with as much obstinacy as
ever, to their betraying and ruining those who
have had the indiscretion or the misfortune of
acting under them, and who are not willing to
sacrifice their honour, by bearing with a degene-
rate patience the blame of their mismanagements.
Their unwillingness to consent to this exchange,


I must fairly say, does not arise from any particu-
lar animosity to Mr. Laurens, whom, (since they
despair of answering any purpose in their politics,
by making him an object of judicial proceeding,)
they do not wish, I believe, any longer to per-
secute. There are two causes for it, as I appre-
hended, the first, their implacable enmity to
General Burgoyne, for his having discountenanced
the delusions by which they proposed to carry on
the American war, the principle of which con-
sisted in the representation of the numbers and
zeal of those who adhered to the royal cause, in
opposition to the republican governments which
have been newly set up, and the smallness of the
numbers and pusillanimity of character of those
who supported those governments. General Bur-
goyne, in the inquiry to which he forced them to
submit in the House of Commons, has done more
than any body towards detecting these impos-
tures, among all those who have not been paid for
still pretending a belief in them. The next, is in
the desire of keeping open this exchange in favour
of some general officer, who may choose to merit
their countenance and protection by a prudent
silence upon those delicate topics.

This is the true spirit of the transaction so far
as it relates to General Burgoyne. The only ad-
vantage which Mr. Laurens can derive from an
adherence to this particular exchange with General


Burgoyne, is, his exchange being more early than
it can be in negotiating upon it for some such
officer as I have described ; for this cannot take
place until the congress shall have rescinded their
vote, and recalled the power which they have given
to Dr. Franklin for this specific exchange; and
this will require a great length of time, and lead
into many difficulties in the arrangement. But of
this Mr. Laurens is to judge. He can have but
one view, which is his present enlargement, and
his future restitution to his complete capacity of a
citizen in America by his exchange.

In this light it must be indifferent to him for
whom he is exchanged, provided he should not
think that it would be a degree of generosity in
him, rather to obstruct than forward the views of
those, who, at one time, have exercised their re-
sentments with regard to him personally, and would
now gratify both their resentments and partialities
upon others through him, though without his con-
sent or desire, and contrary, as I apprehend, to
his immediate interest. My negotiations with
ministry are over. I find it impossible to treat
with them any longer, without engaging myself
deeper and deeper in the labyrinth of their politics.
I therefore propose to-morrow to bring the whole
matter before the public, in my place in parlia-

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Online LibraryEdmund BurkeCorrespondence of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; between the year 1744 and the period of his decease, in 1797 (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 27)