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Thus no part of the affair was done without my "knowl edge and concurrence," except the sending a million and a half of the specie to Holland. This was indeed a secret to me. I had heard of that sum's being ready there to embark, but I always, till lately, understood it to be a part of the Dutch loan, which I am about to mention, or I should certainly have opposed that operation. What Colonel Laurens really obtained, and a great service I hope it will prove, was a loan upon interest of ten millions, to be borrowed on the credit of this court in Holland. I have not heard, that this loan has yet produced any thing, and therefore I do not know that a single livre exists, or has existed in Europe, of his procuring for the States. On the contrary, he and you have drawn from me considerable sums, as necessary for your expenses, and he left me near forty thousand livres to pay for the Alliance; and, moreover, engaged me in a debt in Holland, which I understood might amount to about fifteen thousand pounds sterling, and which you contrived to make fifty thousand pounds.
When I mentioned to him the difficulty I should find to pay the drafts, he said, "You have the remainder of the six millions." He gave me no account of the dispositions he had made, and it is but lately I have learnt, that there is no remainder. To gratify you, and to get that ship out, which could not have stirred without me, I have engaged for the vast sum above mentioned, which I am sure I shall be much distressed to pay, and therefore have not deserved at your hands the affront you are advised to menace me with.
And since I find you make it a point of reflection upon me, that I want to apply money to the payment of my engagements for the Congress, which was obtained by Colonel Laurens for other purposes, I must request, that
you will upon this better information take occasion to correct that error, if you have communicated to any other person.
By the letters you showed me, that had passed between Mr. Adams and you, I perceived he had imbibed an opinion, that Colonel Laurens had, as he expressed it, done more for the United States in the short time of his being in Europe, than all the rest of their diplomatic corps put together. I should never have disputed this, because I had rather lend a little credit to a friend, than take any from him, especially when I am persuaded he will make a good use of it; but, when his friends will make such supposititious credit a matter of reproach to me, it is not right to continue silent.
As to the safety of your excellent conveyance you mention, I must own, I have some doubts about it, and I fear I shall hear of the arrival of that ship in England, before she sees America. Be that as it may, I am clear that no use can possibly be made of the money in America for supporting the credit of the States, equal in any degree to the effect it must have for the same purpose, when applied to the payment of their bills here, which must otherwise go back protested. And I am sure it will be exceedingly prejudicial to their credit, if, by the rash proceeding you threaten, this situation of their affairs becomes the subject of public talk and discussion in Europe.
I have just received your very friendly letter of the 6th of June past, announcing your appointment to the superintendence of our finances. This gave me great pleasure, as, from your intelligence, integrity, and abilities, there is reason to hope
* Recently appointed superintendent of finance by Congress.-ED.
every advantage, that the public can possibly receive from such an office. You are wise in estimating beforehand, as the principal advantage you can expect, the consciousness of having done service to your country; for the business you have undertaken is of so complex a nature, and must engross so much of your time and attention, as necessarily to injure your private interests; and the public is often niggardly, even of its thanks, while you are sure of being censured by malevolent critics and bug-writers, who will abuse you while you are serving them, and wound your character in nameless pamphlets; thereby resembling those little dirty insects, that attack us only in the dark, disturb our repose, molesting and wounding us, while our sweat and blood are contributing to their subsistence. Every assistance that my situation here, as long as it continues, may enable me to afford you, shall certainly be given; for, besides my affection for the glorious cause we are both engaged in, I value myself upon your friendship, and shall be happy if mine can be made of any use to you.
William The Congress have done me the honor to Carmichael, refuse accepting my resignation, and insist on dated Passy, 24 Aug., 1781. my continuing in their service till the peace. I must therefore buckle again to business, and thank God that my health and spirits are of late improved. I fancy it may have been a double mortification to those enemies you have mentioned to me, that I should ask as a favor what they hoped to vex me by taking from me; and that I should nevertheless be continued. But this sort of considerations should never influence our conduct. We ought always to do what appears best to be done, without much regarding what others may think of it. I call this continuance an
honor, and I really esteem it to be a greater than my first appointment, when I consider that all the interest of my enemies, united with my own request, were not sufficient to prevent it.
To a Friend, Your comparison of the keystone of an arch is very pretty, tending to make me content with my situation. But I suppose you have heard our story of the harrow; if not, here it is. A farmer, in our country, sent two of his servants to borrow one of a neighbour, ordering them to bring it between them on their shoulders. When they came to look at it, one of them, who had much wit and cunning, said; "What could our master mean by sending only two men to bring this harrow? No two men upon earth are strong enough to carry it." "Poh!" said the other, who was vain of his strength, "what do you talk of two men? One man may carry it. Help it upon my shoulders and see.' As he proceeded with it, the wag kept exclaiming, "Zounds, how strong you are! I could not have thought it. Why, you are a Samson! There is not such another man in America. What amazing strength God has given you! But you will kill yourself! Pray put it down. and rest a little, or let me bear a part of the weight." "No, no," said he, being more encouraged by the compliments, than oppressed by the burden; "you shall see I can carry it quite home." And so he did. In this particular I am afraid my part of the imitation will fall short of the original.
REVEREND SIR,-I duly received the letter
Passy, 5 Sep- you did me the honor of writing to me the tember, 1781. 25th past, together with the valuable little. book, of which you are the author. There can be no doubt,
but that a gentleman of your learning and abilities might make a very useful member of society in our new country, and meet with encouragement there, either as an instructor in one of our Universities, or as a clergyman of the Church of Ireland. But I am not empowered to engage any person to go over thither, and my abilities to assist the distressed are very limited. I suppose you will soon be set at liberty in England by the cartel for the exchange of prisoners. In the mean time, if five louis-d'ors may be of present service to you, please to draw on me for that sum, and your bill shall be paid on sight. Some time or other you may have an opportunity of assisting with an equal sum a stranger who has equal need of it. Do so. By that means you will discharge any obligation you may suppose yourself under to me. Enjoin him to do the same on occasion. By pursuing such a practice, much good may be done with little Let kind offices go round. Mankind are all of a
As to the friends and enemies you just menHopkinson, tion, I have hitherto, thanks to God, had dated Passy, 13 Sept., 1781. plenty of the former kind; they have been my treasure; and it has perhaps been of no disadvantage to me, that I have had a few of the latter. They serve to put us upon correcting the faults we have, and avoiding those we are in danger of having. They counteract the mischief flattery might do us, and their malicious attacks make our friends more zealous in serving us and promoting our interest. At present, I do not know of more than two such enemies that I enjoy, viz. and ―. I deserved the enmity of the latter, because I might have avoided it by paying him a compliment, which I neglected. That of the