Imagens das páginas
[ocr errors]

handed you, exhibits many serious charges, and it is mv wiso that it may be submitted to Congress. This I am more inclined to, as the suppression, or concealment, may possibly involve you in embarrassments hereafter, since it is uncertain how many, or who, may be privy to the contents..

. My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of me. T'hey know the delicacy of my situation, and that mo. tives of policy deprive me of the defence I might otherwise make against their insidious attacks. They know I cannot combat their insinuations, however in. jurious, without disclosing secrets, it is of the utmost moment to conceal. But why should I expect to be exempt from censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station ? Merit and talents, which I cannot pretend to rival, have ever been subject to it. My heart tells me it has been my unremitted aim to do the best, which circumstances would permit; yet I may have been very often mistaken in ny judgment of the means, and may, in many instances, deserve the imputation of errour.”

To a friend in New-England, who expressed by letter his anxiety in consequence of a report that he vras about to resign his commission, he wrote:

“I can assure you that no person ever heard me drop an expression that had a tendency to resignation. The same principles that led me to embark in the opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain, operate with additional force at this day; nor is it desire to withdraw my services while they are consider. ed of importance in the present contest; but to report a design of this kind, is among the arts, which those who are endeavouring to effect a change, are prac. tising to bring it to pass. I have said, and I still do say, that there is not an officer in the service of the United States, that would return to the sweets of° d'omestick life with more heartfelt joy than I should. But I would have this declaration accompanied by


these sentiments, that while the publick are satisfied with my endeavours, I mean not to shririk from the cause : but the moment her voice, not that of faction, calls upon me to resign, I shall do it with as much pleasure as ever the wearied traveller retired to rest."

His friend Mr. Patrick Henry, then Governour of Virginia, informed him of the intrigues that were going on in his native state. To which he replied :

'The anonymous letter with which you were pleased to favour me, was written by

so far as I can judge from the similitude of hånds.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

“My caution to avoid any thing that could injure the service, prevented me from communicating, oxcept to a very few of my friends, the intrigues of a faction which I knew was formed against me, since it might serve to publish our internal dissensions, but their own restless zeal to advance their views has too clearly betrayed them, and made concealme it on my part fruitless. I cannot precisely mark the extent of their views, but it appeared in general, that General Gates was to be exalted on the ruin of my reputation and influence. This I am authorized to say from un. deniable facts in my possession, from publications the evident scope of which could not be mistaken, and from private detractions industriously circuluted. ********** it is commonly supposed, bore the second part in the cabal; and General Conway, I know, was a very activo and malignant partisan ; but I have good reason to believe that their machinations have recoiled most sensi. bly upon themselves.”

General Gates learning that a passage in a letter from Brigadier Conway to him had been communicated to the Commander in Chief, wrote the following letter, as extraordinary for the manner of its conveyance, as for the matter it contains.

“ I shall not attempt to describe, what, as a private gentleman, I cannot hel: 4.!.!!! in representing to

[ocr errors]

my mind, the disagreeable situation, which confidential letters, when exposed to publick inspection, inay place an unsuspecting correspondent in; but, as a publick officer, I conjure your Excellency to give me all the assistance you can, in tracing out the author of the infidelity, which put extracts from General Conway's letters to me into your hands. Those letters have been stealingly copied; but which of them, when, or by whom., is to me as yet an secret.

" There is not one officer in my suite, or among those who have a free access to me, upon whom I could with the least justification to myself, fix the suspicion ; and yet my uneasiness may deprive me of the usefulness of the worthiest men. It is, I believe, in your Excellency's power to do me, and the United States, a very important service, by detecting a wretch who may betray me, and capitally injure the very operations under your immediate direction. For this reason, sir, I beg your Excellency would favour me with the proofs you can procure to that effect. But the crime being eventually so important, that the least loss of time may be attended with the worst consequences; and it being unknown to me whether the letter came to you from a member of Congress, or from an officer, I shall have the honour of transmitting a copy of this to the President, that Congress may, in concert with your Excellency, obtain, as soon as possible, a discovery which so deeply affects the safety of the States. Crimes of that mugnitude ought not to remain unpunished.”

To which the General with dignity replied.

“ Your letter of the 18th ultimo, canie to my hands a few days ago, and to my great surprise informed me, that a copy of it had been sent to Congress, for what reason, I find myself unable to account ; but as some end doubtless was intended to be answered by it, I am laid under the disagreeable necessity of returning my answer through the same channel, lest any member of

on his



that honourable body should harbour an unfavourable buspicion of my having practised some indirect means co come at the contents of tho confidential letters between you and General Conway.

“I am to inform you then, that *********, way to Congress, in the month of October last, fell in with Lord Sterling at Reading; and, not in confidence that I ever understood, informed his Aid de camp, Major M Williams, that General Conway had written thus to you, 'Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak General and bad Counsellors would have ruined it.' Lord Sterling, from motives of friend ship, transmitted the account with this remark. enclosed was communicated by

to Major M’Williams; such wicked duplicity of conduct, I shai] always think it my duty to detect.”

“In consequence of this information, and without having any thing more in view, than merely to show that gentleman that I was not unapprized of his intriguing disposition, I wrote him a letter in these words.

“Sir, a letter which I received last night, contained the following paragraph.

“In a letter from General Conway to General Gates, he saye, 'heaven has been determined to save your country; or a weak General and bad Counsel. lors would have ruined it ; I am, sir, &c.'

“ Neither the letter, nor the information which occasioned it, was ever direetly, or indirectly, communi. cated by me tn a single officer in this army (out of my own family) excepting the Marquis de la Fayette, who having been spoken to on the subject, by General Conway, applied for, and saw, under injunctions of secrecy, the letter which contained this information ; so desirous was I of concealirg every matter that could, in its consequences, give the smallest interruption to the tranquillity of this army, or afford a gleam of hope to the enemy by dissensions therein.

". Thus, sir, with an openness and candour, which I

hope will ever characterize and mark my conduct, havo I complied with your request.

6: The only concern I feel upon the occasion, finding how matters stand, is, that, in doing this, I have necessarily been obliged to name a gentleman, who, I ain persuaded, (although I never exchanged a word with him upon the subject) thought he was rather doing an act of justice, than committing an act of infidelity; and sure I am, tuat until Lord Sterling's letter came to my hands, I never knew that General Conway, (whom I viewed in the light of a stranger to you) was a correspondent of yours, much less did I suspect that I was the subject of your confidential letters. Pardon me then for adding, that, so far from conceiving that the safety of the States can be affected, or in the smallest degree injured, by a discovery of this kind, or that I should be called upon in such solemn terms to point out the author, that I considered the information as coming from yourself, and given with a friendly view to forewarn and consequently forearm me, against a se cret enemy, or in other words, a dangerous incendiary, in which character, sooner or later, this country will know General Conway. But, in this, as weil as other matters of late, I have found myself mistaken."

In the active period of the last campaign, the Penn sylvanians had been deficient in the support given to General WASHINGTON, yet sore at the loss of their capital, and at the depredation of the enemy in their towns, they murmured that he had not defended them against Sir William Howe, although his force was greatly inferiour to that of the enemy. General Miffin was then a member of the Legislature of that State. This Legislatare being informed that the American army was moving into winter quarters, presented a remonstrance to Congress against the measure, in which unequivocal complaints were contained against the Commander in Chief. This remonstrance was presented at the very time the discovery was

« AnteriorContinuar »