From Edmund Jenings
Brussels April 24. 1780
I have receivd your Excellencys Letter of the 19th Instant, inclosing the Copy of Another of the 15th Addressed to his Excellency Mr. Franklin.1 I feel in the most Sensible Manner, the Marks you give me of your Benevolence and Trust. Nothing can be more flattering, and more Animating to me to persist in these Sentiments and that Conduct, which have fortunately drawn your Notice on me. I entreat your Excellency to rely on my Faithfulness and strict Adherence to privete and public Honor.
I will make particular Enquiries after the Pamphlet, but as it was publishd 15 Years Ago it will perhaps be difficult to find it. No Endeavours however will be spared; I can trust my Friends Diligence which woud be much assistd, if your Excellency coud inform me of the Name of the Bookseller, who published it.2
I send your Excellency the inclosd Newspaper. It Contains the debate on the Contractors Bill in the House of Lords, which, being thrown out, is a strong Proof of the Absurdity of endeavouring to reform and save the adjacent Island of Corruption. It Contains too a Paragraph on a late publication, and the Sentiments and Motions of a Mr. Nichols in a County meeting.3 That Gentleman has been long esteemd by me as a Friend, for He has ever been a Friend to America.
The Astonishment is great in these Countries, to hear that England has annulld the Dutch Treaties, Oh! that Mr. Laurens was in Holland at this Instance. What an Opportunity has France to bind the States general to Her for Ever! A liberal Plan of Conduct would do it, and Holland renderd thereby more subservient to Her in War and Peace, than by the violence of Conquest and Actual Possession. Altho I am convincd, that the Moderation, Respect and Submission, that the Duch have showed towards England has encouragd that Infatuatd Country, in its arrogant and desperate Measures, Yet being scornd, as they have been, cannot but condemn the one and satisfy the other in future proceedings and imitate and Revolt the Spirit of Europe against the Aggressor.
I am with the greatest Sir Your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obd Hble Sevt
RC (Adams Papers).
1. The “9” and the “5” in the two dates given in this sentence are written over other illegible numbers, but Jenings presumably means JA’s letter of 19 April to Benjamin Franklin (above), for no letter of the 15th has been found. JA’s only known letter of the 19th to Jenings, a cover for an enclosed account of JA’s journey through Spain (above), makes no mention of enclosing JA’s letter to Franklin.
2. For The True Sentiments of America, London, 1768, which contained “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” (p. 111–143), see JA’s letter of 20 April to Jenings, and note 2 (above), and his reply to Jenings of 29 April, and note 1 (below).
3. The enclosed newspaper has not been found, but it was probably published on 15 April. The contractors bill, which was finally defeated on 17 April, would have prohibited any member of the House of Commons from being a party to a government contract unless the contract was put up for public bid. It was debated in the House of Lords on the 14th and reported in the London Courant and other London papers of the 15th.
The “late publication” may have been the announcement of JA’s mission (to Jenings, 2 April, and note 1, above). The London Courant of 15 April contained a paragraph which reported that Lord North, upon hearing of JA’s arrival in France to conclude a peace treaty, had expressed his wish that JA had come immediately to London, but that he had since learned that JA had neither confidence in him nor any desire to go to England, “having nothing at all to propose to the Court of London; neither is he in a hurry for peace.” The author of the article then stated that JA had come “with the most ample powers to treat upon, and finally to conclude (in conjunction with the Courts of France and Spain) upon a fair and honourable peace with England, on terms of perfect equality, as independent sovereign powers; and his Lordship may wait till he is much larger in the girth than he at present is, if he waits till he recieves any kind of overture from Mr. Adams—The man won’t come to the mountain.”
Finally, the London Courant of the 15th also contained an account of a meeting “of the Freeholders of the County of Surry” at Epsom on 14 April at which John Nicholls, later a member of Parliament, spoke against the war in America and offered two resolutions. The first declared that the war in America stemmed “from the corrupt influence of the Crown, and the illfounded assertions of the Kings Ministers in Parliament” and was responsible for the “calamitous situation of the country,” while the second denounced further offensive operations in America. JA quoted from the portion of the article containing the resolutions in his letter of 29 April to the president of Congress (No. 55, calendared below).