James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Bentley, 19 August 1813

From William Bentley

Salem, Mass. U.S.A. Aug. 19. 1813.


I have the satisfaction to assure the President, that Captain George Crowninshield, the son, sailed from Salem on Saturday, Aug. 7. & returned from Halifax, on Wednesday, August, 19, with the bodies of Captain Laurence & Lt Ludlow. He reports, that he had every thing agreably to his wishes, & found that every thing had been done at the interment of these brave men, that had ever been done in that Colony. The American Agent took charge of all services on shore, & the American prisoners of Salem were present at the removal from the graves to the Cartel. Mr C. discharged every due before he left Halifax.1 The British thought such zeal in private citizens promised every thing to our States.

We are in full preparation for every funeral honour, & the event shall be reported.2 The few, who like Miltons Devil, “with darkness durst affront the light—are lost in loss itself.”3 It is proposed to have our solemnity on Monday Aug. 23. The bodies are closed from inspection & remain in the Cartel, afloat & at anchor in the harbour. Mr C. has had an affectionate Letter from the Brother of Capt Laurence. With the highest respect, your devoted Servant,

William Bentley.

RC (DLC); FC (MWA). Docketed by JM.

1The British apparently did not consider all outstanding accounts settled, because they subsequently sent Crowninshield “their bill of sundries” for James Lawrence’s first burial at Halifax. Bentley observed that such a demand was “not expected after the proud accounts of funeral honours” (Bentley, Diary of William Bentley, 4:197–98).

2For Lawrence’s funeral at Salem, see Bentley to JM, 20 July 1813, n. 2. The Salem Essex Register of 25 Aug. 1813 published two accounts of the ceremonies.

3Bentley paraphrased John Milton’s descriptions of Jehovah’s adversaries, the false gods who “with their darkness durst affront his light,” and who, as Satan’s host, discovering their will to resist despite having been cast from Heaven, “found themselves not lost / In loss itself” (Milton, Paradise Lost, bk. 1, lines 391, 525–26).

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