George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry, Count de Nassau, 28 August 1792

From Henry, Count de Nassau

London August 28th 1792


I never am unmindful of those I think so well of as Yourself; their Number is not So great as to Confound ones Memory.

Inclosed printed Extracts from the Public Advertiser.1 Shews Your Excellency a little what I have suffered for the brave Americans Since the Battle of Bunkershill. I was since that time persecuted and have suffered much, and more as You Could think but my good Conscience and Providence have never left me Comfortless. at last my Book Memoires Campaigns and Travels in 4 Volumes large Octavo will be printed after so manny strugles. the First Volume will be published about Easter next Year and every 6 months another Volume. I shall have the Honour through the american ambassador send one for Your Excellency2 Since these few days I was very Ill a severe Coald has troubled me much that I can scarcely write a few Lines. I was 18 Years in the late King of Prussias Service, I left him 1767. made a Tour through Saxony, Bohemia, Austria Hungaria and was 4 days at Belgrad: 1768. I came home again but had the misfortune to be shipwrecked in Yoarmouth Roads where I lost all my Monney Equipage &c. this was a Very hard Trial for me but God had never forsaken me The late King of Prussia Frederick the Great holds me about 40,000£. Sterling 5 months past I wrote a Letter to the present King of Prussia and Demanded my money the Answer was I myself must Come to Berlin to wait upon the King himself I Should have the money due to me but I must not mention any things about this in my Book. Kings like their secrets not to be published.

Now I prepare me to go to Holland Brunswick Potsdam and Berlin to receive the monney due to me, and to see my Old good Friends and whenn my Book is finished in about 2 Years time. I hope to have the Honour to give Your Excellency a Visit in America. my Book Contains manny Excillent Anecdotes Concerning the late War in America.

In the Public advertiser August the 4th this month I have published an Essay on Duelling as a Warning to my Brother Officers in the Navy and Army.

The late accounts from France are very melancholic. I have heard Preach that famous Dr [Joseph] Priestley 3 times he is a man of Sense, a true Philosopher and I believe an honest man, but Veritas odium parit.3 his appeal is excellent Soon after Easter next year I hope to retourn from Berlin. I wish Your Excellency good Health and all Happiness here below. and so all the Inhabitans of America, Success to Trade and Commerce. Peace Unity and Concord. I wish to see America again before I Die. my Head ach permits me no more to Write. I have the Honour with the greatest Esteem to be Your Excellencys most humble servant

Henry, Count de Nassau
the Old Neglected Captain in the Royal Navy

N.B. it is to day exactly 10 years when the Royal George of 100. Guns was overset at Portsmouth. brave Admiral Kampenfeld and So many 100. about 920 Souls were lost.4 And N.B. I saved my Life so wunderfull all is minutly explained in my Memoires &c:

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover indicates this letter’s passage on the ship “Pigou Loxley.”

1The enclosed broadside contains three extracts from The Public Advertiser (London). The first extract, dated 15 Nov. 1784, reports the arrest on 12 Nov. of “Henry Count de Nassau, a Post Captain in the Royal Navy” and his release the next day when the authorities decided that the unspecified charges were false. “It seems this persecution had arose from the Count’s constant adherence to the Protestant interest in Holland, and England,” and from his recent expressions of support for Lord George Gordon, a prominent anti-Catholic activist. “The Count de Nassau is the same Nobleman who was persecuted in Lord North’s Administration for refusing to fight against the Protestant Colonies in America, and their brave Dutch allies.”

The second extract, from the 5 Mar. 1787 issue, announces the anticipated publication of the “memoirs, campaigns, and travels, in four volumes,” by Nassau, “a Captain in the Royal Navy, who was formerly a Lieutenant Colonel, Knight of the Military Order of Merit, and Privy Counsellor to the late king Frederick the Great, of Prussia.” In this extract Nassau says that he was born in 1728 at York, England, and that “In 1755, when I was a Lieutenant in the king of Prussia’s service, the king trusted me with dispatches of the greatest consequence, and sent me to London to king George the Second, . . . who received me very graciously, and made me a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, to the man of war, the Royal George. . . . I had the honour to travel with king George the Second, from London to Hanover, and from thence to Potsdam, with the king’s answer to my Royal Master Frederick the Great.”

In the third extract, dated 10 Mar. 1792, Nassau says that the publication of his memoirs has been delayed due to “a falling out with my Bookseller. . . . The Engravers made a mistake in the plan of the battle of Ros[s]bach, and the unfortunate battle of Collin [Kolin], where I lost my dearly beloved eldest son who was killed by a canon ball at my side.”

2Nassau’s memoirs have not been identified, and no publication by Nassau was in GW’s library at the time of his death.

3This Latin phrase, which can be translated as “truth breeds hatred,” was used by the Roman comic dramatist Terence (Publius Terentius Afer; c.190–159 B.C.) in his play Andria.

4The Royal George sank on 29 Aug. 1782 while docked at Portsmouth, England, for repairs. At the time of the disaster not only the crew but also family, friends, and tradesmen were on board. Estimates of the number killed vary, but all accounts agree that hundreds died that day, including Adm. Richard Kempenfelt (1718–1782).

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