George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Newenham, 8 March 1794

From Edward Newenham

Dublin [Ireland] 8th March 1794

Dear Sir

The enclosed was left behind by the Captain of Ship, who promised to take it along with the papers & Magazines, which I had the Honor to send you last February.1

This goes by my Worthy Friend Mr Noble, who says he will have the Honor to deliver it personaly to you; he is a Neighbour of mine, & of a most respectable Character.

God forbid that there should be a War between your Country & this; it would be a Severe injury to both; I hope all concerned, on both sides, will act with that Magnanimity which marked your Conduct on a Late occasion; I read all the Letters & addresses, that passed on that Affair—they are universaly admired.

The War on the Continent, in my humble opinion, will be decisive this year on one side or the other; for Each are making their Utmost Efforts; France is Vastly Superior in Numbers & Artillery & there are so many Strong Towns to take before an Enemy can pene[t]rate into the Kingdom, that she may Still defy the Allies, if there are inward Dissentions; we thought all the Royalists in Le Vendee were Exterminated, but by the last papers it appears that 7000 of that Class of Men have rizen in Arms & were defeated2—it Shews that there is a latent convulsion ready to Break out, if Ever the Allies should prove Succesfull on the Frontiers.

It is thought, that, by this Time, the English are in Possession of Some of the French West Indies Islands,3 & Stocks have rose a Little on that Account; but in my opinion, it would be of more consequence to Great Brittain to have Kept her fleet at home & sent her Soldiers to the Continent—for should France Succeed in Europe, all her Losses in the East and West Indies must be restored, as they could not be withheld from her; I am astonished that the Empress of Russia has not Sent a few Thousands of her Troopes by Sea to ostend.4

By a letter I lately received from Germany I hear that our most Worthy Friend the Marquiss Le Fayette is in health at Spandau & that the Marchiness is alive & well at her house in Auverne.5

our Parliament is near having done all Business in a Shorter Time than ever occurred before—all was Unanimous & firm in Support of the war—there has been only 2 Debates of any Consequence & the Minority very Small—our Minister cannot get the Supplies in this Kingdom under 6 per Ct so he borrows in England at 5 & an annuity of 1 per Ct for 15 years—the whole Militia of this Kingdom are training & on Constant Duty6—for Government is preparing for Defence in case the French should disturb us—though almost all our Regulars are gone Either to the West Indies or Flanders, which I think was bad policy.

A few Nights ago, this City was much alarmed; a fire Broke out Close to the Treasury & record office, & which brought to our remembrance the burning of the Parliament House, made us fearfull of a general Conflagration.7 Wishing you every health & happiness of this Life, with Lady Newenhams best respects to you & Mrs Washington I have the Honor to be with Every sentiment of Respect & esteem Dear Sir your most faithfull & Affe. Hble Sert

Edward Newenham


1The enclosure probably was Newenham’s letter to GW of 11 Feb. 1794.

2The Vendée region in western France was a center of opposition to the French republic. In March 1793, the peasant population of the area combined with Royalist forces to form an opposition army of nearly fifty thousand, the so-called Royal Catholic Army. This army had a series of victories throughout the summer and fall of 1793, but was decisively defeated at the Battle of Savenay on 23 Dec. 1793.

3In the “Great Push” of 1793–94, British forces under Vice Admiral Sir John Jervis (1735–1823) and General Sir Charles Grey (1729–1807) overwhelmed French positions throughout the Caribbean, seizing Barbados in January 1794, Martinique in March, St. Lucia and Guadeloupe in April, and parts of Saint Domingue by June 1794. However, setbacks soon occurred, less for French military resistance but more for slave uprisings and tropical disease (Jennifer Mori, William Pitt and the French Revolution 1785–1795 [Edinburgh, 1997], 152, 212–13, 220–21; see also Michael Duffy, Soldiers, Sugar, and Seapower: The British Expeditions to the West Indies and the War against Revolutionary France [Oxford, 1987]).

4At this time, the empress of Russia, Catherine II, failed to offer significant support to the First Coalition against France, being preoccupied with events in Poland following the Second Partition of Poland in January 1793. The North Sea port of Ostend, located in western Belgium, was under the control of France at this time, but Russian interests did not lie there. While Catherine II was opposed to revolutionary France ideologically, she hoped to gain territory for her empire in the east while France’s neighbors were distracted in the west (Simon Dixon, Catherine the Great [Harlow, England, 2001], 169–73; Mori, William Pitt, 215–16).

5Between January and May 1794, the Marquis de Lafayette was held prisoner by the Prussians in the fortress at Neisse in Silesia. The Marquise de Lafayette was not at the family estate of Chavanaic in Auvergne, but since mid-November 1793, she was incarcerated in the prison at the nearby village of Brioude.

6On Ireland’s pledge to help supply the British war effort against France, see n.2 of Newenham to GW, 11 February.

7The Irish House of Parliament burnt on 27 Feb. 1792, destroying the dome and portions of the Commons’ chamber (Times of London, 5 March 1792).

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