George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Newenham, 9 March 1795

From Edward Newenham

Dublin 9th March 1795

My Ever respected Friend—

It appears an Age to me, Since I had the Honor & Sincere pleasure of a Letter from you; my pen has not been Idle, for I wrote Several Letters, which, from not hearing from you, I fear were captured by Ships in the service of the French Republic.1

This has been the most Severe Winter, that we have had these 50 years; the Frost begun on the 21st of last December & it was a Constant frost & Snow with only Six days Intermission untill the 19th of January; Hares, Rabits, patridge & all water wild fowel are nearly annihi[la]ted; the Markets Swarm’d with them—there ought to be an act passed to give the few remaing animals & birds a Jubilee of two years—Provisions did not rize in Consequence of Such bad weather, but they will now, as 10,000 British Troopes are coming over here.

At this moment, this Kingdom is Violently agitated from one End to the other.

The Present Lord Lieutenant Earl of Fitzwilliam was Connected with the Duke of Portland in Violent opposition to the English Minister for these 5 years—Matters were accomodated between them—the Duke of Portland was appointed Secretary of State—& his friend Lord Fitzwilliam Vice-roy of Ireland—when he came over here, he took all the opposition Members into his Councils & begun to Turn out all Mr Pitts Steady friends—this was resented by the Duke of Portland, who insists, that the agreement was, that he should not displace any of the old officers of the Crown, but should have the sole Patronage of Every Vacansy—on his Dismissing the Chief Commissioner, the Attorney General & Solicitor General, they remonstrated—Letters were sent from England to reinstate them—Fitzwilliam refused, & declared he would resign—but that he could not do without a Letter under the Kings Sign Manual—this gave Time for a Negociation In the Mean Time many Towns & Counties Drew up Strong Petitions to the King & Addresses to Lord Fitzwilliam to remain here—Both houses of Parliament voted him their thanks Unanimously—the opponents of the British Minister, who were all out of office but wanted to get into office, Stirred up the Papists to make a Violent Demand of Equal Liberty &c. with the Protestants; having just got these most Numerous Class of People on their Side, they made their cause, the Chief of their Complaints, as they had Induced Lord Fitzwilliam to promise them Every thing.2

3 Mails are due this day from England—& all is in Suspence—nearly I may say in Commotion, as the final Settlement is hourly Expected—this Country was never so agitated, & all a Struggle for Power & Employment; the present opponents, when formerly in office (one Excepted) were the most Servile Flatterers of a Court—and were a Jobbing Juncto—& always opposed Every good Constitutional Act—but since they were dismissd, they have become Violent Patriots—I preserve my freedom & Independance between both parties, sometimes I vote with one & sometimes with the other—though I lost part of my own & the whole of my you[n]ger Chi[l]drens property by my Parliamentary Conduct—I never yet solicited an office or reimbusement—2 of my Sons, got by an English Interest, a Trifling Pension for themselves.

If the final (& it must be important) Settlement arrives from London before the Ship, this Letter goes by, Leaves the Harbour, where she is only waiting for 3 Passenger, I shall have the Honor of Letting you Know the result.

Let that result be what it may, it will be a long Time before the Agitation Subsides—untill this fatal Period, we were rapidly encreasing in Wealth Prosperity & public improvements, but all is at a stand! Good God, that Men cannot Serve their Country without being in Lucrative offices—if Lord Fitzwilliams friends would act, as they have lately done, & not Demand Employments, they would deserve well of their Country—but say they, we cannot do good unless we are in office—that is absurd; for while they have the Vice-roy (who Commands all placemen) on their side, they could not meet with any opposition, not Even from 10 out of the 300 Members.

As to affairs on the Continent you are a better judge than I, for lateraly we only get Garbled papers on Each side, & Seldom get a French paper Since November last—I wish to see France settled within its old Bounds of Territory—I wish to see Holland restored to its former State with some Restrictions to the Power of the Stadholder, & I should rejoice to see the property of the German Princes given Back to them, & then all Europe join to restore Unfortunate Poland to its ancient power, & Curb & Lessen the power of the two Northern Despots3—Geneva is nearly ruind by the Present Faction—real Liberty is banished from that once most happy & Industrious City4Atheism & Plunder is the order of the Day, where pure Religion & obedience to the best Laws were the rule of Government—as to Haughty & bigotted Spain, I wish to see it Enlightned for the Benefit of its whole People—& the Italian Governments want Some Corrections—as to Poor Papa he is now a Cypher in his Capitol—his ⟨Bulls⟩, are as innocent as Lambs, & I Experct the French will fraternize his Dominions, & perhaps Levy a requisition from Holy Loretto—for I should imagine that if their (the French) Army in Italy is so Strong as represent, they will soon arrive at Loretto, Rome & Naples.

I have never heard from a Darling Daughter of mine, that was married to Mr Folsch the Swedish Consul at Marsailles, sin[ce] the beginning of June 1793—I have long given her & her Children up; Mr Jay promised me to Enquire, but as he never mentiond the result of his Enquiry, I conclude the worst has happened.5

Lady Newenham joins me in best respects to you & Mrs Washington. I remain My Dear Sir with the warmest Sentiments of Respect & unalterable Esteem your Excellency’s Most Faithfull Hble Sert

Edward Newenham


1The most recent extant letter from GW to Newenham is dated 20 Oct. 1792. Since that date Newenham had written at least seven letters to GW, most recently of 20 Nov. 1794. GW offered an apology and explanation for his “silence” in his letter to Newenham of 6 Aug. 1797 (Papers, Retirement Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Retirement Series. 4 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1998–99. description ends , 1:290–91).

2William Fitzwilliam, fourth Earl Fitzwilliam (1748–1833), accepted the post of lord lieutenant in August 1794 and arrived in Ireland in January 1795. William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, third duke of Portland (1738–1809), who had served briefly as lord lieutenant for Ireland in 1782, became secretary of state (home secretary) in July 1794 and served until 1801. John Beresford (1738–1805), who represented County Waterford in the Irish Parliament, had served as a commissioner of the revenue since 1770 and had become first commissioner in 1780. Fitzwilliam’s attempt to dismiss him was unsuccessful, and he served as first commissioner until 1802. Arthur Wolfe (1739–1803), who was at this time a member of the Irish Parliament from Jamestown (having earlier represented Coleraine), was appointed attorney general in 1789 and remained in that post until 1798, when he became chief justice of the king’s bench. John Toler (1745–1831), who at this time represented Gorey in the Irish Parliament (having earlier represented Tralee and Philipstown), replaced Wolfe as solicitor general for Ireland in 1789 and retained that post until 1798, when he was promoted to attorney general. Toler served as chief justice of the court of common pleas for Ireland from 1800 to 1827, and in 1800 he was raised to the Irish peerage as Baron Norbury. For more about the removal controversy, see Letters, from a Venerated Nobleman, Recently Retired from this Country, to the Earl of Carlisle: Explaining the Cause of That Event (Dublin, 1795), A Letter from the Earl of Carlisle to Earl Fitzwilliam in Reply to His Lordship’s Two Letters (Dublin, 1795), and A Letter to a Venerated Nobleman, Lately Retired from this Kingdom (Dublin, 1795). For the Catholic demands, see Address The Catholics of the City of Dublin, to the Right Honourable Henry Grattan, Presented by the Gentlemen appointed for that Purpose at the Meeting in Francis-Street Chapel February the 27th, 1795 (Dublin, 1795) and Letter to His Excellency Earl Fitzwilliam, on the Rumour of His Excellency’s Intention of Quitting the Government of this Kingdom (Dublin, 1795). For the resolutions of thanks passed by the Irish House of Commons on 2 March and by the House of Lords on 5 March, and the debates thereon, see The Morning Post and Fashionable World (London), 9 and 12 March.

3Newenham probably was referring to the rulers of Russia and Prussia.

4Newenham was referring to the French-influenced movement that had ousted the Ancien Regime in Geneva in December 1792. For a portrayal of the revolution as an assault on Genevan liberty, see François d’Ivernois, Authentic History of the Origin and Progress of the Late Revolution in Geneva (Philadelphia, 1794).

5For discussion of John Jay’s promise to make inquiries about Margaretta Newenham Fölsch von Fels, see Newenham to GW, c.3 Nov. 1794, n.2.

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