From Robert W. Hamilton1
Constitution at Sea
26th. Febuary 1800
My Dear Sir
On the 17th. Feby whilst Cruising in sight of Cape Francois we were joined by the U.S. Sloop of War Richmond lately from New York, by her I had the pleasure of receiving your letter dated the 17th Decemr.2 inclosing several letters from my friends in Scotland. I did myself the pleasure of writing you on the 26 November3 which would clear up the cause of my long silence since which time I have not the same apology to make, as there has been no situation whatever to prevent writing when we had an opportunity, for the future, I will therefore be a better corespondent.
There is such a sameness in all our motions, and in every occurance that I have no news to give you, we keep continually on the North side of this Island an[d] mostly in sight of Cape Francois. We meet but with few Vessels that are not Americans, by these we have the news very regularly. We have very little prospect of making any more Prize Money this Cruize. The 3 French Frigates expected here some time ago we hear nothing more about.4 The Boston Frigate has Captured a large French Merchantman laden with Coffee, from the Cape bound to France, and there is nothing more there in our way that we know of. We are therefore all very tired of this station and wish for a change. Amongst the letters you were so good as [to] forward from my friends in Scotland, there was one from my Sister Christian, who writes me that she was to be married in the Month of January last, to a Captain Robertson5 of the Engineers in the service of the East India Company, and that immediately after their Marriage they were to Sett out for the East Indies to remain there ten Years. I fear my youngest brother William, who is now a Captain in that Service, will not partake of the Plunder of Seringapatam6 as my Father had a letter from him in January 1799 at which ti⟨me he was at⟩ Hyderabad which I believe is the ⟨capital⟩ of Golconda and not near the ⟨Kingdom⟩ of Tippoo Saib.7 I wrote my ⟨– –⟩ in January last, inclos⟨ing him letters⟩ which I beg him to forward ⟨to my⟩ friends in Scotland. I hope he ha⟨s sent⟩ them. I had some hopes of receiv⟨ing a⟩ few lines from him by the Richmond ⟨but I⟩ suppose that close application to the Studie of the law prevents him hearing much news, therefore did not know of his intention of coming this way. With most respectfull Compliments to Mrs. Hamilton & the rest of the family, I remain
Your Affectionate Cousin
Robert W. Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
2. Letter not found.
3. Letter not found.
4. On December 4, 1799, Edward Stevens, United States consul general at Santo Domingo, wrote to George Little, captain of the U.S. Frigate Boston: “It has been reported, (and I believe with some Truth) that the executive Directory of France has appointed 3 Commissioners for the Colony of St. Domingo, and that they may be very soon expected here in the Frigate La Bravoure, accompanied by two other Ships of War” (Naval Documents, QuasiWar, August, 1799–December, 1799, 489). On December 17, 1799, Stevens wrote to Silas Talbot: “I have no doubt but that these agents were nominated, and still less that preparations were made for their departure. But I have very strong reasons not withstanding to suppose, that the Order for this embarcation was recall’d soon after the Nomination.… I do not therefore imagine that this expedition will take place, But should the agents contrary to every expectation, actually leave France I do not believe that the Cape will be their port of destination. They will more probably go to Santo-Domingo, where the Frigates will be more Secure …” (Naval Documents, Quasi-War, August, 1799–December, 1799 description begins Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War Between the United States and France: Naval Operations from August 1799 to December 1799 (Washington, 1936). description ends , 548).
5. Thomas Robertson, a native of Scotland, joined the East India Company army in 1781, was promoted to ensign in 1782, to lieutenant in 1793, and to captain-lieutenant in 1800. He married Christian Hamilton in Edinburgh on November 4, 1799.
6. William Hamilton, a native of Scotland, joined the East India Company army in 1794, was promoted to ensign in 1795, to lieutenant in 1797, and to captain in 1804. Robert W. Hamilton is correct in stating that William Hamilton was not present at the sack of Seringapatam. Seringapatam, the capital of Mysore, India, located on an island in the Cauvery River, was captured and sacked by the troops under the command of Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, on May 4, 1799.
7. Tippoo Sahib, the son of Hyder Ali, was ruler of Mysore from 1782 to 1799.