James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 1 November 1801

From George W. Erving, 1 November 1801

P. No. 3.

London Novr. 1st. 1801.

Dear Sir

I hope that the papers which I have forwarded ⟨by⟩ Mr. Dawson may furnish the kind of information ⟨wh⟩ich the President desired to have; they shew what ⟨has⟩ been received under the commission, & the actual [. . .]ances of government; & afford data upon which ⟨to⟩ Estimate the remaining costs of prosecuting the ⟨cla⟩ims: there are no documents belonging to the ⟨ag⟩ency from which it is possible to collect an exact ⟨ac⟩count of all the Expences, particularly because so ⟨m⟩any of the Claims have been under the direction of private Agents: but take one case with another ⟨s⟩uccessful & unsuccessful, I presume it woud not be ⟨an⟩ extravagant Average to set the Expences at 300£ ⟨S⟩tlg each case; & when is added to this amount of ⟨co⟩sts, the amount of many of the unsuccessful ⟨c⟩laims which are doubtless Equitable; & what ⟨is⟩ still worse, the immense proportion of the 173 Cases ⟨no⟩w decided in our favor, upon which it is probable ⟨fr⟩om various causes (as distribution pleaded in ⟨ba⟩r, insolvency of captors, or securities &c &c) that ⟨no⟩ recoveries can be had; the aggregate of ultimate ⟨lo⟩ss compared to what has been & may be recovered of the Captors or from the British government will be much greater than has been commonly Estimated. Mr. Dawson has returned to London without his pa⟨pers⟩ otherwise, I might recal some of the letters which I have written by him; fearing to appear to have claim⟨ed⟩ too much of your attention.

The political aspect of affairs here is very Extraordinary; parliament have met, the king has address⟨ed⟩ them in a very Vapid speech, & it is said does not feel at all satisfied with the peace which his new Minis⟨ters⟩ have made: there Seems to be a general puzzle in the house of commons; some to support their own consistency, some to support the new ministry favor the peace; of the first class is Mr. Fox & his friends generally, of the latter Mr. Pitt: The “kings friends” as they exclusively term themselves are apparently bewildered, so that all the old connection of parties seems to be disjointed: they remind one of lambs after sheep-sheering, who when their dams are turned out of their pens without their fleeces are at a loss to discover their several parents, & run backward & forward in great agitation often baaing to the wrong dams. The grand debate upon this important question is to take place on Tuesday (3d.). If Mr. Dawson stays till that time you will of ⟨co⟩urse receive it by him: On that day probably will be ⟨seen⟩ what is the strength of the new administration, till ⟨the⟩n no very correct judgment can be formed; there is ⟨li⟩ttle doubt however but that on whatever side particular ⟨in⟩dividuals may range themselves the minister will ⟨fi⟩nd a very sufficient support in both houses, & with ⟨the⟩ country at large (as you may suppose) any peace will be popular: The permanency of such a peace ⟨is⟩ perhaps more questionable, & of the pacific ministers ⟨sti⟩ll more so: the rumour of Mr. Windhams coming to Administration has been renewed. This certainly ⟨do⟩es not look pacific; But here where so many men ⟨oc⟩cupy themselves altogether & solely in political ⟨spe⟩culations these Rumours are generally the ⟨con⟩jectures of second sight politicians, & not much ⟨to⟩ be depended on of course. Lord Cornwallis is ⟨to⟩ set out to morrow for France, where splendid ⟨pr⟩eparations are made to Receive him. With great Respect Dear Sir I am very faithy yr. ob St

George W Erving

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