George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Humphreys, 12 August 1784

From David Humphreys

L’Orient [France] Augst 12th 1784

Finding there was a Vessel in this port destined for Virginia, I could not take my departure for Paris without informing my dear General of my safe arrival in france after a most delightful passage of twenty four days; and as I cannot give a better discription of the excellent accomodations & beautiful weather which we have had during the whole of our voyage, than I have already given in a Letter in verse to one of my poetical Correspondents, I take the liberty of enclosing a Copy of it for your amusement.1 Tho I believe your Excellency is not much attached to Poetry, yet I conceive nothing to be indifferent to you, which is interesting to one who prides himself in having a share in your confidence & friendship; and who feels at the same time a conscious pleasure in doing justice to those laudable efforts which are made by the Officers & Subjects of His most Christian Majesty for strengthening the Amity which so happily subsists between the two Nations, as well as for removing any little prejudice which might still remain among our Countrymen with respect to the cleanliness & accomodations which are to be found on board of vessels in the service of france.

I have not been here long enough, to have acquired as yet any knowledge of Men & Manners, but I do not intend to be idle, and I hope to have the pleasure one day of communicating personally to your Excellency the result of some of my observations.

General Kosciuszko & myself are to set off in a Carriage together for Paris tomorrow—I am now going to see a french Comedy for the first time, & must therefore after offering my best wishes for the happiness of Mrs Washington & the family, take my leave of your Excellency for the present—I have the honor to be With every sentiment of friendship And veneration My dear General Your most Obedient & Most humble Servant

D. Humphreys.

Genl Kosciuszko desires his best respects may be presented to your Exy.


1Humphreys addressed and sent the poem to his friend Timothy Dwight. The Dwight version is printed in Works of Humphreys, description begins The Miscellaneous Works of David Humphreys, Late Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America to the Court of Madrid. New York, 1804. description ends 211–15. Humphreys headed the copy of the poem that he sent to GW: “On board the Courier de L’Europe, in the Atlantic Ocean about 600 Leagues from New York July 30th 1784.” It begins:

From the wide watery waste, where nought but skies,

And mingling waves salute the aching eyes;

To thee my earliest friend, to thee dear

Fond recollection turns, while thus I write—

And more than a hundred lines later, it ends:

Amas’d with such few things, reclin’d at ease,

While the swift barque glides thro’ the summer Seas,

Thus I (for past neglects to make amends)

Now write to you, anon to other friends.

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