George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Newenham, 23 February 1789

From Edward Newenham

Dublin 23 Feby 1789

My Ever respected Friend

I did not Know of a Vessell being to sail for Philadelphia, untill this moment, or I should have collected the news papers for you, but I send one, that contains the Important debates on the Regency buisiness, & the Severe censure on the Lord Lieutenant; so that Virtue still remains in this Island; it was a Glorious act; I attended, but was so ill with a Cough, that I could not Speak; I had a long Speech prepared but could not Venture to rize—how our Embassadors will be received in London, I Know not; Various opinions are circulated; Some talk of their being Sent to the Tower—others, that the Prince will not receive them—others, that, he will tell them, he cannot accept of their offer, untill a Bill from the Irish Parliament for Such an appointment, passes the Great Seal of England—others, that the Embassadors will not Enter London, untill the Prince has acted as Regent of England, by a Speech from the Throne.1

The King has been gradualy mending Eleven days, but great Doubts, whether he will soon Venture to assume the reins of Government—he is certainly much weakned in body, & the drain is very great from the Sore in his Neck, but which sore breaking out is imagined to have begun his Recovery—Ireland & England act diametricaly opposite—This makes a Grand Precedent for our Independancy—the whole Nation is on the side of the Parliaments—Bishop divided against Bishop—a Circumstance that never happnd in this Kingdom, but once, these Sixty years—how this grand affair will End, Time only determine—we have gone so far, that we Cannot recede—as Mansfield Said the Rubicon is passed—& we Cannot retreat.

The state of Politics in Europe seems to portend an almost General war, unless Peace is made Early in the Spring—no Answer can or has been given to foreign Courts these 3 Months—much depends on the Part Little-Brittain will take.

I return you my most Sincere thanks for your last Letter—your Name was Needless, for none but a Washington could have wrote those Sentiments—they are his Sentiments; it is possible to Equal them, in the Globe, but impossible in past, present or future Times to Exceed them for Philanthrophy, Virtue & Sence.2

The Captain has Twice called for this Letter, & given me Time to Collect a few Scattered Papers, which I Send to the Care of Mr John Chaloner of Philadelphia.3

Lady Newenham joins in the most Sincere & perfect Respect to you & Mrs Washington. I have the Honor, to be, My Ever Respected & Esteemd Freind your most obt & obliged Humble Sert

Edward Newenham


1The debates in the Irish parliament to which Newenham refers concerned the regency question. See Thomas Jefferson to GW, 4 Dec. 1788, n.5, and William Gordon to GW, 16 Feb. 1789, n.6. The Irish parliament proposed that the members consider the regency question at the opening of the session in February 1789. Attempts by spokesmen for George Nugent-Temple Grenville, marquis of Buckingham, lord lieutenant of Ireland, to delay the debates were defeated after “a long and warm debate, in which the administration of the lord-lieutenant was animadverted on with the greatest severity” (Annual Register [1789], 138–39). Both Commons and Lords voted that addresses be presented to the Prince of Wales “requesting him to take on himself the government of that kingdom [Ireland] as regent, during his majesty’s incapacity.” Buckingham declined to transmit the petitions, and a committee of both houses was appointed by Parliament to take the addresses to London. A motion of censure was voted against Buckingham for refusing to send the addresses to the prince. The committee of the two houses arrived in London on 25 Feb. and presented their petitions to the prince at Carlton House the next day, but the sudden recovery of the king prevented further action. The members of the committee returned to Dublin, apparently without incident, on 23 Mar. (ibid., 139–41, 310–15).

2Newenham is referring to GW’s letter of 29 Aug. 1788.

3Chaloner was a partner in the mercantile firm of Chaloner and White in Philadelphia.

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