George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Newenham, 12 September 1793

From Edward Newenham

Dublin [Ireland] 12 Sept. 1793

Dear Sir—

To the mind of a most Sincere & unalterable Friend, it must appear a Length of years Since I was favoured with a Line from the Man, whom I have & ever shall revere, as the Greatest ornament of this Century—The Freind of the real & Constitutonal rights of Man, who, in his Glorious Career of Victory, united the Soldier, the Citizen, & Legislator—who, Equaly disdaining Popular applause, when unmerited, or Monarchial offers of Titles & Employments, Served the Cause of true Liberty, & in the Conclusion of the Noble Contest, became the Chosen favourite of the Conquerors & Conquered—whose departing hours will not be disturbed by the Remembrance of murders without the Common Tryals of the most Savage Nations—who Supported the Impartial Tryal of the accused, & though possessed of Power, & which power might in many Cases have been justly exercised by inflicting the pains of Death on Convicted Criminals, yet, my Dear & Ever respected George Washington, proved himself Superior to the modern mode of Domination, & of raising himself above his fellow-Citizens, Except where merit so justly placed him—no rewards were offered for Assasinations of Commanders of Armies or the Despots of Tyranny—your Great Soul revolted at Such Deeds—you was, you are & Ever will be the real Example of Patriotism—the Name of Patriot is disgraced in Europe—the Late King of France (with all his Faults) gave way to our most Virtuous & respectable freind the Marquiss of La Fayett’s advice—& Surrendring all the Pomp & Splender of the Crown of France, agreed to a New Constitution; that he Endeavoured to Escape from France—I admit—but it was at a Period, when his Life was in dayly danger—In my humble opinion Fayette was a true Friend to a proper & Free Constitution his Confidential Letters to me in 1790 prove it—they are a record of his most Virtuous Principles—had ill-fated France adopted his measures & Plan, she would have reigned the Arbitrer of Europe, & her People been the best Governed—he wished to Adopt the British Constitution, with a few Alterations; these Alterations would have made a Perfect System of Happiness for the Governer & Governed;1 I cannot presume to Dive into the Secrets of Courts—but I will say, that the Prussians Keeping La Fayette in Prison, is contrary to the rules of War—Justice—Generosity or Policy—I have not heard of or from him, Since Six days before he declared a Prisoner—I Know not whether he is alive or Not—for the Reports are so Various & Contradictory—I have addressed a few open Lines to him, but never receivd an Answer—I have a thought, to apply to the Austrian Embassader, to Know where he is, & whether he is alive—& whether a Letter open for the Embassadors Inspection, could be forwarded to him—that Letter containing nothing but family affairs.

This Kingdom has been for some Time convulsed with the most dangerous Kind of Democratical Principles—Viz. an Entire Equality of Property—one house of Representatives—no Second House—or Council, Except 21 to be Chosen out of the Representatives & Changed Every Six years; Vacansies to be filled up by Election from the Representatives, who are to be Chosen annualy; a President to be Chosen Every Month—a Total repeal of all the Acts of forfeiture—all the Nobility to be laid aside—all the military to be nominated by the 21—In short, the plan was for those Men who had no landed Property, to rize into power by the aid of the People, & then become their Tyrants—not 10 Men of Farming or Landed Property of £300 a year approved of Such a System.

I feel alarmed at the reports circulated in the English & foreign news papers, Stating, that the united States & Great Brittain are likely to break the bonds of Peace—God! forbid it, as it would be ruin of Both Countries—their Natural Interest ought to unite them (for Ever) as the most warm Allies—Should any disagreable occurence happen, I trust it will be done away by an amicable Conference—& that the Sword will never be drawn between them.

Under Pretence of Reform, a set of Men instigated the very lowest of the People, to Rob, Murder & Pillage the Protestants. In many Counties the[y] disarmed the Protestants & then another party Robbed them—The papers attached to this party is using Every Endeavour to insinuate to the Public at Large, that there will be an Immediate Declaration of War between America & England.

This day orders were issued for 3 Regiments of Cavalry & 8 of foot to Embark immediatly to Join the Duke of Yorke—the foot were under orders for some Service in the West Indies, but that plan is Suddenly Changed, as it seems, that the Duke of Yorke is thought to be in Danger; Should all the Able of Men in France rize at once, they would soon overpower their opponents, but I imagine that their internal Divisions will prevent Such unanimity; it reminds me of Arnolds proclamation, before the Convention at Saratoga; I was & am an advocate for the first glorious Revolution in 1789—but am an Enemy to the Present System of Government in France.

My fourth Son who was settled at Marsaills & a Captain in the National Guards, left them, as soon, as the King was executed; he lost all his property; he has some thoughts of going to Philadelphia—⟨he⟩ is a most accomplishd young Man, but we do not wish to ⟨mutilated⟩ with him; my Family is Encreasing in Grand Children, two of my Sons having had Sons, last week2—our Harvest here is most abundant & good; & if we have good weather to save it, we shall be able to Export some to Germany; the Host of Combatants on the Continent will require great Quantities of Corn, of which I Suppose America will Supply one Quarter.

Lady Newenham joins me in most respectfull Compliments to Mrs Washington & you. I have the Honor, to be, Dear Sir with unalterable Esteem & respect—your most Obt & Very Hble Sert

Edward Newenham

P.S. want of money obliged me to sell my beautyfull Estate of Bell Chaupe for £6000, though it Cost me above £10,000.3

ALS, DLC:GW. The cover was addressed to GW at Mount Vernon and marked “(post paid)”; later, “Philadelphia” was added, “post paid” was struck out, and the cover was postmarked “N. YORK Jan 11” and stamped “FREE.”

1Lafayette’s letters to Newenham have not been identified.

2Newenham’s fourth surviving son was Robert O’Callaghan Newenham (1770-1849), who belonged to the Marseilles trading firm of Folsch and Hornbostel. He later returned to Ireland where he became an architect and, from 1805 to 1830, inspector general of the barracks. A son of Edward Worth Newenham (b. 1762), who married Elizabeth Persse (1768–1831) in 1787, was born on 6 September. The other grandson was probably a child of William Thomas Newenham (b. 1766), who married a Miss Lynam in September 1792.

3Newenham’s estate, Belcamp (or Bellechamp), was about five miles north of Dublin. Newenham had acquired property in the area by the mid-1760s and spent some £7,000 on the construction of a new house there in the 1780s. Plagued by debts, however, he agreed in January 1793 with Henry Otiwell, collector of the Dublin excise, to sell the house and lands in exchange for payment of debts of £5,500 (James Kelly, Sir Edward Newenham, MP, 1734–1814: Defender of the Protestant Constitution [Portland, Ore., 2004], 40, 190–92, 261).

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