Peace December 16. 1779
On this day I wrote the following Letter to Congress and sent it together
with the Letters from
Ferrol by Captain Trask, but neither were
received till the 15th. of October 1780 and then in a
December 16 1779
By the Opportunity of a small Vessel, accidentally in this
harbour, bound to
Newbury Port, I have the honour to
inform Congress, that I have been detained by violent Rains and several
Ferrol untill Yesterday, when I set out
with my Family for this place, and arrived last Evening without any Accident. I
waited immediately on the Governor of the Province, and on the Governor of the
Town and received many Civilities from both: and particularly from his
Excellency the Governor of the Province of
Gallicia an Assurance, that he was not only personally disposed
to render me every hospitality and Assistance in his Power, but that he had
received express orders from his Court to treat all Americans that should
arrive here, like their best Friends.
These Personages were very inquisitive about American Affairs, particularly
the Progress of our Arms and the Operations of the Count
D'Estaing; and more particularly still concerning the Appointment
of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of
Madrid. They requested his Name, Character, Nativity, Age;
whether he was a Member of Congress, and whether he had been President, with
many other particulars.
To all these questions I made the best Answers in my Power: and with respect
to his Excellency the Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of
Madrid, I gave them the most exact information, and such a
respectable Character as the high Offices he has sustained, and his own
personal merit, require.
It is the prevailing Opinion here, that the Court of
Madrid is well disposed to enter into a Treaty with the
United States, and that the Minister from Congress will be
immediately received, American Independence acknowledged, and a Treaty
The Frigate the Sensible, is found to be in so bad a Condition,
that I am advised by every body to go to
France by Land. -- The Season, the Roads, the Accommodations for
travelling are so unfavourable, that it is not
expected I can get to
Paris in less than thirty days. But if I were to wait for the
Frigate it would probably be much longer. I am determined therefore to make the
best of my Way by Land. And it is possible that this journey may prove of some
Service to the Public, at least I hope the Public will sustain no loss by it,
though it will be tedious and expensive to me.
There are six Battalions of Irish Troops in
Spain, in three Regiments, several of whose Officers have
visited me, to assure me of their respects to the
I have been this Afternoon to see the Tower de Fer, and the
Island of Cezarga which was rendered famous in the Course of the
last Summer, by being appointed the Rendezvous of the French and Spanish
Fleets. The French Fleet arrived at this Island on the ninth day of June last,
but were not joined by the Spanish Fleet from
sometime in July, nor by
much later; so that the
combined Fleets were not able to sail for the English Channel,
July. To prevent a similar inconvenience, another Campaign, there are about
five and twenty Spanish Ships of the Line, now in
Brest, which are to winter there, and be ready to sail with the
French Fleet, the approaching Summer, at the first Opening of the Season. God
grant them Success and tryumph
Although no Man wishes for Peace more sincerely than I, or would take more
pleasure or think himself more highly honoured by
being instrumental in bringing it about; yet I confess I see no prospect or
hope of it, at least before the End of another Summer.
America will be amused with rumours of
Europe too: but the English are not yet in a temper for it.
The Court of
Russia has lately changed its Ambassador at the Court of
London, and sometime in the month of October Mr.
Simolin, the New Minister Plenipotentiary from the Court of
Petersbourg to the Court of
London, passed through
France in his Way to
England and resided about three Weeks in
Paris. From this Circumstance a Report has been spread in
Europe, that the Court of
Russia is about to undertake the Office of Mediator between the
belligerent Powers. But from conversation with several Persons of distinction
since my Arrival in
Spain, particularly with Monsieur Le Comte De
Sade the Chef D'Escadre commanding the French Men of War now in
Ferrol, I am persuaded, that, if
Russia has any thoughts of a Mediation, the Independence of the
United States, will be insisted on by her as a Preliminary and
Great Britain will feel much more reluctance to agree to this,
than to the Cession of
Gibraltar, which it is said
Spain absolutely insists upon.
I have the honor to be with the greatest respect, Sir, your most
obedient and most humble Servant
His Excellency Samuel Huntington
Esqr. President of
December 17. Fryday.
The Consul conducted me to the Souvereign
Court of justice where We visited three Halls, One of civil jurisdiction,
another of criminal, and a third of both. The Three Youngest judges sit in the
. I was introduced to the
President and the other judges, and to the Procureur du Roi, i.e. to the Kings
Attorney who treated me with great Ceremony, conducted me into the Place in the
Prison into which the Prisoners are brought who have any
to say to the judges, waited on me into each of the Three Halls,
me the three folio Volumes of the Laws of the
Country, which are the ancient Laws of the Goths, Visigoths and Ripuarians
incorporated on the Corpus Juris. There are no Seats in the Halls for
but the judges and the Lawyers who are
speaking. Every Body
stands. The President told
me, that on Monday next there would be argued an interesting Cause, invited me
to come and hear it, said he would receive me in Character and place me by the
Side of himself on the Bench, and when I said I should wish to avoid this
parade, he said he would order an Officer to shew
convenient Place to see and hear. Soon after this a Part of an Irish Battalion
of Troops was drawn up, before the Court House
and made a fine Appearance, but suggested melancholly Re
that justice could not be administered without a military
force, and that too composed of Forreigners
protect the judges.
Dined with Don Pedro Martin Sermenio, The Governor of the
Gallicia or rather The Vice Roy of
the Kingdom of
Gallicia. Mr. Dana, Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Allen were with me. By the
Assistance of two Irish Officers, I had much Conversation with the Governor who
speaks only Spanish. We sent for our Books of Maps, at their desire and
shewed them the Position of
New York and
Rhode Island and the Possessions of the English there. The
Governor was very gay, and Don Patricio O Heir the Governor of
the Town, with several other Irish Officers were present. They all advised Us
to go by Land, and the Governor offered to procure Us a Guide who spoke French,
was perfectly acquainted with the Country, Roads, Inn's and Inhabitants and was
the best Man in the Kingdom for the purpose, and one who could the most readily
procure Us the Carriages, Horses, Mules and Drivers and best know how to make
provision for Us, for We must carry all our Necessaries as well as conveniences
with Us. Nothing was to be had upon the road except at a few principal Towns,
excepting the Wine of the Country, Bino de Pais, which might be had
any where and it was very good and very wholesome,
for it was an admirable Diuretic.
After Dinner We went with The Consull to see a
Convent of Franciscan Friars. Walked into the Church and all round the Yards
and Cells. As We passed by the Cells,
"here," said the Consul,
"are the habitations of jealousy, Envy, Hatred, Revenge, Malice and
Intrigue. There is more Intrigue in a Chapter of Monks for the Choice of a
Prior, than was employed to bring about the entire revolution in
America. A Monk has no Connections nor Affections to soften him,
but is wholly delivered up to his Ambition." I was somewhat
surprized at this and asked some questions. The
Consull persisted and affirmed that there was no End
to the Factions and intrigues among the Monks in
There were Inscriptions in Latin Verse over all the Cells and generally
ingenious and pure in their Morals. I found this universal in all the
Monastries, and had a strong Inclination to copy many of them: but generally I
had not time. Upon this Occasion having a little Leisure I copied this
Inscription over the Cell of a Monk at
Corunna which by no means breaths the Spirit imputed to them by
Si tibi pulchra domus, si splendida mensa, quid inde?
Si Species Auri, atque argenti massa, quid inde?
Si tibi sponsa decens, si sit generosa, quid inde?
Si tibi sint nati; si prdia magna, quid inde?
Si fueris fortis pulcher, fortis, divesve, quid inde?
Longus servorum, si serviat ordo, quid inde?
Si doceas alios in qualibet arte; quid inde?
Si rideat mundus; si prospera cuncta; quid inde?
Si Prior, aut Abbas, si Rex, si Papa; quid inde?
Si rota fortun, te tollat ad astra; quid inde?
Annis si flix regnes mille; quid inde?
Tam cito prteriunt hc omnia, qu nihil inde.
Sola manet Virtus, qua glorificabimur inde.
Ergo Deo servi; quia sat tibi provenit inde;
Quod fecisses volens in tempore quo morieris
Hoc facies juvenis, dum corpore sanus haberis.
Quod nobis concedas Deus noster, Amen.
We went and drank Tea with the Consul, The Attorney General of the Province
was there, and Mr. Lagoancre, the American Agent, and the
Captain of the French Frigate La Belle Poulle.
December 18. Saturday.
Walked all round the Town, the Wharves, Slips &c. on the Water and
round the Walls towards the Country. Went to see the Artillery. A number of
Stands of Arms, Cannon, Bombs, Balls, Mortars &c. had been packed up for
some time. By the last Post, orders arrived to put up five thousands more in
the same manner, ready to embark, but nobody knew where, nor for what purpose.
We saw the Magazines, Arsenals, Shops &c. of Carpenters, Wheelwrights,
Blacksmiths &c. shewn Us by the Commandant of
Artillery. But after having seen
Ferrol, I saw nothing worth describing. The Spanish Ships
however both here and at
Ferrol appeared equal at least both in Materials and Workmanship
to any in
France or of American, French or English Construction that
I had ever seen. If their Prudence in Navigation and the Activity and
Intrepidity of their Seamen were proportionally equal to the English they would
be a dangerous Enemy.
Went into the Church or Chapel of a Convent, found the Monks in great
numbers all upon their Knees, chanting their Prays to the Virgin
Mary. It was the Eve of the holy Virgin. The lighted Wax
Candles, by their glimmerings upon the Paintings and Gildings made a pretty
Appearance and the Musick was good.