. In British contemporary copies Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5, listed in note 1
(above), this word appears as “distressful.” The same form is used in the copy furnished
by an officer on board the Swan
, the vessel which seized the ferry that was carrying Hichborn from Newport to Providence.
The account of the seizure was carried in the Newport Mercury
, 7 Aug. (reprinted in Naval Docs. Amer. Rev.
, 1:1086–1087). The Swan
officer, writing to London on 14 Aug., two weeks after the capture, says the letters
were sent on to Graves, “but I found an opportunity of copying two of them, and herewith
send the copies to you” (Willard, ed., Letters on the American Revolution
, p. 187). If the officer made his copies from the originals, his text may be more
accurate in this one respect than that used by the Massachusetts Gazette
. It is conceivable, however, that the Swan
officer, given the passage of time, made his copies from copies produced for Graves.
In the latter case, one must assume that some copyist made the mistake of writing
“distressful” for “distressed,” the word that appears in both the Gazette
and in the copy Graves forwarded to London. Of course, if “distressful” was in the
original, then the newspaper was furnished with an inexact copy and Graves sent a
second such copy to London. No evidence has been found that the British tampered with
the wording as JA
claimed (Diary and Autobiography