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Officer; but it rather gives satisfaction than otherwise, as his abilities seem better calculated for the Senate than the field. We have no very late accounts from thence. A man-of-war and some tenders lately went up to Baltimore, and gave them an alarm, which drove all their women, children, and valuable effects, out of town; but we have heard nothing since.
Poor Frye! Heaven and earth was moved to get him inhe was everything that was great and wonderful; now, I suppose we shall hear no more of him.
Not a syllable yet from our fleetit is four weeks to-morrow since they left our Capes. Should they Fall in with the twelve men-of-war conveying the transports to Virginia, it is all over with them; and we think there is very great danger of it. My next must certainly give some intelligence.
Now for our own news. The packet arrived last week at New-York, and in her came passenger Mr. Robert Temple, (owner of the late beautiful farm below our lines.) He came to town last night. The report is, that, in papers under his buttons, he has brought a letter from Arthur Lee, advising that the Commissioners were coming out instructed to settle the dispute: to get from us as much as they can; but, if peace cannot be had on their terms, to make it on ours. I mention it to you as a report; for to me it seems so inconsistent with all that we have seen and heard, that I do not believe a word of it. I shall get more certain intelligence soon of his business; and it shall make a part of my next letter. We every moment expect to hear of these gentrys arrival; they are, if possible, to treat with the Assemblies, but if that cannot be obtained, then with Congress. A little time will show what we are to expect from this new project. For my part, I can sec nothing to be hoped from it, but it has laid fast hold of some here, and made its impression on the Congress. It is said the Virginians are so alarmed with the idea of independence, that they have sent Mr. Braxton on purpose to turn the vote of that Colony, if any question on that subject should come before Congress. To tell you the truth, my dear sir, I am infinitely more afraid of these Commissioners than their Generals and Armies. If their propositions are plausible, and behaviour artful, I am apprehensive they will divide us: there is so much suspicion in Congress, and so much party on this subject, that very little more fuel is required to kindle the flame. It is high time for the Colonies to begin a gradual change of Delegates; private pique, prejudice, and suspicion, will make its way into the breasts of even good men, sitting long in such a council as ours; and whenever that is the case, their deliberations will be disturbed, and the publick interest of course suffer.
We have made a very great change in the councils of this Province, and I hope a favourable one for the common cause, having introduced seventeen new members at once into the House of Assembly. The increase of representation is in those parts of the Province where the spirit of liberty most prevails, and, of consequence, our measures will partake of it.
We have had a vessel load of linens, on account of Congress, arrived within these few days past; but I do not hear a word of tents. What our Army is expected to do without them, I cannot conceive.
Lord Stirling has stopped some of our troops bound to Canada, as it is not possible to keep the Connecticut people beyond their own time. General Lee, with great difficulty, induced some of them to prolong their stay two weeks, which I believe was more than could be done with you.
Mr. Deane, of Connecticut, is gone to Europe; his errand may be guessed, though little is said about it. The French vessels begin to find their way to our ports, two or three having come in this spring; but their cargoes are chiefly West-India goods; a little, very little powder, merely as a cover.
Since writing the above, I have conversed with some gentlemen who have seen Mr. Temple. I find he only brings two letters, written by Doctor Lee to himself, and that his information of the powers of the Commissioners is not built on any certain authority, but rather his own conjectures. He says the Ministry are resolved on peace if to be had: they are willing to treat with Congress, but the King would not hear of it. The difficulty of recruiting is very great in England, Scotland, and Ireland -scarce a man more to be had on any terms. I send you a morning paper, containing the current news. My respectful compliments, with Mrs. Reeds, to Mrs. Washington; and am, dear sir, most sincerely and affectionately, yours.
JOHN SMITH * TO THE CONGRESS.
March 15, 1776.
GENTLEMEN: I am once more obliged to apply for an enlargement, on some terms, or an alleviation of this rigid confinement. An application before this from me, I am told, has not been laid before you. Mr. Dewees gave it to John Hancock, Esq., last month. I was hopeful that gentleman would have laid it before the Congress, and flatter myself he will still do me that favour. Painful as my present situation is, complaining is equally so; and as you must now be sufficiently acquainted with every circumstance of it, I would choose to avoid, repetitions. An imprisonment like this cannot be intended merely as a confinement; it is much more-it is a punishment, by its long continuance, of the severest kind, and greatly aggravated by want of health, air, and exercise. If meant as such, I would be exceedingly glad to know the crime alleged for the cause of it, as punishing a person without informing him for what, is very inadequate to its intention. In this light I cannot but view it, being deprived of the small liberties allowed to all prisoners whatever, even common soldiers. Mr. Cameron and I are now the only persons suffering in this cruel manner. What should render us so particularly and personally obnoxious, I for my own part, am greatly at a loss to guess; but I am now hopeful that the gentlemen of the Congress will consider this distressing situation, and, for the present, grant me the same indulgence as the other prisoners have. On these terms I will engage in the mean time not to correspond, unless with the approbation of some of the Committee, or in such manner as may be prescribed to, gentlemen, your obedient and very humble servant,
To the Gentlemen of the Congress.
NEWARK (NEW-JERSEY) COMMETTEE.
Committee-Chamber, Newark, March 15, 1776.
The Committee, taking into consideration a Petition from a respectable number of inhabitants of this Township, and persuaded of the expediency of preventing undue advantages being taken by reason of the scarcity of sundry articles, in consequence of the present contest with Great Britain, have resolved to regulate the prices of West-India product, to be sold in this Township, as follows, to wit:
West-India Rum, 6s. 3d., New-York currency, per gallon, or smaller quantity.
In adjusting which, the Committee, being of opinion that the prices here must, of necessity, be governed by those fixed at New-York, have considered the late restrictions by the Committee there, as a proper basis; and have allowed such additions thereto, for the retailers here, as are reasonable for their loss in gauging, waste, small drafts, &c, freight, cartage, and a compensation for buying and selling. And it is hereby recommended to all venders and retailers of the above articles, that they neither demand nor receive therefor any greater prices than are ascertained by the above regulations, during the continuance of the above-mentioned restrictions in New-York.
And it is Resolved, and hereby Declared, That, on proof being made to this Committee of any person having, after the publication hereof, contravened, or in anywise acted in defiance of the said recommendation, the delinquent shall be exposed by name to publick view, and as an enemy to
* Determined never to acknowledge or submit to the authority of the Congress, unless by compulsion, I was much at a loss in what manner, or for what purpose to address them; and I concluded only to request, that they would either render my confinement supportable, or order me to immediate execution, which I infinitely preferred to my present situation of being destroyed by inches. This I transmitted to them by the jailer, written with a pencil upon the back of a common playing card.J. F. D. SMITH