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FRIEND GORDON,

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Y former letter mentioned the failing of a large 1780. Spanish fleet under Don Jofeph Solano. Capt. Mann of the Cerberus frigate, falling in with it, and rightly judging of its destination, from the courfe it steered and other circumftances, confidered with great propriety, that the public good and the importance of the object should fupply the defect of particular orders, and that the limited defign of his cruife could not compare with the immediate application of the knowledge he had accidentally acquired. The captain therefore instantly proceeded to the West Indies, to communicate the intelligence to Sir George Rodney, then at Barbadoes. Upon receiving it, Sir George used the utmost diligence in putting to fea, in order to intercept the Spanifh fleet and convoy before they could join the French, then in Fort Royal bay Martinico. But his views were VOL. IV. B fruftrated

$780. fruftrated through the precaution of the Spanish admiral. Don Solano, apprehensive though not informed of the danger, instead of proceeding to Fort Royal bay, prudently stopped fhort on his approach to the nearest iflands; and difpatched a frigate to inform count de Guichen of his fituation, and to require a fpeedy junction of the fleets where he then was. The French commander failed directly, with 18 fhips of the line, and June 10. keeping clofe to leeward of the islands, joined the Spaniards under Dominique.

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The combined fleets amounted to 36 fail of the line, which with their united land forces, formed fuch an apparent fuperiority, as nothing in thofe feas or iflands feemed capable of refifting. But the Spanish troops being too much crowded on board their transports, together with the length of the voyage, the change of climate and diet, and other circumstances, a moft mortaland contagious diforder was generated, which first infecting their own feamen, at length spread, though not entirely with fo fatal an effect, through the French fleet and land forces. Befide the great mortality on the paffage, the Spaniards landed no less than 1200 fick on their first arrival at Dominique, and a much greater number afterward at Guadaloupe and Martinico. Thus the fpirit of enterprife was damped, and fome part of the means taken away. Still the combined forces had a fufficient fuperiority to enable them to proceed to offenfive operations with the profpect of fuccefs. George Rodney on the junction of the enemies fleets retired to St. Lucie, where he was equally well fituated, either for obferving their motions and counteracting, according to his ability, their defigns on the other iflands

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or for felf-defence fhould they venture upon an attack. 1780 But they remained totally inactive in Fort Royal bay till the 5th of July, when they put to fea in the night, with- July out making fignals or fhowing lights. Had they im- 5. proved their opportunity, Jamaica muft undoubtedly have fallen; but a misunderstanding between the Spanifh and French admirals, rendered their junction and fuperiority of little importance. Count de Guichen accompanied Don Solano as far as St. Domingo, and then left the Spanish fleet to proceed fingly to the Havannah, while he with the French put in at Cape Fran çois. Here he remained till a large convoy was collected from the French iflands, with which he proceeded directly for Europe. Sir George Rodney, entertaining a mistaken apprehenfion either from his own conjecture or from information, that de Guichen was bound to North America in order to join adm. Ternay at Rhode Ifland, had no fooner received certain intelligence of his departure from Cape François; than he failed himself with eleven capital fhips and four frigates for New York,

The combined fleets in the European feas have been more fuccessful. A rich and confiderable convoy for the Eaft and Weft Indies failed from Portsmouth in the latter end of July, under the conduct of capt. Moutray of the Ramillies and two frigates: the whole were intercepted on the 9th of Auguft by the combined fleets Aug. under Don Louis de Cordova. The convoy included, 9. beside the merchantmen, eighteen victuallers, storeships and transports, destined for the fervice in the Weft Indies. Five Eaft Indiamen made a part of it, and together with arms, ammunition, and a train of artillery, conveyed a large quantity of naval ftores, for the fupply

1780. of the British fquadron in that quarter. The Eaft India and fifty West India fhips, including those upon governmental account, were taken. The Ramillies, with the frigates, and a few West India fhips escaped. Such a prize never before entered the harbour of Cadiz. A British fleet of near 60 fhips led captive by a Spanish fquadron, was extremely flattering to a people, to whom naval captures from fuch an enemy were an unusual Spectacle. The appearance of the numerous prifoners rendered the triumph more complete, and made the fight ftill more fingular. They confifted of 1250 feamen, officers included; of 1255 foldiers, and 74 offiof 149 women; and of 137 paffengers of both fexes, among whom were fome married and unmarried ladies of condition. The whole amounted to 2865 perfons. The value of the faleable commodities was great, but the lofs of the military and naval fupplies was much more confiderable, as they could not be replaced in time. Advantageous purchases will undoubtedly be made out of this capture for the fervice of the American army.

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The ftrong appearances of an approaching storm, with which adminiftration was threatened, having subfided; and every thing going on fmoothly and profperously, there was reafon to expect that elections for a new parliament would go greatly in favor of the court. A diffolution of the prefent was therefore determined Sept. upon; but the defign was kept a profound fecret. When 1. the proclamation for the diffolving of it appeared, it

wrought like a thunder clap, with respect to fuddenness and furprise, on those who were unacquainted with the defign. A new prorogation had taken place within a few

few days, which ferved to render the ftroke still more 1780. unexpected. The elections went much in favor of the court. One hundred and thirteen new representatives obtained feats in parliament.

6.

Mr. Laurens was taken on his way from congrefs to Holland, in the beginning of September, on the banks of Newfoundland. A package of papers, when thrown overboard, not finking fuddenly, was faved by the boldnefs and dexterity of a British failor, and most of them were recovered from the effects of the water. On his arrival in England, he was committed upon a charge of Oct. high treafon, as a ftate prifoner to the Tower, under an order figned by the three fecretaries of state. He claimed the privileges of his public character, as a commiffioner from the United States of America; and declined anfwering any questions whofe tendency he could not immediately perceive, fo that little information was obtained from him. But by the medium of his papers the administration came to the knowledge of the eventual treaty of amity and commerce between America and Holland. The papers relating to this business were delivered about the beginning of November to the prince of Orange, who on the 5th laid them before the ftates of Holland and West Friesland. On the 10th Sir Jofeph Yorke prefented to the States General a memorial concerning them. He demanded in the name of the king, his master, not only a formal difavowal of [what was pronounced] fo irregular a conduct, as that which was charged upon the ftates of Amfterdam, of carrying on a long clandeftine correfpondence with the Américan rebels, and of giving instructions and powers for entering into a treaty with those rebels; but also in- ; B 3 fifted

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