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THE DUANE LETTERS.
JOHN JONES TO JAMES DUANE. (Doctor John Jones of Welsh parentage was born in Jamaica, N. Y., in 1729 and died in Philadelphia in 1781. He was well educated in the schools of London, Paris, Leyden and Edinburgh. He settled in New York and there practiced his profession until the British occupation of the city when he went to Philadelphia and there resided for the rest of his life He was the personal friend as well as physician of Washington and Franklin, and attended the latter in his last sickness. He was an author on professional subjects and his letters here presented will attest his patriotism.]
New YORK 20th June 1775. Dear Sir
I had the pleasure of receiving your favor by Coll. Smith & Mr. Hartly & should have been very happy in shewing them every attention in my power, but unluckily I was obliged to go out of Town the morning after their arrival, & am just returned time enough to see them & pen half a dozen lines before they set off for Philadelphia. As to the political situation of our own country, I need say very little to one who is so well acquainted with it as you are yourself. You know my sentiments very well & I have explained them so freely as to offend some of our friends who though convinced of the errors & impropriety of their conduct have not liberality enough to acknowledge it & adopt a plan more worthy the good of their country than they have hitherto done.
I hear Coll. Washington is appointed Commander in chief of the American Army, & I sincerely wish he was already set out to direct their operations at Boston where General Gage will soon have a body of ten thousand men who cannot
long remain inactive, & I frankly own to you that I have no little concern for the fate of the first general engagement. The confidence & enthusiasm of the Provincial Army will I am afraid induce them to engage the regular troops too openly, in which case a defeat would be of the most fatal consequence, whereas if they were constrained to fight in what the young military coxcombs call the cowardly way, from under cover & broken ground, I would insure them victory.
Our apprehensions of the troops landing here are now removed by an express order from General Gage to go to Boston, where I suppose they are in general arrived before this. Wee expect our Governor every hour-Poor gentleman, what a reverse of scene will he behold when contrasted with that of his departure. I really pity him & hope he will adopt a calm prudential line of conduct. Wou'd it be amiss to offer a command to some of our acquaintance? I think it wou'd puzzle them to refuse, & I have already put the question of fighting very close & in the most pointed terms. After all I believe the fate of America will be decided at Boston, for which reason I am doubly anxious for their conduct—a little time will determine it. I can only add my warmest wishes for the success of a cause which I think has reason, truth & justice on its side-but the longest sword is generally made the criterion of these virtues. Adieu may Heaven inspire your councils & preserve the freedom of America, I am your affectionate friend & Humble Servt.
JOHN JONES TO JAMES DUANE.
New YORK July 13th, 1775. Dear Sir;
I have had the pleasure of receiving your last favor of the 6th. instant by Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Middleton, whose short stay here I have endeavoured to render as agreeable as I
cou'd by every attention in my power. I wish I cou'd have made it more so; but alas !, with with an equal mixture of shame, grief & indignation I speak it, the wretched, contemptible policy of this Province in general, & of our friends in particular relative to the present interesting dispute, renders it almost impossible for a stranger of liberal spirit and genuine patriotism to pass his time agreeably among us. Such of our friends as were particularly concerned in the late erroneous measures of our Assembly, though convinced in the most mortifying manner of the impropriety of their conduct, yet have too much pride to make a generous acknowledgment of it, by their future conduct atone in some measure for their past errors. Instead of this, they are watching with the little Jealous & envious eye of party spirit, every false step & imprudent maneuvre of their paltry Provincial rivals, who are by no means sparing of opportunities for censure.
In the disposal of offices, particularly in the military department the most shameful partiality prevails, all or most of the inferior commissioned officers being selected from the creatures & absolute dependents of the governing party. Indeed the conduct of our gentry & principal people has rendered this vile arrangement almost inevitable. Wou'd to Heaven I cou'd throw a veil over this nakedness of my countrymen, but their shame is already gone forth among the nations, & those who visit us are scandalized at the disgraceful sight. To compleat this picture, & set our virtues in their most distinguished light, I have only to place the Connecticut Camp in the back-ground by way of shade to the illustrious piece; but I must drop the pencil, for I lose all reason, my friend, in viewing the dark original, & seized with honest rage too often pour it out with undistinguishing violence on Whig & Tory, so that you need not be much surprised at hearing I am taken up & confined for a mad Doctor, & under such circumstances as wee are, it might perhaps be a misfortune to be cured.
The conduct of our Governor has been very unexceptionable ever since his arrival, having wisely adopted the prudent line of calm acquiescence, contented to act as a mere passenger, while other pilots guide the helm of our political ship amidst the dreadful storm. Nor has this pacific resolution been disturbed, except in one instance by a foolish address of our wise corporation, who were subjected to a shameful mortifying acknowledgment of their own impo tence by a solemn Provincial veto, which I suppose will keep them wise, i. e. silent, during the present reign.
The Governor assured me he had no commission of a particular nature to execute here, either jointly or separately ; & knew nothing of the decision relative to the New Hampshire lands which Skeene mentions. He showed me copies of several letters to Lord Dartmouth, in which he gave a true & faithful description of the situation of these Colonies, & pointed out as plainly as the delicacy of his office wou'd permit him, the absurdity & impracticability of the present ministerial measures, & for this candor & integrity I think he merits the esteem & regard of every man in America.
As Mr. Rutledge & Mr. Middleton are going off in half an hour & I have been prevented from sitting down to write to you at leisure I can make no addition to this hasty scrawl further than to assure you that I am sincerely
Your affectionate friend
JOHN JONES James DUANE Esquire.
JOHN JONES TO JAMES DUANE. You have been so long in Philadelphia my old Friend that a Quaker phrase or two will not sound oddly in your ears, Know then that I have for divers weeks past had it in my mind to commune with thee concerning the signs of the times, & of that carnal warfare which the children of unrighteousness are waging against the faithful, who nevertheless, shall yet triumph over all their enemies, & though thy own shoulders are now born down with the greivous weight and consideration of all these things, the time will come when thou shalt lift up thine head like unto the cedars of mount Lebanon, and thine heart shalt rejoyce within thee, because of the good things which the Lord hath done for those who put their trust in him.
You see Sir that I have not forgotten my bible nor my parentage. Though I have been a churchman above twenty years 'tis true I have not gone to church quite so often as you have done, but some allowance must be made for my profession, & a little for our Parsons, who though very good men, God in his infinite wisdom has not thought fit to constitute very great Preachers. If Doctor Smith or Mr. Duchee was here, I promise you I wou'd go at least once a month to Church. Dr. Smith's sermon preached before Coll. Cadwalader's Battalion is a most admirable performance-never was a text more happily chosen or aptly applyd —yet I am told the Doctor as well as some of the continental Delegates begin to look round with affright at the troubled sea they have launched into. Bid them remember Lot's wife, for by Heaven if they look back, they will be turned into something worse than pillars of salt. Not that I mean to lose sight of that altar which wee have erected in this our American Gilead to commemorate our claim to the divine original, but to preserve it pure and hand it down unsullied to our children's children.
You will naturally wish to hear the state of our own Provincial politics, a subject which you know I never troubled my head with till it was connected with the general interests of America in the present unhappy & deplorable contest, & I wish I cou'd give you such an account as wou'd afford you any pleasure, but alas ! the same party spirit and selfish views which laid the foundation for that jealousy & resentment which wee have incurred from all our sister Colonies, not