The Papers of Henry Laurens


[Page 335]

John Laurens to Henry Laurens

I have just time in a great hurry to inform My Dear Father that I have since the date of my former Letter by this opportunity received his kind Favour by Mr Campbell and that every Intelligence I receive gives me fresh Cause to wish that I were in America_ I have written to you by the two last Packets upon the Subject of my Return, and if Conveyances were as swift as my Wishes, should have been with you long before this time_ What have I to do here in the present Circumstances of my Country? what have I not to do at home?_ but I must check myself for I give way to my present feelings, and indulge myself in expressing them I shall go far beyond the time limitted me for Delivery of my Letter_[1]
The Address of the Congress has not yet been deliver'd_ (the Declaration and Letter to the English you see in the Papers)_[2] but no favorable Result can be expected from it_ The being signed by Hancock, and coming from the Congress, a body which will not be all treated with here as Legal Representatives of the People, will[Page 336] prevent this Step from having any other Effect, than that perhaps of barely giving some Hints which may lead to an Accommodation_ but even that Hope is very Remote_ I see nothing but a Prospect of continued Bloodshed_ 'till Victory be declared for one or the other Party_ the Cry of the Ministerial Party, is that the point cannot consistently with the Hono¯r of the Nation be given up_ they will therefore make farther Attempts, God Grant all equally fruitless, to humble us. I wish I knew the Discoveries that have been made in Dartmouth's Letters.[3] The Parlament it is expected will meet early in November_ The prime Minister has in some of his late proceedings acted directly contrary to Acts of Parliamt. but he intends to avow it and plead the Necessity of the Case_ we know in[4] how little Danger he is from[5] Such a House of Commons as the present_
My Uncle has complained for a day or two past of his Side, but not much_ Fothergill is out of Town, Hibbedin[6] the next to him in My Uncle's List is likewise absent, but not so far. I advise him to go for[7] Hibbedin's Advice to Windsor_ and perhaps he may call there in his way to Bristol_ The Rest of our Family perfectly well; James[8] not yet placed_ many Schools recommended_ but as ceteris paribus I prefer one near Town, it is not improbable that[9] he may be fixed at Greenwich; a Ride there to day with Mr Manning will determine_
Mr Johnston[10] has just given me a Short Warning that the Vessel is absolutely to sail, and himself to go down immediately, for the Capt. had doubted in consequence of late Intelligence from America[Page 337] whether it would not be more eligible to remain here_ but upon going to Mr Stead at Woodmanston,[11] he received Absolute Orders to Sail_ as the Goods had not been countermanded_ this accounts for my Great Hurry_ I really did not expect the Ship to go_ but I am sorry for the Capt. who may be exposed, to[12] Insult, tho' perfectly innocent, but rejoice for the Opportunity of Writing to My Dear Father and repeating that I am

His most affectionate and Dutiful Son

John Laurens.

[P.S.]
I must run down with this to the Coffee [House][13] to meet Mr Johnston_ My Brothers and other Friends desire their Love_
ALS, Personal Miscellaneous, John Laurens, NN; addressed on cover "Henry Laurens Esqr."; dated below close 20th August 1775."; docketed by HL "John Laurens / 20 Augt 1775 / Recd. 27 October".
[1.] Extra space between sentences interpreted as a new paragraph.
[2.] Richard Penn carried the Olive Branch Petition from the Continental Congress and, with Arthur Lee, delivered it at Lord Dartmouth's office Aug. 21, 1775. The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms, dated in Congress July 6, 1775, appeared in the Public Advertiser (London), August 16, and the July 8 letter from the Congress to the Inhabitants of Great Britain was published in the Public Advertiser (London), August 22. Delegate Letters (Smith), I, 441n-442n, 551n-552n; Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, II, 140-157, 158-162, 163-171.
[3.] A reference to the letters taken from Charleston's post office July 2, 1775.
[4.] "in" added in the left margin.
[5.] "from" written over "of the".
[6.] Probably Dr. William Hederden (1710-1801), a senior fellow and lecturer at Cambridge, who had practiced medicine in London since about 1739. James Laurens may have been referred to Hederden by Dr. John Fothergill. Hederden had supported Fothergill's candidacy to the Royal College of Physicians in 1771. Dictionary of National Biography; Betsy C. Corner and Christopher C. Booth, eds., Chain of Friendship; Selected Letters of Dr. John Fothergill of London 1735-1780 (Cambridge, Mass., 1971), p. 361n.
[7.] "for" written over "to".
[8.] "James" written over "Jem".
[9.] "that" written over "he".
[10.] "James Johnston, Esq.... of South Carolina" was listed among the passengers who arrived at Savannah, Oct. 19, 1775, aboard the ship Georgia Planter, Inglis. Georgia Gazette, Oct. 25, 1775.
[11.] Benjamin Stead.
[12.] "to" written over "tho'".
[13.] Manuscript torn.