The Papers of Henry Laurens


[Page 372]

Arthur Clarke[1] to Henry Laurens

Sir

As you gave me to understand the intention of my Summons before the Genel: Committee, was to know wether I chose to subscribe to the Association agreed to by this Province; I hope the following reasons will shew the impossibility of such a measure, without giving any Offence, which [is the][2] farthest from my wishes.
The first & principle consideration before the making a solemn Engagement like this, is how far we can in honor & Conscience comply with it, & how far it may be compatible or interfere with any previous Obligations.
These considerations duely taken; I find myself under such obligations to my King, whose Servant I have been for these 20[Page 373] Years, whose Gratuity I now receive, & who I have allways found a kind & benevolent Master; the Solemn Oath I took upon receiving the Commission I am now honor'd with & under which I act; render it impossible for me to subscribe to this Association, without fixing the most indelible Stain upon my Character, & being guilty of the most heinous of Crimes, Ingratitude.
Further, Sir, I beg leave to represent that having no property in the Province & my duty calling me another way, induc'd me to flatter myself the Gentlemen wou'd have consider'd me as a Transient Person, and not have thought it necessary to make such a request: in order to which I have actually given up the House I possess'd & had determin'd to proceed in the Line of my Duty; had not the greatest of misfortunes, the loss of a true Friend & Parent[3] alter'd my intention, & made me desirous of continuing in the Province, to be of all the Service & comfort in my power to his Family under so heavy an affliction.
I therefore hope, Sir, the General Committee will be satisfyed with these reasons, & not consider them as proceeding from any disregard to this Province, which to the contrary, I ever respected; & so far from wishing that any part of his Maj's: Dominions may be depriv'd of the blessing of the British Constitution. [I] sincerely hope every Member of them may enjoy it in it's fullest plenitude, and that the present unhappy situation of Affairs may be speedily brought to a reconciliation that shall establish harmony among all his Maj's: Subjects; and restore that mutual confidence between Great Britain & her Colonies that before subsisted.
As the Packet is under sailing orders, & my future Conduct depends upon the determination of the General Committee on these Sentiments, I request your earliest representation of them,[4] & am with respect

Sir
Yr: Most Obedt: Humle: Sert:

Arthur Clarke

[Page 374]
ALS, HL Papers, ScHi; no address; dated "Chas: Town Septr: 9th: 1775"; docketed by HL "Capt Arthur Clarke / 9th Septem 1775. / Read in Gen¯ Comm¯ee / the 13th._ agreed that / Capt Clarke shall be / deemed a transient person"; numbered below docket "6"; also numbered "21-4".
[1.] Capt. Arthur Clarke of the brigantine Diligence had a government contract to carry mail between Jamaica, Pensacola, and Charleston. Naval Documents (Clark), III, 788.
[2.] Manuscript torn.
[3.] George Inglis, the father of Clarke's wife Catherine, died Sept. 6, 1775. South Carolina Historical Magazine, X (1909), 222; Xl (1910), 102.
[4.] HL presented Clarke's letter to the General Committee on September 13 and the Committee resolved to treat Clarke as a "transient person". HL to Arthur Clarke, Sept. 13, 1775, HL Papers, ScHi. The Diligence, Clarke, sailed for Jamaica between September 15 and September 22. S.C. General Gazette, Sept. 8, Sept. 15, Sept. 22, 1775.