23 August 1774522

    Newport August 23rd

    Dear Sir,

    I have sent you a copy of the letter to Lord Percy but I must intreat that you will copy it, and send this to Major George Clerk of the 43rd Regiment. He is an old Freind. It was He who delivered it, and to him I promised a copy. I think of setting out through Connecticut the day after tomorrow. When you have idle time on your hands you will make me happy in letting me hear from you. You must direct to me at Mr. Davis Barber corner of dock Street New York. Adieu Dear Sir, my respects to Mrs. Quincy, Dr. Cooper, Warren, Young, Mr. Jannot, in short to the whole white Tribe.

    Yours most sincerely,

    Charles Lee

    Newport August 23rd

    My Lord,

    Were your Lordship only a common Colonel of a Regiment, I certainly should not have given myself the trouble of writing nor you the trouble of reading this letter. But as you hold so high a rank, and will one day hold a still higher I conceive it will not be improper to address you, and in some measure to apologize for my seeming want of respect. As I have not waited upon the General—for reasons which He cannot, I think disapprove, I was not certain whether you might, in your military capacity, consider my visit as proper. But as you are not merely a Soldier, but a Citizen of the first class and importance, from your illustrious family and fashion, your vast property and from being born to be a Counsellor of the Nation, I think some explanation of my conduct not only proper but necessary, and I flatter myself that some time or other Your Lordship will not simply approve my conduct, but become a friend to the same cause.523 My Lord, I will venture to say that it is the cause of Great Britain as well as of America; it is the cause of Mankind. Were the principle of taxing America without their consent admitted, Great Britain would that instant be ruined: The pecuniary influence of the Crown and the Army of Pensioners and Placemen would be so increased, that all opposition to the most iniquitous Measures of the most iniquitous Ministers would be for ever borne down.

    Your Lordship, I am sure, must be sensible that this pecuniary influence is already enormously too great, and that a very wicked Use is made of it. On these principles every good Englishman (abstract of any particular regard for America) must oppose her being taxed by the Parliament of Great Britain, or more properly by the first Lord of the Treasury, for in fact the Parliament and Treasury have of late years, been one and the same thing. But, My Lord, I have besides a very particular regard for America. I was long amongst them,524 and I know them to be the most loyal affectionate zealous Subjects of the whole Empire. General Gage himself must acknowledge the truth of what I advance. He was witness through the course of the last war of their zeal their ardor their Enthusiasm for whatever concerned the welfare the interests and the honour of the Mother Country. When I see, therefore, the extreme of calamities attempted to be brought upon such a People by the intrigues of such a couple of Scoundrels as Barnard525 and Hutchinson and their profligate associates; when I see a Minister violent and tyrannical like North mowing down whole communities merely to indulge his hereditary hatred to Liberty and those attached to her, I think it the duty of every honest Man and Freind to humanity to exert his utmost to defeat the diabolical purpose. That these People have been totally misrepresented at home, that they have been most unjustly and cruelly treated, your Lordship will, I have no doubt, sooner or later be convinced.

    But as from your present situation and many little mistakes you will not probably fall into the way of truth so soon as I could wish, I beg leave to recommend to your perusal a sort of pamphlet lately sent from England. It is intitled a true State of the proceedings in the Parliament of Great Britain and in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.526 Mr. Josiah Quincy will furnish your Lordship with it if you will make use of my name. It is a fair and candid relation of the whole process from beginning to end. When your Lordship has read it, you will be struck with compassion and horror, and I have great hopes not a less warm (but more powerfull) freind of this much injured Country than myself. I take the liberty of recommending this method to your Lordship, as it is impossible that you should gather any thing but misinformation from those Men who I find surround head quarters. The Scovels and Paxtons527 are not only interested to misrepresent and calumniate but to exterminate their Country: There is no medium. Their Country must perish or They meet with the desert of impious Parricides.

    It was the misfortune of General Gage from the beginning to fall into such hands as these. Had He not been deluded by miscreants of this stamp, We should never have seen him acting in a capacity so incompatible with the excellence of his natural disposition. I must now, My Lord, intreat that as Fools and Knaves will from misunderstanding and malice probably disfigure my conduct, you will not suffer them to make any wrong impressions; that you will be persuaded that Fact not from any pique and disappointment (as will, I conclude be thrown out) but from principle. I think My Lord, that an English Soldier owes a very great degree of reverence to the King as first Magistrate and third branch of the Legislature appointed to the high office by the voice of the Nation. But I think He owes a still greater to the rights and liberties of his Country. I think his Country is every part of the Empire; that in what ever part an flagitious Minister manifestly invades these rights and liberties, whether in Great Britain, Ireland or America, Every Englishman (Officer or not Officer) ought to consider their cause as his own, and that the rights and liberties of this Country are invaded every man must see who has eyes and is not determined to shut them. These, My Lord, are my principles. From these, I swear by all that is sacred and tremendous, I purely and solely act, and these I hope will rather serve than prejudice me in your Lordship’s opinion. I flatter myself still farther, I flatter myself that you yourself, will, before it is long, adopt them that you will at least in your letters to your Father (whom I have always been taught to esteem an honest man and freind to humanity) endeavour to undeceive the People at home. If the delusion is too strong, I will venture to assert that you will feel some consolation amidst the calamities, ready to fall upon your Country, in the reflection that you had attempted to avert them.

    I shall now finish, My Lord, with intreating that if you find any thing impertinent either in the matter or length of this letter, you will attribute it to an intemperate zeal in an honest cause, and that you will be persuaded that I should not have addressed it to a man of whom I entertained an unfavourable opinion.

    I am, My Lord, your most obedient