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LETTER TO ROBERT MORRIS

(From autograph draft in the Library of Congress.]

PROVIDENCE, at Sea 4th Sept", 1776. HONOURED SIR. I herewith inclose for your inspection all the letters and papers which I found in the Brigantine Sea Nymphfor the particulars of my Cruise hitherto I must beg leave to refer you to the within open letter to the Marine Board which please to lay before them. I purpose to stand to the southward in hopes of falling in with some ships which I understand are now on their Passage from Barbadosbut at this late season my success is very uncertain—I will, however, ply about in this meridian as long as I think I have any chance and if I fail at last I can run to the northward and try for better success among the Fishermen which may answer no bad purpose by increasing the Number of our seamen—however my cruise may terminate. I forgot not the singular obligation I wrote to Mr. Morris who promoted it for my honor and advantage and I esteem the Honour done me by his accepting my Correspondence as the greatest favour I could have aspired to. I conclude that Mr. Hewes hath acquainted you with a very great misfortune which befel me some years ago and which brought me into No. America, the best man may soon become equally or far more unfortunate, therefore you will spare me the pain of repeating it here.

I am under no concern whatever that this or any past circumstance of my

life will sink me in your opinion since human wisdom cannot secure us from accidents it is the greatest effort of Reason to bear them well. I will from time to time carefully communicate to you every intelligence in my Power—and now as the regulations of the Navy" are of the utmost Consequence you will not think it presumptious if with the utmost diffidence I venture to communicate to you such hints as in my judgment will promote its Honour and good Government- I could heartily wish that every Commission Officer were to be previously examined-for, to my certain kuowledge there are persons who have already crept into Commission-without abilities or fit Qualification: I am myself far from deserving to be excused, -- from my experience in Ours as well as from my former intimacy with many officers of note in the British Navy, I am convinced that the Parity of Rank between sea and land or marine officers, is of more consequence to the harmony of the service than hath generally been imagined, in the British Establishment-an Admiral ranks with a Genl., a Vice Adml. with a Lieut. Genl., a Rear Admiral with a Major Genl., a Commodore with a Brigadier Genl., a Captain with a Colonel, a Master & Comdr with a Lieut. Colonel, a Lieut. Commanding with a Major, and a Lieutenant in the Navy ranks with a

Captain of Horse, Foot or Marines. I propose not our Enemies as an example for our Genl imitation, yet as their navy is the best regulated of

any in the world we must in some degree imitate them and aim at such further improvement as may one day make ours Vie with and Exceed theirs. Were this Regulation to take place in our Navy it would prevent numberless disputes and duellings which otherwise will be unavoidable besides Sir you know very well that marine officers being utterly unacquainted with Maratime affairs and in those cases unfit persons to preside at or Compose half the member of a Court Martial. beg pardon for this liberty. I thought that such hints might escape your memory in the Multiplicity of business. I have always understood that the sentence of a Court Martial when confirmed by a Commander in Chief is definitive and admitted of no appeal-So from this I must again recur to English authority in the Case of Lord George G. Sackville who for disobeying the orders of Prince Ferdinand at the Battle of Minden was by a Court Martial held at the Horse Guards rendered incapable of serving afterwards in any Military capacity although his great abilities were then well known and are generally acknowledged at this day. I am led into this subject by hearing with astonishment the application and complaint of the late Capt" Hazard to the Marine Board after he had been found "unworthy of Bearing his Commission in the Navy,” by the undivided voice of a Court Martial where I had the honor to sit as a Member. If he was then unworthy of bearing his Commission I cannot see what new merit he can have acquired and even if he had merit it would not be sound policy to reverse the sentence. It would make officers stand less in awe and attend less punctually to their duty and it is not impossible that it might induce future court martials in some cases to inflict personal punishment from whence there is no appeal.

There was a mistake made in the date of my Commission which unless you stand my friend will make a material difference when the Navy Rank is settled—I took command here the tenth day of May as appears by the order and appointment of the Comr, in Chief on the Back of my Commission as Eldest lieutenant of the Fleet. and my Commission as Captain is not dated 'till the 8th day of August which you know is not fair as it would subject me to be superseded by Captain Roberson [Robinson) who was at first my junior officer by six-perhaps it might subject me to be superseded by others. If I have deserved so ill as to be superseded I am unworthy of bearing my Commission. I esteem it a greater disgrace and severer punishment than to be fairly broke and dismissed the service. I have ordered Mr Hopkins the prize master to deliver to you a Turtle which please to accept. I have the honor to be with Greatful Esteem and much respect, Honoured Sir your very obliged and very Obedient Humble Servt.

J. P. J. The Honl. Robt. MORRIS, Esq.

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