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in possession of the English, and the headquarters of the English
During Washington's administration, and long after, the
At a party, near the Battery, where all the beauty and fashion of the city were assembled, a very fearful storm of rain, thunder and lightning occurred, just as the assemblage were about to break up. My father, in tights, with powdered hair, &c., &c., of course, accompanied Madame to her carriage. At that moment, the storm redoubled its fury; and her horses became frightened and unmanageable. My father directed two men to their heads, while he took possession of the box and the reins; and Madame having been placed in the carriage, he drove the frightened team safely to her residence, and then to his own, as he was in no condition to return to the scene of gaiety. “Such," said Madame, , “was the devotion of the gallants of my day to the ladies; but who would now dream of a gentleman playing coachman, in a fearful thunder storm, dressed in tights, with slippers, and powdered hair, and no hat! Such was society then ; you cannot fail to note the change."
On the evening of the 5th September, 1786, occurred the duel, at Powle's Hook, between my father and his friend William
Livingston, Jr.—uistance, ten paces. It had its origin in a mistake, and did not destroy their friendship. Major Haskell was my father's friend ; and D. Van Horne the friend of Livingston. My father fired and missed ; Mr. Livingston then declared that he had never made the declaration for which he was challenged, and fired in the air. The parties thereupon shook hands; and Haskell and Van IIorne gave a certificate that the affair had been honorably and satisfactorlly settled.
The following memorandum is enclosed in the certificate of Van Horne and Ilaskell :
“A picture of the Virgin Mary (on copper) at Borson’s. Get it framed and present to Miss Wickham.
“Accept of the best of my small swords, in remembrance of
“ The four paintings banging over my fire-place, and an elegant counterpane--the work of the late [Mrs. Webb Eliza, daughter of Richard Banker, Esq.]-to be given my aunt, Miss Polly Duyckink. She is pointedly recommended to genteel support by Capt. Webb, out of the property I have left him. The short notice I had this morning, caused me to omit this, in a letter to my brother, which may be found in my pocket.”
“SAM’L B. WEBB.” “Powle's IIook, Tuesday Evening, 5th September, 1786."
(Endorsed.) Major E. Has'sell's letter to S. B. Webb, on the subject of his duel
with William Livingston, Jr., 20 September, 1786.
DEAR SIR :-- As I am compelled to leave town on Monday, and, of course, shall not be present at the intended interview between you and Mr. Livingston, it may not be improper to mention what passed, in consequence of your message to that gentleman, on Wednesday last, when I waited on him at Elizabeth Town. I acquainted him that I had a message very interesting to himself and another gentleman, which I was directed to deliver in presence of his confidential friend. His reply induced me to communicate to him that you was at that time on Staten Island, where you wished to see him next morning, near the ferry, opposite to Elizabeth Town Point, prepared to give that satisfaction you had once before solicited.
Mr. Livingston, after some other conversation, not materially connected with this errand, authorized me to acquaint you, that he was so indisposed as to render it improper for him to meet you as proposed, even if he had resolved upon it. Previous, however, to his coming to a determination on this point, he was obliged to visit New York. Upon his arrival there, which should be on the beginning of next week, he would announce it to you, and advise with his friend the steps that were proper for him to pursue.
I am, Dear Sir,
Your obd't Ser't, Saturday, 2nd Spetember, 1786.
E, HASKELL. General S. B. WEBB.
Major E. Haskell's letter.
Boston, SUNDAY Ev'G, 24th Sept., 1786. DEAR SIR: Our friend Platt, like an unexpected ghost, appeared to us on Thursday night, and following their example, disappears almost instantaneously. In the morning he leaves this for New York.
I am very apprehensive you are a sad young gentleman, and this seems to be the opinion of your friends here. They expected, after your disputes had ended in the evaporation of powder, to have seen you immediately. Mr. Barrell has yet an expectation of seeing you on Thursday. If you are not there, I will abuse you unmercifully, and am sure I shall be joined by all the wise ones in the family.
I hope your year has been an agreeable one, and that every succeeding one may be the happiest, is the sincere wish of,
Your ob't serv't, Gen'l WEBB.
You will have perceived, by the extracts from my father's journal in the Spring of 1776, that it was he, then twenty-two, and Col. Reed, the senior Aid-de-Camp of Washington, who assumed the responsibility of refusing to receive from an Aid-de
Camp of Lord Howe, the letter addressed to “ George Washington, Esq.;” and that their conduct was approved by Washington; and the proper address, ultimately, extorted by the same parties, from the British Commander-in-Chief.
Another very interesting fact, preserved in our family, has never been published.
We all know, that one, long since gone to his rest, made an effort, in March, 1783, while the army was lying at Newburgh, to induce the officers and men to refuse to be disbanded, until Congress had been compelled to do them justice. In other words, he urged upon the army to intimidate Congress; and to let nothing “ separate them from their arms but death;” and to establish at once, if need be, a Military Government. To accomplish his purpose, he addressed to the army, two anonymous letters; copies of which were widely circulated, urging a meeting of the officers to carry into effect his treasonable purposes. Copies of those letters were addressed to my father and Colonels Huntington and Crane. Col. Crane was absent; and Col. Huntington and my father, determined that my father, as the personal friend and former Aid of the Commander-in-Chief, and at the time in command of the Light Infantry of the army, should place the letters in Washington's hands. He did so; and Washington advised, not only secrecy, but that efforts should be made to secure the attendance at the proposed meeting of officers, all those whose patriotism admitted of no question; and who, for that reason, might abstain from attending.
The result is known to History. After much reflection, Washington determined to order a meeting of officers at the time and place designated. The proposed meeting took place on the 15th March, 1783, in pursuance of Washington's order; and when assembled, Washington made his appearance; and by a stirring address and an appeal to their patriotism and duty, triumphantly scattered to the winds, the incipient treasonable proceedings.
The celebrated Newburgh letters, have been preserved in the history of the Revolution; while their distinguished author lived to repent his folly; and, during the war of 1812, enjoyed the confidence of Madison. I add a copy of those letters from the originals in my possession; which originals, and such of my father's papers as I possess, together with the family seals, bearing our Coat of Arms, and the Washington champagne glass, will be duly disposed of at my death.
TO THE OFFICERS OF THE ARMY.
SATURDAY, 8th March, 1783. GENTLEMEN: A fellow-soldier whose interest and affection bind him strongly to you—whose past sufferings, have been as great, and whose future fortunes may be as desperate as yourswould beg leave to address you. Age has its claims,—and rank is not without its pretensions to advise; but, though unsupported by both, he flatters himself, that the plain language of sincerity and experience, will neither be unheard nor unregarded. Like many of you, he loved private life, and left it with regret. He left it, determined to retire from the field, with the necessity that called him to it, and not till then,-not till the enemies of his country, the slaves of power, and the hirelings of injustice, were compelled to abandon their schemes and acknowledge America as terrible in arms as she had been humble in remonstrance. With this object in view, he has felt the cold hand of poverty without a murmur, and has seen the insolence of wealth without a sigh. But too much under the direction of his wishes, and sometimes weak enough to mistake desire for opinion, he had till lately, very lately, believed in the justice of his country. He hoped that as the clouds of adversity scattered, and the sunshine of peace and better fortune broke in upon us—that gratitutde would blaze forth upon those hands which had upheld her in the darkest stages of her passage from impending servitude to acknowledged independence.
But faith has its limits, as well as temper-and there are points beyond which neither can be stretched, without sinking into cowardice, or plunging into credulity. This, my friends, I conceive to be your situation-hurried to the very verge of both, another step would ruin you for ever. To be tame and unprovoked while injuries press upon you is more than weakness. But to look up for kinder usage without one manly effort of your own -would fix your character and shew the world how richly you deserve the chains you broke.
To guard against this evil, let us take a view of the ground u pon which we now stand; and from thence, carry our thoughts