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of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.
FREEDOM OF THE DANDRIDGE SLAVES.
The negroes, thirty-three in number, which have remained in the possession of Mary, widow of Bartholomew Dandridge, with their increase, it is my will and desire shall continue and be in her possession, without paying hire, or making compensation for the same, for the time past or to come, during her natural life; at the expiration of which, I direct that all of them who are forty years old and upwards, shall receive their freedom.
All under that age, and above sixteen, shall serve seven years and no longer.
All under sixteen years shall serve until they are twenty-five years of age, and then be free.
To avoid disputes respecting the ages of any of these negroes, they are to be taken into the court of the county in which they reside, and the judgment thereof, in this relation, shall be final, and record thereof made, which may be adduced as evidence at any time thereafter, if disputes should arise concerning the same.
PUNCTILIOS OF HONOR.
Trifling punctilios should have no influence upon a man's conduct, in such a case and at such a time as this.
If smaller matters do not yield to greater; if trifles light as air, in comparison with what we are contending for, can withdraw or withhold gentlemen from service, when our all is at stake, and a single cast of a die may turn the tables; what are we to expect? It is not a common contest we are engaged in. Every thing valuable to us depends upon the success of it; and the success, upon a steady and vigorous exertion.
The generous spirit of chivalry, exploded by the rest of the world, finds a refuge, my dear friend,* in the sensibility of your nation only. But it is in vain to cherish it, unless you can find antagonists to support it; and, however well adapted it might have been to the times in which it existed, in our days, it is to be feared, that your opponent, sheltering himself behind modern opinions, and under his present public character of Commissioner, would turn a virtue of such ancient date into ridicule.
* Lafayette, about to challenge Lord Carlisle, for speaking offensively of France.
Besides, supposing his Lordship accepted your terms, experience has proved, that chance is often as much concerned, in deciding these matters, as bravery; and always more than the justice of the cause.
I would not, therefore, have your life, by the remotest possibility, exposed, when it may be reserved for so many greater occasions.
His Excellency, the Admiral,* I flatter myself, will be in sentiment with me; and, as soon as he can spare you, will send you to head-quarters, where I anticipate the pleasure of seeing you.
The coincidence between your Excellency's timents, respecting the Marquis de Lafayette's challenge, communicated in the letter with which you honored me on the 20th,† and those which I expressed to him, on the same subject, is peculiarly flattering to me.
I am happy to find, that my disapprobation of this measure was founded on the same arguments, which, in your Excellency's hands, acquire new force and persuasion.
I omitted neither serious reasoning nor pleasantry, to divert him from a scheme in which he could be so easily foiled, without having any credit given to him, by his antagonist, for his generosity and sensibility. He intimated, that your Excellency did not discounOctober, 1778.
* Count D'Estaing.
tenance it, and that he had pledged himself, to the principal officers of the French squadron, to carry it into execution.
The charms of vindicating the honor of his country were irresistible. But, besides, he had, in a manner, committed himself, and could not decently retract. I continued to lay my friendly commands upon him, to renounce his project; but I was well assured, that, if he determined to persevere in it, neither authority nor vigilance would be of any avail, to prevent his message to Lord Carlisle.
Though his ardor overreached my advice and influence, I console myself with the reflection, that his Lordship will not accept the challenge; and that, while our friend gains all the applause which is due to him, for wishing to become the champion of his country, he will be secure from the possibility of such dangers as my fears would otherwise create for him, by those powerful barriers which shelter his Lordship, and which, I am persuaded, he will not, in the present instance, violate.
PLEASURES OF BENEVOLENCE.
The reflections which arise on justice and benevolence, will be lastingly grateful.
* This proved to be the case.
NATIONAL GOOD WILL TO MAN.
Harmony and good will towards men, must be the basis of every political establishment.
FELLOWSHIP OF THE FREE.
The cause of virtue and liberty is confined to no continent or climate. It comprehends, within its capacious limits, the wise and good, however dispersed and separated in space and distance.
We do not wish to be the only people, who may taste the sweets of an equal and good government. We look, with an anxious eye, to the time, when happiness and tranquillity shall prevail, and when all Europe shall be freed from commotions, tumults, and alarms.