To William Short June 28, 1790
From the original letter at the Library of Congress.
London June 28th 1790
The talk and opinion of War is considerably renewed here since my last of last Frydays M. de la Lucerne’s dispatches - another Messenger arrived here from Madrid on fryday or Saturday last but as nothing transpires it may be concluded that he did not bring very welcome tidings. The English fleet, from every appearance, have received sailing orders and it is expected it will sail this day - Its utmost force is 22 Ships of the line - they still talk of the Dutch fleet of 12 Ships, but it does not positively appear that any have yet joined - no direct opinion is formed of the destination of the English fleet - it may probably only be a short Cruise by way of seasoning the Men as a great part a landsmen - It is said they have 12 Regiments on Board - but this I give as report.
My chief apprehension is that it is to looking for some detachment of the Spanish fleet for this is the English mode of carrying on Naval War, and the Policy by which they succeed and therefore ought to be the most principally guarded against - and where ever you go into Company especially where it may be of use I wish you would impress this strongly & be assured that if they can meet with an advantageous opportunity they will not stand upon ceremonies.
We have accounts here of a Naval action between the Russian and Swedish Fleets in the Baltic - such accounts have certainly arrived but not authoritatively - the probability however is strongly in favour of the report which is that the action commenced on the 2d Inst. and was renewed on the 4th at which time the Russian fleet was reinforced by the fleet from Revel, and that the Swedish Fleet was so disabled that few of them were expected to get back to Carlsecrone. The English Funds fell one per ct. upon this news yesterday.
General Washington has been very ill and Dr. Jones has been to attend him - later reports are that he is better -
I have seen Philadelphia Papers to the 18th of May - every thing going on well - exchange at Philadelphia 14 & 15 pr. Cent Sterling against London - In the United States Gazette, about the middle of May is a Bill said to be intended to be brought into Congress to prohibit all goods, wares, merchandise coming from Rhode Island by Land or by Water entering any part of the United States or any vessel putting into any Port except in distress -
Altho’ there are not yet more than 22 Ships of the line, more are put into Commission and getting ready for Sea - Admiral Barrington has the command at present, but Howe (alias Lord Howe) will probably have the command finally -
There are those here who are inclined to believe that the intended destination is the Baltic but I think the probabilities are against it - If the British Ministry intended the Baltic it was the worst of all policy to alarm by a haughty and threatening message the powers to the southward whose preparations in consequence of that would prevent her operation to the Northward - the only policy, if it can be so called, to account for this absurdity upon is to suppose that Mr. Pitt, elevating himself upon the humbling of France in 1787, imagined he might play the same game over again and go afterwards to the Baltic - He is in my opinion a wretched hand in the affairs of foreign Politics - his forte is that of a Party Man and his success even in this he owes more to the disgust the nation took at the Coalition than to any thing in himself.
Yours very affectionatly