Le 26 août 2016, 17:49 dans Humeurs • 0
"I was deeply penetrated with the sense of the honour done me by this generous proposition, as well as of the favour your Majesty intended thereby to confer on America. And I accepted the offer with the greater pleasure as the Congress had sent me to Europe in the Ranger to command the Indien before the ownership of that vessel was changed.
"The minister desired to see me at Versailles to settle future plans of operation, and I attended him for that purpose. I was told that the Indien was at the Texel completely armed and fitted for sea; but the Prince de Nassau was sent express to Holland, and returned with a very different account. The ship was at Amsterdam, and could not be got afloat or armed before the September equinox. The American plenipotentiaries proposed that I should return to America; and, as I have repeatedly been appointed to the chief command of an American squadron to execute secret enterprises, it was not doubted but that Congress would again show me a preference. M. de Sartine, however, thought proper to prevent my departure, by writing to the plenipotentiaries (without my knowledge), requesting that I might be permitted to remain in Europe, and that the Ranger might be sent back to America under another commander, he having special services which he wished me to execute. This request they readily granted, and I was flattered by the prospect of being enabled to testify, by my services, my gratitude to your Majesty, as the first prince who has so generously acknowledged our independence.
"There was an interval of more than three months before the Indien could be gotten afloat. To employ that period usefully, when your Majesty's fleet was ordered to sail from Brest, I proposed to the minister to embark in it as a volunteer, in pursuit of marine knowledge. He objected to this, at the same time approved of a variety of hints for private enterprises, which I had drawn up for his consideration. Two gentlemen were appointed to settle with me the plans that were to be adopted, who gave me the assurance that three of the best frigates in France, with two tenders, and a number of troops, should be immediately put under my command, to pursue such of my own projects as I thought proper; but this fell to nothing, when I believed that your Majesty's signature only was wanting.
"Another armament, composed of cutters and small vessels, at L'Orient, was proposed to be put under my command, to alarm the coasts of England and check the Jersey privateers; but happily for me this also failed, and I was saved from ruin and dishonour, as I now find that all the vessels sailed slow, and their united force is very insignificant. The minister then thought fit that Brest to command the Lively, and join some frigates on an expedition from St. Malo to the North Sea. I returned in haste for that purpose, and found that the Lively had been bestowed at Brest before the minister had mentioned that ship to me at Versailles. This was, however, another fortunate disappointment, as the Lively proves, both in sailing and equipment, much inferior to the Ranger; but, more especially, if it be true, as I have since understood, that the minister intended to give the chief command of an expedition to a lieutenant, which would have occasioned a very disagreeable misunderstanding; for, as an officer of the first rank in the American marine, who has ever been honoured with the favour and friendship of Congress, I can receive orders from no inferior officer whatever. My plan was the destruction of the English Baltic fleet, of great consequence to the enemy's marine, and then only protected by a single frigate. I would have held myself responsible for its success had I commanded the expedition.
"M. de Sartine afterward sent orders to Count D'Orvilliers to receive me on board the fleet agreeably to my former proposal; but the order did not arrive until after the departure of the fleet the last time from Brest, nor was I made acquainted with the circumstance before the fleet returned here.
"Thus have I been chained down to shameful inactivity for nearly five months. I have lost the best season of the year, and such opportunities of serving my country and acquiring honour as I can not again expect this war; and, to my infinite mortification, having no command, I am considered everywhere an officer cast off and in disgrace for secret reasons.
"I have written respectful letters to the minister, none of which he has condescended to answer; I have written to the Prince de Nassau with as little effect; and I do not understand that any apology has been made to the great and venerable Dr. Franklin, whom the minister has made the instrument of bringing me into such unmerited trouble.