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My former letter mentioned the failing of a large 17821
Spanish fleet under Don Joseph Solano. - Capt. Mann of the Cerberus frigate, falling in with it, and rightly judging of its destination, from the course it steered and other circumstances, considered with great propriety, that the public good and the importance of the object should supply the defect of particular orders, and that the limited design of his cruise could not compare with the immediate application of the knowledge he had accidentally acquired. The captain therefore instantly proceeded to the West Indies, to communicate the intelligence to Sir George Rodney, then at Barbadoes. Upon receiving it, Sir George used the utmost diligence in putting to sea, in order to intercept the Spanish feet and convoy before they could join the French, then in Fort Royal bay Martinico. But his views were VOL. IV.
1780. frustrated through the precaution of the Spanish admin
ral. Don Solano, apprehensive though not informed of
mander failed directly, with 18 ships of the line, and June
keeping close to leeward of the islands, joined the Spa-
The combined fleets amounted to 36 fail of the line,
or for self-defence should they venture upon an attack. 1780.
The combined fleets in the European seas have been
1780, of the British squadron in that quarter. The East In
dia and fifty West India ships, including those upon governmental account, were taken. The Ramillies, with the frigates, and a few West India ships escaped. Such a prize never before entered the harbour of Cadiz. A British Aleet of near 60 ships led captive by a Spanish squadron, was extremely flattering to a people, to whom naval captures from such an enemy were an unusual spectacle. The appearance of the numerous prisoners rendered the triumph more complete, and made the fight still more singular. They consisted of 1250 seamen, officers included; of 1255 soldiers, and 74 officers; of 149 women; and of 137 passengers of both fexes, among whom were fome married and unmarried ladies of condition. The whole amounted to 2865 perfons. The value of the faleable commodities was great, but the loss of the military and naval supplies was much more considerable, as they could not be replaced in time. Advantageous purchases will undoubtedly be made out of this capture for the service of the Ame
The strong appearances of an approaching storm, with which administration was threatened, having subsided ; and every thing going on smoothly and prosperously, there was reason to expect that elections for a new parliament would go greatly in favor of the court.
A dissolution of the present was therefore determined Sept. upon; but the design was kept a profound secret. When
the proclamation for the dissolving of it appeared, it wrought like a thunder clap, with respect to suddennels and surprise, on those who were unacquainted with the design. A new prorogation had taken place within a
few days, which served to render the stroke still more 1780. unexpected. The elections went much in favor of the court. One hundred and thirteen new representatives obtained seats in parliament.
Mr. Laurens was taken on his way from congress to Holland, in the beginning of September, on the banks of Newfoundland. A package of papers, when thrown overboard, not finking suddenly, was saved by the boldness and dexterity of a British failor, and most of them were recovered from the effects of the water. On his arrival in England, he was committed upon a charge of Oct. high treason, as a state prisoner to the Tower, under an order signed by the three secretaries of state. He claimed the privileges of his public character, as a commissioner from the United States of America; and declined answering any questions whose tendency he could not immediately perceive, so that little information was obtained from him. But by the medium of his papers the administration came to the knowledge of the eventual treaty of amity and commerce between America and Holland. The papers relating to this business were delivered about the beginning of November to the prince of Orange, who on the 5th laid them before the states of Holland and West Friesland. On the 10th Sir Jofeph Yorke presented to the States General a memorial concerning them. He demanded in the name of the king, his master, not only a formal disavowal of [what was pronounced] fo irregular a conduct, as that which was charged upon the states of Amsterdam, of carrying on a long clandestine correspondence with the American rebels, and of giving instructions and powers for entering into a treaty with those rebels; but also inB3