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of the case; I mean the fact that, as it was an aidde-camp of Washington that visited Miss Seward, the person in question must have been Colonel David Humphreys. Now Humphreys, whose home was in Boston during the latter years of his life, was well known to me;—a vain, presuming man, full of pretensions of all sorts, that exposed him to a good deal of ridicule in society, and especially full of pretensions to poetical distinction and to familiarity with literary notabilities in Europe, upon whose regard he founded claims for himself as a poet, which nobody hereabout was disposed to admit. Your mere suggestion of his name, therefore, threw at once a flood of light on the whole affair. But to come to the point—a nos moutons. 1st. Miss S. speaks of Washington having “allowed his aid-decamp to return to England,” &c., both the underscored words being founded on the natural but very heedless error of looking at the visit wholly from an English point of view. 2. She speaks of “Washington's letters to André” as containing “warm entreaties that he would urge General Clinton to resign Arnold in exchange for himself:”—quite incredible from its absurdity. 3. She says, “Washington laboured to avert the sentence:”— again incredible and out of character. 4. She speaks of “Washington's fruitless endeavour to obtain the grant of poor André's petition to die a less disgraceful death:”—whereas André's petition is addressed only to General Washington, who had full power to grant it, which certainly not all the other officers of the army put together could have done after sentence rendered. And 5th, and finally, she speaks of Washington as a member of the Court-Martial, and as overruled there:— whereas, everybody knows that he was not a member of it, and that it was within his unquestioned power to reverse or modify its decision to the last moment of poor André's life. He was commander-in-chief. The only statement, therefore, that seems to need explanation, is the one you have indicated, namely, that the letters of André shown to Miss Seward are said by her to have been in André’s “own hand,” with which, of course, she ought to have been familiar; since, besides knowing him personally, she had—as I think it appears from her poem—a correspondence with him. Now, it may not be a very gallant thing to say, but after having read a good many of her letters for the purpose of seeing her mode of stating facts, I give up her accuracy. I am not disposed to use about her language so harsh as that used by the inexorable Mr. Croker, but I think he substantially makes out his case. She is not, I am satisfied, a reliable authority; and if you have not lately looked over his notes to the first volume of “Boswell,'—I mean those about Miss Seward —I think that, on reading them again, you will agree with me. Indeed, as the two letters about Colonel Humphreys' visit to her are so much at variance with the known facts in André's case; as they were written only from recollection, so long after the occurrence of the visit—one being nearly twenty years after it; and as the accuracy of Miss Seward has been impeached on your side of the Atlantic, while, I apprehend, Colonel Humphreys' stands no better here, I must think the statements of the lady have no proper value as historical testimony. The widow of Colonel Humphreys, a lady of English extraction, whom he married in Portugal, where her family was established, died in Paris, the wife of a Polish adventurer named Walewski. Before she left this country, however, she entrusted the papers of her first husband to my late excellent and learned friend, John Pickering, son of Washington's Secretary of State. From his family they passed, not long since, into the hands of Mr. L. G. Olmstead, of New York, who is a connection of the Humphreys family, and whom I know a little. Their mass, I understand, is considerable, and they were never opened from the time Mr. Pickering arranged them until it was done by Mr. Olmstead at my request. But he writes me word that nothing in relation to André is to be found among them. I am not disappointed. I do not suppose that Colonel Humphreys, when he made his visit to Miss Seward, had anything but copies of the official papers, which have been known to the world since 1780. These, of course, were not worth preserving after they had served the purpose for which he carried them to England. Since I began this letter I have read again Sir Samuel Romilly's argument on the case of André, to which I alluded when I last wrote. Pray, when you do me the favour of writing again, tell me what you think of it. The principle can hardly be stated more tersely, and commands the ready assent of several persons of legal eminence here, to whom I have shown it, and who
regard it as one that would be acted upon by a CourtMartial or Court of Law in England. I remain, my dear Lord, &c.,
Earl Stanhope to George Ticknor, Esq.
My DEAR SIR, May 12, 1855. I owe you many thanks for having so fully weighed the statement of Miss Seward, which I referred to your consideration, and having also been so kind as to make the inquiries which I suggested, to ascertain how far it might be supported by any entry in Colonel Humphreys' papers. Upon the whole, I think with you, that we must give up the truth of the story. Miss Seward, as I am convinced, meant no deception; but her errors of fact, as you draw them up in array, are really so many and so manifest, that it is impossible to rely upon her accuracy of recollection in the other parts of what she tells. And perhaps the whole thing may be sufficiently explained by the vain and boastful character which you, from your local knowledge, ascribe to Colonel Humphreys. To raise his own importance in Miss Seward's eyes, he may have assumed a commission from General Washington that he never in truth received, or may have made the most of some few words addressed to him,
possibly by Washington at his departure, such as—“If ('
you see Miss Seward in England, pray explain to her how the matter really stood in André's case.” One most extraordinary feature in the case, which the more I think of the less I understand, is how Washington, with all his military training and experience, could possibly expect and make two separate overtures to obtain the exchange of Arnold for André, since the protection of deserters and transfuges is the invariable rule of every service in the world." I have, as you suggested, referred to and read over the letter of Sir Samuel Romilly on André's case, and venture to think that you attach to it an undue importance. How can you justly claim the authority of that able lawyer and legislator for a familiar effusion to his brother, written when he was but twenty-three years old? What weight would you allow at such an age to an obiter dictum of Chancellor Kent, or any other of those great jurists of whom America is justly proud P But further still, I doubt very much, on considering Romilly's expressions, whether they are meant to denote
* The case is stated as follows the Generals, a paper was slipped
in the more recent Life of André,
it before Clinton. Simcoe declares
that among the letters between
in, unsigned, but in Hamilton's writing, saying, ‘that the only way to save André was to give up Arnold.’”
Mr. Sargent, in a subsequent passage (p. 374), most fully admits that “it would indeed have been the extreme of baseness in Clinton, under all the circumstances, to have given Arnold up in exchange for André.”