FIFTH CONGRESS--SECOND SESSION.
FROM WILLIAM SMITH.
LISBON, August 24, 1797.
I flatter myself that you will hear with much pleasure of my safe arrival here, after a passage of twenty-seven days from the Capes of Delaware. We suffered no accident at sea, or delay, except of about two hours, to undergo an examination from a small French squadron, which after a visit, allowed us to pass unmolested. By some papers which I transmit to Col. Pickering by this opportunity, it appears there is a practice of counterfeiting American sea letters and registers. The consul informs me that he believes the practice is very extensive and requires a prompt remedy; he knows of an English vessel provided with an unlawful sea letter, purporting to be an American one, which was once examined by a French privateer and suffered to proceed on her voyage, for which valuable service, the captain of the vessel was rewarded by the owners with the sum of thirty pounds. I have desired him to collect all the information he can on this subject, which shall be at once transmitted. I understand this would be a very excellent market for our tar, if it were manufactured with more care; a vast quantity of Swedish tar is bought and that of the United States is rejected, because it is badly made, being mixed with sand, or otherwise unfit for market. This is deserving of your attention. Mr. Steele may perhaps communicate this subject to some of his friends in North Carolina. Flour is sometimes admitted here, and even rice has found a good market, owing to the loss of so many Brazil ships. The French have made dreadful havoc among them. We have no certain accounts from Lisle, and rumours vary every day on the subject of peace. What think you of Talleyrand's appointment? what effect will it produce on our affairs? I am in hopes that the want of money and union in France, will bring about peace; the present moment appears favourable to England. The government of Portugal have been obliged to issue a paper currency, in order to defray the expenses incurred by their preparations for defence. They have equipped a