A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 28 February, 1907, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lyman Kittredge, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from Mr. Thomas Willing Balch accepting Corresponding Membership.
Mr. Lindsay Swift exhibited a curious manuscript on vellum dating, perhaps, from the fourteenth century, and containing a variant and a continuation of the romantic chronicle of Britain first written in Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, then translated into French and thence into English, and generally known as the Brut. This manuscript, which is in excellent condition and in a fair hand, was bought by one William Naseby in the reign of Edward IV for about seven pounds, equal to eighty or ninety pounds at the present day.
On behalf of Mr. Worthington C. Ford, a Corresponding Member, Mr. Henry H. Edes communicated a letter of Directions written by Washington to his nephew, Major George Augustine Washington, and some letters, never before published in full, written by Washington to Anthony Whiting, the manager of his Mount Vernon estates. These follow.
I DIRECTIONS FOR MAJOR GEORGE AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.186
Mount Vernon, 31 March, 1789
Having given very full and ample details of the intended crops, and my ideas of the modes of managing them at the several Plantations, little, if these are observed, need be added on this subject. But as the profit of every Farm is greater, or less in proportion to the quantity of manure which is made thereon, or can be obtained, and by keeping the fields in good condition — These two important requisites ought never to be lost sight of. — To effect the first, besides the ordinary means of Farmyards, cowpens, sheepfolds, stables, &ca., it would be of essential use if certain proportion of the force of each Plantation could be appropriated in the Summer or early part of Autumn to the purpose of getting up mud to be ameliorated by the frosts of winter for the spring crops whch are to follow. And to accomplish the latter the Gullies in these fields (previous to their being sown with Grain and Grass seeds) ought invariably to be filled up. By so doing and a small sprinkling of manure thereon they will acquire a green-sward, and strength of soil sufficient to preserve them; and these are the only means I know of by which exhausted land can be recovered, and our estates rescued from destruction.
Although a precise number of Tobacco hills is, by my general directions, allotted to each Plantation, yet my real intention is, that no more ground shall be appropriated to this crop than what is either naturally very good (for which purpose small spots may be chosen) or which can be made strong by manure of some kind or another, for my object is to labor for profit, and therefore to substitute quality instead of quantity, there being (except in the article of manuring) no difference between attending a good Plantation and an indifferent one — but in any event let the precise number of hills be ascertained that an estimate may be formed of their yield to the thousand.
Being thoroughly convinced, from experience, that embezzlement & waste of Crops, (to say nothing of the various accidents to which they are liable to delays) are encreased proportionately to the time they are suffered to remain on hand. My wish is, as soon as circumstances will permit after the Grain is harvested, that it may be got out of the Straw (especially at the Plantations where there are no Barns) and either disposed of in proper deposits, or sold if the price is tolerable (after, if it is wheat, it has been converted into flour) when this work is set about as the sole, or as a serious business, it will be executed properly. But when a little is done now, and a little then, there is more waste, even if there should be no embezzlement than can well be conceived.
There is one or two other matters which I beg may be invariably attended to. The first is, to begin Harvest as soon as the grain can be cut with safety; — and the next to get it in the ground in due season. Wheat should be sown by the last of August, at any rate by the 10th. of Septr., and other fall Grain, as soon after as possible. Spring grain & Grass seeds should be sown as soon as the ground can possibly (with propriety) be prepared for their reception.
For such essential purposes as may absolutely require the aid of the Ditchers, they may be taken from that work. At all other times they must proceed in the manner which has been directed formerly. And in making the New Roads from the Ferry to the Mill and from the Tumbling Dam across the Neck till it communicates with the Alexandria Road, as has been pointed out on the spot. The Ditch from the Ferry to the Mill along this Road may be a common four foot one. But from the Mill to the Tumbling Dam and thence across the head of the old field by Muddy hole farm, must be five feet wide at top — but no deeper than the four feet one & the same width at bottom as the latter.
After the Carpenters have given security to the old Barn in the Neck, they must proceed to the completion of the new one at the Ferry, according to the Plan & the explanations which have been given. Gunner & Tom Davis should get bricks made for this purpose; and if John Knowles could be spared (his work, not only with respect to time, but quantity & quality to be amply returned) to examine the bilged walls, & the security of them; but to level & lay the foundations of the other work when the Bricks are ready, it would be rendering me an essential service, and as the work might be returned in time & proper season would be no detriment to your building.
When the Brick work is executed at the Ferry Barn, Gunner & Davis must repair to D[ogue] Run & make bricks there; at the place & in the manner which has been directed that I may have no sammon bricks in that building.
Oyster shells should be bought whenever they are offered for sale — if good and reasonable.
Such monies as you may receive for Flour, Barley, Fish, as also for other things wch can be spared & sold, as also for Rents, the use of the Jacks &ca., and the Book debts which may be tried though little is expected from the justice of those who have been long endulged, — may be applied to the payment of workmen’s wages as they arise, Fairfax, and the Taxes; and likewise to the payment of any just debts which I may be owing (in small sums) & have not been able to discharge previous to my leaving the State. The residue may await further orders.
As I shall want shingles, Plank, Nails, Rum for Harvest, Scantling, & such like things which would cost me money at another time, Fish may be bartered for them. The Scantling (if any is taken) must be such as will suit for the barn now about [building], or that at Dogue Run, without waste, and of good quality.
I find that it is indispensably necessary for two reasons, to save my own clover & Timothy seed: First, because it is the only certain means of having it good & in due season, and secondly because I find it is a heavy article to purchase.
Save all the honey locust seed you can, of that which belongs to me; if more can be obtained the better. And in the fall plant them on the Ditches where they are to remain about 6 inches apart one seed from another.
The seeds which are on the case in my study ought without loss of time to be sown & planted in my Botanical garden, & proper memos kept of the time & places.
You will use your best endeavors to obtain the means for the support of G. & L. Washington,187 who I expect will board (till something further can be decided on) with Doctr Craik; who must be requested to see that they are decently, and properly provided with cloths from Mr Porter’s store, who will give them a credit on my becoming answerable to him for the payment. And as I know of no resource that Harriott has for supplies but from me, Fanny188 will, from time to time as occasion may require have such things got for her on my account as she shall judge necessary. Mrs Washington will I expect, leave her tolerably well provided with common articles for the present.
My memorandum books, which will be left in my study, will inform you of the times and places when, & where, different kinds of Wheat, Grass seeds, &ca., were sown. Let particular attention be paid to the quality & quantity of each sort, that a proper judgmt of them may be taken to prevent mixture of the several sorts as they are so contiguous to each other.
The general superintendence of my affairs is all I require of you, for it is neither my desire nor wish that you should become a drudge to it, or, that you should refrain from any amusements, or visitings which may be agreeable either to Fanny or yourself to make or receive. If Fairfax, the Farmer & Thomas Green, on each of whom I have endeavored to impress a proper sense of their duty will act their part with propriety & fidelity, nothing more will be necessary for you to do than would comport with amusement & that exercise which is conducive to health. Nor is it my wish that you should live in too parsimonious and niggardly a manner. Frugality & œcouomy are undoubtedly commendable and all that is required. Happily for this country, these virtues prevail more & more every day among all classes of citizens. I have heard of, and I have seen with pleasure, a remarkable change in the mode of living from what it was a year or two ago, and nothing but the event which I dreaded would take place soon, has prevented my following the example. Indeed necessity (if this had not happened) would have forced me into the measure as my means are not adequate to the expense at which I have lived since my retirement to what is called private life.
Sincerely wishing you health & happiness, I am ever your warm friend and affectionate uncle
II TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Mount Vernon,189 14 October, 1792
I arrived in this city yesterday afternoon, without encountering any accident except what you are acquainted with by the return of the man from George Town; — and the indisposition of Richard; who, with difficulty, was able to travel from Baltimore to this place, on account of the fever wch returned on him.
Recollecting that it was my desire that you should send the Reports to the Post Office every Wednesday afternoon, & receive at the same time my communications from thence; I shall now, to avoid the delay of a week, mention such things as have occurred to me since I left home, and were not communicated to you; or, if mentioned at all, were but slightly touched upon; from the hurried situation into which I had been thrown.
Having left the disposition of the Mansion House people to you, I wish to know how they are arranged; and think the sooner they are distributed to their permanent abodes the better. Those which I allotted to the Gardener, are neither to be idle themselves, nor to support him in idleness; but are to enable him to carry certain plans of mine into effect with more promptness; and in a better manner (under his immediate superiutendance) than it otherwise could be, without withdrawing your attention more than it ought to be from matters of greater magnitude. The things which I want him to do with these people (aided by the Mansn Ho cart) are to complete the upper Garden walk with gravel, taken from the nearest Pit wch is hid from view; & this I think may be found in a gully in the clover lot in front of the M: House. The gravel to pass through a wooden sieve, to take out stones of too large a size. To gravel the walks in the Pine labyrinths, on both sides of the Lawn west of the House. To plant fresh clumps as soon as the trees can be removed; in the Buck Wheat Lot; — the two clover lots; &c; & of the best, & most ornamental trees — quick in their growth. These clumps are not to be placed with regularity as they respect one another — nor the trees in each, individually. Nor are the clumps to cover (individually) half the ground those did which were planted out last fall, Winter, & Spring. In a word, the trees are to be so close together in each clump as for the tops, in a little while, to appear as if they proceeded from one trunk — they can always be thinned if found too thick. Those clumps wch are already planted (if alive) may be thickened in the manner I have described, and with the same kind of trees; provided they do not stand in too formal a point of view, one to the other. — The evergreens must be removed when they can be taken up with a compact & solid body of frozen earth to the Roots, otherwise the labour will be lost, and another year will pass away without accomplishing my design; as abundant experience has incontestibly proved. — The flowering evergreen Ivy, I want them to plant thick around the Ice house, upper side — not of the tallest kind, but of an even height: — This should be taken up as above; & to insure its thriving, as well as barely living, there ought, I conceive, to be a bed of its natural soil prepared two or three feet deep, & as wide as the transplantation (six or eight feet at least) is intended. The like at the No East of the same lawn, by the other wall. And if beyond that Hah! Hah! — between it & the Path leading from the Bars to the wild cherry tree in the Hollow, was pretty thickly strewed with them (of the lower sort) & intermixed freely with the bush honey suckle of the woods, it would in my opinion, have a pleasing effect. Besides these things & keeping the Gardens (my small, as well as the others) Lawns, Shrubberies, & ovals clean & free from weeds & grass, I would have what is called the Vineyard Inclosure cleansed of all the trash that is in it, and got in perfect order for fruit trees, kitchen vegitables of various kinds, experimental grasses, and for other purposes. — Perhaps after the trash and grubs are taken out, a good plowing with a strong team, where there is nothing growing, may be an essential preparatory operation for the work that is to follow. — The old ditch & bank which splits this inclosure in two is to be levelled, & the trees, except here & there one, taken away; in these I do not comprehend fruit trees; after these things are accomplished, or in weather when they cannot be employed usefully in either of the works before enumerated, these (Negro) hands may be employed in cutting wood, or in the other work with the Mansion House gang. — I would have the Gardener also, with these people, if the Autumn is a proper season for it, if not, without fail in the Spring, — plant cuttings of the weeping willow, yellow willow, or Lombardy Poplar, prefering the first & last mentioned, at the distance of a foot or 18 inches apart from the smith’s shop, quite as the Post & Rail fence runs, around both them enclosures; and the Vineyard inclosure; also that lately sown in Lucern from the Stercarary to the wire fence: that by entwining them as they grow up I may have a substitute for the fences that are now there. — To do this, is of the utmost importance to my interest; as it also is in a more essential degree, to supply by hedges of this, or some other kind all my other fences; as well the exterior ones as those which separate the different fields from one another — I have labored to effect this latter point for years — I have pressed it, & pressed it again — but strange to tell! the season has either been suffered to pass away before it is set about; or, it has either been set about improperly; or, no care has been taken afterwards to preserve & nourish the young plants so as to fit them for the purpose they were intended. Let me therefore in the strongest terms possible, call your attention to this business, as one than which nothing is nearer, both to my interest, and wishes; first, because it is indispensably necessary to save timber & labor; and secondly, because it is ornamental to the Farm, & reputable to the Farmer. If you want Honey locust seed, or any thing else from hence to enable you to effect these, I will send them. — About the Mansion House (and indeed in other cross fences, where Hogs cannot come) I think the weeping willow & Lombardy poplar, which are quick of growth, is to be preferred. — Save much of the Cedar Berries, and (after washing, & rubbing off the glutinous coating around the seed) sow them in every place where you think they can be established to advantage. This might be done even, where you put the cuttings above mentioned (at the Plantations) as a more permanent fence than the other; which may yield, as the Cedars grow up and are planted.
Let the hands at the Mansion House Grub well, & perfectly prepare the old clover lot at the Mansion House. for whatever you may incline to put into it, preparatory for grass, with which it is to be laid down. When I say grub well, I mean that everything wch. is not to remain as trees, should be taken up by the roots; so as that the Plow may meet with no interruption, and the field lye perfectly smooth for the scythe. — Let this, I earnestly request, be received as a general & positive direction; for I seriously assure you that I had rather have one acre cleared in this manner, than four in the common mode; especially in all grounds designed for grass; & for the reasons which I have often mentioned to you. It is a great, & very disagreeable eye-sore to me, as well as a real injury in the loss of labor & the crop (ultimately) and the destruction of scythes, to have foul meadows. — After this is done by the Mansion House people, let them begin at the Wharf, or rather at what is called hell hole, and Grub as has been cleared all the undergrowth, trimming the large, from that place to the cross fence which runs down from the spring to the wire fence, that I may, when the wet spots are made dry, & without plowing or breaking the ground more than a harrow would do, lay it down in grass. — And when these two objects are accomplished, if nothing else more desirable should occur, to set them about, they might be employed in grubbing & preparing the ground I once (as you knew) contemplated as a corn field for the Muddy hole people at the Mansion House.
It is my wish that no hogs may be put up for Porke that is not of sufficient size and age. I had rather have a little Porke that is good, than much bad.
I am persuaded your exertion to get out your wheat, will be commensurate to the necessity; that gathering of Corn (as soon as it can be with safety) may follow before the frosts may render it pernicious to run Carts over the Wheat, that is amongst it. Delay no time in getting up, threshing out, and measuring your Buck Wheat that I may know what is made. — Nor in digging up the Potatoes at Dogue Run. — And I am persuaded you will begin your Autumn plowing as soon as circumstances will permit. Remember that the season is now approaching fast when frosts will put a stop to this business.
The second visto which I mentioned to you is but a secondary object, and yet I am anxious to know over what ground it will pass; but this may be done by a line of stakes in an avenue not more than six feet wide.
The sooner the old Quarter is pulled down the better Davis190 may then do up the wall, and he ought, in time, to do the other Jobs I mentioned to you — to wit — the chimney in the Neck — the chimney at French’s — & that at Bishop’s house, the Vault (burying place) also wants repair. — After these he will, as late as the weather will permit, proceed in painting; first finishing the Quarter, then the four Garden houses — then the smoke house & store — then the old spinning house, wash house, & coach house with red roofs as the others have. After doing this work, or when obliged to quit it he will join the carpenters. This Nucleus may do immediately; or as soon as all the Cedars, locusts, and other valuable wood where I am has been clearing, can be stripped of its limbs, & brought to, & secured in, or at the Barn.
As it is proposed that the hands at Muddy hole should obtain their corn ground at Dogue Run, the parts of it that now are, or probably will be wet in the Spring, ought without loss of time to be ditched; that they may be thoroughly grubbed this fall, or in the winter; and in the Middle Meadow there are two places, I conceive that will want main ditches, besides smaller cross ditches, viz. — the arm of the swamp running up towards the Spring, & the other arm leading to the outer fence. — What Ditching may be wanting in the mill swamp above the present corn field therein, I know not; one main ditch, however, will certainly be necessary, & more than probably one or two cross ones — But in this case, as in every other, it is my express desire that no more may be attempted than what can be compleatly & effectually executed.
As I have already furnished you with a memorandum of the work marked out for the carpenters, I need not, at this time, add anything on that head; except a wish that the well may be compleated agreeably to the model, that I may know whether it will answer or not, and if it was not mentioned in my last, that the Qr may be taken down.
Endeavor to provide Oyster shells in the course of this winter, that, in case I should resolve on it, there may be no let, or delay in building a Barn, or treading floor at Dogue run, to be in readiness for the next wheat in crop. I met with a nephew of mine — Colo. Willm. Augustine Washington191 — at George Town, who promised to engage some persons, if he could, to carry shells to Mount Vernon for me; — if this should happen, but do not depend upon it, you must take what are brought, although you may have entered into other engagements; as it will be on my account he sends them; — they must be paid for on delivery; I do not suppose they will exceed 16/8 or 18/ the hundred bushels, but if they are engaged for me they must be taken if they do exceed this price.
As I can get Iron as cheap, if not cheaper here than it is obtained from Alexandria, send me the sizes of the Bars, plates, &ca., which you would have compose a Tonn, and I will send it from here before the frosts set in.
Mrs. Washington requested the Gardener’s wife, & she readily undertook it, to superintend, under your general direction, the care of the spinners. This will also lessen the minutiæ of your business, and enable you to attend closer to the great, & important parts of it. Put her in a good, & regular mode, & keep her to the exercise of it. — An allowance will be made her for the trouble this business will occasion. — Tell the Gardener, it is my desire that he should raise chestnut trees from the nuts of those which grow on the front Lawn.
Although it is last mentioned, it is foremost in my thoughts, to desire you will be particularly attentive to my negros in their sickness; and to order every overseer positively to be so likewise; for I am sorry to observe that the generality of them view these poor creatures in scarcely any other light than they do a draught horse or ox; neglecting them as much when they are unable to work; instead of comforting & nursing them when they lye on a sick bed. I lost more negros last winter than I had done in 12 or 15 years before, put them altogether. — If their disorders are not common, and the mode of treating them plain, simple, & well understood, send for Doctr Craik in time. In the last stage of the complaint it is unavailing to do it. It is incurring an expense for nothing.
I shall now briefly say, that the trust I have reposed in you is great, & my confidence that you will faithfully discharge it, is commensurate thereto. — I am persuaded of your abilities, industry & integrity; — cautioning you only, against undertaking more than you can execute well, under almost any circumstances; and against (but this I have no cause to suspect) being absent from your business; as example, be it good or bad, will be followed by all those who look up to you. — Keep every one in their places, & to their duty; relaxation from, or neglect in small matters, lead to like attempts in matters of greater magnitude; and are often trials in the under-overseers to see how far they durst go. — Have all the tools collected from the scattered situation in which they are, and all that are not in use, put securely away; — the loss, or abuse of Tools, though nothing to the overseers, when they can ask more and obtain them, is a very heavy expence to those who have them to furnish and are to be at the expence of providing them.
I beseech you to be very attentive to the fires, keeping none in the yard except the one in your own room, and another in the kitchen — the latter to be under the particular care of Frank & his wife. Let the Gates be locked. The Gravel may be dropped at the back door of the Garden, as in any event, I believe, it must be wheeled in hand barrows. The same may, possibly be done by the gravel for the Pine labyrinths, — that is, come in on the back side of them.
I remain your friend &c.
P. S. Let me know when the Major192 left Mt. Vernon, and how he was at the time.
III TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 28 October, 1792
By yesterdays Post I received a letter from you without date, but suppose from the contents it must have left Mount Vernon on Wednesday last.
The letter to Mrs. Fanny Washington must be sent to me, because the purpose of it cannot be answered by sending it to her below.
The Mansion House surplus hands may be disposed of as you shall, upon a full view of all circumstances, conceive best; and the mule cart (instead of the oxe cart) may be retained, with the single horse cart also at that place. — Sinah may also remain there until her mother gets up again, although it is my intention to substitute Anna in her place, as an assistant to Kitty. Sinah and Patt may strengthen the Plantation which stands in most need of their aid.
The scarcity of timber in the Neck for fences, & the distance it is to draw at other places, are evils I have long foreseen, and have endeavored to guard against; but for reasons which I mentioned to you in one of my late letters it never has been accomplished. I hope, however, as I have, in as strong terms as I knew how to use, impressed the necessity of raising live Hedges upon you, that I shall no longer have cause to complain of neglect on this score. — Anything in the shape of a live hedge is desirable; — and almost anything for partition fences (where there are no hogs) will suffice. — Mr. Bartram,193 the Botanist, whom I have seen since my return to this city, is of opinion that it was the spring & summer’s droughts that prevented the Cedar berries from vegitating; and that they may yet be expected; do not therefore let the ground where they were sown be disturbed without accurately examining the Berries to see if there be any hopes of their coming up. — He also says that when Cedars are plashed & laid down, that if the limbs next the ground are covered properly they will take root & send out a number of new shoots. This will be worth trying, if upon examination of the Cedar hedge rows in the Neck, you should think it advisable to lay them down.
It is not to be wondered that the Field No. 7 at the River Plantation should want a new Post & Rail fence when it is seen what kind my people make (in spite of all I can do to prevent it) that is, Posts when morticed that a strong man would break across his knee, & rails so long, & so weak, as to warp, & be unable to bear the weight of a child in getting over them. This custom I hope you will get the better of.
The two meadows at Dogue run, that is, the middle & upper one, contain by actual measurement 51¾ acres — the middle one 31¼ — and the wood between, if opened by a strait line from one Indenture of the field to the other, will add 8¼ acres thereto, but to do this ought not to be attempted until the present ground is compleatly grubbed, ditched (where necessary) & put into perfect order for the plow & smooth laying for grass — for I repeat it again, that I had rather have one acre in this order, than five in a slovenly way; which is not only disadvantageous in many points of view, but is a very great eye sore to me.
I suppose it was owing to the hurry & distress in which Mrs. Fanny Washington was at the time she left Mount Vernon that a little wine &ca. were not left out for extraordinary occasions; because I know it was intended — but not for sick negros, unless it might be in particular cases which rendered it indispensably necessary; for Docr Craik never practiced anything of this kind when Mrs. Washington & myself were at home, or even suggested it as necessary: — Nor was it my intention to leave it for the purpose of entertaining travellers, because there is a striking impropriety in travellers making use of it as a house of convenience, knowing, as they certainly must do, that neither my family, nor the Major’s is there, & when it is far removed from the Post, or any other Road. And if people were led there by curiosity, as soon as that was satisfied, they would retire, without expecting, under the circumstance just mentioned, to be invited to lodge, dine, or spend their time there. — However, as it may happen that characters to whom one would wish to shew civility, and others, that may have a line from me (as was the case the other day with the Honbl. Judge Cushing) may call there, I shall by a vessel which will leave this according to the master’s acct. on thursday next, send you a little Wine, Tea & Coffee, along with the Iron & somethings which will accompany it. — When I recommended care of and attention to my Negros in sickness, it was that the first stage of, & the whole progress through the disorders with which they might be siezed (if more than a slight indisposition) should be closely watched, & timely applications, & remedies be administered; especially in Pleurisies, & all inflammatory fevers accompanied with pain, when a few days neglect, or want of bleeding, might render the ailment incurable. In such cases sweeten’d Teas, broths, and (according to the nature of the complaint, & the Doctrs prescription) sometimes a little wine may be necessary to nourish & restore the patient; and these I am perfectly willing to allow, when it is really requisite. My fear is, as I expressed to you in a former letter, that the under-overseers are so unfeeling — in short viewing the negros in no other light than as a better kind of Cattle, the moment they cease to work, they cease their care of them.
I am very glad to hear that you think your young & soft corn is out of danger; and wish upon further trial this may prove to be the fact, as I have been apprehensive of considerable loss from the backwardness of it.
You say in your letter, that the Ferry People have got out all their wheat, and yet, by the Report of last week only 59½ bushls. was sent to mill, and by the Report of the preceeding week 182; If these two quantities with what was got out for seed, is all the crop that No. 1 at French’s yielded, it is (if I recollect rightly what that was) a miserable turnout indeed, far short of the lowest calculation that had been made of it. I wish you would, always, when the contents of a field is known, enter it in the weekly report & let it come on, that I may be early advised.
I perceive by the Report that you have been hauling the Buck wheat from Mansion House to Muddy hole. I had no conception of this, but supposed you would have drawn it to the Brick yard, or some other naked piece of ground & there threshed & cleaned it, putting the grain in the Green Ho. loft, & retaining the straw for litter. I wish to know the quantity of the grain it has yielded, & what the appearance of grass is where the Buck wheat grew.
I wish you would make old Jack and Frank, at their leisure hours, especially the latter, who I think must have many of them, open all the springs that lye under the Hill, from the Bog (inclusive) by the spring House onwards to the wharf and let them, & the usual spring, be thrown into one currt. or channel, and carried on a level or as nearly [so as possible] so as for the water to run along the hillside until it is brought into that line which I was opening from the east front of the House (in a line with the Doors) to the River. — If any aid from the Ditchers is wanting to accomplish this, it may be given, but I do not mean that any other ditch should be dug, when it can be avoided, than such as are used for side land meadows, and these you know are simple & small indeed.
I shall make inquiry after linnen, and if I can get what is wanting upon reasonable terms, will send it by Capta. Cahart; who, as I have before said, talks of sailing on thursday next. If I should not do this you will be informed thereof by the next post.
I have resolved to build a Barn & treading floor at Dogue Run Plantation, & to do it as soon as other more pressing work will permit, at any rate for the wheat of next harvest. In my last, I sent you a Bill of such scantling as I proposed to buy. Now I give you a general Bill, and a Plan of the building, with such explanations and directions as I think Thos. Green (to whom after you have perused it, it must be given) can be at no loss in the execution; and therefore shall add nothing more in this letter than to desire you will engage the scantling marked to be purchased, provided shells & the number of shingles which may be deficient, which cannot be many as (for want of calculation) 100,000 were got for the Piaza and, I believe, less than 4,000 used. This small demand might, I should suppose, be easily procured at Alexandria. In general, I shall depend upon you to provide what is wanted and to see that everything is carried on properly.
I am your friend & well wisher,
IV TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 4 November, 1792
I was very glad to receive your letter of the 31st. ulto. because I was afraid from the account given me of your spitting blood, by my nephews George & Lawrence Washington, that you would hardly have been able to have written at all. And it is my request that you will not, by attempting more than you are able to undergo, with safety & convenience, injure yourself, & thereby render me a disservice. For if this should happen under present circumstances, my affairs in the absence of both the Major & myself will be thrown into a disagreeable situation. I had rather therefore hear that you had nursed than exposed yourself. And the things which I sent from this place (I mean the Wine, Tea, Coffee & Sugar) & such other matters as you may lay in by the Doctrs. directions for the use of the sick, I desire you will make use of, as your own personal occasions may require.
I have written, as you will see by the enclosed, long letters, both to Thos. Green and the Gardener; in hopes to impress them with the necessity, & to stimulate them to ye practice of proper exertions during mine, & the absence of my nephew. The letters are left open for your perusal & delivery; it is unnecessary therefore for me, in this letter, to repeat the contents of either of the others.
By the Plan of the Plan of the Barn & treading floor for Dogue run, which I sent you in one of my last letters you will readily perceive by the mode in which the treading floor of 2 ½ Inchs. square stuff is laid, what I meant by progressive lengths from 12 to 20 feet. — The inner part of the double sections, next the Octagon, is 12 feet only; the outer part is 20; consequently, every piece increases in length as it approaches the exterior line in a progressive ratio.
The old horses may be disposed of as you shall judge best for my interest. I am well aware that an old horse adds more to the expence than to the profit of a Farm.
I am very sorry to find that my prospect of a wheaten crop is lessening. I shall be anxious to learn the final result of its yield, and wish to hear how yr. corn turns out upon being stripped of the shuck, and how your Potatoes yield; as I perceive you have been digging the latter, & husking the former? As it is proposed to cultivate field No 4 at Dogue Run next year in Potatoes, would it not have been better if the Crop of this Root which grows there, could be well secured against damage & thefts, to let them remain at that place? for I question if many more will be made than what will be required for that field. Eight bushels, or thereabouts, is usually allowed to an acre when planted in drills 3 feet apart. Of course 72 acres will take near 600 bushels.
I am told by some of the Farmers in the vicinity of this City, that if the Apricot Potatoes are planted early, they will come off in time for wheat; if so, and the ground be well worked during the growth of them, it must be in excellent preparation for the seed.
I send you under cover with this a little of the double eared wheat. Plant it in drills as soon as you get it, somewhere in the Vineyard, where the soil is, or can readily be made good. It is worth trying what it ean be brought to.
Let the Gardener put all the seeds of the sugar maple in the ground this Fall; but not to cover them more than very slightly indeed with earth. What kind of preparation, and what kind of a Crop do you mean to put the clover lot (front of the house) into, in order to prepare it for grass? Potatoes would be the best, but I do not expect you will have enough for Dogue Run & this place too. Let me again request that everything that is not intended to remain, & live in that enclosure may be effectually eradicated; for reasons which I have often enumerated. When this inclosure is prepared for Grass, let all the Brick bats in the Road which formerly led through it, be picked up & brought off, and let that part of it, towards the decline of the Hill, which is naked & bare, be broke up, improved, & sown, to give it a better appearance as the house is approached. And it would be a pleasing thing to me if this entire Inclosure, from the present mowing ground on the height, quite down to the Marsh, & wet ground of H — Hole; from the mouth up to Richard’s house, could be most effectually grubbed & cleared (except such clumps or single trees, as one would wish to leave for ornament). What the quantity of it may be, I am unable to say; but if you conceive that the House gang, with such aids as you can derive from River Plantation, where I think the people, during the winter, can have very little to do, and from the Ferry & French’s, where they cannot have much, I should be glad to have it undertaken; since the idea of clearing for corn, for Muddy hole, without the Gates at Mansion house is relinquished. As the home house people (the industrious part of them at least) might want ground for their truck patches, they might, for this purpose, cultivate what would be cleared. But I would have the ground from the cross fence by the spring, quite round by the wharf, first grubbed, before this (above mentioned) is attempted.
It would be difficult for me, if I was ever so well disposed, to procure the full quantity of clover seed mentioned in your memm.; as it is (from such information as I have received) both scarce & dear in these parts, — but while I am on this subject, I beg that whatever you do sow (if covered at all) may be very slightly covered. Harrowing clover seed in, in the vicinity of this city is quite disused, and I never saw better clover anywhere than is about it. Five or six lbs. of seed, if they can depend upon its goodness, is all they allow to an acre, and in no case more than 10 lbs., or as many pints. I mention these things for your government; & that, from experience they find no better season for sowing than towards the last of Winter, or opening of the Spring, on Winter grain, leaving it to the Snow, or Frosts to bring the seeds.
I do not discover by your letters, or the Reports that your Porkers are yet up. It is high time this was done, and I desire that no Hogs, except such as are of sufficient age, & size be fattened. I had rather have a little good, than much bad Porke.
By your last week’s report, I perceive 80 bushels of wheat was sent from River Plantation to the Mill and 79 only received at it — Detect always, these differences as soon as they happen, & it will explain mistakes, and check many abuses which otherwise would be committed. And I am sorry to find that scarcely any report comes to hand without mentioning the death of several sheep. If the overseers begin thus early to report deaths, what may I not expect to receive between this & May?
I think you had better turn Sam & George over to the Gardener, that their work may appear in his Report. And Davis & Nuclus in like manner to Green. Sims also, if you think he had better remain with the Carpenters. This will simplify the Mansion House report greatly, and let me see more clearly what that gang are employed in. At present that head of the report is swelled greatly, and nothing hardly appears to be done by the people comprehended under it. If Peter does any work at all, it is in the gardening line. He therefore had better be turned over to him, though I believe he will do nothing that he can avoid — of labor.
Supply Green & the Gardener with Paper, that they may have no excuse for not giving in their Reports, & see that they accompany your own every week.
I am your friend and servant,
P. S. Doll at the Ferry must be taught to knit, and made to do a sufficient day’s work of it. Otherwise (if suffered to be idle) many more will walk in her footsteps. Lame Peter, if nobody else will, must teach her, and she must be brought to the house for that purpose.
Tell house Frank I expect he will lay up a more plentious store of the black common Walnut than he usually does. Nor ought he to spend his time wholly in idleness.194
V TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 14 November, 1792
Your letter of the 9th. came to my hands last night, and though I am much hurried, will briefly observe, that I had rather repair my seins, and fish myself, than hire the landing with the Negros. If a good price could be obtained for the Landing without the Negros, and an express prohibition of waggons coming thither, I should like, & would prefer that. — But at any rate repair, & keep the seins dry and out of the way of Mice, that you may have an alternative. In the meanwhile, give it out, and make it as public as you can, that the landing alone, or landing and Boat, (with the prohibition above) is to be Rented; but that the person renting is to furnish me with a certain quantity of Shad & Herring, to be specified, in the early part of the Season — or if the Boat is reserved, I could easily catch what fish I should want at the landing by Bishop’s House; which used to be, and no doubt still is, a good fishery. If after giving this notice, and enquiring what Colo. Mason used to receive for his best landing, and what others, on both sides of the River get for theirs, you should have an offer from a person of good character, & in whom confidence could be placed, similar to what is given for the best, I would advise you to take it, and either secure the fish wanted for my own use from them, or receive the Boat, & catch for yourself at the Mansion House.
It will no doubt occur to you, when you are making enquiry into the Rent received by Colo. Mason & others, whether the Landings are furnished with convenient & secure houses, as mine is, for curing and preserving the Fish; and make the difference in the price if they are not, which these are entitled to.
It is not in my power to fix a Rent or hire for the Landing, because I do not know the usual price of the best with the consequences mine have, and this I must take, or not Rent. Take care, if you should hire it, to stipulate that the person hiring shall have nothing to do with the shore after the shad & Herring season is over — nor with the Houses beyond a limited time; otherwise, I might sustain unexpected inconveniences.
I presume it would be better for me to take £25 for the Stallion than have him to winter, & therefore consent to its being done.
Among other reasons for uot hiring my hands with the shore is, that I do not want to take them so long from the ground I wish to get in prime order in, and between the old clover lot and H — Hole.
I am your friend & well wisher,
VI TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 25 November, 1792
Your letter of the 21st. instant enclosing the Reports of the proceeding week was received yesterday; but the Sheriff’s acct. of taxes was not sent though mentioned, among the papers which were sent to me.
As you think (as I do also) that the new part of the old clover lot at the Mansion House had better be in Potatoes, Perhaps it would be well to apply those you have to this purpose; & instead of cultivating field No. 4 at Dogue run in this article, let it lay over; and in lieu thereof, fallow (with Buck wheat for manure) No. 1 at that place for wheat. This is the rotation I had marked out for that plantation before you suggested Potatoes for No. 4, next year. — By this alternative the last mentioned field will, as was intended, come into corn in 1794; succeeding No. 3, which will be in that article next year; and succeeded by No. 5 the year following; that is, in 1795, and so on, bringing them all on with corn in the order of their numbers. And this considering you have not a sufficiency of Potatoes for both purposes (and I find it too expensive, and too much unlike a Farmer to be always upon the purchase of my seeds) and by the double dressing of Green manure No. 1 may be got into fine order for wheat, if you can prepare and sow it with Buck wheat early in the Spring, to be plowed in before harvest when seed enough is ripe to bring forward a second crop for plowing in timuously for wheat seeding. I feel more inclination for the adoption of this plan, than I do for planting, No 4 at Dogue run with the Potatoes you have; especially as the quantity on hand are inadequate to the demand of that field, & because they are at the Mansion house in readiness for the other purpose. If more than sufficient for which (allowing about 8 bushels to the acre) the residue, instead of Turnips, may be planted in the old part of the same (clover) lot, or elsewhere as you may conceive best. Besides the reasons I have just mentioned, there are others which influence me to this change (which, as I do not perceive by the Reports that any work has yet been done in No. 4, can be made without any loss of labor) and these are, that No 1. is running very much into furrow gullies, which will, in a little time, if not stopped, be of magnitude; and very injurious to it; but by being contiguous to the corn fields, you have the means now at hand, to fill & smooth them for the plow with very little labor, wch might not, & certainly would not, be the case another year after the corn stalks (than which nothing can be better calculated for filling these gullies) are removed and destroyed; — & by altering the fence between the said No 1 & the meadow (in the manner made known to you) it will place things as they ought to be without delay; — and will moreover give No 4 a year’s more rest, which will be no disservice to it; whilst every thing in the rotation line will work more systematically by means of it. — There is another thing equally necessary, wanting in this field; and that is, assistance to the poor & washed parts of it; — for these can receive no benefit from Buck wheat, because none will grow on them: & to recover them before they get quite lost, is prudent & essential; as well for appearance as profit. — The hedge row along the old race will be to be cleared, & the bank levelled: — in doing the first, leave here & there a tree, or clump, for shade & ornament.
If Plants of the Drum head & cattle cabbage can be raised in time, you might, perhaps, find some part of the addition to the old clover lot very proper for them; & as they would require to be well cultivated, very proper also for the grass which is (as soon as the new part of the ground is fully reclaimed & cleansed) to follow.
I am very willing, nay desirous, that part of the vineyard Inclosure should be appropriated to raising any & all kind of plants fit for hedging, or to repair hedges. Those of the most valuable & scarcer kind of plants for this purpose, may receive nourishment in my little Garden; — as the Firze, for instance. — But I am of opinion that all such hedges as are to be raised from the seed, for instance, Cedar Honey locust, White thorn, Sycamore, &ca., &ca. had better be sown in the places where they are to remain, having the ground well prepared previous to the reception of it, and well attended to afterwards, for I have been very unsuccessful in all my transplantations.
The quantity of grain received into the mill weekly; — the quantity of meal, flour, Bran, &ca., delivered from it; — & the quantity and kind of Flour that is packed in the course of it, & actually there; is all the report I want; that I may see at one view what goes in, what comes out, and what is actually in the mill; barraled up of different sorts of flour; for I presume, as well to avoid dust, as petty robberies, the flour is packed up as fast as it is ground, & that the Bran is brought away. This being the case, there can be no difficulty, nor trouble in making the Report, as I do not want the wheat (after it gets into the Garner) a second time measured, nor (supposing as above) anything said of the unpacked flour.
If your growing wheat is cut off, are you not able to discover by what insect it is done, so as to describe it? Keep an attentive eye towards it, and let me know from time to time how this disaster progresses, and what the general appearance of your different fields is, and promises to be.
I wish to know as soon as you can conveniently ascertain it, what the quantity of Buck wheat is, that you have made; what grd. you mean to sow with it; and what quantity it will take to seed it (including No. 1 at Dogue run): — and if your own stock shd. fall short, enquire at what price it could be obtained, delivered at Alexandria, & let me know the result. Let me know also, as soon as your corn is measured, the total quantity made; what each field produced; and how much has been used, up to the period of rendering me the acct. of the new corn.
I perceive by the last report that 8 sheep are missing; but that it is not known whether taken from Dogue Run or the Ferry & French’s. This confirms what I observed to you in my last, or one of my last letters, viz: that the overseers know very little of what relates to their own stock; giving in the number from the old reports instead of from actual weekly counting; by which means half my stock may be stolen, or eaten, before they are missed: — whereas, a weekly, or even a more frequent count of the sheep & inspection of the Hogs (articles most likely to be depredated upon) would prevent, or if not prevent, enable them to pursue while the scent was hot these atrocious villainies, and either bring them to light, or so alarm the perpetrators of them, as to make them less frequent. As the overseers, I believe, conduct matters, a sheep, or Hog or two, may every week, be taken without suspicion of it for months. An enquiry then comes too late; and I shall have to submit to one robbery after the other, until I shall have nothing left to be robbed of.
I see alterations have been made in the wheel, or wheels of the well, by the Quarter. How does it work now; what quantity of water will it draw up in a given time; & what force is required to do it? that is to say, can the children, or weak people about the Quarter, draw for themselves.
Mrs. Washington expected two barrels of good shad would have come round with the things which were sent from Mount Vernon; but as this did not happen, take the first opportunity of forwarding them to this place; & I believe Captn Ellwood is, at this moment, or soon will be, at Alexandria.
It is now, I believe, ten or 12 months ago, since I desired that ten or 12 shoats might be put into a Stye, as soon as they were weaned, & well fed; to see what they could be brought to at a year old, (keeping an exact acct. of the expence) but whether it was ever done, or what the result of it was, I know not. I wish however that directions of this kind may be always duly attended. Few things will bear delay, but those of experiment worst of all; as it defeats the ascertaining of facts which might be of infinite importance; as in this very instance; for as the case now is, I am raising Hogs to a certain age for others, not for myself; whereas if this method should succeed, a stye by a house could not be robbed, & fewer sows would raise more hogs; & I believe, at infinite less expence.
I am your friend, & well wisher,
Philadelphia, 2 December, 1792
Your letter of the 22d. of Novr. enclosing the Sheriff’s account has been duly received; but no letter nor Report was received from you yesterday, as usual; which makes me fear that you are sick, or that some accident has happened; as I have never missed before, receiving on Saturday the letter and reports which you send to Alexandria on Wednesday. I am always anxious to hear once a week from home; & to be informed by the letter & Reports how my people are, and how my business is going on; & I am more desirous of it now when it remains to be told what the crops of wheat, corn, & other things will turn out, than common.
You were perfectly right in discharging Jones. He always appeared to me to be incapable of the management of a Plantation from his want of capacity; but for his indolent or wilful neglects there can be no excuse; and he would meet with no more than his deserts if he was made to pay for the damage my wheat fields have sustained; for he had sufficient warning from myself, before I left home, to guard him against this evil. It is to such inattention, & want of execution; together with the opportunities that are given to my negros, that robberies have got to the height they are. If some of the nights in which these overseers are frolicking at the expence of my business, & to the destruction of my horses, were spent in watching the Barns, visiting the negro quarters at unexpected hours, waylaying the roads, or contriving some devise by which the receivers of stolen goods might be entrapped & the facts proved upon them; it would be no more than the performance of a duty which I have a right to expect for the wages they draw from me; and it wd. redound much more to their own credit and reputation as good & faithful overseers than running about — I wish, however, that the season may not be too far advanced for you to get a person to supply the place of Jones that will, in anywise, be competent to such a trust as must devolve on him, in the management of so important a Plantation.
I thought you had made it the particular duty of old Matt to attend to the Fences?
By Post of the 18th. ulto. I sent you Tea & other spoons, for the use of the house; & expected that they, the Tea, Coffee, Sugar, & Wine would have been at Mount Vernon before the day on which you say Judge Cushing called at that place.
Wheat & flour are rising fast, & must have a high price during the Winter & Spring; I again desire, therefore, that none of mine may be sold without particular directions from me; but keep me advised of the Alexandria prices of the superfine, fine, &ca. that I may be able to decide on the time for disposal. In the meanwhile, let the miller exert himself to get all the wheat manufactured as soon as he can, that it may be ready when a price shall offer that would induce me to part with it. Wheat is now at 8/4, & flour forty odd shillings & rising. In the mill Reports, the weight of the wheat ought always to be mentioned as well as the quantity received there; without this there can be no accurate acct. of this business kept with the miller — and that he should receive no more Toll wheat & corn than what is mentioned in the weekly returns, is really unaccountable. The Toll of my own Corn, which is ground there, amounts to nearly the whole of his credit: and of wheat, rarely more than a bushel or two is brought to the credit of the mill.
I have seen no account in any of the Reports of the number of bricks at Dogue Run. I desired in a letter sometime ago that these might be counted, & assorted; that if they fell short of what were wanting for the Barn intended to be built at that place, the earth might be taken from the foundation of it this fall, to ameliorate by the Spring. That you may never forget directions that are given, it would be well to extract them from my letters, and place them in a pocket memorandum book that they may be easily & frequently resorted to; without this, they may, when a letter is laid by, go out of your mind, to my disappointment; and I would have nothing left undone which is required to be done, without being informed of it, & the reasons assigned; that I may judge of their weight. The Springs under the hill, which I requested should be opened, that I might, whilst they were at their lowest, see what water could be collected from the whole of them, cannot be done well when the weather is cold and freezing; nor will it ascertain the fact I wanted to know, after the Autumn and Winter Rains have filled the earth with water; for then Springs may appear that would be entirely dry in the Summer; & that is the season I should want the water. Speaking of this, I had rather the water from these Springs should be carried round any little risings wch. may be between the most westerly ones (which are worth opening) and that by the Dairy, than to have a deep Ditch cut through them. — In short, I want the water carried on its level to the front of the Mansion house, as it is done in watered Meadows; that I may, if I should hereafter want to water any, or all of that ground, or to make a pond on the level directly in front along the visto that was opened in a line between the two doors, that so much of the work may be done to my hands. — Before I left home, I desired you to make out another visto on the west front of the Mansion house, merely to see over what ground it would go, that I might thereby be enabled to decide whether to open it or not; but as you have mentioned nothing of it in any of your letters, I suppose it is not yet done.
As I keep no copies of letters wch. I write to you, & always write in great haste (one thing or another always pressing upon me) it is more than probable I often repeat things over & over again to you; but this I have preferred doing to remaining in suspence of having it done at all — especially as you will consider it as a strong evidence that things so repeated are such as I am anxious about. — In one of my last letters, I think I desired (I know I intended to do it) that you would, after you had finally designated the Mansion house gang, keep them steadily at work at that place, suffering them on no occasion (unless very unimergent ones) to be sent to any of the Plantations to work; — for besides loosing much time in marching & counter marching, it weakens the exertion, & destroys the ambition of the different overseers to excel one another in the good condition of their respective plantations, when by extranious force they are relieved from difficulties which, more than probable, their own idleness has been the cause of. I can conceive nothing, except Ditching (which is a kind of trade,) that the hands of every plantation are not competent to, & should be made to execute. Hedging, setting out cuttings for it, Planting, or sowing the seeds according to the nature of them, &ca., &ca., as well as other things is to be done by them; under (where skill, & attention is necessary) the immediate eye of the Overseers. And as I have often, & often declared, this business of hedging must not be considered in the light of a secondary or trifling, or an occasional thing; but, on the contrary, as one of the first magnitude, & to be entered upon with as much serious intention to execute it well, as to prepare for planting corn, or sewing wheat, and the [?]195 which I am more anxious to accomplish.
I now send you Mr. Lambert’s Pamphlet,196 with the observations of Mr. Peters upon it, to whom it was lent, & who I think one of the most judicious farmers in this part of the country. If there are any hints in the Pamphlet worth improving on, you will not, I am persuaded, suffer them to escape you. Sinking the point of the beam below the parrallel line of the spit, or share, is a very material deviation from the common mode of setting a plough; and certainly ought to be tried by the rules & principle he has laid down. And this I conceive may be done with one of the bar shear plows which are now in use, as well as by a plow in all respects like the plate.
I am your friend and well wisher
P. S. Perhaps you may not know, that if the Thursday’s Post (which leaves Alexanda before day) is missed, no letter, if sent to the office even half an hour afterwards, will reach this place before Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday’s post from that place reaches this on Thursdays; Thursday’s comes in on Saturdays, and Saturday’s not until Tuesdays, on account of Sundays intervening. You will see by this the necessity of sending up your Reports in time always on Wednesdays. It is more convenient for me to receive them on Saturdays than any other day; because between that & the departure of the Post on Monday, which gets into Alexandria on Wednesdays I can write with less interruption than at any other time.
VIII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 9 December, 1792
Your letter of the 28th of Novr. which ought to have been here the first day of this month, did not arrive until the 4th; — that of the 5th. came yesterday, at the usual time.
I thought I had, in a former letter, desired that all the large Cedars in the Lucern lot might be left standing; as they could, at any time, be thinned after I had seen them, free from other things. This is the footing I would have them remain on at present; the young ones, as has been mentioned to you are to be taken up so soon as they can be removed with a large block of frozen earth; and planted from the stile downwards, thick, so as to make a formidable hedge. Let all the trees, large or small (unless very large indeed) that are taken out of either the lucern, or old clover lots, be grubbed up by the roots. It will, I am sensible, render this clearing more tedious; but it will be the means of saving much labour hereafter; besides giving a more agreeable appearance to the ground in the first instance. I will endeavor to procure seeds from the honey locust, & send you, but I question whether I shall get many, if any, as there are very few pods on the trees in the neighborhood of this City, this year. I entirely approve, as I have mentioned to you in one or two letters lately, of establishing large nurseries of every kind of plant that is fit for hedges; but then, I would do it (of the common plants) more for the purpose of repairing, than for raising hedges by transplanting the plants in the first instance, from these Nurseries. — For, as you know, many thousands of the honey locust were transplanted from the Vineyard to the Ferry & French’s, under the care of Mr. Bloxham; whom, one would have thought, would have known how to manage them: — but where are they now? — Indeed this question might be asked with respect to the Honey locust seeds which were planted there & elsewhere; and both be answered, justly perhaps, by saying that the ground was not properly prepared for either, nor the plants attended to after they were removed, or had come up from the seeds. Indeed I am so anxious to get these hedges reared as soon as possible, that I would spare no expence of labor, or pains to facilitate the measure by trying both methods, with everything you can devise as fit for it.
By the time this letter will have got to your hands, I expect 655 lbs. of clover seed at 1/5 pr. lb. will be in Alexandria (from New York) for me, consigned to Mr. Porter; to whom, if you should not do it to the Captn. the freight (not more I suppose than 8/ or 10/) must be paid. The seed, as it is furnished by a person who is careful in the choice, I hope will prove good: the distribution of it, together with that which you have I shall leave to yourself; but request, if harrowed at all, it may be done with nothing heavier than a light brush, as I am well persuaded that the thinness of my clover proceeds, as much as anything, from the seeds being buried too deep.
Have you made any use of the Plough I sent from this place, & with three horses? I hope both the old clover lot, & the Brick yard lot will be well prepared for the crops, & seeds which are to be put into them. And if you could get some of the true Plaster of Paris or Gypsum, and sow the Lawns on both sides of the Mansion house, it would be of service; as they begin to want dressing: about 5 or 6 bushels to the acre is the usual allowance. Put long litter against the cellar windows; Frank knows how, & should be made to do it, as well as other things; otherwise he will be ruined by idleness. And can Lucy find sufficient employment in the Kitchen? It was expected her leizure hours, of which I conceive she must have very many from cooking, would be employed in knitting, of which both Peter & Sarah do too little. I expected Dinah was one of those who would have been sent to one of the Plantations: — whether she remains at the Mansion house, or not, it is my desire that when Kitty is unable to attend the Dairy alone, that Anna may be the assistant. The other, besides idling away half the day under that pretence, never failed, I am well convinced, to take a pretty ample toll of both milk & butter.
I hope the overseer you have got from Boggess’ will answer your expectations; but I have no opinion of any recommendation from that person; and besides, a stayed elderly man, for such an important plantation as Dogue run would have been to be preferred to a young one, although the latter should be a married man. But I am sensible anyone would be better than Jones, and that the season was too far advanced to look for many to chuse from. When do you expect the successor of Garner? If he does not come over before Christmas, he may not be able to do it before Spring, on account of Interruption by Ice.
As soon as your Corn is all measured, and the Grain all threshed, give me an acct. of the whole crop in one view; and what each field has produced of the several species; — viz., of Corn, Wheat, Buckwheat, Oats, Potatoes, &ca. — and as your own apprehensions of a short crop of corn seems to be great, I beg that every possible œconomy may be attended to in the use of it; and to prevent waste & embezzlement; as the same spirits which attack my Wheat, Hogs, & Sheep, will not spare the Corn, if means can be found to get at it; and this is often given by the overseer’s entrusting the keys of the Corn houses to those who want grain for their work horses, &ca. Do not bestow too much corn on your fatting Hogs, unless it can be applied to no other use; I mean that which is soft, for it will not keep long without turning bitter, yellow, & becoming rotten: — and if laid in bulk, will (I know from experience) be utterly ruiued. For every purpose therefore to which soft Corn can be applied usefully, & œconomically, let it be & be the first consumed. I do not, by calling for this general return of all the crops, mean that the individual ones, or parts of them, should go unreported as usual. My object is, that I may have the whole in one view, without resorting to the weekly ones.
I do not know what quantity of wheat is yet to go to the mill but wish it may not fall short of your expectation of 5000 bushels in the whole for market. It appears to me that the miller must have been very inattentive to his duty to have manufactured only 102 barrls. of flour, besides 15 barls. of midlings & 19 of ship stuff out of 2387½ bushels of wheat which has been delivered into the mill. I wish he may not have forgot what is usual for all millers to do, & what I am sure he must have done himself, and that is, to grind of nights, as well as days when the water, & seasons will admit. A little time more & the frosts will stop the mill, and in a little time after the frosts are over, the droughts will stop it, & my grain will remain unground. He has, it must be acknowledged a fine time of it. Whether he works at night, or not, I hope particular charge will be given him respecting fire. The loss of the mill, & its contents, would be too heavy for me to support; and I find the accident of fires is already begun. The loss sustained by which, & how it happened at the Hounds Kennels ought to have been more particularly detailed than by the simple mention of it in the report, as if it was a thing of course.
I did not expect that Buck wheat could be had short of London. I wished to know whether it could be had from thence, & at what price, delivered in Alexandria; that I might be enabled to determine (if more than you have should be required) whether it would be best to buy there, or send it from here. For this reason it is, I have asked once or twice what you have made; — as soon as the quantity is ascertained, let me know it — what ground you propose to sow with it, & how much seed (more than you have) is wanting.
If it is the Hessian fly that has injured your wheat the insect will be found between the blade and the stem, at the lower joint. The clumps as marked by the Gardener are very well designed, but if there had been more trees in them, they wd. not have been the worse for it.
I presume Davis has painted the windows & cornice of the Green house & New Quarters white. I directed him so to do. Let me know what painting he has yet to do, & the quantity of paints on hand. What does the Gardner’s wife in her report mean by Trousers? She is not making them longer than common breeches I presume. This wd. be a great consumptn. of cloth.
If you will send me the size, & length of the well rope, I will endeavor to have a proper one made, & sent to you.
You ask directions from me, respecting your conduct in the building of my poor nephew, Major Geo: A. Washington’s House. From every acct. we receive, his disorder is at a crisis, and must soon (if that is not the case already) change for the better, or terminate in his speedy dissolution: & as the latter is most likely to happen, I think yon had better not (until further orders) procure any more scantling; especially such as must be cut to waste. It may be proper for Gunner to continue throwing up Brick earth; & for the Major’s two men to be preparing plank for the floors; because these (especially the latter) cannot be lost. A very few weeks (before the end of the ensuing hollidays) will enable him, or his friends to decide more accurately on the measures necessary to be pursued.
I am your well wisher & friend,
IX TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 16 December, 1792
Your letter of the 12th with its enclosures came duly to hand, and under cover with this letter you will receive Invoice & Bill of Lading for something which went from hence yesterday.
I thought it best to send you, ready prepared, the Plaster of Paris from hence. March or April will be time enough to spread it (at the rate of 5 or 6 bushls. to the acre) on the Lawns before each door; if there be more than enough for this purpose spread the remainder on the Lucern, or new clover lot (poorest parts of it) as far as it will go. It ought to be done when it is drizzling, at any rate when the atmosphere is moist & giving, & when there is very little wind; otherwise the fine particles of the Gypsom will evaporate, blow away, & be lost. All the honey locust seeds I could get before the vessel sailed, are sent; if more are to be had I will send them. — The fruit trees wch. accompany them may be planted where the Gardener shall think it best they shd. stand; & desire him to be careful of the seeds you got from Mr. Hunter; taking care to preserve the names of them, that the plants may be thereby known.
If (or whenever) you can obtain a good price for the midlings or ship-stuff in Alexandria, I would have you sell them to raise Cash for such purposes as indispensably call for it; but I earnestly exhort you to buy nothing you can either make within yourselves, or can do well without. The practice of running to stores, &ca. for everything that is wanting, or thought to be wanting, is the most ruinous custom that can be adopted, and has proved the destruction of many a man before he was aware of the pernicious consequences. There is no Proverb in the whole catalogue of them more true, than that a penny saved, is a penny got. I well know that many things must be bought, such for instance as you have enumerated in your letter; but I know also, that, expedients may be hit upon, & things (though perhaps not quite as handsome) done within ourselves, that would ease the expences of any estate very considerably. Before the navigation is closed it might be prudent to make this sale, or to have the ship-stuff and midlings stored in Alexandria in readiness for it; otherwise you will be unable to do it, or have it to waggon, which will be not only a drawback from the price, but may be attended with much inconvenience.
I observed to you in my last, that I thought the miller was very negligent & inattentive to his duty in not having more wheat manufactured than what appeared by the Report of the preceeding week; and I now desire you will let him know that I am by no means well pleased at the delay. I fear he makes so large a portion of flour superfine, as to endanger, or at least to impoverish the fine. This will not be good policy for either kind: — and I perceive he makes the wheat weigh only 58 lbs pr. Bushel. I wish you would now & then see a load tried. 58 is less than I have heard of any wheats weighing this year. Tell Davenport it is my desire that he would immediately try with 100 bushels of wheat (carefully measured, and as it is received at the mill) what quantity of superfine, fine, midlings, shipstuff and Bran, will come from it. This 100 bushels of wheat (after it is measured & weighed) is to pass, as usual, through the mill screen & Fan. My object you will readily perceive is to compare the prices of the wheat before and after it is manufactured, together, that I may be enabled to form a precise judgment of the value of each: He must therefore be very careful that no mistake is made, & the experiment such as he can be responsible for. It is for this reason I have directed the wheat to be measured & weighed before it goes through the mill operations for cleaning. A similar experiment to this was made last year, but I want another & to have it done without delay, & with great exactness.
If Isaac had his deserts he wd. receive severe punishment for the House, Tools, & seasoned stuff which has been burned by his carelessness. He must have left the fire in a very unjustifiable situation, or have been a fine time absent from it, for such an accident to have happened before it was too late to have extinguished it. I wish you to inform him, that I sustain injury enough by their idleness — they need not add to it by their carelessness. The present work-shop (Barn) will do very well; at least ’till there is more leizure for altering that, or erecting another.
I am sorry to find your crop of corn is likely to fall so short of expectation: — I hope however, that great care will be taken of what is made; — & that every advantageous use will be made of the soft corn. It will not with all the care that can be taken of it, keep long, & if you lay it in heaps it will inevitably spoil, & be fit for no use in a very short time.
I am not less concerned to find that I am for ever, sustaining loss in my stock of sheep (particularly). I not only approve of your killing those Dogs which have been the occasion of the late loss, & of the thinning of the Plantations of others, but give it as a positive order, that after saying what dog, or dogs shall remain, if any negro presumes under any pretence whatsoever, to preserve, or bring one into the family, that he shall be severely punished, and the dog hanged. I was obliged to adopt this practise whilst I resided at home, and from the same motives, that is, for the preservation of my Sheep and Hogs; but I observed when I was at home last that a new set of dogs was rearing up, & I intended to have spoke about them, but one thing or another always prevented it. It is not for any good purpose Negros raise or keep dogs; but to aid them in their night robberies; for it is astonish[ing] to see the command under which their dogs are. I would no more allow the Overseers than I would the negros, to keep Dogs. One, or at most two on a Plantation is enough. The pretences for keeping more will be various, & urgent, but I will not allow more than the above notwithstanding.
I hope your new Overseer will turn out well. His age (although he now has, or soon may get a wife) is much against him for a large concern in my estimation; but the season made it almost Hobson’s choice, him or none. I have engaged an elderly man who may probably be with you on Sunday next to look after the home house gang. He is an Irishman, & not long from that country. According to his own, and the accounts given of him by others, he is well practiced in both farming and grazing. He is old enough to be steady, & to have had much experience in both these branches. Though old, & clumsey with all, he promises that activity shall not be wanting, nor obedience to any directions you may give him. I have agreed to allow him seventy dollars for the ensuing year, & have told him that further encouragement, either in an augmentation of wages, or removal to a better place, will depend altogether upon his own conduct and good behaviour. If he is such a man as is represented, he may be useful to me; having it is said a perfect knowledge in Horses, and stock of all kinds. I should have preferred, if the Major had occupied the room over the kitchen as a store, to have put his bed in that; but this being the case, he must go into the house opposite to the store; as the Servants’ Hall must be kept for that purpose unappropriated to any other uses. — I have informed Mr. Butler (that is his name) that sobriety, industry & honesty, are such indispensable qualifications in my eyes, that he will remain but a short time with me, if he is found deficient of either. And I request you, not only in his case, but with all the other overseers likewise, to pass over no faults without noticing and admonishing them against the commission of the like or similar ones; for in this, as in every thing else, it is easier to prevent evils than to apply remedies after they have happened. One fault overlooked begets another, that a third, and so on; whereas a check in the first instance might prevent a repetition, or at any rate cause circumspection.
I thought I had desired you, before I left home, to make some enquiry respecting the person who lives in my house in Alexandria, & to rent it upon the best terms you could to him or any other; but as you have never mentioned the matter in any of your letters, I presume I intended to do so, but did not — and therefore now request it may be done.
I would have you open the second visto 20 feet wide, as far as muddy hole branch, and let me know whether the hill on the other side of it is high or low; and whether it will require much work to open it to the full width ’till you pass it; for as to opening it beyond the hill, I conceive it to be as unnecessary, as it was in the first visto, after you descend into ye flat beyond it.
If proper care and attention has been paid to Cilia’s child, it is all that humanity requires, whatever may be the consequence; — these I would have bestowed on all. — What is Boatswain’s complaint? I find he is still in the house, as Charles also is. — Let me know the quantity of water you are likely to draw together, from the different springs below the Lucern lot, and inform me what numbers of the fields will be united at the Ferry & French’s plantations, and what will be the numbers of them when this is done; without this knowledge I shall be at a loss when you are speaking of the different fields how to distinguish them.
If Mr. Hartshorn does not take the stud horse, nor you should not have disposed of him to any other, deliver him to Mr. Robert Lewis, or his order if he should send for him.
I remain your friend & well wisher,
X TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 23 December, 1792
Your letter of the 19th. instant enclosing the weekly reports, has been duly received.
By Mr. James Butler who left this City on friday last, I wrote you a few lines enclosing the agreement I had entered into with him. I request that the Smith’s Book may be put into his hands, and a regular account taken every night of what they have done in the day; and that he will see they do as much as they ought. — Let an account be raised in that Book or some other for each Plantation, and every thing clone for it as regularly charged to it, as if it had been done for one of the neighbors who was to pay therefore. A practice of this sort answers two purposes — first, to see that the smiths do their duty; and secondly, as a check upon the Plantations who ought to account for what is received from thence, as well as for everything else, that is furnished them in the course of the year, as soon as it shall have expired. It is my desire also that Mr Butler will pay some attention to the conduct of the Gardener, and the hands who are at work with him; so far as to see that they are not idle; for, though I will not charge them with idleness, I cannot forbear saying, and I wish you to tell the Gardener so (provided you shall think there is cause for it) that the matters entrusted to him appear to me to progress amazingly slow. I had no conception that there were grubs enough in the vineyard enclosure to have employed them as many days as are reported; & sure I am that levelling the Bank ought to have taken a very little time. If it is found that the hands with the gardener are not usefully (I mean industriously) employed I shall withdraw them; as I did not give them to him for parade, to be idle, or to keep him in idleness.
Mr. Butler says he has been much accustomed to Hedging. I have told him how extremely anxious I am on this head; and I request you will aid him all in your power to rear them speedily. He is very fond of the French furze, and has no doubt of succeeding with the thorn — if, therefore, the berries of these are still on the trees, let them be gathered; & with everything else that can be thought of, tried without more loss of time than is required for the proper season.
Anthony’s Toe should be examined and if it requires it, something should be done to it, otherwise, as usual, it will serve him as a pretence to be in the house half ye Winter. I have no objection to Sinah’s remaining as part of the Mansion house gang; but I have strong ones for the reasons mentioned in a late letter, to her being employed in, or about the Dairy. — The reason which you assign however, for returning her there, has no weight with me; for it is not my intention henceforward, that any of the House gang shall be employed in Fencing at the Plantations — there is no more propriety in employing them in the Post and Rail fences at Dogue run or the Ferry, than there would be in any other sort of Fencing: Let every Plantation do their own work, they are sufficiently strong for it, and have no right to look for more aid than is to be derived from the Ditchers in that article. It would seem to me as if the progress in getting & securing the Corn at the River Plantation was extremely slow. One would not judge from this circumstance that the crop of this Grain would prove so short.
If you could, by means of Mr. Hartshorn, or any of the merchants in Alexandria who have dealings in Londonn, procure the deficieut quantity of Buck wheat at 3/, or even 3/6 delivered at Mount Vernon, I would have you do it. Otherwise you must apply what you have to the best purposes your own judgment shall direct, for I could send none from hence at the highest of those prices.
It certainly would be to my advantage to buy Majr. Harrison’s Land adjoining mine, if it could be had on reasonable terms; but for no other reason than that which you have mentioned; but from the appearance of the new building which I saw on the land when I was last at home, I suspect that reason will not apply; that is, from this circumstance I apprehend he has given leases on the land, in which case I should not be relieved from my present inconvenience by the purchase; as the riddance of bad neighbors would be the only object I could have in view. If you can, by indirect enquiries (so conducted as not to alarm the Pools) ascertain this fact & let me know the result, it would enable me to judge better of this matter.
The Peach stones which were sent to you are from Georgia — desire the Gardener to pay proper attention to them.
I do not regard the temporary fall in the prices of wheat & flour; — as there is no radical cause for it, but, on the other hand the calls which occasioned the rise are still existing the prices, I will engage, will be up again; and more than probable be higher than ever before March. All the flour therefore that you can get safely stored (before the Navigation is closed) in Alexandria, will be ready for the first exports in the Spring.
It is observed by the weekly reports that the sewers make only six shirts a week, and the last week Carolina (without being sick) made only five; — Mrs. Washington says their usual task was to make nine with shoulder straps, & good sewing: — tell them therefore from me, that what has been done, shall be done by fair or foul means; & they had better make choice of the first, for their own reputation, & for the sake of peace & quietness, otherwise they will be sent to the several Plantations & be placed as common laborers under the overseers thereat. Their work ought to be well examined, or it will be most shamefully executed, whether little or much of it be done. And it is said, the same attention ought to be given to Peter (& I suppose to Sarah likewise) or the stockings will be knit too small for those for whom they are intended; such being the idleness, & deceit of those people.
I am your friend and well wisher,
Philadelphia, 30 December, 1792
I have duly received your letters of the 21st. and 26th instts., and am a little surprized to find by the last that Mr. James Butler had not reached Mount Vernon before the date of it. He left this city on the 21st., and according to the usual course, & time required for the stages to run, he ought to have been in Alexandria on Monday last, the 24th. of this month.
Notwithstanding the reduced number of hands at Mansion house, if Mr Butler answers the description which is given of him, he may be useful to me on many accounts; & may ease you a good deal of the particular attention which, otherwise, you would find it necessary to give to the various concerns about it. Amongst which, none I think call louder for it than the Smith’s; who from a variety of instances wch. fell within my own observation whilst I was at home, I take to be two very idle fellows. A daily account (which ought regularly to be) taken of their work, would, alone, go a great way towards checking their idleness; but besides this, being always about the House (except at Haymaking & Harvest) & not far from them, he might have a pretty constant eye both to them, and to the people who are at work with the Gardener; some of whom I know to be as lazy and as deceitful as any in the world (Sam particularly). My horses too (in the management of which he professes to have skill) might derive much benefit from a careful attention to them; not only to those which work, but to the young ones, and to the breeding mares: — for I have long suspected that Peter under pretence of riding about the Plantations to look after the mares, males, &c, is in pursuit of other objects; either of traffic or amusement, more advancive of his own pleasures than my benefit. It is not, otherwise to be conceived, that with the number of mares I have, five & twenty of which were bought for the express purpose of breeding, though now considerably reduced from that purpose alone, should produce not more titan six or eight colts a year. This I say will hardly be believe I by any person who has ever been in a similar practice. The evil stands much in need of a remedy, & I request if Mr Butler should ever reach you, that he may be told, it is my desire he would endeavor to apply one. I moreover conceive (being an experimental fanner) that he will be better able to carry your directions into effect (especially in Hay-making, Hedging and the like, in his own way) than one of the common overseers of the Country: — and in addition to these, as he writes a tolerable good hand & has a tolerable good knowledge of accounts, you might derive aid from him in that way; when I was able to look after my own business, it was a custom to keep as regular accounts with each of my Plantations as if the Articles delivered from the store, from the Smith’s shop, done by the Carpenters, &ca, &ca, had gone to, or been done for, Mr Peak or any other from whom the value was to be received. This under your general Superintendence (without aid) I knew would not be in your power to render without neglecting other parts of your duty of more consequence; and therefore I never required it in the extent above mentioned; nor expected it. But if Butler comes to you, and merits the character given of him, an essay towards it may be made. My great fear respecting him is, that he will be found deficient in point of activity. But as I have in a former letter desired that admonition, or something else, may be administered to the first, and to every neglect, it is needless to repeat it in this place. He is to have his victuals cooked for him; and as he is a man who (from the accounts given of him) has seen better days than his present appearance indicates, I should suppose, if you find his deportment & behavior decent & proper, there can be no objection to his eating with you: — but in this, do what is most agreeable to your own inclination, as it is not my intention to impose anyone upon you, in this way, contrary thereto.
All such work as you have enumerated I think is the duty of every overseer to render; and if he is a man of an industrious turn he will do it, whether he is compelled by articles, or not; — On the other hand, if he is of an indolent cast (such as Jones was) all the articles in the world would not enforce the measure longer than he, himself, was under the observation of an overlooker — and probably, to avoid working himself, (the Negros knowing it to be his duty to do so, by agreement) he would suffer them to be idle, to bribe them against a discovery of his own idleness. For these reasons I have always had doubts (where there is a large gang of hands to overlook) of the propriety of attempting to compell by articles an overseer to do more work than his own inclination would naturally prompt him to do, voluntarily. — Indeed, where there are a number of hands, his time, probably, wd. be better employed in seeing them well engaged than in working himself, especially if all are not within his full view at the time.
I have not a proper recollection of the ground between the Spring house and the oozey ground about the place where the hound kennel stood, or, you still mistake my design; & I am led to the latter opinion, by your having begun the drain by, or from the Spring house. — My intention was to have begun the drain from the lowest Spring at the foot of the Bank most westerly; — that is, nearest the wharf, & to have carried the Water along that, on its level to the front of the Mansion house, as hath been described in former letters; and to let the higher ones into that drain, as may be seen by the rough sketch enclosed. I always expected, & you will find it so mentioned in one of my letters, that the water so united, would be to be conveyed across the sunken spot (east of &) by the Spring before you could get it to the avenue in front of the house; but I had no idea of there being other hollows west of the Spring house as difficult as you represent them to be; for as to cutting through banks which are liable to cave in, I had no idea. — After this explanation of my meaning, if the difficulties which you represent should still oppose themselves, I wd. have the work suspended until I came home; which I presume to hope, will be in the Spring.
As certain as near as you can how much red led (ground in oil) it will take to complete the painting the roofs of the old spinning house, Smoke House, Wash house & Coach house (adjoining) together with the four Garden houses (if not already done) — also white led to finish what was begun, and not compleated; — and oil for the whole; informing me thereof; that I may be enabled to decide whether I shall send them or not. — Let me know also whether the Roof of the Piaza leaks since the new shingling has been put on. — You speak of the quantity of lime which it has taken to repair the Overseers house in the Neck. It is occasioned in a great measure by the profuse use of it by Davis, & the unnecessary strength which he gives to the mortar; in which he ought to be corrected. Of stone lime; & the lime made from Oyster shells, the quantity differs, but the proportion of each are well ascertained for different kinds of work; for here again, mortar is made stronger, or weaker, according to the nature of it. Rules for all these might easily be obtained, and observed. Another bad practice which he is in ought to be corrected, and that is, laying his mortar too thick in the joints. This hurts the look of a building, rather diminishes than adds to the strength of it, and consumes much lime.
If, as you suppose is the case, the miller spends more time than he ought to do in his dwelling house, it is justice due to me, to inform him of it; and to add, that if the practice is continued your duty will require that I should be informed of it. The slow progress made by him in manufacturing my wheat in such an open & mild fall and winter as we have had, is, if there was water, the strongest evidence that can be given of his indolence, and the bad use that he has made of so favorable a season.
This mild and open weather has been a great relief to the corn & fodder. Advantage I hope has been taken of it to Husband both. But the last Report speaks of an amazing consumption (in a short time) of soft corn at the River Plantation. I wish to hear that your overseers are fixed, & well in their Giers.
I did not expect that the Plow which went from this place would be employed otherwise than in breaking up ground in the fall of the year; I am afraid this work is backward if but now you are beginning to plow, for the 1st. time the old clover lot at the Mansion house; when the brick yard & Lucern lots are also to plow, & when the former of them ought to be sown in the early part of the Spring; as well for the advantage of the clover, as for that of the oats with which it is sown.
Speaking of sowing Clover, let me request that such a machine as is described in Mr Bordley’s pamphlet,197 be prepared, and the clover seed sown therewith. My clover seed has never been regularly, or well sown, notwithstanding it has been lavished upon the ground; — some parts of which having none, and other parts surcharged. Less, if distributed over the ground, will do; in some of my letters I have given you the quantities bestowed on an acre in the vicinity of this city, where it is as thick as the best Farmer would require it to be.
Has Doll at the Ferry mixed her work with that of the out-hands? If not, what does she employ herself with? I have no report on this head. If she knits or sews, her work ought to be noticed in that line & care taken that she renders a sufficiency of it. Let the stud horse be delivered to Mr. Robt. Lewis’s order, as Mr. Hartshorn did not comply with his agreement. I am &c.
XII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 6 January, 1793
Your letter of the 2d. instant with its enclosures came to hand yesterday, and I am glad to find by it that Mr. James Butler had arrived safe, for I began to apprehend that he might have fallen sick on the Road, as he had not reached Mount Vernon at the date of your former letter of the 26th Ulto.
If this person performs all the duties I have suggested to you as proper for him to be employed in, with intelligence & zeal, I shall excuse him readily from manual labor. And as you will soon discover of what turn of mind he is, whether inclined to industry, or to indulgence; whether his knowledge of Farming is real or pretended only (from the clearness & precision with which he may discourse with you on topics relating to it); whether his dispositions are good or bad; and whether he has a head capable of arrangements or not. I should be glad to be informed, when you shall have formed a judgment of them yourself. His character as handed to me stands exceedingly fair on the score of sobriety & honesty, by those with whom he has lived in this country; and the enclosed certificate (which deposite along with his agreement) testifies to his conduct in Ireland. Mr. Keating is a clergyman of respectable character, & Major Butler198 (who appears on the Back of the certificate) is one of the Senators in Congress. My apprehensions of James Butler’s fitness, proceed from a doubt that he may want activity; & my only reason for so doubting, is founded on his clumsy appearance and age: and again, that he will be at a loss in the management of Negros, as their idleness & deceit, if he is not sufficiently cautioned against them, will most assuredly impose upon him. I have told him that he must stir early & late, as I expect my people will work from daybreaking until it is dusk in the evening; and, that the only way to keep them at work without severity, or wrangling is always to be with them.
You will see by the enclosed to Thomas Green (which seal before you send it to him) on what footing I have placed his continuance, or discharge; and I do hereby authorize you to act accordingly. I need not observe to you, however, that it is necessary before the latter takes place to consider how the business can be carried on without him, or some other white-man; and where, & on what terms, such an one can be had; for I am sure none of my Negro carpenters are adequate to the framing, & executing such a Barn as I am about to build at D: Run.
Speaking of this Barn, let me know when it is probable it will be set about — whether the scantling (oak excepted) and Plank is actually engaged — and when to be expected? Never having been fully possessed of the poor Major’s view (if he ever contemplated his disorder as fatal) in the building, I am absolutely at a loss what to say to you respecting the materials for it. My own judgment is decidedly against expending his money for this purpose, in the hopeless state of recovery in which he is represented by his Physicians, and all who have seen him to be. — On the other hand, as he seems so sollicitous to have it carried on, he must either think differently of his disorder from others, or his object is unknown to me. Under this view of the subject my advice to you is, to purchase such parts of the scantling only as are most essential & which will be first wanting by the workmen in carrying on the building, & this, without cutting it to waste; but by no means to hurry the work until matters are brought more to a crisis & certainty. I could not before he left Mount Vernon, tell him that his case was (by every one) thought desperate; but advised him (except what could be done by his own people) to let the matter rest till the Spring, and then he should have the aid of all my people — as well Carpenters as Bricklayers, to hasten it on.
If there was an absolute necessity for refraining from Fishing with my own People, or Postponing my Hedging operations another year, I should not hesitate a moment in giving up the first; for I would make every thing yield to the latter; but I do not see the thing in this light. I expect the Hedging and every thing belonging thereto (except ditching where necessary) whether done this year, next year, or at any time thereafter, will be performed at each Plantation by the hands belonging to it. And that the proper time for this work is now, and in all weather, when the earth can be moved, between this and the budding of Spring. In a ride I took yesterday, I saw thousands of the cuttings of willow setting out; and upon enquiry was told it was the best season to do it: — if it suits one sort of cuttings, more than probable it will suit another; I therefore request this work may not be delayed a moment. It is not like fencing, grubbing, &c? that may be executed at all seasons of the year. For this reason I should have derived more satisfaction from reading the reports to have found that the hands of the Ferry &ca., & the hands of Muddy hole had been employed in preparing the ground along their cross fences for the reception of cuttings, and seeds (if you have any to put in) than in grubbing places which could be done as well hereafter for the crops which are to follow, or even to have omitted them if they could not as now. If under these ideas you can carry on Fishing (with my own people) and Hedging both, it will be most agreeable to me; but if one only can be done, I had rather rent the Landing for what it will fetch, & stick to Hedging. In the first case, that is doing both, it is very probable Mr. James Butler will be a proper person to superintend the Fishery, as I presume all his hands must go to that business; with aid from other quarters.
I should be glad to know how far you have advanced in your clearing at the Mansion house? The point between the Road leading to the wharf, & Hell-hole, ought to be well grubbed, cleaned, smoothed, & well sprinkled with Timothy. I mean all that part which lyes without the fence of the old clover lot, quite up to the vineyard Inclosure: the same also on the other side of the road, between that and the cross fence by the Vault & old hound kennel.
If the wool is all spun up, in what manner do you mean to employ the spinners? They must not be idle; — nor ought the sewers to have been so when they were out of thread: — If they can find no other work, let them join the outdoor hands. Myrtilla & Delia had better, I conceive do this, altogether, as their will be enough without them for all the purposes of Spinning & Sewing.
More than an hundred bushels of Buckwheat will I should suppose be nearly or quite adequate to all your wants. If it is sown in good season, and the ground is well prepared, three pecks to the acre will be enough, of seed that is fresh & good.
If you think the wheat in No 2 at Muddy hole, will not be too much injured by turning the young mules on it, I do not object to the measure; and with respect to the young Jack, it is my earnest wish that he may be fed high — winter & summer — to see what size he can be made to grow.
As I have promised the stud horse to Mr. Robert Lewis, I would not have him disposed of otherwise. I shall write to him by this opportunity to send for the horse.
I suppose Mr. Hooe199 receives my flour upon the same terms he stores other goods; No other I have a right to expect; but I conceive that he ought to insure it against embezzlement, or waste, occasioned by improper usage in tossing it about. However, if you store upon the same terms as others do, I can expect no more.
When you are well informed of the conditions on which Majr Harrison lets his Land to Pool &ca., I shall be better able to decide upon the propriety of becoming the purchaser of it. My opinion of its being under lease was occasioned by the new building I discovered on it, but this was no more than conjectural evidence of the fact.
I remain your friend & well wisher,
XIII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 13 January, 1793
Your letter of the 9th. instant with the several reports thereon, came duly to hand; & to such parts as require it, I shall reply.
I never had it in contemplation to withdraw the hands from the River, or any other Plantation to aid at the Mansion house, if their work should be required at home: therefore, I find no difficulty in releasing the River force from this service, if there is really work enough to employ them at home; which is indeed very probable, as they have spent all the fall, & half the winter in getting in their Corn: — a thing hardly ever heard of before in the worst of weather, much less in such as we have had, and which perhaps never was seen before. If there was any way of making such a rascal as Garner200 pay for such conduct, no punishment would be too great for him. I suppose he never turned out of mornings until the sun had warmed the Earth; — and if he did not, the negros would not: — and if you do watch the motions of such people (now & then) in the mornings, it will, more than probably be the case with the rest who are on standing wages; & who feel no interest in the crop, whether it be great or small. For in this case principle, and a regard for reputation, are the only motives to stimulate industry, and unfortunately, too few of that class of (common) overseers, are overburthened with either of those.
I am perfectly sensible of the scarcity of timber at the River Plantation, and the distance it is to draw at some others; and this principally (but aided by many others) is the reason why for many years back, I have been laboring but in vain to substitute live, instead of dead fences; and which I will no longer, under any pretences whatsoever, delay doing. My frequent and long absences from home prevented my attending to the business personally; and no recommendation, nor indeed orders, could draw the attention of those to whom I entrusted my affairs in the manner it ought — for the seasons were either suffered to pass away before the measure was thought of by them, or, the work executed in such a manner as to produce no good effect. Now, as I mean to make Hedging a business and a primary one, and when I add that I cannot be more disappointed, or disobliged by anything, than in neglecting the season, and the means to accomplish the measure; I shall hope to be relieved in a few years from the great consumption of timber which such a quantity of Fencing as I have, will occasion; and the consequent transportation of the Rails to such a variety of cross fences as there are, but which, in the first instances at least, might be made of any sort, or kind of hedge that would turn Horses, Cattle & Sheep; — Hogs not being admitted.
It would be folly to place cuttings of either willow or Lombardy Poplar in grounds they will not grow; and you & the Gardener, on the spot, must be the best judge of these. Institute therefore what you may think best in their places. I look upon either, & both of these trees to be excellent for rearing a hedge quick; but conceive they ought to be fronted, or backed, with some other plant that is more stubborn, & durable too, if they can be had; in order to make a lasting, & formidable hedge.
You propose a change in the course of the Fence from the back of the young clover lot to the river, but I do not understand on what line, or how you propose to run it. My idea was not to alter the fence of the brick yard lot, unless to draw it as much up the hill (just above Green’s house) as it could be done to be out of the view of the house; — and then from the No. East Corner thereof, to run such a fence as you seem to have in contemplation (below the summit of the hill also, so as to be hid from view) until it reached the hollow by Boatswain’s house, thence to the outer fence in the nearest direction. I meant moreover, to have run another fence from the No. West Corner of the new Clover lot, by the road at the turn and gully, until it should strike the outer fence near the gate by Richard’s house, which would have thrown all the intermediate ground into one Inclosure, to be divided hereafter at pleasure, into smaller lots if necessary. This would leave all the Hill sides, the broken grounds, and swamps below, which contain most grass, for a common pasture: and the way to get into it might be by a continuation of the lane, by the new quarter, and back of the smith’s shop to the head of the hollow by the wild cherry tree; and which would be ye road to the old fish house landing without passing through Gates, or bars, or lot itself. The reason why I had not mentioned this matter to you before was, that I conceived work enough had been cut out already, without enumerating more; but as you seem to look forward, on account of hedging, &c, I mention these ideas without being tenacious of them. My object in clearing the grounds outside of the pasture, along the Road from the Gum Spring, was, that you might see the Mansion house as soon as you should enter the little old field beyond it.
I have no objection to your pursuing your own judgment as to the time fittest for plowing the Brick yard enclosure, provided the grain and grass seeds are sewn therein as early as possible. I wish both were now in the ground; and hope every exertion possible has been made this mild and open weather to forward your plowing generally, for it is highly probable that February and March may be unfit for this business; in which case, and not embracing the fine weather you have had, the business and your crops consequently, will be exceedingly backward.
Although you may sow the grass seeds at the Mansion House yourself, it is my wish, nevertheless, that a machine (described by Mr. Bordley201) may be made to sow it at the other places; for in unskilful hands the seed is wasted, and the grounds not productive, on account of the irregularity in the sowing it. It is my wish that the buckwheat, sowed for manure, could be got into the ground as early as possible after the frosts are over, that when the first growth therefrom has ripened seed enough to stock the ground a second time, it may be again plowed in, which will afford a second dressing before it is seeded with grain.
Mr. Butler’s ideas may require correction, and to be assimilated a little more to the nature of our climate and soil; but I by no means disapprove of the idea of trying the efficacy of the mud which may be extracted from Hell hole, if he can contrive to get it up. I do not mean on large scale; this would be expensive; but if the attempt was made on a few square rods of the poorest ground in the adjacent lot, with different quantities on each, the experiment might, and unquestionably would, ascertain a fact which may be of great importance to know, and as experiments of this sort can be made at a small expence, it is wonderful and inexcusable they are not oftener attempted. And though it may be imprudent to risk a whole field of turnips for the purpose of folding upon (until the land can be brought into better order) yet it would certainly be right to practice this upon a small scale at first; and advance by degrees and according to the utility and the advantages which are found to flow from it. Mr. Young202 (of Suffolk in England) who unquestionably understands the principles of farming as well as any man in England, and who has had as much practical knowledge, has given it as his decided opinion that the stock of every farm ought to be supported by the fallows. By fallow’s (for he reprobates the idea of naked Fallows) he means Turnips, Cabbage, Beans, Clover and such like, as are adapted to the soil, and which are part of his rotation crops. His great desiderata is, that large crops cannot be raised without large stocks of cattle and sheep. Nor large stocks of these without the fallows above mentioned; which are the best if not the only proper preparation for crops of grain. To get fully into a practice of this sort, in this country must be more than the work of a year, two or three, but if it is never begun, it can never be executed. Turnips (where the land is fit for it) folded on, and clover, seems to be his plan.
As there appears to be more difficulty in carrying the water to the visto in front of the Mansion House than I had conceived, the work may be suspended until my arrival. But what is the reason that Davenport203 will not make the experiment I directed with 100 bushels of wheat? If it is delayed, the object I had in view cannot be answered by it, which was, to ascertain whether it would be best, and most for my interest, to sell my wheat in the grain, or after it was manufactured. He certainly must be a very indolent man! There is no doubt in my mind but that both wheat and flour will be as high before the middle of March as it has been yet, or more so; — a continuation of the cause (and in a degree better known than it was) of the rise in the prices of these articles will not loose its effect but as the sales of mine will depend in some measure upon the cash in Alexandria, it is my desire that you will keep me pretty regularly informed of the Alexandria prices, that I may govern myself accordingly.
I Will by the first vessel to Alexandria send oil and paint agreeable to your memorandum. The Pillars of the Piaza and other parts of the Mansion house must be examined and repaired before they are painted — after which I will have both sides of it and ends painted and sanded — as well as the Pillars. I requested the Major to have a sufficient quantity of white and fine sand brought from below for this purpose (if what I had was insufficient) but whether it ever was done or not I am unable to say; for in too many cases it has happened that the directions given in letters (when not immediately executed) are laid by and never thought of more, unless I have renewed them. — When you receive the paints I shall send from hence, the Cornice of the salt and smoke houses may be painted white in the manner you have suggested.
By the last weeks report you have been grubbing in the old meadow at D. Run. — Which meadow is it that you call the old? If it be that by the overseer’s house, I hope all that was left unfinished at the former clearing of it will be now compleated, except such trees as ought to be left for shade and ornament near the house; — and all the trash entirely removed from it. By the same weeks report, from Muddy hole, a blank for the qty. of Buckwheat is left. It is better not to touch a subject than to leave it unfinished.
Let Mr. Crow204 know that I view with a very evil eye the frequent reports made by him of sheep dying. When they are destroyed by Dogs it is more to be regretted than avoided perhaps — but frequent natural deaths is a very strong evidence to my mind of the want of care, or something worse, as the sheep are culled every year, and the old ones drawn out.
I wish you well, and am your friend,
P. S. Jany. 14. 1793. I beg that the mill may not be idle for want of wheat. The sooner indeed the residue of the Crop can be delivered there the better, and less waste will be sustained. Let me know how many stacks remain to be got out at the River Plantatn. — What you suppose they will yield — and how much wheat you conceive is in the Barn at the Ferry and French’s.
XIV TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 20 January, 1793.
Your letter dated the 16th. instant, enclosing the Reports of the preceeding week, came duly to hand. — and the parts requiring it, will be duly noticed.
Enclosed you have a list of Paints, Oil, &ca. which left this yesterday morning, and may, possibly, be at Alexandria (if the Vessel is not detained at Norfolk where she is to call) nearly as soon as this letter may reach Mount Vernon.
It might be well, if there is nothing to prevent it that I am unacquainted with, for Davis to finish the Painting mentioned in your last, without delay; that this work may be accomplished before the season shall arrive for making, or laying Bricks. — The Paint by advice of the maker of it, is put into small kegs, that it may not waste by drying; and it is proper whenever one of them is opened, to stick to that work until the contents therein are all used, for the same reason.
You will see by the inclosed Invoice, that two ropes for the well by the Quarter are sent — that is, one of hair, and the other of Herba: — use whichever is best, and take good care of the other and of the old one also.
I hope every attention has, and will be paid to the meat, otherwise the warm weather may taint and spoil it.
How does the wheat stand this open weather, and look? — as an interesting period for it is coming on, give me notice from time to time of the changes it may undergo: — and embrace the best season, and weather for sowing clover on such of the Wheat fields as are intended to receive it. Let it be done by the machine mentioned in Mr. Bordley’s Pamphlet,205 and at the rate mentioned in some of my letters to you formerly.
I should not incline to hire white Carpenters; and I know not where those of another description are to be had: — and if to be had, numbers would afford little aid if they are not well attended to; and where a person is to be found that would do this, is yet more difficult than the other. — If the number I have would work as men ought to do, the buildings you describe as wanting would require no great time to erect. — I wished Richard’s house was removed to Muddy hole, for I think the one in which Davy now lives is dangerous. This I expected would have been amongst the first things done after I left home. — I hope too that the gates will be put up as soon as they can be with convenience; and furnished with such latches as are to the white, and other gates on the Road; and not such as is on that which opens into the fields at the Ferry; which was a plague to all that entered it. — My object, in keeping the Carpenters as much together as the nature of the work would admit, was that they might be under Greens own eye3, and thereby kept to their duty: — but if he skulks from work himself, and is not attentive to theirs, they may as well be anywhere else as with him.
In my last, if I recollect rightly, or in some late letter to you, I gave it as my opinion that materials for the major’s building should be laid in as fast as the work could be carried on, without waste; — and if it was not so understood by you, I now repeat it. — By this mode of proceeding, the house will meet no delay; nor will materials be provided unnecessarily. In the meanwhile, his situation and views will more and more unfold themselves.
I have six quarts of Honey locusts seeds, which by mistake, did not get on board Captn. Ellwood in time; but they shall be sent by the next vessel — or by Post in season for Spring sowing: (the ground in the meanwhile to be well prepared for them). If there is more of the French Furze seeds to be had in Alexandria, and you have any good reason to suppose it not bad, I would advise you to provide more of it, notwithstanding I have just sent to Ireland by the advice of Mr. James Butler, for 30 or 40 of it. — And if, upon enquiry of any of the merchants in Alexandria, who may have shipping of their own, coming from England, you could import at a proper season, the English thorn, I would have you engage ten or 12,000 of them. — Do not, however, let this prevent Mr. Butler from making experiments with the Berries of the white thorn in this country; — nor suspend any other projects (for hedging) which you may have in contemplation: — the manner of doing these things I leave to you. — To get them done is the interesting part to me. — A slight watling, where there are no Hogs, would, I should conceive, answer all the purposes of preservation; — and if done with split stakes, can not last less than 4 or 5 years. — Dunging, if you have means to do it, will certainly facilitate the growth of the plants; and I should recommend it accordingly. I very much question whether the seeds of the Honey locusts which were put into the ground last spring and are not yet up, will ever vegitate (because the ground was not properly prepared for them) but if hope remains, I am willing to trust to the issue of it; especially as I have no prospect of obtaining a large supply of them.
Enclosed you have some seeds of the (blew) Maliga grape, which give to the Gardener. — Those sent last were of the white kind — in other respects the same.
If you can do without the fence that runs from No. 1 (Dogue Run) to the Mill Race I would not have it moved; — because I prefer grass lots of 20 or 25 acres to those of double the size, notwithstanding the expence of fencing — and this for a variety of reasons wch. will readily occur to you; whether for mowing or grafting, or both alternately — and would have the Ditches which divide them planted with willow (either the weeping, yellow, or even those common in the swamps) for hedges, as hath been frequently mentioned; the ground being first well hoed and cleansed for the reception of them; — otherwise the labour and the plants (as was the case last year) will be thrown away: for plants will come to nothing if choaked and stifled with grass and weeds.
I am persuaded (as I observed to you in my last) that fencing at the River Plantation will be an expensive and labourious job: — and if it shall be thought safe to entrust No. 4 to the security of water fences I shall not object to one of the Carpenters assisting Mr. Stuart in building a Batteau for the erection of them: — but I have great doubts on this hd. — and if Hogs cannot be kept from them, I am sure they will not give security to the crop that may be in it. — The shores are very shoal. The fences must be very extensive to reach beyond low water mark after a day or two of no. west winds, and if they do this, the high tides occasioned by easterly winds, are apt to over set them; and if this does not happen, Ice in the winter scarcely fail to carry them off. — However, after giving this information I leave you to your own judgment.
The Cedars between No. 3 and 4 might be plashed — laying them as the ditch runs — and cedar berries previously sown between the present growing trees, to fill the Spaces. — a hedge of this sort against every thing but Hogs, is as formidable, and perhaps as lasting a fence as can be made.
If you can manufacture such sein twine as will compleatly answer the purpose, it will, assuredly, be a very desirable thing; for there is, certainly, no proverb more true “than that a penny saved is a penny got.” And as it holds good in one thing as well as another, I wish you would keep it always in view. — Do what, upon fair calculation, shall appear best with the shorts at the mill, and I shall be satisfied with your decision on the occasion.
Should there come a freezing spell, employ much force, and all your exertion to stock the Ice-house, if but partially. — I am very well pleased at your furnishing Dr. Stuart206 with a plow for the use of the Estate on York River; as it is my wish to aid it in every shape I can.
Your treatment of Charlotte was very proper — and if she, or any other of the servants will not do their duty by fair means, or are incompetent, correction (as the only alternative) must be administered.
Although I desired that the Ditch which was intended to conduct the water from the Springs under the Hill to the visto in front of the Mansion house might be suspended until I should be able to view the ground; I would, nevertheless, wish to have the Springs opened; first to see what quantity of water they will afford; — and secondly, that it may be let off in its natural course, by small drains, so as to lay the boggy or springy ground which absorbs the water, dry and smooth. — It being my wish that all the ground, quite from the River bank up to that which has been sown with Lucern, should be laid down with grass seeds of some kind or other, most congenial to the nature of the soil, and the shade under which much of it, I presume, must grow. — The same I would have done all round, from this Inclosure, by the wharf to the line of locusts which run down through the Vineyard, as soon as the ground is in order for it. — Nay, quite up to the other fence when grubbed and in readiness, notwithstanding it is a common at present, and should remain so. — I remain
Your friend and well wisher
XV TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 27 January, 1793.
Your letter of the 23d., and Reports came to hand at the usual time.
It is a little extraordinary that Davenport should delay making the experiment I directed so long as he did; and then to do it in so unsatisfactory a manner; when he knew, or might have known, that my object in making it was to ascertain whether my interest would be most promoted by manufacturing the wheat, or selling it in the grain. — I fear he is too lazy to give the necessary attention to the business which is entrusted to him; — for it was my full expectation that he would have mixed the common and white wheat by some uniform proportion together, through the whole manufactury of them; as they do at the Brandy Wine and other mills in this State; where, it is the opinion of the millers, that superfine flour, of the first quality, cannot be made without some white wheat — To do this would have given him a little trouble; — and trouble, I presume, is what he is not over fond of. — The price, as well as quantity of shorts and Bran, ought to be inserted in the account to give it accuracy and fairness: — and this price ought to be regulated by their proportionate value to corn and oats, in feeding the work horses. — After the danger of having the navigation of the Creek interrupted by Ice, is over, it might not be amiss to save me the expence of storage of this article flour in Alexandria. — as it can, when sold, be sent from the mill in the first instance.
I am concerned to find that the crop of wheat is likely, ultimately, to fall so much below expectation; — and it is singular that all the stacks, latterly, though equal in size and appearance, should be so unequal in their yield, when compared with those which were first got out, in August and September. — Disappointment in the wheaten crop I did not — I must own — expect. — My apprehension, that the Indian Corn Crop would fall short of the calculation, was always great, even before the frost, and more so afterwards. — You will, I am persuaded, have every care possible taken of it; and the Bran, which will be a valuable aid to it.
I do not disapprove your sowing the new ground at Dogue run with oats (in such quantity to the acre as you may judge best) along with the clover. — It will, unquestionably, add to the profit which is to be derived from the ground; and I think the Clover is always better when sown with grain that will protect it (in its infant state) from the sun, and preserve it against weeds, than when it is sown quite alone. — When you speak of Clover for this ground, I presume you mean to mix Timothy with it — this, in my opinion ought uniformly to be the case; except where it is sown for the purpose of seed. — I do not care by what means, or in what way, the grass seeds are sown, so as that it is done with regularity; and the quantity alotted, bestowed to the Acre. — To mix it well with sand, or dry earth (sand is best) and the quantity of seed designed to the acre given to a bushel — say rather — a bushel when mixed; and this sown by stakes where there be no regular furrows, is the best way I have ever tried; — for where the seedsman walks by stakes, and has been accustomed to sow wheat at the rate of a bushel to the acre, there can be no mistake in this mode — but he must possess more skill than falls to the lot of our common overseers who can sow the naked seed regularly, and in due proportions: and without furrows or stakes no man living can do it well, unless it be by chance.
It will be highly pleasing to me if the swamps at the Ferry and French’s could be so well prepared, as to be laid down this spring in Oats and grasses. — But if the roots, grubs, &ca, cannot be radically killed, I had rather wait longer to accomplish this, than to lay the grd. to grass prematurely. — For there is no greater eye sore to me than to see foul meadows; — nor indeed is there anything more distructive to scythes — or more wasteful to the grass, than to be cutting amongst stumps and succours wch. spring from them. — Let this plantation, hence forward be called “Union Farm, or Plantation” instead of “Ferry and French’s.”
It would be well to mix your old and new Buck wheat together, before sowing. — In that case, if any of the former is damaged, it will, by a due, and proportionate mixture, fall equally on all the ground; otherwise it might be injurious to a part to be wholly deprived; but you have time enough before it is seeded, to see whether it will vegitate.
I have no objection to the fence round the vineyard having Thorn and Honey locust both for the security of it; as it must be proof against human as well as brute intruders; or I shall never be able to partake of the fruits that are within the Inclosure.
As it does not appear by your letter that any addition has been made to the sand I had many years ago brought from Point Comfort; and as that will not be enough to sand the houses which formerly had a Coat, I wish you would engage 20 or 25 bushels more to be brought up from the same or some other place, where that which is white and fine can be had. — The Norfolk Packet may, possibly, be engaged to do this.
The quantity of Hemp and Tow spun in the week, by the spinners, ought to appear in the Reports; that it may be seen how they go on: — otherwise the Report of this matter amounts to nothing — and a general account of this work ought to be kept — that when it is delivered out again, there may be an accordance between the receipts and delivery, unless this is done there is no check.
What is the matter with Old Frank, that he is always (almost) on the sick list? — I am inclined to believe that he finds the House too comfortable to quit, or he would not be so often, and so long in it at a time. — and Boatswain I see too last week was returned as a Jobber at Dogue run Plantation. — I do not wish to see any of the Ditchers, or House People employed at the Plantations, as each certainly has force enough of its own, to do all that is required of them, except ditching.
I wish you may not find No. 4 and 5 at the River Plantation, very unproductive fields; and very injurious to break, unless it is done with judgment. — My intention was to keep them for common pasture; — To have endeavoured to stop the gullies; and to have prevented the washed places from getting worse by covering them with straw; and to have sown the seeds of the common locust thereon, — or something that would (in a few years) have cloathed it with a growth that would have proved a remedy for the present evil. — That field is very apt to wash — at present it is very much gullied — and if uncommon attention is not paid to it in the working and in laying it down it will be unfit hereafter for grass even except in a few spots.
1 am your friend and servant,
XVI TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 3 February, 1793.
Your letter of the 25th of Jany. came duly to hand; but the usual one, containing the Reports, is not yet arrived; detained, as is supposed with the Mail, by Ice in the Susquehanna.
Under cover with this letter you will receive some beans which Mrs. Washington desires may be given to the Gardener; — also Panicum or Guinea Corn, from the Island of Jamaica, which may be planted merely to see the uses it can be applied to; — and the white bent grass with the description of it by Mr Hawkins207 (one of the Senators, who had it from Mr Bassett208 of Delaware State, another of the Senate). If the acct. of it be just, it must be a valuable grass; — I therefore desire it may be sowed in drills, and to the best advantage for the purpose of seed. — These things, which are intended for experiments, or to raise as much seed from, as can be, shd. never be put in fields, or meadows; for there (if not forgot) they are neglected; or swallowed up in the fate of all things within the Inclosures that contain them. — This has been the case of the Chicorium (from Mi Young) and a grass which sold for two Guineas a quart in England, and presented to me. — And the same, or some other fate equally as bad has attended a great many curious seeds which have been given to and sent home, by me at different times — but of which I have heard nothing more; either from the inattention which was given to them in the first instance; — neglect in the cultivation; — or not watching the period of their seeding, and gathering ym. without waste. — The intention of the little garden by the salt house &ca., was to receive such things as required but a small space for their cultivation. — and what is called the Vineyard Inclosure was designed for other articles of experiment, or for seed which required still greater space before they were adopted upon a large scale; yet, the plants which are deposited there are, generally, so over-run with grass and weeds as to be destroyed before a judgment can be formed of their utility. — This I know, has absolutely been the case with many things which have been given to me as curiosities, or for their value. — From the fancy grass (of which I have (being told that both horse and cattle are fond of it) a high opinion) I have been urging for years (it being more than five since I sowed it myself) the saving of seed; yet, it is almost in statu quo, because the necessary measures have not been taken to propagate and save the seed, and because it will not, I believe, be overcome by any thing else — whilst other things not so hardy have been eradicated by the grass and weeds. — I now desire that all these things may be attended to by the Gardener and those who are with him, aided, if necessary, by the house gang. — I will enquire if orchard grass seed is to be had here and will send some; but I must entreat you to save me, as much as possible from the necessity of purchasing seeds; for the doing it is an intolerable expence. — I once was in the habit of saving a great deal of this and other seeds annually; and this habit might easily have been continued, if measures had been taken in time for it.
I am sorry to hear that you have so sick a family. — In all cases that require it, let the Doctor be sent for in time. — As I do not know what boy (before I get home) would be best to send to the mill, the measure may be suspended until I arrive. — If the miller would be attentive (in time) to the wants of the mill, there is certainly intercourse enough between the Mansion house and it, to obtain supplies without special messengers; — and I know no right he has to be sending my people on any other business.
I have no doubt at all, of wheat and flours bearing a good price this spring; — the causes that occasioned the rise in these articles still exist, and in a greater degree; but that I may know when the price offered comes up to my ideas, keep me regularly advised of the Alexandria rates — the price here of superfine flour is 42/, and that of fine 39/ pr. Barrl. of 196 lbs. — Wheat 8/6 pr. Bushl.
It appears to me, that it is scarcely necessary to put Tom Davis to the saw so late in the season; the time is not far off when Brick laying, preparing the foundation — &ca. must necessarily take him from it. — Therefore, as as he is better acquainted with the business than any of my people — I should conceive he had better employ the interval in finishing the painting, unless you think (house) Frank could do it equally well. — In that case, as it will probably be the last of March before I shall be at home, for a few days, he might be as advantageously occupied in that business as in any other.
Speaking of laying bricks (by which I mean the foundation for the Barn at Dogue Run) it reminds me of asking again, if the Bricks at that place have been assorted and counted; that the deficiency of the wanted number, if any, might have had the earth thrown up, from the foundation of the building, in time to be ameliorated by the frosts of the winter. — Directions will forever escape you, unless you keep a pocket memorandum book to refresh the memory; — and questions asked (in my letters) will often go unanswered unless when you are about to write, the letter is then, not only read over, but all the parts, as you read on, is noted, either on a piece of waste paper, or a slate which require to be touched upon in your answer.
I hope the delivery to and the application of nails, by the Carpenters, will undergo a pretty strict comparative scrutiny, without expressing any suspicion, unless cause shall be given for it. — I cannot conceive how it is possible that 6000 twelve penny nails could be used in the Corn house at River Plantn., but of one thing I have no great doubt, and that is, if they can be applied to other uses, or converted into cash, rum, or other things, there will be no scruple in doing it.
I can conceive no latch (sufficient to answer the purpose, and not always out of sorts) more simple or cheaper than those to the white gates unornamented, which is unnecessary. — A thin plate of Iron, kept in place by an old Iron hoop (of which I presume hundreds could be got in Alexandria for a mere song) and staple for it to catch in, is, in my opinion, as cheap as any thing that (will not always be a plague) can be devised. — The advantage of this latch is, that let the Gate swag as it may, it always catches. — The top of the flat Iron ought to shew, that strangers may know how to open it on either side, but there is not the least occasion for the round like that at the Gum spring, nor of the curl like those at the White Gates; nor is there any occasion to make the flat part longer, or stiffer, than is necessary for the spring. — Most other kind of latches after the gates settle are not only insecure but exceedingly troublesome; — instance that at the ferry, which was vexing to every one who went in — I was obliged always to dismount either to open or shut it. — However, if you know of any other kind more simple than the above, equally secure, and which will not be troublesome to open, I have no objectn. to the adoption.
It would be proper I conceive, as the house people are under the care of Mr. Butler, to entrust Will (overseer as he is called) in preference to Davis, with the command of the Boat, and such other out of sight jobs, as may occur, and require confidence; and, as they do not agree, to let them interfere as little as can be avoided, with each other. — The latter is high spirited, and in the instance you mention was disobedient to the other, whom he ought to have respected on two accts. — namely, being his uncle, and having been an overseer. The former (Will) unless he feels hurt in being superseded in his Overseership, is entitled to more confidence; — though, I believe, both of them will drink.
Sarah Flatfoot (you call her Light foot) has been accustomed to receive a pair of shoes, stockings, a country cloth Petticoat, and a Oznabrig shift, all ready made annually, and it is not meant to discontinue ym. You will therefore furnish them to her.
As the matter has been mentioned to Mr. Chichester, I now wish you would see him yourself on the subject of Major Harrison’s land; and find out if you can from him, the circumstances under which it is — whether he seems to have any inclination to become the purchaser of it. — At what price pi acre, or otherwise, it was offered to him; — and for what he thinks it could be bought; — Intimating what you conceive to be my motives for making it, if made at all by me.
If the mail should arrive before this letter is closed, and I have time, I will acknowledge the receipt of it; if not, and nothing requires to be noticed sooner, I shall delay writing until this day week as usual. I am your friend &c.
XVII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 10 February 1793
Your letter of the 30th ulto., enclosing the reports of the preceeding week is at hand; but the one which ought to have been here yesterday is not yet arrived: — the Mail having again met with some interruption from Ice in the Susquehanna, or some other cause unknown to me.
The Major was permitted to cut Cord Wood from the laps of the trees which had been felled for rails, either for burning Bricks or other purposes; — But it is not unlikely that his Overseer (Taylor) may cord it for sale, if he is not watched; for it is established as a maxim in my mind, that a man who will do wrong to another in one instance, knowingly, will have no scruple in doing it in every instance where it can be done without being liable to discovery. — And with respect to his keeping a horse, no matter whether, (as I suppose he will say, at his own expense) it is on his own provender, or that of his employer, it is my express request that you will, immediately upon the receipt of this letter, inform him (unless he can shew a written permission for the purpose, which I am sure he is not able to do) that if the horse, or mare, or any other animal he is not allowed to keep, is not instantly sent away, that I will, as soon as I reach Mount Vernon, not only turn him off the Plantation but cause him to be sued for a breach of covenant; — and for his knavery; — for it is not less so, than would be the opening of ye Majrs. desk, and taking his money: — nay, in my estimation the crime is greater; because a man who will defraud another who confides in him, is surely a greater villain than one who robs boldly, at the risque of his life. — You may assure Mr. Taylor in the strongest language you can devise; — you may even read this part of my letter to him; — that no pretence of verbal permission to keep a horse will avail him; for I know from various conversations with the Major on this subject, that it is next to impossible he ever shd. have given such leave; — and I again add, that the pretext (if it should be offered), of feeding him at his own expence, will not way one moment.
I am very glad you directed Davenport to run his shorts and Bran through the mill a second time. — It is my wish to make the most, possible, of my wheat. — He ought, as a miller, to have known and done this without direction; — and the pretext of not going out to learn it from others, is idle. — I will warrant that his trips to Alexandria have afforded him abundant opportunity to be informed how matters are carried on at Ricketts Mill, which, I suppose, must be conducted to as good an advantage as at any of the Mills above the Blew-Ridge.
Seeing no account in the Reports of getting out and delivering wheat in the mill, I must again desire, in strong terms, that the mill may never stand a moment she can work, for want of wheat. — You are not to be told that the stream on which it stands is a very inconstant one; and, if the weather should turn dry, that the wheat will remain unground.
I should have no objection to a streightened Road from Manley’s bridge onwards, towards the Mill-run; — nor to taking off part of No. 7 French’s, and adding it to No. 1 opposite; provided, what is taken from the former, is capable of cultivation; otherwise, one field would be diminished in this respect, and the other not increas’d; — and this, at least in part, if I recollect rightly must be the case near the bridge, where the road is much worn down; — gullied, — and I suppose the ground impoverished. — However, I leave the matter to you; — on the spot, who can judge better than I can from recollection; — what is best to be done: — and authorize you to do it accordingly.
The plashing of cedars in the Neck, I was sure would answer, from what I had seen done at Mr. Bartram’s. — I have no objection to your filling the vacancies with transplanted ones, if you have confidence they will live; — without this the plants will be lost; and time and labor will be thrown away: you were very unsuccessful last year in transplanting ever-greens; and I have been so in all years; until I adopted the method wch. has often been mentioned: — However, in this also, I leave you to your own judgment. The seed (if you have it) may be sown notwithstanding; inasmuch as it affords two chances instead of one, without loosing time which is precious. There is no doubt of your plashed cedars living, if you have not cut too deep in the kirf.209 — Remember that the glutinous or oily substance which surrounds the Cedar berries must be rubbed off, without which they will never come up.
If Tom Davis’s shoulder (the hurt of which it is highly probable did not come as he relates) prevents his working, or even painting, which requires little exertion, I hope you will make him remain with, and instruct Frank as much as he can in mixing and laying on paint. — I wish to have this work accomplished with as little delay as may be.
Thomas Green has written to me begging (having no money with which to buy it, nor the means of bringing it home if he had) that I would let him have three or four barrels of corn — As it may save him from a pretext of running about in search of it, I desire you will let him have corn to that amount; as his real and weekly wants may require: — charging him for it at the current prices, to be allowed at settlement.
How long did the ground remain covered with the snow which was falling when you wrote on the 30th. ulto.? — What effect does it appear to have had? — and how does the wheat look at this time? I am your friend and well wisher.
XVIII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 17 February, 1793
It has again happened that, the mail which ought to have been in yesterday, from the southward, and wch. will (it is persumed) bring a letter from you with the reports of the last week, is not yet arrived; — but your letter of the 5th. instt., covering the Reports of the week preceeding that, is at hand.
As I see no great prospect of procuring orchard grass seeds in this place, if you cannot obtain it in your own Neighborhood, sow the ground whenever it is in order, and the season fit, (below the Lucern lot) with such other seeds as you shall think best; and I shall be satisfied therewith, — or cultivate it, if better.
With respect to lime, I scarcely know what to say to you on the subject; and yet no time is to be lost in having the matter ascertained. — Enquire on what terms the builders in Alexandria obtain it? — from whence? — and the cost of the quantity? for it will never do to purchase at the rate you have given for this article in retail. — Nor indeed will it do to suffer Davis, and his attendance, to use it in the lavish manner he practices; — 1st. in proportioning of it to the sand; — and 2d. in the thickness of the mortar joints. — He has been accustomed to use shell lime, and will not make the proper allowance for the difference in strength, between that and stone lime. — Before he enters upon the business of Bricklaying next spring, I wish you would learn from some skilful and candid workman in Alexandria, the proportions of sand and lime he uses for different kinds of work; — and whether a thick, thin, or midling joint of Morter is best. — In this place the modern buildings have a thin joint. — I shall by this days Post write to Colo. Washington210 of Westmoreland County, reminding him of his promise to use his endeavors to have shells sent up to me; and to know what prospect there is of his success. — I will also enquire on what terms it could be sent from Rhode Island, or Boston; but do not slacken your enquiries; nor prevent your giving me the result of them, as soon as possibly you can.
I readily consent to the lot (in the River Farm) being first seeded with Turnips, and folded with sheep after the English method, before it is laid down in clover. — And I beg that fields No. 4 and 5 at that place, may, (as you have promised to do) have every possible attention paid to them; — 1st. to recover them, as far as it is in your power, from their present gullied state; — and 2dly. to lay them down, as to prevent this evil, in future.
I know nothing of Mr. Hampson’s acct. (which is herewith returned) but if ye Major acknowledged it to be just, or you have any reason to believe it is so, it must be paid as soon as you are in Cash (from the sales of the ship-stuff or otherwise) to pay it. — The shingles sent by Mr Newton to Mount Vernon have long since been paid for at this place, to the order of Mr Cowper, of whom they were had.
I am sorry to hear that the Itch is among the Negros in the Neck; and hope you have provided a remedy ’ere this. — If it was caught in the way you describe, and justice could be done, Garner ought to pay for it. — I am not less concerned to hear that a disorder has got among the sheep at Union Farm. I hope every eudeavor will be used to put a stop to it; as I really loose a great many of this valuable species of Stock. — I wish you would give each Overseer positive orders to report to every lamb that falls, and every one that dies; that I may be able to form a just opinion of the care and attention they pay to this business. — The custom of striking a balance between the number yearned [?] and deceased in the week will not satisfy me. — By this mode of reporting, there may appear an encrease of one lamb only in a week, when 20 have fallen; if 19 of those twenty have died. — True it is that such a report shews the actual increase or decrease, but it gives no idea of what ought to be either, and seems calculated for the express purpose of concealing their own want of care in the preservation of the Lambs.
It would, I conceive, have been better to have entrusted the cutting out of the Linnen to the Gardeners wife than to Caroline; who, was never celebrated for her honesty; and who, it is believed, would not be restrained by scruples of conscience, from taking a large toll, if she thought it could be done with impunity.
A very heavy fall of snow happened at this place on Monday night last; but the constant rain of last night and this day will, it is feared, carry it all off; under the unfavorable circumstances of high freshes and gullied fields, by the sudden dissolution there of — Wishing you well, I remain your friend.
XIX TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 24 February, 1793
Your letters of the 13th. and 17th. instt. have come duly to hand, but the one, which in your last, you promised to write on the 20th. (that is on the Wednesday following) is not yet received.
I have some idea that Tobacco, after being a certain time in the Warehouses (besides being subject to an annual or monthly tax) is liable also to be sold by public vendue. — Inform yourself with precision on these points, and let me know the result; and for what the Tobacco would sell. — Mr. Watson some time ago wanted to buy it.
I do not think it would answer to lay the foundation of the New Barn at Dogue run with round stone; and if it would, the carting of them from Muddy hole and Bricks from the Mansion (where they are always in demand) would be more expensive than making them on the Spot; from the earth taken from the foundation of the building, as heretofore directed. — Set therefore about making, at that place.
Davis ought not to be placed among the hands at the Fishery, if (overseer) Will is there; — nor indeed on any other account, as the Brick work of the Barn ought to be hastened as much as possible: — for no building was ever more wanting, both for convenience, and to prevent the loss which I am sure is sustained by theft from the grain in the open yards. — With this admonition, joined to a desire that the hands which can be best spared (that is with the least interruption to the most pressing and important work) may be employed at the landing. The allotment of them therefore rests altogether with yourself; as you can decide better on the spot than I can at a distance, who ought, and who ought not to compose the fishing gang.
If the season and circumstances (for I do not know whether you mean to remove the Houses at Union Farm on Rollers, or after taking them to pieces) will permit you to set abt. it immediately, there is nothing, the accomplishment of which will be more pleasing to me, than the concentration of the houses at the place allotted on Union Farm. — I regretted exceedingly, that the slothfulness of my carpenters would not enable me to effect this last autumn, whilst the ground was firm. — If you can do it this Spring without breaking in too much upon other things, it will be highly pleasing to me.
Unless you have received, or may receive any directions from Mrs. Fanny Washington respecting the building my deceased nephew was carrying on, it is my opinion that an entire suspension of it had better take place: — and with respect to the conduct of the overseer there, it is my wish and desire that you would attend to him as much as to any of my own. — And, in addition to what was mentioned in one of my last letters to you concerning him, if he should be detected in any knavish pranks, I will make the country too warm for him to remain in.
Your accounts of Davenport’s sloth, impress me more strongly with the idea of his laziness. I therefore request you to tell him, from me, that I expect the season will not be suffered to slip away, and my wheat left unground; — but on the contrary, that he will work of nights, as well as in the day, as all merchant mills do; and which he himself must have done, before he fell into the idle habits he has acquired since he has basked in the sun-shine of my mill.
Harrison’s land is bounded on two sides by mine — and I have little doubt is fed with timber from it; — but unless I could no with certainty that it is unincumbered with leases, I would not be concerned with it. — If this fact can be ascertained, let me know it.
How far have you advanced the grubbing below the old clover lot? — I am anxious for the progress of this work, but not at the expence of any other of more importance.
The correction you gave Ben, for his assault on Sambo, was just and proper. — It is my earnest desire that quarrels may be stopped, or punishment of both parties follow; unless it shall appear clearly that one only is to blame; and the other forced into [it] from self-defence.
If the chicorium is really and bona fide a weed, it had better be exterminated before it sheds its seed; but from (what you call) the Carolina Grass, and all others in my small Garden by the Salt House — in the Vineyard Inclosure — and elsewhere, save what seeds you can: — and if you have enough of the Fancy grass to seed the shady parts of the ground below the Lucerne lot, and should prefer laying it to grass this Spring, to cultivating it, for the purpose of getting it in better order against another year, sow this ground with that kind of seed; as I think it will grow well in a shade and appears to be a handy and durable grass; of consequence, if horses and cattle are fond of it, the cultivation must be valuable.
I would never have parted with the horse Sampson had I thought another would have been called for. — To buy and sell at one hundred pr. Ct. loss. is a very unproductive business: — nor would I breed from a Horse if I could obtain colts from the Jacks: — but it is to be feared that the same causes which impede the one, would apply to the other. — However, rather than not make the experiment, if a well-formed, and good blooded horse of proper age and size could be had reasonably, I would buy him: — and if such is in your view inform me of it, with sufficient description of him, and the price; but make no positive bargain until I am advised thereof. I remain your friend and well wisher
XX TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 3 March, 1793
I have now two letters of yours before me to acknowledge the receipt of — viz — the 20th. and 27th. of last month.
The price of lime in Alexandria is so extremely high, that every practicable attempt ought to be made to procure shells — One of which may be, by hiring a vessel by the day, and sending it to my Nephew Colo. Washington, in Westmoreland, near Mattox Creek with the enclosed letter. — I persuade myself if this be done he will not only furnish the shells, but aid in loading the vessel. — It is left open for your perusal, to be sent or not, as occasion may require. — Seal before sending it if it be forwarded at all.
I am in sentiment with you that such Bricks as my people make will never shew a thin, neat, and regular morter joint; and that the uneveness of the yard is one cause of it; — and that another cause is — not beating and tempering the clay sufficiently: remedies for both these are simple and easy; and I hope in the Bricks that are to be made they will be applied. — Make more bricks than are immediately wanting for the Barn; because they may be wanted for some other purpose, and because there must be a certain number to form the kiln for burning.
I informed you in my last, that unless Mrs. F. Washington desired the building to be carried on, that my opinion was, it ought to be stopped: — of course as she has also requested the discontinuance of the work, it must be no longer persecuted. — Let all the work that has been done, and the materials which have been provided for carrying it on, be preserved in security for further decision on this matter. — And let the two carpenters (Gabriel and Reuben) belonging to that Estate, if not other wise disposed of by the orders of their mistress, join mine under Green; and an account taken of the time it happens, that the said Estate may be paid for the hire of them.
I am as apprehensive as you can be, that Green never will overcome his propensity to drink; that it is this which occasions his frequent sicknesses; absences from work; — and poverty. — And I am convinced, moreover, that it answers no purpose to admonish him. — But if the work in hand cannot be carried on without a head to execute it, and no other presents in whom confidence can be placed, there is no alternative but to keep him; unless he should get too bad to be longer borne with; — and even then, a house so framed as the Dogue run Barn is intended to be, ought not to be entrusted to my negro carpenters or any other bungler.
I hope all your Gates will be fixed before I come home, provided the ground is in such a state as to admit of being well rammed, but not otherwise; for it would be lost labor, and a continual plague if the posts should yield to the weight of the gate, or work loose in any other manner, if the earth around them is not dry enough to bear very hard ramming.
Have you got the second visto so much opened as to be able to form any opinion of the view, and how it will appear from the House?
Has the last spell of freezing weather (the ground being uncovered, and very wet) hurt the wheat? — If it escaped damage then, I hope there is no great danger to be apprehended from frosts after this — I see no account yet of Ice being stored: Snow well rammed would have been better than letting the house go empty.
I am very sorry to hear that so likely a young fellow as Matilda’s Ben should addict himself to such courses as he is pursuing. — If he should be guilty of any atrocious crime, that would affect his life, he might be given up to the Civil authority for tryal; but for such offences as most of his color are guilty of, you had better try further correction; accompanied with admonition and advice. — The two latter sometimes succeed when the first has failed. — He, his father and mother (who I dare say are his receivers) may be told in explicit language, that if a stop is not put to his rogueries, and other villanies by fair means and shortly; that I will ship him off (as I did Waggoner Jack) for the West Indias, where he will have no opportunity of playing such pranks as he is at present engaged in.
The first time you see Mr. Hartshorn, ask if there now is, or soon will be, any thing due from me to the Potomac Company; — and request him to send the acct. of it to me. — I remain your friend and well wisher.
XXI TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 10 March, 1793
I was very sorry to find by a letter which I received from Doctr. Craik yesterday, that your old complaint had returned upon you again. — I sincerely wish that it may go off easily, and that you may have no more returns. — One means of preventing which, is to take care of yourself. — That is to attempt no more than the Doctor thinks you can accomplish without injury to your health; — for you may be perfectly assured, that I not only do not desire you to attempt more than you can execute with ease and safety, but that it is my particular and earnest request that you would not; — both on your own account and mine. — A little nursing, with gentle exercise, may restore you to a good state of health. — To attempt more may destroy it altogether, and place my business in a very unfavorable situation.
By this time, you must have seen enough into Mr. Butler’s character, to determine whether, or not, he possesses skill, industry and integrity. — If your impressions of him are favorable throw a good deal of your own duties on him; — and in case they are not, save yourself notwithstanding, by making the Overseers come to you for, instead of your going to them with, orders respecting the Farms. — Although you may not be able to see to the execution of matters knowing what ought to be done, you can direct the Overseers as well as if you were actually on the Farms, and this I should greatly prefer to your running any hazard by a premature exertion.
Having nothing particular to write upon, I shall only observe that on the 7th. instant I put on board Captn. Ellwood for Alexandria, addressed to the care of Mr. Porter of that place, 13 quarts of Honey locust seeds; of which I pray you to cause the best use to be made this Spring.
If at any time you should be too much indisposed to take the weekly reports, and on the usual day to transmit them, let Mr. Butler do it; as I am disappointed always when they do not come to hand. — I wish you the perfect restoration of your health and am, your well wisher and friend.
XXII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 24 March, 1793
I have received your letters of the 18th., and 20th., instant, and am very glad to find by them that you have got about again. — Be careful not to do any thing that may occasion your disorder to return. — It is not my wish that exertions in my business should bring on a relapse. — Pursue the Doctors advice with respect to the quantum of exercise proper for you; — and avoid night rides, which are very pernicious, even to a man in health.
I shall leave this on Wednesday next, so as to be at Georgetown on the Monday following (the first of April); and if not detained there on business, shall be at Mount Vernon the day after. — I shall take Osborne and the two Postilions with me; and eight horses; the last of which you will provide for in the best manner you can under the want of oats. — One bed will be sufficient for the two Postilions; but they will make use of two, if two are in the room; for which reason let one of them be taken away and deposited in the Garret of the GreatHouse.
The Maltese Jack should be advertised for covering — on the same terms as last year — the other, if his performances last year are approved, I shall keep for my own Mares. — The advertisements ought, by good right, to be in the Baltimore, Annapolis, Alexandria, Fredericksburgh, and Winchester Gazettes. — If I should, on my way down meet with a stud horse that I think would answer the purpose you want, I will buy him. — In that case he ought to be advertised for covering also, and not to remain a dead charge upon me.
If you sow clover seed on no other field than No. 7 at Dogue Bun, it was unnecessary and wrong to run me to the expence of purchasing as much as I did: — as it will grow worse, if not yet spoiled, before another season. — It is high time that the Spg. sowing was over.
You say Mrs. Washington’s carpenters have been at work with Green since the 11th. of the month, but in his report of the 17th he takes no notice at all of them. — and Mr. Butler’s Plantation reports are such as I can neither make head or tale of. — In some no acet. at all is given of the Stock; and in none is there any mention of the increase or decrease. — I return them — wishing, if they can be made more intelligible and correct, that it may be done: for my reason for calling for these reports is not for the mere curiosity, or gratification of the moment; — but that I may see into, and be informed of the State of things at any past period, by having recourse to them hereafter; as they are all preserved.
I wish you would employ a few hands in opening the visto, before I reach home, that I may be able to form an opinion thereof, immediately upon my arrival. — I would not have the Gate Posts put in, until the ground is in perfect order for it. — Nothing I presume is done towards removing the Houses at Union Farm as nothing is said about them.
As I shall be at home so soon I shall add nothing more in this letter, than my best wishes for the perfect restoration of your health, and that I am,
XXIII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 21 April, 1793
On Wednesday last I arrived in this City to dinner, without meeting any interruption or accident on the Road. — and this day received your letter of the 17th. instant, with all the Reports of the two preceeding weeks, except those of the Gardeners and Spinners; neither of which, for either week, were enclosed.
I did not suppose that this was the season for demanding payment of taxes of any kind. I may be mistaken however; but as I do sincerely believe the under sheriffs in Virginia to be among the greatest rascals in the world; it is my desire that you will get their demands from them in writing, and lay these before some gentlemen well acquainted with these matters; and know from him, first, when they have a right to destrain for the levies; — for until that time you may with-hold payment, so as to give yourself time to provide the Tobacco or money; — 2dly., whether the quantity of Tobo. demanded by them is just; — 3dly., whether they have a right to fix 3? or any other cash price by way of commutation; — and 4thly., to know if you cannot discharge their just claims, to get the Tobacco for less than 3d. pr. lb.
Let me know if the scantling is delivered according to the Bill I sent, and what the price of it is; — also whether any oyster shells have been received; — the quantity and price; — and your prospect for more? — these should be paid for as delivered, to encourage the shippers to repeat their voyages.
The middlings and ship stuff may be sold to answer the money calls which you will have upon you: — but I entreat that these may be as few as you can possibly make them; — for I acknowledge, altho’ I have no doubt of the justness of the acc! you handed to Mr. Dandridge, that the amt. was beyond what I expected to see in so short a time; — but as I had not the particular articles to refer to, it was not in my power to form an accurate Judgment of the necessity for them, — but there is one rule — and a golden one it is — that nothing should be bot. that can be made, or done without. — People are often ruined before they are aware of the danger, by buying everything they think they want; conceiving them to be trifles, without adverting to a Scotch adage — than which nothing in nature is more true — “that many mickles make a muckle.” — I am more pointed in giving this sentiment, because I perceive many things were yet to be got at the Instance of Green, from the Stores in Alexandria. — He will not care what cost I am run to for carpenter’s tools.
If it is that part of the ground, in the little swamp at Union farm, adjoining where the Overseers house is to be, that you have sown in oats, and mean to lay down with Clover (if you can get the seed) I shall be much mistaken if it produces either; as I take it to be as poor as any on the farm; and standing as much in need of Buck Wheat, or some thing else as a restorative. — The sides of the Swamp below it, are, in my opinion, in much better condition to produce Oats and Grass than that; — but it is my earnest desire that the spot in the lower meadow at the Mill, between the Race and the old bed of the Run (in Potatoes last year) should be laid down in Clover and Timothy, or timothy alone this Spring; that the whole of that meadow may become mowing ground as soon as possible: — and the Square above (in Corn last year) so prepared, as to be fit for mowing the succeeding year.
I wish to know precisely, what ground you have sown, or mean to sow with Clover, or Clover and Timothy this Spring. — And, as I do not believe it was done before I left home I desire you will have the Ox eye window in the Green house, so secured as to guard against another robbery of that loft. — The same with respect to the Corn loft, for that I know (intending several times to speak about it, but forgot to do so) is in the same situation as when the corn was stolen from it. — I wish also to know the quantity of Clover Seed that has been given to each field, or lot, which has been sown there with the past winter or present Spring: and here I cannot help expressing, that, I felt both mortification and vexation, to find an ignorant Negro sowing these seeds contrary to my reiterated direction to have them mixed with sand, or dry earth. — The consequence of not doing it will be, I expect, that the fields will either be loaded with, or so barren of seed, as to be wasteful in the one case, or unproductive and useless in the other: — whereas, if the quantity of seed intended for half an acre had been put into half a bushel, and that half bushel filled with sand or earth as above, and well mixed; the same cast that would have sowed wheat (which he was used to) would exactly have answered for the Grass seed: — and, if this admixture of them had been made by the Overseer, there could have been no embezzlement of the seed when so mixed. — Without it, is there any reason to hope that the seeds were more secure in the hands of a Negro seedsman, suspected of being a rogue, than it was under a good lock? — I am thus explicit, on this occasion, because I would have it clearly understood, that when I do give positive directions, in any case what so ever, they are not to be dispensed with.
As soon as all your wheat is sent to the Mill, inform me of the whole amount, and what each field has produced. — And when the Fishery is closed, let me know the result and profit of it. — lay in sufft. for my own people.
I am extremely anxious that the Honey locust seed that I sent hope [home?] this Spring should be put into the ground, either where the plants are to stand — or into a Nursery. Not doing this will be the loss of a year, and too many of these have passed of already, unprofitably for this purpose — I am absolutely against further delay. — It would be a formidable outside fence from the Mill quite round to and by Peaks; and nothing would be more agreeable to me than to see such an one growing there.
I did intend, but believe I forgot to desire, that at your next sheep shearing, three things might be attended to with great care. — first, to cull every sheep, Ram, Wether and Ewe, that should appear old and unthrifty, to be used in Harvest, or disposed to the Butchers before Autumn: — Keeping them where they could be got in good condition by that period. — This, it is to be hoped, would prevent such frequent reports of their death, and support a healthy flock. — Secondly, to chuse a sufficient number of the best formed, and best wooled ram lambs to breed from. — And thirdly, to separate at this time the Rams from the Ewes (for I found them running together last summer) and keep them apart until Michaelmas. — To these a fourth thing might be added, and that is, to keep the ewe lambs of last year from Rams this, unless they are well grown, and not to be injured by going to them.
I am glad to find you have begun to plant corn — I wish it was all in the grd. for I have generally found (although there are exceptions to it) that early planting turns out best: — and as soon as circumstances will admit, it might perhaps be as well to commence planting your potatoes at the Mansn. House.
It did not occur to me to direct, when I ordered the frame for Dogue run Barn to be got, — or rather, as my people knew I had often directed it before, I thought it unnecessary to repeat — that the stocks were to be hewed on two sides only, because the slats, for bridges and other purposes, would be extremely useful. Now, I suppose it is too late to do it to much effect; — yet, it may be done, so far as the case will admit.
Are the Jennie’s with foal? and how many mule colts is it supposed I shall have this Spring. — Let there be a regular Register of all the Mares that go to the Jacks, and to the stud horse this spring; and handed to me when the season is over.
As it may not occur to me again in time, I now desire that the fleeces may be well washed before they are taken from the Sheep; otherwise I shall have a large part of the wool stolen if washed after it is sheared. I desire also that each overseer may be made responsible by attending to it himself, for the safe delivery of it to you — and it is my request that, as it is brought in, it shall be weighed, and an account thereof together with the number of fleeces from each Farm sent to me immediately.
Enclosed is an open letter for Mrs. Fanny Washington’s overseer, which I wish you to deliver and have an eye to the Plantation, now and then, when you may be going to the River Plantation.
XXIV TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 28 April, 1793.
Your letter of the 24th. instt. with the weekly reports, except Greens, which was not among them, came to hand yesterday.
With respect to the Sheriff’s acct., given in by Chs. Turner, it is my desire now (and was so expressed in my last) that you would enquire of some person well acquainted with the taxes, whether the rates there charged are the legal ones? and by what authority, if the Parish tax was levied in Tobo., he has converted it into 4/2 cash? — If it is an arbitrary act of his own, and you can discharge this tax by purchasing Tobo. on more advantageous terms than he has charged it — or, if he is not warranted in making such a charge, I will not pay it, because I am resolved not to submit to the impositions of such sort of people.
Upon the back of each clerk’s note, I have directed what is to be done with them. — Those which are to be paid by me, you are to settle for at 12/6 pr. Ct.; unless you shall be advised by those who are well knowing to these matters that they have a right to the Tobacco. — This, I am sure, was the law formerly, and I have no reason to believe it is altered since, but have more reason to suspect these or some of them have been paid before: — for it is very unusual for the clerks and sheriffs to let their fees lye over two or three years, when there is a regular collection for them every year, or officers whose business it is so to do. — I wish also to know how it comes to pass that in Fairfax Parish I am charged for 376 acres of Land seperately. — I do not, unless I was at home and could have recourse to my Papers, know the agregate quantity of my land in that Parish — but sure I am, I have no seperate tract in it of 376 acres.
I am very glad to find you have obtained a temporary supply of lime: but if you could get the shells (even at 25/pr. Bushls.) it would make that article come much cheaper than buying shell lime at 9d., I think I have been told that one bushel of stone lime will go as far as three bushels of that made from shells — but the quantity of either which it will take to lay a thousand Bricks, is more than I am able to inform. — This knowledge you must learn from a comparison of different accounts, to be obtained from the Bricklayers in Alexandria; — as also the difference between the two kinds of lime; and the proportion of each to sand; and make Davis conform strictly to it: without which he will (as he always has done) put a great deal more lime than is necessary. — I once made an experiment of this sort (in the wall which runs from the Stercorary to the Ice house) but have forgot the proportions, in the different parts of that wall but recollect well that in some parts thereof there was considerably more sand than usual, therein. — When you know the kind of lime you are to use, and how much of it in the laying of a 1000 Bricks will take, you can be at no loss for the total required; as the Plan gives the number of Bricks which the building will take. — Of shells you need be under no fear of an overstock; — but of lime, if it grows worse by keeping, I would not procure much more than is sufficient for that work. — The foundation of which I should be glad (now you have got lime) to hear was begun; I mean the Brick work; that no delay may happen to the Carpenter’s work; the first of which that will be wanting, is the pieces for the sleepers of the lower floor to rest on; and next, the windows. — I request that, in laying out the foundation you will be present, and attend to the directions I have given; for I shall be mortified if any mistake happens: — and I wish also, that particular attention may be paid to fastening the bars in the cills of the windows; — and that the ends of these window cills may be worked into the pillers of the wall: — for on these two things the security of that apartment (with a good door and lock) absolutely depends.
I am very glad to hear you have got part of the scantling; and of a good kind; and that you expect the rest without delay. — Will you have shingles enough? Almost any kind will do for the top; as it will be pretty taunt, and when drawing to a point will require narrow ones.
Is all the Peoples cloaths made that Charlotte should be out of work? — The spinning in this case, or indeed in any case, ought to go on expeditiously; to provide for the Fall cloathing.
Mrs. Washington informs me that her overseer (Taylor) has applied for a Cart against Harvest; — and requests that I would give such orders as I shall think proper concerning it. — a cart of some sort I suppose is necessary; — but as I know there is a pair of truck wheels belonging to the Plantation, a proper body put to them by her own people (an acct of the time they are about it to be rendered and deducted) might suffice; as the wheat will not be to be drawn far. — The Com ground at this Plantation must be kept clean and well worked, that it may be laid in wheat in August.
I perceive by the Report from the River Plantation that some of the hands were engaged in gathering and sowing Cedar berries — which I was glad of — but if the gum, or glutinous substance was not rubbed of before sowing, the time and labor spent in this business will have been all lost.
The late stormy weather has I fear, not only checked your fishing, but in all probability has put an entire stop to it — as the season is now far spent.
It was not my opinion when I left Mt. Vernon that the coach mare was with foal — but I yielded it to that of others. — Let her be put to Traveller.
The Gardener applied to me, and seemed earnestly to wish, that he might be removed from the House he now lives in, to that in which Mr. Butler sleeps, on acct. of its having a room to lodge in above (which a decent woman would require) and another below to cook in, with a floor unsusceptible of fire. — Had this request been made before Mr. Butler went into it, I should have yielded to it without hesitation — as well for the accommodation of the woman, as for that of Mrs Washington when she comes home, for she (the Gardener’s wife) would be more at hand there, to receive her directions, and to do what might be required of her about the house, than she could be at the other house; — and I wish, even under this circumstance, the thing to take place. — If Butler does not incline to go to the House where the Gardener at present lives in — (which by the bye is a very proper situation for an Overseer to be, to keep order and quiet in the family) he might have shoemaker Wills old apartment scoured up, and made a little decent, and go into that, as he wants nothing more than a place to sleep in — whereas the Gardener and his wife require for eating, washing and lodging more than one Room, to be decent, which the woman seems to be. — There is a very good room over the kitchen where Fairfax (your predecessor) used to lodge — but as the Major occupied it as a store room, I would not, if the things belonging to that estate are still in it, have them removed, lest it should be considered as a slight.
In looking over the last weekly report that has been forwarded to me, I perceive the allowance of meal to Muddy hole is increased one peck, Union Farm, and River farm two pecks each, — and Dogue Run Farm three Pecks: — whether this addition, with what goes to their absent hands is sufficient, I will not undertake to decide; — but in most explicit language I desire they may have a plenty; for I will not have my feelings again hurt with complaints of this sort, — nor lye under the imputation of starving my negros and thereby driving them to the necessity of thieving to supply the deficiency. — To prevent waste or embezzlement is the only inducement to allowancing of them at all — for if, instead of a peck they could eat a bushel of meal a week fairly, and required it, I would not with-hold or begrudge it them.
Mention every now and then how the wheat comes on and looks — Oats, Buck Wht. and the new sown grass also. I remain your friend and well wisher
XXV TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 5 May, 1793.
Since my last I have recd. your letters of the 26th. of April and 1st. of this month.
I did not entertain the most distant suspicion of your having charged any thing in the acct. exhibited to Mr. Dandridge but what you had actually paid for my use. — For if I could suppose you capable of such a violation of the principles of honesty, and so lost to the trust reposed in you, my confidence in you would depart, and I should think my concerns very unsafe in your hands. — I only meant to guard you against an error which is but too common, and the ill effects of which, oftentimes not foreseen, before they are severely felt; I mean that of not avoiding the purchase of things, that can be done without, or made within oneself. “A penny saved, is a penny got” — from experience I know, that no under overseer I have ever yet had, nor any of my black people who have not the paying for the articles they call for, can be impressed, (as it respects me) with these ideas. On the contrary, things are seldom taken care of by them, when they are lost, broke, or injured with impunity; and are replaced, or renewed, by asking for more. — For these reasons as far as it is consistent with just propriety, make the overseers, Green and others, who have the sub-management of parts of my business, responsible for whatever is committed to their care; and whenever they apply for a new thing, that you will be satisfied of the necessity there is for granting it; — if to supply a worn thing, to see the condition of, and to take in the old one. — Unless this care and attention is used, you will be greatly imposed upon yourself, and I shall feel the evil of it. — I am perfectly satisfied that as much is made by saving (or nearly so) as there is by the Crops; that is, by attention to the crops when made, stocks of all sorts; working cattle; Plantation utensils; Tools; fences; and though last, not least, to the Negros: — first by seeing that they have every thing that is proper for them, and next, that they be prevented, as far as vigilance can accomplish it, all irregularities and improper conduct. And this oftentimes is easier to effect by watchfulness and admonition, than by severity; — and certainly must be more agreeable to every feeling mind in the practice of them. — Speaking of accts., and finding some articles of my deceased nephews mixed with mine; I request that, although they are, or may be, paid with my money, yet that they may be kept entirely distinct from my accounts.
I cannot say that the Rams were not seperated (as they ought to have been) from the ewes at shearing time last year, but from my own view I can (I think at Union Farm) say I saw Rams with my sheep in the month of August last. — Whether my own, or belonging to others, I know not. The last would be worse than the first, as I believe my sheep are above mediocrity, when most others are below it. — As I am constantly loosing sheep I wish this year, you would cull them closer. — The flock would be benefitted thereby, whilst I might get something for the refuse; instead of the frequent reports of their deaths. — And I wish you would reprehend the overseers severely for suffering the sheep under their respective care, to get so foul as I saw some when I was at home, particularly at Dogue run Farm. — It is impossible for a sheep to be in a thriving condition when he is carrying six or eight pounds at his tale. And how a man who has them entrusted to his care, and must have a sight of this sort every day before his eyes can avoid being struck with the propriety and necessity of easing them of this load, is what I have often wondered at.
Having sheep at five different places it has often occurred to my mind whether for a certain part of the year — say from shearing time or before until the first of December (or until the end of the period for folding them), they were, except the Rams, brought into one flock — distinguishing before hand those of the seperate farms by conspicuous marks made by tar, or red lead in different parts, and placed under the care of a trusty negro, if there be such an one, whose sole business it should be to look after and fold them every night in hurdles made light and removed with the sheep from farm to farm; as the food at each would be eaten by them, and become scant — I think I should get my fields dunged sooner and better by this means (with other common assistance) than by any other. — Shifting their walks frequently would certainly be serviceable to the sheep, if so great a number together would not be injurious; — especially as thefts, and other depredations might be committed without the knowledge of their keeper; for I know not the negro among all mine, whose capacity, integrity, and attention could be relied on for such a trust as this. — I do no more than suggest the idea for consideration; when you have given it consideration let me know the result of your thoughts on the occasion.
I was afraid the heavy rains and long easterly winds would prove injurious to the fruit, and probably to the grain, if they should, continue; but I did not expect to find that I was to loose calves by it; — four of wch I find by the River Farm Report are dead. — This, and looking over the other Reports, and finding thereby the small number of calves I have, leads me to apprehend that there is some defect in the management of this part of my stock; for it is inconceivable that out of 300 head of cattle I should have but about 30 calves, as appears by the last week’s report. This must proceed from the want of, or from old and debilitated Bulls. Let me know whether the fruit (of different kinds) is injured by the easterly winds which have blown so constantly; — and whether the wheat &ca. appear to have received any hurt. — The Oats, Buck wheat and grass will, I hope, be benefitted by the Rains, and it would give me pleasure to hear that your White thorn, Willow, Poplar and other cuttings were coming on well? — Does the last and present years planting of Honey locust seed come up well — and is there any appearance of the Cedar berries, Furze seed, Lucern, &c., &c., coming up and answering expectation? and is your corn coming up — or likely to rot in the ground with the wet weather we have had?
The outer fence — from the mill to the Tumbling Dam should be secured as well as the nature of the thing will admit. — That it is bad, I will readily grant. — and that the man (John Fairfax) under whose superintendence it was erected, ought to be charged with all the timber and labor expended thereon, I will as readily allow; but to think of what ought to be is unavailing, when there is no remedy but to make good deficiency’s, and avoid future errors.
I have again written to Colo. Willm. Washington respecting oyster shells, but would not have you, on that acct., slaken your endeavors to procure them, as I cannot procure too many of them before they are burnt. — Lime might spoil, Shells will not.
I approve much of your setting Davis about the Brick work of the Barn, and hope he will carry it on expeditiously, that there may be no interruption to the carpenters.
I am well satisfied, by engaging the Scantling of the Alexandria merchants, that I pay 10 or 15 pr. ct. more than I should do at the mills. — The advantage of doing it is, that one gets it by a Bill without waste; — and you have some one to report to for damages in case of disappointment, for it is well known that the skippers of shallops, of whom one might engage it, pay no sort of regard to their engagements unless there interest is promoted thereby; — so that any contract entered into with them, is only binding on yourself. — If, however, I should, after seeing how I go on with the Barn at Dogue run, resolve to build another at the River farm, and you can get the scantling on better (and as secure) terms than the last, it will be very pleasing to me you should do it.
I would not have you proceed to Loudoun with a view to see Major Harrison, and to talk to him concerning his Land. — If he is disposed to sell on such terms as I can afford to buy, I shall get the Land; as I have already empowered Mr. Lewis to buy it; but this need not be mentioned — an attempt through another channel would induce him to enhance his price, from a supposition that I was very keen to bargain, and his ideas of its worth is already too high, from what I have heard through that channel before mentioned.211
Let me know what quantity of Clover seed you will want, that I may decide in time whether it will be best to purchase here, or in Alexandria; — but is there no way of avoiding this expence by having the seed, or part of what is wanting, yourself?
I consent to your placing a temporary gate at the foot of the lane at Mansion house, as mentioned by you; though it is an awkward place to fix one. — My idea is, but this will require more time, to continue that lane from the corner of the new clover lot until it strikes the fence in the hollow by, or north of, the other Gate. — In that case only the present gates would be to be opened in approaching the House; and a gate out of that lane would open into the great Pasture; and secure the Garden, Lawn, &ca, in the manner proposed in your letter. — A gate at the lower side of the Vineyard inclosure between that and the Lucern lot, or a sett of bars, appear to me to be as necessary for security of the Gardens, Lawns, &ca., as at the other end — as Hogs are always thereabouts, and Horses and Cattle can come along the shoar, that way.
If you intimated to Mrs. F. Washington the inconvenience it would be to the business of my Farms to have two horses at this busy season taken away for any length of time, it is to be hoped, after she gets to Berkeley, they will be sent down; — but if this circumstance was not known to her, it is not likely that this will happen.
I hope as Frank can have little to do in the House, you will make him go on with the painting; under strong injunction to be careful of that, and the Oil.
Do you not get paid for the cask when you sell middlings and ship stuff? it always used to be a custom to do this. — Enquire whether this is not the case now.
Desire the Gardener to be very attentive to the Seeds and Plants which, at different times, I have sent to him, to sow and cultivate. — and to raise what seed he can from them, especially from the St foin in the little garden.
I remain with best wishes for the continuance of your health, and am your friend,
P. S. When your fishing is completed, let the seins be throroughly dried and packed away securely from Rats and mice. Were they to be thoroughly repaired, they would be the better for it.
XXVI TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 12 May, 1793
Your letter of the 8th with the Reports came duly to hand.
From the constant easterly winds which have blown ever since I left Mount Vernon, I expected the Fishery would end poorly, and therefore am not disappointed at your report on this head.
The clerks’ notes, which I return, must be paid; That from the Clerk of the District Court at Dumfries, I presume, comes against me as executor of Colo. Colvil;212 but that you may be sure of it, the first time you go to Alexandria, shew it to Mr. Keith, who will be able to decide whether the whole, any part, or no part, is on that account. — If it is, the amount ought to be charged to that Estate; — as also a note from that same place sent to me some time ago “continuances against Stuart &c 90 lbs Tobo.” and Fairfax clerk’s note 30 lbs. Tobo. “Recording Colvil’s Estate acct.” If Mr. Keith should require these, in order to introduce them into the general settlement let him have them. — What has been the issue of the suit against Pool? I recollect to have heard that he was brot. before the Court for something, — and the Payment of 60 lbs. of Tobo. agreeably to the enclosed note is, I hear, all I am likely to get by it, that I know of.
I know of no seperate tract of land that my deceased Nephew Major Washington had in Fairfax Parish — and I am much mistaken indeed if that where his Plantation is, has not always been included in the tract of which it is part. — But I know of no remedy until I shall have leizure to examine my Papers, and to correct many abuses which my peculiar situation has involved me in.
Let there be a half bushel, no matter how rough, 4 boards nailed together will be as good as the best, made for the morter maker; and, when you have ascertained from the best information, what is the best proportions of lime and sand, order the Person who mixes them by no means to depart from it. — From my own observation little or no attention has been paid to this hitherto, which, added to the self will, and conceitedness of Tom Davis, has been the occasion of an unnecessary use of lime. — I would wish to know the exact quantity of Lime that is used in the building at Dogue run, as it will be a guide in future: and to come at this will be very easy — as you know what was bought and can measure what remains, when the work is compleated. — Confine your purchase hence forward to shells, because they will receive no injury; whilst Lime would spoil by keeping.
I will send you a pair of scales capable of weighing 200 lbs. — But what is become of the scales which were in the store? — These for their size were as good as could be made. — Let me know what weights there are belonging to them. — For weighing yarn, wool to the Spinners, &ca., &ca., none, surely can be better than those.
Medicines shall also be sent: — I cannot get clover seed either at this place or New York under eight Dollars a bushel that can be warranted, but if that in Alexandria is European seed, I would not be concerned with it; unless you are allowed to prove it. — More than probable it is old, if it has escaped the heat of the ships Hold.
Whensoever the Superfine flour is delivered remember that as much (or wheat to make it) be reserved as will suffice till the new comes in.
I am glad to hear that the Grain and grass look well. — inform me regularly how they come on. — and do not suffer them to interfere with each other in cutting. — The fields of Clover in the vicinity of this City, exceed any thing of the kind I ever saw for luxuriency — I am not less pleased to find by your acct., that the plants and cuttings which have been set out for the purpose of hedges are taking well; and am anxious to hear whether the Cedar berries are likely to vegitate. — What appearance does the plashed Cedars make? — Has many of them died?
If it is indispensably necessary to get a new cart for Mrs. Washington’s Plantation, I must direct it accordingly; — but as it is uncertain what will be done with it after the present year, no expence that can well be avoided ought to be incurred on that place; — especially in this instance of a new Cart, as the wheat wd. be to be brought but a little way even if it comes to the old treading yard. — If the cart must be had, one for oxen is preferable; and if I have any to spare they may go there and welcome.
From what little I saw of Mr. Butlar when I was at home, I fear he is not calculated for my business, or any other that requires activity and spirit. — If upon further trial he should give stronger evidences of this, it may not be amiss to inform him in time that my purposes are not likely to be answered by his services; and therefore it will be prudent for him to look out, against another year, for some other place; — Nay, if he does not fulfil his agreement, it must be done sooner. Let the exchange between him and the Gardener take place (if it has not already happened) immediately.
Has any Mares been brought to the Jack, or stud horse, besides my own? — and in that case what number? — If the horse is in good order, it might not be amiss to shew him in Alexandria at Court, on Monday the 20th. instt.; it being Whit-Monday also. — Let me know if the mare I left at home is in foal or not.
It is with extreme vexation I find my orders, which were given in the most explicit and unequivocal manner, that the complaints of my Negros of the want of bread, are still suspended in their execution, or evaded as they have been to the utter defeat of my intentions! which were prompted by motives of Justice in the first place — and to avoid in the second, the imputation of with-holding the needful support from them; thereby driving them to, or at least affording a pretence, for the commission of thefts.
Mrs. Washington desires you will direct old Doll to distil a good deal of Rose and Mint water, &ca.; and we wish to know whether the Linnen for the People is all made up?
Was the Globe and Saddle sent from Mount Vernon to Alexandria? they are not yet come to this place.
I remain your friend and well wisher,
Philadelphia, 19 May, 1793.
Your letters of the 10th. and 15th. are both received; and it gives me pleasure to find by them that appearances for good crops are still favorable. — I hope they will continue. — The Hessian fly is among the wheat in these parts, and doing much injury to it.
When I directed Frank to be employed in prosecuting the painting, it was under an idea, and from what I thought my recollection had furnished, that there remained part of what I had requested to be done, yet unfinished; — particularly the tops of the necessaries and two Garden houses; for if these were done when I was at home, I own I have been under a mistake. — By a recurrence to my former letters respecting this business, you will see what it was I wanted done; and if it be done, I desire no further proceeding in that way at present; as the Mansion house and offices both (if I mistake not) want some repairs before they can be painted, and at any rate more skill than Frank possesses to do them properly.
I do not think locust pins would do for fastning the treading floor. 1st. because I think they would work loose, and in that case endanger the legs of the horses. — 2dly. because perforating the Joists in so many places, and so near together, might weaken them too much (if the holes were bored deep, and unless this was done the 2½ inch square pieces would soon work loose) — and thirdly because it would be extremely tedious to make the pins and bore the number of holes that would be required. — Spikes will unquestionably come high, as will the nails also, but these expences are incidental to the work, and not to be avoided; — but to make the expence as easy as you can, do not entrust too many nails at a time with the workmen; — but compare there calls for, with the application of them (which will be no difficult matter) and thereby check both waste and embezzlement. — the last of which is most to be apprehended. — If by taking whole barrels (I mean buying by the barrel) you can get the sorts you want cheaper, it is better to do so, as they will be wanting for other purposes.
If, after returning the shells which have been borrowed, you should, with what will be left, make your whole stock on hand 1000 bushls., I conceive it will be enough; provided the information you have received of the quantity which will lay a thousd bricks, be just.
I think you did very right in putting Reuben along with Davis, as the Brick work will require to be first done; — but, I wish you to tell Neuclus, as from me, that if his pride is not a sufficient stimulus to excite him to industry, and admonition has no effect upon him, that I have directed you to have him severely punished and placed under one of the Overseers as a common hoe Negro.
I am satisfied from what you have said, that it would not be proper to bring all my sheep into one flock, and so to be penned; — and if you think drawing off two score of the latter, and most indifferent lambs is proper, it may be done, but not till they are weaned, or actually seperated with their mothers from the rest of the flock; — for unless one of these is done, I am sure, that so far from havg. 40 of the worst disposed of, I shall have that number of the choicest taken, if from the flock at large, — so well am I acquainted with the practices and contrivances of the Butchers; — and the inattention and carelessness of the Overseers, to whom they may go, if taken away as they are wanted. — I had rather not part with one, unless this apprehension of mine is fully, and compleatly guarded against. — All the declining sheep of every sort might be disposed of, after they can, by good pasture and attention, be got in order for it. In a word, I wish every possible care may be used to improve the breed of my sheep; and to keep them in a thriving and healthy state. — The same with regard to my Cattle; and there is no measure so likely to effect this as by a judicious choice of the subjects that are bred from. — It is owing to this that Bakewell213 and others, are indebted for the remarkable quality and sales of their cattle and sheep; — the like attention would produce the like effect in this, as well as in other Countries. — I am fully persuaded, if some of my best cows were selected, and put to (what is called) the Callico Bull, and all the calves which took their shape and appearance from him set apart for Breeders, (for I am told his make is exactly that which Bakewell prefers and aims at getting,) that I should, in a few years have a very valuable breed of Cattle. — Such conduct will apply equally to sheep. — The quantity of either species of stock — that is Cattle and sheep — ought, in my opinion, to depend wholly upon the support which can be provided — and that, the more you have of both with an eye to this consideration, the more you may have, as they do, in themselves, afford the means, by the manure they make.
If for the sake of making a little butter (for which I shall get scarcely anything) my calves are starved, and die; it may be compared to stopping the spigot, and opening the faucit, — that is to say, I shall get two or three shillings by butter, — and loose 20 or 30/ by the death, or in jury done to my calves. Milk sufficient should be left for them, — or a substitute provided; otherwise, I need not look forward either to the increase or improvement of my Stock.
Not a moment should be lost, after the Wool is taken from the Sheeps’ backs, in having it spun and wove, that it may be made up in time for the negros clothing: — and Grey should be told that if he does not weave it as fast as it is carried to him, that he shall not only loose my custom, but, must look out for some other tenement; — because this, and not the Rent, was the inducement for placing him there. — However, speaking of the Rent, let me enquire whether he pays it regularly or not.
I have no intention of Renting any of my fishing landings for a term of years, — consequently, have no objection to your providing a new, and repairing the old sein, against another season — and approve of your laying in a number of Fish Barrels agreeably to your suggestion; especially if you can buy them at what you suppose, which will be much better than making of them by my coopers.
If Mr. Butler is the kind of man you describe him to be, he certainly can be of no use to me; — and sure I am, there is no obligation upon me to retain him from charitable motives; when he ought rather to be punished as an impostor: for he well knew the services he had to perform, and which he promised to fulfil with zeal, activity, and intelligence. — A stirring, lively and spirited man, who will act steadily and firmly, being necessary; I authorise you to get one if you should part with Butler;214 for it is indispensably necessary that a stop should be put to that spirit of thieving and house breaking which has got to such a height among my People, or their associates. — As one step towards the accomplishment of which, I desire you will absolutely forbid the slaves of others resorting to the Mansion house; — such only excepted as have wives or husbands there, or such as you may particularly license from a knowledge of their being honest and well disposed. All others, after sufficient forewarning, punish whensoever you shall find them transgressing these orders.
It is high time, in my opinion, that you were planting the Potatoes at Mansion house; — and rather than suffer the ground to get grassy, or wait for the return of the Horses which were lent Mrs. Fanny Washington (an event quite uncertain, as she was at Dr. Stuarts’ the 9th. instant waiting for her brother-in-law, who might not come at all) I think you had better get a sufficient number of Plows from the Plantations, and cause it to be got in order without delay.
My mind is impressed with many things, which you have been required to give answers to, which have never been received; — and this will forever be the case if you depend upon the mere reading a letter over when you set down to answer it; without first noting on a slate or a piece of waste paper, every point as you come to it, that requires to be touched upon; crossing it when complied with; — or to stand uncrossed if you are unable to give an answer at that moment, until you can do it at another time. Among these things is one of a very interesting nature to me — namely, an exact experiment and worth of an hundred bushels of wheat when manufactured, compared with the price of it in grain — that I might decide therefrom whether it would have been best to sell my wheat or manufacture it into flour, before it was too late to decide. — After frequently writing and pressing this matter, I at length got an imperfect statement made from light wheat; but was promised a more perfect one, but which has never been recd; although it is months since it was promised. — I mention this as one instance, because, if 100 bushels had, in time, have given me the same evidence of the fact, which I fear the whole quantity of my crops has done or will do, I should have sold my wheat in grain; which would I presume have commanded a dollar pr. Bushl. at any time; and this on 4009½ bushls. wch. I perceive has been delivered at the mill, would have amounted to in Virg. Curry. £1202.8.0; whereas the quantity of flour made from it, viz 283 barls. of superfine, and 317 of fine, the first at 33/ and the other at 31/, which I believe, is the highest that has been given, comes to no more than £988.6 — difference £214.2 — Now, if the middlings, ship stuffs, shorts and bran does not amount to this difference, all short of it is loss; besides lying out of my money — the hazard of selling the flour, and risk of its souring if I cannot dispose of it to advantage before the warm weather sets in. I have selected this as an important instance of suffering things to escape. I could enumerate many more of no other or greater moment than as they would have gratified me; not being able to see things myself. But the reason why I mention this, (as I am fully satisfied you have every disposition in the world to comply with my wishes) is merely to let you see that it is by trusting too much to your memory, that these things happen. I am persuaded no instance has happened of your asking me a question by letter — or applying for directions without receiving an answer. The reason is, that whenever I set down to write you, I read your letter, or letters carefully over, and as soon as I come to a part that requires to be noticed, I take a short note on the cover of a letter, or piece of waste paper; — then read on to the next, noting that in like manner; — and so on until I have got through the whole letter and reports. Then in writing my letter to you, as soon as I have finished what I have to say on one of these notes, I draw my pen through it and proceed to another, and another, until the whole is done — crossing each as I go on, by which means if I am called off twenty times whilst I am writing, I can never with these notes before me finished, or unfinished, omit any thing I wanted to say; and they serve me also, as I keep no copies of letters I write to you, as Memorandums of what has been written if I should have occasion at any time to refer to them.
I wish you well. Yr. friend,
XXVIII TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 26 May, 1793.
Your letters of the 17th. and 22d. instt. came duly to hand.
Scales with such weights as you have required, will be sent to you by the first vessel bound to Alexandria: — and as there is reason to apprehend a rise in the price of Iron, I propose to send you a tonn thereof by the same opportunity; let me know therefore, as soon as this is received, the sorts which will suit you best. — I shall also send the spike nails which will be wanted for the new Barn, from hence: — 1st. because I can, it is supposed, get them cheaper; — and 2dly., because they may be had of any size; — and I am told not less than 6 inches will do as each piece will be seperate from the other and more apt (being narrow, only 2½ inches square) to work loose on that account. — When you write to me as above, let me know the price of 8d. 10d. 12d. and 20d. nails in Alexandria as they are sold by the Cask and by the lb; that I may decide on the propriety of sending them from hence, or buying them there; and the sorts you may want. If they go from hence I shall send whole casks, although I want to know how they are sold by the pound; — that being the way by which they are sold here; — and necessary for me to know, that I may be enabled to form a comparison of the prices.
When you receive the Scales and Wts. I request that the latter (especially the small ones) may always be under lock when not in use; — otherwise, in six months, you will not have one. — The Scales in the store whilst I attended to them formerly, were well supplied with weights.
My last letter gave you my ideas respecting Frank’s painting so fully that I have nothing to add on that head in this.
I am almost certain that the morter with which the Bricks at the Barn at Union Farm, and all my other works was not composed of more than ⅓ lime; however, if good judges and practical workmen say it ought (of shells) to be half, I would have it so ordered. — It is to be observed, however, that the lime is of no other use than to cement the particles of sand together; — and these again to the Stone or Brick. — It is the Sand therefore, and not the lime, that forms the strength: more therefore than is just sufficient to answer this purpose is not only wasted, but is a real disadvantage as you will often see in work; by the morters falling out for want of cohesion. Much depends upon the goodness of the sand, which ought to have as little dust as possible mixed with it. Suppose you take a pint of lime and a pint of sand, and other proportions, and mix them for experiments. When dry you will see and be able to form an opinion of the just proportions, which will do on a large as well as a small scale.
I wanted no fresh proof of the rascality of Thos. Green. — Nor would I retain him in my service, if I could get any other to carry on my business; but such a building as he is about could not, I am sure, be framed by any of my negro carpenters.
If the wheels at Mrs. Washington’s Plantation can be repaired, let it be done in preference to buying a new pair, for the reasons formerly mentioned to you.
Mention is made I perceive in the reports of Carts carrying Bricks at the new building, to the workmen. — If I recollect the distance they have to do it, it would seem to me as if the time and labor which must be spent in loading and unloading the Cart would carry them by hand, or in a wheel-barrow without half the loss. — I mention this not because I am certain of the fact, but as a matter worthy of attention, and to be decided upon by experience. — or at least by calculation.
You say in your letter of the 22d. that the wheat at Dogue run is now all out of the straw. — I conclude therefore you are now able to give me an acct. of the Crop at each farm. — and the yield of each field, — and I desire it may be done accordingly. — The reservation of a very few bushels will be sufficient for the use of the Mansion house; for my coming home, situated as public matters are at present, depends upon such a variety of things as to render it very precarious; and Mrs. Washington’s coming will depend upon the time it is probable I can remain there; which from present appearances can be but short. My wish is to be at Mount Vernon about the last of June (in the time of Harvest), and I shall want to be down again about the middle of Septr. — But whether I shall be able to accomplish both, or either, is more than I can decide. — My stay in either case will be short, and this renders Mrs. Washington’s coming at all more uncertain. — It will be unnecessary therefore to make any extra: preparations for this event, so uncertain in its happening.
Your acct. of the state in which the Grain and Grass on my farms is, surprizes me; the first being so forward, and the latter so backward. — The reverse, in a degree, is the case here; — for clover is now cutting, pretting generally; and not till within these two or three days have I seen a stalk of wheat headed. — Is there any indication yet of injury to the wheat from the Easterly winds and wet weather which have happened so frequently this spring, according to your apprehensions expressed some time ago? — Does the wheat seem to head well? — that is, is the ears long, or short, and free from smut? — How does the thin wheat in No. 7, River Farm, and No. 4, Muddy hole, appear at present? Has the Buckwheat come up thick and does it grow fast? — what prospect have you for oats? and for flax? — and how does the young clover come on?
How is the ground in French’s large meadow disposed of, or to be disposed of; for I perceive there has been a good deal of plowing in it. — and finding the same thing in the Report from Dogue run, as done in the Mill meadow, with a good deal of grubbing also, I wish for the same information respecting this meadow; being always pleased with every step which has a tendency to lay these grounds to grass.
Although I am very anxious to hasten the New Barn at Dogue run, yet as Hay time and Harvest will not wait, and is of the highest importance to me, everything else must yield to them: and if I thought it was necessary, I should, in strong terms, urge you to begin the latter as soon as you shall think it safe, by lying a day or two in the swarth. The advantage of cutting the grain early last year was evident; — and will always be found safest and best in all cases, especially where there is a large harvest: — the latter part of which besides shattering much, is often, very often indeed, laid down an lost from the Rains which frequently happen at that season, whilst the straw is rendered of no use; having no substance left in it. I hope, and do expect, that the overseers will be pointedly charged this year to see that the ground is raked clean. — In Garner’s fields last year I was really shocked to see the waste that appeared there. — It is not to close harvest soon, but to accomplish it well, that ought to be the aim, and the pride of these people, notwithstanding they receive standing wages instead of shares. I told Garner last year that if the latter had been the case, I am very certain such waste would not have appeared.
Although others are getting out of the practice of using spirits at Harvest, yet, as my people have always been accustomed to it, a hogshead of Rum must be purchased; but I request at the same time, that it may be used sparingly. — Spirits are now too dear to be used otherwise.
It is not my wish, or desire, that my negros should have an oz. of meal more, nor less, than is sufficient to feed them plentifully. This is what I have repeated to you over and over again; and if I am not mistaken, requested you to consult the Overseers on this head, that enough, and no more than enough, might be allowed. — Sure I am I desired this with respect to Davy. To ask me whether this, or that quantity is enough, who do not know the number of mouths that are to be fed, is asking a question that it is not possible for me to resolve. — Formerly, every working negro used to receive a heaping and squeezed peck at top of unsifted meal; and all others (except sucking children) had half a peck, like measure, given to them; — with which I presume they were satisfied, inasmuch as I never heard any complaint of their wanting more. — Since the meal has been given to them sifted, and a struck peck only of it, there has been eternal complaints; which I have suspected arose as much from the want of the husks to feed their fowls, as from any other cause, ’till Davy assured me that what his people received was not sufficient, and that to his certain knowledge several of them would often be without a mouthful for a day, and (if they did not eke it out) sometimes two days before they were served again; whilst they (the negros) on the other hand assured me, most positively, that what I suspected, namely feeding their fowls with it, or sharing it with strange negros, was not founded. — Like complaints were made by the People at Dogue run and at Union Farm; which altogether hurt my feelings too much to suffer this matter to go on without a remedy. — Or at least a thorough investigation into the cause and justice of their complaints; — for to delay justice is to deny it. — It becomes necessary therefore to examine into the foundation of the complaints, at once, and not to wait until a pretext should offer to increase the allowance. — Justice wanted no pretext, nor would admit of delay. — If the application for more was unjust no alteration at all, ought to have been made; for, as I at first observed, I am no more disposed to squander, than to stint; but surely the case is not so difficult but that the true and just quantity may be ascertained; which is all they have a right to ask, or I will allow them. — Neither the people at River Plantation, nor any about M. Hole did, to the best of my recollection make any complaints, but only knowing the quantity of meal which was served to them, and not the number of mouths to be fed with it, I supposed, especially in the latter case (the first having little opportunity of making known their wants, as I was not more than once or twice on the Farm) that enough was allowed them. — I have been thus particular, because I would wish to be clearly and fully understood on this head, that you may act accordingly.
I am surprised to find by your letter that the Gardener has thoughts of leaving me; For when I was last at home, he put the question himself to know if I would retain him; — and being answered that I had no desire to part with him, he said he was very glad of it. — I did not, it is true, nor did he say on what terms; but I took it for granted it would be at the wages of his last year, with a just and proper allowance for the services rendered by his wife, which I always intended, and am still willing to make. It becomes necessary, however, to know immediately and decidedly too, what his intentions are; and when his term expires; that, if he is not disposed to remain upon such, and lay as I like, I may take measures in time to supply his place. — I wish you therefore (after communicating the unexpectedness of his intention to go) to apply in my name, and know what I have to depend upon. — He, like many others, I presume has golden dreams, which nothing but experience can demonstrate to be the vision only of an uninformed, or indigested imagination. Time, and the expences arising from Rent, provisions to be purchased, liquor, of which probably he will take too much, Fuell, and a hundred other items of which probably he has never estimated, will convince him, too late perhaps, that he has left a safe and easy berth to embark on a troubled ocean, where soon he may find no rest.
What color and sex is the coach mare’s colt with you? — Nancy (the other coach mare) foaled on Whitmonday in like manner. Take great care of the one with you. What is become of those mules set apart for my use, and how do they look? Let them be kept well. I am your friend,
XXIX TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 2 June, 1793.
Your letter of the 29th. ulto. is received.
It gives me pain to find by it, that the Rains which you have had has gullied the fields more than they were. — I wish, as I did on former information of this kind, that if it be practicable, these breaches could be repaired, always as soon as they happen. — Unless this is done, in time, they grow worse and worse, until the fields are disfigured, and in a manner ruined by them.
If you have had as much rain with you, as has been here the week past, your apprehensions on acct of the wheat will have undergone no diminution: — for I think the Sun has not been seen here since Monday last — raining more or less the whole time, with the wind invariably at East. — Is there any danger of the grain lodging? — that is the case here. I am affraid Rust will get among it also.
Does your Corn stand well, and grow fast? and have you been able with so much wet to keep it clean?
It is the duty of the Miller, the moment he has closed his annual manufacture, to render me an exact acct. thereof; — and this, let him know I expect he will do without delay, and with exactitude, with his signature annexed to it — charging the mill with every bushel of wheat that has been received into it, and from whence; and at the Alexandria price for large crops; — and crediting it with all the superfine and fine flour that has been made; the first at 34/ and the other at 32/ pr. barl. — with all the middlings, ship stuff, shorts and Bran, at what they have actually sold — or would sell for. — Such an acct. as this is the only true criterion by which to decide whether I have gained or lost by manufacturing my crop. — The trial of 100 bushels was only for an experiment, to enable me to judge before hand, whether it would have been best to have sold, or manufactured my wheat. Nor is cleaning of it in the manner you speak of, a way to make the experiment a fair one. — A hundd. bushels of such wheat as would have been indisputably merchantable in Alexandria without extra: cleaning to bring it to 60 lbs. pr. bushl. or any other given weight, ought to have been the exact quality for the experiment; because every oz. of this, whether shrivelled or light, dust or what not, would have gone into the measure, and so much pr. Bushl. or pr. lb. would have been allowed for it at that place; whereas if you extract all this and make up the quantity afterwards 100 bushls., the profit by manufacturing will unquestionably appear greater than it is in reallity: because what is blown away by the different operations for cleaning in the mill is a deduction from the wheat if sold in grain, and no addition to it when manufactured. — I mention this to guard you against deception in the experiment you were about to make with 500 bushls. (cleaned in the manner you speak of) and which you had prepared for grinding, repeating again, that to ascertain this point now, or at any time hereafter, the wheat with which the experiment is made, should receive no other cleaning than such as to give it a good character with the merchant, if sold in grain; because all that is blown out of it at the mill is lost; unless the miller’s Poultry or my Hogs derive a benefit from it.
In my last I informed you of my intention of sending the spike nails from hence. — These, with a Tonn of Iron, Medicines, and several other things will go by the first vessel that will sail after I receive your answer to the queries therein contained.
When Reuben finishes the work he is now engaged in, have his trowel taken from him and put into the store. — The same might be done with Neuclus’, at least if not Davis or I shall have new ones to buy whenever they engage in fresh work; for these things, if not lost or stolen, are frequently sold for their own emolument. — How does the brick work of the New Barn advance? — Is the whole wall raised equally? — And in that case, how many course of Brick is it up?
Perhaps it might have been better if the shells were good, and at the landing, to have taken them; unless you were under engagements to the first man, because, if they are removed out of the tides way, and the washings of the Roads, they will receive no injury from time; and the plague we have had hitherto to get any, and the expence of stone lime which I have been driven to the necessity of buying at an enormous price, would make one wish to avoid the like difficulties again. — Colo. Washington wrote me a few days ago, informing me that the man he had engaged to supply me, had delivered one load of lime and two of shells — about, as he supposed, 500 bushls. each load; and wished to know how many more I should want; — adding that Branson (I think that is the man’s name) complains that 25/ for live shells as good as his, was not enough; wanting 27/6 for what he might thereafter delivered. — I answered, if the shells were really live ones and good, I should not stand for the difference; and thought one load more might answer all my purposes; but you may take two according to the experience you have had of the consumption to the 1000 bricks — and perhaps it had better be done at all events as a store of what can neither waste nor spoil, will be no sore.
I am not from recollection, able to find out what Green is sawing Plank for. — If my memory serves me, all the Plank for the New Barn was to have been purchased — except the 2½ Inch square pieces for the treading floor. — Worthless as he is, I am sorry to hear of the accident that has happened to him — and hope, however appearances might have been at the time, that he will not ultimately, loose more than the finger, which you say is actually off.
Perceiving by the Reports that the Ditchers have been employed in repairing the Post and Rail fence from the Tumbling Dam to the mill, I hope they have done it well. — It is the only attonement they have it in their power to make me for the villainous manner in which it was done at first; and for which they ought to have been severely punished; but not more so than him, under whose superintendence they worked.
Having my book of accts. with me, I find Wm. Gray stands regularly charged with the Rents; but I find also, that by the settlement made the 5th. of October last, by my deceased Nephew, in which he (Gray) is credited for all his work, for fowls, &c, up to the 13th. of Septr., that he was indebted to me £13. 15. 11. besides some expences for slays [?] over and above the money he gave Osborne to buy them with — I mention this matter, because, it is more than probable he will not be the first to do it himself: but under your supposed unacquaintedness with the fact, will be applying for money as fast, and to the amount of his weaving, without ever casting an eye back, or thinking of paying off old scores with it.
I never was more surprised than to find only 1457 lbs. of wool from the shearing of 568 sheep (2½ pound pr. Fleece only). — From the beginning of the year 1784 when I returned from the army, until shearing time of 1788, I improved the breed of my sheep so much by buying and selecting the best formed and most promising Rams, and putting them to my best ewes, by keeping them always well culled and clean, and by other attentions, that they averaged me as will appear by Mr. Lear’s acct. (my present secretary and who then lived with me,) rather more than under five pounds of washed wool each. — And in the year 1789, being requested by Mr. Arthur Young to send him a fleece of my Wool, I requested my nephew to see that Mr. Bloxham took one from a sheep of average appearance at shearing time, and send it to New York where I then was, to be forwarded to that Gentleman. — This was accordingly done, and weighed 5¼. — How astonished must I be then at the miserable change that has taken place since; and but for the caution I gave you to guard against the roguery of my negros, who formerly have been detected in similar practices, I should have concluded at once that between the time of taking the wool from the sheep and the delivery of it into your hands, a very large toll indeed had been taken from each fleece; for I do not suppose (for fear of detection) that whole fleeces would be taken; the number from each Farm being known I hope, and expect they will be got up again to their former standard, as I know it to be practicable with care and attention to do it; particularly with respect to the Rams. — It is painful to receive no report unaccompanied with the death of some of these animals; — and I believe no man is more unlucky in the deaths or in the accidents to Horses than I am; for I am continually losing them by one means or another.
Colo. Fitzgerald has been obliging enough to tell me, that if, at any time, you should need information in any matter that he can aid you, he will give it with great pleasure. — As he is a well informed man and an old acquaintance of mine, I wish you to avail yourself of his offer. — With respect to my Tobacco, he is of opinion, that if it is of the quality I am taught to believe it to be, was put up dry, and looked well when last examined, that I had better remove it to the Inspection at George town, at which, if it would pass, I might expect 40 pr. ct. more than where it is — I have answered that I would desire you to call on him the first time you go to Alexandria with such information on these several points as you may know yourself and can obtain from those who inspected it in the first instance, and have examined it since. — These facts ought to be well ascertained before any attempt be made to remove the Tobacco — for the Inspectors at George town are very strict, and no Tobacco that is not of a good quality, well handled, and put up dry, will pass. — I ought therefore to be pretty certain that mine will stand these tests; otherwise I should get out of the frying pan into the fire.
By the reports (if I mistake not) the Roan, or which may perhaps distinguish her more clearly — the mad mare, has had a mule colt this Spring; but I do not know whether it is by the Young Jack or the Knight of Malta, nor is it very material if the color suits. — This with the Spring mules from the two Coach mares, must promise three very fine ones; if a fourth of proper color from a good and well looking mare, either of this or the last Spring, can be selected, it is my wish that every possible care be taken of them and their dams to keep the first in the highest order. Has the lame chariot mare (left at home two years ago, and now I believe at River Farm) a Colt? — from her one would be valuable. — There is another valuable mare wch. I have drove,
and I believe at the Mansion Ho. that must furnish a good colt if she has any. I request also that those whh. were selected last year may meet with proper care and attention, as I am exceedingly anxious to get a set to drive, but fear I never shall, for it appears to me, as if they were converted to the Plow as soon as they arrive at the age of three, and I left to have recourse to a younger set, and so on; which practice, if continued must cut me out for ever.
I wish you well and am your friend,
XXX TO ANTHONY WHITING.
Philadelphia, 9 June, 1793.
In due course of Post I have received your letter of the 31st. of May and 5th instant; and was equally surprised and concerned to find by the last, that your health was in the declining and precarious state you describe it to be, because you had not given the least intimation thereof in any other letter, since my departure from Mount Vernon.215 — I can only repeat now, what I have often done before, that it is by no means my desire that you should expose yourself in the discharge of my business; — or use greater exertions than your strength will bear; — or more exercise than is good for your health; or, in a word, to attempt any thing that the Doctr. shall not think proper for you: — for having a full view of the state of my Plantations in your mind, and knowing the design for each, you can from the weekly reports (which may be made to you oftener by the overseers, if necessary) give such directions as would naturally result from them, — which is the best expedient both for yourself and me, that occurs to me at this moment — being unable since the receipt of your letter to think of a single person whose qualifications would fit him for the superintendence of my business. — If any such has occurred to you, I would thank you for naming him, hoping, nevertheless, that occasion will not require one; for having a proper character in view may not be amiss whether wanting or not. From my own experience (and the measure was recommended to me by eminent Physicians) wearing flannel next the skin is the best cure for, and preventative of the Rheumatism I ever tried, — and for your other complaint, which you suppose to be in your lungs, a vegitable and milk diet I should suppose would be proper; avoiding as much as possible animal food. Of this however the Doctors must be a better judge; — and if you chuse to have any in these parts consulted and will state, or get your case stated, I will lay it before the person highest in reputation here as a Physician, and send you the result. — I shall endeavor to be at Mount Vernon by the first of next month; — but the nature of public business is, and likely to remain such, that I dare not promise at that, or any other time, to be there; — and happen when it will, my stay must be short, as I cannot be long absent from the seat of the Government whilst matters are so delicately situated as they are at present. — If you have, or could procure a few oats against I arrive, they would be acceptable to my Horses. — I shall bring only 4 or at most five with me; — nor shall I be able to stay more than 10 days at farthest.
You may tell the Gardner216 that as I am not fond of changing, and as I am sure he would very soon find his error in leaving me — I will allow him £30 pr. ann, that is to say 100 dollars, provided he will engage to stay two years at that rate; — and will allow him the same perquisite of the Garden, when I am from home, he now enjoys; and a horse six times a year to ride to Alexandria, provided he is not kept out of nights. — With respect to his wife, after increasing his own wages so considerably, I must be well informed what services she is to render before I shall agree to make any further allowance to him, in addition for her; for I should think that he himself, or the woman, or any other who is actuated by a just and honest way of thinking, will readily acknowledge that giving her Provisions is an adequate compensation for the trouble of weighing out, and receiving in, the work of the spinners once a week, if all the intermediate time is devoted to her own business. — If she does more than this for me the case differs from my conception of it; and from what I had in view at the time she was first spoken to, for then it was my full expectation that after the 4th of March I should return to a permanent residence at Mount Vernon, and in that case to have made her the Housekeeper; which from the nature of the Office would have occupied her whole time, and of course would have entitled her to a proportionate reward. — But if she has not done, nor is likely to do more than weigh out and receive in work, and receives her provision for this, there is no cause that I am able to discover, for enhancing their wages on that acct.
The weather cannot have been more wet with you, than it has been here until Thursday last; since then it has been dry with a hot sun, which will recover the looks of the corn if you can, in addition, extricate it from the Grass and weeds. — As you still think that the easterly winds we have had will injure the wheat, let me know how you expect it will be effected by them: — Whether by Smut, Rust, white heads, or something else. — I see nothing now to injure the grain except by its not filling, by its taking the rust; — or lodging.
As it was intended that the first sown buckwheat should ripen a sufficiency of seed to sow the ground a second time, I should hope this second operation would recover the ground from the bad condition it has been thrown into by the preceeding Rains, and prepare it finely for wheat; tho’ it may occasion the sowing of it later than my inclination would wish it to be.
My fears are more alive against damage from drought, if the Easterly Winds cease, than from the rains which they have occasioned. — A long Drought after so much wet would be very injurious to the Corn; — second cutting of grass; — &ca.; besides baking the ground so hard as to render it impossible, in a manner, to work it properly. — If this should happen, let the ground intended for the reception of grass be well broken with Rollers before sowing, that it may be laid level and smooth.
I wish with all my heart the Potatoes at Mansion House were planted, and that the crop may be productive. It is growing full late for this business, and of course hazardous — wch. I regret the more as I am resolved, henceforward, to plant them between the corn rows at Dogue run farm, if at no other. — I have never yet seen any thing to induce me to believe that the crop of corn is lessened thereby, and sure I am the wheaten crop which follows, is not; — of course the Potatoes is all gain.
I would not have you ask the white thorn plants from Mr Thomson Mason as matter of favor; — but if you should, at any time, fall in with him, it could give no offence to ask if he would sell those which grow in the open field adjoining numbers 7 and 8 at River farm; — and, if the price is reasonable, to buy them.
When I consented to give up the first set of mules that were chosen for my carriage, it was because I was told they did not match well, or promise much, — but that others were coming on, from which a very good set could be drawn. — It is after these latter I have been enquiring, and wish care to be taken.
I do not conceive that the strength of a joist, or sleeper, consists in its width, but in the depth; — however, if Green thinks those designed for the treading floor are too slight the evil is easily remedied by putting on more of them, — that is, placing them nearer together.
What is the matter with Long James that he is forever on the sick list? — Is there any apparent cause for it? — by this I mean, has he fevers, a disentary — or anything that will speak for itself? — or, is the complaint — Pains — wch. may be real, or feigned; — the last of which can at any time, be assumed, and very often is.
By Ellwood, who talks of sailing on tuesday, but who will not in all probability leave this before Thursday, if then, you will receive sundry parcels according to the enclosed list, which may be brought from Alexandria when the Boat goes up with flour to Colo. Hooe.
I sincerely wish you will [be] perfectly restored to health, being your well wisher and friend
On behalf of Mr. Franklin B. Dexter, a Corresponding Member, Mr. Edes alluded to an early celebration of Washington’s birthday at Milton, Massachusetts, on 11 February, 1779.217
As early as 1674 Francis Kirkman, a London bookseller, had conceived the plan of circulating a part of his collection of books. It was this scheme which suggested itself to Boston booksellers toward the end of the eighteenth century, when a quickening of the intellectual life in Boston became evident.
John Mein, an Edinburgh bookseller, arrived in October, 1764. Having brought with him a quantity of books, linens, etc., he opened a store with Robert Sandeman, nephew of the famous preacher,218 and advertised many wares, including “English and Scotch Prayer-Books” as well as “Edinburgh Beer and Porter by the Cask or Doz.”219 Mein soon dissolved his partnership with Sandeman and in 1765 opened a bookstore and circulating library in King (now State) Street, “at the London Book-store Second Door above the British Coffee-House.”220
In 1765 Mein advertised a Catalogue of his twelve hundred books “in most branches of polite literature, arts & sciences.”221 Plays, novels, and poetry were mentioned among more serious volumes to be lent at £1 8s lawful money per year, 18s per half year or 10s 8d per quarter. The price of the catalogue was one shilling. Subscribers were cautioned to send in six or eight numbers from the catalogue to avoid being disappointed. Those living in the country might pay a double subscription and take “two books at a time.” An attendant was present from 10 to 1 and from 3 to 6 daily. In an address to the public Mr. Mein stated that a number of gentlemen had encouraged the venture, which, “tho’ fraught with amusement, has been hitherto unattempted in New England.” It would “amuse the man of leisure” and “insinuate knowledge and instruction under the veil of entertainment to the Fair Sex.”
How long the Library nourished I cannot record. The proprietor increased his business by starting the Boston Chronicle in 1767 and by printing several books. He opposed the plan to boycott goods subject to stamp duties and upheld in his paper the colonial policy of the British government. This so irritated the public that in October, 1769, he was mobbed.222 In defending himself he shot a grenadier and thought it best to seek safety on a ship in the harbor. A few days later he sailed for Great Britain, where he soon made himself known to Lord Dartmouth and communicated his views of affairs in America.223
Another nemesis, more relentless than the mob, was upon his track — the result of increasing financial obligations in London. By letter, September 28, 1768, Mein promised Thomas Longman, the bookseller in London, “proper remittances” to cancel the large debt incurred during three years of business. Wright & Gill also began to press him, and finally, in the autumn of 1769, they joined with Longman in giving John Hancock power of attorney to attach Mein’s books.224 While in London Mein visited Longman, but could not satisfy him as to the honesty of his conduct and intentions.225 He explained that he had left a power of attorney with John Fleeming of Boston to settle with his creditors. Longman, however, urged Hancock to proceed, and a writ of attachment, issued March 1, 1770, brought the matter to the Courts.
James Murray of Milton, an eminent Scotchman and friend of Mein, drew up proposals to have the attachment withdrawn,226 allow the suit for £1600 to go on in the King’s Bench and abide by the judgment of the Court, the property meanwhile to be appraised upon oath and to be delivered up to Hancock as attorney when executions came to be issued.227
Hancock declined the offer; Mein’s friends then placed their side of the story in such a light in England that Longman was disposed to think that Hancock had refused desirable terms, and he wrote rather sharply to Hancock.
Mein returned to Boston, and his case came up on the first Tuesday in January, 1770, before the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Suffolk County. He was ordered to pay £226 9s 3d with damage and costs of suit, an advantageous settlement of a debt of £1600. The London booksellers, of course, appealed.228
Mein must have continued in business, for the town of Boston voted March 19, 1770, that the Merchants having engaged to suspend importation from Great Britain, John Mein’s name be entered on the records as one of twelve persons “so thoroughly and infamously selfish as to obstruct this very measure, by continuing their importation.”229
The Superior Court of Judicature, sitting at Boston August 27, 1771, found that Mein had failed to keep his promise to pay Longman and assessed damages at £2191 19s ⅔d. The execution was issued December 23, 1771.230
Mein’s debt to Wright & Gill of £315 3s 6d was on appeal raised to £420 4s 8d money and costs. Besides these burdens Mein had spent some time in prison.231 He finally returned to England and was employed for a time by the government. With his departure from American soil the episode of the first circulating library in Boston closes.232
Bookstores, of course, continued to hold an important place in Boston affairs. William Martin advertised in the Independent Chronicle, May 27, 1784, that a “Library of Bibles and other Books” could be found at his shop near Seven-Star Lane,233 Main Street. This Libraiy was probably hardly more than a book department of his store. A year later, however, April 28, 1785, he announced “a part of said collection appropriated to let out by week or quarter.” He had moved to a new shop at 45 Main Street.234 Martin continued to enlarge the Library until it became the “Boston Circulating Library,” and under this title he announced a catalogue, December 29, 1785, in the Independent Chronicle. He was evidently a man of orderly habits, and the following notice shows his first irritation:
BEGS leave to remind those Ladies and Gentlemen who have kept BOOKS of his beyond the limited time, and still do so, that such delay is a great injury to his business, both as to the accommodation of his good customers, and the profit to himself; it tends to frustrate the very establishment, and, instead of a Circulating, to render it a Stagnated Library.235
At the end of August, 1786, Mr. Martin lost his patience and announced that several books to the “great disappointment of the Subscribers and disgrace of the establishment” had been absent above two months, among them Clarissa Harlowe, Peregrine Pickle, Gil Blas, and the Adventures of a Valet.236 It is very evident that the lax habits of his customers were a constant annoyance.
In March, 1787, Martin still advertised his Circulating Library,237 although a rival, Mr. Benjamin Guild,238 who had taken over E. Battelle’s Boston Book Store in March, 1785,239 now advertised a “constantly increasing” Circulating Library at 59 Cornhill,240 later Washington Street. In the autumn Martin sold what remained of his books or exchanged them for West India goods and continued business as a merchant.241
Little is known of Martin’s personal history. He was, perhaps, of the family represented a generation or so earlier in Boston by Captain Michael Martin. In 1778 a William Martin of Boston and Michael Martin of Brookfield were declared banished from the Province.242 On January 29, 1787, the Selectmen recommended William as a person of good character243 and on March 2 he and Elizabeth Martin were naturalized.244
Mr. Benjamin Guild died October 15, 1792, and the same year Mr. William P. Blake, who was administrator with the widow and John Guild, took over the Boston Book Store.245 In May, 1793, he issued a catalogue of books “for sale or circulation at the above STORE, presented to Customers gratis.”246 This Circulating Library was at 59 Cornhill (on the west side of the present Washington Street a few doors north of School Street), where it acquired a reputation and soon inspired imitators.247
In 1796 Mr. Blake248 advertised that he had moved the Boston Book Store from No. 59 Cornhill to No. 1 Cornhill, at the northern corner of Spring Lane. When his new catalogue appeared, in 1798, Lemuel Blake had been associated with him for about a year. The firm enjoyed a period of prosperity and published some famous books, including the Junius Letters in 1804. Financial reverses soon came, and in 1805 the Circulating Library was offered for sale.249 The firm’s creditors sold the business about 1806 to William Andrews, a bookbinder whose house and shop were at 32 Summer Street. The new proprietors at No. 1 Cornhill, Andrews and Cummings,250 probably retained both books and Library.
In 1809 Mr. Cummings had retired, leaving in control Mr. Andrews, who at the same time continued the bindery on Summer Street as Andrews and Goodwin. William Andrews died April 4, 1812, at the age of forty-three. His brother Ebenezer, one of the administrators of the estate, may have removed the Library to rooms over his office (Thomas and Andrews, the well-known publishers at 45 Newbury Street), for a label of the “Ladies Circulating Library” bears the address 45½ Newbury Street. The firm name appears in the Directory as late as 1821.
When Mr. Blake left the familiar stand at 59 Cornhill, in 1796, Mr. William Pelham continued the traditions of the place with a bookstore and Circulating Library.251 In the Independent Chronicle for July 7, 1796, Pelham offered for sale new books and “an uncommonly fine proof of Mr. Copley’s celebrated plate of the Death of Chatham.”
Subscribers to the Library paid at the rate of five dollars a year, and received three books at a time, to be kept a month. Non-subscribers paid by the week “for each duodecimo or smaller volume, one sixteenth of a dollar; and after the third week, one eighth of a dollar per week, until returned,” etc.
Besides the many unheard-of titles of books there are a few of note: Clarissa Harlowe, 8 volumes; Castle of Otranto; Camilla, a Novel of Miss Burney; Evelina, 2 volumes; Humphrey Clinker, 2 volumes; Peregrine Pickle, 4 volumes; Joseph Andrews, 2 volumes; also Don Quixote, Paul and Virginia, Pilgrim’s Progress; books of poetry, biography and travel; and for variety, Alvarez or Irresistible Seduction, Female Jockey Club, and Fille de Chambre. Many of these titles appear in a sale catalogue which Pelham issued in 1802.252
Pelham was born at Williamsburg, Virginia, August 10, 1759, the grandson of Peter Pelham of Boston, who married Mrs. Mary Copley. She was the mother of John Singleton Copley, whose portraits are heirlooms in Boston families. Pelham’s store was a resort of many men of influence in letters, art, and affairs. In the Independent Chronicle of October 22, 1804, Mr. Pelham announced that he had transferred his Circulating Library from 59 Cornhill to No. 5 School Street under the charge of William Blagrove; but he continued in business as a bookseller until about 1810. He removed to Zanesville, Ohio, and died at New Harmony, Indiana, February 3, 1827. His wife Penelope was also a Pelham.253
Mr. Blagrove was the son of Pelham’s sister Sarah, and one of a large family. In 1805 he renamed Pelham’s library the Union Circulating Library; and under this designation it continued its honorable service for many years. He promised a new catalogue, and with great enterprise provided boxes with lock and key to accommodate out-of-town subscribers who wished to convey their books back and forth. The fee was seven dollars a year for four duodecimo or two octavo volumes at a time.
In 1808 or 1809 Blagrove moved to 61 Cornhill (Washington Street, north of School Street), and in 1810 to No. 3 School Street. He was soon succeeded by Samuel H. Parker as proprietor of the Library, which as late as 1817 was the foremost of its kind. In its quarters “at the head of Water-street,” there was an extensive Reading Room.254 Mr. Blagrove left Boston about the year 1811; and was a resident of Washington, D. C., in 1821.255 His sons lived in Brooklyn, New York.
An early imitator of Blake was Joshua Thomas, whose advertisement appeared in the Independent Chronicle256 for June 27, 1793:
Opposite the Treasurer’s Office, in Boston,
Has opened a
Which will be constantly supplied with the
newest and most approved Publications.
Great pains will be taken to render
this LIBRARY worthy the patronage of the
Ladies of Boston, and its vicinity.
A pleasant indication of the literary interest in town is shown by a contemporary advertisement of “The Deserted Village, a Poem By Dr. Goldsmith,” just published, and offered at “half a pistareen” a copy. Another indication is to be found in the notice of Bowen’s Columbian Museum, where, pictured in oil or wax, Charlotte wept again at the tomb of Werther, and Baron Trenck sat in his prison chains.
The desire for circulating libraries grew apace. Miss Mary Sprague added a Circulating Library to her millinery shop, in 1802, and her announcement promised so well that the opening lines are given here:
New Circulating Library.
MISS M. SPRAGUE informs her Friends and the Public, that she has opened a New Circulating Library, at her Shop, No. 9, MILK-STREET.
Having been careful in selecting Books, she hopes to meet encouragement. She has spared no pains to make her collection deserving circulation, by mingling the useful with the amusing. In selecting volumes, she has not confined her choice to Romances and Magazines — Philosophy, History, Biography, valuable Travels, useful Miscellany, Moral Essays, the various productions of the Muses, and whatever instructs while it pleases, have portions of her shelves alotted to them.257
Not to be outdone by Miss Sprague, Miss or Mrs. Kezia Butler announced May 2, 1804, in the Columbian Centinel that she had opened a Circulating Library in connection with her millinery business, 82 Newbury Street (now Washington Street, between Summer and Essex), to accommodate persons at the south part of the town. The Directory refers to her as a milliner until 1820, when the Library is mentioned. Her name disappears after 1828.
Other parts of the town were no doubt as well served — or perhaps as poorly served, for circulating libraries in millinery stores suggest a low grade of literature. As early as 1784 a Boston paper, as a warning, quoted an article on the degeneracy of Edinburgh, which spoke ironically of the Miss who improves her mind from the precious stores of a circulating library.258 In November, 1781, the Circulating Library at No. 1 Cambridge Street, comprising seven or eight hundred books, was offered for sale. This was probably the West Boston Library, which announced in the Independent Chronicle of February 21, 1805, that the Library would be kept “in the Chamber over Dr. Powell, Cambridge-street, corner of North Russell street, where the Librarian will deliver books on Saturdays between the hours of 3 and 6 o’clock, P. M.” The inhabitants were informed that a book would be kept open by the Secretary, E. P. Hartshorn, at his store in Cambridge street, corner of South Russell street, where persons might subscribe for shares. Perhaps this was more in the nature of a stock company.
Circulating libraries continued to flourish in Boston., In 1817 there were still the Shakspeare Library at 25 School Street (later 10 Franklin Street), owned by Charles Callender, the librarian, and continuing in his family till after 1850; the Franklin Library at 67 Court Street, and later at 60 Washington Street; the Boylston Library in Newbury Street; and several others, prosperous survivors of the olden type.259
Thomas Burnham opened a small bookstore, circulating library and museum, at 58 Cornhill260 about 1830. His son Thomas Oliver Hazard Perry Burnham, after peddling books along the docks and at the markets, settled down at 58 Cornhill about 1835 to make this the bookmart of the town. Rare books became the fashion, and the ladies drove down from Beacon Hill to spend the morning at Burnham’s. About 1859 “Perry” moved to Washington Street, later to the Parker House corner of School and Tremont Streets, a haunt of Emerson, Holmes, and Longfellow. Finally the bookstore was established in the basement of the Old South Church. At some period in these changes the Library was given up.
After four years on Hanover Street, T. O. Walker, another library proprietor, moved in 1845 to 68 Cornhill, where he drew about him a less aristocratic clientele, and by the circulation of French novels made his Library prosper.
In June, 1859, A. K. Loring began a very successful Circulating Library, frequented by George Ticknor, Judge Devens, Wendell Phillips, and Edward Everett. Mr. Loring, still a kindly, bright old gentleman in 1903, knew the weaknesses of the great, — those who loved to hear their official titles emphasized before other customers, and also their tastes and whims. He tried a house-to-house delivery, first by boys and then by horsemen, and succeeded best in the less fashionable places like East Boston and Chelsea. In his opinion no circulating library can survive with profit unless carried on in connection with some other business.
Of equal interest was Mayhew and Baker’s Juvenile Circulating Library at 208 Washington Street. The catalogue261 issued in 1860 states that “young applicants for books are liable to be refused, unless introduced by their parents.” Among the authors mentioned were Jacob Abbott, Walter Aimwell, Ballantyne, Bell, Anne Bowman, Dickens, Forrester, Haven (“Cousin Alice”), Mrs. Hogland, Mary Howitt, Kingston, Marryat, May, Macintosh, Optic, Peter Parley, Mayne Reid, and Warner.
To-day, with all its competitors, the old fashioned circulating library with its paper-covered books still flourishes under the well-known names of “Carter’s” and “W. B. Clarke’s,” and their patrons continue to acquire knowledge and entertainment for the modest sum of two cents a day.
This paper was discussed by Mr. William W. Goodwin, who alluded to the Pelham family of booksellers and artists in Boston, and queried whether there was any connection between them and Herbert and Penelope Pelham;262 and by Mr. Henry W. Cunningham, who spoke of the old Boston family of West, several of whom were engaged in the book trade.263
Mr. Goodwin related several anecdotes of Longfellow, suggested by the celebration yesterday of the centenary of his birth, and of Professor Edward T. Channing.
Mr. John Noble, Jr., communicated the Autobiography of Captain Jonathan Chapman (1756–1832) of Charlestown and Boston, who served in the navy during the Revolutionary War and later was in the East India trade. The Autobiography follows.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CAPTAIN JONATHAN CHAPMAN.264
 The following is a brief history of the life and Adventures of Jonathan Chapman from his own hand vizt —
I was born in Charlestown in the Commonwealth of Mass.tts. May 22d. 1756. my Grandfathers Thomas Chapman & Richard Miller were respectable Mechanicks and both Natives of Charlestown; my Father Jonathan Chapman follow’d the Seas and died in Surinam 1765 leaving three Sons & five daughters.265 I am the Oldest Son. at the age of seven years I was put to the Town School (Master Thaddeus Harris266) where I acquired a common Education when a boy I was fond of going on board the vessels and was determind to follow the Sea. Accordingly at the early period of our revolution I was induc’d by a strong partiallity to commence a Seafaring life and in consequence of the Port of Boston being Stopd, I repair’d to Gloucester, and oommeucd my first Voyage May 18th. 1775. on Board the Sloop John, Capn Jessee Harding, bound to Cape Nicola Mole (in the Island of Hispaniola267) at seven dollars Pr. month wages, we were so fortunate as to arrive out safe, and while there receivd the Acct of the Battle on Bunker Hill, and that my Native Town was in Ashes, my mother, Brother & Sisters fled (with some little furniture to the Country), on our return home we fell in with the Island Seguin268 and Run into New Meadows River up to Brunswick, and there left, the Sloop, and took my cloaths on my back, and walk’d to Maiden 150 miles where  I found my Mother, Brother & Sisters at Jonas Greens House I remain’d at home untill Augt 1776 when I embark on Another Voyage with the same Capn in the Brig William, and arrivd safe at Cape Nicola Mole and sold the Cargo at a good profit and loaded the Brig with Molasses Sugar, Coffee, & a considerable quantity of Powder the kegs Put into large Hogsheads and fill’d in with Coffee and mark’d Coffee, on our way home nothing material occurd untill. some time in Jany 1777. being not far from Bermuda it blowing a Gale of wind and a heavy Sea, in the Night time we saw two Ships very near, we bore away and made all sail one of them soon came up with us and fir’d some muskets into us. we being unarm’d; then hove too, a boat came on board and took most of us out that Night; the Capn and remainder of the crew were taken out next morning, this prov’d to be the Solebay of 28 Guns an English ship of war Capn Thomas Symonds269 bouud from N. York to St Augustine to convoy a large Store Ship, at this time they consider’d us British subjects, and stationd us all where they thought proper, and gave us the same allowance as there own men after our arrival at St Augustine it was discover’d that the large Hogsheads mark’d Coffee were full of Kegs of Powder when Capn Symonds came off from St Augustine and call’d Capn Harding and Mr. James Bartlett, the Mate (who was an Englishman) and all our crew on the quarter deck, and gave us a very severe lecture, and told us we all deserv’d to be  hang’d for Attempting to carry Powder to supply the rebels notwithstanding, these threats, he gave the Capn his liberty and in a few days (the mate) Mr. James Bartlett died of the disentyry of which he was sick when he was taken, in a few days sail’d in Solebay for Kingston (in Jamaica) where we arriv’d, safe, the next morning, the Williams crew was order’d to get there things ready to go away in the boat & soon they were all order’d on board the Winchelsea Frigate and I was order’d on board the Gaurd Ship Antelope of 50 Guns for safe keeping, while the Solebay went into dock to Repair, I remaind on board this Ship untill I arrivd at the age of twenty-one Years, soon after this the Solebay came out of dock and I was orderd on board again, where I met with my old mess mates who had made a cruise in the Winchester and taken several prizes, sometime in July 1777, we sail’d from Port Royal and Joind a large fleet of Merchant men and some Frigates at Blewfields Bay in Jamaica Bound to N. York where we Arriv’d with the fleet some time in Augt, After laying here some little time to wood & Water the Ship, we were Order’d to the Capes of Virginia, there to cruise and wait, the arrival of a large fleet of Men of War & Transports with troops, to be landed at the head of Elk.270 to march to Philadelphia, soon after the Fleet Pass’d the Capes of Virginia, the Solebay in co. with the Roe Buck 44. and Emerald & Pearl of 36 Guns were order’d to proceed to the Deleware and to cooperate  with the Army as it Advancd from Elk towards Philadelphia,271 we Accordingly Advancd in co. as far up as Chester, where we lay sometime after the British had taken the City, while we lay here a body of troops were embark’d one morning on the Jersey shore to Attack a Place calld Red Bank, in the Afternoon we Perceivd some movements of some America Galleys above us, and on the first of the Ebb tide we perceivd them to be droping down, and when within one mile & a half they streach’d a Raft across the Channel, and in a moment the Raft was on fire the whole width of the River272 the Galleys immediately began to fire upon us with very heavy Cannon, we all immediately cut our cables and tow’d down the River untill the tide turn’d, we then Anchord, by this time the Rafts had burnt out, a boat was then sent from each Ship with a Graplin & Chain to fasten to one end of the Raft and through it length ways on the Shore the next morning drop’d up with the tide recover’d the Anchors, and landed the troops, at there approach the fort was Blown up by the Americans and the troops were reembark’d and landed again at Chester, soon after this Mud Island Fort273 surrendered, and the British had full possestion of Philadelphia, and the whole fleet from the Chesapeak came into Philadelphia River, and the Solebay  was order’d down to New Castle to Join the Fleet, while laying here with all sails loos’d to dry a signal was suddenly given from the Admiral Ship to hand all sails, I was Stationd on the Maintopsail yard. Some of our men were away in Boats, and we were a little behind the other ships, I was stationd 2d man from the mast larboard side and made great exertions to hand the bunt274 of the sail when one of the Points275 in my hand broke in the gromet hole.276 in consequence of which I fell into the top and fractured the bone of my right leg, — as soon as the sail was handed I was lowerd down from the main top and the Doctor examin’d the wound, and pronounc’d it a flesh wound and dres’t it as such, and in a few days we sail’d with a large fleet, and soon Arrivd at N. York. In the meantime my leg became very Painful and had swollen very much, After my arrival at N York, I was carryd to the Navy Hospital on Long Island, with a certificate from our Doctor that I had an Ulcer sore, and was According order’d into the Surgery ward and without much examination was treated, accordingly for some time, and my leg growing worse I was Put upon half diet, at this time the Hospital was full of Patients, and but few, doctors, for which Reason they took a French doctor who was a prisoner, to Assist in dressing the Surgery patients, one day he was examening my wound and found his probe ketch on the bone, he then enquir’d for the first time how I came by this wound when I told him I had a fall, he was Astonish’d I should have been sent there with a certificate for an Ulcer Sore, when I had fractur’d the main  bone, the Next Morning he calld an examination of Mr. Clifford (the chief Surgeon,) and they laid the wound open and found the bone badly fracturd and a callice had grown, I remaind here, for some months, and for some time went about upon two crutches in the day time to deseive the doctors, looking for an Oppor tunity to make my escape, I found others who were able to Walk, Ancious to run away, sometime in November 1777, a Capn Daniel Squires (a Refugee from Connecticut) bot a French Snow277 (a prize) mounting 20 Guns, he got a protection for fifty men on condition he would Carry Govonor Brown278 & Suit to New Providence, After which he had liberty to go a Cruising; one Willm Gray an Englishman who was in the ward with me went over to N. Yourk privately and sign’d the articles by another Name, and signd my Name as John Miller, and return’d to the Hospital, by this time I found I could walk tolerably well without crutches; the next morning he took some few of my cloaths and his own in a Bag. We then disguis’d ourselves as farmers, and at day light we left the Hospital and proceeded to the Brocklyne ferry, where we found two Hessian Grenidears with brass Caps marching across the head of the Ferryways, this was a moment that my feelings cannot be discrib’d when Gray said to me in there hearing in a Broken tone of voice, Master shall I put the bag in the boat, and we Pas’d on amoung the country People going over, with there things to Market unnotic’d by the Centinels, and weut into the boat and were soon in the rendevous in New York, and from thence on board the Snow call’d the Tarter comanded by Capn Broom.  In a few days every thing was on board and the Top sails hoisted and we were buisey in heaving the Anchor with a light heart, when the lieutenant call’d for some one to heave a Rope to a Boat, when I Jump’d to the Gangway, to give the Rope, which Boat prov’d to be the nionmoiith 74 barge full of men the officer came on the quarter deck and call’d out Avast heaving, the Capn ask him by what Authority he gave that order, he answer’d I have an order to take all your men, I immediately run below and hid my self in the hold, Capn Broom then shew him the Admirals Protection for fifty men, he made no further enquirey and left us, we then got under way and proceeded to sea. and in 15 or 20 days we arrivd at N. Providence and landed the Govonor and then made up a crew of about One Hundred men while we lay in Providence I was continualy on the watch to make my escape, but could find no chance, therefore, I had no Alternative, and must (sorely against my will) go out in the Tartar Accordingly, early in Jany 1778 we saild and stood towards Charlestown.279 and from thence along the coast toward the Capes of Virginia, the officers beginning to be impatient that they had taken no prize, they din’d Altogeather and had a high go, and all drank  freely and the Ship was put under easy sail, in the morning they expected to be in with the land and to take a prize, I was on deck at 12 O’Clock and the officr who had the watch sounded, and the ship continud standing in for the laud and at 3 O’Clock the Ship Struck, but no land was to be seen, the sails were clew’d up and handed and there was great apprehentions We was on Hatteras Shoals, I was made Capn of the Fore top and after handing the Fore top sail I look’d very sharp ahead and discover’d the land, I calld out immediately. The Capn Ask’d who saw it I Answerd John Miller, very soon others lookd sharp and saw it which was a great relief to find we was not on Hatteras Shoals, at day light we found we was on a Sandy shore coverd with pine trees, and about 100 fathom distance, the Sea now began to rise and the wind shiftd to the East & began to Blow fresh and Lookd very thick out, the small boat was now hoisted out, and with two men and a Petty officer was soon on shore to Ascertain where we were, they, let the Boat come broad side too, when she fill’d & builg’d the only boat that remain’d was then order’d out, I immediately went into the boat and hook’d the Fore stay and yard tackles, and was hoisted out in the boat, as soon as the boat was in the water, as many as she would carry with there bags of cloaths came in, and three more men with my self and an officer were order’d to land them, and haul the boat off with a line, which we did  and landed a second time and hauld off, we then ask to be reliev’d which was Granted, we then Put some of our cloaths into bags, and put them in the boat, and vere’d into the surf hove our Bags into the water, then Jump’d out of the Boat and swam on shore, by this time it was 12 O’Clock Noon at the Sea continue’d to rise, and it came on a thick snow Storm, at this time the crew were all landed but the officers they intended to come next time the boat return’d, but when she was Part the way off the warp Parted and she came onto the Beach broad side too fill’d, and builg’d, in this scene of confusion and distress no care had been taken to bring any fire Arms or Provisions nor a sail to cover us from the storm, it seems the officers intended to bring all these when they came, but was prevented by the loss of the boat, seeing this, they went to work immediately to make a Raft with the spare spars, and sett the fore sail so as to drive the ship as high up as they could before she builg’d; a party was now dispatch’d into the woods to seek for a House or some Place of shelter before night, they went some ways and climb’d the highest tree and found we was on a desart Island, they return’d, and we determin’d to go into the woods, and endevour to make some shelter, while we were debateing what to do, we saw two men with Guns comeing out of the woods, which prov’d to be a Mr. Jves & his Son; as was there usual custom in a snow storm they had come from the Main, had brot some Geese to stake down to toll others, and they took a walk around the Beach, they had a small house in the woods, and those that  were able went with them to the House and with there fire Arms we soon made up a good fire and dried our cloaths, and were very soon comfortable, we found two of our Number were missing, and in the morning the Gale had abated, we went down to the shore on the way we found two men froze to death and the Vessel drove within one hundred feet of the Shore, so that the officers all landed with the Raft, Capn Broom then sent an officer to the Main in Mr. Jvea canoe and gave himself and Crew up to Coll Jarvis as Shipwrec’t Englishmen. he immediately came over with a large Gundelow and carry’d us to his House, where he treated us with great hospitality for some days, and then sent two wagons and a Guide to conduct us to Portsmouth,280 on our Arrival there we were all put under Guard and conducted to the Fort and kept in close confinement as Prisoners of War, After being in confinement some days One of my companions (Wm McMullen belonging to Philadelphia) and my self Inform’d the Commanding officer that we were Americans had been taken and detain’d, and requested to have our liberty, he reply’d, we might have our liberty on condition we would enter into the Navy for three years we urgd the hardship of this condition, and told him our true story, but without any effect, and we were still kept confin’d in the guard House in the Fort, in a few days After a Waggon came, and a gaurd of 20 men & took what little cloathing we had left and some smoak’d meat & flouer and ruarch’d us all off about 70 Men. (here the Officers were all parol’d, and did not march with us)  After Marching about seventy Miles we came to Suffolk Court House w[h]ere we were deliver’d to a guard of the Militia of that County281 and march’d about seventy miles further into the Country, where there was a County Goal and a Number of English prisoners confind within the limits, we were Put into several small out houses and had the liberty of the Goal yard, with straw for our beds and ¾ ℔ of smok’d meat and ¾ ℔ flour for our daily allowance and nothing more, we found our Keeper Coll Mosely282 a very humane man, and he treated all those that behav’d well with great Kindness, we soon found he was a member of the Legislator, which was soon to Assemble I gave him a true Account of my situation, with some other Americans and requested him to use his Influence to obtain our liberty nearly all the Seamen of our crew were desireous of staying in America, and a Number were Americans that had been captur’d, and all urg’d him to give them liberty, he Accordingly obtain’d a Release for the whole crew of the Tartar and he gave us all a Pass showing our discharge, I think the date was some time in Feby 1778. I think this Goal was in Chesterfield County in Virginia, a considerable distance from Richmond for which Place in Co with Wm McMullen of Philadelphia we set out, with light hearts and with but little in our Pockets, on our Arrival at Richmond having no money we obtaind permission to work for our Passage down the James River to Portsmouth, we arrivd there in the evening & haul’d in allonside a fine Schooner and enquird of the first man I saw if there was any Vessel belonging  to Boston, he reply’d there was a Number of Boston men here for both our mates and most of the crew left Boston about ten days since and were taken and set on shore on Cape Henry I then made myself know to Mr Snow (the 1st mate) who informd me that he boarded with my Mother in Boston and that she and the family were all well, I found among the Crew James Butler who had sail’d with my Brother Richard which was the first information I had that he had been to Sea, I had determin’d when I got my liberty to go to Boston if I was oblidg’d to beg my way, but I was perswaded to enter on board this fine Pilot boat call’d the Willing Maid and Commanded by Capn Talbot, Bound to St Cruze with a Cargo of Tobacco. she was a Letter of Mark. mounting four Guns with small Arms and eighteen men and was a very fast sailer; a Number of British Cruizers were then in and about the Capes, and we were so fortunate of a dark night to Pass them all, and get to Sea, Nothing material occur’d untill the third day out, when we had a heavy Gale and a very high cross sea, in the Gulf stream we carryd away the Main mast close to the deck, and lost the mast and spars with all the sails and Riggin, and was very apprehensive we should loose the Foremast, but with great exertions we secur’d it, in doing which I was so unfortunate as to fracture the bone of my leg in the same Place it was fractur’d on board the Solebay as I have before related: with some spare Spars & Sails they got up a Jury Main Mast and in eighteen days we arrivd safe at the Island St Cruiz; Capn Talbort treated me with great kindness  and sent a Docr to dress my leg who on examination Asur’d me that he could cure me without the loss of my leg which I had fear’d from the length of time since it was fractur’d, would be my misfortune, After being here some few days the Capn inform’d me that he had sold the Vessel and had procurd a Passage for me and part of the crew on board a pilot Boat Capn Stevens bound to Rapahanock River in Virginia w[h]ere we arrivd safe in Nine days, on entering the Chesapeak Bay we had a very narrow escape from Capture by an English schooner, the darkness of the night and a good Pilot save’d us — the next day my friend James Butler and others took passage in a small schooner, to the head of Elk. there, as I was not able to Walk I took passage in a Waggon to Christian Creek, & from there took Passage in a sloop for Philadelphia, here I found my old Shipmate Wm McMullen and stay’d at his mothers House two days, then took Passage in a sloop for Trenton, there I met one James Chapman (a Stranger to me) who for my Name sake gave me a Passage in his Waggon to a Place call’d Smiths Clove w[h]ere lay a Part of the Army, here I purchas’d a small Horse saddle & Bridle, and in Co with James Butler (who was determin’d not to leave me) we began our Journey towards Boston, by this time I was able with a crutch to walk some distance say half a mile at one time, so that we came on slowly by takeing turns to Ride and tie, our Wages in the Schooner Willing Maid before inention’d was eighty dollars pr month in Paper money, and forty dollars in hard mouey in St Cruize  with prudent management of our money and some times haveiug a supper & lodging given us, our money lasted us to Boston where we sold Horse Saddle & Bridle, we then had sixteen dollars left and the cloaths we stood in, and each one spare shirt, this I think was sometime in the Summer of 1779. by this time I could Walk about with a cane, at this time I was taught navigation by Master John Leach.283 After having learnd Navigation, I was determin’d to go a privateering and According Ship’d as Masters mate on Board the Ship Renown mounting fourteen Guns and one hundred men Commanded by Capn John Adamson. The Names of the Officers were as follows:
1777 Aug. 25
2d do do
1 prize Master
1 Chief Carpenter
the other officers Names not recollected, we saild from  Boston early in the month of Augt 1779 in Company with the Brig Terrible of sixteen Guns Commanded by Capn Connely. She was own’d and fitted out at Marblehead we had under our convoy seven transports with Jacksons284 Regiment on Board to reinforce our Army then besieghing the British Fort at Penobscot285 off Newbury Port we met a dispatch boat that informd us that our Army had retreated, and all our Ships was run ou Shore and burnt, Sir George Collier286 having enter’d the River, with a line of Battle Ship and a Number of Frigates, left them no other Alternative287 we then Proceeded to Portsmouth, there the troops were landed and they march’d to Casco Bay (now calld Portland) here we lay for some days, and increas’d our crew with some of the men that belonged to the Ships that had been destroy’d at Penobscot, we then sail’d on a Cruize on the Banks of Newfoundland for ten weeks and return’d to Marbelhead without takeing a prize; After being at home some time, I ship’d as first officer of a Snow Capn Samuel Davis, we was a letter of Mark mounting four Guns & twenty men. She made a Voyage to Cape Francois in the Island of St Domingo and came on the coast in the hard Winter 1780 we fell in on the back of Cape Codd off Eastham when a boat came off and inform’d us that every harbour in Boston bay was frozen up, therefore we hove up our Anchor and Run for Chatham Harbour  in going in we struck on the south breaker and lay two tides on lighting the Vessel we got off and found the Vessel very much Injured and was very leakey, We hauld on Shore and stopd the leaks took in the Cargo again, and the next course of high tides we left Chatham and next day arrivd safe in Boston, in March 1780 I sail’d 2d Lieutueant of a fine Brig Peercd for eighteen Guns and mounted twelve Guns Capn Edward Tyler belonging to Thomas Eussell made a safe Voyage to Martinico, arrivd in June, saild again in a Short time in the same Brig Capn Isaac Smith as 2n officer Bound to Martinico. After being out about ten days we fell in with the Schooner Hope, Capn McNiel mounting ten Guns from Liver Pool bound to Charleston, which we capturd I was Put on board as prize master, and brought the prize into Boston, in August 1780,1 saild in this same schooner as 1st officer with Capn Nathaniel Goodwin for Cadiz off the Western Islands we captur’d a Brig loaded with Fish from Newfoundland bound to Lisbon, after makeing Cape St. Marys we fell in with a large Lugger calld the Spitfire of Plymouth of 18 Nine Pounders and one Hundred men Capn Daniel Thompson who took us and our prize. this was a sad misfortune for the Next day we should have been in Cadiz After cruizing two or three days he Put us all ou board a Neutral Vessel and sent us into Cadiz, there Capn Goodwin bought a small Brig and loaded her with salt and fruit in sixty days Passage we arrivd in Boston, I brought home in this Brig forty bushels of salt, and some fruit, which was all I  sav’d when taken by the Spitfire, which was in Gold quilted into the collar of a shirt which I always kept handy to put on in case of Capture, soon after hauling into [t]he wharf and beginning to discharge the Cargo, Capn John Harding of Chatham came alongside and ask’d if I had any salt to sell I told him I had forty bushels for which he offer’d me eighty dollars pr Bushel, having just arrivd I knew nothing of the great depreciation and thought this a great Price and sold him the salt and took the Paper money, I mention this circumstance so Purticular Just to show that what I saved from the enemy I lost by this transaction for in a few days after, the whole money would not bye one bushel of salt, soon after this I sail’d with Capn Nath’l Goodwin again in the Ship Lively Pierc’d for 20 Guns & mounted 12 six Pounders and thirty men, we went from Boston to Philadelphia from thence to Havana, from thence to Cadiz from thence to Boston and made a very Profitable Voyage we then fited out again bound to Havana and sail’d in Co with the Ship Grand Monarck Capn Coates mounting 14 Guns & Forty men. we saild sometime in March 1782 and the next day in the morning a large Ship gave us chase. we seperated from our consort and in the Afternoon she came up with us, after a Runing fight during the day, we found as she was far superior in force we must surrender this prov’d to be the pandora (an English Man of war) mounting 24 Nine Pounders & 150 Men Commanded by Capn John English, who carry’d us to Halifax and put us all on board a Prison Ship exceping the Capn, and a Boy by Name James Henly288 who was brother in law to  Thomas Russell who was the owner of the Ship & Cargo they were paroll’d, at this time the Ship lay near the town and a Sargents Guard of Marines from the Chatham 50 Gun Ship was guard to the Prison Ship, which guard was releiv’d by a Sargents guard from Georges Island Fort289 who were orderd (for fear of desertions with the prisoners) on board a Schooner provided for that Purpose and was Anchor’d near the Ship, at this time the Marster intendant at the dock yard sent an officer & men to move the Ship & Schooner, down to Georges Island, but It took all the day to move the Ship, the schooner remain’d at Anchor opposite the Town, about sunset the Ship was anchor’d near the Fort on Georges island and the dock yard men all went on shore in a short time an officer from the Fort came alongside and call’d for the Sargent, pray Sir said he was you sent on Board that ship as a guard, he answer’d no Sir I was order’d on board the schooner, and I releivd the Chathams Marines here, and they had not time to move the schooner and the Capn request’d we would stay here untill the morning, the officer reply’d in a very stern voice shaking his cane Sir do you go w[h]ere you were order’d, immediately the sargent was then very much alarm’d on finding he had disobey’d his orders, and he orderd the whole Guard into the boat immediately, Capn Smith who was Captain of the prison ship requested them to remain untill he could send the boat on shore and inform the Commissary of prisoners that  in consequence of those orders the Ship and prisoners would be left without a guard, as soon as the boat return’d from this message the whole guard went into the Boat and were carry’d on board the Schooner which lay at Anchor opposite the town seeing this a favorable opportunity we made arrangements to make our escape accordingly when the Boat return’d I heard the Capn order the boatmen to get there suppers then take there Blankets and go up to the schooner and there remain with the guard all Night; our Plan was to take the boat and confine the Capn & five Boat men and the Capn Clerk & servant in the Hole of the Ship, accordingly at my signal (which was to seize the Capn) six men took Possestion of the Boat, the men were very much Alarm’d, and beg’d that they would not hurt them, I orderd the men out of the boat and put them in the Ships hold, I then went into the round house and requested Capn Smith to deliver me some provisions and stores, for which I Paid him, and all the prisoners had prepar’d themselves with there bags of Cloaths to go into the boat as soon as it became dark, in a very short time after, I saw two boats coming from the Fort with four Soldiers and a Sargent in each Boat, I then Personated the Capn of the Ship and went to the gangway and haild with an audable voice the first boat, and ask’d if they were coming on board, they answer’d yes, I then orderd them to come one at a time, the first boat came along side and the seargent came up the Gangway, I said to him with an awdebal voice what is your will my man, he then ask if the gaurd was on board. I answer’d him No, they are on board the Schooner, he then return’d  into the boat and told the sargent in the other Boat that the Guard was on board the schooner, laying abrestof the Town they immediately Puld away for the schooner, which lay at about one and a half miles distance, I then went into the round House and told Capn Smith that he must go into the hold with his men, for we must escape before the boats return’d with the guard, he was very loath to go untill I told him if he did not go immediately I must order him to be put down by force, I went my self to see him secure’d and gave him a Lanthorn with a light and laid on the hatches and Pil’d on some wood that lay near and order’d our men to take my bag of cloaths and the provisons and stores and put them into the boat, when I came on deck I found the boat full, and the boats Painter (which was the only rope there was) full of men sliping down into the boat, so that I could not get into the Boat that way. I then orderd them to put an oar on the Gunnel of the Ship. I Jump’d onto it and slid down and order’d them forward and to cut the Boats Painter and push of the Boat, as there was more men than the boat could carry if I had not thought of this, they would have sunk the boat along side the ship and probably most of us would have been drown’d, I told those that remain’d on board the Ship to Keep quiet and I would return and take them out. we then cut some stockings in two and muffled the Oars  and Kept in the wake of the Ship and pul’d for the Dartmouth shore.290 as near as I could count there was about forty men & boys in the Boat, she was so heavy & deep loaded that it took up more time than I expected to get to the shore, and as the guard would soon return on board I concluded in my own mind not to return, therefore as soon as the Boat struck the shore I told the men to Jump out, in the mean time I had Wisper’d to those of our own officers & men that was near me to stick to the boat, and when there was twelve men and two boys left, I order’d the boat shov’d off I then told them that was on shore, that It would not be safe to return, therefore they must proceed on about a mile where we saw some fishing boats laying and must shift for themselves, as it had now became dark we concluded we could not render them any further assistance, therefore consider’d what course we should take, for our own safety and we soon determin’d that our only chance was to put to sea, Accordingly, we saw Cape Sambro291 light House which was about Ten miles off, and row’d for it. the twelve men including myself made three spells at the Oars, and the two boys took turns to steer, after we were some distance from Georges Island we examin’d  our stores and found we had only one Piece of raw salt Pork and two loaves of Bread but no Water nor spirits, how we could subsist or what was to become of us, did not as yet give us much aneiety, it was sometime in the month of April 1782, it was a fine starlight Night and but little wind and smoth sea so that by day light we was close to the light House at the dawn of day we saw a small sail very near us, by this time we were all very much fatigu’d in rowing all Night, and stop’d rowing to consult what we should do, if this should prove to be an arm’d Vessel; all the weapons we had was an ax, the boats tiller, and a scoop Shovel with a strait handle which they us’d to heave water out of the boat, with these weapons only we determind to board this Vessel, concluding there would be but few on deck, and if we were so fortunate as to get on board, for every man to take his man and conquer him or die. Accordingly we muffel’d our Oars and Pull’d towards him, and as we approac’d we found she was a small schooner, we soon boarded her and found but two men on board, she was from Liverpool292  bound to Halifax loaded with lumber, & Hay on deck, the Wind was then at East, we then dropd our boat astern and stood to the westward, we found he had but little provisions and a small keg of Water, which was a very timely refreshment, for we had row’d the whole Night without any water; in a short time after, we made another small sail ahead (to the westward) we stood for her and soon came up with her as she was standing in for the Light house. I left three men & two boys on Board the schooner, and with eight men and my self we boarded this second schooner She was from Prospect293 bound to Halifax, loaded with lumber we took Possestion of her also and Stood along to the westward a short time after sunrise we saw another small Vessell with two masts some distance to the southwest, we immediate stood for her, which gave him some alarm, I found I could not gain on him with the schooner & boat in towe. I therefore man’d the boat and pursu’d him. the wind began to freshen and I found I gain’d on him but very slow. I hail’d him and requested him to heave too but he took no notice. I then took up the strait handle’d shovel, and levelling it at him told him if he did not heave too I should fire iuto him he immediately hove too and we row’d aloug side and took Possestion, this boat was from Malagash.294 loaded with potatoes in bulk, one Barrel of Souer Grout, and one Barrel of Eggs, we then boare away for Boston with our three prizes, and found the last boat was the fastest sailor, and we conclude’d to keep her  because she was small and handy and a quick sailer and we could row when it was calm, and land in the woods, and should have a much better chance of escape for we were very certain we should be Persu’d immediately, Accordingly at about noon (we being then off Prospect Harbour) we let the other two schooners go, and in the Afternoon we Put most of the potatoes into our Boat, and Put the two men into her and stood in towards the land and let them go for which they were very thankful, they arriv’d safe on shore and told there story, None of them had any cause to complain of any ill treatment, soon after this the wind freshen’d and we put into La’have295 made a fire, hauld the boat up and lay there by the fire untill morning,
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In runing into this harbour of LaHave it was very thick and rainy and blew very fresh. I was standing on the boats cuddy holding by the fore mast with my left arm. going 4 or 5 Knots we struck a sunken Rock with so much violence as to knock me overboard and I lodg’d on the Rock which was very steep, so that I only had time to reach my arms to the Boat when she slip’d off the Rock into deep water and I was hauld into the Boat very much exhausted with the shock & cold: having been expos’d to rain all day we soon after discover’d the beach, ran in and hauld the Boat ashore, made a fire and lay there allnight. in the morning we found our boat had heel’d off and was full of water, we did not then discover that our boat had sustaind any Injury by striking the Rock I observ’d the boat had a false Keel on, which, help’d her sailing by the wind, and was the cause of her heeling off and filling with water,
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we then got under way and kept along shore, and landed at Night, we contiuu’d on from day to day untill we got to Cape Pursue, there we fouud some inhabitants from Cape Codd who treated us with great kindness, after staying there some days four of our companions left us, these inhabitants poiuted out to us the danger and hazard of Crossing the Bay of Fuudy in an open Boat notwithstanding which eight men & two boys of us determin’d to make the Attempt, and after being all ready we left Cape Pursue in the Afternoon with a light breeze from the south and we shaped a course for Mount desert the weather was mild and the sea smooth so that we were able to row & sail all Night, the next day it became Foggy, and  about Noon we heard the rote of the Shore but saw no land, we contiuu’d standing on and in the After Noon we made the land, we contiuu’d coasting along shore untill we saw a smooth Beach where we landed made a fire, set a watch and some of us went to sleep, and after a while releiv’d the others and let them go to sleep, in the morning the weather was mild & clear, we got something to eat and got under way and
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to avoid the small cruisers out of Bagaduce we steerd for the Island Mentinicus,296 and went in for a Harbour, we there went to the House of Mr Hall who treated us with kindness & Hospitality and gave us some provisions and would not take any Pay; he informd me that one Lenard (a Reefugee) left there that morning, in a small privateer, call’d a Shaving Mill297 — who would have taken and carry’d us all into Bagaduce as prisoners, my punishment would no doubt have been severe and cruel as I was the Principal and the leader. Probably should have been sent to England in Irons, for rising on the prison ship and confining the Capn with his men in the hole we left Mantinicus early in the Morning with a fine wind from the South and going very fast, all at once we saw the false keel astern which gave us some alarm but we found the boat made no water, and concluded this was fastened on with trunnels, which were partly broken when we struck the rock, and now sailing fast and a quick motion, had caus’d the false keel to come off the main keel we found was not injur’d.
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proceeded along shore, from day to day untill we arrivd safe at Boston, which I think was on the seventeenth day after leaving Halifax; previous to this Capn N. Goodwin had arrivd in a Cartrel and had given an Account of the transactions at Halifax, the Night of our departure and as I expected the guard soon return’d and found the Capn of the prison Ship and all his men in the hold as we left them; the Prisoners all in fear and tremblen for what would be there Punishment; the Boats were sent to the Fort to give the Alarm, and Capn Goodwin inform’d me the town was in great alarm the whole night, for the story was, that the prisoners had landed, and would set fire to the Town; the Next morning they landed a Company of soldiers at Darthmouthside, who pursu’d our comrades and before they could find a Vessel to get of, they were all taken and carry’d back; and some of them never return’d, home.  After being at home some time, we sold our boat (to Capn John Cathcart who then commanded a state Ship call’d the Tartar of 20 Guns) for a dispatch boat & Tender and divided the Neat proceds equaly with my comrades; sometime in Octr. 1782 I ship’d with Capn John Leach as 1st Officer on Board the Ship St. Marys Packet mounting twelve Carronades 18 Pounders, and thirty men, this was a Ship of four Hundred Tons, taken from the English loaded with Sugar, had a tier of Ports and a round house, we sail’d from Boston in co with Capn Howland298 in a Brig both belonging to Broom & Livingstone, loaded with Masts & Spars bound to Cape Francois in Hispaniola, the Brig had no Guns and was under our convoy; After being at Sea about twenty days at day light we discover’d a Brig Astern, and found she came up with us very fast, and soon found she was Arm’d, we then made a sigual for Capn Howland to go ahead, and we prepar’d for Auction, she was very soon up with us and gave us a Gun & hoisted his Coulours, we immediately fir’d a Gun and hoisted our Colours, she then Rang’d up under our Larboard quarter and gave us his broad side without any considerable damage, we concluded to make a runing fight for we saw he had Nine Ports of a side and was full of men, After loading again he dropt’d his foresail and rang’d up Nearer, and gave us another broad side, we then began the auction, and continud fireing our larboard Guns, for some time, he disabld one of our 18 Pounders  and did us some other damage, we hull’d him several times and shot away his Colours, he then engagd us on the Starboard side for some time, finding we would not Yeild he made all sail for our consort, and before we could get up he took and man’d her, and haul’d his wind and left us; the next day we fell in with the State Ship Tartar Capn John Cathcart and informd him of all that had taken Place, he went immediately in Persuit of the Enemy, but he did not come up with them and we heard afterward that he convoyd his prize safe into Bermuda Nothing material occur’d after this, and after a long Passage we arrivd safe in Cape Francois, and sold our Cargo for a good Profit, at this time the French & Spaniards had form’d a plan for the Capture of Jamaica and accordingly Don Galves299 the Spanish General had embark’d with ten Thousand men at Havana with a large Fleet of men of War; and had arrivd at the Cap and was waiting for Count De Grass with his fleet to Join and go down in one body, our ship was taken into the Transport service and loaded with ordinance Stores, to proceed with the fleet, after being all ready and waiting for some time, information was rec’d that Rodney had overtaken De Grass to windward300 and that he had suffer’d great loss. and some of the scatter’d Ships arrivd at the Cape, in consequence of this fatal disaster, the expedition was abandond, and we lay in Cape Francois untill the General Peace in May 1783  As soon as this Joyful News Arriv’d we landed all the Ordinance Stores, and took in, some Cargo and saild for Alexandria in Virginia, where we arrivd safe sometime in July dischard the Cargo, and then took in five hundred Hogsheads of Tobacco; while at this Place I was severely Attack’d with the Fever and Ague, which continud untill I got to sea we left the Capes of Virginia sometime in November bound to Nantz in France, we had a very long and Tempestuous Passage, and finally Arriv’d in Port L Orient in December After laying here a few days we were orderd to London we sail’d from hence with a fine wind from N.E. and after geting up Channel to Dungeness we had a severe Gale from the N W. and narrowly eseapd being lost in Boulougn Bay but After a very tedious Passage we Arrivd safe in the River Thames and Moord at Depford, where we discharg’d our Cargo; and belaid the Ship. and saild for Bristol, we met with no Accident on this Passage and arriv’d safe where we loaded the Ship for Boston, and after a tedious Passage of fifty six days arrived safe, and discharg’d the Cargo in Boston After being at home a short time I saild as Master for the first time in the Brig Ann belonging to Joseph Blake & Benjn Williams I went from Boston to New Providence and from thence to Charleston So Carolina, from thence to Kingston in Jamaica, from thence to Savan La Mer301 in the same Island and from thence  to Boston, then saild in the same brig for Savan La Mar and frome thence to Charleston were I sold the Cargo and the Brig and took Passage with Capn John Harding of Chatham, in Cape Cod and there took a Horse and rode to Boston with the proceeds of my Cargo in Gold, in [ . . . ]302 1785 I was Marry’d to Abigail Devens303 the third Daughter of Richard Devens Esqr of Charlestown and when I return’d from this Voyage I found my wife had brot me a fine Son, [ . . . ]304 June 25, 1786, I saild in the Schooner Industry belonging to Capn Brooks for Fyal and St Georges where I sold my Cargo and return’d to Boston with a Cargo of Wine, and when I returnd Sepr 7th I found my son dead in the House. he was bury’d the next day, this was a very sorrowful disappointment to me which was very hard to bear, but in due time we were Gratify’d and consold by the Pleasing hope and expectation, of having our loss made up, sometime in Novr 1787 I saild in the Schooner Sally belonging to Matthew Bridge for St Croix, and return’d in Jany 1788. and then made a second Voyage, during my Absence my only Brother Richard died of a Consumtion and was bury’d from my House in Charlestown, I then went a Voyage in a schooner charter’d by Thos Russell to St Augustine and Charlestown and back to Boston then in a Sloop charterd by him to the Island of Trinadad and home, in July 22d 1788 my wife died and our infant daughter the next day, they were burry’d in one Grave in Charlestown.  I continud in the Wt India trade untill May 29th 1789. I then saild as first officer of the Ship Hercules 600 Tons Commanded by Capn patrick Fletcher bound to India this Ship mounted eight Guns six Pounders and forty five men all included, the Ship Nathaniel & Brig Generous Friends were our consorts and bound on the same Voyage, they were all fitted out by Thomas Russell on Acct of the House of Lane, Son & Frazier of London, we according proceeded in Co from Boston to Madeira, there landed a Part of our Cargo and took in some wine, from thence we saild in Co to Tenerief, found we could make no trade, and proceeding in Co to St Jago one of the Cape de Verd Islands, there we all arriv’d safe and lay there some days and were employd in wooding & Watering, and sometime in August 7 1789 we sail’d in Co for the Cape of Good Hope, and after a long and tedious Passage November 27 we all arriv’d safe at the Cape Good Hope there we disposd of some Part of our Cargo, took in wood & Water and other refreshments, we saild in Co for Bombay December 12th at this Period of the World these Voyages were considered a Great undertaking, and it was the first Voyage of every officer in the three Ships, therefore we Proceeded slowly and with Great caution, and went the Great route (so call’d) and made the Islands St Paul & Amsterdam305 Jany 24 and from thence proceeded down to the Equator, cross’d it in the Longetude of 88 or 90 degrees East from London, Feby 23 d we then met with light & Variable winds, and on March 22 made the  Island Ceylon, we proceeded on toward Bombay and after Passing the south Point of Ceylon we found a strong current to the NEt by reason of which we fell in with the land to the Eastward of Cape Comorin306 and was oblidg’d to Anchor and sent a Boat on shore to a Dutch settlement call’d Manapa,307 here we Procurd some frish Provisions Vegetable, and Water, and got a Pilot to carry us to Anjango Cochin308 w[h]ere we arrivd April 7th and landed our Pilot, continud Beating up the coast with land & Sea breezes anchoring twice in 24 hours, and on the 10th Anchord in Cochin Road, sent the long boat for wood & Water and on the 13th we got under way in Co with the Ship Nathaniel & Brig Generous Friends (our consorts) and continu’d beating up the coast untill the 18th when we Anchord in Tellecherry309 (an English settlement) here three of our Sea men Enter’d on Board the Phaenix Frigate, they were British subjects, there wages was demanded & paid, sent our long boat for Water, on the 20th got under way, and continu’d beating up the coast found a strong current the whole time seting to the southward, and on May 6th we fell in with a Company Cruiser call’d the Shark mounting 12 Guns, this Vessel saild very fast and Mr Moore (our supercargo was anceous to get to Bombay and he took the Steward with him and went on Board the Shark, then Pidgeon Island bore N E distance 6 or 7 leagues, we continud beating up the coast, and on the 31st of May we arrivd safe and Anchor’d in Bombay, it is now one year since we left Boston, and it is very Proper to give some reasons why we were so uncommonly long in making this Passage in the first Place, all the officers of all three of the Ships were  ou there first Voyage to India, and the Ships were all slow Sailors, and not copperd, and being consorted, oblidg’d to sail by signals in the Night caus’d great delay, stoping at so many Places, and commencing the Voyage at an improper season, which brought us on the coast of India in bad season, and the Ships all becoming so foul they would not sail nor Steer in light winds, add to all this a constand Strong current setting to the southward and light & Variable winds, our Stores almost all expended and the crew almost wore out with fatigue in Anchoring twice in 24 Hours, and some of them sick, and three of our stoutest men had left us, all these curcumstances combind seems to me sufficient reasons for our uncommon long Passage Bombay is a considrable large Town, has a large dry dock and is a good harbour, our Cargoes was principaly large masts and Spars, soon found they would not sell here, and on the 15 June we got under way bound to Calcutta in Co with our Consorts, and on the 24th we made the Island Ceylon, continud along in sight of the South End of the Island untill Night when we took our departure and on the 4th July Arrivd at Calcutta there the three Ships & Cargoes were sold, and Alexander Moore our Supra Cargo Charterd the Ship Sophia Capn Jacob Stout, and Graham & Mobarys House bot the Brig Generous Friends and gave me the Command of her, and loaded her with Freight & Passengers for the Isle of France310 discharging  the Hercules and fiting out and Coppering, & loading the Generous Friends, detaind me in Calcutta untill Decr 5th 1790, being then clear of the sand heads, I dischargd the pilot and on Jany 15th 1791 I Arrivd safe at Port Louis in the Isle of France, here we lay untill Feby 14th when I left the Isle of France and on the 15th March arrivd safe at the Cape Good Hope where I found the Sophia waiting my arrival here we lay untill the 9th of April, then saild in Co bound on a tradeing Voyage on the Coast of Africa, on the 19th I made Cape Negro in Latd 15.°51 South, continud sailing along shore and the 23d we Anchord in St Phillips a Portugeze settlement but was not permitted to trade continud along Shore untill the 29th when we Anchord in St Pauls Loango311 another Pourtugeze settlement, this is the Capitol of the Pourtugeze settlement on this Coast and is a very hansome Town and a fine safe harbour here we lay untill May 5th trying to make trade but could get no Permission, exceping we would take slaves in payment, which was the Principal trade from hence to Brazils, they inform’d us that after there slaves are collectd they send the Priests amoung them and they convert them to the Roman Catholick religion then they clothe them decently, put a String of beads round there Necks with a Cross attachd to them, they then put them on board a Vessel and send a Number of young Preists with them, they instill into there minds they are going to a fine Country where they will be more happy, they are not confind but go freely and in 15 or 20 days Passage they arrive at Braziles and there they are sent into slavery forever —  May 5th 1781312 at 5 pm we saild from St Paul Loango and continud our course along the Coast untill the 9th when we saw three ships at Anchor, they prove! to be French Ships laying in Loango Bay313 collecting slaves, this Bay lays in Lattd 4.°40m Minutes South and Lougd 11.58 East from London, by a good Lunar Observation we got under way in the morning and proceeded along the Coast untill the 16th when we anchord at Cape Lopaz in Lattd 0.°18 North here the King whose Name was Mamyumbo came of and settled the Palerver for trade and gave us permission to Wood & Water we lay here untill the 26th when Mr. Moore our Supr Cargo came on board and we got under way and Run down the coast and Run some distance up the River Gabon, where we found Capn Brown in an English Ship belonging to the House of Calverts in London, moor’d and dismantled with a house over her, laying for a three Years Station to collect Slaves, he had ten small Copper bottom boats, constantly employd in going up the Rivers and returning with slaves, say men, Women & Children, these boats were all man’d by Natives who Put on Board the Ship Hostages for the Goods & Boats, and if they do not return with the boats there hostages are slaves, every three months a ship arrives from England brings out a supply of Goods takes the Slaves he has collectd to the Wt Indies, in consequence of this regular supply we could not trade with him  here we collectd some Wax & some Gum Copal some Goats, & Vegetables and on the 22d June we arrivd again at Cape Lopax & Joiud our Consort, on the 23d we got under way bound to the Gold Coast, on the 30th we made the land and saw a Ship at Anchor in Baraco Roads, found this Ship was commanded by Capn Comrie collecting slaves, here we lay untill July 2d then got under way and run down to Accra Mr Moore the Supr Cargo went on Shore, and came on board next Morning, the 4th Govonor Roberts314 came on Board the Sophia and we all din’d togeather, at Night he returnd, on the 6th Mr Moore was taken very sick and a fever set in which continud to Increase untill the 12th at 5 p m when he died, and at 10 next morning we carryd him on shore and bury’d him at the North Corner of the English Fort at Accara315 each Vessel fir’d seven Guns, this Place lays in Latd 5.°28m North and Longitude 00.°34 West from London, Mr. Joseph Russell who now became Supr Cargo orderd me to get ready to sail the Next morning Accordingly at 5 am on the 14th we got under way in Co with the Sophia and continud beating up the coast untill the 20th when we anchord of Almira,316 Fort & Town bearing NNW about two miles distance in ten fathoms, here we lay untill the 26th and made some trade with the Natives and some with the shiping, then got under way and dropd down to Cape Coast, here we made some trade and procurd some Water and Augt 3d we got under way and run down to Annamaboo317 here we made some trade with the Ships and on 7th we got under way and run down to Bercoe. here we made some trade with the Govonor, and on the 12th of Augt we got under  way in Co with the Sophia, with orders from Mr Russell to proceed without delay to Martinico, the Sophia bound to Ostend and on the 13th at 5 pm we weight and stood to Southward by the wind and on the 16th we lost sight of Sophia and on the 18th at 9 am saw the Island St Thomas’s bearing from East to SEast dist- about 7 Leagues, at 4 PM on the 19th we was within 9 or 10 Miles of the Island which is high land from which I take my departure it Laying on the Equator in 8°.30 East from London we continud our Passage without any remarkable occurrence untill Oct’ 6 when we made the Island Dominico bearing West distance 4 or 5 Leagues, and on the 8th at 5 pm came to an Anchor in St Peirs in the Island of Martinico, here we fill’d up our water casks and on the 12th at 5 p m we saild for St Estatia318 and the next day Anchor’d in the Roads, here I dispos’d of a considerable quantity of India Goods for cash which detaind us untill November 13th when I sail’d from St Estatia bound to Boston, the next day the Island Sambrero319 bore s E b S from which I take my departure it laying in Latd 18°.38m North & Longd 63°.26m West from London nothing purticular occuri’d uutill Novr 28th at Meredian when I Anchord in Holmes Hole in Marthas Vineyard Island, here we lay until Decr 3d then got uuder way with a favorable wind and the next day arriv’d safe in Boston Harbour it being Decr 4th 1791, having been absent two years six months and six days, this prov’d an unfortunate Voyage for the owners and, yielded but a small profit to the officers but I gain’d experience which soon gave me other employ in  the India trade which provd to be very profitable, in which trade I made, what I considerd a very hansome property, After being at home some months, a Number of Gentlemen proposd to me to be concernd in a Voyage to Calcutta, to which I agreed and accordingly contractd, with Loriug & Sampson, to build a Ship at Situate which we call’d the Adventure, and on the 1st day of March 1793 I saild from Boston bound to Madrass & Calcutta, this ship was not Copperd I therefore had a very long & tedious passage of five months, & six days when I made the Island Ceylon, and by reason of light winds, Calms and a strong currt setting to the southward at the rate of forty miles a day I did not arrive at Madrass untill Augt 23d, I lay in Madrass Roads uutill the 4th of Sepr and sold a Part of my Cargo, and sild on that day for Calcutta where I arrivd safe on the 18th and moord Ship near the Town, here I lay disposing of my Cargo and procuring a Cargo of sugar salt Peter & Peice Goods untill the 28th of Decr when I left Town and on the 3d Jany 1794 dischargd the Pilot bound to Boston, nothing Material occurd during this Passage, but in consequence of the Ships not being Copperd she became very foul, and on the 4th of June 1794 I arrivd safe in Boston, having been on this Voyage one year three months & four days, this was a very good Voyage and neated the owners seventy two pr cr profits, I was a small part owner which with my commissions was to me a very profitable Voyage, After being on Shore for some time, some of the same Company Joind with me, and we purchas’d a Ship of three hundred & forty Tons,320 on the stocks at Durham in N. Hampshire and on the 19th Feby 1795 I saild from Boston bound to Madrass with a Valuable Cargo of $150000 dollars chiefly in Specia. on the 23d of March I saw the Island Fogo,321 and the 7th of April I cros’d the Equator in the Longetude of 18°.25m West, on the 23d being in Latd 22.24m South  and Lorigd 24°.58m West fell in with the Ship Recovery Capn George G. Smith belonging to Elias H Derby of Salem, from Madeira bound to Madrass, this was a Copper bottom Ship and a very fast sailer 1 had a packet of letters, for him, he came on bourd in the Morning and took breakfast, and took his letters and departed, as his ship outsail’d me so very much he expected to be in Madrass three or four weeks before me, and I fully expected he would for befor Night he was out of sight from the mast head, this circumstance indued me to make every exertion to carry every sail the Ship would bear both by night and by day, for my Ship not being Copperd, now began to be coverd with small barnacles, I was determind if Possible not to be beaten so much as Smith expected, and Accordingly on the 8th of July I anchord in Madrass Roads, here I found the Recovery, had arrivd one day only before me, here I lay untill the 24th of Augt employd in landing the Cargo and takeing in Sugar, then saild for Trenkabar to take in a large quantity of Pepper in beating up the coast I lost my Stream Anchor as we was oblidg’d to Anchor twice in 24 hours with our bower Anchor of shore in 25 or 30 fathoms, it was, very hard duty for the men and they were sometimes almost discourag’d & beat out but, continud to persevere against head winds & Strong lee current untill the 10th of Sepr when we Anchord in Trankabar.322 here we lay untill the 16th, took in our Pepper and on the 18th we returnd and anchor’d in Madrass, here we lay take in our Cargo untill Octr 14 when we saild for Boston  at this season (about the change of the Monsoon) we had light & vareable Winds and a strong current seting to the Wesward which drew me in with the land, and on the 22d at 9 am saw the Island Cylon bearing S b W 5 or 6 leagues distance then in 22 fathoms water, found the current was seting on to the Pedro shoal, and on the 23d at Midnight I found I had shoalend to nine fathom and being calm I was oblidgd to Anchor, at this time the sky had a tremenduous appeareance and I expectd the Monsoon would change, and that I should meet with some serious disaster, but the next morniug we got under way and stood to the Eastward, saw two ships standing to the Northward and at 10 AM they came up with and spoke me and sent there boat on board they prov’d to be the Bombay & Heroine English Frigates, the boarding officer informd me they had been unexpectedly drawn on to this Bank and then been five days in trying to get clear and as the wind had then set in at N E he expected as these Ships saild very fast they should get clear in the course of the day the officer informd me they were once in 5 fathoms, I continud to make every exertion to get to the Eastward and on Saturday the 24th we was to the Eastward of the Bank in 12 fathoms fine dark sand with small Sheles, on the Bank we found the soundings very irregular from 7 to 10 fathoms, I found our Ship was very crank, and would not carry sail and the Cargo was so Plac’d & stow’d that I could not shift any part of it so as to make her carry sail, therefore we was at this critical season to be always on our gaurd, on the 26th at 6 p m Trincomalay Bay323 bore West about 10 Leagues distance it laying in the Latd 8.°35M No Longd 81.°27M East from which I take my departure, continuing on my course on the 29th I fell in with the Ship recovery Capn G. G.  Smith from Calcutta Bound to Boston he had been 20 days from the sand heads, it being calm I went on board to dine continuing Calm Capn Smith & Mr Nathanel Lee the Supr Cargo came on board and spent the day, found a current seting to the Noward 16 miles in 24 hours, on the 31st at Meredian the Recovery bore S S E 5 or 6 leagues distance, nothing material oecur’d, on the Passage and on the 21st Jany 1796 I arrivd in Table Bay at the Cape of Good Hope, I Petitiond the Government to sell a Part of my Cargo but could not obtain permission, here we took in Water & fresh Provisions & Vegetable and on the 1st of Feby sail’d for Boston, the ship continu’d to get more foul every day, and sail’d very slow, and we arrivd at Boston on the 4th May324 having been Absent on this Voyage one Year two months & 15 days, this was a very fortunate Voyage for all concern’d and the Ship & Cargo was sold in one day by Samuel Bradford at Auction and the Amt of Sales was $212000 dollars I remaind at home without employ untill June 1798 when there was every Appearance of a War with France325 and our Goverment gave orders to Capture french Vessels at this time I was urg’d by my friends to take charge of one of the United States Ships of War. According on the 30th June 1798 I receivd a Captain’s commission in the Navy and took charge of the Brig Pickering326 of fourteen Guns then on the stocks at Newbury port  Sometime in July she was launch’d and I came to Boston in her and was buissily employ’d in fiting her out uutill Augt 22d when we saild from Boston in Co with the Ship Herald327 of 20 Guns Commanded by Capn James Seaver who was Sienor Officer, we were orderd to Cruse in Co on the coast to look for French privateers who then were capturing our Vessels, After cruising for some time we went into Newport, took in provisions & Water & saild again on another cruise and on the 24th of Octr we anchord again in Newport took in provisions & Water and on the 4th of Novr we saild for Halifax with a Brig under our convoy to load with Cannon, which Mr Liston328 the British Minister had loan’d our Goverment to fortefy Fort Johnson in the Harbour of Charleston So Carolina on the 10th we arrivd at Halifax, and was treated with great respect and attention by all the officers particularly by the officers of the Navy, here we lay until the 23d and was employ’d with a Lieutenant and twenty men on Shore in bringing down twenty five twenty four pound Cannon from the Grand Park and stowing them in the Transport Brig now under our convoy bound to Charleston, on the 9th of December we arriv’d of the Bar and took a Pilot the Next morning got under way and being very thick and Foggy we got foul of the Herald and carryd away our Bowsprit, on the 11th we Anchord in Charleston Harbour  on the 12, got in a new Bowsprit and was employd in wooding & Watering untill the 15th when we got under way Bound to Boston, on the 25th we arrivd in Holmes Hole in Marthas Vineyard, the next day we got under way but the wind dying away we anchord on the Shoals, the next morning got under way and on the 30th Decr 1798 at 6 a m we Anchord in Boston Harbour and moor’d Ship, and Jany 4th 1799 I was orderd to discharge the Crew; and give up the Pickering to Edward Preble,329 who was then 1st Lieutenant of the Frigate Constitution, who was then made Capn of the Pickering I was then Appointed to Command the Boston Frigate330 of thirty two Guns built in Boston by the Merchants of Boston, who had liberty to Nominate the Commander but I found that the Naval service, did not suit me and declin’d the Appointment and resign’d my commission soon after this Mr David Sears Bought a Ship of Mr Wm Delano then on the Stocks at Cituate nearly finish’d I went down and supperinteuded the finishing and brot her to Boston, I was a Part owner of the Ship & Cargo, and on the 13th July 1799 I saild for Batavia,331 mounted 12 Guns and thirty men this Armament was to guard us against the French who continu’d to capture our Vessels, on the 2d of November I arrivd safe in Batavia Roads all well, here we lay untill Decr 1st and loaded the Ship full of sugar  pepper & Coffee, on the 3d four men were taken very sick and myself quite unwell, the Ship being very deep made much Water, and the Weather very tempestuous in Co with the Ships Samuel Smith of Baltimore Capn George Stiles and the George Barkley McMaster, of Philadelphia, on the 16 being nearly calm Docr Worthington from the Samuel Smith came on board to visit the sick three of them he said were doing well but the other one, he orderd to be blisterd, but they had no effect and that Night Michel Conden died, and was bury’d at 11 O’Clock, on the 3d of Jany John Wood fell from one of the Guns and was drownd, I hove a hen coop lower’d the boat immediately, they saw him under water but he never rose again, we then saluted the Samuel Smith with 13 Guns he return’d the Salute took leave and left us, we continu’d our course in Co with the George Barclay on the 14th we fell in with a large Ship who stood for us we prepart for Auction, and shortned sail he seeing this hauld his wind and left us, we continud on our course in Co and the 26th Jany we anchord in St Helena roads, here we fill’d up our Water and got some refreshments, and found the ship we saw on the 14th laying in the Roads which prov’d to be the America Capn Benjamin Crowninshield from Calcutta bound to Salem, on the 28th we all three saild in Co and on the 16th Feby, I put a letter on board the America he then took leave, and as she was a very fast sailer he expectd to be in some days before us  we continud on our course in Co with the Barclay and nothing material occur’d untill 5th of March, when we had a very sudden & heavy squall from the southward which carryd away our Spanker Boom, flying Jibb boom & Main Top Gt mast and split several of our light sails, on the 9th we took leave of our consort, he now steering more to the West on the 15th of March at 10 A M I made the East end of Long Island and the next day at 2 P M Block Island bore N E b E about 3 Miles where I took Silas Dogget, as a Vineyard Pilot and the next day at 1 P M I Anchord in Holmes Hole, the same afternoon the America arrivd and Auchor’d, I then sent my clerk over to Falmouth, he arrivd in Boston in 20 hours after he landed, Mr Sears was very much supris’d to see him for this was the shortest Voyage ever made, it being performd in 246 days from Boston to Batavia and back to this Place, on Friday the 21st we had a fine breeze from the West, when a fleet of 30 Sail got under way and had a fine time over the Shoals, at sunset was beealm’d of Cape Cod, and in the Night a Violent Gale from N E and a thick snow storm which Brought us under close Reeft top sails & Fore sail we carryd a press of sail, and wore Ship twice duriug the Night. at 11 O’Clock Next day we made half way Rock332 and bore away for Boston light, and soon made it and at 2 p m we arrivd safe in Boston Harbour, this was the most severe and perilous storm I ever was in, therefor it was the most Joyful arrival  this provd to be a very profitable Voyage, and the Ship was dischargd with all Possible dispatch and fited out again for India and on the 1st day of June 1800 I saild again for Calcutta, with a Cargo Borne goods and Specie amounting to 150 Thousand dollars we had a fine Run off the coast and a continuation of fine winds & Weather and on June 23d we made the Islands Brava & Fogo —
After this we had moderate winds and fine Weather and on July 9th we crossd the line in Longd 23°18m West from London, continud fine weather and a fresh S East trade wind and on the 17th July we made the Island of Trinadad bearing S b E 1/2 E about 10 Leagues distance we continud on our course with fine winds & Weather and on the 5th of Augt was up with the Cape Good Hope, we had a continuation of fine winds & Weather and on the 18th Sepr we anchord in Balasore Roads,333 in 8 1/2 fathom, saw the high land beariug N West, in the Morning hove up and Run down towards the sand heads to look for a pilot, and on Sunday the 21st at 5 p m we took from a pilot Brig Alexander Blair a Branch Pilot we had head winds and strong currents to contend with and on the 28th at 11 a m we anchord at Calcutta and the next day moord ship under four anchors and Cables, having been 120 days from Boston, here we lay in procuring our Cargo untill the 24 Decr when we drop’d down to Garden reach, continu’d droping down from day to day and on Jany 3d 1801 discharg’d the Pilot, we had very Rainy disagreeable Weather and several of the men sick and on the 19th Thomas West, Cabin steward died, from this time we had fine Weather, and on Feby 18th we pas’d Cape Good Hope, and on March 6th made the Island Asention bearing North 8 or 9 Leagues, this is a high land and has a very barren  appearance and may be seen in Clear Weather 10 or 12 Leagues from hence we had very fine Pleasant Weather and on the 8th of April we arrivd safe in Boston Harbour in a Passage of 96 days which was the shortest Passage ever know[n] at that time, having been Absent on the Voyage 10 months & 8 days, this Voyage was not so profitable as the last, but the owners & Shippers were all satasfy’d, having now acquird a hansome Property I concluded not to go to sea again, and continud to own my Part of the Ship with Mr David Sears, we then fited her out and send her under the Command of Capn Joshua Grafton to Humburg & from thence to Russia, and back to Boston, this was not a profitable Voyage, I now determin’d to build me a house and to marry a Wife and endeavour to maintain my self on Shore. Accordingly July 14th 1804 I purchasd a lot of land at the corner of Middlecot Street334 in Boston which cost $4412 dollars, and commencd building and on the 14th of November I was marry’d (at Stow) to Miss Margaret Rogers, and went to House Keeping in an Old House adjoining the premises where I was on the spot to superinted the workmen, Octr 9th 1805 my wife was confin’d and had twins the son was still born, and the daughter (whom we calld Margaret) was not healthy, but soon recoverd and at the age of 8 years was very healthy, on the 27th of May 1806 we movd into the New House all compleatly finished and believe it to be in every part one of the most thorough and substantial built Houses in Boston which cost $16932.51 compleat, which is one third more than I intended to put into a house when I commencd building.  I continu’d to own 1/8 the Ship Indus & Cargo and on March 1802 she saild for Canton commanded by Capn Richard Wheatland (of Salem), there were a Number of Shippers and she had a very Valuable Cargo, on her return in the China Seas she met with a Teyffoon was dismasted and otherways much damagd and put into Batavia to repair, and in June 1803 she return’d and made a very loosing Voyage, in Augt 1803 she saild for Batavia Capn David Myrick and made the Voyage in seven months & twenty days which was the shortest Voyage ever known and was a very good Voyage, in May 1804 she sail’d again for Batavia and on her way home was dismasterd in a Teyffoon put into the Isl of France and was condem’d, and abandon’d to the underwriters, this was a favorite ship, in which I made some money therefore have purticularly notic’d her begining & End. Jany 30th Friday at 1/2 past 3 O’Clock in the Morning my wife was deliverd of a Son and we calld his name Jonathan; and on Sunday March 6 1808 at half past ten O’Clock in the morning my wife had another son whom we call’d Dummer Rogers (for his Uncle who resides in Nottingham in England) in May 1803 I was chosen one of the Selectmen of the Town of Boston and resign’d, in 1806. In July 1808 I began to build a large wharf in Charlestown which cost including the first Purchase say $10,000 dollars, in June 1810 I began to build a large Distillhouse on a part of this land,335 this was compleated in Jany 1812 and cost to build $17001, and the land I valu’d at $2000, I carryd on this buissiness for ten years and most of the time it was profitable, but a buissiness in which I made bad debts amounting about $10000 dollars —  In May 1813 I began to build a Brick House and Store on a Part of this land, which cost to build $8269. and the land valued at $1000 — in 1813 I was chosen one of forty to represent the Town of Boston in the General Court and serv’d two years & resign’d in April 1818 I purchase! the House & Hall now call’d the Eagle Tavern336 and movcl them from where Mr. Walkers Brick meeting House337 now stands on to a Part of this Ground which cost when compleated with all the out Houses & Bowling Houses including the land valued at $2000 — say $12644 — this prov’d a very bad speculation. I have for some years past been concernd in a Number of Vessels with Mr. David Ellis,338 in most of which Voyages I lost money, therefore I sold out and quit that buissiness and in April 1st 1822 I let my Distillhouse for three years to Newell & Goodwin for $1448 pr Annum and have now leasd it to them for three years from April 1st 1825 for $1500 — pr Annum they are to Pay all Taxes and keep the House and all the Appuratus inside in Repair at there expense and I am to keep the outside in Repair at my expense
[The following and concluding sentence appears, from the color of the ink, to have been written at a later date:]
April 1 1828 I leas’d the Distillhouse to Abijah Goodridge for three years for $800 a year he is to make all Alterations and repairs inside at his own expense I am to keep the outside in Repair at my expence.
On behalf of Mr. Henry E. Woods, Mr. Thomas Minns made the following communication:
The following “anonymous letter,” printed among the State Papers of New Hampshire, was brought to my attention by Mrs. Lucy Hall Greenlaw, who is compiling a genealogy of the Tarbell family. It is interesting in connection with the account given of Captain Samuel Tarbell, Jr., in the valuable paper upon Some Massachusetts Tories contributed by Mr. John Noble at the March, 1898, meeting of this Society.339
This letter, which is without date, was presented on November 23, 1778, at a session of the House of Representatives of New Hampshire. On December 4, 1777, Captain Tarbell signed the bond for £2000 which is mentioned in the letter; and on April 23, 1778, there was issued an order of process upon the bond, as “the Said Tarbell has nevertheless absconded and failed of appearing agreeable to the Conditions mentioned in the Bond.” Action upon the writ was taken July 14, 1778, and “the Defendant altho’ solemnly called to come into Court did not Appear but made Default.” It would seem, from the letter, that his absence may have been due to his confinement in jail at Concord, Massachusetts.
This may Certify to all persons whom it may Concern, the way and manner by which Samuel Tarbell got out of Concord [Massachusetts] goal after Six months close Imprisonment a man by the name of Doct Silas Hedges340 told me the authority would let me out of prison if i would Comply with there terms, the terms was these for me to inform what I knew with regard to Counterfeit money and tory plans, after thinking of the matter some little time, i told him I would; and Parted at that time; About three weaks after, the sd Hedges Came To see me again, he then told me he had orders from the authority in this state, and the authority of New Hampshire to Examine Me concerning the affair. He first Declared to me that there should be no advantage taken of me. I then informed him what i knew Concerning the affair and that was but little, but i soon found there was something else he was aiming at, he saith to me you dont say half so much as i Expected you would, But however i will help you out; If you will do as you may, well says I Doct how is that, why says he I cant tell you, but i will show you, he takes a pen and writes you must Deliver me 2000 Dollars to Devide among the authority and i can get you out. I told him i thought his terms was very hard, well says he, if you will Not do it, you shall ly in Jail. Finily I promised him the money. I then got some more Liberty; the matter was to be settled att Cambridge Court and was as i thought. I signed a bond of two thousand pounds to the states for my appearance att Court, and was to be Clear, but the authority told me, I must go back to Jones’s341 and stay awhile, for the people will be mad Att us for letting you out, without a trial, you may live att Capt Jones’s Just as you please under the pretence of a prisoner. Abput a fortnight after Doct Prescott342 came there and gave me the bond back, which i had signed, and told me I must remain a prisoner still; well then i Could Not understand what it ment, But soon after the sd Hedges comes again. He then writes thus, you must let me have more money, for they say that you are richer than they are: now I told him I thought the matter was settled No it is not, says he, you must let me have three hundred pounds more in Paper money and thirty hard Dollars, and resign them Pistols, and you shall Be clear. I was very loth to do that, but finily Complied with it, Rather than to lay in Jail; all this money Hedges has had of me, Except one Hundred Dollars that i Delivered to Col. James Prescott343 att Cambridge. He afterwards came to Capt Jones’s and gave the money back to me again and i Delivered it to hedges to give to the sd Col. Prescott; the pistols went to Col. Peabody344 of New Hampshire by the hand of Hedges, and the money Divided amongst the whole —
The Case is bearly this, they have reduced me to such a Degree that i cannot live, and now Drive upon me to take men up, that ant in my power to do, and say that the people are uneasy, and if i dont do something, they will deliver me up to the people, and that i should be very willing for, but it ant in my power to prove all this, some part I can prove, Cap’ Jones knows something how i have been treated, this much i have to say when the head is sick the heart is faint, and your head is sick, and nigh unto Death, this i know for Certain and a great Deal more; one thing more I will Just mention to you, that is Doc’ Silas Hedges has been to the British troops twice and Returned here again and it can be proved, but he has proved unfaithful to them, and that is all that keeps him here; he is now exchanging his paper money for hard in order to send to get a pardon, and then Determines to push, it is Provible that many people will say that this is not worth notice, but be that as it will; It is the truth — This is from one who has been greatly Injured
In the House of Representatives, November 23, 1778, a committee was appointed to consider the foregoing, which reported as follows:
State of New Hampr In the House of Representatives Novr 24th 1778.
The Committee on an Anonymous Letter brought into this House by Mr Ames345 having considered the same, conversed with Col. Peabody, examined Doctor Hedges on oath, agree to report that they think said paper to be a scandalous infamous performance of some inveterate enemy or enemies of the United States framed for the purpose of bringing into disgrace persons employed to bring them to Justice, & to set the good people of these States at variance with each other — Sign’d Nichs Gilman346 for the committee — which report being read and considered — Voted, That the same be received and accepted — Sent up for Concurrence — John Dudley347 Speaker pro tem —
In Council same day read and concurred E. Thompson348 Sec’y
Mr. Edes communicated a letter written by Henry Laurens at Charleston, South Carolina, August 11, 1768, concerning difficulties he was anticipating from the Commissioners of the Customs. This follows.
Charlestown So Carolina 11th August 1768
Dear Sir —
Since I wrote to you the 1st Inst ⅌ Capt Mason I have been very well assured that the Prosecutor of the Ship Ann, is determined to send Copies or perhaps part Copies of the proceedings in the late case against that Ship both to the Commissioners of Customs in London & those in North America — I have no more reason to fear ill consequences from them than any other Merchant; nevertheless it seems to be more particularly my duty as it is more in my power, to guard against all the Evils that he may intend to draw upon us by his representations, & therefore, I request you to make the case known as fully as you can both in New York & New England provided you shall think it proper to do so — since I sent away those Papers relative to the said case, which were pretty much hurried over, I have added a few Notes to my first thoughts & sent a Copy of the whole to our friends in Bristol — who will dispose of the Papers & disperse the contents as they shall think conducive to any good purposes — I here inclose a Copy of the said Notes the perusal of which may rob you of another half hour. I have shown my remarks to another Lawyer & several more friends Men of understanding & of good hearts — they all agree in one point to blame the Custom House Officers & particularly the Judge of the Admiralty — some persons who had been captivated by the pretty manner in which His Honor delivered himself as well as with the speciouaness of his reasoning have quite changed their opinions since they have seen those reasons classed in black & White & remarked upon — now what I aim at, is to keep people who have already done us great injury from adding weight to their injustice. & I make no doubt of all the needful & necessary assistance of my Partners therein — as I have joined your name as apart Owner of the Ship with those of our friends in Bristol in a letter wrote to them I think it proper to send you a Copy of the same under this cover with the other Paper.
My next shall treat of flour, Milstones & Cordage for I hope after to morrow to wash my hands of the work whicli have employed them for a Month past — meantime I remain with sincere esteem & respect
Your obliged friend & Servt.
Mr William Fisher.
Mr William Fisher Merchant In Philadelphia
⅌ Capt Hunt Via N York
Augt. 11th 1768