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suggesting it; but for my private satisfaction I had written both to England and France, to know on what terms a person of competent skill could be obtained. I have received the following answer from my friend the Marquis de Lafayette.“ There is no doubt,” says he, “but that a good engineer may be found in this country to conduct the work. France, in this point, exceeds England; and will have, I think, every advantage but that of the language, which is something, although it may be supplied by an interpreter. An application from Mr. Jefferson and myself to the ministry, and more particularly an intimation that you set a value on that measure, will insure to us the choice of a good engineer. They are different from the military ones, and are called Ingénieurs des Ponts et Chaussées. I think five hundred guineas a year, while the business lasts, and an assurance not to lose his rank in France, will be sufficient to provide you with the gentleman you want.”
I have also received an acknowledgment of the letter I had written to England ; but the gentleman there goes no further than to assure me he will make every necessary inquiry, and has no doubt but that a person may be obtained. He says nothing, however, respecting the terms on which he could be had. Mrs. Washington joins me in compliments, and every good wish for Mrs. Moultrie and yourself. With great esteem and respect, I am, &c.
TO WAKELIN WELCH,
Mount Vernon, July, 1786. SIR, I have received the paper-hangings and watch by Captain Andrews. With the last Mrs. Washington is well pleased, and I thank you in her name for your attention to the making of it. If the stocks keep up, and there is not a moral certainty of their rising higher in a short time, it is my wish and desire, that my interest in the Bank may be immediately sold, and the money arising therefrom made subject to my drafts in your hands, some of whieh, at sixty days' sight, may soon follow this letter.
The footing on which you have placed the interest of my debt to you is all I require. To stand on equal ground with others, who owe money to the merchants in England, and who were not so prompt in their payment of the principal as I have been, is all I aim at.
Whatever the two countries may finally decide with respect to interest, or whatever general agreement or compromise may be come to between British creditors and American debtors, I am willing to abide by; nor should I again have touched upon this subject in this letter, had you not introduced a case, which, in
my opinion, has no similitude with the point in question. You say
I have received interest at the Bank for the money which was there. Granted; but, besides remarking that only part of this money was mine, permit me to ask if Great Britain was not enabled, by means of the Bank, to continue the war with this country? Whether this war did not deprive us of the means of paying our debts? And whether the interest I received from this source did or could bear any proportion to the losses I sustained by having my grain, my tobacco, and every article of produce rendered unsalable and left to perish on my hands? However, I again repeat, that I ask no discrimination of
favor ; for, had there been no stipulation by treaty to secure debts, nay more, had there even been an exemption by the legislative authority or practice of this country against it, I would, from a conviction of the propriety and justice of the measure, have discharged my original debt to you.
But from the moment our ports were shut, and our markets were stopped by the hostile fleets and armies of Great Britain, till the first were opened and the others revived, I should, for the reasons I have (though very cursorily) assigned, have thought the interest during that epocha stood upon a very different footing.
I am, Sir, &c.
TO ARTHUR YOUNG.
Mount Vernon, 6 August, 1786. Sir, I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 7th of January from Bradfield Hall in Suffolk, and thank you for opening a correspondence, the advantages of which will be so much in my favor.
Agriculture has ever been among the most favored of my amusements, though I never have possessed much skill in the art, and nine years' total inattention to it has added nothing to a knowledge, which is best understood from practice; but, with the means you have been so obliging as to furnish me, I shall return to it, though rather late in the day, with more alacrity than ever.
The system of agriculture, if it deserves the epithet of system, which is in use in this part of the United States, is as unproductive to the practitioners, as it is ruinous to the landholders. Yet it is pertinaciously adhered to. To forsake it; to pursue a course of husbandry, which is altogether different, and new to the gazing multitude, ever averse to novelty in matters of this sort, and much attached to the customs of their forefathers, requires resolution, and, without a good practical guide, may be dangerous; because, of the many volumes which have been written on this subject, few have been founded on experimental knowledge; are verbose, contradictory, and bewildering. Your Annals, therefore, shall be this guide. The plan on which they are published gives them a reputation, which inspires confidence; and for the favor of sending them to me, I pray you to accept my very best acknowledgments. To continue them will add much to the obligation.
To evince with what avidity and with how little reserve I embrace the polite and friendly offer you have made, of supplying me with "
men, cattle, tools, seeds, or any thing else that may add to my rural amusements," I will give you the trouble, Sir, of providing, and sending to the care of Wakelin Welch, of London, merchant, the following articles.
Two of the simplest and best constructed ploughs for land, which is neither very heavy nor sandy; to be drawn by two horses; to have spare shares and coulters; and a mould, on which to form new irons, when the old ones are worn out, or will require repairing. I will take the liberty to observe, that some years ago, from a description or recommendation thereof, which I had somewhere met with, I sent to England for what was then called the Rotherham or patent plough; and, till it began to wear and was ruined by a bungling country smith, that no plough could have done better work, or appeared to have gone easier with two horses; but for want of a mould, which I neglected to order with the plough, it became useless, after the irons, which came with it, were much worn.
A little of the best kind of cabbage seed for field culture.
And if it is decided (for much has been said for and against it), that burnet, as an early food, is valuable, I should be glad of one bushel of this seed also. Red clover seed is to be had on easy terms in this country; but if there are any other kinds of grass seeds, not included in the above, that you may think valuable, especially for early seeding or cutting, you would oblige me by adding a small quantity of the seeds, to put me in stock. Early grasses, unless a species can be found that will stand a hot sun, and oftentimes severe droughts in the summer months, without much expense of cultivation, would suit our climate best.
You see, Sir, that, with very little ceremony, I avail myself of your kind offer ; but, should you find, in the course of our correspondence, that I am likely to become troublesome, you can easily check me. Enclosed I give you an order upon Wakelin Welch for the cost of such things as you may have the goodness to send me. I do not, at this time, ask for any other implements of husbandry than the plough; but when I have read your “Annals ” (for they are but just come to hand), I may request more. In the mean time, permit me to ask what a good ploughman may be had for at annual wages; to be found (being a single man) in board, lodging, and washing? The writers upon husbandry estimate the hire of laborers so differently in England, that it is not easy to discover from them, whether one of the class I am speaking of would cost eight or eighteen pounds a year. A good ploughman at low wages would come very opportunely with the plough I have requested.
By means of the application to my friend, Mr. Fairfax of Bath, and through the medium of Mr. Rack, a bailiff is sent to me, who, if he is acquainted with the best courses of cropping, will answer my purposes as a director or superintendent of my farms. He has the appearance of a plain honest farmer; is industrious, and from the character given of him by a Mr. Peacy, with whom he has lived many years, is understanding in the management of stock, and of most matters for which he is employed. How far his abilities may be equal to a pretty extensive concern, is questionable. And, what is still worse, he has come over with im. proper ideas; for, instead of preparing his mind for a ruinous course of cropping, exhausted lands, and numberless inconveniences into which we had been thrown by an eight years' war, he seems to have expected, that he was coming to well-organized farms, and that he was to meet ploughs, harrows, and all the different implements of husbandry, in as high a state, as the best farming counties in England could have exhibited them. How far his fortitude will enable him to encounter these disappointments, or his patience and perseverance will carry him towards effecting a reform, remains to be decided. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.
TO ARTHUR YOUNG.
Mount Vernon, 15 November, 1786. SIR, The enclosed is a duplicate of the letter I had the honor of writing to you the 6th of August. The evil genius of the vessel by which it was sent, which had detained her many weeks in this country after the letters intended to go by her were ready agreeably to the owner's appointment, pursued her to sea, and obliged the captain, when many days out, by the leaky condition in which she appeared, to return to an American port. The uncertainty of his conduct, with respect to the letters, is the apology I offer for giving you the trouble of the enclosed.
Since the date of it, I have had much satisfaction in perusing the “Annals of Agriculture," which you did me the honor to send me. If the testimony of my approbation, Sir, of your disinterested conduct and perseverance in publishing so useful and beneficial a work (than which nothing in my opinion can be more conducive to the welfare of your country) will add aught to the satisfaction you must feel from the conscious discharge of this interesting duty to it, I give it with equal willingness and sincerity.
In addition to the articles, which my last requested the favor of you to procure me, I pray you to have the goodness of forwarding what follows; Eight bushels of what you call velvet wheat, of which I
perceive you are an admirer.
Four bushels of beans, of the kind you most approve for the purposes of a farm.
Eight bushels of the best kind of spring barley.
My soil will come under the description of loam ; with a hard clay, or (if it had as much of the properties as the appearance, it might be denominated) marl, from eighteen inches to three feet below the surface. The heaviest soil I have, would hardly be called a stiff or binding clay in England ; and none of it is a blowing sand. The sort, which approaches nearest the former, is a light grey; and that to the latter, of a yellow red. In a word, the staple has been good, but, by use and abuse, it is brought into bad condition.
* The books being at a bookbinder's, I may have miscalled this wheat.