Virginia Gunston Hall, July 26th. 1790
I received your Letter of the 26th of April, as also one a little before, dated in March. I rejoyce to hear that you are recovering your Health, & hope the Spring & Summer weather has perfectly restored you. I think, from your last Accounts, the Revolution in France has advanced too far to be now overset, & hope that their Constitution of Government, so constant to the Rights of human Nature, will be firmly & permanently established. I think you judged properly in taking the oath under the new Constitution. I see no objection that a Friend of Liberty, & sacred Rights of Mankind, cou'd have to taking, cordially & sincerely, the Oath to such a Government; perhaps it is a Duty in every Man who receives protection from it; nor does it appear to me to interfere with the Dutys you owe your own Country. The Refusal of the British Merchants in Bourdeaux is a Specimen of British Pride & Mulishness, for which that Nation is so remarkable.
The Stagnation of Business, during the Progress of the Revolution, has been very injurious to your House; not only in sinking the Price of our great Staple Tobo. &consequently lessening your Consignments on that Account; but People here have really been afraid to venture their Property in a Country in such a convulsed Situation; yet there is a circumstance or two, which I think ought to operate in your Favour, & may perhaps compensate the Inconvenience you have sustained. I mean the Part you have taken in favour of the Revolution, as far as was in the Power of a private Gentlemen; and your having preserved the Credit & Punctuality of your House, in such stormy Times when so many wealthy & respectable Houses were obliged to stop Payment.
No doubt you have heard of Mr. Fenwicks being appointed American Consul in Bourdeaux. I have Reason to beleive that this Appointment was principally oweing to my Interest with our Friend Mr. Jefferson (now American Secretary of State) from whom I had a Letter upon the Subject, immediately upon the matter being fixed. I hope it will be of considerable Service to your House; and I have no Doubt of Mr. Fenwick's Attention, & propriety of Conduct in the Office.
The Washington has been, unavoidably, detained so long in this Country, & has now so considerable a Part of her Tobo. (I believe abt. 8o Hhds.) purchased here upon your own Accounts, at a pretty high Price, that I fear she will make a very losing Voyage. It was not in Capt. Fenwick's Power to prevent her Detention; but I think it wou'd have been better to have filled up so much more of her stowage with Staves than to have purchased Tobo. at the Price here; however, if the National Assembly have decided upon the subject of the Farm, it may probably advance the Price of that Commodity, so as to make it answer.
You will please to send me, by the Return of the Ship Washington, six Cases of good Frontignac Wine, 3 dozn. Bottles in each. They are intended for presents to my little outsetled colonys; also the Peice of Silk for your Sister Betsy, with sewing Silk, & Trimmings (if Trimmings are the present Mode) to make it up. You may ascertain the Quantity wanted, from the Quantity of that sent last Year, & the additional Quantity afterwards ordered. I wou'd have it a handsom, but not a very dear Silk; & Betsy depends upon your Taste, in the Choice of the Pattern. She is now at Mr. Johnson's, upon a Visit to her Sister; who is greatly distressed by the Loss of her little Daughter, who died suddenly, about a Fortnight ago.
Your Brother George is at the Augusta Springs, for the Recovery of his Health, & your Brother William went with him, to take care of him; I expect them at Home again, about the first of Septemr. George has been in a very low State of Health thro' the Winter; but had Recovered a good deal, before he set out for the Springs. Your Brother Thomson's, Mr. McCarty's, & Colo. Cooke's Familys are all pretty well. Your Brother Thomas is with Mr. Hodgson in Alexandria, upon the same Terms you were with Mr. Hartshorne. He boards at Patrick Murray's; and seems pleased with his Situation, both as to Mr. Hodgson, & the Family he boards in. The Ship Washington stoping only one night at Alexandria, your Brother Thomas, I believe, did not know of it, and therefore probably has not wrote to you, by her.
Mr. Joseph Fenwick is now at Boston, or Portsmouth in N. Hampshire, & means to embark about the End of this Month, or the Beginning of next; so that he will probably arrive at Bourdeaux, about the same time with Capt. Chilton. As I think it will be absolutely necessary for you to continue in Bourdeaux, after Mr. Fenwick's Arrival, long enough to adjust, &compleatly settle all your Accounts & Books, & make out a regular & perfect State of your Affairs, I fear it will be too late for you to embark for America this Fall; for, considering your late State of Health, I wou'd wish you to avoid a Winter Passage; unless you can meet with a Passage to South Carolina, or Georgia, so as to have a well founded Prospect of arriving there in all Novemr. otherwise to defer your Return to America until the Spring; & in Case of staying in France this Winter, I think it will be an Object worth your Attention, to gain all the Information you can, respecting the Produce, Trade, & Manufactures, in the different Provinces; so as to be able to judge, & inform the Merchants here in the different States, what Commercial. Intercourse can be carryed on, or Commoditys exported & imported, to mutual Advantage. But if the Restoration of your Health requires your spending the Winter in the South of France, every other Consideration shou'd yield to that. If you come into South Carolina, I wou'd have you wait on Mr. Rutledge, General Pinkey, Majr. Butler, & Colo. Washington; you will find all these Gentlemen your Friends, & they will introduce to theirs. It may be well also to wait on young Charles Pinkey—altho' he is a little of a C—b, he is a Man of Parts, an influential Character in that State, and I believe their present Governor. I wish to be advised of your intended Rout, & to know if any Letters from me, can be transmitted in Time, to be of Service to you.
I send you, by Capt. Chilton, half a dozn. hams, packed up in a Box in Salt, to preserve them; they are very good now, but I am afraid the hot Weather will spoil them. The Ships staying until this advanced Season of the Summer, has prevented our sending you several little things, which we proposed, if she had gone earlier. I was certain Hominy wou'd spoil—a Pot of baked White Fish, & a Pot of soured white Fish Roes, we put up for you in the Spring, have already spoil'd in my Cellar; and three red Birds, we had kept a long time for you, have lately died. Capt. Chilton will deliver you a beautiful little Fawn Skin. We caught the Doe in the Creek, & were endeavoring to tame her, but she died, & the Fawn was taken out of her Belly, about a Fortnight, or three Weeks, before it came to Maturity.
Mrs. Mason (for none of the rest of our Family are now at Home) joins in our best wishes for your Health & Happiness, with, dear John, Your affecte. Father
P. S. As your Capital was compleated, I expect, by my last Shipment of Wheat, to the intended sum of 24,000 Livrs. & your Partner's are not; they ought to pay you Intr. for whatever sum your's is more than theirs.