Gunston-Hall August 17th. 1791.
I this Evening with great Pleasure, received your Letter dated in Norfolk the i4th. It is stamp'd at the Post Office in Dumfries, but from the very short time it has been on the Way, I presume it must have come up to Quantico by Water.
I congratulate you, most cordially, upon your safe Arrival, & Return to your Native Country & your Friends, and particularly upon your good State of Health; to which your long Passage, however disagreeable in other Respects, has most probably greatly contributed.
Not knowing precisely where to direct to you, I have enclosed this, under cover, to my Friend Colo. Harvie in Richmond; where it is probable you will be by the time this reaches him, or soon after; it will go by tomorrow morning's post, & will be in Richmond on Friday Evening.
I think you quite right in seeing the Ship dispatch'd before you leave James River; you loading this first Ship expeditiously, & with advantage to the Parties concern'd may be of Consequence to you in future. In my former Letter I mention'd that you might probably find it best to load the Ship at Norfolk, & send her Tobo. thither in Craft; but a very material Objection to doing so did not then occur to me; vizt. the Worm's biting exceedingly there, during the hot Months; this Circumstance will perhaps making it most prudent to load her as high up the River, as will be convenient for a Ship of her Draft of Water, to have her out of the Way of the Worm. I imagine she can go up as high as James Town; where she will be perfectly safe from the Worm; but with Respect to the best Place to load her, you will easily obtain better Information than I can give you. Hampton Road is too much exposed, & too high a Swell runs there for loading a Ship.
Shou'd you have Occasion to go to James Town (a place merely a Harbour for Ships) I beg you will visit my Friend Mr. Tazewell who lives in the Neighbourhood; and tell him you do it, at my Request; and if you go to Wmsburg, I wish you to wait on Mr. With, & Mr. Benjm. Waller. I wou'd furnish you with Letters of Introduction to these Gentlemen, but that your going into that Part of the Country is uncertain; and I now write in a Hurry, for the Post; which goes thro' Colchester early to-morrow Morning.
The present Price of Tobo. here is from 13/ to 14/ Virga. Curry Per Hund. I believe a Quantity cou'd not be purchased speedily under 14/.
The large french Ship, which came from Bourdeaux, is now repairing at Alexandria, & I am told will not be ready to take in Tobo. in less than seven or eight weeks; I understand great Part of her Cargo is purchased of the Scotch Merchants at 10/6 Sterling, Bills on London. I wou'd recommend it to you to fill up the Reserve you have made in the Ship you are loading, rather upon Consignment to your own House, than upon Purchase on your own Accounts, but you may perhaps make some Profit on the Freight (I mean the Quantity of Tobo. you have reserved Room for to yr. own House) between what the Ship is chartered at, & the Freight which People will at this time give in a french Bottom. Whether a Gain of this Sort can, with Propriety & Delicacy, be made upon your own Acct. or ought to be a Profit to the Gentlemen who chartered the Ship, you are best able to judge.
If the Washington arrives soon, she will fill up very readily upon Consignment to your House, provided she comes in as a french Bottom; notwithstanding the very disadvantageous Exchange between Bourdeaux & London; which is very discouraging; & it's still continuing to increase against France convinces every body here, that it is the Effect of a depreciating Paper Currency; which nobody can see the End of. Your making the Washington a french Bottom will be highly advantageous to you; but I don't see how it is to be done.
It is probable I shall see you in Richmond, before you get the Ship dispatch'd; as I have some Business which will call me there soon. Your Brother George is at the Sulphur Springs, about thirty miles beyond the Augusta Springs; & has greatly recover'd his Health; we don't expect him Home before the Middle of September. Let me hear from you frequently, & believe me, dear John, Yr. most affecte. Father
P. S. You will find in Richmond your old Acquaintance Mr. Geo. Grey; who formerly lived in Port Tobacco. He is a good natur'd obliging Man; & may be very useful to you, in making you acquainted with the Merchants there.