Gunston-Hall July 9th. 1792
The Packet from Norfolk is again arrived at Alexandria, without bringing the Cypress Scantlin. When the Captain was here, the Trip before this, he said Mr. Brent told him, if he coud stay only one Day longer at Norfolk, the Scantlin wou'd be there ready for him; this the Captain said he coud not do; but that he made no Doubt it wou'd be at Norfolk, when he return'd, & that he shoud bring it up the next Trip. When he went down this last Trip, he was told, that the Scantlin was not yet got to Norfolk; for that the Scow, which was bringing it to Norfolk, had unfortunately sunk with it, on the Way; but that it wou'd certainly be ready for him, when he came down next.
What mean pitiful Subterfuges, Evasions, & Falsehoods does Negligence & want of Attention reduce a man to! The Water Conveyances, by which Shingles & Timber are brought from the Cypress Swamps to Norfolk, are all small narrow Rivers, or rather Creeks; Cypress is the lightest of all kind of Scantlin, the Quantity was only about seven hundred feet, the Scantlin none of it large, or unhandy —a Scow cou'd hardly sink with such; or if she had, the Cypress Scantlin wou'd float like a Cork, & might easily have been recovered, in an Hour or two. It was to have been at Norfolk, the Day after the Packet left it. The Packet's coming up & returning, with the time she staid at Alexandria, could hardly have taken less than a Fortnight, and Yet when Capt. Moore return'd to Norfolk, instead of finding the Scantlin, he found this Cock & Bull Story of the Scow's sinking, and the old Enchore; that it shou'd certainly be ready for him, when he came down next.
I have engaged to furnish the Undertaker with this Scantlin (as well as the other materials). He has been ready for it these two months, and will soon be entirely out of work, for want of it. Depending, unfortunately, upon Mr. Brent, I have taken no other means of procuring it.
What is to be done I know not; unless you can immediately write down to Norfolk, to some Friend, in whom you can confide, transmit him a Copy of the Bill of Scantlin, and desire him, without Loss of time, to examine whether the Scantlin is, or is not, now at Norfolk; if Mr. Brent says it is (for the Scow sinking Story is barely possible) to get your Friend to see & examine it himself if it is not now in Norfolk, to desire (acqu[aint] him that it is wanted for immediate Use) to have it got, with all possible Expedition, out of Cypress Trees, which have been some time down, and have it brought to Norfolk, against the Packet from Alexandria arrives there; to enquire after Capt Moore, the Commander of her, & send it up by him. If this is [done] expeditiously, perhaps it may still be got to N[orfolk] in time; as the Packet is now at Alexandria, & may stay some Days there. And if you write me, by the first Post what you have done in it, I may perhaps get your letter, before the Packet leaves Alexandria, and be enabled to give Capt Moore Directions accordingly.
I beg to be remembered kindly to Your Brother Tom, and am dear John, Your affecte. Father