To Elizabeth French Dulany
Friday—past 2 ’Oclock [c.23 November 1785]
General Washington presents his best respects to Mrs Dulany with the horse blueskin; which he wishes was better worth her acceptance.1
Marks of antiquity have supplied the place of those beauties with which this horse abounded—in his better days. Nothing but the recollection of which, & of his having been the favourite of Mr Dulany in the days of his Court ship, can reconcile her to the meagre appearance he now makes.
Mrs Washington presents her Compliments and thanks to Mrs Dulany for the Roots of Scarcity.2
AL (photocopy), MdHi.
Benjamin Tasker Dulany (c.1752–1816) of Maryland, John Parke Custis’s fellow student under the tutelage of the Rev. Jonathan Boucher in Annapolis, was a frequent visitor at Mount Vernon in 1772 and 1773 when he was courting Elizabeth French, who became his wife in 1773. Mrs. Dulany’s mother, Penelope French, at this time was continuing to refuse to surrender her life right in the French-Dulany tract on the neck at Mount Vernon to which GW was seeking to gain title (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:84).
1. Blueskin was one of the horses GW rode throughout the Revolution.
2. Roots of scarcity are usually identified as mangel-wurzel (Beta vulgaris macrorhiza), a kind of coarse beet used in Europe to feed cattle, which seems an unlikely gift for Mrs. Dulany to send to Mrs. Washington.