George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 3 October 1790

To Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon October 3d 1790

Dear Sir,

Your letters of the 22d Ulto came safe.1 I wish the information given by Mr Danl Parker to Doctr Craigee may prove true2—No mention of such event is in Morris’s letter to me; but the date is prior to that of Mr Parker’s by Six days.3 The Declaration & Counter-declaration of the Ministers of Britain & Spain are published with the communication thereof to the Lord Mayor of London;4 and yet, it seems to be the opinion of some of the paragraphists, that the matter remains unsettled. Further information (not contained in the News papers) of these, or any other interesting matters, you would do well to give me the earliest intelligence of. Mr Jefferson being from New York will, more than probable, delay official advices through the Office of Foreign Affairs longer than it otherwise would be, in coming to me.

I request after you get to Philadelphia, & previous to our arrival there, that you wd use your best endeavors to ascertain the characters, or reputation of such Schools as it may be proper to place Washington at, so soon as we shall be fixed in our New habitation; particularly if there be any fit School in the College for him, under good and able Tutors, & well attended.5 His trip to Mount Vernon will be of no Service to him, but will render restraint more necessary than ever. If the College is under good regulations, and have proper Tutors there for boys of his standing to prepare them for the higher branches of education quere whether it would not be better to place him in it at once? the presumption being, that a system prevails, by which the gradations are better connected than they are in Schools which have no correspondence with each other. Mr S—— is a man of acknowledged abilities, but—it may not be well perhaps to say more in a letter, especially as his re-instatement may have given rise to a reform of that conduct wch did not escape censure formerly.6

The enclosed letters having been put under cover to me, will of course occasion delay in the receipt of them by you, & Fidas7—In all yr communications respecting the Servants, no mention has been made of John’s wife8—What do you understand to be her plan? Enclosed is a letter from him to her, or some friend, I suppose, of hers—and another from James to his del Toboso.9

If I have not already advised you of it, it is necessary now to do so, that Mrs Stuart has paid for the tickets you purchased for her and Mrs Alexander, that was.10

When you get at the last letter, or letters of the Count de Estaing to me,11 I wish you would send me a transcript of what he says, or whether any thing, of a Bust he has sent me of Mr Necker, together with a number of prints of that Gentleman and the Marquis dela Fayette which are come to my hands in a package from Baltimore.12 We all join in best wishes for you & Mrs Lear and I am Yr Sincere friend and Affecte Servt13

Go: Washington


4For the 24 July 1790 Anglo-Spanish declaration and counterdeclaration, see Morris to GW, 16 Aug. 1790 (second letter).

5The 9½-year-old George Washington Parke Custis had lived with GW and Martha Washington at Mount Vernon and in New York and would be moving to Philadelphia as part of the first family. The College, Academy, and Charitable School of Philadelphia was incorporated in 1755. In 1779 the Pennsylvania general assembly voided the college’s charter and created a new corporation, the Trustees of the University of the State of Pennsylvania. Ten years later the state legislature restored the former charter with all its privileges. The two institutions were united in September 1791.

6For an identification of the Rev. William Smith, provost of the College, Academy, and Charitable School of Philadelphia from 1755 until 1779 and again from July 1789 to 1791, see Smith to GW, 21 Sept. 1789, source note. Contemporaries commented upon his intemperate habits, including a strong love of drink.

7These letters have not been identified.

8For Mrs. Mauld, the wife of GW’s porter, see Lear to GW, 22 Sept. 1790, and GW to Lear, 27 Oct. 1790.

9Aldonza Lorenzo was the simple village girl who became the object of Don Quixote’s chivalrous devotion as the dulcinea del Toboso.

10Nothing further has been found about this transaction involving the purchase of lottery tickets for Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart and probably for either Mariamne Stoddert Alexander or Mary Dent Alexander.

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