George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tobias Lear, 25 December 1793

From Tobias Lear

Glasgow [Scotland] December 25th 1793

My dear Sir,

I have the vanity to think you will not be displeased to hear of my safe arrival at this place. We had a passage of 28 days from New York, and in the course of it experienced much stormy weather.

I have been here a fortnight, during which time I have been busily engaged in viewing the several large manufactories in the City and its neighbourhood, in some of which they exceed any other part of Great Britain, particularly in the fabric of muslins, which branch they have, ’till within this year past, carried on to a vast extent, not less than two hundred thousand persons having been employed in the several parts of this manufacture in this place & its vicinity: But the war and its concomitants have thrown more than 5/6ths of the above number out of employment. Notwithstanding which, and the similar effect which I am told is produced in other large manufacturing places in the Kingdom, there seems to be no prospect of a peace.

As the muslin is made here in greater perfection than perhaps in any other part of Europe, and knowing that you & Mrs Washington have sometimes occasion to purchase goods of this kind I have ventured to send you a few articles agreeably to the enclosed Invoice, as they are of a quality not often met with in America—and much cheaper than I know such things are with you.1 The Cotton Cambrick is a new attempt at a substitute for that usually worn, and it bids fair to become a great object, as this sent is afforded at less than one half of what cambrick of equal quality generally costs. I have also added 3 dozen of glass tumblers for punch from a manufactory here which is an excellent one lately established, and with great improvements in its operation, all the cut & cypher work in the glass being performed by a steam engine, which has lessened the cost of cut glass more than 20 pr Cent. I gave to the manufacturer the crest of your arms which I had on the seal of a letter, which he has engraved on the front of each glass.

I trust to that goodness which I have so often experienced to pardon the liberty which I have taken to send these articles without being desired to do it. Whenever it is convenient Mr Dandridge may pay the amount to my friend Mr James Greenleaf.2

Our Country is here pronounced emphatically the happy land—and the wisdom of keeping out of the bloody contest in which the nations of Europe are engaged has given a respectability to the American Government in the opinion here, which it would have been long in obtaining without the intervention of such a crisis to bring it to the test; and it seems to be as much the ardent prayer of many here that we may continue to preserve our enviable situation, as it would be of those who felt more immediately the blessings of it. Curses seem to be imprecated everywhere hereabouts upon those Barbarians, the Algeriens, who have again committed depredations on some of our unfortunate Countrymen, and an astonishment is expressed at their being permitted by the maritime powers to pass thus with impunity: But interest in a national question will generally prevail over humanity.3

I shall tomorrow set out for Edinburgh, where I shall continue for a few days, and then proceed to London, visiting such manufacturing places as Leeds—Manchester, Sheffield &c. which lay almost in my route.

A Report of the taking of Toulon by the French is all we have new of a public nature; and as the vessel which takes this letter may not sail for two or three weeks, you will undoubtedly know whether this is a fact or not before this reaches you.4

In riding about to the manufactories in this neighbourhood I observed the hedges were mostly of furze, and that it formed an excellent hedge, and finding on enquiry that it grew readily, I got a pound of the seed, which is in the box with the other things, and likewise a pound of the Scotch Kail seed, which is said to be hereabouts of a superiour quality—it stands the winters here without injury—and at this time there are fields of it round the City that have all the verdure of a fresh clover field; but this is not to be wondered at, for there has been not the smallest symptom of frost in this County yet; the weather since I have been here corresponds very well with ours in Philada in April I have forwarded your letter to Mr Young5—and when I get to London I shall remember the thorn bushes which I am to send out for you.6

I have taken up more of your valuable time with this letter than I intended when I began; but will trespass no further than to beg the favour of having my best & grateful respects made acceptable to your good Mrs Washington & my love to Mr Dandridge & my young friends. With the purest respect & truest affection I have the honor to be, my dear Sir, Your grateful friend & faithful servant

Tobias Lear.


1The invoice has not been identified. However, a duplicate invoice sent with Lear’s letter to GW of 26–30 Jan. 1794 listed 25 yards of cotton shirting, 8 yards of cotton cambric, 6 handkerchiefs, 10 yards of sewed muslin, kale and furze seed, and three dozen tumblers, at a total cost of £17.8.11. sterling (DLC:GW). The entry dated 24 Dec. 1793 in GW’s account with Lear, recording “Cash pd for the following articles sent us from Glasgow,” includes only one dozen tumblers and has a different cost for the seed, resulting in a total cost of £15.18.5 sterling (Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 4).

2For the arrival of these articles and arrangements to pay for them, see James Greenleaf to GW, 19 May 1794, and Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to Greenleaf, 21 May 1794.

3For the recent seizures of American vessels by Algerine corsairs, see Richard O’Bryen to GW, 5 Nov., and n.1 to that document.

4Toulon was retaken by the French forces on 19 December.

6Lear sent GW 5,000 white thorn plants in February 1794 (Lear to GW, 4 Feb. 1794; Ledger C description begins Manuscript Ledger in Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, N.J. description ends , 4).

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