George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lafayette, 26 April 1798

From Lafayette

Witmold Holstein
April the 26th 1798

My dear General—

This letter will be presented to You By Mr Forster whose father, The Celebrated professor and Captain Cooke’s fellow traveller Has Requested In Behalf of His Son these Recommandatory Lines—I am sure His Name Was to You a Sufficient Introduction—and in His personal merit there is also a Sufficient inducement to wish for his wellfare—Yet I should be Highly pleased to Hope that My Recommandation May prove an Additional Claim to the Benevolence of my friends in America, and particularly to Your kind dispositions in His favour.1

Altho’ we are writing to You more at Length, My dear General, I cannot let this Opportunity pass without telling You that we are still on Danish territory, Man, wife, daughters and Son, whose Gratitude and Love to You are deeply Engraved in His Heart and in the Hearts of us all—we are all Healthy, my wife Excepted—She Had Been a Little Better for a few weeks—But the desease, which all the phisicians justly Attribute to the Austrian Bastille Has lately Returned with distressing Symptoms, and after Having waited so long to Embark with Her, I shall be obliged to Go without the female part of my family, and while Georges and Myself are preparing to visit you, she must Return to france where the Hot Bath are particularly Appropriated to Her Case.

Our best Respects wait on Mrs Washington—Be pleased also to Remember to Miss Eleanor those of the family who Have the Honour of Her Acquaintance, and the Rest of it who so Heartly wish for that pleasure—our Compliments to Mr Custis, who, I dare Say, Hardly Remembers to Have Seen me at Mount Vernon. Adieu, My Beloved General, How Happy shall I Be when You will fold to Your Heart Your Respectful and filial friend


ALS, MH: Jared Sparks Collection. Lafayette wrote on the cover “favoured by Mr forster.”

1John Reinhold Forster, descendant of a Yorkshire family, was a minister of the Reformed church near Danzig in Prussian Poland. He went from there to Russia in 1765 and then to London in 1766, where he became a tutor and a noted naturalist. In 1772 he and his son Johann Georg Adam Forster (1754–1794) accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage. GW does not record in his diary a visit, and on 21 Aug. 1798 John Reinhold Forster’s son Charles Reinhold Forster wrote to GW from no. 13 Cherry Street, New York: “Honoured General! Your Excellency, will find inclosed a Letter from General Lafayette, which I intended to have had the Honor of delivering personally; But as the unsalutary State of Philadelphia, and other mercantile arrangements will detain me some Time in this Province, I have thot proper to send it [to] Your Excellency, as it contains some Accot of The Generals Family, which no Vessell having lately arrived from Hamburg, Your Excellency may wish to be apprized off—It was the Intention of the General to charge me with more private Letters, But hearing I went by the way of England; The General declined sending any. When ever I approach The Neighbourhood of the hospitable & renowned Mansion of Mount Vernon, I shall do myself the Honor to wait on Your Excellency, and apologize for the State in which the inclosed introductory Letter is, owing to having been oblig’d to wear it abot me in my memorandum Book on Both my passages from Hamburg to England & from Fallmouth to Halifax & New York, in Both which The french have chaced & attacked us, especially in the latter, w[h]ere we had a smart Engagements” (DLC:GW).

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