George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Tobias Lear, 17 September 1790

To Tobias Lear

Mount Vernon Septr 17th 1790

Dear Sir,

Having received no letter from you since the one dated the 3d instant, I have nothing to reply to. The motive for writing to you at this time, is, that upon unpacking the china ornaments which accompanied the Mirrors for the Tables; it was found (notwithstanding they were in Bran) that many of the delicate & tender parts were broken; occasioned I believe by the Bran not being put in & settled down by little at a time. To press the Bran around the images (you have to remove with the Plateaux) will not answer; still, it must be so compact as to prevent friction, in moving; and this can only be done by putting each image or figure in a seperate box, with Bran by little & little, shaking & settling it by degrees, as it is added.

By a letter which Major Jackson has received from General Steward, he had compleated his removal, & Mr Morris had began to take the things out of the House I am to have to make room for my furniture;1 but as Mr Morris was desired, so I am persuaded he will, inform you when it will be safe, & proper for you to remove. The sooner I think it can be done, the better; as you will be able to make such arrangements, & provide such conveniences as you will know we shall want; and which (I suppose) through the channel they are now making, may be accomplished.

We have resolved to take one of my Cooks with us2—and if upon examining into the matter, it shall be found convenient, I may also take on a boy: at any rate there will be no occasion for Mrs Lewis or her daughter; for a Scullion may always be had in Philadelphia.

In one of my former letters I suggested to you the Propriety of knowing, decidedly, what Mr Hydes views are before he is removed from New York at my expence;3 and I now repeat it: first, because it is necessary for me to be placed upon a certainty; and secondly, because if he has any difficulties, or doubts—or has in contemplation to talk in a short time (which is but too common a case) of increased wages, it would be best to seperate at once; as well for these reasons as the one I communicated in a former letter, and because I fear his Table is a much more expensive one than it ought to be. But as this is conjecture only, I will not charge him with it—tho’ I think the short duration of the first Pipe of Pintards Wine, is a pretty evident proof that that article was expended more expeditiously than it ever was in Francis’s time.4 How it has been with other things, if you have been able to compare the Accounts of the one with the other, you must be the best judge.5

We arrived safe at this place on Saturday last, but not without one upset of the Chariot, and Waggon—fortunately nothing was hurt.6 We all unite in best wishes for you & Mrs Lear.7 and I am your sincere friend, and Affecte Servant

Go: Washington

Take measures either by yourself or through Colo. Biddle to engage Wood in Season. and whilst it is to be obtained on good terms.

ALS, DLC: Tobias Lear Papers.

1For the letter of Walter Stewart, the occupant of the house into which Robert Morris was moving, see GW to Morris, 9 Sept. 1790 and note 1.

2GW did take Hercules (Uncle Harkless), one of the Mount Vernon slaves, with him to Philadelphia in November 1790 to serve as cook. He also acceded to Hercules’ wishes to have his son Richmond as an assistant, and the boy served the Philadelphia household as a chimney sweep as well as a scullion (GW to Lear, 9 Sept. and 22 Nov. 1790; Decatur, Private Affairs of George Washington, description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends 169, 173, 214, 280).

3See GW to Lear, 5 Sept. 1790 and notes 8 and 13.

4On 5 Aug. 1790 John Marsden Pintard billed GW £60 for a seventy-five-gallon cask of Madeira wine. On 31 Aug. 1790 GW paid for this and the remaining £13.15 he owed Pintard (Account with Pintard, 5 Aug. 1790, ICHi; see also Decatur, Private Affairs of George Washington, description begins Stephen Decatur, Jr. Private Affairs of George Washington: From the Records and Accounts of Tobias Lear, Esquire, his Secretary. Boston, 1933. description ends 125).

5For Lear’s comparison of Samuel Fraunces’ and John Hyde’s stewardships, see Lear to GW, 12 and 26 Sept. 1790.

6For GW’s arrival at Mount Vernon on 11 Sept. 1790, see GW to Charles Carter, 14 Sept. 1790, n.2.

7Lear replied to GW’s 17 Sept. 1790 letter on 26 Sept. 1790.

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