To Burwell Bassett
Mount Vernon, 28th August 1762
I was favoured with your Epistle wrote on a certain 25th of July1 when you ought to have been at Church, praying as becomes every good Christian Man who has as much to answer for as you have—strange it is that you will be so blind to truth that the enlightening sounds of the Gospel cannot reach your Ear, nor no Examples awaken you to a sense of Goodness—could you but behold with what religious zeal I hye me to Church on every Lords day, it would do your heart good, and fill it I hope with equal fervency—but heark’ee—I am told you have lately introduced into your Family, a certain production which you are lost in admiration of, and spend so much time in contemplating the just proportions of its parts, the ease, and conveniences with which it abounds, that it is thought you will have little time to animadvert upon the prospects of your Crops, &c.2—pray how will this be reconciled to that anxious care and vigilance, which is so escencially necessary at a time when our growing Property—meaning the Tobacco—is assailed by every villainous worm that has had an existence since the days of Noah (how unkind it was of Noah now I have mentioned his name to suffer such a brood of Vermin to get a birth in the Ark) but perhaps you may be as well of as we are—that is, have no Tobacco for them to eat and there I think we nicked the Dogs,3 as I think to do you if you expect any more—but not without a full assurance of being with a very sincere regard D. Sir, Yr Mo Affect. & Obed.
P.S. don’t forget to make my compls to Mrs. Bassett, Miss Dudy, & the little ones, for Miss Dudy cannot be classed with the small people without offering her great Injustice4—I shall see you I expect about the first of November.
Typescript, DLC:GW. The letter was published in Scribner’s Monthly, 14 (1877), 76; the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 81 (1910–11), 786–87; and Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 37:484–85. Douglas Freeman finds the style of this letter uncharacteristic of GW and suggests that it may have been extensively revised (Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman. George Washington: A Biography. 7 vols. New York, 1948–57. description ends , 3:82). The fact that so few of GW’s personal letters written before the Revolution have survived makes it difficult to judge. All of the copies of the letter are said to have come from the Lewis and Bassett families.
1. Letter not found.
2. If, as this suggests, the “production” was a son, the infant must have died. The Bassetts had three children living at this time: Elizabeth (b. 1758), William (1760–1774), and Anna Maria (1760–c.1763).
3. Or, defrauded the worms.
4. Bassett married Anna Maria Dandridge in 1757. According to tradition, “Miss Dudy” was Judy Diggs, the large and very strong daughter of a neighboring farmer, who for a time served as housekeeper for the Bassetts (Scribner’s Monthly, 14 , 76; Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 81 [1910–11], 787).