From Joseph Mandrillon
Amsterdam 11th June 1784
The happy and illustrious qualities with which Heaven has favoured you, merit without doubt, the confidence and the Love of all your Fellow Citizens—you have fully gratified their Hope, you have Sir, even surpassed it, by drawing on your Country All the prosperity which she enjoys—Before you, Sir, we had never yet seen a Great Man Universally admired, commended, respected and enjoy his immortality whilst living: you were born Sir to offer this lovely and rare Instance to your Age.
Permit me, Sir, to Present you an Exemplar of my Remarks, and of my Enquiries concerning America—Recieve them with that Bounty, that Indulgence which Constitutes the primitive basis of your Conduct—Pardon me for having traced the Portrait of your Excellency in the 5th Chapter of the 2d part of the Spectator, it is Sir too fare short of the Model to gain me any Merit.1
My Friend Mr E. Brush Merchant of New-York judging of my Soul by his Own has conceived that he could not better demonstrate his attachment, than by making me a present of your Portrait richly ornamented He is not decieved, and I possess nothing Sir which to me is more precious. This Portrait shall be to my Family and myself an inalterable monument of My Friends attachment, and of Respect to your Person.2 I have the honor to be with the intimate Sentiment of Veneration which I have published Sir your Excellency’s very humble and very Obt Servant3
Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, DLC:GW. A transcript of the French ALS is in CD-ROM:GW.
Joseph Mandrillon (1743–1794) was a French banker in Amsterdam who retained a lively interest in America after visiting it before the Revolution. He wrote to GW often after GW acknowledged this letter on 25 Nov. 1784, and Mandrillon usually included samples of his poetry and prose. GW put an end to the correspondence in a letter of 30 June 1790 with the plea that the press of the business of the presidency made it impossible to carry on a private correspondence. Mandrillon returned to Paris at the outbreak of the French Revolution and died on the guillotine in January 1794.
1. Mandrillon’s book Le Spectateur Américain ou Remarques Généles sur L’Amérique Septentrionale et sur La République des Treize-Etats-Unis . . . (Amsterdam, 1784) includes a “Portrait du général Washington” (pt. 2, pp. 45–50), which is an unrelieved panegyric. In 1788 Mandrillon sent GW another of his books, Fragmens de Politique et de Littérature, Suivis d’un Voyage à Berlin, en 1784 (Paris and Brussels, 1788), in which the essay on GW in Le Spectateur is reprinted. The latter work was in GW’s library at his death. See Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P. C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 134, and GW to Mandrillon, 29 Aug. 1788.
2. The portrait of GW that the merchant Ebenezer Brush sent Mandrillon has not been identified.
3. GW responded from Mount Vernon on 25 Nov. 1784: “I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 11th of June, accompanied with your remarks & enquiries concerning America. The honorable mention which you make of me in both is far above my deserts, & to be ascribed more to your politeness than to my merits: on my gratitude however you have a powerful claim; at the same time that it becomes matter of regret to me, that my want of knowledge in the French language will not allow me to become well acquainted with all the beauties of your Spectator” (LB, DLC:GW).