George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Clement Biddle, 3 November 1784

To Clement Biddle

Mount Vernon Nov. 3rd 1784

Dear Sir,

I have not yet received a statement of my Acct with you. It would give me pleasure to have it at full length—and soon.

I wish you would add to it 100 lbs. of fresh & good (red) clover seed, to be sent by the first vessel to Alexandria, as I should be glad to receive it before Ice may impede the navigation of this or Delaware river.

I requested the favor of Mr Bourdinot (late president of Congress[)]1 to send me from New Jersey as much of the Orchard grass seed as would sow ten acres; and if no opportunity should offer from New York immediately to Alexandria to address it to your care, should the latter be the case I pray you to forward it by the first conveyance after its arrival.2

Last spring you were unable to get me English grass seed, but if it is to be had now, it would be very convenient for me to receive as much as would sow five acres (say 50 lbs.) The grass I mean has different names, which may be a reason of your unsuccessful enquiries before. By some it is called English Grass, by others Goose Grass, By others spear grass, but the kind I want is that which affords the best turf for walks and lawns, and is the purpose for which I want it. Could these seeds be had from a Farmer, or of the growth of the country there would be more certainty of its coming up. Imported seeds even (when no pranks are played with them) often get heated in the ship & vegetation thereby destroyed.3

At what prices pray could good Ticklenburg be had in Philadelphia, Nails, Paints, and in short course goods, are goods in general cheap or dear with you.4 I am Dr Sir Yr most Obedt Servt

G. Washington

LB, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; LB, DLC:GW. For the only significant difference between the copies in the Biddle letter book and GW’s letter book, see note 1.

1Elias Boudinot’s name is not misspelled in GW’s letter book, nor is he thus identified.

2See GW’s letter to Boudinot of this date. On 26 Jan. 1785 GW wrote Boudinot, again asking for “as much of the Orchard grass seed as would sew about ten Acres of Land.” Three days later, on 29 Jan., Biddle wrote GW that he had recently sent to Alexandria two bags of grass seed gotten from Boudinot. In his reply to GW’s letter of 26 Jan., Boudinot wrote on 9 Feb. that upon receiving GW’s letter of 3 Nov. he had been able to get six or seven bushels of the desired grass seed which he had immediately forwarded to Biddle and that he had recently found 3½ bushels more which he would also send along to Biddle. On 7 Mar. Biddle wrote that he had received another barrel of grass seed from Boudinot, which he would send to Alexandria.

3Biddle was unable to obtain the English, or goose, grass for GW. See his letter of 29 Jan. 1785.

4The punctuation of this passage in GW’s letter book makes the meaning of this passage clearer: “At what prices could good Tichenburg be had in Philadelphia—nails—paint—&ca in short course goods? Are goods in general cheap or dear with you?” Perhaps GW intended to write, or did write, “coarse” instead of “course.” No response to GW’s queries has been found.

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