George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Clement Biddle, 2 February 1785

To Clement Biddle

Mount Vernon 2d Feb. 85.

Dear Sir,

The Writer of the inclosed letter, in person & character, is entirely unknown to me.1 I have been at a loss therefore to determine what notice to take of it—at length I concluded to write the answer which is also enclosed; and to request the favor of you to send it to him, or return it to me, as you should just 2 best from the result of your enquiries; or from your own knowledge of the author, or his Works.3 If he is a man of decent deportment, & his productions deserving encouragement, I am very willing to lend him any aid he can derive from the proposed dedication, if he conceives a benefit. His letter & proposals you will please to return me—& Seal the letter to him, if it is forwarded to the address. I am—Dr Sir Yr most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence; LB, DLC:GW.

2The letter book has “judge” rather than “just.”

3Biddle wrote below GW’s signature in this letter: “March 7 Answered—I could not obtain such Information respecting the Author of the Poems as to induce me to deliver your letter but will make further Enquirey on that subject.” See Biddle’s letter of 7 March. Biddle decided not to deliver the letter (see the note in Lamont to GW, 31 Dec. 1784). The text of the letter of 31 Jan. to Lamont that GW enclosed was: “Sir, The interruption of the Post by the frost, withheld your letter of the 31st Ulto from me until within a few days.

“The liberty you have taken in dedicating your Poetical Works to me, does me honor—The conditions upon which you offer them to the Public are generous—evincive of their purity—and conscious worth. I shall with pleasure therefore take a few copies of the bound & lettered Books, when they are ready for delivery.

“It behoves me to correct a mistake in your printed address To the patrons of the fine arts’ I am no Marshall of France—nor do I hold any Commission, or fill any office under that Government—or any other whatever. I am—Sir Yr Most Obedt Hble Servt Go: Washington” (ALS, PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence). There is also a letter-book copy, DLC:GW.

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