To Samuel Haven
Mount Vernon Mar. 10th 1787
Although I gave the greatest credence to your acct of the talents & good behaviour of Mr Lear, yet before I subscribed to them, I was desirous of a little time to form my own judgment of both. To this, and this only, you will be pleased to attribute my not acknowledging the receipt of your favor of the 6th of May, at an earlier period.1
It is with pleasure I now inform you, that the deportment of this young Gentleman since he has been a member of my family, has been so perfectly proper and pleasing, as to render him highly esteemed. Sensible that saying this to a gentleman who has discovered an interest in his welfare, could not be unpleasing, is the cause of my giving you the trouble of this letter, at the same time that it affords me an opportunity of thanking you for the polite and affectionate wishes with which your letter is replete, & to assure you of the respect with which I am—Revd Sir Yr Most Obedt Hble Ser⟨vt⟩
ALS (photocopy), MHi; LB, DLC:GW.
1. GW also wrote on this date thanking John Langdon and Joseph Willard for their letters written in May 1786 recommending Tobias Lear for the position of secretary in GW’s household. He wrote Langdon: “Sir, I pray you to attribute my long silence in not acknowledging the receipt of your favor of the 5th of May, by Mr Lear, to any cause rather than the want of esteem or respect.
“Although I might perhaps, with as much truth as many others, assign business as the cause; yet this was not my principal motive for the delay. I wished for a little time and opportunity, to form my own judgment of Mr Lear before I gave testimony to his merits; and it is now with pleasure I can assure you that, I entertain the highest opinion of his worth. His deportment since he became a member of this family has been so perfectly proper and pleasing, in every point of view, as to render him the favourite of every one, and it is much our wish that his own contentment in it, may be equal to our satisfaction. I have the honor to be Sir Yr Most Obd. Hbe Se(rvt) Go: Washington” (ALS, NhPoS: John Langdon Collection; LB, DLC:GW).
In similar vein he wrote Joseph Willard: “Revd Sir, Let me entreat that my long silence, in not acknowledging the receipt of your polite letter of the 15th of May last, may be ascribed to any cause rather than want of respect for your character and gratitude for the favourable sentiments you have therein expressed of me. As the letter was introductory of Mr Lear, I found myself inclined, though disposed at the sametime to give full credence to your account of the talants and good disposition of this young Gentlemen to take time, and seek occasions, to form my own judgement of him; and it is with pleasure I now assure you that, his deportment since he came into this family has been such as to obtain the esteem, confidence, and love of every individual in it.
“As (from the interest you have taken in his welfare) I persuade my self this testimony of my approbation of his conduct will not be displeasing to you, I could no longer with-hold it; especially as it affords an occasion of assuring you of my good wishes for the University over wch you preside, and of the esteem & respect with which I have the honor to be, Revd Sir Yr Most Obedt Hble Ser⟨vt⟩ Go: Washington” (ALS [photocopy], Alvin Schener Catalog 2 ; LB, DLC:GW). The letters written to GW in May 1786 by Haven, Langdon, and Willard are all printed in Lear to GW, 7 May 1786, n.1.
Langdon acknowledged GW’s letter from Portsmouth, N.H., on 6 April: “I was honord a few days since with your Excellencys kind favor of the 10th Ult. in which you are pleased to acknowledge the merits of Mr Lear this testimony which you have given of him will be considered both by himself and friends as a mark of the highest honor and I hope he’ll embrace every opportunity of shewing his gratitude for this and all other favors” (DLC:GW).