George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Mandrillon, 25 October 1788

From Joseph Mandrillon

Amsterdam 25th Octr 1788

My General,

I had the honor to send your Excellency some months ago a specimen of my last work under the title of Literary and Political Fragments during a journey to Berlin.1 It was to have been forwarded to you, my General, by——Boinod, bookseller in Philadelphia.2 I wish that the new homage which I have rendered with so much pleasure to your exalted merit, may interest you.

Your Excellency will see that I have added some new sketches to your Elogy. But I feel that my efforts will never be equal to the subject; and I hope your Excellency will rather judge me by my intentions than by the execution.

I take the advantage of putting this under the cover of Mr Praegers of Philadelphia, my correspondent. I have received great pleasure from my personal acquaintance with him, by his giving me much information respecting your Excellency whose admirer he is no less than my self. He dwells upon the civilities which you shewed him while he was in Your Country. This young man is Of a very rich & respectable family—he has, himself talents which render him interesting, and I am pleased to do him this justice to Your Excellency.3

I have had your portrait, my General, for several years, which I always carry with me; I have shewn it to Mr Praegers who does not think it a sufficiently good resemblance for a person who cherishes it so much as I do. He has promised to get me a better one, and you may Conceive, my General, how much I shall rejoice in possessing an exact likeness of you, since I never had the happiness of enjoying your presence.

I wish Your Excellency may know the ⟨Zeal⟩ which I have to prove the unalterable sentiments of devotion & respect with which I have the honor to be My General, Your very Hble and Very Obedt Servt

Jh Mandrillon4

Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, DLC:GW. The text of this document is taken from a translation prepared for GW. The original letter is printed in note 4.

Joseph Mandrillon (1743–1794) traveled in America as a young man and then settled in Amsterdam where he established a banking firm and divided his time between business and literature. Initially a supporter of the French Revolution, he went to France but was soon disillusioned. Arrested for treasonable correspondence, he was condemned to death in January 1794.

1This volume was Fragmens de politique et de littérature, suivis d’un voyage à Berlin, en 1784. offerts comme étrennes à mes amis, le Ier. Janvier 1788; par Mr. Jh. Mandrillon. Des académies de Haarlem, de Bresse, de Philadelphie, & c. (Paris and Brussels, 1788). Mandrillon sent GW a copy of the volume on 24 May 1788, and it remained in his library at the time of his death (Griffin, Boston Athenæum Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 134–35)

2Daniel Boinod and Alexander Gaillard arrived from Europe in the fall of 1783 and established a bookshop on Second Street in Philadelphia. They also published a French newspaper, Le Courier de l’Amérique, which ran from July to October 1784 and was probably discontinued because of Gaillard’s death in that year.

3The Pragers were a leading Jewish mercantile family that began business operations in Philadelphia after the Revolution under the name of Pragers, Liebaert & Company. By 1791 the name of the firm had been changed to Pragers & Company. Among the members of the family were Michael Prager, Sr. (1740–1793), supposedly of county Cork, Ireland, Michael Prager, Jr., “of Holland,” Mark Prager, Sr., and John Prager (Wolf, Jews of Philadelphia, description begins Edwin Wolf II and Maxwell Whiteman. The History of the Jews of Philadelphia from Colonial Times to the Age of Jackson. Philadelphia, 1957. description ends 436). GW occasionally exchanged seeds with Mark Prager, Sr., and dined with the family when he was in Philadelphia attending the Constitutional Convention.

4The text of the original letter reads: “J’ai eu l’honneur d’envoyer il y a quelques mois à Votre Excellence un Exemplaire de mon dernier ouvrage Sous le titre de Fragmens de politique et de Litterature Suivis d’un Voyage à Berlin. II a du vous parvenir, mon General, par le Mr Boinod libraire à Philadelphie. Je desire que ce nouvel hommage que je rends avec tant de plaisir a votre merite éminent, vous interesse. Votre Excellence verra que j’ai ajouté quelques esquises nouvelles à votre Eloge. Mais je Sens que mes efforts Seront toujours fort au dessous du Sujet; et j’espere que Votre Excellence me jugera plutôt Sur l’intention que Sur l’exécution.

“Je profite aujourd’hui du couvert de Mr Praegers de Philadelphie mon correspondant. J’ai eu d’autant plus de plaisir d’en faire personnellement la connoissance, qu’il m’a beaucoup entretenu de Votre Excellence dont il n’est pas moins l’admirateur que moi. II Se loue infiniment des bontés que vous avez eues pour lui lorsqu’il eut l’honneur de faire quelque Sejour à votre terre. Ce jeune homme appartient ici à une famille três riche et três estimée, il a lui même des talens qui le rendent três intéressant, et je Suis charmé de lui rendre cette justice—auprés de Votre Excellence.

“J’ai Votre portrait, Mon Général, depuis plusieurs années que je porte toujours Sur moi, Je l’ai montré à Mr Praegers qui ne l’a pas trouvé assez bien assés ressemblant pour une personne qui vous chérit autant que je le fais. il m’a prommis de m’en procurer un meilleur, et vous Sentez, Mon général combien ma joie Sera parfaite de posseder exactement vos traits, puisque je n’ai pas le bonheur de jouir de Votre présence.

“Je desire que Votre Excellence me Sache gré de mon zele à lui prouver mes Sentimens inaltérables de devouement et de respect avec les quels j’ai Lhonneur de me dire Mon Général Votre três humble & três obéissant Serviteur.”

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