George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Christian Ehlers, 23 December 1793

To John Christian Ehlers

Philadelphia Decr 23d 1793.

Mr Ehler,

By a Vessel which left this City ten or twelve days ago I sent you Grafts of several kinds of fruit, according to a list which was enclosed to Mr Lewis, & which I presume he gave you.1

I now give you a letter to a Gentleman living about 12 miles from you, where there used to be, and I dare say still is, a great variety of choice apples and other fruits2—Go then when you find it convenient, for them, & it may be done by land or water, as you like best. Do not omit grafting a good many of the Golden Pippin which grows in my own Orchard.

I expect Mr Pearce who is to superintend my business will be at Mount Vernon by the time this letter will get to your hands, and I expect you will observe his directions, & pay the same attention to any regulations he may establish, as if they were given, and made by myself; the same will be expectd from your wife, and from John—The last of whom, that is John, you may inform, has displeased me, by giving himself impudent airs, in saying he would not have this thing, nor he would not have that thing, because they were either not good enough, or not made to his liking.3 You may tell him from me, that this is neither the way to make me his friend, or to get better things. The way to obtain them is to ask for what he wants modestly; without wch he will not get them at all—or at least nothing more than what is absolutely necessary.

I hope, and do expect, that you will use your best exertions in planting out trees—making good the hedges—Keeping the Gardens—the Lawns—and the Vineya⟨rd⟩ in order, with such other things as was to have been done last winter but was not then accomplished. And as I have desired Mr Pearce to have cuttings of the Lombardy Poplar, & the Willows planted along the ditches at the Plantations, for hedges do not trim those along the Walks, or elsewhere until they are wanted for this purpose.

I shall not close this letter without exhorting you to refrain from spiritous liquors—they will prove your ruin if you do not. Consider how little a drunken Man differs from a beast; the latter is not endowed with reason—the former deprives himself of it; and when that is the case acts like a brute; annoying, and disturbing every one around him—But this is not all—nor as it respects himself the worst of it; By degrees it renders a person feeble & not only unable to serve others but to help himself—and being an act of his own he fall from a state of usefulness into contempt and at length suffers, if not perishes in penury & want.

Don’t let this be your case. Shew yourself more of a man, and a Christian, than to yield to so intolerable a vice; which cannot, I am certain (to the greatest lover of liquor) give more pleasure to sip in the poison (for it is no better) than the consequences of it in bad behaviour at the moment, & the more serious evils produced by it afterwards, must give pain. I am—Your friend

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW.

1An entry for 11 Dec. in GW’s household accounts records the payment of $2 “for grafts of trees to send to Mt Vernon” (Household Accounts description begins Presidential Household Accounts, 1793–97. Manuscript, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. description ends ; see also Account Book, 2 Sept. 1793–4 April 1794, DLC:GW). The list has not been identified.

2This letter has not been identified.

3John Gottleib Richler, an indentured servant, had been brought to Mount Vernon in July as another gardener.

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