George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Elizabeth Barbara Embry, 28 January 1794

From Elizabeth Barbara Embry

28 Jan. 1794. Writes from Cork County, Ireland: “The Protector of the distressed, the Arbiter of differences will He disdain the Sufferings of an individual. penetrated with esteem of your Excellent qualities, and hoping relief from a beneficence so extensive, and an understanding So piercing as that of your Excellency’s, for which you are not more famed than for a moderation, which makes you ⟨illegible⟩ all your great and astonishing talents with a Meakness as admirable, as surprizing, I am incouraged to address you.” Gives a detailed account of her son who “early distinguished Himself in His literary pursuits, and not less for a probity, and love of truth, that made him respectable. . . . At seventeen His ardour for distinguishing himself became almost ungovernable. . . . At the age of Eighteen, He had passed through all our College Courses,” and sets out on a tour of Europe, because a “certain ease, and Manner, was wanting to him, that is seldom possessed without mixing in the World—He had been wholly taken up with forming himself on the great examples he met with in Story. He was unsuspecting, modest, preferring others to him self, Brave by Nature, warm, ambitious, but it was the ambition of meriting distinction. It took the place of other Youthful passions, never did I see a Being more free from sin, or more truly religious, without any tincture of Fanaticism.” His traveling companion, however, was acquainted “with every vice of which the human heart is capable, it was A World of Wonders for My Son, of which till this moment He had been ignorant.” As a result, “His mind no longer preserved its steadiness. Something puting a Stop to their travells together, My Son returned to me directly, all his plans broken, his Spirits extremely hurt. . . . All my efforts were ineffectual, his Spirits were fled, and at last his health became a prey to disappointment, and indolence.” By this time he had “become of age,” and was responsible for an estate in Ireland, which had fallen into ruin. “He was cheated, and hated a World in which He found so much fraud, and injustice. He sequestred Himself from it, he began to consider it as a Duty to manage his little patrimony to the best advantage, but the accomplishment of this did not satisfy Him it was too bounded, his education had been extensive. he had endeavoured to form Him self for matters of ⟨extent⟩, of universal good, He sunk in the mention of little things. . . . I find Him pale, languid, and tho’ not thirty Years of age, His fine person stooped as if he were Seventy, his appetite gone, His Strength wasted. . . . He is convinced that neither his present employment, nor the air of this place agrees with him, Yet afraid to change for fear of worse. I know not what to do with him, or how to quit him for a moment. I have pressed his trying the air of a little Villa, I have near Dublin, His answer is, he must be Employed, or nothing is done. I alledge his Health must first be attended to, he answers Employment is as necessary as any thing else to the establishment of his health. if it is ever to be restablished.

“His admiration of you Sir, is great as Your qualities deserve He looks up to you as the first of Men, A word from Your Excellency might be the Means with the Blessing of Heaven of saving this inestimable Young Man and of making the widowed heart to sing for joy. Will this induce You Sir, to relieve me by Your Advice or if that is too much to hope, at least May I flatter My self You will pardon My taking up time so precious to the World with my cares and Miserys. . . . If Your Excellency shoud honor me with a line My address is Mrs Embry Inchannappa Wicklow Ireland.” 1

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Inchanappa is a country house in the parish of Inch, Arklow Barony of Wicklow County.

On 27 June, Secretary of State Edmund Randolph wrote Embry at GW’s request, acknowledging this letter and expressing his sympathy before continuing: “it being impossible to promise to him the kind of employment in the United States, which he seems to wish, it is incumbent on my candor to say this to you explicitly. At the same time I may assure you, that our country abounds in liberty and hospitality” (DNA: RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions).

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