Rocky Hill 16th Octor 1783
Since I was favored with your letter of Septr [ ] I have received the enclosed from Mr Lund Washington (who has charge of my business in Virginia) to Colo. Biddle; it was accompanied with the following paragraph to me: "William Roberts would not enter into such articles as I wanted him to sign, altho’ he has for several years (since he lived here) signed much the same; he says he is convinced from what is past, he never shall quit drinking, notwithstanding his endeavours to do it; and the restrictions he is laid under in these articles are such that it is not in his nature to keep them; & he has no Right (he acknowledges) to be endulged any longer in the manner he has been; therefore he will rent a Mill, & work for himself; being determined never to hire himself again.
I wrote the enclosed to go by this post to Colo. Biddle, who has frequently desired me, if I had anything in which he could do for you, or myself, that I would freely command him. But I have thought, that you probably might have some other acquaintance on whom you might choose to rely for the transaction of such a piece of business, in preference to him, therefore I send the letter under cover to you, that you may act as you shall think best in the matter."
As I think you are much better judges of the qualifications necessary to constitute a good Miller, & have it more in your power to procure one, than Colo. Biddle, I send the Letter which Mr Washington had written to him, to you, and pray your assistance in this business.
The time being short, no delay can be admitted; I submit to you therefore, the propriety of advertising for a man, which will answer my purposes— the wages I will leave entirely to yourself; or, in other words, I would give that highest that are given, for such a Mill as mine is described to be; or I would even give more, to get a good & skillful man who understands, and will do his duty, without giving me any plague or trouble. There is no Miller in America I would exchange Roberts for, if he could be broke of his abominable drunken & quarrelsome frolicks—the opinion I entertain of his skill, and an unwillingness to part with him, have been the inducements to my keeping him fourteen years, when I ought not to have borne with him for the last seven of them.
Having now committed this business absolutely to your management, I shall confide in your endeavours to serve me, unless you forbid me to do so— and as letters sometimes indeed too often, miscarry, I shall thank you for a single line, informing me that this is got safe to your hands—I will make no apology for this trouble, but I will give you strong assurances of my disposition to make any return in the power of Gentn Your most obt hble Servt
P.S. Any expence which may be incurr’d in this business, I will chearfully pay.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.