Page images
PDF
EPUB

mentioned;—that its lateral branches are capable of great improvement at a small expense, through the most fertile parts of Virginia, in a southerly direction, and crossing Maryland, and extending into Pennsylvania in a northerly one, through which, (independent of what may come from the western country), an immensity of produce will be water-borne, thereby making the federal city the great emporium of the United States ;-I say, when these things are taken into consideration, I am under no apprehension of having the opinion I have given, relative to the value of land on the Potomac, controverted by impartial men.

There are farms always and every where for sale. If therefore events should induce you to cast an eye towards America, there need be no apprehension of your being accommodated to your liking; and if I could be made useful to you therein, you might command my services, with the greatest freedom.

Within full view of Mount Vernon,--separated therefrom by water only,—is one of the most beautiful seats on the river, for sale, but of greater magnitude than you seem to have contemplated. It is called Belvoir, and did belong to George William Fairfax, Esq. who, was he living, would now be Baron of Cameron, as his younger brother in this country, (George William dying without issue), at present is, though he does not take on himself the title.

This seat was the residence of the above-named gentleman before he went to England, and was accommodated with very good buildings, which were burnt soon after he left them. There are near 2000 acres of land belonging to the tract, surrounded in a manner by water.

The mansion-house stood on high and commanding ground. The soil is not of the first quality; but a considerable part of it lying level, may, with proper management, be profitably cultivated. There are some small tenements on the estate, but the greater part thereof is in wood. At present, it belongs to Ferdinando Fairfax, son of Bryan Fairfax, the gentleman who will not, as I said before, take upon himself the title of Baron of Cameron. A

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

year or two ago, the price he fixed on the land was (as I have been informed), 33} dollars per acre.

Whether not getting that sum, or whether he is no longer disposed to sell it, I am unable with precision to say, for I have heard nothing concerning his intentions lately.

With respect to the tenements I have offered to let, appertaining to my Mount Vernon estate, I can give no better description of them, and of their appearances, than what is contained in the printed advertisement herewith inclosed. But that you may have a more distinct view of the farms, and their relative situation to the mansion-house, a sketch from actual survey

is also inclosed, annexed to which I have given you, from memory,

the relative situation and form of the seat at Belvoir.

The terms on which I had authorised the superintendent of my concerns at Mount Vernon, to lease the farms there, are also inclosed; which, with the other papers, and the general information herein detailed, will throw all the light, I am enabled to give you, upon the subject of your inquiry. To have such a tenant as Sir John Sinclair, however desirable it might be, is an honour I dare not hope for; and to alienate any part of the fee-simple estate of Mount Vernon, is a measure I am not inclined to, as all the farms are connected and parts of a whole. With very great esteem and respect, I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and obliged humble servant,

GO. WASHINGTON.

It is a singular circumstance, that a person in such an exalted situation as General Washington, should have leisure to write, with his own hand, a great number of letters, to an entire stranger, and some of them of considerable length. I was thence induced to have eight of them engraved, in the handwriting of that distinguished warrior and statesman, and to deposit the originals in the British Museum, as the precious relics of a great man fit to be preserved in that valuable re

pository. I think it right, however, now to publish the whole collection; but as they are numerous, and some of them long, I shall print them in a smaller type, as this work is limited, and as such a number of interesting communications from the most distinguished characters on the Continent of Europe remain to be inserted.

LETTERS from General Washington on Agricultural Matters.

No. 1.

Philadelphia, 20th October 1792.
SIR,
I have received your letter of the 18th of May, inclosing the
pamphlet and

papers
which

you

had the goodness to send me. While I beg your acceptance of my acknowledgment for the polite mark of attention in transmitting these things to me, I flatter myself you will be assured, that I consider the subject therein recommended as highly important to society, whose best interests, I hope, will be promoted by a proper investigation of them, and the happiness of mankind advanced thereby.

I have to regret that the duties of my public station do not allow me to pay that attention to agriculture, and the objects attached to it, (which bave ever been my favourite pursuit), that I could wish; but I will put your queries respecting sheep into the hands of such gentlemen as I think most likely to attend to them, and answer them satisfactorily; I must, however, observe, that no important information on the subject can be expected from this country, where we have been so little in the habit of attending, either to the breed or improvement of our stock. With great respect and esteem, I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant,

Go, WASHINGTON.

No. 2.

Philadelphia, March 15. 1793. Sir, I hope you will have the goodness to excuse the delay which has taken place in transmitting answers to your queries respecting the sheep of this country, agreeably to the promise I made you in a letter which I had the honour of writing to you the 20th of October last. The session of Congress which commenced the 5th of November, and did not close until the 3d of this month, is offered as the principal cause of the delay.

The
paper

herewith inclosed, is from one of the most intelligent gentlemen farmers of this state, (Pennsylvania), living not more than five miles from the city. His details respecting the sheep of this state will apply, without much variation, to those of other states in the union ; in the extremes, however, of which they are, I think, more indifferent; and in Virginia and Maryland best of all, both for wool and mutton, and easiest raised on account of the temperature of the climate.

On my own farms, near the head of the tide-water of Potomac, (which river divides the states of Virginia and Maryland), I keep more sheep than is usual in this country, (from 750 to a thousand head); and whilst I resided thereon, and could attend to the manage. ment of them myself, their fleeces averaged full 5 lbs., and the mutton from 18 to 20 lbs. a quart. But this was the effect of care, and the choice of good rams.

Mr Arthur Young, with whom I have been in the habit of corresponding eight or ten years on agricultural subjects, and matters relative thereto, requested a lock of wool from my sheep, which was accordingly sent in an entire fleece of average weight and quality, on which I received the observations which are contained in the inclosed extracts from his letter.

In looking over the pamphlet which you were so obliging as to send me, entitled, “ An Analysis of the Political State of Scotland,” which is a specimen of the useful information to be expected from your researches, I cannot but express myself highly pleased with the undertaking, and give my best wishes for its success : for I am fully persuaded, that when enlightened men will take the trouble to examine so minutely into the state of society as your inquiries seem to go, it must result in greatly ameliorating the condition of the people, promoting the interests of civil society, and the happiness of mankind at large. These are objects truly worthy the attention of a great mind, and every friend to the human race must readily lend his aid towards their accomplishment. I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

GO. WASHINGTON.

No. 3.

Philadelphia, July 20. 1794.
SIR,
I am indebted to you

for your several favours of the 15th of June, 15th of August, and Ilth of September of the last, and for that of the 6th of February in the present year; for which and the pamphlets accompanying them my thanks are particularly due. To say

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

B

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

to me.

this, and to bave suffered them to remain so long unacknowledged, · needs explanation. The truth is, they came to hand, the first of them, about the opening, and the second set, towards the close, of a long and interesting session of Congress, during which my time was much occupied, and at the end thereof I had a pressing call to my estate in Virginia, from whence I have not been returned more than ten or twelve days.

I have read with peculiar pleasure and approbation the work you patronise so much, to your own honour and the utility of the public. Such a general view of the agriculture in the several counties of Great Britain is extremely interesting, and cannot fail of being very beneficial to the agricultural concerns of your country, and to those of

every other wherein they are read, and must entitle you to their warmest thanks for having set such a plan on foot, and for prosecuting it with the zeal and intelligence you do.

I am so much pleased with the plan and execution myself, as to pray you to have the goodness to direct your bookseller to continue to forward them to me, accompanied with the cost, which shall be paid to his order, or remitted so soon as the amount is made known

When the whole are received, I will promote, as far as in me lays, the reprinting of them here. I know of no pursuit in which more real and important service can be rendered to any country, than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares ; nor can I conceive any plan more conducive to this end, than the one you have introduced, for bringing to view the actual state of them in all parts of the kingdom, by which good and bad habits are exhibited in a manner too plain to be misconceived; for the accounts given to the British Board of Agriculture, appear in general to be drawn up in a masterly manner, so as fully to answer the expectations formed in the excellent plan which produced them, affording, at the same time, a fund of information useful in political economy, serviceable in all countries.

Commons, tithes, tenantry, (of which we feel nothing in this country), are in the list of impediments, I perceive, to perfection in English farming; and taxes are heavy deductions from the profit thereof. Of these we have none, or so light as hardly to be felt. Your system of agriculture, it must be confessed, is in a style superior, and of course much more expensive than ours ; but when the balance at the end of the year is struck, by deducting the taxes, poor rates, and incidental charges of every kind, from the produce of the land, in the two countries, no doubt can remain in which scale it is to be found.

It will be some time, I fear, before an agricultural society, with

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »