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BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, July 18, 1789.
MY DEAR SIR, —I am very glad to hear that the gout has left your feet; but, when you mentioned your head being out of order, I began to tremble. That head must not be over-exercised. I hope your new masters will allow you the means of obtaining some respite for it; and, if time will say yes to the idea of visiting Charlestown, I am persuaded that not only the head, but every other part of my friend, will receive benefit from the excursion.
The piece respecting Dr. Gordon's History has been reprinted here, and I have the same opinion of it which you expressed. Many people here are offended by differ ent parts of that work. Among others, Mr. S. A. told me, the other day, that he was much hurt by what the Doctor says of an attempt to displace General Washington, in which he was concerned, and of an anonymous letter to which he is supposed to be privy. He solemnly affirmed to me that he never knew of that letter till he saw it in G.'s book; that he was not concerned in any such scheme; that he endeavoured, soon after the report was raised about the matter, to contradict it, and publickly disclaimed having had any hand in it by a speech which he made here in a town-meeting. And he supposes the whole matter originated in a mistake, because he was engaged in endeavouring to have General Schuyler removed from office; and that when it was said that Mr. A. wished, or attempted, the General's removal, it was misunderstood of General Washington.
If this account be true, it is a great pity that such a mistake should not be rectified. There is a great collection of matter, indeed, in Gordon's work; but there are many things which are below the dignity of history to
notice. Of what consequence is it that General Sullivan lived upon salted tongues and eggs in his Indian expedition? or that General Jo Warren was thought handsome by the ladies? But I will not attempt to point out blemishes. I only wish that Dr. Gordon had let his History be seen by some judicious friends, who were well acquainted with facts, before he left this country. I am persuaded that he might have profited by their advice; but he had too much of the self-sufficient principle in him.
I was last Tuesday on Mount Wallaston, in Braintree, where Morton erected his May-pole in 1628, and lived in a riotous manner with the Indians, which caused the Plimouth people to make prisoner of him, and send him to England. It is a delightful situation. I wished for your company. There is in the same town a ship of 800 tons building for the India trade, under the inspection of Major Shaw, who is lately returned from that quarter of the globe.* What adventurous fellows we Americans are?
Have you ever seen a 4to volume of "Political Annals of the Confederated Colonies of America," by George Chalmers, printed in London, 1780?
In a late letter which Mr. John Adams wrote to me, he says he has commenced an acquaintance with Mr. Morse, and thinks him "an interesting character."
In the Cincinnati oration at New York, in praise of Generals Greene and Montgomery, is there any trait of their characters which deserves my notice as a Biographer? I feel an avidity for every thing that can help forward such a work. I have almost done with Penn, and hope to finish him next week. Pray can you furnish me with any account of General Sir William Johnson? or direct me where to obtain it? Do you know whether
* Samuel Shaw, whose Life was written by Josiah Quincy. Boston, 1847.
the result of the Congress at Albany in 1754 was ever published? or where can a copy of it be had?
I send you, for your amusement (when your [head] aches again), some extracts which I have made from the Diary of I. M. I took all that was worthy of notice. There were many family matters and mental exercises intermixed, which I thought might as well have been omitted. It was the most crabbed handwriting that ever I had to decipher, and some of it I could not find out, which may account for some blanks. You will please to return it as soon as is convenient for you.
Mrs. B. joins in cordial love to you and Mrs. Hazard with, dear sir,
Your affectionate friend,
We hear that Mrs. Buckminster is much better, and rejoice in it. My Sally is there yet.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, July 28, 1789.
MY DEAR SIR, Having got over the hurry the President's enquiries occasioned, my head is relieved; but the time required to furnish my replies has taken so much from other business that that has got behind, which occasions new hurry; and I believe I shall always be hurried. I have given my new masters an hint that it is time to think of me; and they have appointed a committee, so that I shall probably hear from them ere long, and know whether I am still to be a slave, or to be allowed more liberty.
Why, what an outrageous writer has attacked Dr. G.'s subscriber! Your writers have accustomed themselves
* See Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc., for March, 1858, p. 317. — Eds.
so much to illiberality that they can hardly write decently. What do you think of the threat of criticizing the subscriber's style? That was really laughable. I will communicate to Dr. G. what you inform me of Mr. A. If any thing has been misrepresented, I am confident it has been unintentionally, and will be cheerfully corrected. The Doctor has been too minute in many parts of his History. In some places, it was necessary, as in "Col. Laurens, son-in-law to General McDougall." It is your idea, and I find it a prevailing one, that the History was written before the Doctor left America. Was this the
fact? I never knew it.
I have not seen Chalmers's Annals.
The New York Cincinnati Oration has not been published, and I did not hear it delivered (for I hate the nonsense), so that I cannot tell what it contained; but suppose there was nothing more than puffing off the military exploits of Greene and Montgomery, in general terms. I must take a second heat at your letter, for the post will leave me. All well, and send love.
I. M. is safe.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Aug. 8, 1789.
MY DEAR SIR, -I cannot furnish you with any account of Sir William Johnston, nor inform you where to get it. He was, however, a great friend of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, and, I believe, their agent. I have among my papers a large number of original letters which passed between him and the missionaries. It appears to me that the result of the Congress at Albany in 1754 was published, and yet I am not sure of it. Upon reflection, I doubt whether there was a Congress (modernly speak
ing) at all. The newspapers of that day and journals of Assembly mention a treaty with the 6 Nations at Albany in June, 1754, and I believe there was nothing more; except that, at that time, the idea of something like a general government popped into Dr. Franklin's head. Since I began the last sentence, I have seen a neighbour, who says there was more intended than a treaty with the Indians. There was an intention of some kind of union of the Colonies, but he believed the result was never published, though he had seen extracts from it.*
I. M. has afforded me amusement. He was a genius. I don't wonder he complains that his prayers were not heard when, "Lord, pour out a vial on the House of Austria," formed a part of them. I thank you for the extracts, and now return them.
I have received the Pennsylvania papers and Franklin's Review. Mr. Tappen said nothing to me about a bundle; but, when it comes to hand, I will take care of it. Perhaps Mr. Wingate can tell me something about it. I find, from your letter to Rush, that he has the same ideas of the Bible as a school-book with myself, and which I have frequently attempted to propagate; but I go farther than merely excluding it from schools. My plan is to tell children stories out of it, adapted to their capacities, and let them know they are in the Bible, and thus excite a desire to read it. Having excited the desire, I would refuse to gratify it, except by way of reward, and would thus take advantage of the spirit of contradiction which is in human nature to strengthen the desire.
My new masters are silent as to their servant yet. The President wanted an account of the income and expences of the department for every year since I have been at the head of it, stated so that he could see the amount of either,
* For an account of what was done at this Congress, and the part taken in it by Dr. Franklin, see his autobiography under the year 1754. - EDS.