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HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Oct. 29, 1789.
DEAR SIR,Since my last, I have received yours of 22d inst., forwarded by our friend Hastings, by a private hand, and accompanied with a packet for Trenchard, which I shall probably carry myself. Hastings and Libbey are both good men, and I think both will continue in statu quo.
The London booksellers seem to be all alike. They will be glad to sell on commission for you, so as to be sure of a profit, but will run no risque. Joy is right as to a book first printed and published here; but, query, cannot the law be evaded thus? Suppose you make a copy of your MS., and send that to England, and sell the copyright, reserving to yourself the right of printing for America. It will then not be liable to the objection Joy mentions. While that is on its passage, you may be printing here, so as not to lose time; and for another reason, too,- viz., to be able to enter your book in the proper office before any can come from England, so as to secure your copyright in America. But, in case of beginning to print before you hear from England, it should be done sub rosa; not because there would be any thing unjust in it, for you would sell with this reservation, but merely to prevent its being known in England that you had gone to press; for then the booksellers there would say, the work is in the press in America, and will soon appear, and then we may print it as we please, without purchasing. So with the Foresters, and any thing else. This plan would cost you the trouble of copying, and a little expence for paper; but I think the chance of a sale would be worth that.
We are glad to hear that Mr. Morse and family are well. From his late illness, I was not without apprehensions on his account. He must take care of himself. We are pretty
clear of the influenza in my family, though there is plenty of it in the city. I have been confined for a week lately with the piles, a new disorder to me, but am now almost well.
From the hints thrown out in the papers, I expect you will have rare doings on the President's arrival.
"The Bostonian sons
Will cannonade with all their guns."
How under heaven was that piece so well recommended that Russel could not refuse to print it? Had Mather Byles been alive, I should suppose [it] to have come from his pen.
I hope, with you, that I shall not be long without some settled business; for I shall be a most wretched being if I am to be idle and useless. I have just finished an index to the Laws of the Last Session of Congress, and am to make one to the Journals of the Rep. This will yield some small matter towards making the pot boil. At intervals, I engage in sorting my own papers (for I have got rid of all my official ones); and in doing it I have found your other White Mountain letter, which I now enclose. If I can, I intend to send the pamphlets by Barnard next trip, unless I should meet with a safe conveyance by land
It seems to me Thomas spoke rather discouragingly about his magazine, when I saw him here. I do not like the compilation; and, if it was not for you, Trenchard's would be worth little, unless he should get some new hands to help him. Bryson is out of office as well as myself. I don't know what will become of him.
I had thoughts of setting out for Philadelphia to-morrow, but the rainy weather will prevent, and there will be no other opportunity before Monday; when, Deo volente, I expect to start. It is like going to the East Indies. I have not heard from Dr. Clarkson lately.
It was well for Mather that he was in good keeping, or the devil would have paid him for abusing him so. What a charming philosopher he was!
I send you the September magazine, which you ought to have had sooner; but I was afraid to venture. However, I now send it, and with it a great deal of love to Mrs. B., in which Mrs. H. joins.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, November 11, 1789.
MY DEAR SIR, -It always gives me great pleasure to converse with you, but I had much rather have you at my elbow than at this distance. Once you told me you had a desire to pitch your tent in New England. Why cannot that desire return? You are certainly well respected here, and I think you have many qualities which will render you very agreeable to the people here. But you know, better than I can tell you, what to do. I wish you well settled, and to your mind. To be afloat is a scene of anxiety which I know by experience is extremely disagreeable, on many accounts, to a person of true sensibility, and especially that has a family. I thank you for your hints relative to an evasion, &c. ; but I conceive it would be fruitless for me to make such
an attempt. They are too cunning for me. I must content myself with small earnings. My own opinion of myself is that I am like the old navigators before the invention of the compass, who were afraid to venture out of sight of land; and perhaps my fortune may be, "Nothing venture, nothing have," which I would reverse thus, "Nothing venture, nothing lose." I am not averse to labour, but I am not for running risques. I have even done adventuring in lotteries. Nothing but necessity and a
firm conviction of duty can prevail on me to venture any thing where I have not a good prospect of success.
There is no need of my giving you any account of the reception of the President. The papers are full of the matter. All I shall say is respecting myself. When I waited on him, in company with the rest of my brethren, on my being introduced to him by name, he said, "I am indebted to you, sir, for the History of New Hampshire; and it gave me great pleasure." To which I answered, or meant to answer, for it came upon me quite unexpected, "I am obliged to your Excellency for a very polite letter of acknowledgment, and am extremely glad to see you." This was all. Each one said what he pleased, and we staid with him about five or six minutes. We did not trouble him with an address; nor did any of us preach to him, as did some of our brethren elsewhere. I believe he is heartily tired of adulatory and fulsome compliments, whether in the shape of addresses, sermons, or odes.
What I said respecting Thomas's magazine was founded on the opinion which I hear people express of it. It has so much reputation that I am confident he may venture to continue it another year; but there is room enough for improvement. I expect Trenchard's will drop, but I shall have a piece in each number till the end of the year.
Carey has written to me to supply him with hints, queries, &c., such as the Gentleman's Magazine abounds with. I have written to him, and proposed an amendment to his terms. If he adopts it, I shall probably engage. I took the liberty to mention you to him, as one that might assist him in the same way. To this I thought I was bound in friendship to you, and for the interest of his work, which I am sure might be promoted by your exertions. Nothing would please me better than to be concerned with you in the same business. Brother Morse is sick and well, by turns, as often as any man that I am
acquainted with. He was over here at lecture to-day, in the rain; so you may conclude he is not sick now.
We have all had the influenza, or, as we call it, the "Washington cold," because it began in the wet weather which happened at the President's arrival, and during the greater part of the time of his stay with us. I have suffered five days' confinement. My eyes and nose ran scalding water one day; but I am now well, without the help of physician or medicine. Will you bear with another extract from "The Wonders of the Invisible World," by the renowned C. M., D.D. and F.R.S. 'Tis a sermon on those words, Rev. 12. 12, "The Devil is come down in great wrath, &c. "Alas! the devils swarm about us like the frogs of Egypt. Are we at our tables? there will be devils to tempt us to sensuality. Are we in our beds? there will be devils to tempt us to carnality. Are we in our shops? there will be devils to tempt us to dishonesty. Yea, though we get into the church, there will be devils to haunt us in the very temple itself."
In another discourse, on 2 Cor. 11. 11, "We are not ignorant of his devices." "No place that I know of has got such a spell upon it as will always keep the Devil out. The meeting-house wherein we assemble is filled with many holy people and many holy concerns; but if our eyes were so refined, as the servant of the prophet had his of old, I suppose we should see a throng of devils in this very place. There are angels that hark how I preach and how you hear, and our own sad experience is enough to intimate that the devils are likewise rendezvousing here.
"When we are in our church assemblies, O, how many devils do you imagine crowd in among us? There is a devil that rocks one to sleep; there is a devil that makes another to be thinking of he scarce knows what; and there is a devil that makes another to be pleasing himself with wanton and wicked speculations. It is also possible that we have our closets and our studies glori