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BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, December 13, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR,Never in my life was
Never in my life was I so straitened for time as now. The duties of my profession, the care of my school, the innumerable callings in and callings out, scarcely leave me room for any other business; and yet other business must be done. Nothing but utter incapacity shall prevent my attention to my friend. I have two letters of yours unanswered, and I will now endeavor to answer them as well as I can.
The first object that occurs is my poor son, who is yet confined; and his disorder is of such a nature as to keep us continually in doubt and fear, with scarcely a ray of hope. The appearances on the surface, and the probe of the surgeon, announce a deep abscess, in the region of the hip-bone, the discharge of which was preceded by the most exquisite pain. He is now pretty easy, but our fears are uppermost concerning the event. Should it prove fatal, I shall need all my fortitude to support myself, besides exerting myself to comfort my child, and be the staff of my distressed family. O my friend, these are trying scenes!
With respect to the Dighton Rock, the copy at college might have passed for a true one, if the critical ambition of James Winthrop had not led him to scour the rock, and fill the cavities with printer's ink, and by pressing on wet paper he has got a copy a little longer and a little wider, and some of the figures a little better defined; but it is not a whit more intelligible. He is now studying the Mexican picture-writing, to see if he can decypher it by that means.
I never meant to conceal the author of the American Plutarch, therefore N. W. is welcome to his knowledge. As
to the offer from Philadelphia, I suppose he got his information there.
I asked Hall concerning the petition of 1652. He took two days to recollect, and could not then tell from whom he had it. After this, I sent it to the Secretary's office, to see if he could authenticate it; and there it is yet. When he gives me an answer, you shall have it.
All I can say with certainty concerning writing for the new Magazine is that I thank you for the motion. At present, it is impossible that I should make any engagement; but, if you please, the door may be kept open. However, this must be an indispensable condition, that no person but yourself must know me in that character.
I am glad N. B. has got a good wife. I suppose he went by the Shandean rule in such cases, to get one as unlike the former as possible.
The collection of newspapers is from 1760 to the present time, in 24 vols.; and 2 dollars per volume have been offered, and refused. They are Boston papers; and the series, I believe, is pretty regular.
De la Vega shall be returned by Barnard. I thank you for the long loan of it. Should I want it again, it is in the College Library.
What it cost the State to remove Greenleaf, I know not; but more, certainly, than was necessary. Had they put it off to the end of the session, the Senate could have done it as well, and the pay of the Lower House been saved. They did nothing but dance backwards and forwards all the time.
Enclosed is another portion of Smith, and a reproof for the indecent pieces in the October Magazine, which have vexed and mortified me greatly.
I hear that General Judge Varnum is unpopular in the Ohio country. Is it so? I have not yet seen Cutler.
Having lately exerted all my influence among my friends, and in many instances without success, to procure sub
scriptions for the Columbian Magazine, I do not think it probable that I shall be able to get any for the American, especially as the Monarch has taken care to announce to the world that he has still a hand in it. He is not popular here. Besides, Thomas's Magazine* will swallow up all others; and I do not expect that the proprietors of the Columbian will think it worth their while to send any here after this year is out. I wish the Register had been detached from the Magazine. In that case, I doubt not some subscriptions might have been procured; but, tacked with it, I do not expect there will be many.
Nothing is yet done about a similar publication here, though I have repeatedly heard it mentioned. Should there be one, and I have any hand in it, I shall do my endeavour that it shall not hurt yours, but rather that each one shall help the other.
I hope your family is recovered of the measles, and that Mrs. Hazard will not be called to so painful a trial as Mrs. B. We send our love; and I am, dear sir,
You did not give me any answer about the opinion of the Jersey Judge Symmes.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR, You have a right to be in my debt, without any apology; because, as you know, I have often been in yours. We are very sorry to find that your son still continues so ill. I have frequently wished for medical skill, to advise you what would be beneficial for him; but
* Thomas and Andrews published monthly, from 1789 to 1793 inclusive, the "Massachusetts Magazine," devoted to letters and the arts, &c.-EDs.
'tis in vain. Use the means you have, and leave events to God, who will order them in such a way as shall be best for you.
My family are now all well; but a nurse, whom we had hired for the sick, who has been with us a fortnight, and was to have left us to-day, has the measles herself. They made their appearance this morning; so that we shall have to nurse the nurse. It would be inhuman to send her from us sick, and my good wife has learned that she is very poor; so she has concluded to keep her here till she gets well, and, like the good Samaritan, pour oil into her wounds.
N. W. called to take his leave of me to-day. He is going to Boston, where Thomas is to print something for him, I believe his Lectures. He will probably be with you all winter.
Mr. Morse is at Elizabeth Town, printing his Geography.* His printer treated him scurvily, by appropriating paper intended for him to another use, and thus has delayed his work. This mortifies him not a little, and, I fear, will hinder him from settling in Charlestown as soon as he would wish; but I intend to advise him to go there, and return again after a while, rather than stay at Elizabeth Town 'til his work is finished; for I find, by a letter from my friend Mr. Carey, that the people anxiously expect his coming.
Mrs. H. has gone to visit a neighbour, and the time has come for me to wait upon her; so I must bid you goodbye. Yours,
P. S. If N. W. should propose to you to be a partner in the intended Magazine, don't hastily refuse it. I
* Jedediah Morse's "American Geography," which passed through a number of editions, both in this country and in England, was first published at Elizabethtown, N.J., in 1789.- Eds.
think that work will be established, especially if the proprietors take my advice, of admitting as proprietors a sufficient number of men of genius to make the whole of the Magazine original. The share of the profits would, in this case, be smaller at first; but I think this plan would procure such a number of subscribers, after a while, as would make a share very valuable.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, 20 December, 1788.
MY DEAR SIR,Your two letters, accompanying the November Magazine, came to hand this week. I cannot understand the last of the "Notes to Correspondents by your short hint that it is "for the Monarch," unless I was also acquainted with his letter therein referred to. Do explain it farther. I have no inclination to make any farther remarks on Soto's rambles, having (as he concedes) established what I intended; viz., that none of the fortifications now remaining could be his work. It is of no consequence that I know of how far he rambled northward on the W. side of the Mississippi, nor whether the number of leagues mentioned by this or that historian be counted in a crooked or straight line, or be accurate or not. If N. W. conceives there be difficulties yet remaining, I cannot conceive they are of any importance, or that any great point can be gained by an endeavour to solve them; therefore I shall let them remain as they are.
The more I reflect on and converse about the intended publication, the more sorry I am that your collection cannot come out without being tacked to a Magazine. I wish some means may yet be found to disengage it; or, at least, to leave it optional with the subscribers whether to take it singly or connected. I am not alone in this