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Gordon can easily get it in London, where it was engraved and printed about ten years ago. I suppose, if you inform him of this, it will do as well as if I wrote to him myself.
I remember a forest of oak and hickory on an extensive plain between Trenton Perry and Bristol, and that the road approached the river in one or two places. That by your account is Pennsbury: no matter for the treble island. "Old Nick's son " * was a name given by Cotton Mather, whose Magnalia is treated very contemptuously by that author, and yet his own work is full of blunders and misrepresentations.
The plan you have chalked out for an European edition of my work is the same which you mentioned to me before the first volume was published. I then applied to Longman for the purpose, and could find no encouragement. Perhaps a more enterprising bookseller might now be willing to risque an edition. I will think of it, and write by some of our London ships.
The news which you sent to Russel had got here before, and was printed in his Centinel. It came by Mr. Bourne, who brought the express message to Mr. Adams.
I have taken the liberty to publish in our papers your remark on the Catholic Church in this place, with a small addition. I believe it has done good. The Abbe has been about begging, the holy week not having sufficiently replenished his coffers. Several gentlemen to whom he applied objected the absurdity of his expecting to receive offerings from those whom he had excommunicated. One told him, if he wanted money as a man, he had some at his service, but none for him as a priest. Another asked him whether, if any of our churches wanted repairing, he would assist. He answered, " Vat, help de heretic, 0 no."
The reply then was, "If you send us all to the D 1,
you must not expect any of our money." I know not what step he will venture upon next. He came to my lecture last Friday evening dressed in his toga; but I have never had any conversation with him, nor have I ever attended any of his exhibitions.
* The reference here is to J. Oldmixon, the author of "The British Empire in America." London, 1708; second ed., 1741. — Eds.
We have been reading Mr. Morse's book. Our folks, observing the compliment which he pays the ladies of New Jersey, remark that, if Mr. Webster was to write a book of Geography, the Boston ladies would probably stand a chance for a compliment. It is not impossible that he may throw one into his book of education, which is printing here.
I wish M. had left out the astronomical part, and the very small sketches of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and particularly the insanity of George III. The American part would have been enough, and the most of that is new; at least, it had never been so well collected and presented at once. I wish, too, that he had not decided on dogmatical points, as in his account of the Moravians. However, I think, on the whole, it is a good book, and will prove fruitful to him.
By this time, I suppose you have got the Vice-President, and in a day or two more will have the President, with you; and thus the political machine will be set a-going. May a blessing attend its movements. I think it must be a great advantage to General Washington to have a man of so much political knowledge as Mr. Adams constantly at his elbow. An union and mutual confidence between two such truly great characters must augur well to the United States. What will become of North Carolina and Rhode Island? Do they not both owe money to the Continental treasury? and, if so, how is it to be paid? How will you manage your post-office matters with them, if they still continue to excommunicate themselves? By the way, Mr. Morse tells me he wrote to me from New Jersey a letter, which I never received. I have enquired of Hastings, and can hear nothing of it. I was apprehensive it might have been in the mail which fell into Connecticut River in crossing Springfield ferry; but Hastings says all those letters came on, and mine was not among them. I have received no answer from Dr. Clarkson relative to the statement which I sent him. Can you tell me the reason? Now I have mentioned Hastings, it brings to mind an anecdote which Dr. G. has given out in his "History" concerning the word Yankee. The publication of this is a cruel reflection on a very honest family in Cambridge, from which Jonathan originated. It is true the name sticks to them, and probably will; but it hurts poor Jonathan to have it in print. Nor has G. by any means hit upon the origin of the name. I have been told that Yankee Doodle is an old English ballad, — as old, perhaps, as Chevy Chase. Did you ever see or hear of it? Is there not a collection of old ballads by Thomas Hearne, the antiquarian? It may be that Yankee originally meant, as Gordon says, fine, excellent, and it may be that the word was used by old Hastings, and laughed at by the students; but 1 suspect the word was brought by our ancestors from England, as were several others which are now almost obsolete; and the Hastings family have the odium of having involuntarily preserved it as a nick-name annexed to them. I have heard a word used by some of the old people in Dover, — cantankerous, which is almost forgotten, even in that quarter. It means tough, crabbed, or something of that sort. Goldsmith uses it in his play "She Stoops to Conquer/' — "a cantankerous bitter toad;" and, but for this, I should not have known that the old people brought it from England with them. The English may laugh at us as much as they please; but they ought to remember that their ancestors and ours were the same, and many things which they ridicule in us were absolutely derived from them. Instance the law proceedings against witches, the severity against Quakers, &c, &c.
Yesterday Mr. Morse came to see me, and, in conversing on his Geography, he mentioned a plan concerted between you and him, in which he wishes me to take a share: to compile an Universal Geography. I received the communication with a diffidence proportioned to the magnitude of the object, but put it down among my consideranda.
Last evening I was told that the Abbe had collected 60 dollars in his mendicant capacity. I was glad to hear it for one reason; viz., that he had been employing some of our tradesmen in fitting up his chapel, buying candles and other necessaries for celebrating his qfficia; and I hoped he would pay his debts, so as not to put them to the necessity of sueing him, as such a step might possibly be construed into persecution. This day I am told that his clerk has decamped with the money, and left the poor Abbe to answer to his creditors. A writ has been served upon him, and probably others wrill be, as he certainly has run himself into debt to keep up the mummery of his profession. His chapel has answered the end of a puppet show to curious and idle folks, and the issue of the farce will prove a source of ridicule.
We have nothing new. You are in the focus of political knowledge, therefore I shall expect rich communications from the federal center.
Mrs. B. joins with me in the kindest salutations to you and Mrs. Hazard. When are we to expect you here? I am, dear sir,
Your affectionate friend, Jere. Belknap.
Have you got Garcilasso? Barnard has been gone about 10 days.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
New York, May 2,1789.
My Dear Sir, — I have received yours of April 20th, &c. I will forward the Plan to Dr. Gordon, with the information about Mr. Pelham's map. The forest you mention is Pennsburg. I did not recollect that I had before given you the hint about your book. (Indeed, I almost wonder how I remember any thing.) You have now a better prospect than formerly, as the London booksellers have some knowledge of your talents as an historian. Perhaps Dr. Gordon could assist you in finding a book-seller who would undertake the business. If he can, I think I can venture to promise that he will, upon application to him. I observed the publication in your paper. It was well enough, as nobody knew the writer. I think his Reverence will find he is upon a wrong plan.
I could not help remarking Morse's compliments to the Jersey ladies, myself. Captus amove, et capites oculis, are nearly synonimous expressions. I think "our author" has been too minute and prophetic for a geographer, which I intend to intimate to him. He will make money by his labours.
On Thursday last, our illustrious President took the oath of office. At 9 o'clock of that day, most of the religious societies of this city met in their respective churches, and spent about an hour in prayer, with particular reference to the new government. I have been told that the clergy had previously consulted together upon the subject; and that when the bishop of the church, formerly called the Church of England, was applied to for his concurrence, he replied that their church had always been used to look up to government upon such occasions, and he thought it prudent not to do any thing till they knew what government would direct. If the good bishop never prays with