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HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 1789.
MY DEAR SIR, -I thank you for your refreshing letter of 3d inst. The sympathy of friends is a cordial which even mens conscia recti does not render unnecessary. Mine have been very kind. What Providence intends by my removal I cannot yet tell; but I have no doubt it is my good, either spiritual or temporal, or both. Afflictions are a part of our portion in this life, and I think I can say, from experience, not the worst part. I can recollect instances which will warrant my saying, it is good for me that I have been afflicted, and this may prove an additional one. I hope, with you, that some door of usefulness will be opened to me soon; for it is dreadful to be a cipher in creation, and yet why should I repine if Providence should order it so? Perhaps it is necessary that some wheels in the great machine should stand still at times. But I am not quite idle. At present I am engaged in making an index to the Journals of the Representatives and the laws passed in the late session of Congress. Every little helps. This winter, I suppose, will be spent in jobbing, if I can get it to do; but I have thoughts of a jaunt to Philadelphia, where I have some business which ought to be attended to. I do not feel anxious about my successor's applying to me for information, for, as he assures me he did not solicit for my office, I feel no heart-burnings against him, and offered him any information which my experience might enable me to give him. This I did for two reasons: first, because I know that, were I in his situation, I should like a similar offer; and, secondly, because my not being captain of the ship is no reason why I should let her sink, if I can prevent it. It is probable that my letter to the President will be of service to my successor. It ought to be, for the public will and must
suffer if he is left under such embarrassments as I was. The department must be put upon a very different footing, if it is to be made productive. I believe Hastings will be continued; and, if so, we may derive benefit from it.
On account of my present unsettled situation, I don't know what to say about a magazine, or, indeed, any thing else. Do you think Thomas's will endure?
Thank you for Marant's sermon. He is a genius, to say the least of him. I wonder how he found out that a wooden ark was made by a mason. It is provoking to see such trifling with serious things.
I live at No. 29 Broadway, near the Oswego Market.
A singular disorder is very prevalent in town, which seems to be contagious. It is a cold, attended with an headach, soreness of the eyes, a copious discharge from the nose, and a cough: scarcely a family is free from it. Mrs. Hazard has it, and I suspect it is beginning to attack me. My little girl is almost well, but very feeble. The rest of the family are well.
The President will soon set out for the eastward, so that you will probably have the pleasure of seeing him.
Give our love to Mrs. Belknap, and thank her for her friendly sympathy. I am, my dear sir,
P. S. Give our love to Mr. and Mrs. Morse.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
BOSTON, October 22, 1789.
DEAR SIR, -Your kind favour of 13th inst. was delivered me by our friend Hastings. I am glad to hear that he is likely to be continued. He seems to be pecu
liarly attached to you, and is very obliging to me. I hope Libbey will also stand his ground. He is a truly worthy character, and has as much integrity and benevolence as any man living.
By one of the last ships, I have a letter from Michael Joy, of 7th August. He says: "It is the opinion of Mr. Dilly that a sufficient number of copies of the History could not be vended here to defray the expence of printing. Some, however, would sell; and when you have published the 2d volume, if you incline to send a number of sets to him, he will do what he can for your advantage." Precisely the same answer that I had from Longman about the first volume. As to the Foresters, he says, "No judgment can be formed before the completion of the work; and for my farther comfort, he informs me that "an author having printed and published abroad has no exclusive copyright in the book in Great Brittain; consequently, can vest none in any bookseller here, but every person may of right republish in this kingdom a work printed abroad." Now, from this information, and from the experience which I have had by sending some of the first volume to England, and the loss sustained thereby, if I should send any of the second, it will be a mere act of complaisance, and I shall reap no other advantage than to have something said about it in the reviews. This, however, will not discourage me from going on with the work, trusting to American sales only for a reimbursement of the expence.
Mr. Morse and wife and Susan were to have dined with us to-day; but the arrival of his father and friends from Woodstock, last evening, prevents. I had a line from him this morning, and they are well.
I hope this will find you and your family free from the influenza. I expect that the company that is coming from New York will bring it here. We are making preparations for a procession, a review, and what not, to
treat the President with. You will hear enough of it by the newspapers. A family of children cannot receive a long absent parent with more real joy than will be felt by the citizens of this place on his coming. I know several sick persons who are lamenting that he should come before they are able to go abroad. My dear sir, I hope you will not long remain without some settled business. Your character and abilities are so well known that I cannot entertain a doubt of something in reserve for you, though time and Providence must bring it forth. In the mean time, you are so far happy as to have a spirit of resignation and a desire to do good. This temper is the best preparation for filling some future station with credit and usefulness.
Thomas's Magazine, as far as I am able to judge, is likely to continue for some time, at least. It is pretty generally read; and, since it has come out, I have lost near 20 subscriptions for the Columbian.
If you should go to Philadelphia, pray write me from thence. What will become of Bryson?* I hear nothing now from or about Dr. Clarkson, and have had nothing from Dr. Rush since the letter which I passed open through your hands.
I wish you was here to laugh with me at Dr. Mather's "Wonders of the Invisible World," which I have taken out of the College Library. I will give you one choice
extract or two:
"The servile, abject, needy circumstances wherein the Devil keeps his slaves, do suggest to us how woful the Devil would render all our lives. We live in a Province which affords us all that may be necessary or comfortable; but we found it filled with vast herds of salvages, that never saw so much as a knife, or a nail, or a board, or a grain of salt, in all their days. No better would the
* Mr. Hazard's assistant in the post-office. - Eds.
Devil have the world provided for; nor should we have one convenient thing about us, but be as indigent as our ragged witches are, if the Devil's malice were not overruled. The Devil, like a dragon keeping a guard upon such fruits as would refresh a languishing world, has hindered mankind, for many ages, from hitting those useful inventions which yet were so obvious and facile that it is everybody's wonder they were no sooner hit upon. The bemisted world must jog on for thousands of years without the knowledge of the loadstone, till a Neapolitan stumbled upon it 300 years ago. Nor must the world be blest with such a matchless engine of learning and virtue as that of printing, till about the middle of the 15th century. Nor must one old man, all over the face of the whole earth, have the benefit of such a little though most needful thing as a pair of spectacles, till a Dutchman, a little while ago, accommodated us.
“We are told that the Devil made a storm which hurricanoed the house of Job upon the heads of them that were feasting in it. Paracelsus could have informed the Devil (if he had not been informed, as be sure he was before) that if much aluminious matter, with salt-petre, not thoroughly prepared, be mixed, they will send up a cloud of smoke, which will come down in rain. But undoubtedly the Devil understands the way to make a tempest, as well as to turn the winds at the solicitation of a Laplander. Whence perhaps it is that thunders are observed oftener to break upon churches than upon any other buildings." "One woe that may be looked for is a repetition of earthquakes; and this, perhaps, by the energy of the Devil in the earth.” "The Devil is going to be dislodged of the air, where his present quarters are.'
I could give you more, but my paper fails. Adieu.