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but that was impracticable. This is far from being the only instance in which my wishes have not been gratified. I expect the post every minute, and therefore, after best respects to Mrs. Belknap, must conclude, assuring you that I am
Sincerely and affectionately yours,
Eben. Hazard. Dr. Gordon's respects.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
Mr. Hazard's compliments to Mr. Belknap, and now returns Burnaby, with many thanks for the entertainment and assistance he has afforded him. He should have been returned sooner, but the bad weather, which has occasioned some irregularity in the posts of late, prevented. No news. Compliments to Mrs. Belknap.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Dotek, Dec. 28,1779.
Dear Sir, — No part of the intelligence contained in the Southern papers (two packets of which I have received from you since your return from Philadelphia) affords me more entertainment than the detached portions of Col. Allen's Narrative. I wish I could see the whole. From what I have read, and from a short casual interview which I had with him at Boston, I think him an original in his way, but as rough and boisterous as the scenes he has passed through.
You desire my opinion of the N. Y. Law of Robbery. I am poorly qualified to give it, having but little knowledge of the circumstances of the people there, and less of law matters. From the view I have of it, it seems to be constructed on the old maxim, "Set a rogue to catch a rogue." For the Tories are supposed to be principally concerned in the robberies, and by the heavy penalty laid on them indiscriminately, it is evidently their interest to assist in detecting offenders. 'Tis impossible for me to judge a priori of the expediency of the law, the experiment must be tried, and I apprehend it was intended for an experiment, by the short term set for its continuance in force. If it does not produce terror, it may possibly excite the Tories to enter into combinations to stand by one another; and, in that case, I should guess the Sheriff, who is to collect the penalty in the form of a tax, will be in as much danger as the collector of a tribute in Eehoboam's time: an armed force may be necessary to assist him. Upon the whole, the law seems to me to be an edge-tool, the danger or benefit of which can be judged of only by the operation.
I am glad you are so pleased with Burnaby's Journal; I am solicitous to give you every assistance in my power towards perfecting your Geography. I have among my papers a very curious account of Niagara Falls, with an adventure of two Indians who were driven by the current on an island which impends the Falls in the middle of the stream, extracted from the "Gentleman's Magazine" for January, 1751. Dr. Gordon can get it for you out of the College Library. There is a description of some parts of Long Island, with a particular view to establish a conjecture of its having in some unknown period emerged from the sea. It is in a pamphlet reprinted at Boston in 1761, entitled "An Essay on the Agitations of the Sea, and other Remarkables attending the Earthquakes of the year 1755." From some circumstances I conjecture it is a product of Dr. Franklin. I have it bound up in a thick volume of pamphlets, so as to make it too clumsy to send by the post, but, if you can't get it elsewhere, I will transcribe the account when I get time. I have seen a history of Louisiana, by one Du Pratz, a Frenchman, who lived there twenty-five years. It has many exceedingly curious particulars concerning the Mississippi and adjacent country, and of the Natchez, the original Indian inhabitants of the part where the French settlement was. It was lent me by a gentleman who is now gone out of the country, and I suppose carried it with him. "lis in two volumes, London edition, printed, if I remember right, about 1760. The reviewers gave a character of it as an indifferent performance, but their decisions do not always bear the stamp of infallibility. Old Father Hennepin has said many things in the geographical way concerning Canada and the Mississippi, but I know not what degree of credit is due to him. Charlevoix may possibly be more correct, as he wrote later; but of this I cannot judge, having never read his account.
As to my biographical project, I find by experience that the execution of it in my hands grows daily more impracticable. My friend, Mr. Eliot, seems inclined to undertake it, and if he can attain to the virtue of celibacy, of which another of my very good friends is possessed pro tempore, he will accomplish it. I wish you would urge it on him (by it I do not mean the virtue above mentioned, but the icork, possibly he may make it consistent with the opposite virtue of matrimony). Am not I a curious moralist to talk of opposite virtues?
I enclose you the last Egg of our late Convention. It proved rotten db utero. And, to finish my immethodical letter, I will subjoin an anecdote handed to me as a fact by a gentleman of credit who was on the spot. A member of our late House of Representatives in their last session at Exeter (by the way, we have just had a new choice), returning from court to his lodgings in the close of the day, passed by an house where a joiner had been shingling, just as he had thrown down his hammer and was descending the ladder. The representative picked up the hammer, carried it to his lodgings (which was a taver^), and pawned it for a,jill of rum. The joiner, finding on enquiry which way the hammer went, followed it to the tavern, and demanded it, but was obliged to pay for the rum before he could have it. Being a man of spirit, he then publicly, in a crowded room, and in the presence of divers brother representatives, warned the landlord against receiving stolen goods from the members of the General Court. This is a specimen of the little villainy of the cattle by whom we are, I should say have been, governed; for, as that assembly is dissolved, 'tis no blasphemy to tell the truth.
Mrs. Belknap desires her respectful compliments — mine also to Dr. Gordon.
I hope it is no transgression of post-office rules for me to enclose a letter to Mr. Elliot? I have no other opportunity but by the post, and it might lie in your office a long time without his knowledge.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
Jamaica Plain, Jan. 4, 1780.
Reverend And Dear Sir, — I am favoured with yours of 28th ult. Allen is really an original; at least, I never met with a genius like him. Had his natural talents been cultivated by a liberal education, he would have made no bad figure among the £ons of science; but perhaps his want of such an education is not to be lamented, as, unless he had more grace, it would make him a dangerous member of society. I have not had any Philadelphia papers since the last I sent you, but have seen a continuation of Allen's narrative in Willis's (Boston) Thursday's paper, which some of your neighbours perhaps can furnish you with. I do not take them, or would send them to you. The Tories in the State of New York undoubtedly harbour (at least) the fellows who come from the enemy upon plundering parties; for many of them have gone so far into the country as that they must have been discovered and taken, had they not been thus befriended. The design of the law was to make it the interest of their friends, if not to become their enemies, at least to withdraw their protection, and thereby render their attempts to rob the Whigs dangerous and futile. I think it will answer the end. The Tories are too weak in point of numbers to form combinations, and have been so frequently detected, and so many hanged, that the remainder would not dare to doit, were their numbers greater.
I am much obliged to you for your solicitude about giving me assistance, as well as for the help you have already afforded me; but, however I may wish for a continuance* of your kindness in this respect, I dare not ash it, knowing how constantly you are hurried; and being, at the same time, confident that I shall not be forgot in your leisure hours, when you have such. I will endeavour to pick up the books you mention, as I have opportunity, and doubt not they will furnish useful hints. Charlevoix's character as an historian is not good. Du Pratz, I believe, is in better credit; but, though books may assist me in my enquiries, my principal sources of information will be gentlemen of learning and abilities in the several States, to whom I intend to write upon the subject. It is a pity you cannot proceed with your Biographical Dictionary, and it has grieved me not a little that I have not been able as yet to furnish you with any materials for it. I do not think the work will proceed much faster in Mr. Elliot's hands than yours, even should he "attain to the virtue of celibacy," for his situation as a city minister will oblige him to make and receive many visits; and, if he attends to these (as he must, if he would avoid giving