« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
before the frost sets in ; and therefore desire the opportunity this fine weather affords may not be lost.
I am, dear John,
G. MASON. P. S. Please get me a good closet lock and send it by the bearer-if from Mr. Hodgson's to be charged to my account, if from any other store you will please to pay the cash for it. John Mason, Esq:
GUNSTON HALL, December 23, 1791. DEAR JOHN :
Enclosed you have my letters for Bordeaux and Marseilles, which I hope will be in time for the ships. Indeed I fear last night's hard frost has blocked them up, though if to-day and tomorrow turn out mild weather, the river will open again, as the ice is but thin yet.
And you will give the proper directions about your brother Thomas's watch, and about the four pieces of coarse grey blankets I have ordered from Bordeaux.
The overseer gave me a little bit of small cordage you sent down to see if it would answer for leading lines. Leading lines should be a very small size larger, and twisted in a different manner, viz., what is called cable-laid ; they should also be made of the soundest, strongest hemp.
I have ordered the bearer, Joe, to carry up a portmanteau, saddle and mail pillion, as you desired, and hope to see you at Gunston on Saturday.
I am, dear John,
This last letter, written two days before Christmas, shows us that John Mason was expected home for the holidays. And no doubt there was a happy family party assembled on this occasion. George Mason from “Lexington," with his wife and children, were near enough to drive over to “Gunston” at any time. William Mason was then living with his father, though he afterwards removed permanently
| Mason Papers.
ACCOUNT OF COLONEL MASON'S FAMILY.
to “Mattawoman," the old Eilbeck place in Maryland. Thomson Mason's house, “Hollin Hall," on an estate in Fairfax, adjoining that of “Mount Vernon," was built for him by his father about this time. Thomas Mason lived in Alexandria in these years, though he settled later at “Woodbridge,” his estate in Prince William County. John Mason, after his final return from France, made his home on Mason's Island, near Georgetown, bequeathed him in his father's will, and there called Barbadoes. Mrs. McCarty was living at “ Cedar Grove,” in the neighborhood of “Gunston Hall.” And of the three other sisters, two of them were located in adjoining counties not far distant. Mary, Mrs. Cooke, lived at “ West Farm,” in Stafford County, and Elizabeth, Mrs. Thornton, at “The Cottage,” in King George County. Ann, the eldest daughter and her father's house-keeper during his widowhood, had been married now some years, and her home was at “Aquasco," in Prince George County, Maryland. These brothers and sisters were an affectionate and united family, and John Mason wrote of their early homelife together as a very harmonious and happy one. And
“ I can add with truth as I do with infinite pleasure, and as a just tribute to the memories of my brothers and sisters, all of whom have now for some years departed this life, that the most sincere, constant affection and interchange of kindly offices subsisted afterwards among us all. And that there never was, to the best of my knowledge, a single quarrel or even a transient coolness that ever took place between any of us.” 1
The affection between George Mason and his children was very close and tender, as the letters of the former to his two sons amply testify. As the daughters were all settled so near him, but little occasion arose for correspondence no doubt, as was the case also with the three sons who did not
MS. of General John Mason.
Early in January John Mason left “Gunston" again for a trip to Philadelphia and New York. His father was suffering at the time from an attack of the gout, as we learn from this letter to his son :
GUNSTON HALL, January 23d, 1792. DEAR JOHN:
I received your letter from Baltimore of the 7th inst. and am glad to hear you were like to meet with no disappointment in receiving my money from Messrs. Smiths, and making the payment I desired to Mr. Dulany. I was in hopes he would readily have given up the interest during the war, as I believe every British creditor who has received his debt, without a suit, has done it ; and the Supreme Courts in this State, and I believe in most, if not all the others, have constantly deducted it. There was, I understand, an opinion given in the federal court in Connecticut (though I believe not a final one) that interest upon British debts was recoverable, which I suppose is what Mr. Dulany alluded to. I wish I had thought to have desired you, just to make the experiment, whether he would not have given up the interest during the war, by telling him that upon those terms only, the money would be immediately paid. I am very anxious to hear the last news from France. I presume you got your letters by the ships, that had arrived at Baltimore from Bordeaux, the day after you wrote to me.
I am also anxious to hear that you keep your health, being apprehensive that this extreme cold weather (which is probably still more severe to the Northward) will not agree with your constitution. The snow is now as deep here as it was in the hard winter of 1740, indeed I think deeper than I ever saw it, except in the winter of 1773. It will occasion, I expect, great losses in the stocks of cattle in this part of the country, badly as it is provided with provender, from the short crops of corn and hay.
I have just recovered from the fit of the gout you left me in, and am now able to walk about the house, though still a little lame. In every other respect, thank God, I am in good health. It has proved, however, a pretty severe fit, though a regular one and remained confined to one of my feet.
THE POTOMAC RIVER BRIDGE.
Present me to my friend Col. Monroe, and tell him I should have done myself the honor of answering his letters sooner, had not the gout forbid me, for it is not without pain that I am yet able to sit at a table and write.
I have received a letter from Mr. Stoddert upon the subject of the projected bridge, in which he gives me at large the same reasons he did you to persuade me that its effects will be favorable to a town on my land on this side the river. I verily believe he is of that opinion himself, for I know him a man of great candor. I enclose you a copy of my answer to him, by which you will see I am willing to compromise with the gentlemen, upon fair and reasonable terms, though I thought it best at present to leave the matter open, to see if they are inclined to offer me such. Besides that I wish to act liberally on the occasion, I have some particular reasons for desiring to avoid any dispute with them, which I will communicate to you when I see you. The effects of the bridge as well as the practicability of the execution are very doubtful, and I am at some loss to estimate what will be a just and reasonable compensation. I would not willingly ask more nor take less. What do you think of agreeing to take, forever, a certain part (say about a fifth) of the gross tolls or money received annually for passengers &c., without my having any concern in the building, repairs or expences of the bridge? I wish you would endeavor to make yourself acquainted with, and inform me, of the tolls or rates taken at the bridge from Boston to Charles Town, and the annual amount of the money received. It is probable Mr. Gerry, or some of the Massachusetts gentlemen in Congress, can inform you. Or if you will write to Mr. Gorham he can give you the fullest information being, if I recollect right, one of the proprietors and managers. I should be glad also to know the length and breadth of the Boston bridge, the width of the spaces on each side for foot passengers, and the space in the middle for carriages. Pray let me hear from you as often as you conveniently can. Tell me how you have your health, whether you have determined to go any further eastward than New York, and when we may expect to see you again at Gunston. Your brother George and his family are well : he keeps his health this winter better than could have been expected, for I dreaded the effect of this severe weather
I am, dear John,
G. MASON. per post Mr. John Mason,
Philadelphia. If Mr. Mason should have left Philadelphia, recommended to the care of Mr. Joseph Anthony to forward to him.'
In May Colonel Mason wrote the following letter of business to John Francis Mercer :
GUNSTON HALL, May 12th, 1792. DEAR SIR :
I yesterday received a letter (forwarded by Mr. Johnson) from you, dated the 23rd October, 1791, covering an old letter from Mr. Rutland to you, respecting some land he said he had upon James river. Had this letter come to my hands in Rutland's lifetime it might have enabled me to have examined into the title, situation and value of the land, and perhaps, by it, to have secured part of my debt ; at present I do not know that it will be of any use to me.
I wrote to you last fall, respecting two bonds from the late Mr. George Frazer Hawkins, to me which I had formerly put into your hands, and enclose you a memorandum of the dates and amounts of them ; but I have not been favored with any answer from you upon the subject, and Mr. Johnson tells me you do not recollect having had them. If I now had the bonds I could find means of obtaining the debt, and must entreat you to search for them. I remember, at the time I gave them to you (in my own house) seeing you put them into a pocket book you then had with you. They must certainly be somewhere among your papers, and if carefully searched for, I have no doubt may be found. In case you cannot find them, I have to request that you will advise me what manner I shall proceed to ascertain and recover the debts ; for the sum is too large for me to lose, if the loss can
I MS. Letter.