powered by google
Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
June 30, 1784 - June 19, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 152-158

-------------------- page 152 --------------------

Wilmington, 30th June, 1784.

My Dear Sir:

Mr. Burgwin and his family sailed from this town yesterday for Rhode Island. His wife has been uncommonly affected by the heat of the wather, & the child has been at death's door & left this with very little if any probability of recovering. I understand that he wrote to you of his intention. This movement will necessarily retard his return to England; and when he does return I think his continuance there very doubtful, notwithstanding his obligations to fix his residence in that country.

I learn from Kitty and my brother that it was with great difficulty you and Mr. Alexander fixed the agreement in the manner which it now stands. That the latter had given Mr. B. & his better half great offence. My own observation would have informed me of this; for I never but once heard the name of Mr. A. mentioned by any of the family. Mr. B. always said he would write or had written to Mr. H., not a word of his other partner. I learn that Mrs. B. frequently expresses her wishes that the country may agree with her; signifying how much she should like to live here, as she knows it would be agreeable to her husband's inclinations. He has told me that he should like to put a parcel of negroes upon turpentine; but what with me puts his intention out of doubt, he asked me if Mr. Tryon's plantation called Lilliput was to be sold, & said that he should like to purchase it. I cannot conceive he has any view in this but to secure a summer retreat without a great expense, & at the same time possess himself of a place of value. I would have you look forward to a breach of your partnership; and if J. B. does not literally perform his part of the agreement in a short time; I do not see why you should be bound to continue the connection at your own expense.

Immediately before J. B. went on board yesterday, he requested me to write you that if you could receive the value of £300 Sterl. of his debts in Charleston, he would endeavour to purchase a vessel before his return. That she might make a trip to the W. Indies, &

-------------------- page 153 --------------------
then load with rice (500 barl.) for Europe. This he represented as advantageous to you, & said he could make out the rest of the price himself; though at other times he is complaining grievously of the want of remittances to support his credit. He makes great lamentations about the Waddells, who I believe are supported rather upon his credit, and the credit of their own property than his money. I take it that they will have swingeing interest to pay. Yet I believe he has applied a bill of £80 (which I gave him) to his own use.

Mr. B. showed me Mr. Stanley's letter, and had begun an answer; but the situation of his child and the fear of paying demurrage sent him off without completing it. I am to apologize for him, & in the mean time to give a general answer till a more particular one can be sent. Mine will be very general indeed.

The house here have formed a connection at Fayetteville with Col. Thackston. This J. B. thinks will be advantageous to you; but how, in particular, I do not learn.

When I found on my return from Lockwood's Folly that this gentleman was to go to R. Island in a very few days, I set myself at work to give him an account of the receipts and expenditures since I was in possession of his property. When I told him my intentions, he seemed pleased, & said that until he saw that, he did not know how to make me compensation. Could he not have said that he considered himself my debtor for a certain sum, & requested me to make out my account, & he would make payment to my satisfaction? The account was made out with the above title, & including about £100 which was lodged in my hands by one of his debtors immediately before my going to Hillsborough (& which C. J. had refused) it appeared that I had received about £14 more than I had actually paid. He then apologized that he had it not in his power (but immediately retracted that expression) to make me an adequate recompense for my services. He seemed to mean that he could not do it as he would wish. I shall immediately adjust all my old accounts with him, & if I live till his return, will have a settlement in some way. I have been now laboring with great anxiety for upwards of two years, at a time (or at least part of it) when my mind was not a little tortured with what concerned me more nearly than the preservation of his property. I suppose the third year will be completed

-------------------- page 154 --------------------
before I shall get rid of the plague of his business; for I have now a number of old debts for which new securities are to be obtained. Madame very generously requested me to employ Jenny during their absence hoping she would be useful to me but I told her as I had done before, that the wench was of no service to me. I should however take the necessary care of her, and so much for J. B. and his suite. But upon recollection I have not done. I suppose you may know that my brother proposed purchasing from J. B. a small lot joining his own. You may also know that it was promised to him. When Mr. B. came here he gave it to D. Bain; probably upon finding that he was connected with my brother. But it will not answer any purpose, as these two persons, however connected at present, will not I believe continue very long together; consequently it will not do for them to join in building a house. Mr. Bain, contrary to my expectations & my brother's is hastening his intended marriage, which is to be completed to-morrow. The imprudence of this in his situation is manifest; but I have not been consulted either in the match or when it should take place. A young man just entering into business, without a shilling of capital, to marry a girl without a fortune & one who at the same time is as much unqualified for the management of a family, as if she had just dropped from the moon (a circumstance which he perfectly well knows) is one of the many instances of folly exhibited on such occasions.

Before he has had time to make any payments, or to know what profits he will have after payment made, he has every necessary to purchase. Though this can never be justified, it might in some cases be excused; such for instance marrying a prudent managing woman, but his case is the very reverse. I am persuaded that the connection between him and my brother will be of short continuance; for though Bain is honest & diligent, he is easily ruffled and confused; and though by no means ungenerous, I am persuaded he will lose all temper when he sees his property wasted. In the mean time my brother for his own sake will take care of remittances.

Bain as usual was filled with gratitude upon receipt of a conveyance for the lot, which is worth about £250; but upon recollection he thinks he should have more & I think so too. He was to have had £100 Sterl. pr. year; he returned at my request, & he has sacrificed his time and some advantageous offers in expectation that

-------------------- page 155 --------------------
his services would be advantageous to Mr. Burgwin. Before & at the time of the evacuation, he received about £120 from Mr. J. and if that is not charged him he may probably be contented, tho' his friend John intimated a question to me as if he did not know whether he had given enough; But M. & Bain have had from J. B. £500 Sterl worth of goods, payable in an easy manner.

I have troubled you with a tedious and circumstancial detail of facts, which however may be useful as to some of them; at least in their application.

16th July.

When I wrote the foregoing, I expected to have sent it in a few days. I have now before me yours of the 4th. When you send your testimonials of citizenship, I hope your brother's will not be omitted; not only as he is your brother, but as he was your partner. I wish to remove every difficulty that lies in the way of recovering your debts; and though I have no idea that your names will be in any banishment act, if such should be adopted, I wish to be prepared to counteract the wicked. If I should think a pardon of any service, I will procure it. It can never be of any service but with the assembly. As to the Judge the business of future accusations for matters arising out of the war, seems to be over. Burgwin has not been questioned. Yet these sages not very consistently have continued London Brice and Jewkes upon their recognizances. How they reconcile this, I do not know; for the treaty is express as to those who may be in confinement when it should arrive in America. On the other hand our laws are as much in force to accuse as to try. But little minds are incapable of seeing a whole. They piddle at it by parts, and thereby render themselves ridiculous.

I had long since determined to sell the property you mention. Sambo perhaps will bring something in produce worth receiving; but it is rather too soon to sell the lands. For the lot, I expect in a short time something considerable. The place at the sound, I shall sell altogether; & I hope by the next winter or spring to be able to get rid of them both upon advantageous terms.

Kitty says (and it appears so) that Peggy behaves herself so orderly and is so useful, that she does not wish to hire her out, but I suppose

-------------------- page 156 --------------------
she will write you herself. Whether I shall get a double chair here is doubtful; but I will try.

I am sorry to hear that the profits of your business are so very inconsiderable. It is hard to be a slave for years without being able to save a competency. Should this continue I shall the more earnestly wish your return here, where I am sure you can make money, & where I have no doubt you may soon come without any apprehensions. The expences of common living in Charleston is almost incredible; and when dress and company are added, there is nothing less than a nabob can support it.

The snuff, cheese &c., came safe. I thank you particularly for the former; but I wish you had asked my advice as to the kind you should import. I would have ordered some of Sainsbury's (late Hardham's No. 37.)

Judge Spencer has not yet paid his note to C. H. & Co. He and his brother have not been well used by the assembly. It is true, they are now paid pretty regularly; but depreciation has not yet been made good to them.

Captain Withers gives us hopes of seeing Archy next trip. We shall be happy to see him even for a few days, and I am sure his grandmother will load him back with eatables.

I had by Withers (I know not by whom forwarded) a letter from John Cruden of the 18th of June. He does not say one word of leaving Augustine; or of what is adoing there; but after a strain of very extraordinary (not to say fulsome) compliments, he is plain enough with respect to America, which he wishes to see under the same from of government as Ireland. He is even so ridiculous as to say, that he has taken great pains to effect that desirable purpose, & is of opinion that if he could meet me, he could prevail on me to think as he does. The conclusion is as curious as it is romantic. “Rank (says he) and consequence await you. Fortune, the reward of your great merit and abilities is within your reach; and I know none better qualified to support the highest dignities that a monarch can bestow.” Had any man of real power, and in his sober senses, have written to me in this style, I should have been apt to conclude that I was indeed a person of great consequence. When I sat down to give you an account of this letter, I had determined to inclose an answer open for your perusal; but I have for many

-------------------- page 157 --------------------
reasons declined it for the present. I can never believe that J. C. can be intrusted by any person in power to offer emoluments and rewards to American citizens to betray their Country. Some deeper politician would have been employed in such a business. I can however readily suppose that such a man as Jos. Martin may be concerned in such business. It is perfectly of a piece with his own conduct. I have upon second thoughts inclosed you a copy of this curious letter, which you will probably laugh at, as the production of a madman; but though this is probably enough the case.

I see it in a very serious light. Were it known it would probably ruin me, and would certainly cut off all hopes from the writer, & perhaps from every other obnoxious person. Were I to lay it before those in authority, I might establish my own political character, but I should ruin the scheme which I have been laboring to effect. I have not shown it to any person but my brother; but I shall lay it by for the present with a proper answer, which I may send hereafter. Could I think that such a scheme as is there hinted at was in agitation among those who have power to attempt it, I would not keep the secret five minutes. Your own prudence will direct you to destroy the copy.

How many good things you may have that will be agreeable to me I cannot say. You have one however which I very much want. You will please by return of Captain Withers to send me half a dozen pounds of the best Souchong tea, for which I have inclosed you two Guineas. Whether it will be enough I do not know, & I suppose I might have had the tea without the money; but you may as well have the guineas as let them lie in my pocket. If you have any thing else that you may think I shall want, I shall not take it amiss that you send it.

Donald and Fanny are become one flesh; & I expect & hope that in a few days she will grace the head of her own table; but unless omnipotence should enlighten her mind & new-mold her body, I will venture my ear to a farthing, that she will continue a lazy slattern to the end of the chapter; and if her husband should make £500 a year, she will waste £499 of it.

Before I close this, I shall receive a bill from the son of the late Dr. Richard (perhaps you remember Jacky who was here with his father) for something above £100. About four years ago, he was

-------------------- page 158 --------------------
at the age of 15 drafted into the service & is lately returned from Pennsylvania. It seems he was sick upon the road, and as poor as Job. He says Genl. Bull is concerned in the care of his estate as a trustee or guardian; that he saw the Genl. before the arrival of the latter here, who directed him to Meek. Meek acknowledges that the General requested him to supply Richard with necessaries, but seemed rather backward in doing it. The lad lodged with James Walker who rigged him out in his own clothes (for he was almost naked), & I have supplied him with necessaries. The foolish boy has taken up much more than was necessary, and possibly there may be an objection to his bill; but his friends should consider that I had nothing further to do than to pay the debts he had contracted, I was willing too to run a little risque to get the money paid to you, as I find it difficult to remit to Charleston.

Richard tells me that if he sees Genl. Bull in Charleston, he expects to get the money paid there, though he draws on a Mr. O'Bryen at Savanna.

Have you ever done or attempted any thing effectual about my land? If it is recoverable, I wish a suit might be prosecuted, if not, there is an end of the matter.

We have no good cheese here.

19th July.

I have just received Richard's bill on Wm. O. Bryen, of Savanna for 272¾ dollars. This man he says manages his mother's affairs in Georgia, & Genl. Bull in S. Carolina. Should you fortunately receive the money, you will place it to my credit. The bill is inclosed, & a letter from me to Genl. Bull.

Since I wrote the above I met accidentally with Mallett. He has offered me 500 dollars in Charleston the 14 of February, for your lot; but I told him it must be £300 this money paid there. I think he will take it, though perhaps not at present. I do not know where else he can live convenient to his business, unless he should purchase from W. Campbell (the other half) at a much higher rate.

Yours affectionately,