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France, and particularly at the court, all my gratitude is due; but to none in a higher degree than to the Chevalier de la Luzerne, for whom I have the highest esteem and regard. For your obliging offers of service here, or in France, I sincerely thank you; and, at the same time that I give you the trouble of forwarding a few letters, beg you to believe that I am, &c.
TO THE TRUSTEES OF THE ALEXANDRIA ACADEMY.
17 December, 1785. GENTLEMEN, That I may be perspicuous and avoid misconception, the proposition which I wish to lay before you is committed to writing, and is as follows.
It has long been my intention to invest, at my death, one thousand pounds current money of this State in the hands of trustees, the interest only of which to be applied in instituting a school in the town of Alexandria, for the purpose of educating orphan children, who have no other resource, or the children of such indigent parents, as are unable to give it; the objects to be considered and determined by the trustees for the time being, when applied to by the parents or friends of the children, who have pretensions to this provision. It is not in my power at this time to advance the above sum; but that a measure, that may be productive of good, may not be delayed, I will until my death, or until it shall be more convenient for my estate to advance the principal, pay the interest thereof, to wit, fifty pounds annually.
Under this state of the matter, I submit to your consideration the practicability and propriety of blending the two institutions together, so as to make one semi
nary under the direction of the president, visitors, or such other establishment as to you shall seem best calculated to promote the objects in view, and for preserving order, regularity, and good conduct in the academy. My intention, as I have before intimated, is, that the principal sum shall never be broken in upon; the interest only to be applied for the purposes abovementioned. It was also my intention to apply the latter to the sole purpose of education, and of that kind of education, which would be the most extensively useful to people of the lower class of citizens, namely, reading, writing, and arithmetic, so as to fit them for mechanical purposes.
The fund, if confined to this, would comprehend more subjects; but, if you shall be of opinion, that the proposition I now offer can be made to comport with the institution of the school which is already established, and approve of an incorporation of them in the manner before mentioned, and thereafter, upon a full consideration of the matter, should conceive that this fund would be more advantageously applied towards clothing and schooling, than solely to the latter, I will acquiesce in it most cheerfully; and I shall be ready, as soon as the trustees are established upon a permanent footing, by deed or other instrument of writing, to vest the aforesaid sum of one thousand pounds in them and their successors for ever, with powers to direct and manage the same agreeably to these my declared intentions.*
* The above proposal was accepted by the trustees of the Alexandria Academy, who engaged on their part to do all in their power to comply with the benevolent intention of the donor. was in their opinion best to appropriate the fund to the institution as then established, and wholly for schooling.
TO COUNT DE FLORIDA BLANCA.
Mount Vernon, 19 December, 1785. SIR, My homage is due to his Catholic Majesty for the honor of his present. The value of it is intrinsically great; but it is rendered inestimable by the manner, and the hand it is derived from. Let me entreat you, therefore, Sir, to lay before the King my thanks for the jackasses, with which he has been graciously pleased to compliment me; and to assure his Majesty of my unbounded gratitude for this instance of his royal notice and favor. That long life, perfect health, and unfading glory may attend his Majesty's reign, is my fervent wish. With great respect and consideration,
I have the honor to be, &c. *
TO BENJAMIN LINCOLN.
Mount Vernon, 6 February, 1786. MY DEAR SIR, Your favor of the 4th of January never reached me till yesterday, or the receipt of it should have had an earlier acknowledgment. Let me, in the first place,
* The King of Spain, hearing that General Washington was endeavouring to procure in Europe jackasses of the best breed, for the purpose of rearing mules on his estates, made him a present of two, and sent over a person with one of them, who was acquainted with the habits of those animals and the mode of treating them, and who arrived at Portsmouth in New Hampshire, and proceeded thence with his charge by land to Mount Vernon. Count de Florida Blanca was the prime minister of Spain. In a complimentary answer to the above letter he said; “It will give pleasure to his Majesty, that opportunities of a higher nature may offer to prove the great esteem he entertains for your Excellency's personal merit, singular virtues, and character.” — St. Ildefonso, September 1st, 1786. VOL. IX.
your kind attention to my inquiries; and in the next, pray you to know precisely from Mr. Lear upon
what terms he would come to me. I am not inclined to leave matters of this kind to after discussion or misconception. Whatever agreement is previously made shall be pointedly fulfilled on my part, which will prevent every cause of complaint on his.
Mr. Lear, or any other who may come into my family in the blended characters of preceptor to the children, and clerk or private secretary to me, will sit at my table, will live as I live, will mix with the company who resort to the house, and will be treated in every respect with civility and proper attention. He will have his washing done in the family, and may have his linen and stockings mended by the maids of it. The duties, which will be required of him, are generally such as appertain to the offices above mentioned. The first will be very trifling, till the children are a little more advanced; and the other will be equally so, as my correspondences decline (which I am endeavouring to effect), and after my accounts and other old matters are brought up. To descend more minutely into his duties I am unable, because occasional matters may call for particular services; but nothing derogatory will be asked or expected. After this explanation of my wants, I request that Mr. Lear will mention the annual sum he will expect for these services, and I will give him a decided answer by the return of the stages, which now carry the mail and travel quickly. A good hand, as well as proper diction, would be a recommendation on account of fair entries, and for the benefit of the children who will have to copy after it. *
An arrangement was made satisfactory to both parties; and Mr. Lear, a young gentleman from Portsmouth in New Hampshire, who had recently graduated at Harvard University, went to Mount Vernon
The discovery of extracting fresh water from salt, by a simple process and without the aid of fire, will be of amazing importance to the sons of Neptune, if it is not vitiated or rendered nauseous by the operation, and can be made to answer all the valuable purposes of other fresh water at sea. Every maritime power in the world in this case ought, in my opinion, to offer some acknowledgment to the inventor.* With every sentiment of regard and friendship,
I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO WILLIAM DRAYTON.
Mount Vernon, 25 March, 1786. SIR, I feel very sensibly the honor conferred on me, by the “South Carolina Society for promoting and improving Agriculture and other Rural Concerns," by unanimously electing me the first honorary member of that body; and I pray you, Sir, as chairman, to offer my best acknowledgments and thanks for this mark of its attention. To you for the flattering terms in which the desires of the Society have been communicated, my thanks are particularly due.f
and became General Washington's secretary. He was recommended in strong terms by General Lincoln, President Willard, and other gentlemen of distinction, who were acquainted with his character. An intimacy commenced between General Washington and Mr. Lear, which continued through the life of the former.
* The invention proved less valuable than had been anticipated. It had been described by General Lincoln as holding out a fair prospect of success, but he afterwards wrote; “It is now said little may be expected from the supposed invention for extracting fresh water from salt.”
† In communicating to General Washington the above intelligence, Mr. Drayton added; “ This mark of their respect, the Society thought, was with peculiar propriety due to the man, who, by his gallantry and