Joshua Johnson's Letterbook 1771-1774 Letters From A Merchant in London To His Partners in Maryland. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1979.
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My last was the 6th ult. since which I am favoured with yours 10 March for which be pleased to accept of my very sincere thanks. I should not have wrote you so soon had it not been in consequence of a letter I have received from Wallace & Davidson. The following is an abstract: 'If Gibbs is in London or to be heard of, we wish you would advise him to get introduced to William Eden Esq deputy [i.e. under] secretary of state [for the northern department] and to be watchful about what may be doing at the Treasury concerning a remonstrace that is said to have gone home from [customs commissioners at] Boston for dividing this [customs] district and if you can be serviceable to him through Court & Co. to get introduced to Eden [brother of Robert Eden, governor of Maryland, and Capt Thomas Eden, Court's partner] or in any other manner, we shall be thankful for your doing it. Of this you'll say nothing but do what you can.' Now, Sir, it is with you to judge what step can be fallen on to defeat the design, in which you may rely in my utmost assistance to effect it. I shall be glad of your thoughts on the subject as soon as possible. In the interim, I shall employ mine and make inquiries relative to it. . . .
I wrote you the 19th ult. per Captain Maynard, since which I am favoured with yours of the 29 January and 11 February covering 13 first bills amounting to £351:14:11 all of which are good but the following: F. Leek's on Lopes & Silva for £47, J. Dick & Stewart's on J. Buchanan & Son for £89:18:9 and E. Orme on Russell for £15:6:3. As soon as ever the time expires, you may depend on my care in forwarding them to you. T. Buchanan's two bills for £171:10:11 on Perkins & Co. and noted by them are not due till 21st of this month; as soon as they are, I will protest and forward them immediately, unless Anderson will pay them for the honour of the endorser, though I rather incline to think that he will not. I now forward you enclosed two protests amounting with charges to £56:8:0 which you'll be pleased to pass to my credit.
I have a letter from Duff & Welsh [merchants in Cadiz] of the 2nd ult., enclosing me a state of C. Wallace & Co. account and their draught on Herries & Co. [of London] for 189 current dollars at 39d. each which is £30:14:3 placed to your credits and which you must account for to C.W. & Co. and charge me. They say that they were then writing you fully which makes it needless for me to enlarge.
I shall now proceed to answer your letters. You say that you expected a renewment of Barnes & Ridgate's bills [of exchange]. You must certainly have not attended to my letter or you would never [have] thought of it. If you have not [got the bills renewed], I desire you will not, but get security immediately. I do most sincerely wish that the gentlemen of your side had been more cautious in drawing. The number of bills [of exchange] returned has overset our intention in being punctual and of course lain you under difficulties how to act, or whose bills to purchase. But this let me recommend to you, not to hesitate for one 4 or 5 per cent [interest on a loan]; give it, it may be a means to keep us on our legs.
The trifles now ordered shall come by the first opportunity, after they can be got ready. I have in consequence of your letter wrote James Gibbs [about customs changes], but have not as yet his answer. When I hear from him you may depend on my service.
72b. I am satisfied with the truth of your assertion relative to your imports. I foresaw the ill convenience that would attend the payments for the cargo shipped in February '72 but I could not nor dare not reject your order. Had they not have been shipped, we should never [have] been the least pushed but continued in high credit and been full of cash. The quantity of goods you say were remaining on hand, I apprehend, will turn much to our account when assorted with those last shipped in the Annapolis [Capt Eden] and may answer our purposes until you have made a collection sufficient to answer my engagements here.
I agree with you that it will be to our joint interest to continue our capitals together, as dividing of them would only distress each other and defeat our original intention in serving and drawing all our friends together. The disagreeable ill convenience we have heretofore experienced before our union, and since which there has been no act (on either side) to alter the justly merited confidence in each other, so that I can only repeat a former sentence, that I have not a further wish than to share fortune with you. You say that you are fearful our capital is too inconsiderable to enter into the consignment business. Why should those fears intrude on you when, on a moment's reflection, you must recollect that but very few of the gentlemen in the trade began with more money than we had and much less entitled to success than ourselves? But, admitting that they had, we must be assured of success on my plan which is that we keep two ships of our own in the trade, accept of consignments, determine not to ship any cargoes, nor advance for those who may choose to draw on us. I think this may be done and yet obtain 1,000 hhds. on consignment, which quantity I should be fully satisfied with, as I should then have it in my power to do our correspondents justice and give general satisfaction. This, gentlemen, may be done with the inconsiderable sum of £3,000 to answer duties etc. You say that it is thought the gains on our business are too inconsiderable to keep me in London and seem at the same time to wish my continuance there. I will only request that you'll add ½ a per cent on the insurances made to the commission account and say what is the saving to the concern. I have the vanity to think it is a very considerable one, omitting that my transacting the business to be on equal terms with others, though I must tell you that I have been paid the flattering compliment, that it is much superior. However, that's nothing, but now to the point. Your credit and honour is jointly staked with mine and my carcass to the people [i.e. creditors] and, so long as we are in arrears to them, so long shall the latter remain a pledge for our performance. Therefore, be not afraid of our getting laughed at, nor at inconsiderable things. We still stand very fair here and with more exertion may climb to the summit of our wishes.
72c. I very sincerely thank you for your kind offer in assisting my particular interest. As our exports must be much lessened, the profits must decrease, which will make it necessary to curtail my expenses, and of course any little matter you can with convenience throw in my way will help me out, and for which I shall be thankful to you. Should you find it necessary to help us through our engagements, sell my house and land and apply it to that use. If the power [of attorney] already given J.D[avidson] is not sufficient, I will immediately forward one that shall be, to enable him to convey.
I shall expect the new ship loaded with tobacco on consignment to us and for that purpose hold myself in readiness to receive it. You would do well to get her away as early as possible. Send me a little money to make the first entry on her and I will contrive to raise the remainder somehow or other and you may assure the gentlemen that choose to entrust us that I will do my utmost for their interest. From the strictest observations I could possibly make on the conduct and management of the gentlemen in the trade, there's scarcely one whom I dare recommend, for those who have capitals want activity and those who have not has too far overtraded theirs. I have got all the tobacco landed and am now offering it for sale; the highest bid I have as yet had was 1¾ [pence per lb.] on an average. Could I get 1/8 more, I would sell it and esteem it well sold as the present markets is, for it is the vilest trash perhaps you ever saw.
There is stoppings daily which continues to aggravate the distresses of the times; indeed the failure of Sir Geo. Coolbrook [Colebrooke, the banker] must accumulate the number very considerably and when and where it will stop there is no telling.
I am amazed that you have not sent me certificates, especially when I have so often urged the consequence and a copy of Watson & Scott's bills parcels. You certainly never give my letters a second reading and therefore forget; the distressedness of the times ought to urge the necessity. And the more explicit you are, the more it will act in our favours, should I be compelled to lay a state of our affairs before the creditors, which I trust we shall not from the industry and activity on your sides in forwarding me a sufficiency to make good our engagements in time. I have returned Nash & Co. shipment of chintz sent home by [Capt] Nicholson and now forward enclosed their letter in answer, admitting there is an error and apprehending it to proceed from your miscalculation on 12 yards instead of 18 per piece, though notwithstanding they are ready and willing to do anything you shall judge reasonable. . . .
I wrote you the 5th per the Nancy, Capt Coulson, and enclosed you 2 protests amounting to £56:8:0. I was a good deal chagrined yesterday, on the opening of the New York mail, to find I had no letters from you. It's cruel to the highest degree to serve me so, as you may well judge how anxious I am in these critical times. I have not as yet sold the tobacco but am afraid the want of money will in a few days compel me to it. I omitted in my last to request you would get the collector of Patuxent to give you a list of the sundry reputable shippers that I may send them letters next spring soliciting their favours in our behalf. You'll be pleased to do it and forward me one from your [Annapolis] office, in case you are determined to try my scheme.
Together with the money paid for duties, freight, expenses etc. has left me very bare and made me unable to satisfy the cravings of the tradesmen whose bills [for goods] were due ever since the middle of February. It hurts me to the soul to find excuses but it must be done and they must have patience. You mention in one of yours that you could get me engagements [i.e. a letter of credit] granted to any gentleman here. It would do well to obtain a credit on Hanbury for £5,000 to answer any emergency and it would not only answer that purpose but be productor of this good effect. I would have you think of it and do it as soon as you can and forward it to me. There has been no change since my last; I shall write you in a few days by Hanrick. . . .
My last was 5 February since which I am favoured with yours 11 February and have very materially considered the contents. You say that you're at a loss what to do and are fearful that you'll be compelled to call me home. It appears rather odd that you could not foresee that before the 11 February; if you had, why did not you make proper provision and forward it by that conveyance? You must have considered that before my answer could reach, that our debts would become due and, when that was the case, could you suppose the creditors would permit me to go from here? No, you may rely on it that they will take care and keep hold of me as a security for our true performance, and indeed I had rather suffer any hardship in the world than desert our creditors in a mean and clandestine manner; it would ever reflect dishonour on us. On the whole, I am determined to stand it till the consequence turn out as it may and am clearly of an opinion that we had better borrow at any interest to make up our payments and continue our scheme, with the addition of the consignment business of about 1,000 hhds. per year and a decrease in the exports to about five thousand [pounds sterling] per annum. That would fully equal our gain on the present plan and extricate us from the disagreeable straits we frequently lay under when we import so very largely.
As I expect the new ship home loaded with tobacco to us, I must take the liberty of recommending your two, three and four hhd. correspondents in preference to any others. Their moneys are generally sunk in goods on which we have 12 months' credit and of course that or more time, the use of their money. Be cautious in suffering anyone to draw on us for fear of distressing me.
74b. I do most sincerely thank you for your friendly offers in staking your property for my interest; I hope there will be no occasion for it. My expense here you may well judge are considerable and I suppose that I shall sink money this year but still I have hopes of retaliation against the next for should our profits be any, added to the saving of commission on our exports, must indemnify all my expenses and leave my stock whole. Indeed, Charles, I am induced to make a push at the consignment business from the favourableness of the times. If you are not anxious to do too much, we shall have it in our powers to choose our correspondents. I am clearly of an opinion that you may load a second ship. If you find you can, I would wish that you would make push; you may rely on my care of matters here and that I will be as reasonable in my demands on continuing the partnership as you can wish.
Poor [Christopher] Court is stopped and it is thought he will not go on. The debts against him are £52,000 and it's said the amount of his balances are £59,000; it appears that he had no capital. Enclosed you have a bill of J[ohn] Lapole's which he desires you'll return to Carrollton and take his receipt for the return. He was to have paid the money provided he received it, but there is no such a man as Yates to be found. You likewise have a letter from him which you'll forward as directed; I have another bill of his under note which I shall forward you as soon as the time expires. . . .
I wrote you the 7th inst. per the New York packet since which I have nothing from you. You will perhaps think me tiresome but, let your thoughts be whatever they will on that score, the present times will indemnify me in acquainting you that poor [Christopher] Court has stopped payment. There was a meeting of his creditors a few days past; they agreed to lend him money enough to answer his acceptances until next Tuesday when there is to be another meeting to take his affairs under consideration. There has been a proposal to compound with his creditors thus, four shillings down, six shillings on security and five on his own credit. Whether or not it will be agreed to, I can't tell. The state of his matters laid before the creditors appears £59,000 for and £52,000 against him. They all seemed well pleased with his management and much pitied his misfortune. What plan of business he will fall on I can't as yet tell, but suppose he will send out two or three ships to bring home the effects and then make a finish of his Maryland business. There was another proposition that all the Maryland bills should be paid so far as there is anything due; that step may be of service though I could wish that you would use precaution in taking bills drew on him or anyone else who is under the same circumstances as you may rely on their being returned.
75b. This stroke added to the sundry other misfortunes and Mr J[ohn] B[uchanan] & Sons noting their attorneys-in-fact's bills must make for my proposed scheme and of course will facilitate our success, provided you will join me with spirit in it. It is true it will require a farther advance, but you may be assured of success. Try our friends, ask their opinions and see whether or not they don't corroborate with mine. We must succeed unless you agree to ship cargoes [of goods on credit]; in that case it will not. For there will be nobody to oppose us but Molleson and West & Hobson and, from their determination, I am sure of a quarter part of the business, unless you should suspect me of drawing you in a scheme of business that I might hereafter turn to my own private advantage. I think it proper to speak plain that I am very willing to transact the business here at the allowance that shall be made by any two gentlemen who are judges of the expenses, share equally and join you your own time. This, gentlemen, I am willing and ready to do and more you will not desire I should.
I have sold 92 hhds. of your cursed tobacco purchase at 1¾ per lb.; it is the highest I could get for it after waiting till I was much in want of the money. A probability of some new crops fallen [i.e. coming] in, the foreign markets being glutted and no buyers at this, those reasons determined my taking that price and am sure, bad as it is, that it is ¼ per lb. higher than a great deal has been sold at. What I shall be able to do with the remaining 12 hhds. I cannot tell, as they [had] cut [off] from 5 to 800 [lb. damaged tobacco] and therefore can't be exported, though you may rely on it that I will make as much of them as I can. . . .
I wrote you the 12th inst. per Capt Hanrick, since which I am favoured with your letters of the 19 and 20 February covering 10 first bills all of which are accepted but the three on O'Neill for £574:11:8 and S. Chase on Molleson for £18. The one on Glasgow I can't tell its fate as yet. J. Buchanan's bills were due yesterday; I presented them on the house; they refused payment; I then applied to Mr [James] Anderson who told me that Mrs [Ann] Tasker had not money enough in his hands to take them up and he could not advance for her, but that, if I would keep them, he would give me a preference in the first he received of hers. The want of money has even compelled me to accept of his offer, until the sailing of the next packet, when if not paid shall return them. This circumstance leads me to believe that those on O'Neill must go back, should which be the case, I shall be exceedingly pinched, and want upwards of three thousand pounds to make good our payments to the first of June, and that exclusive of the June payments.
I have made out your orders and delivered them to the tradesmen but the times are such that I do not know how to act or what to do about shipping of them for the want of money to pay the freight and shipping charges, but believe must run the risk and send them to you by Capt Joseph Richardson or some other convenient opportunity that may offer about the middle of next month as they can't be got ready before that time.
76b. I am very happy to find you were in such good spirits. I wish I could say I was or that I could foresee a probability of my being so. But can there be a hope when we labour under such distress that everyone is obliged to protest the bills drew on them? No, it cannot be, nor can I put off the tradesmen much longer with excuses as every one is already made and I forced to tell them they have me in their power, and must do as they please. Was it possible for you by any means to support me through those difficulties, the misfortunes befallen others would act to our advantage and fully answer our utmost expectations, nay, I would say exceed them, but, unless you can, God only can tell what will become of poor J.J. [i.e. himself]. The report of J[ohn] B[uchanan] & Son stopping will indemnify my repeating it to you; they tell me his affairs are situated just as Russell's were and that his circumstances are not a fig better. It's hard fate after dragging through life for so many years, as he has done, to be compelled to stop. The cause is beyond a doubt the shipping goods; take care and avoid that whatever you do and take care in mentioning the failure [as] from me. It will serve to regulate you in the purchase [of] bills on him; indeed I would wish you to take [care] of J. Dick's & Stewart for I am told they owe J. B[uchanan] & Son not less than ten or twelve thousand pound and that he [Buchanan] had determined not to pay their bills or send them any more goods.
There is no drawback or excise duty allowed on china; if you observe, it was entered out by the tradesmen and consequently charged at the short price. I can't purchase on any other terms and to make an entry and clear that small quantity would cost us 5 or 6 guineas [in fees], but, as it is included amongst others, it is reduced to twenty or thirty shillings.
I can't help recommending caution in the purchase of bills and exertion in forwarding them by every opportunity. This will be delivered you by our old friend D[aniel] D[ulany] whom I beg your notice of.
I wrote you yesterday per Mr Dulany to which I must beg leave to refer you. This comes by Capt Richardson purely to inform you that it is said a very considerable house in our trade has stopped payment—J[ohn] B[uchanan] & Son. For God sake take care whose bills [of exchange] you purchase as I much doubt two-thirds of whatever may be remitted will be returned. My situation at this time and owing to that circumstance may be esteemed truly deplorable, having now £916 [in uncollectable bills of exchange] laying in the notary's hands and very doubtful must go back. What I shall do or how to satisfy the tradesmen much longer I cannot tell for I am now in the power of them and they must do with me as they please. Exert yourselves, buy or borrow ten thousand pounds and remit me three immediately and the other seven in all June and July or expect to hear I am fast in some damned dungeon living on musty mutton chops.
I wrote you 26th per Capt Richardson since which I have nothing from you. I hinted to you that Mr J[ohn] B[uchanan] had stopped. I can now confirm it and assure you that the management of his affairs are left to 8 gentlemen who is appointed trustees, that J. Dick [of Annapolis] is to be joined to Gilbert Buchanan [John's son] who goes out directly with some other person proper to make the settlement of his account in that country [Maryland] but that Anthony [Stewart] is rejected and is not to be joined with them. The poor old gentleman, they tell me, is very poorly and it's thought is ageing very fast. There is to be a total finish of the [firm's] tobacco business.
I am distressed beyond your ideas or feeling for the want of money to answer the duns. For heaven sake send to Philadelphia to purchase bills for all yours in Maryland is bad and so long as you continue remitting me bad paper, so long shall I be disappointed. And, indeed, now is the time to establish ourselves which, if you can by any means support me through this summer, we need never fear again on that score. I had the mortification yesterday to see poor Mr Trent of Virginia lugged to gaol on account of bills he drew before he set off from that country. . . .
I wrote you the 29th ult. per Mr Stephenson. I intended returning you the protested bills by this opportunity but have determined not, but wait in hopes of the arrival of the packet, between this and the sailing of Capt J. Richardson, when I hope they [the unaccepted bills of exchange] will be taken up for the honour of the endorsers. You must see and too sensibly feel the uneasy situation I am in and yet your utmost endeavours must be frustrated unless you can fall on some mode of procuring better paper and forwarding it to me immediately . . . . I have got those things you ordered in forwardness and they shall come if I can raise money enough by any means to pay the freight, either in Richardson or Nicholson's ship. I shall write you by both and forward you nine hundred odd pounds protested unless it is taken up on the arrival of the packet, though I fear it will not. . . .
I wrote you 5th inst. per the packet. I now forward you enclosed bill of parcel and invoice of the clock [and watch] materials you ordered for Mr Whitchcroft amounting to £40:2:10, bill lading, bills parcels and invoice of goods for the store amounting to £714:13:0, two protested bills amounting with charges to £63:3:9, all of which added together amounts to £818:0:1 which is placed to the debt of your account and which I hope you will find right. I have returned packed in Box WDJ No. 12 one pair of boots and five pairs of shoes from Pritchard in exchange for those sent home by Capt Nicholson. I have now completed all your orders except the leather and walking canes; they must be ready money or three months' credit; the money I have not and the time was too short to enter into any engagement at these perilous times which will justify my not sending you them.
I have been treated with a vast deal respect from the greater part of the tradesmen. They all seem willing to indulge us and do do so, but none more ready nor indeed so ready as Nash & Co. They have made me advantageous offers in shipping us printed [linen or cotton] goods at the prices established by the trade and allow us 18 months' credit [instead of normal 12]. I have rejected the offer knowing your dislike to them, though I can't but [admit] their treatment to us respecting their debt now due has made me think favourably of them. They have told me they did not want the money, to make use of what I had in discharging our small debts and they would most readily wait till it was convenient to us. I now owe £3,000 exclusive of the June debts. I have in bad bills [of exchange] £900 odd pounds, which I fear must all go back. You'll therefore judge what a blessed situation I am in and how I shall extricate myself I am sure I cannot tell, but must and will as well as I can.
80b. I have sold 11 hhds. more of the tobacco at 2d. [per lb.] for manufacture and export. It is very troublesome but I was glad to get it off on the best terms I could. I shall sell the allowance tobacco in a few days; then I will give you some idea of the loss on your purchase and, as soon after as possible, forward you the account of sales. The distress amongst the merchants is such that they are compelled to sell immediately on a ship's arrival for whatever is offered, which hurts the price and keeps it very low. I am told W.M[olleson] sold the other day for 15/8 to 17/8 Western Shore tobacco. When that is the case, what can others do? They must undoubtedly follow the example unless they possess such fortunes as Hanbury has.
I have so often wrote you for certificates to cancel my bonds, that I am tired and am sure that you do not attend to my letters. Should you be compelled to pay the penalties, you will then feel for the neglect. I do, however, desire that you will forward me one to cancel this for the tea immediately.
Should you load the ship home with tobacco on consignment, it's probable that some of gentlemen would choose to risk [rather than insure] their tobacco. In that case, you must keep a list of insurance with the sums each person orders and forward it me with their names per the first and every packet whilst she is aloading that I may make the insurance and you would do well to inform me the sum you estimate the ship at, her freight, iron, lumber, and our commission on the cargo that I may cover ourselves in case of loss.
80c. I always expected that you would have answered my letters in a much more particular manner than you have hitherto done. There is many and indeed almost every paragraph any ways interests entirely looked over. What can be the cause I cannot tell. It, you must allow, is either the want of confidence or that you never lay my letters before you when you write and therefore forget the subject, or is it that our affairs [i.e. books] are in such a state that you can't form any judgment of them? Should that be the case, it is very imprudent, more especially at this time, and let me beg of you to remedy it immediately by getting a person to put them in a proper state, when I hope to be informed of their situation. You will and must admit that, at the expiration of two years and a half, it is time to know what we are about. Indeed, I will candidly confess to you I shall begin to grow uneasy unless you'll soon inform me.
How the goods now sent will please I will not pretend to say, as I cannot, from the badness of our payments, insist on the tradesmen giving us that preference we before claimed, but are rather obliged to them for a further confidence in trusting us with these. But still, if you can so manage as to remit me to make up the present payments and the next June, we may command whatever credit we please hereafter and of course obtain goods on much better terms than heretofore. There is a small box marked JJ packed in Trunk WDJ No. 9 which be pleased to deliver to Thos. Johnson and a pair of spectacle glasses and glass cruets marked CW which you'll be pleased to deliver with six pair of women's shoes packed in Trunk WDJ No. 11 to Mr Charles Wallace. . . .
I wrote you the 17th per Capt Lynch very fully to which I beg leave to refer you. This I expect will be delivered you by Mr [Thomas?] Harwood who goes out in Capt Coward after staying here longer than perhaps his friends intended or it may be convenient to his circumstances, though I truly believe he could not get away before with any degree of safety to his health. There is no packet arrived yet; everyone is hourly looking and praying for her in hopes that she will bring a large sum with her. For my part I know not what to expect by her, but it answers to parry off the dunners until her arrival when, at any rate, I hope to receive money for those bills directed to [James] Anderson by Mrs Tasker for payment. Should I be disappointed, they shall go back by the very first opportunity and I suppose I shall to gaol. Dick & Stewart's bill on J[ohn] B[uchanan] & Son will be due the last of this month when I expect it will be protested; if it should, you shall have it by the packet. I now forward you enclosed S. Chase's bill on Molleson under protest amounting with charges to £18:6:9 which you'll pass to the credit of my account.
Mr [James] Gibbs is in town. He was with me yesterday in consequence of what you wrote me about the remonstrance from the [Customs] Board at Boston. He had heard of it long before and, while his friend was here, he watched its motions and threw every obstacle in its way possible but, since the removal of that friend, it seems he can hear but little of it and is inclined to think that there will be a division [in the Patuxent customs district] and when most softened Oxford [on Eastern Shore] will be lopped off from Patuxent and joined to Chester district under officers, if not the office removed from Annapolis and kept at Baltimore. We have consulted and considered of the most probable mode of procedure to prevent that's taking place and continuing it as it is, but can't as yet fall on any as nothing but interest will do with the Lords of the Treasury, which neither he, me, or anyone we are acquainted with, has Mr Gibbs is of an opinion that a petition presented by the merchants expressing their approbation of the management of the office would act to aggravate the matter instead of answering the desired effect, as they would immediately say there was too much lenity shown. . . .
I wrote you 22nd ult. per Capt Coward and enclosed you Chase's bill protested, since which I am favoured with yours 24 March and 2 April covering 31 first and second bills amounting to £1,134:10:2, £833:2:3 of which is noted for non-acceptance as per list at the foot of my letter and I doubt will be returned for non-payment. Yours of the 12 March has not as yet made its appearance so that at this time I can't speak so fully as I otherwise should. I now forward you enclosed 6 bills under protest amounting to £838:11:4¾ which you'll pass to my credit. You will see by the return of these how requisite it was to have attended to my caution and not have taken renewments of such as Barnes & Ridgate's; that sum you may put down as desperate if not lost and I should not have given up Hemsley & Tilghman's security for [Thomas] Buchanan who we know can't possess a great deal of property. However, since what I have heretofore said has not engaged your attention, it may be looked on as presumption to persevere in pressing it, therefore will wait the event.
I am atired of recapitulating my distress. If together the returned protests and my many letters on that subject has not roused your feelings for me, I really know not what will and therefore will submit to fate, be it whatever it will. I have always told you, if you could be tolerable punctual, our purposes would be more than answered. There is but one way to be secure in that, which is to go to Philadelphia for your bills or remit produce or specie. I too clearly see that until the merchants recover, all the bills drew on them must go back; in that case, where is the use of sending me your planters' bills, indeed only to gain 15 per cent [penalty for nonacceptance] whilst my poor body is tore to pieces with duns. . . . I observe what you say about your sales; they seem encouraging and you may not only expect the business will go on better but, depend on it, there will be left but very few to oppose you. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of my last per the packet. . . . Since my last I have received yours of the 12 March, 30 April and 1 May, to all of which I have paid particular attention. That of the 30 April brought 2 first bills on Grove who noted Davis's because the bills were signed by another person, but, on his receiving a letter of advice from Davis of his having drawn such a bill to your C. Wallace and my giving him an indemnification, he agreed to pay all the bill but 2/8 for postage and 1/6 the expense of noting, which sums I have charged you with and which you must get again from Mr Davis. You see how very exact the times makes people; therefore be regular in the transaction of our matters and not suffer your young men to make so free again for fear of the consequences. I am particularly obliged for your information respecting John Hamilton and shall be glad you would inform me anything further you can collect.
I received in yours 1 May a copy of the bond you have entered into with Calvert, Paca & Johnson together with a separate security [i.e. a letter of credit] by the same gentleman and a letter from Mr Wolstenholme to O. Hanbury & Co. whom I waited on, delivered the letter and appointed the following morning to fix some mode of settling my affairs with them. I accordingly waited on him with my letters and papers. He took Mr Wolstenholme's letter and proceeded to read me a part which intimated that I wanted to return home and we meant to establish a correspondent who would supply us with goods for which we were to make payment in tobacco and bills. He there stopped and told me that there had been many propositions of that kind, that he had rejected them and wrote Mr Wolstenholme not to enter into any such engagements, for he had and was determined not to advance for anyone, that he had no objections to receive the consignment of tobacco and shipping goods upon an eligible plan but not in the late mode, that his fortune was very easy and he had continued the business till his cousin John [Hanbury] came with age that he might determine whether he would pursue it or no, in which resolution he was determined himself either way, but, provided John chose to pursue it, he then would push it with spirit, but until then lay dormant, and that I must make the best I could of our affairs for he would not undertake to assist me. I told him of my distress owing to the returned protested bills and that the inconsiderable sum of two thousand pound would relieve me for a while. He answered me he had determined and therefore he would not, but that he would deliver Mr Wolstenholme's letter to anyone who would assist me with it. You must so far see there is no dependence on them.
83b. Now what am I to do? Make the best terms I can with our tradesmen, not by deserting them and coming home as you offer and my brother Tom requests, but by sticking by them, use persuasions and making just distributions of your collections and remittances. You too recommend calling my creditors together and laying before them the security [letter of credit from Maryland]. You certainly don't recollect the injury it has done many houses in raising a suspicion of their goodness or you would not have advised it. I shall decline it, propose consulting a few of the capital ones and prevail on them to wait till a future day and permit me to distribute the moneys I hereafter receive amongst the ten and twenty pound chaps which by odds are the most troublesome. I have mentioned the security to several, all of whom seem very content to wait and ready to execute any further orders I shall give them. I am now preparing a state of my affairs and shall have them ready by the last of this month when I purpose having some instrument drawn up and to call eight or ten of my largest creditors together, get them to sign an indulgence to a future day and lodge the security with them. You must in this case use double industry in order to support me and let me tell you that no trifles in [the rates of] exchange ought to be an object with you. When your order arrives, I shall proceed to make them out and offer them to the tradesmen and if it's in my power will prevail on them to execute it, knowing the advantage arising from you being supplied with goods, especially at this time when credit is so very severely wounded that but very few will be entrusted hereafter. My continuance on the spot may in some measure insure you that advantage. Then add your utmost exertion with mine and I care not for a few months' imprisonment, should fear or ill nature drive any rascal to put me in one.
I am told that Goldsborough & Ennals [of Maryland] has eight or ten thousand pounds in the Hanburys' hands. Suppose you try what can be done with them. You must borrow, for the longest time I possibly can obtain will not exceed the 1 January. You may rely on my getting what goods I ship on the best terms in my power; it's our joint interest and I am conscious I ever did attend to it. I tremble at the present year's expense as there has been nothing to indemnify my living and doubt I must offer you an humble petition for an allowance, though, until which, you'll oblige me in throwing any little matter in my pocket you can. I am far from being in the state of health [brother] Tom supposes, for I assure you with truth I have not enjoyed so good a one for this seven years past. I beg you'll return Mr Calvert and Mr Paca my most grateful thanks [for letter of credit]. I shall ever admire and esteem them. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of mine of yesterday per Capt Howard. I have now to acknowledge receipt of yours per Capt Page. Mr Hanbury being down at Portsmouth on a party of pleasure has prevented my delivering him your letter. He is to be in town tomorrow; then I will take care and see him but you must have no dependence on him. On the other hand, I fear his former difference with our C.W[allace] will be reaped up in prejudice against us. I have had a conference with some of my largest creditors, shown them the letter of security and asked their opinions. They advise me not by any means to call our creditors together. They say it will be a means of knocking up our house, but advise me to distribute the remittance I receive as equal as possible until you can receive my letters informing you of the disappointment and urge your exertion. I told them that you had requested my return; the answer was, they would not have me think of it but thought it more consistent for one of your coming over. I am against your coming, for, was you to take it in your heads to come and the creditors cruel enough, they might make us bankrupts but, as it is, they cannot and the worst they can do will be to imprison me.
I expect your orders every day. I will if possible execute it, or that part which I know to be the most wanted. We must continue on, for I see there is no retracting unless we at once submit to ruin and, to prevent which, it depends on you in remitting. Indeed, if bills are not to be had and you can get a load of Western Shore tobacco at 10/ sterling [per cwt.], you had much better send it me immediately. You ought not to hesitate a moment at a little loss, but at that price we shall only lose part of our commission.
84b. I have enclosed you Barnes & Ridgate's bill protested for nonacceptance, though fear it's too late to secure any part of their property. You did very wrong in renewing it before and would have you to take goods, tobacco or anything that you can obtain. Mr Barnes tells me he must, he believes, settle his matters with a statute [of bankruptcy]. Pray take care of Buchanan; . . . their acceptances having been noted at the Bank for non-payment. If it's possible to attach Perkins, Buchanan & Brown's ships in the country, I would have you to do it, as I see they only want to divert us till the creditors here is satisfied and then they'll declare themselves bankrupts.
I am served with notice this day to return a certificate for the teas shipped in Page per the name of William Purdy or pay down the penalty. For God sake, what can I say or do to induce you to mind what I say ? It does appear you are determined to plunge into ruin. Will you send an express to Wolstenholme's [collector of North Potomac] and see if the entry was made there, if not to South Potomac. Get more than one certificate and forward it to me.
I now forward you enclosed 11 protests amounting with charges to £445:17:4 which you'll be pleased to pass to my credit. There is not a 60 day bill drew but what is noted and when any person offers you such a one, you may rely on it they have no money here. . . .
The foregoing is a copy of mine of yesterday per Capt Jones via Philadelphia. Mr Hanbury is not yet come to town. You must not depend on any assistance from him. I have paid away all the money and bills I had. You must not omit any opportunity, either by way of Philadelphia, New York or your own province, of writing me and sending me whatever you can get. I have repeatedly wrote you for a certificate to cancel the tea bond in the name of William Purdy. I had notice served yesterday to hold myself in readiness or pay the penalty down. It amounts to £220 odd pounds and the bond has not 2 months to run from this time. I find it was shipped in the Eden, S. Nicholson; you must send me certificates by Philadelphia, New York etc. immediately or I am undone. For God sake, what can you be thinking of to suffer this? Pray send me certificates to cancel my bonds per the Annapolis and Caroline. If you do not contrive to relieve me somehow or other, I know not what may be the consequence. . . .
I wrote you the 29th and this day per the Sally, Capt Jones, via Philadelphia. This comes by Mr [Gilbert] Buchanan who is appointed by the trustees to settle his father's matters in your country. The young gentleman bears a good character here and for which we recommend him to your notice.
I have delivered just now Mr [Osgood] Hanbury your letter and had a long conference with him on the subject of our affairs. He tells me he cannot agree to lend us any money and that we must not have any expectations from him. I showed him the letter of credit and ask his advice in what method I had better pursue. He told me, as to my personal security, I had better call my creditors together, but, if we meant to preserve the reputation of the house, I must by no means do it; that I was subject to be arrested and might be threw into gaol from the present exceeding ill temper amongst the tradesmen. I told him I was determined to withstand them, let my sufferings be what they will. Mr Hanbury tells me that Mr Wolstenholme wrote him [that] he [Wolstenholme] told you not to depend on his [Hanbury's] letting me have money, for that he did not believe he would. If that has been your dependence and you have rested satisfied of it and not exerted yourselves, what must be my fate? Judge you and pity me. I am exceedingly uneasy for fear it should be the case and wait the arrival of your next with the utmost anxiety and impatience. I need not tell you the necessity of remitting me immediately. You assuredly too well know it and as assuredly will exert yourselves. Not less than £8,500 will do. If you can't get bills, you must forward me produce, I mean tobacco, if upper is to be had at 12/6 sterling and lower 10/ [per cwt.] of the Western Shore produce.
I have so often wrote you for certificates to cancel my bonds that I am atired and almost come to a resolution to rest passive with the loss of the penalty. It's the more inexcusable in you from the [Customs] Office being kept in the store and your J. D[avidson] being so well acquainted with what is necessary to return. I again inform you that William Purdy, in whose name the teas was shipped in per the Eden, S. Nicholson, has been served with notice to prepare for the payment of the penalty of his bond. He has applied to me and I must pay it. You'll therefore, for God sake, forward me a certificate to cancel the bond and redeem the money. Don't depend on one certificate, but send me 2 or 3 by different opportunities. I will write you again the next day after tomorrow via Philadelphia and send you copies of my several last letters. . . .