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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
March 24, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 947-950


No. 1.

Wilmington, 24th March, 1783.

I received both yours my dear Sir by Mrs. Meek and from your recommendation have begun, as you see, to number my letters; but it will occasion much trouble and method, of which as I have not for many years been much observant will sit awkwardly upon me.

Mr. Bourdeaux & his family passed here lately, & I am not a little distressed that I did not shew them any civilities. What with very bad weather, and the constant attention I was obliged to pay to the court of Admiralty, I omitted it till they were gone.

I wrote you by Captain Hogg, who will deliver this, that I had received the box and the several articles by Gaillard. I have mentioned to Mrs. Slingsby what you say of her memorandum, & she says that 4 yards of black mode and the same quantity of black taffeta would do; but I believe you have none of the latter.

I sent you, I think about a dozen pieces of beef by Hogg. They were packed up in a keg and he says delivered. I conclude that the British gallies off your bar prevented me from even hearing from you by him or Cochran. The soap I expected I have not yet received & Moore as well as every other person has disappointed me of Pork. This morning Cochran’s vessel and cargo was seized by our naval officer, whether for having British goods, and that they were not cleared out I do not know; for he never consults me. He also leaped upon T. Hooper’s box, when it lay at the stone door, and declared that he seized it, & would return after breakfast to examine the contents. Mr. Huske came to me for advice & you may be sure it was never to let him see it. Every thing is safe and I believe the officer himself has given up his pretentions. But with respect to Cochran, I do not know what he intends to do. He asked Mr. Hays’ opinion, which was strongly against him in every point of view on which the seizure could be supposed to be made. Yet. W. said he would try it: but I am inclined to believe he will not venture. Gaillard when he came up, left all the goods below, & had them brought up in the night. A method that cannot fail.

Butter is not to be had at any price.

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Upon looking over your letter, which a constant hurry prevented my attendng to; I find you make no mention of Hogg, tho’ you do of Cochran. I am apprehensive that the former has played me a trick, & that both he and Cochran may be in a plot with your old friend. If he has got my letters they will appear at the Assembly. I cannot now be certain whether I wrote by Cochran; but I think I did. I am sure I wrote by a vessel on the subject of Major Davies & Fanny, & you take no notice of such a letter. Upon second thought I will not trust Hogg with this, as Lieuenant Ivey sets off the day after tomorrow. I begin to think that the debt due you by Stanley is full as well in your own hands as here. The profits probably will not be great; there are a hundred difficulties to encounter, and there is no money to be had.

I am sorry for the sufferers of S. Carolina; but still more so for the unconstitutional manner in which they are punished, & the bad tendency of such an evil example. Yet I have the most sanguine expectations of a moderate Assembly, & you will be pleased to hear that is the general opinion in this country.

I desire you would never put water in your ink to make it hold out. The last part of your letter would not now (by candle light) be legible in my eyes. Luckily I remember the substance, & find it does require particular notice. I thank you for the garden seeds, which came safe. They are mentioned in a P. S. in good ink.

It is now eight o’clock in the evening, & Kitty is not returned above half an hour from a visit. She walks out on these occasions much more than when I first returned from Hillsboro and I think it no bad sign. She is however in want of some things which I cannot procure here. Some excellent cyder which I had is out. It had too much custom. There is no wine here fit to drink. Ld. Charles and his suite drank 3 bottles for Kitty & her servants stole most of the remainder. She wishes for limes, lemons, or oranges and a little red wine if to be had; otherwise madeira. I cannot afford to drink wine at the present price; but I would choose a little if reasonable. I would however go the expence of some fresh fruit, & wish I could have a barrel of oranges or lemons, if not too high? We have some tea, Souchong, (I do not know how to spell it) pretty good at five dollars. A little coffee at 4/. which is very extravagant. I want some much, & a few pounds of cream tartar.

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When you mentioned homespun snuff, I took it to be the Scots kind. The sample you sent me is very tolerable, & I shall be glad of two pounds, even if it should not arrive before I leave home. It will serve me till I can make some. The shoemakers here ask as much for making a pair of shoes as you sell them for in Charlestown. But I suppose you do not know the size of Mrs. Maclaine’s foot more than I do.

Tom Bloodworth is at his old trade again. He insists on having 2 pr. ct. commissions on the cargo, though divided; & the law gives it to him on sales only. But that is not all. He, under various pretences, partly from a constant intoxication, and partly from resentment against me for having him indicted for extortion, delays, contrary to the decree of the court, and the opinion of a lawyer which he asked and paid for, to deliver to me that proportion to which I am entitled as a fee. He can only give me a few days delay (for I am not concerned in purchases) and if I conjecture right, he will be deprived of his 2 pr. ct. The sailors will not be imposed on when the decree is in their favor, though the all-powerful Marshal has threatened to raise the Militia, if they offer to take it.

I have so much business to prepare for court, & have been so taken up with the court of Admiralty, that I do not know certainly what day I shall set off. It will be as early as I can next week (this is Monday). If any conveyance offers to Hillsborough, I expect to hear from you; & I suppose some of these who are in anxious expectation, will be sending up to know their fate.

Caswell, as I expected is a candidate for the Government. He does not deserve it. I also suspect Nash, who is returned from Congress. But I think he has no chance of succeeding. The present Governor has, I am persuaded, expectations. I wish we could have a better than any of them. But I do not know whether Mr. Johnson is in the Assembly. O! how I wish for Burke with all his foibles. He would keep villains within proper bounds, and call scoundrels to a strict account; but probably these are the very reasons they make against his election. Johnson would do everything necessary in the present State of the country, but his dignified pride and domestic turn make him very indifferent about promotion. He wants a little more ambition, or a little more active zeal for the public service.

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Upon further consideration (which you may call third) thoughts I have determined to send this by Hogg; for I think it probable that he was scarcely arrived when Mrs. Meek left you. But it is somewhat surprising that as your brother wrote and sent goods, I had not a line from you. You may expect letters from your wife and me by Mrs. Ivey.

Yours very sincerely,

Let all your suffering brethren know that I have no time to write. My best compliments to Major Butler.