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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald Maclaine to George Hooper
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
March 25, 1783 - March 26, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 950-953


No. 2. (No. 1 by Capt. Hogg.)

Wilmington, 25th March, 1783.

When I am at home, and frequent opportunities happen, you will have no reason to complain of my neglect. I wrote yesterday by Captain Hogg, who is yet here, & I do not know when he is determined to go. I have the pleasure to inform you that the naval officer has given up his seizure, and the goods are on shore. This however is not a pleasure in every respect, as a perseverance in the measure would have given me another hold of him. As I find you are either in a starving condition, or obliged to eat at an enormous expence, I will try to get something for you by Gaillard.

I am happy to find you are determined to await the deliberation of our Assembly, without your usual anxiety. If any of your schemes had promised the least success, I should gladly have adopted it; or could I have fallen upon any other, I certainly should have done it. Jemmy Walker’s pardon was refused on the solicitation of Judge Ashe, though it was accompanied with very ample testimonials of some who had been prisoners and whose lives were probably saved by Mr. Walker’s humanity. Mr. Burke would not have done this. But his mind is too elevated to stoop to the common arts of acquiring popularity. He would have recollected that in old Rome, peculiar honors were decreed to the man who saved the life of a citizen.

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I have been a little indisposed for some days, & am at this instant actually masticating some of Tom Hooper’s bark. Nothing but real inability should prevent me from going to Hillsborough; but though I have not a doubt at present about my health, yet if you should think that there are any good men among the refugees (tories I mean) I desire you may set them to prayers as fast as possible, lest some adverse accident should happen; for I believe they will pray heartily for a man who they know is willing, and possibly not entirely without some ability to serve them. To be serious my reliance is on the Assembly. I have great expectations of a moderate one; and from a thorough conviction that truth, justice, and sound policy must at length prevail, I do not fear of success. At the same time I am aware of the little arts that will be used to defeat me, and the malicious insinuations that will be thrown out against me. But I am prepared for all this, and for much more than my enemies are aware of. I am not only prepared to defend myself, but to annoy my enemies, and the worst enemies of the State. I hope the resolve of your Assembly giving the banished leave to return & be heard will be at Hillsborough. Absurd as it is to try the guilty by the Legislature, it breathes some degree of moderation, and I would have every thing of that kind known.

What should induce you to imagine that I should wear a scarlet coat, especially in the summer? May I not as well have a coat as a wastecoat that will wash? Buff will be the best.

By Hogg I wrote you for a little wine for Kitty (red) tea, if good & reasonable; coffee, fresh fruit, snuff, cream tart. & shoes if you can guess the size. But I wants shoes for myself; for we have no tolerable leather here, and the price is enormous. They must be of such a length as that a measure of 11½ inches will go in, and small in proportion to the length. Over the instep only 10 2-10 inches. If you cannot get them exact let them be as near as you can. They must not however be in the least undersize. I am sorry that my want of leisure will not permit me to give you the history (as far as I am acquainted with it) of the life and adventures of the divine-physical gentlemen to whom you allude. This is the epithet bestowed upon him by his cousin, Hugh Kelly of London, whom he took in for a considerable sum, at the very time he was determined on his voyage to our continent. As soon as my time will permit, I

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will help you out. I owe the scoundrel something on my own account. By the way, Indian Kitt has without my consent or Mr. Hooper’s most audaciously contracted herself to a free mulatto, and is to be married in form this very night. Though I do not know the fellow I have not forbid the banns, having within myself sovereign authority in all such cases to dissolve the bonds of matrimony as effectually as a British act of Parliament; and if I find that the fellow is a big rogue, as Major Baillie expressed it; I shall certainly send him a bill of divorce a vinculo matrimonii.

Kitty certainly mends in her spirits. The caracature of Fanny and the observations of Major Davies are a fund of entertainment to her; and as she finds several of her acquaintances uneasy on that score, she very industriously blows the coals. Her swivel-eyed cousin has not the life of a dog with her; & I enjoy this internally; for I never take any notice of the contemptible animal. All these foolish females have no conception that the piece which you sent to be hung up in Augustine is the coinage of your own brain. The female tories are particularly mortified. Davies spoke of Betsy and Fanny (particularly of the former) with the utmost contempt, for ridiculing the place where they lived, and said they were setting themselves off, and wanted to take him in by tory songs.

You see when I have no business I write any stuff that comes uppermost; but though you cannot complain of the shortness of my letters, perhaps you may find fault with the substance.

Polly is perfectly well, and as rosy as a cherub. She frequently goes with me to see my pretty little garden, as she calls it. The best part of it is once more dry ground. Grainger tells me you are fat, but I do not understand that you are at all aldermanic. Archy too is quite well, remember me to the sweet little fellow and tell him he must learn to write. Had you not better set him about it soon? We are all pretty well.

Yours very sincerely,

26th March.

There is nothing I want so much as a portmanteau saddle; and I have hitherto omitted from mere stinginess; but I am now afraid that my old one will scarcely serve for the present journey.

Though Ivey came to town to sett off for camp, I find he returns

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this day to Duplin, so as Hogg is yet here you will receive this and one from Kitty by him. I wish to have a white chip hat; 2 yards of white gauze to trim it: 4 yards of narrow and 2 yards of broad ribbon. The guaze and ribbon white. Lest you should think this for a favorite Dulcinea, I inform you that it is for a favorite niece.