Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO ROBERT CARY & CO. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775)
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TO ROBERT CARY & CO. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. II (1758-1775) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. II (1758-1775).
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TO ROBERT CARY & CO.
Mt. Vernon, 20 July 1771
Our goods by the Liberty, Captn. Walker, came to hand in good order, and soon after his arrival; as they generally will do when shipped in a vessel to this river, and scarcely ever when they go to any others (unless they should be despatched in one of your own ships, and the Captain particularly instructed concerning the delivery of them.) For it don’t often happen that a vessel bound to one river has goods of any consequence for another, and the masters, in these cases keep the packages till an accidental conveyance offers, and for want of better opportunities, frequently commit them to boatmen who care very little for the goods so they get their freight, and often land them where it suits their convenience, not where they have engaged to do, which was the case of those parcels sent by Saunderson. It is to little purpose, therefore, to recommend it to us to seek redress of the masters for these delays or abuses (though it may be the only remedy left) unless the injury is of so extensive a nature as to make it worth while to be at some expense and trouble to watch for and find out the Captains. Our situation in this country differs very widely from yours. A ship going from Virginia to London is always, and with ease, to be met with at that part; but a ship from London to Virginia may be in Rappahannock, or any of the other rivers, three months before I know anything of her arrival, and may make twenty voyages without my seeing, or even hearing of the captain, in the same manner that vessels may trade to Liverpool, Whitehaven, or Bristol, unknown to you. It is more expedient, therefore, to prevent the evil, than to redress it afterwards, and this is very easily done by sending the goods out in ships belonging to the river they are destined for. So much in answer for that part of your letter of the 13th of November advising me to make Saunderson (a man I never saw in my life, and perhaps never shall) pay the extra expence I was put to in getting my goods from Mr. Bland’s warehouse at Boyds Hole.
There are several other passages in the letter above mentioned that I think it incumbent upon me to take some notice of; not that I am fond of dwelling upon a subject that is full as disagreeable to me as it can be to you, but because there is one paragraph in particular in it, respecting the Windsor glass, which appears to me to contain an implication of my having deviated from the truth. Why else should you require in the name of the person you bought of, a square to be sent you? And what end was it to answer, but to charge me indirectly with a misrepresentation of the fact? For if it was supposed by Mrs. Dennis that I had related a falsehood, it might as well have been imagined, that I would have practised a deceit, as there could have been no difficulty in making Mrs. Ann Dennis a square of 8 by 10 out of 9 and 11, and any one who would condescend to practise the one would not hesitate to execute the other. But, however credulous I may have been in relation to the prices of tobacco, I could not well have been so in respect to the measurement of the glass when I built a house with sashes 9 by 11, and got squares that would not fit them. I do not repeat this matter with a view of having any allowance made me—I neither want nor would accept of any; but to show that it is much more likely Mrs. Dennis should put up a box of 8 by 10 through carelessness or by mistake, than that I should mistake the size when I came to use it. I had nothing more in view when I made the complaint first, than to shew how inattentive the tradesmen and shopkeepers sometimes are, that I might be relieved from the like inconveniences for the time to come. This was my reason also for taking notice of the Duffield from Mauduit & Co,1 not that I expected any deduction from the price, as they could not see the condition of the cloth for want of my having an opportunity of reshipping it, an inconvenience we are obliged to submit to and is among the disadvantages attending my shipping to a house that has no connection with the river I live on, and it is seldom we have it in our power of sending any little trifling matters which want repairs, alterations, &c. to London, not choosing to put Captains of vessels, with whom we have no concern, nor any way of obliging in return, to any trouble in sending for or taking charge of them. So likewise is it a disadvantage on account of your letters which come chiefly by York and James River ships, by which means I have the postage from Williamsburg to Alexandria always to pay, which upon a letter that contains an account of sales, or that has anything else enclosed, amounts often to four, five, and sometimes eight or ten shillings, which in the end increases to no trifling sum.
I observe what you have said in respect to the purchase of our goods with ready cash. It is what those who have money in your hands, or who pay interest for the loan of yours, have an undoubted right, to expect. And if we are allowed the benefits of debenture, and the prompt payment of goods (for I am told, the tradesmen and shopkeepers generally, if not always, make out their notes on twelve or more months’ credit, according to the general run of their dealings, and then discount according to the payments)—I say, if these are allowed, it is all we have a right to expect; and yet, I do aver that I can buy linen and many other articles in the stores here in their sterling way of dealing, cheaper than I can import them, which is a mystery not easy to be accounted for, as I do not conceive that you are charged the retail prices for the goods you purchase. For though the quantity that I, or any other individual, may want is small, yet, when it is considered that one person has a demand for twenty pounds worth, another for fifty, a third for an hundred, and so on to the amount of thousands for any article (linen for example), to be shipped off at one and the same time, surely the whole is of dignity enough to bring you under the denomination of a wholesale purchaser, and sufficient to entitle you to all the benefits of a drawback upon the exported goods. This is the light in which things have always appeared to me. I may be mistaken, however, in my conjectures for want of better knowledge of trade; and if I expect any thing that is unreasonable, or inconsistent with the principles of a just, fair and practicable commerce, I am sure I do not desire to be indulged in it. But I cannot help adding that it has ever been my opinion that in return, for the heavy charges upon our tobacco and the ample and uncommon commissions which are drawn upon the sales of it, we ought to reap every advantage which can be procured in the purchase of our goods. Otherwise I should be glad to know to what end we import them. * * *
Our Association in Virginia for the non-importation of goods is now at an end except against tea, paper, glass, and painters’ colors of foreign manufacture. You will please, therefore, to be careful that none of the glass, paper, &c., contained in my invoices, are of those kinds which are subject to the duty imposed by Parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in America. The late great calamity which has befallen this country by the overflowing of the waters will be communicated to you I expect through so many different channels that it is scarce worth my while to touch upon the subject. Neither my ward nor self has sustained any damage by this disaster, but it is expected, that it cannot fail to have some effect upon the prices of tobacco. In which case we suppose ours will reap the advantage of it as well as others.
[1 ]“When I opened the package a piece of Duffield, charged £4.13.6 was found eaten to a honeycomb by moth.”