Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO TOBIAS LEAR. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO TOBIAS LEAR. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO TOBIAS LEAR.
Mount Vernon, 14 November, 1790.
Having wrote two letters to you on the subject of Page’s stage coach one or the other of which if not both, it is presumable have got to hand before this can, I shall add nothing more thereto than that Page’s coach is now [my] dependence.
1 I am, I must confess, exceedingly unwilling to go into any house without first knowing on what terms I do it, and wish that this sentiment could be again hinted, in delicate terms, to the parties concerned with me. I cannot, if there are no latent motives which govern in this case, see any difficulty in the business.2Mr. Morris has most assuredly formed an idea of what ought, in equity, to be the rent of the tenement in the condition he left it; and with this aid the committee ought, I conceive, to be as little at a loss in determining what it should rent for, with the additions and alterations, which are about to be made, and which ought to be done in a plain and neat, not by any means in an extravagant style; because the latter is not only contrary to my wish, but would really be detrimental to my interest and convenience, principally because it would be the means of keeping me out of the use and comforts of the house to a late period, and because the furniture, and every thing else, would require to be accordant therewith; besides it ’s making me pay an extravagant price, perhaps accommodate the alterations to the taste of another, or to the exorbitant rates of workmen or their blended performances in the two houses.
I do not know, nor do I believe, that any thing unfair is intended by either Mr. Morris or the committee; but let us for a moment suppose, that the rooms (the new ones I mean) was to be hung with tapestry, or a very rich and costly paper, neither of which would suit my present furniture; that costly ornaments for the bow windows, extravagant chimney-pieces, &c., &c., were to be provided; that workmen, from extravagance of the times, for every twenty shillings’ worth of work would charge forty shillings; and that advantage should be taken of the occasion to new paint every part of the house, buildings, &c.; would there be any propriety in adding ten or twelve and a half per cent. for all this to the rent of the house in its original state for the two years that I am to hold it? If the solution of these questions is in the negative, wherein lies the difficulty of determining, that the houses and lots when finished according to the proposed plan ought to rent for so much? When all is done that can be done thereto the residence will not be so commodious as the house I left in New York; (with the additional buildings made there) for there (and the want of it will be found a real inconvenience at Mr. Morris’s) my office was in a front room below, where persons on business were at once admitted; whereas now they will have to ascend two pair of stairs, and to pass by the public rooms to get to it. Notwithstanding which, I am willing to allow as much as was paid to Mr. Macomb, and shall say nothing if more is demanded, unless there is apparent extortion.—Extortion if it should be intended by delay is to see to what height rents will rise, I should be unwilling to—and to take it at the expense of any public body, I will not.1 There is one expression in your letter of the 4th the meaning of which I do not clearly understand, viz.: “the additions, repairs, &c., of the house in which Mr. Morris now lives are likewise to be comprehended in the expenditure to be refunded by the rent of the house.” Is it meant by this that the rent of the house you are now in is to be increased by the expenditures on the one Mr. Morris has removed to, or is no more meant by it than that the rent of the former is intended as security for the refund. The latter may be very proper, but the former could be submitted to on no other ground than that of dire necessity.
I had rather have heard, that my repaired coach was plain and elegant, than rich and elegant.
I am, dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]From Mr. Hamilton’s Reply: “The subject suggested in your letter, as preparatory to the meeting of the legislature, shall engage my particular attention. The papers of the departments of state and the treasury, and of the commissioners for settling accounts, are on their way to Philadelphia. On the 20th I propose with my family to set out for the same place.”
[2 ]Relating to a house in Philadelphia, belonging to Mr. Morris, which was fitting up for the residence of the President, when Congress should remove to that place. Mr. Lear was in Philadelphia making preparation for the President’s arrival and accommodation.
[1 ]In transcribing, some words or lines appear to have been omitted. The letter is printed as transcribed by William Jackson, one of Washington’s Secretaries.