Transcription of selected pages from
Letter book, 1798-1803
By Theodore Barrell,
Held by the New-York Historical Society Mss Collection (BV Barrell, Theodore Non-circulating) — http://bobcat.library.nyu.edu/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=NYHS&institution=NYHS&docId=nyu_aleph001507649
This Letter book, 1798-1803, contains correspondence to business associates in London, Barbados, etc., as well as letters to relatives and friends on personal affairs, and life in colonial Guyana. It includes many letters to William and Samuel Jones, London; Walter Barrell, London; William Gill and Samuel Went, Barbados. It is a single volume of 182 pages.
These pages were identified, and images supplied by Bram Michael Hoonhout (Bram.Hoonhout@EUI.eu) PhD Researcher, Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute, Via Boccaccio 121, 50133 Florence, Italy.
Transcribed by Rodney Van Cooten, February 2016.
… I have leisure I shall give you a copy of account sales to date–and will use my best exertions to dispose of the most that I can of your consignment.
I have in contemplation to make a voyage to England this summer, should some circumstances be previously arranged to promote such designs, in which event I shall have the pleasure of paying you my respects personally; but as the object is not assured I would have you write to me as before, only send no further consignment until I advise you of the propriety of so doing. In case of my putting my plan into execution a Dutch gentleman of great worth will be my representative here whose name is Van Cooten (the Author of the Chart I send you by Captain Bennett). He will open all my letters and transact any business. Should you think proper to favor me with letters under this uncertainty I would only request you to let the writing be exceeding plain & distinct, such as Schoolboys commonly write, otherwise my friend who is little accustomed to English letters will not be able to make out the sense unless he exposes the letters to a third hand–and that I do not wish.
Herein I inclose you the third of Pittman & Ashley’s bill of Exchange for sixty five pounds sterling–and the 2d of Ball and Stanning’s for £150 sterling. Original & duplicates having been transmitted by former opportunities; I hope they will prove good. I likewise inclose the second of a bill of Exchange for £150 sterling, indorsed to the order of Mrs. Frances Wilson; which bill I request you will do me the favor to transmit or to deliver into my father’s hands with all convenient dispatch.
I am respectfully–Gentlemen!
Your much obliged friend &c &c
Mr. Walter Barrell,
Robert Street, Bedford Row, London
Demerary 13 April 1799
My Dear Sir!
Mrs. Dusart being disappointed in the receipt of money she expected could not procure a bill of Exchange to remit to you on her son’s account. Therefore in the mean time to prevent you suffering inconvenience from advances I have two days ago purchased a bill of Joseph Beale’s draft for £25 sterling on Baillie Thornton & Campbell No. 3701 at sixty days sight with which I charge Mrs. Dusart f300. You will therefore be pleased to pass it to her credit. I inclose the first of the bill herein.
The 9th instant I took the liberty of writing you very fully respecting the two sons of a worthy friend that he sends through my persuasion under Mr. Rae’s tuition, and assurance from me of your kind protection & care. The boys have likewise a letter for Mr. Rae; they are to sail in the Golden Grove, Captain Bennet, on or about the 21 Instant, with the homeward
bound fleet; they may be with you the latter end of June, and I trust Mr. Rae will be ready to accommodate them. Their father, Mr. Van Cooten, is an opulent cotton planter, and is determined to spare no expence necessary to promote the advantage or comfort of his children; sufficient remittances will always be forwarded beforehand to your address. I hope this step may be considered by Mr. Rae as a testimonial of my high opinion of his worth, and shall carefully guard against occasioning either him or yourself of the smallest inconveniency.
It may not be improper to state to you that Jan & Nicolaas Van Cooten are Mezties; this disinclination of blood I conceive is not made among you, and cannot affect them in England to their disadvantage; but by remaining in this country they will not be much longer without feeling the baneful effects of the unjust prejudice which is universally entertained throughout these regions, and which will have a tendency to depress the Spirits, and enervate every generous faculty that the Almighty has bestowed for noble uses. An odious prejudice, the offspring of refined pride & most corrupt disposition. The boys have hitherto been educated under their father’s eye, who is a very intelligent sensible man, and has always endeavor’d to inculcate in their minds sentiments of the strictest morality and veneration of their maker; I trust they will prove good boys, and gain the esteem of Mr. Rae, so as to induce him to be particularly attentive in regaining the lost time they have wasted here; the eldest is already I believe 13 years old and the younger about eleven. The idea of the father is to send them to Holland when they may be judged tolerably advanced in all useful literature in England, and I suppose that having sufficient fortune to support them handsomely he does not think of bringing them to Demerary again. All the necessary particulars I have treated largely of in my letters that the boys will deliver to you and Mr. Rae. In that to yourself, as it is not yet sealed, I shall pass the 2d of the bill of £25 for the use of my young frd. Jan Dusart.
A fleet is just arrived–I am told the long expected vessels from London are in the number–and hope to receive letters from the family; if so, & I can spare time I shall reply by some of the ships now about sailing. I send under care of Jan Van Cooten a neat watch as a present to my Sister Polly, & a seal for yourself, which I am persuaded you will set value on, as it is an old family piece, & was worn many years by uncle Theodore who gave it to me in 1791, using at the same time the remarkable expression that I had greater right to it than he had.
Should Mr. Haslen arrive soon, and I be enabled to arrange my affairs to my mind, I am still of intention to go by myself with a voyage across the Atlantic, for the purpose of seeing my family after so many years of absence, during the course of the present summer. Separated as we are it is great satisfaction to me having the portrait; I observe no sensible change in your features, & can trace the likeness of Abby & Polly perfectly; Charlotte’s face alone seems destitute of resemblance to the Charlotte I left behind; but to compensate this disappointment I see in it the exact picture of my mother which is much consolation.
I am with respectful affection,
Your obdt. Servant & Son
Abby’s portrait has a good deal in it that often reminds me of Hannah Barrell, Uncle Joe’s daughter.
P.S. I expect to receive in time to send by the Fleet a payment on Uncle Jo’s account of about £100 or perhaps something more in pass of a debt that has been long owing to him. I hope such remittance may come opportunely to the assistance of uncle Colborne.
By Jan Van Cooten I shall send a coat to serve as a pattern for others to be made by in respect to size though not fashion. The one you were so kind to get made for me was so much too small that I could not get it on, but I have obliged an acquaintance by sparing it to him. Some of the breeches were in the same predicament, but the other articles give very much satisfaction. Much obligation both to you & to my dear sisters for such kind pains to oblige me.
Samuel Went Esqr., Barbados
per favor the Honble A. Meertens.
Bel Air 13 April 1799.
I am in great haste and have only time to inclose you second & third of the bills for £200 of which I transmitted original by Capt. Greenidge.
Mr. Meertens will be able to give you all the information you can require.
I am most respectfully
Your very obliged humble Servt.
Pray forward the enclosed letters to London.
Mr. Walter Barrell,
Robert Street, Bedford Row, London
Demerary, Bel Air, 9th April 1799.
My Dear Sir!
This is to introduce the two sons of Mr. Hendrik Van Cooten, Jan & Nicolaas, whom I beg leave to recommend to your friendship and protection. They are likewise charged with a letter to my worthy schoolmaster Mr. Rae, under whose tuition I conceive you will join me in thinking they cannot be more advantageously placed.
Mr. Van Cooten, the father, is an eminent cotton planter of this colony, and universally esteemed one of the most truly respectable characters in it; soon after my first arrival I became acquainted with him and an intimacy was brought on which ripened on my part into very sincere respect; I esteem him now among the most valuable friends I can boast of possessing in these regions, and am not a little gratified at the strong proof he offers that he conceives me worthy of his utmost confidence, by consenting to send his children without any other dependence whatever than my recommendation to a foreign country in a land of strangers for their education. He is easy under my assurance that every step will be taken to promote their advantage; and I dare give it to him with confidence, knowing the reliance that I may place on both you and Mr. Rae. May the event prove that it is a kind providence that interferes for their good, and may the parents have reason to rejoice at the step they are now induced to take!
I have taken the liberty without previous intimation to you, to assure Mr. Van Cooten that from the time his boys arrive in London you will have a watchful care over all that relates to them, both in regard to their education and in other respects besides; I have likewise told him that they would be with you once every week at the least. These assurances gratify him, for notwithstanding he can depend on the character I give him of Mr. Rae under whose more immediate management they will be, yet it is a great additional satisfaction to be assured they will meet with a friend in you, for whom he was before disposed to entertain an Esteem; and to whom he can transfer without apprehension the guidance of his children.– Jan & Nicolaas have never been from under their father’s eye before; their direction hitherto has been from him, assisted of late years by a
gentleman of adequate talents that Mr. Van Cooten engaged to come from Holland for the purpose, and who always lived in the house. They have only had instruction in their mother tongue (Dutch) but I look upon them to be boys of capacity and have no doubt but they will soon make good progress in English to Mr. Rae’s satisfaction. As soon as Mr. Rae judges convenient Mr. Van Cooten would have them study the french, which is a language that hereafter cannot fail of being highly essential to them–all other valuable and ornamental attainments such as the studies of Geography & Astronomy, the arts of drawing, dancing &c. he would wish they should be acquainted with, but leaves the propriety of putting them immediately to such, or of deferring them until they are proficient in more useful knowledge, to your judgement and Mr. Rae’s. – All books and other necessaries incident to learning Mr. Van Cooten requests you to procure whenever Mr. Rae advises such–and does not wish any necessary expence to be spared in cases where the advantage of the boys is concerned.
Mr. Van Cooten will always be careful to have a sufficient sum of money beforehand at your disposal, to answer the demands that may accrue, such as Mr. Rae’s account, the charges of additional masters, the expense of cloathing &c. all which he leaves entirely to your discretion, as well as monies for pocket purposes, and proper articles of use or pleasure as occasion may point out, for the indulgence, gratification or encouragement of the boys. Mr. Van Cooten will naturally be induced to write to you, he has requested me however to explain these matters lest he should not be able to make them all perfectly understood from his not being much accustomed to write in English. He seems however to fear that I am encouraging him to give you much more trouble than he ought to do on this occasion, and to confess a truth I feel conscious that I should do more than barely appologize for such a great liberty; but when the ultimate purpose is considered I am persuaded you will take the wish of doing those Children a benifit, as past satisfaction for the abrupt mode of attempting it. And indeed if I had not a very high esteem for Mr. Van Cooten, & attachment to his family I should not have pressed the matter thus far with him.
Captain Bennett has received his payment for passage money or at least will receive in provisions to the ship’s sailing, so that he can have no demand whatever to make on you, unless accident or circumstances to us unforeseen should occur, involving expences–of which you will yourself be the best judge of the propriety to allow. I shall be obliged for any attention you can shew Captain Bennett while in London, as he talks of continuing in the trade, & it is pleasant to have such men acquainted with the several members of a separated family.
The wench Komsy that accompanies Jan & Nicolaas, is a faithful slave of their mother, and has attended on a similar occasion many years ago two others of her children to Holland. I would beg of cousin Sandy as he lives in the City to procure her a passage back again with all dispatch, either direct here or by way of Barbados addressed under care to Mr Went, my correspondent, to be sent to me; the passage may either be paid for there, or only agreed upon and refer’d to us for payment. Mean time it is Mr. Van Cooten’s particular wish that she may not remain troublesome to you–if inconvenient to let her stay in your kitchin I dare say my old friend Plato will point out proper lodgings for her, and the rate will not be much considered. It would be kind in him likewise now she is in London, & an entire stranger of his own complexion to shew her Sadler’s Wells, Astley’s & Hughes equestrian feats, and other rarities novel to her–for which purpose Mr. Van Cooten would gladly allow her three or four guineas.
Jan has in his care a gold Watch that I formerly wrote you Miss Miejte intended as a present for her little brother; they will be school mates & it can be given to him when they meet. I have likewise entrusted to him a plain neat gold watch that I request my Sister Polly to accept, and if it should be judged sufficiently good I would have her procure a suitable chain and trinkets which by application to Messrs. Jones they will pay for on my account. There is a seal hangs to it by a black ribbon which I think may gratify you to wear as it is an old family piece, & was long worne by uncle Theodore who gave it to me in 1791. As I am of intention to write by other vessels of the fleet, I shall conclude for the present.
My Dear Sir!
Your very much obliged Son &c.
Postscript–16th April 1799.
Although not essential, it may nevertheless be proper to acquaint you, that Jan & Nicolaas Van Cooten are Mezties; this is a distinction of blood I suppose that is never made in England, and seems by the wonderful workings of providence to be wearing out of fashion even in these regions, where the pride that is built on corruption itself seems to be protracted to a still greater pitch of guilty refinement than in the old world. Most odious, unjust, and infamous prejudice! naturally tending to enervate every generous faculty and sense, that the Almighty has equally shared to all of the human race without distinction. I trust these boys are now delivered from the baneful effect this
prejudice would necessarily bring on in time.
I inclose you herein the second of a bill of £25 Sterling original of which I transmitted under cover of a letter I wrote you the 13th instant via Barbados. Mrs. Dusart had disappointed me (perhaps owing to her own disappointments) in not procuring a remittance for my little friend’s use–therefore to prevent inconvenience to you I purchased the small bill in question; you will however be pleased to credit it to her account–and she may settle with me for it.
Mr. Haslen is not yet returned–should he come in time, & I be enabled otherwise to arrange my business–I may still have the pleasure of paying the family a visit this summer. Dependance must not however be placed entirely on this, as my schemes may be subject to disappointment.
Doctor Walter Caddel
to the care of Messrs. Daniels, Mincing Lane, London
Demerary, Bel Air 16 April 1799
The Grenada, Captain Richardson, arrived with the Alex under convoy the 13th instant, and next day I had the pleasure to receive your esteemed letter dated the 20th December. Your favor of October was received at the close of January, and I replied to it by the earliest following opportunity via Barbados. On reading your intention of being here in June, I may suppose you now to be about taking passage, and consequently the time lost in replying to your letter; but experience has shewn me that numberless circumstances not to be foreseen frequently avert the execution of our Schemes; and in the idea of a possibility that something like this may detain you a little longer in London, I would rather hazard a few lines, than subject myself to be thought negligent by you. In the first place I shall inform you that we are looking daily for Mr. Haslen’s return, in which event you are sure of a comfortable reception; but should he protract his North American visit something longer, we shall still do our utmost to render Bel Air tolerable to you by giving you each an apartment at the Summer house. Mr Frewin & yourself the old logie is long since vanished, & a nice tight little stable & chain house sprung up from its roots, together with a couple of snug rooms which our old friend Hamlet occupies, who by the bye occasionally thinks of you.
The distilled water of laughable remembrance being not yet out of his head, …
… provided a suitable connexion could be formed in England, able to afford a credit, that he & I might be joined in partnership and do business to very great advantage in this country. If you could improve on the point & both of you agrees in thinking something clever might be done, it is not yet too late. The climate here is most charming, such universal equality, & little to be feared the change by prudent temperate persons. I received a letter from his mother a few days ago, dated in April, at which time she was well & in Portsmouth.
I desire my affectionate remembrance to all our friends, & am sincerely
My Dear Sir!
Your obliged nephew &c
I hope should Uncle Joe send any of the Forte Pianos that he will send a good supply of spare wire with it as none can be got here. With the first articles sent here either by Messrs. Jones or yourself pray send me some new light music for the harpsichord–easy airs–songs &c & spare wire. Send likewise a dozen good reeds for the clarinet, an instrument I have been fond of for some years but am now out of reeds. They must be of the broad sort.
Mr. Walter Barrell
Robert street, Bedford Row, London
Stabroek, 31st August 1799
My Dear Sir!
Since the 11th Instant when I wrote very fully to my uncle I have not been favor’d with a line from the family which is much of a disappointment to me, particularly as two vessels arrived this morning which left London 28th July, besides a mail by the first July Packet, and not a single letter for me by any of them; a fleet is daily expected with some London ships, and I hope may make me amends for the deficiency. Your exceeding kind favor of 3d June reached me just this day month, and highly gratifies me to find your ideas so coincident with my own, respecting the two sons of Mr. Van Cooten; I am likewise pleased that my worthy friend Mr. Rae approves the advice I gave their father by which he was induced to send them to England and I am persuaded they will derive the utmost benefit from his example and instruction. I hope they arrived timely that you could get a passage for their black woman by the vessels to sail in July, to prevent any inconvenience her remaining too long in London might occasion you. Mr. Van Cooten is a worthy man, and much respected by his acquaintances; he has the welfare of his children greatly at heart, & wishes that no expence may be spared in necessary attainments likely to advance their future prosperity. It is to be regretted that in early life he did not form a more suitable connexion; he so was influenced however by the example of some of the first men here,
many of whom married mulatto and indian women, and some of them even black ones where they were rich; the mother of these boys is a remarkable sensible woman and has been handsome; some of her children are perfectly fair, with no taint whatever of the color, and as pretty, fresh and rosey as any children in Europe or America.
I inclose herein the first of McInroy & Sandbach’s bill of Exchange at ninety days sight on Hamilton Garden & Co. of Greenock for £120 Stg. payable in London, which I have endorsed to my uncle’s order, to whom I request you will deliver it, requesting him to apply it in the following manner:
£11, 2, 8½ to be paid to Mr. Hindmarsh, for account of Mr. James Glen
60, ~, ~ to Mrs. Frances Wilson–in pass of balance due her
5, 5, ~ balance due C. Barrell, per account sales transmitted him.
10, 10, ~ to be applied to the use of Mr. Joseph Barrell of Boston
33, 2, 3½ to Messrs. William & Samuel Jones on my own account
Stg. £120, 0, 0 for which I paid twelve guilders per pound Sterling.
I am truly concerned that I have not been able to remit Mrs. Wilson’s final balance yet; I have now exerted myself to the utmost to prevent her being involved in inconveniency, to which end I have advanced much more than I have received, and hope to transmit the whole about six weeks hence, though I then expect to be far short in pocket of the money due me, independent of a sum amounting to near f1500 which owing to the peculiar circumstances of the times here in regard to money transactions, I have unavoidably been forced to negotiate in such a manner to save a great loss to myself in the sudden fate of the current gold, that I shall not realize a sixpence of it until about May next. Should you wish a further explanation of this matter for the satisfaction of Mrs. Wilson I have mentioned it more at large in my letter to my uncle, which no doubt he will communicate to you. Should either of you write shortly to Uncle Joe, I request you to acquaint him that I have not yet received more on his account from Mr. McGeoagh; the prospect however seems fair that I soon shall, and in the event shall remit it to London with all convenient dispatch. I received letters from him a month ago dated in February and in April, which be so kind to intimate likewise, as I do not know when I may meet with a direct conveyance that I may write to him from here. He mentions writing concerning Uncle Colborn’s Forte Pianos.
The kind manner of you expressing your hopes that I may be enabled to make a visit to England agreeably to my intention fills me with grateful satisfaction at the same time it augments my regret that such an event however much desired by myself cannot be brought about this year. Mr. Haslen prolonged his stay in North America beyond the term I expected when I conceived the pleasing plan–and now he is returned the season is or will be too far advanced before the necessary arrangements can be made to allow me to undertake the voyage with safety; should I ever be so happy as to escape the Elements at a season when boisterous weather must be expected, still I fear I could but ill fear the severity of a winter, and might in place of a satisfaction become bothersome to you all & to myself. I am still in hopes that I shall see you either next Spring or Summer, when I imagine I shall find it expedient even from motives of Interest to cross the Atlantic–to solicit a credit and to form connexions towards my establishment in the mercantile line; which I shall endeavor to effect as most conducive to my future welldoing. You were right in supposing Mr. Haslen would require much of my assistance on his arrival; he urges me still to continue to transact his business & finds difficulty to reconcile my leaving his house. I however find it highly necessary. I shall notwithstanding do all I can
for him, shall supply his Estates as formerly, and even keep his books until he can suit himself with a proper person in my stead. He has purchased an Estate in Carolina, to which he intends retiring as soon as he can sell his Plantations here, which I suppose will not be extremely difficult. He has recovered his health admirably, and forgetful of his advanced years seems to persuade himself he has taken a new lease of life; certainly he lays plans that will require many more days than he can expect, or than the youngest ought to depend on, to execute. Poor Vanstamel, his wife’s brother, totally abandoned to drink, is about being removed to Surinam, from whence his friends have little expectation ever to see him return.
Mrs. Dusart and her daughter are much pleased at the friendly concern you show for little Jan, and at my sisters fond attention towards him; they have a just sense of the obligation due you, and if the most grateful expressions of thankfulness can be considered as a return they are by no means deficient. As to the remittances that are necessary for the support of his education &c be assured I shall not suffer you to be under inconvenience. As soon as the immoderate rate of Exchange falls to its ancient standard a fresh bill shall be procured and transmitted to you towards his second year’s expences. (The bill that I inclose herein as before specified was granted as a peculiar indulgence by a worthy friend at f12 per £. Bills are however not generally drawn now under f15, and even up to 20–according to the kind of money given in payment–regulations not being yet made in regard to our current gold, much of which is infamously base.) Jan’s sister is anxiously desirous to receive letters from his own hand, and hopes not to be long without one; she is on a visit with her Mama and younger Sister at the Friendship, where I left them this morning all in perfect good health, and desiring me not to omit inserting the most affectionate remembrance to their dear little boy, to which I add my cordial wishes that he may make the best of his time to improve in the acquisition of such attainments as may be recommended by his good friends with whom he lives. Mr. Van Cooten’s family is now on the recovery from the Small Pox, which prevails throughout the Colony; his children have had it very mildly, and are quite in a fair way. I desire my best wishes to Jan & Claas, I hope they will behave so as to insure the favor of all they are concerned with, and to induce Mr. Rae to give a favorable account of them when he writes to their father or to me; their father is extremely anxious for their good fame, which should stimulate them to close application in their studies, that they may regain their lost time and for themselves for an active part in life.
Forever my dear Sir!– I am your affectionate Son
Mr. Walter Barrell,
Robert street–Bedford Row–London
Stabroek, 8th October 1799
My Dear Sir!
In consequence of the capture of Surinam the vessels from the Islands that traded to this port regularly have all of them been taken upon speculation and sent there, so that we have had no conveyance for our European letters–this may account to you for your letters remaining so long unacknowledged by me, they being detained at Barbados. Yesterday three mails arrived here at once, by which I received your esteemed favor of 13 & 16 July. Sister Polly’s of August 6th, and my worthy friend’s Mr. Rae of 5th August. I took up and forwarded Mr. Van Cooten’s letters, which I find afforded him and the family most abundant satisfaction, for I rode out to his Estate in the Evening to communicate the agreeable contents of my own, and only returned this morning to town.
Mr. Van Cooten proposes to write in reply to yours immediately, and told me he would transmit another bill, to prevent as much as possible your suffering inconveniency from being in advance on account of his children. I assure you he seems fill’d with the most grateful sentiment at the extraordinary friendly interest you manifest towards his Son’s concerns–& is perfectly satisfied to submit to your judgement & Mr. Rae’s, everything respecting their education and mode of conduct. In regard to any allowance of pocket money, he conceives that you are the best judges of what is proper for them to have the command of, and therefore declines saying any thing on the matter. He joins you in the idea that all proud notions should be suppressed, that may arise from their opinion of possessing superiority over others in point of riches, which is a vanity exceeding natural to boys, and cannot fail to do them much harm. If humble sentiments can be firmly planted in young minds, great advantages will ensue; the disappointments of life will be more easily borne, and every vexation be reconciled. The idea of one excelling others in oneself is a great source of misery–and produces envy & discontent; it buoys us up with false pride, that at once renders us both a continual torment to ourselves, & contemptible to those who have a greater share of wisdom. There is less danger of the two Van Cootens giving into this infirmity than at first might be judged; or rather it will not be a very difficult task to suppress it in its rise–for their backwardness in the usual attainments of boys of their years may be used to convince them of their inferiority, if once they can be taught that knowledge is more estimable than riches; and this will be attended with a twofold advantage, for it will serve to stimulate them to closer application in their studies, that they may at least attain to a level with others further advanced, at the same time it confirms their humility. From the company these boys will most associate with, they will derive more but virtuous lessons–I hope they may have good sense to improve them during the remains of their life. The letters they wrote to their father were very pleasing. I enjoyed highly their account of things; the descriptions of Claas especially were very entertaining, much subject in a few expressive lines. I think they should be encouraged to write freely at all times to their father, & let them describe all that concerns them as fully as possible. Too much pains cannot be taken to inspire them with just notions, but a fear of them deviating into error should not be allowed to restrain them from writing as freely as their own inclinations prompt.
I am glad the chocolate sent you by Mrs. Dusart and Mr. Van Cooten proved acceptable, and wonder at my own neglect in not having thought of sending such before; it has the advantage over European chocolate as it is not manufactured–in short it is nothing more than the cocoa simply ground to a paste and hardened. That of Mrs. Dusart was made at Berbice & is preferred by some, Mr. Van Cooten’s was made at his own Estate; I shall be glad to know which you like best, and which Aunt Green prefers, for they are both of them equally easy to get, and when I meet with safe conveyances I shall certainly supply you and her. Mrs. Dusart is somewhere on a visit among her friends; on her return to town I am sure I shall make her very happy by the favorable account received of her son Jan; what Mr. Rae says of him will be gratifying in the extreme; his kindness is very great. The letter you say he wrote by the George is not yet at hand. I suppose that to be one of the fleet which we hear is detained at Ireland & cannot expect this month or longer. Your favor to me of 22 June is in the same predicament.
Komsy on her departure from hence gave no sign of pregnancy whatever; perhaps the poor woman did not know it herself. Her having occasioned inconveniency on account of it chagrins both her master & mistress very much; they lament now that they did not follow my advice, which was that she should not accompany the Children; I knew they were big enough & had sufficient sense to take care of themselves, but their tender concern to the boys, who had never been without an attendant before, occasioned them to think very differently to me; they hoped however that as a fleet was expected to sail in July from London the woman might be sent back then & not be troublesome. Captain Bennett confirmed such ideas. Mr. Van Cooten will not however think any expence extravagant that you may judge proper; and is very thankful for the hospitable care & attention you bestow on her. He hopes she will be sufficiently recovered to return under care of Captain Bennett, with her little London negro but wonders, as indeed we all do, that she should have been ignorant of her situation at her departure, or if she knew it, that she should have had the indiscretion to conceal it from us. I am sorry to have disturbed my Aunt’s tranquillity in the recommendation of this poor negro to Plato’s attention. In doing so I had no idea of robbing her of the smallest portion of his services & was actuated only by the desire of making the short time I supposed she might stay in London as comfortable as possible & which I thought he would be glad to contribute from the circumstances of her being an entire stranger & of his own color. In future I will be more cautious how I hazard a risk of occasioning any of you so much inconvenience as I have done; & I will send no more charges until I have consulted you fully on the propriety of doing so.
I hope to get time enough to write Mrs. Wilson by the fleet and to my Uncle. I must write to Sister Polly, therefore in place of continuing further here, I shall just refer you to my letter to her knowing it can make very little difference, & that what I write to one is communicated to all. My other sister did me justice in clearing me of partiality to Polly in the present of a watch, at same time Aunt Green was perfectly right in her reproach, for I ought certainly to have contrived a mode by which they should all have appear’d on the same footing even in a circumstance so trifling.
Your most affectionate Son,
Mr. Walter Barrell,
Robert Street–Bedford Row–London
Stabroek, 12th October 1799
My Dear Sir!
I just found a letter that must have been laying some days in a Store for me, containing William Munro’s bill of Exchange dated 7th Instant, on John Bolton of Liverpool for fifty pounds Sterling at ninety days sight. I inclose the same herein to your address with request that Twenty five pounds of it be paid to Mrs. Wilson in pass of balance due her from me; the remaining sum likewise Twenty five pounds I charge in my books to Mrs. Dusart, and therefore would have you to consider it as a remittance from her to be applied towards the support and education of her young son.–I sent via Liverpool copies of my late letters to my uncle Colborn but had not leisure to do more than give directions respecting the application of the £120 bill, particularized in mine to you of 31 August. I transmitted him the second bill, but lest a miscarriage might happen & to prevent further inconveniency I put the triplicate under same enclosure with this, confirming the directions aforegiven. Not a sixpence further received on Uncle Jo’s account.
Your most affectionate Son,
Mr. Andrew Rae,
Master of the Academy at Islington
Demerary, 10th October 1799
My Worthy Friend!
Your kind favor of 5th August reached me three days ago, and afforded me much satisfaction. I am exceedingly gratified that my having advised the parents of the West India Boys to place them under your tuition, has met your approbation; and my pleasure is considerably heightened that their conduct during the little while they have been with you is becoming. They will however be found to have failings requiring your friendly vigilance to prevent the ill effects of, and some of them perhaps differing from the vices of such youths as you have had most acquaintance with; among these may be found a haughty pride & ideas of superiority over the more dependant part of mankind; and perhaps a tendency to unfeeling cruelty in the disposition, which our practices in this region are but too effectually calculated to inspire. I am persuaded the boys are extremely fortunate in falling into your hands, where the most watchful attention will be given to exterminate habits of evil already observed, & to a virtuous formation of morals. The examples before them will all contribute to the same end, & I hope may be followed by them.
The particulars you have favor’d me with respecting my little friend Jan Dusart shall be imparted to his mother; who at this time is out of town; most certainly they will make her very happy. I am pleased
to find he shews a capacity and particular inclination to accounts, it being probable that his future destination will be in a mercantile line. Some years however must elapse before the true bent of his inclination can be positively ascertained–in the mean time you who have the charge of his education will perceive the advances, and be able to direct them to the point most likely to tend to his advantage.
Although a good many years have passed away since I had opportunity of being occasionally among the Associates of my father, still I have a pleasing remembrance of some of them; and perhaps I am not mistaken in supposing the one you allude to, who sang the good song at my father’s table that raised the spirits of the two Van Cootens the day they arrived, to be Mr. Straker. If I am right in my conjecture pray offer him my best respects; more than once have I recollected his pleasing conviviality, and if ever on my return to England I find him not there, it will seem like a chasm filled up with disappointment.
Your assurance about the attention paid to the poor negro Attendant of my friends sons is very agreeable to her master and mistress; they are only apprehensive of her occasioning you or my father too much trouble; & are cheerfully willing to allow any expence you conceive necessary on her account until she can return.
I should have enjoyed any little detail you could have enter’d into respecting your family; it would have been peculiarly interesting to have known some particulars of your son Charles, who no doubt Mrs. Rae remembers I visited among the earliest on the day of his birth, which I think was during our midsummer holidays, when in straying out from London with some playmates for our diversion to Finchley, we called in at your house at Highgate for refreshment. I hope ‘ere this he is become a promising young man.
And now dear Sir, in concluding I must assure you that if at any time you can amuse an hour in writing to me you will gratify me beyond any thing I shall attempt to say; and though very little of my time is my own I shall always find enough to convince you of my thankfulness.
Equal respect to yourself & Mrs. Rae,
Your very affectionate friend!
Mrs. Francis Wilson,– to the care of Mr. Kearsley
No. 46 Fleet street–London
Demerary, 9th October 1799
Not being at home just now I can make no reference to the dates of my last respects, which I hope is long ‘ere this safely received by you. Your favor of 15 July & 6th August I had the pleasure to receive both together two days ago only & observe the contents. My first remittance to you to which you notice to be safely received was £150 Sterlg. My …
Mr. Walter Barrell, London
Demerary, Stabroek, 7 Novr. 1799
My Dear Sir!
The 12th of October I wrote to you last, and inclosed a sett of Exchange William Munro’s draft dated the 7th, on John Bolton of Liverpool at ninety days sight for Fifty pounds Sterling which I hope will be duly honor’d. I requested that Five and Twenty pound of it might be paid to Mrs. Frances Wilson and the rest to be reserved in your hands for the use of my young friend Jan Dusart. Herein I put the duplicate of the same, confirming the orders respecting its application.
I am now settled in my Agency Office, with prospects of succeeding far beyond any expectation I dared flatter myself with beforehand. I have however much duty to go through, and a great deal of it exceeding laborious–I am in my office at seven in the morning & do not shut up until the afternoon is pretty far advanced. I expect to be relieved of a good deal of the drudgery as soon as I can accommodate myself with a suitable assistant, and I should be greatly obliged if you, or my uncle, or some other friend would engage me a young man to come out as an Apprentice agreeable to my request now as lays in my letters of last month.
Should you meet with Mr. Pittman be kind enough to offer my best respects to him; we were once pretty intimate & I believe him to be a worthy man. I understand he has been to see Jantje. Mrs. Dusart came yesterday to town with her Daughter. I spent the evening at her house until near twelve–we had an Assembly of a few friends, who share in her happiness on her son’s account, which is not a little increased by the favourable mention made of him in my last letters. We had likewise last night a grand illumination and very brilliant display of fire works, having received the news of the Annihilation of Anarchy and confusion in Holland.
I hope the Van Cootens continue to give satisfaction & that they will be very studious to repay the extraordinary friendship of Mr. & Mrs. Rae, by all the means in their power. They should be occasionally reminded to read in their Dutch Books, without which they will inevitably forget the language & that would be greatly to be regretted, if not shameful even.
We have reason to expect the London fleet every day; I have no doubt but I shall find a good package of letters from the family, & need not I suppose tell you how welcome they will prove. I may likewise expect the long promised profiles!–
I have money on hand but cannot procure bills for it at this time. I hope very shortly to transmit remittances on several accounts—on uncle Joe’s, Mrs. Wilson’s, Messrs. Jones, & for purposes of my own. Should you see the Messrs. Jones around mention that their letter by Mr. Fletcher was yesterday handed to me, but I have not seen the Gentleman yet. I have not a doubt but the connexion with them will prove mutually advantageous.
Kindest love to my sisters–Aunt Green—Uncle & Tansy
Your very affectionate Son
Mr. William Gill
Per the Hound, Captn. Fox
Demerary, 26th August 1800
Your favor of the 12th August came duly to hand.
The market here is likewise very bad for almost every commodity, but especially for articles such as Mr. Williams advertises; all our dry goods stores are surcharged, and no vent except by sacrifice at Auction. I would by no means encourage you to come over here on a business of the kind, being certain you would meet with disappointment.– If your brother is still at Barbados, offer my best regards to him; if he means to give us a call in his way to Surinam, we shall be very happy to see him.
Your friends here are pretty well; Molly Cox has been a good deal plagued with the Rose in her leg, but is better again. Polly Gale is in high glee, enjoying the pure air of Coerbane, whither she accompanied her sister and myself a few days ago on a visit to Mr. Post, and she means to remain with them a short while. Mrs. Barrell is perfectly well and says she should be really glad if any business could be contrived for you, that you might be settled near us. She incloses a letter for her Sister Peggy, which she requests you to forward safely and expeditiously to her. Should you see any of the family mention that we are all well, and that they must place no confidence in the late reports of Demerary being unusually sickly.
Give respectful compliments to your mother–
I am very sincerely,
Your much obliged
Do me the favor to post the inclosed letter for England into the Post Office.
Mr. Andrew Rae,
Master of the Academy
at Islington—near London
Demerary, Stabroek, 8 Sept. 1800
My Dear Sir!
Ever since the 19th February has your agreeable letter of 1st Nov last been safe at hand; my delay in replying to it thus long can give you no very favourable idea of my punctuality as a correspondent; but could I conceive a necessity for excuses I might urge many that would insure me your indulgence. My whole time is taken up in laborious business, and the little leisure I could get during the first three or four months of my establishment in town was necessarily devoted towards
insinuating myself into favor with an amiable young lady, whose society I taught myself to believe was essential to my happiness; thus occupied, all attention to my friends in Europe was precluded, for as our friend Gay tells us “When a lady’s in the case, you know all other things give place.” Last March I was married to the object of these activities, and am blest with every fair prospect of continuing to rejoice in the step I have taken.
Your first letter to me of 5th August I received the following October, and on the tenth of that month wrote you in return. I hope my letter has reached you. I imparted your last to my friend Van Cooten and Mrs. Dusart, both of whom were highly gratified by the affectionate concern you appear to take in the interest of their children, and with much propriety think them fortunate in being placed among such worthy friends. I find by letters Mrs. Dusart has received that some of her Demerary acquaintances have occasionally paid you visits on her Child’s account, and their report is so very satisfactory that the poor lady is transported with joy. ‘Ere this I suppose you will have seen Madam Europa again, who Mr. Van Cooten sent back to England with his Daughter under Mrs. Bennett’s protection for education; happy shall I be to find her as fortunately fixed as her brothers are. From the little I saw of Mrs. Bennett, I was induced to think her perfectly suitable for a charge of the kind, and the girl’s parents seemed a good deal influenced by my opinion of her therefore should the event prove contrary I shall have some reason to blame myself; but I rely on my friends should they come to the knowledge of any impropriety that they will give such information as may prevent evil consequences, by a timely attention on Mr. Van Cooten’s part to remove his Daughter. I think the boys account of the meeting between themselves and their Sister will be very amusing, and I am anxious to see it. We simply obtained information of the fleet’s arrival in which she went, but none of us have yet received any letter from London. For my own part I have had none these many months back.
I am now to prepare you for the reception of another West India boy, which I hope will not prove unpleasant to you. He is a lad of about Eleven years old, has good natural abilities, but which have been very little cultivated hitherto–and he is so sensible of his own deficiencies that I do not doubt when his pride becomes piqued at the superiority other boys of his standing possess over him, and his emulation shall be aroused, that he will make double exertions to attain to an equality with the rest, and to make amends for his loss of time. He is a first cousin to Mrs. Barrell, and at the death of his parents was consigned to the Guardianship of a brother of hers who is established here in the medical line; by him was he brought over from Barbados in November last when the Doctor came to settle with his family. The worthlessness of the only people professed Instructors of youth
our capital can boast induced my brother in Law to take his Ward from the school very shortly after he was placed at it; he intended to have given him instructions at home but the duties of his profession necessarily occupying the whole of his time, he soon found it impracticable–and frequently in conversation with me on the subject has seriously lamented the neglect the child must be exposed to, should some step for his advantage not immediately be taken, he very properly determined that Barbados would not be an advisable place to send him to, and after considering many other plans, resolved at my recommendation to place him under your protection and tuition–to which end he is now making such preparations as are necessary for his voyage to England in the ensuing fleet, and in most probability he may be expected in London towards the close of November. The Doctor will arrange matters so as to keep you constantly in advance to save inconvenience from the want of remittances; and for my part I shall hold myself responsible to you for all deficiencies. The lad has a revenue arising from the hire of negros his parents left in Barbados, of about Fifty pounds Sterling per year, which we think to be so well secured that there is but little chance of its failing, but should it by any means prove inadequate to his necessary charges while with you, his friends will cheerfully contribute, to prevent any thing like loss to you. His friends when they are made acquainted with the friendly hands into which he falls can not fail to rejoice on his account; he will experience the protection of a Father from you, and Mrs. Rae’s maternal kindness will abundantly compensate for the attention he has been accustomed to receive from his female connections in these regions. Mrs. Barrell will likewise write to recommend him to my Sisters, and so shall I to my father. I hope our Demerary boys continue to behave satisfactory, and exert themselves to make good use of their time, now it is in their power. If my time would allow it I should like to write to the Van Cootens, but as it will not shall content myself to tell them through your medium that their letters are not considered by their friends here as full as might expect to find them. They should give us the description of many wonderful things that they must often meet with in your celebrated metropolis, quite strange to the natives of this peaceful region, and describe customs that prevail there different to ours, and give us a little detail of their occupations and amusements. Their observations would be very entertaining. They have never yet given any description of dark and dreary cold winter days, and of the beauty of sunshine in summer, particularly that surely must have attracted their notice in a sensible degree, as differing so widely from the nature of the climate they have been accustomed to. Mr. Van Cooten always sends me their letters to read, and I cannot help observing how they fall off
in Dutch; they write not only ungrammatically but use ill chosen language; this however ought not to be wonder’d at as one considers they are among a people where they never hear the language spoken, and if they gain in more valuable respects than they have in this, the loss is of no serious importance.
Before I conclude I would wish to suggest an observation to you that is universally made respecting the English among all the tribes that I have had opportunity of associating with. It is that they are puffed up to an extreme degree with ideas of their own supercillence, and manifest that haughty disposition by the most affected contempt even for the people they sojourn among when abroad, and who for the most part are polite enough to indulge their pride. It might not be amiss in Seminaries for the instruction of youth in England, to impress on their minds the value of certain qualities possessed by foreigners of different countries, and the good end of customs which the English neither possess nor have in use; and to dwell on that part of the national character of the English that foreigners have reason to condemn. It would be a good thing to convince young minds that nations are for the most part equal in point of character, and that it is arrogant to boast any superiority. With minds duly prepared, they will come abroad into the world untinctured with illiberal prejudice; in France they will admire that natural politeness that puts every one at his ease; they will emulate the industry and economy of the Dutch, copy the unaffected toleration of the Italians–avoid the fuscity the English manifest every where–reconcile the manner of every people, and become what man ought to be Citizens of the World.
My letter is swelled to an unwarrantable length, considering all I have said might be condensed into the space of a few lines; you however will I am sure be indulgent and excuse me, the same as you would a long absent friend who for the pleasure of conversing with you again gives his tongue full scope, heedless of the needless repetitions he utters & little importance of the Subject. I by no means wish to put you to more pains than may be agreeable to you to take in your reply; but I must intimate that your occasional letters will gratify me highly.
I desire my best respects to Mrs. Rae who I shall ever preserve a grateful affection for–and perhaps may be able to prove it should I be blessed with children, which most probably will be the case, by trusting them to her protection in due course, which I would do as willingly as I should to my Sister.
I am my Dear Sir!
Your very obliged friend