The Papers of Henry Laurens


[Page 361]

John Laurens to Henry Laurens

My last Letters to My Dear Friend and Father, were sent under Care of Mr Johnston in a Ship for Georgia_ Doctor Air who is now going the same way,[1] takes Charge of this with some News Papers[Page 362] and the 3d No. of the Remembrancer_[2] when I shall next have an opportunity of writing to you it is impossible to tell; the Interception of the Mails for Carolina, may bring about a total Exclusion, or at least Stoppage of all private Letters_ the Packet from Carolina is daily expected_ but whether I may hope for Letters by her or no, is a doubt_ if I may_ my further ardent Wish is, that they may contain Leave for me to return to my Native Country_ Oh my Dear Father how this State of Inactivity with respect to her, grieves and mortifies me_ as for accommodation, there is not one circumstance of Public Transactions that can give any hopes of it_ it appears to me therefore, as I expressed myself more fully in[3] a former Letter, to be the Duty of every American Who[4] is absent from home, to return_ Our Family will be happily circumstanced, if the weaker part be here, with one at their head who has however Strength enough, to take upon him the private Duties of those, whose time and powers are devoted to their Country_ that secondary Duty My Uncle will undertake with pleasure_ and he will be greatly assisted in it by another very good Friend of yours_ You will be, honorably distinguished by your Services in the foremost Rank of your Fellow Citizens, and I shall act, with no less Ardour in some inferior Station_
The Public has been kept sometime, in Suspense with regard to the Remonstrance brought by Govr. Penn;_ it is said now from private Authority, that no attention will be paid to it_[5] the Signature of a proscribed person, & the Authority of a Congress which has been declared illegal, unite to condemn it they say, even[Page 363] if it's Contents were approved of_ in fine the Dispute is now reduced to a Trial of Strength; and God grant us Success_
Mr Air will likewise bear you Letters from Mr Manning and my Uncle_ one of the 29th Ulto. from the latter informs me of his Arrival at the Hotwells, where he proposes staying a little time, and then will remove to Bath, which has been recommended to him by his Physicians.
The Recommendation of other Schools besides those I had seen, particularly of one at Brompton,[6] prevented me from fixing James, so soon as I expected_ the Absence of the Master from this last, (it[7] being the Vacation of Bartholymew Tide,)[8] hinder'd me from determining with respect to it_ and some Circumstances of Situation the, Air of the School, Behaviour of the Usher, & Performances of the Boys, incline me to stay till I see him_ which will be this afternoon or to morrow morng early_ the Price is £20 per an. and 5 Guineas Entrance_ Either this or the Greenwich School, which is somewhat dearer £25 per an. and 5 Guineas Entrance, will be determined upon at least till farther Directions from you_ there is this advantage attending the Greenwich School that the Master is well known to some of your Acquaintance, and that Mr Manning in particular has an Influence over him_ I had some objection to his Pedantry, which however may not be hurtful to so young a Spark as James_ and indeed I was afraid that from the Situation of the Academy the Young Gentlemen might be subject to hear a Great deal of Blagardism[9] from the kind of People who are in and about the Town_ but as they are never Suffer'd to go abroad without an Usher who presides over all their Diversions_ have a large Play Ground within their own Inclosure_ and when they go out of this, are guarded as abovementioned, and confine the walk only in the park and on Black Heath_[10] my Fears may have been ill grounded_ The little fellow has employed his Time with me, in Latin, and writing Geography, which he and Harry are fond of_[Page 364] and the little Course they are employed making, to be continued occasionally when they come to see me, will be sent to you when finished and I hope will give you some Pleasure_
Each of the abovementioned Schools include Latin Greek, Writing, Arithmetick, Accompts, & Mathematics_ for their respective Prices_ If I could see a little way into Futurity, I might determine whether a new Folio Volume of Law which I have just encounter'd will be of as much Service as ought to be expected from the Close Studying of it_ in our present Circumstances I shall study Legislation at large and Modern History more than I should otherwise have done_ the particular Knowledge that I am acquiring of one System of Laws may prove in a great measure useless hereafter_ from the uncertainty of Events, I must endeavour to be armed at all Points_
Here comes Doctor Air to call for my Dispatches_ and I must make up my Packet_ My best Respects and[11] Good Wishes wait upon all the Friends of our Country_ and I remain

My Dear Father's Most affectionate and Dutiful Son

John Laurens.

ALS, Preston Davie Collection, SHC (NcU); no address; dated below close "4th Septr. 1775.".
[1.] James Air, after completing his studies at Edinburgh and Leyden, where he had dedicated his July 1775 M.D. thesis "de Pleuritide" to HL, Dr. Alexander Garden, and Laurens Theodore Gronovius, sailed September 14 from London aboard the brigantine Beaufort, Crawford. He arrived in Savannah Dec. 6, 1775, having been delayed when damage to the foretopmast forced the vessel into an Irish port for refitting. R.W. Innes Smith, English-Speaking Students of Medicine at the University of Leyden (London, 1932), p. 3; Georgia Gazette, Dec. 13, 1775.
[2.] London publisher John Almon started the pro-American Remembrancer in June 1775 and continued through seventeen volumes until 1784. In introducing the first number he explained that "the Plan of this Work is, To select from all the Public Prints, the best account of every material public Event; to print it in Octavo; and at the end of the Volume to give a Copious Index to the whole." Memoir of a Late Eminent Bookseller (London, 1790), p. 121; Remembrancer, or impartial Repository of Public Events (London, 1775), "Advertisement."
[3.] "in" written over "up".
[4.] "Who" written over "to".
[5.] Lord Dartmouth had received the Olive Branch Petition without comment. His official statement as to why the King did not reply was that it was an "accepted custom" for the monarch to answer only those petitions presented to him on the throne. However, Dartmouth later conceded that "if the silence was construed into a disapprobation of the Petition, it was . . . a very justifiable construction." Bargar, Lord Dartmouth, pp. 155-157.
[6.] Brompton, near Gillingham in Kent, is about fifteen miles east of Greenwich.
[7.] "it" written over "in".
[8.] August 24.
[9.] Blackguardism.
[10.] Greenwich Park, laid out during the reign of Charles II, contains the Greenwich Observatory. Blackheath, a common area composed of 267 acres, adjoins the park on the south.
[11.] "and" written over "wish".