George Washington: Farmer eBook

Paul Leland Haworth
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 207 pages of information about George Washington.

First, in the article of sheep.  He supposed himself to have fine sheep, and a great quantity of them.  At the time of my viewing his five farms, which consisted of about three thousand acres cultivated, he had one hundred sheep, and those in very poor condition.  This was in the month of November.  To show him his mistake in the value and quality of his land, I compared this with the farm my father occupied, which was less than six hundred acres.  He clipped eleven hundred sheep, though some of his land was poor and at two shillings and sixpence per acre—­the highest was at twenty shillings; the average weight of the wool was ten pounds per fleece, and the carcases weighed from eighty to one hundred twenty pounds each:  while in the General’s hundred sheep on three thousand acres, the wool would not weigh on an average more than three pounds and a half the fleece, and the carcases at forty-eight pounds each.  Secondly, the proportion of the produce in grain was similar.  The General’s crops were from two to three[11] bushels of wheat per acre; and my father’s farm, although poor clay soil, gave from twenty to thirty bushels.

[11] A misstatement, of course.

During this conversation Colonel Lear, aide-de-camp to the General, was present.  When the General left the room, the Colonel told me he had himself been in England, and had seen Arthur Young (who had been frequently named by the General in our conversation); and that Mr. Young having learnt that he was in the mercantile line, and was possessed of much land, had said he thought he was a great fool to be a merchant and yet have so much land; the Colonel replied, that if Mr. Young had the same land to cultivate, it would make a great fool of him.  The Colonel did me the honour to say I was the only man he ever knew to treat General Washington with frankness.

The General’s cattle at that time were all in poor condition:  except his mules (bred from American mares), which were very fine, and the Spanish ass sent to him as a present by the king of Spain.  I felt myself much vexed at an expression used at dinner by Mrs. Washington.  When the General and the company at table were talking about the fine horses and cattle I had brought from England, Mrs. Washington said, “I am afraid, Mr. Parkinson, you have brought your fine horses and cattle to a bad market; I am of opinion that our horses and cattle are good enough for our land.”  I thought that if every old woman in the country knew this, my speculation would answer very ill:  as I perfectly agreed with Mrs. Washington in sentiment; and wondered much, from the poverty of the land, to see the cattle good as they were.

The General wished me to stay all night; but having some other engagement, I declined his kind offer.  He sent Colonel Lear out after I had parted with him, to ask me if I wanted any money; which I gladly accepted.

CHAPTER XVI

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George Washington: Farmer from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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