this character must be got from England. There
are no workmen in wood, in Europe, comparable to those
of England. I submit to you, therefore, the following
proposition: to wit, I will get a correspondent
in England to engage a workman of this kind.
I will direct him to come here, which will cost five
guineas. We will make proof of his execution.
He shall also make, under the eye of the architect,
all the drawings for the building, which he is to
execute himself: and if we find him sober and
capable, he shall be forwarded to you. I expect
that in the article of the drawings, and the cheapness
of passage from France, you will save the expense
of his coming here. But as to this workman, I
shall do nothing unless I receive your commands.
With respect to your stone work, it may be got much
cheaper here than in England. The stone of Paris
is very white and beautiful; but it always remains
soft, and suffers from the weather. The cliffs
of the Seine, from hence to Havre, are all of stone.
I am not yet informed whether it is all liable to the
same objections. At Lyons, and all along the
Rhone, is a stone as beautiful as that of Paris, soft
when it comes out of the quarry, but very soon becoming
hard in the open air, and very durable. I doubt,
however, whether the commerce between Virginia and
Marseilles would afford opportunities of conveyance
sufficient. It remains to be inquired, what addition
to the original cost would be made by the short land
carriage from Lyons to the Loire, and the water transportation
down that to Bordeaux;, and also, whether a stone
of the same quality may not be found on the Loire.
In this, and all other matters relative to your charge,
you may command my services freely.
Having heard high commendations of a plan of a prison,
drawn by an architect at Lyons, I sent there for it.
The architect furnished me with it. It is certainly
the best plan I ever saw. It unites, in the most
perfect manner, the objects of security and health,
and has, moreover, the advantage, valuable to us,
of being capable of being adjusted to any number of
prisoners, small or great, and admitting an execution
from time to time, as it may be convenient. The
plan is under preparation as for forty prisoners.
Will you have any occasion for slate? It may be
got very good and ready prepared at Havre; and a workman
or more might be sent on easy terms. Perhaps
the quarry at Tuckahoe would leave you no other want
than that of a workman.
I shall be glad to receive your sentiments on the
several matters herein mentioned, that I may know
how far you approve of them, as I shall with pleasure
pursue strictly whatever you desire. I have the
honor to be, with great respect and esteem, Gentlemen,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER XCI.—TO JOHN JAY, August 14, 1785
TO JOHN JAY.