I have the honor to be, with the highest esteem and respect, Dear Sir,
your most obedient and
most humble servant,
LETTER CXLIX.—TO A. CARY, January 7, 1786
TO A. CARY.
Paris, January 7, 1786.
The very few of my countrymen who happen to be punctual, will find their punctuality a misfortune to them. Of this I shall give you a proof by the present application, which I should not make to you, if I did not know you to be superior to the torpidity of our climate. In my conversations with the Count de Buffon on the subjects of Natural History, I find him absolutely unacquainted with our elk and our deer. He has hitherto believed that our deer never had horns more than a foot long; and has, therefore, classed them with the roe-buck, which I am sure you know them to be different from. I have examined some of the red deer of this country at the distance of about sixty yards, and I find no other difference between them and ours, than a shade or two in the color. Will you take the trouble to procure for me the largest pair of buck’s horns you can, and a large skin of each color, that is to say, a red and a blue? If it were possible to take these from a buck just killed, to leave all the bones of the head in the skin with the horns on, to leave the bones of the legs in the skin also, and the hoofs to it, so that having only made an incision all along the belly and neck to take the animal out at, we could by sewing up that incision and stuffing the skin, present the true size and form of the animal, it would be a most precious present. Our deer have been often sent to England and Scotland. Do you know (with certainty) whether they have ever bred with the red deer of those countries? With respect to the elk, I despair of your being able to get for me any thing but the horns of it. David Ross I know has a pair; perhaps he would give them to us. It is useless to ask for the skin and skeleton, because I think it is not in your power to get them, otherwise they would be most desirable. A gentleman, fellow-passenger with me from Boston to England, promised to send to you in my name some hares, rabbits, pheasants, and partridges, by the return of the ship which was to go to Virginia, and the captain promised to take great care of them. My friend procured the animals, and the ship changing her destination, he kept them, in hopes of finding some other conveyance, till they all perished. I do not despair, however, of finding some opportunity still of sending a colony of useful animals. I am making a collection of vines for wine, and for the table; also of some trees, such as the cork-oak, &c. &c.
Every thing is absolutely quiet in Europe. There is not, therefore, a word of news to communicate. I pray you to present me affectionately to your family and that of Tuckahoe. Whatever expense is necessary for procuring me the articles above-mentioned, I will instantly replace, either in cash, or in any thing you may wish from hence.