June 2, 1785: John Adams tells John Jay about meeting King George III

hile I stood in the place where it seems all ministers stand upon such occasions, always accompanied by the Master of Ceremony, the Room full of Ministers of State, Bishops, and all other sorts of courtiers, as well as the next room, which is the King’s bed chamber, you may well suppose that I was the center of all eyes. I was relieved however from the embarrassment of it by the Swedish and Dutch Ministers who came to me and entertained me in a very agreeable conversation during the whole time. Some other gentlemen whom I had seen before came to make their compliments to me, until the Marquis of Carmarthen returned and desired me to go with him to his Majesty.

I went with his Lordship through the Levee Room into the King’s Closet. The door was shut and I was left with his Majesty and the Secretary of State alone.

I made the three reverences, one at the door, another about half-way, and the third below the Presence, according to the usage established at this and all the Northern courts of Europe, and then addressed myself to his Majesty in the following words:

“Sir, The United States of America have appointed me their Minister Plenipotentiary to your Majesty . . . It is in Obedience to their express Commands that I have the Honor to assure your Majesty of their unanimous Disposition and Desire to cultivate the most friendly and liberal Intercourse between your Majesty’s Subjects and their Citizens . . . The appointment of a Minister from the United States to your Majesty’s Court, will form an Epoch in the History of England & of America. I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow Citizens in having the distinguished Honor to be the first to stand in your Majesty’s royal Presence in a diplomatic Character . . .”

The King listed to every word I said with dignity, but with an apparent emotion: king-george-the-third-thumb

“I wish you Sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late Contest, but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do, by the Duty which I owed to my People. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the Separation, but the Separation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the Friendship of the United States as an independent Power. . . let the Circumstances of Language; Religion and Blood have their natural and full Effect.”

June 1, 1851: Herman Melville Writes to Nathaniel Hawthorne

My Dear Hawthorne, — I should have been rumbling down to you in my pine-board chariot a long time ago, were it not that for some weeks past I have been more busy than you can well imagine, — out of doors, — building and patching and tinkering away in all directions. Besides, I had my crops to get in, — corn and potatoes (I hope to show you Melville & Hawthornesome famous ones by and by), — and many other things to attend to, all accumulating upon this one particular season. I work myself; and at night my bodily sensations are akin to those I have so often felt before, when a hired man, doing my day’s work from sun to sun. …

I began by saying that the reason I have not been to Lenox is this, — in the evening I feel completely done up, as the phrase is, and incapable of the long jolting to get to your house and back. In a week or so, I go to New York, to bury myself in a third-story room, and work and slave on my “Whale” while it is driving through the press. That is the only way I can finish it now, — I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always to compose, — that, I fear, can seldom be mine. Dollars damn me; and the malicious Devil is forever grinning in upon me, holding the door ajar. My dear Sir, a presentiment is on me, — I shall at last be worn out and perish, like an old nutmeg-grater, grated to pieces by the constant attrition of the wood, that is, the nutmeg. What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, — it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches. I’m rather sore, perhaps, in this letter, but see my hand! — four blisters on this palm, made by hoes and hammers within the last few days. It is a rainy morning; so I am indoors, and all work suspended. I feel cheerfully disposed, and therefore I write a little bluely. Would the Gin were here!

If ever, my dear Hawthorne, in the eternal times that are to come, you and I shall sit down in Paradise, in some little shady corner by ourselves; and if we shall by any means be able to smuggle a basket of champagne there (I won’t believe in a Temperance Heaven), and if we shall then cross our celestial legs in the celestial grass that is forever tropical, and strike our glasses and our heads together, till both musically ring in concert, — then, O my dear fellow-mortal, how shall we pleasantly discourse of all the things manifold which now so distress us, — when all the earth shall be but a reminiscence, yea, its final dissolution an antiquity. Then shall songs be composed as when wars are over; humorous, comic songs, — “Oh, when I lived in that queer little hole called the world,” or, “Oh, when I toiled and sweated below,” or, “Oh, when I knocked and was knocked in the fight” — yes, let us look forward to such things. Let us swear that, though now we sweat, yet it is because of the dry heat which is indispensable to the nourishment of the vine which is to bear the grapes that are to give us the champagne hereafter.

H. Melville.
P.S. You must not fail to admire my discretion in paying the postage on this letter.

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