Pages

Feb 18, 1812: Aaron Burr

For On February 18, 1812, Aaron Burr in London wrote the following entry in his private journal: 
18. Rose at 7. You see the reformation goes on. The cure has been repeated today by way of preventive. Engaged yesterday to call on D. M. R., to walk with him to Hawkins's, the projector; but, first, let me make you better acquainted with the said D. M. R. He is about 60 years of age, very healthy and active ; had good sound sense, little education, or little acquirement. He came to England about six months before me, with commercial views, having got through his fortune in Virginia. He had very good letters, being universally acknowledged an honest and an honorable man. At the moment that he supposed himself in the high road to success and fortune, came on the embargo, which put an end to all commerce, and annihilated his proposals. He then got from the United States Bedford's patent for making shoes, and took out a patent for it here; but, for more than a year, he could get no moneyed men to set up the business in that way. At length W. Gilpin, army clothier, agreed to try it, and advanced D. M. R. 500 pounds for the patent rights and half the profits. This was a very seasonable relief, for he was quite run out. He now thought he would invent something himself, and turned his mind to improvements in wheel-carriages. He worked day and night for some months; at length, thinking he had hit it, and for fear some one should steal it from him, he hastened to take out a patent, and then wrote a pamphlet; but no mortal took any notice of either. Being now project mad one Adams having come from the United States with a new project for impelling boats by steam, D. M. R. associated himself with this man ; bought half the invention for 200 pounds, and at this moment Adams dies, and the steamboat and the wheel-carriages sleep quietly together; but D. M. R. had now got rid of his last farthing. His head, however, runs more on wheel carriages than on all other subjects. At least twenty times since my return to this island he has told me of his having explained " his principles " to Mr. Such-a-one, who " was delighted ;" and scarce a week passes but he meets some one who is thus "delighted ;" but of all these delighted people not one is disposed to advance a penny to make an experiment of " his principles" Whenever he gets on his "wheel-carriages," away he goes, and the devil can't stop him. He can hardly pass a cart or carriage in the street without stopping you or calling your attention to the amazing stupidity and obstinacy which prevent people from adopting his improvements. " Only see how those horses labor for nothing; whereas, if that axletree was so and so, and the height of the wheels so, and the pole fixed so, one horse could draw more than those four; and the thing is so demonstrable," &c., &c. Now from this digression we come back to ourself. Called on D. M. R. as agreed. Told the servant to inform him that I was gone to his room. He came in in great haste and in very high spirits. " Now," says he, " I have something to tell you." I concluded that he had settled with W. G. and got some money. No such thing; there were in the same hotel three gentlemen from the country, who were about to establish a new line of stage-coaches ; and happening to converse with D. M. R., they got " delighted with his principles." So I had to wait, for he was to be my pilot, till the gentlemen were gone, as he certainly would talk to them so long as they would stay. I amused myself reading in his room till 1, and then we walked to Hawkins's. He was Bought a bottle (vial) of his essence of coffee, of which three teaspoonfuls put in boiling water make a good dish. Have tried it this evening. It was pretty good, but would be about four times as dear as the usual mode. Then to J. H.'s. She was at work, and had not dined, though past her usual hour. Invited her to come and dine with me, for I had ordered a soup for D. M. R., who had engaged to come; but apologized that he must dine with his country friends and talk of wheel-carriages. Came home slowly, calling at several shops, but buying nothing except a pair of hose worsted long drawers, which I wanted, 6 shillings; for which changed my 5-pound bill. The shopkeeper would not take it unless I put my name and address on it, which did not much like; but to have refused would have looked suspicious; so did it. Got home at 4, and discovered that I had lost my umbrella; a most serious misfortune, and little hope of recovering it, as I have no recollection where I stopped. It is impossible for me to buy one or to do without one. J. H. came at 5, and we dined. She staid till near 8. Have gone this evening to Godwin's. They are in trouble. Some finance affair. Cost 3 shillings to send J. H. home in hack.

No comments:

Post a comment