|My dear Sir,||Washington, December 2d 1796|
Nothing but my absence from home (to which place I returned last Evening) could have prevented an immediate acknowledgement of your respected & kind favor of the 25th ultimo.
I am pleased to find, by Mr Van Vleck’s letter (of which you had the goodness to enclose me a copy) that my Maria can be admitted into the School at Bethleham; and the time which he mentions for her acception is more agreeable to me than the present; for the season had advanced so far, that, considering her delicate constitution, I should not have wished to have hazarded a trip with her so far as Bethleham this winter; I, therefore, took advantage of the fine roads and have carried her to spend the winter with her Aunt Ball (which was the cause of my absence from home).
As Mr Van Vleck says he will endeavour to accommodate Maria in two or three months I presume if she is there by the first of April it will meet the arrangement of the School, and I can then take her there without her suffering the inconvenience of travelling in cold or bad weather; but it should be more agreeable to Mr Van Vleck to have her come on sooner I will take care she shall be there at any time he will fix. In the mean time I shall be glad to know the terms of her admission & continuance, as also in what manner she is to be provided with Clothing &c.
I should feel a greater reluctance than I do, my Dear Sir, in giving you all this trouble, did I not know that you will feel as much satisfaction in doing good for this poor little Orphan as I do in having it done. Her situation this winter will not, I trust, be unprofitable to her. I am much prepossessed in favor of Mrs Ball’s domestic arrangements respecting her Children, and a tutor in the family will be of great advantage to her. I am sure she will experience every kind & proper attention; and if a place can be procured for Colo. Ball’s daughter (who is a very fine girl about a year older than Maria) at Bethleham in the Spring, they are anxious she should go there also.
I shall certainly attend to the circumstance which you mention respecting Mr S.’s security and give you due advice if there should appear any reasons for altering it. At present I should not require better.
I left Maria & Colo. Ball’s family well on tuesday—My mother and the little boys are in good health and unite in respectful & best wishes for yourself, Mrs Washington & the family with, My dear Sir, Your grateful & affectionate friend & servant
P.S. The River has been closed at George To[wn] since sunday last, and bids fair to continue.
The power of Attorney which I mentioned in my last should have been prepared & sent on had not my absence from home prevented its being made out. It shall be done soon.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.