Arthur Middleton

Lot 1021: Arthur Middleton

RR Auction

December 15, 2012
Amherst, NH, US

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Description: Signer of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina (1742-1787). A radical Whig, Middleton was one of the more vocal members of the South Carolina's Council of Safety and was known for his ruthless treatment of Loyalists. Middleton was imprisoned in 1780 when the British captured Charleston and spent a year in custody in St. Augustine. Rare war-dated ALS, signed with his initials, "A. M.," three pages on two 7.75 x 12.75 sheets, October 29, 1782, Baltimore. Addressed in his hand on the transmittal panel to Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) in Philadelphia. Middleton pens a witty and lengthy letter describing his southward journey home after serving in the Continental Congress since 1781. He also takes time to praise John Hancock and advises his young correspondent to visit him in South Carolina as soon as he had "sown a few more of your young Oats."Middleton writes, in full, "We arrived here last Evening after a tolerably agreeable Journey; considering bad weather, Stumps, Stones craggy hills &ca. we have met with some hairbreadth Scrapes, but came off without accident having got over the worst of the road, we now expect to rode upon Carpets, & outride the Wind-Poor Elliott the first day or two rode upon Pins, now & then damn'd the Sulky, then the blind Horse, then the Liquor Case, (the bottom having jolted out) & Bobby came in for a few Cases-Upon this, as upon all similar Occasions, I recommended Patience, & we now have nothing to do but to think & talk of our Friends, to laugh at difficulties, see our Horses well fed, eat when we can get it & Sleep when we don[']t forget it. In accord we are now in a good train, with a prospect of quick Journey-I inclose you a Letter [not present] to Mr. Hancock; he was a very benevolent worthy man. & took pleasure in doing Kindnesses-I make no doubt he Continues the same unless his government may have Soured his Temper, which is not very probable, as Dignities confer[e]d upon a man of Sense, generally tend to humanize, & I hope you will find it so-Remember me affectionally to the major & his family; tell him I think he will judge right in taking the other road, we have found this hitherto much more broken & disagreeable than I expected-let him know the Two Horses he spared me are well, the large Horse is either a little lame, or shams[?] it but goes very well. & the white foot is too good to run with the rest, as he chooses to draw the whole weight himself, so that he is confused to the sue of George, who had the honour of being nearly starved in the Tower[?]-Acquaint the Major I shall depend upon him his driving directly to the Ashley River where we will make the best preparations for his reception the Times will admit of-I fear he will not find Hay or blades, but hungry Horses will eat Straw-He must not Omit bringing Mrs. M. F. I shall expect-pray make my Love to her, & to Miss Polly my respects to the old Lady, & Compliments to all in the House with you-Mrs. M. F.'s light shines every night to that we see her good works, we have not yet consulted the Bundle of good things, but often think & talk of her without their Assistance, we shall apply to it when we get into the Wilderness- there is a manner of conferring favours, which renders them infinitely more gratefull [sic], there were stolen upon us, & I shall not easily forget them; The Lantern shall be dedicated to the bona Dea, & the Sun, in my Museum; if I have one left-Don[']t forget to acquaint Mrs. Morton (the fat House keeper) if she should call, that the first money I can Tape[?] & Scrape together after I get home shall be forwarded to her-I shall say nothing more to you upon the subject of your Projects; I spoke my mind freely, as I wish you happiness; I know your Father will expect to see you before you embark for Europe, & under that Idea, I make [?] of seeing you in Carol[ina] as soon as you have sown a few more of your young Oats-But go where you will, you are [illeg] of my good wishes, & it will give me pleasure to hear from you-We leave this in a few minutes, & I have not time to correct this scrawl-your [illeg.] eye must therefore excuse Errors of the Pen &ca. Believe that there are not many, but the Hear of Your friend & Servant AM. PS: Elliot presents his Compliments to all in your circle-Nothing new here, either foreign or from the South Adieu-I shall write to Mr. Izard when I have more to say to him." In very good condition, with intersecting folds, nearly complete separation along the hinge, and scattered overall light soiling and staining. A marvelously informal and chatty letter revealing the dynamism of Middleton's personality. Both Pinckney and Middleton had been taken prisoner at Charleston, South Carolina. Pinckney later became an influential delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Examples of Arthur Middleton's autograph are extremely rare. Among the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, he is the third rarest. A search of American Book Prices Current and Americana Exchange reveals only 32 examples of his autograph in any form appearing at auction since 1974. Of those, only seven were war-dated ALSs.Listed in J. Fields, The Autographs of Arthur Middleton, Manuscripts: The First Twenty Years, 85-104, listing the present letter as number 30.
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