To Benjamin West March 8, 1789

To Benjamin West March 8, 1789

DEAR SIR:

I have informed James of the matter which you and I talked of on Saturday, and he is much rejoiced at an opportunity of showing his gratitude to you for the permission you indulged him with in attending Mr. [John] Trumbull at your rooms. As I have known his parents upwards of twenty years, and the manners and habits he has been educated in, and the disposition he is of, I can with confidence to myself undertake to vouch for the faithful discharge of any trust you may repose in him; and as he is a youth of quick discernment and a great deal of silent observation he cannot be easily imposed upon, or turned aside from his attention, by any contrivance of workmen. I will put him in a way of keeping a diary of every day's work he sees done, and of any observations he may make, proper for you to be informed of, which he can send once or twice a week to you at Windsor; and any directions you may have to give him in your absence can be conveyed through Mr. Trumbull, or what other method you please, so that James is certified they come from you.

James has made a tender of his service to Mr. Trumbull, if it should be of any use, when his picture is to be exhibited; but that will probably not be till nearly the time the impressions will be struck off. James need not entirely omit his drawing while he is attending the plates. Some employment will, in general, fix a person to a place better than having only to stand still and look on. I suppose they strike off about three impressions in an hour, and as James is master of a watch he will find their average of works,-and also how fast they can work when they have a mind to make haste,-and he can easily number each impression, which will be a double check on any being carried off. I intend visiting him pretty often, while he is on duty, which will be an additional satisfaction to yourself for the trust you commit to him.

THOMAS PAINE.