Letter to Francis Towne


John Graves Simcoe, Letter to Francis Towne : 3 March 1780

Wolford Lodge,1 March 3d 17802

My dear Sir

Nothing but the rheumatism prevented me from fulfilling my Intention of seeing you in Exeter before you left the Country, & of personally solliciting the favour which I now do by letter: it is in consequence of a request from a Friend of mine at Capel in Germany, at a leisure Time, to let me know the Price of the undermentioned Prints: I think I lately saw Mrs Ryland3 advertize that she had the Scarce ones for sale. - I deferred giving you the trouble, till I was certainly determin’d not to visit the Capital this Winter and I flatter myself that you will pardon the liberty I take in this Request. The Prints are The Battle of the Hogue,4 the Boyne,5 & the Death of Genl Wolfe,6 & Orpheus & Eurydice, Jupiter & Calisto engraved by Burke à la manière de Crayon.7 My wife joins me in best Compts to you.8 At my request she has drawn the landscape & attempted to draw Brutus in his appeal to the Gods against the perfidy of Antony as described in Plutarch9 but she wants your Assistance to assure her in her attempts. At all times we shall be happy to see you & I am with great esteem

Your faithful &
J Graves Simcoe


  1. 1 Woolford Lodge, near Honiton, was the Simcoe's home. See the note at FT883.
  2. 2 The date of the letter is given as '1780' but this must be incorrect. Simcoe's marriage did not take place until December 1780 and he was almost certainly abroad in March 1780. Two of the prints mentioned in the letter were not published until 1781. Possibly the year should be 1786 (see note 97, below)
  3. 3 Presumably the widow of the eminent printseller William Wynne Ryland (1733-1783), who was hanged for forgery on 29 August 1783. Clayton 2004.
  4. 4 The Battle of La Hogue engraved by William Woollett (1735-1785) after the painting by Benjamin West (1738-1820), and published in 1781.
  5. 5 The Battle of the Boyne engraved by Woollett after West's painting and published in 1781.
  6. 6 The Death of General Wolfe engraved by Woollett after West's painting and published in 1776.
  7. 7 These are very probably stipple engravings after Angelica Kauffmann by Thomas Burke (1749-1815), an early exponent of the technique of stipple engraving, which gave the appearance of a chalk (or 'crayon') drawing. Burke made many such engravings after Kauffman for his employer, the French-taught William Wynne Ryland, from whom he also learned the technique. Clayton and MacConnell 2004
  8. 8 Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe (1762-1850). See the note at FT883.
  9. 9 "Brutus had now passed a little brook, running among trees and under steep rocks, and, it being night, would go no further, but sat down in a hollow place with a great rock projecting before it, with a few of his officers and friends about him. At first, looking up to heaven, that was then full of stars, he repeated two verses, one of which, Volumnius writes, was this: -- Punish, great Jove, the author of these ills. The other he says he has forgot." Plutarch 2004, Marcus Brutus.