Protégé Of Cornwallis, Guest Of Washington


Twining rested his leg briefly and then hobbled about with a stick, inspecting the sights of New York. He visited the quays at the entrance into the East River; the fish market; the Battery and its handsome promenade; and a museum, which displayed shells and fossils, the weapons and dress of Indian tribes, and a perpetual-motion machine. I was too lame to walk up the whole length of Broadway. I was told that it extended two miles, but as it was usual in America to reckon as streets such as were only contemplated and not yet begun, it was not easy to know how much of this great length was imaginary. Although the beauty of New York is, for the present, confined to its position, it possessing no very good street but Broadway and no pre-eminent building except the Federal Hall, it is, upon the whole, the most agreeable as well as the most flourishing city in the United States, combining the cheerfulness and commercial activity of Baltimore with the extent and population of Philadelphia.

Twining could wait no longer for his friend to return, for he feared to lose his passage on the Atlantic , and after a visit of four days he took the stagecoach to Philadelphia. His ship did not sail for another week, however, and in that time Shaw managed to get to Philadelphia for a visit. So ended my successful and agreeable visit to the United States of America, a great and fine country, destined henceforth to hold a conspicuous rank amongst nations, and to take an important part in the transactions of the world. I have ever considered my decision to return this way to England as a fortunate circumstance, producing much satisfaction at the time, and a store of matter for retrospective meditation.

Thomas Twining sailed for England on May 31, 1796, and returned to India in 1798. During his second tour of duty he rose to the post of officiating judge and magistrate of Behar, and he married Mary Cock of Benares, who died in India a few years later. He resigned the service in 1806, at age thirty, for reasons of health (“the usual liver complaint”) and returned to England to live a retired life. He married again and settled for a time near Northampton; begot children; rode with the famous Pytcherly hunt; bred horses, two of whom were noted jumpers; and again buried a young wife when she died of scarlet fever, caught while visiting the poor of the village. For some twenty years he lived with his children in apartments in Paris and Milan, spending his summers in Interlaken and travelling extensively about the Continent. He returned to England for good in 1837, settling in Twickenham in Perryn House, near the Thames Ferry. He became one of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace and (in the words of his son) “disposed of no less than 970 cases up to 1847, when advanced age induced him to resign amid tokens of the highest appreciation.” He died at Twickenham on Christmas Day in 1861, at age eighty-five. &