Scope and arrangement
Grant Thorburn was a Scottish-born New York City nurseryman and author. The collection consists mainly of letters and letter fragments from his friend William Carver, a mutual acquaintance of Thomas Paine, with a loose poem by Carver on Nature and Her Laws, and miscellaneous holograph writings by Thorburn. Letters concern Carver's poverty and troubled life in New York; his efforts to find a publisher for a sketch of Paine's life; and his atheism, disputed in Thorburn's copy of a letter he wrote to Carver, and a memorandum of a conversation with him. There are also two letters discussing family and business matters; Thorburn autographs and a letter fragment; and several receipts for purchases from G. Thorburn & Son, seedsmen and florists in Manhattan. Writings by Thorburn are: Pocahontas, 1852 (her story, inspired by a visit to Yorktown in 1848); Life of Thomas Paine, No. 1, 1852; his unfinished autobiographical History of Lawrie Todd, 1862, with lithograph portrait; Grant Thorburn Sinior's (sic) Manuscript No. 2, undated; Churches and Meetinghouses in New York, undated; and Anecdote of George Watson, undated. Also present is an 1849 manuscript, "Hints to Doctors, Quacks, and Grave-Diggers" by Lawrie Todd (Thorburn), a vituperative attack on the skill of physicians during epidemics, and the personal and political character of William Cobbett, his business competitor, and Thomas Paine. The name Lawrie Todd also appears as Laurie Todd.