Part 4 out of 9
One idea contained in this message is much applauded by our ladies.
They unite in the opinion that the "energies of the men ought to be
principally employed in the multiplication of the human race," and in
this they promise an ardent and active co-operation. Thus, then, is
established the point of universal coincidence in political opinion,
and thus is verified the prophetic dictum, "we are all republicans, we
are all federalists." I hope the fair of your state will equally
testify their applause of this sentiment; and I enjoin it on you to
manifest your patriotism and your attachment to the administration by
"exerting your energies" in the manner indicated.
"To kill is brutal, to create Divine."
I propose--now observe, this is not to be published--I propose early
in the spring to take a ramble with you through your mountains. You
had best say nothing of your project of a location in the hills until
it shall be executed; for, if competition should arise before you
shall be suited, it would increase the expense of an establishment. I
am impatient to hear that you are settled and at work. Very
FROM DAVENPORT PHELPS.
New-York, December 15, 1801.
The enclosed copy of a letter from Captain Brandt to Isaac Chapin,
Esq., superintendent of Indian affairs in the state of New-York,
comprising (I conceive) the plan by him committed to me, and to which
he alludes in his letter to yourself, for introducing moral
instruction among the Indians. This plan, agreeably to his request,
was recommended by the superintendent, and, so far as it respects the
ordination of a missionary, has been accomplished.
It yet remains, Sir, to provide means of support; and when the
question respecting the instruction of their youth can be determined,
by what means and in what manner this shall be effected.
I will, at present, only use the freedom to suggest whether it might
not conduce to the furtherance and facilitating the above design to
appropriate for their accommodation a suitable portion of land at or
in the vicinity of Sandusky. Were the scattering tribes concentrated,
and with them some of their countrymen and others as patterns of
industry and morality, such circumstances must be highly favourable to
attempts to bring them into the habits of civilization.
I am, with great respect,
FROM JOSEPH BRANDT.
Grand River, May 7, 1800.
About three weeks since I received a message from Obeel to attend a
council at Buffalo, where I expected the pleasure of seeing you. We
attended and waited a few days; but the chiefs there not being ready
to meet us, and we having business which required our attendance at
this place, were under the necessity of coming away. Had I been so
fortunate as to have met you there, it was my intention to have
conversed with you upon a subject which I have long considered as most
important and interesting to the present and future well being of the
Indians, on _both sides_ of the lakes and at large; namely, their
situation in a moral point of view, and concerning measures proper to
be taken in order that regular and stated religious instruction might
be introduced among them.
You well know, Sir, the general state of the Indians residing on the
Grand River, as well as in other parts. A considerable number of some
of these nations have long since embraced Christianity, and the
conversion of others must depend, under the influence of the Great
Spirit, on the faithful labours of a resident minister, who might
visit and instruct both here and elsewhere, as ways and doors might,
from time to time, be opened for him.
The establishment and enlargement of civilization and Christianity
among the natives must be most earnestly desired by all good men; and
as religion and morality respect mankind at large, without any
reference to the boundaries of civil governments, I flatter myself
that you, sir, will approve what many of the chiefs here, with myself,
are so greatly desirous of.
I have in view, as I have before suggested, the welfare of the Indians
at large, being fully persuaded that nothing can so greatly contribute
to their present and future happiness as their being brought into the
habits of virtue and morality, which, I trust, may and will be
gradually effected by instruction, if properly attended and enforced
I well know the difficulty of finding a gentleman suitably qualified,
and willing to devote his life to the work of a missionary among them;
and especially one of talents and manners to render him agreeable in a
degree highly to favour his usefulness. And, in order to satisfy
myself in this respect, I have faithfully inquired and consulted, and
am clearly of opinion that Mr. Davenport Phelps, who is recommended as
a gentleman of virtue and respectable accomplishments, is the most
suitable character for this office of any one within my knowledge. My
long acquaintance with his family, and particular knowledge of him, as
well as the Opinion and wishes of the most respectable characters
among the white people in this vicinity, who earnestly wish, for
themselves as well as for us, that he may be ordained a missionary,
make me earnestly hope that you will officially recommend both the
design and him to the right reverend bishops in the United States, or
to some one of them, and to such other characters as you may think
From the consideration that religion and politics are distinct
subjects, we should not only be well satisfied to receive a missionary
from a bishop in the United States, but, for various other reasons,
would prefer one from thence. We shall be able here to do something
considerable towards Mr. Phelps's support; and I doubt not but others,
who have ability, will be disposed to assist in promoting so good a
work. I will add no more than that I have great satisfaction in being
confident of your friendly and influential exertions in this important
affair, and that I am, with great sincerity, yours, &c.,
New-York, December 15, 1801,
Yesterday Mr. Phelps, mentioned in the enclosed, delivered to me two
pairs of moccasins, directed--"From Captain Joseph Brandt to Mr. and
Mrs. Alston." Your ship having sailed, I don't know how or when I
shall forward them to you; but we will see. I send the original letter
of Captain Brandt merely to show how an Indian can write. It is his
own handwriting and composition. Upon this notice of his attention you
should write him a letter of acknowledgment for his hospitality, &c.,
which you may enclose to me at Washington.
Dear little Anna is shortly to be married to a Mr. Pierpont, whom I do
not personally know; but he is said to be rich and handsome--a young
man of industry and credit as a merchant. I think it will do pretty
well. E. has a lover--a man of consideration and property--measures
six feet eight inches and a half, shoes off; but so very modest that
they never will come to an explanation unless she shall begin. So no
more at present from your loving father,
FROM JUDGE WILLIAM P. VAN NESS.
New-York, January 2, 1802.
Since your departure the affair with Wood  has assumed a very
singular aspect. When I told the printers that the negotiation was at
an end unless they acceded to my proposition, it produced much
agitation ; and yesterday they called to inform me that they had taken
the opinion of good counsel on the subject; that their determination
was not to publish, but to hold you liable for the expenses. Wood
informs them that he acted merely as your agent; that all his
proposals were in strict conformity to your directions.
Davis and Swartwout are of the opinion that we ought to get the work
published in its present form, if possible:
1. Because our opponents say it unfolds the views of the federal
party; that it exposes their principal men, &c., and therefore we wish
to withhold it:
2. Because, if a new edition appears with the _same facts and
character_, they will say it has been subsequently introduced:
3. Because, if _it_ is brought out now, the attempt to check it will
have a favourable tendency.
How far these ideas are correct, and what steps are best to take, you
will now be able to determine, and instruct me accordingly. The truth
is, that instead of being unwilling and reluctant to suppress, they
dare not publish the work without indemnity. I am anxious to know your
opinion on the subject, and hope to hear from you on Tuesday next.
W. P. Van Ness.
Washington, January 12, 1802.
Just arrived at the city of Washington, this 12th day of January, A.
D. 18O2. I have only time, before closing of the mail, "to send you
these few lines, hoping they may find you in good health, as I am at
this present time," &c.
A form of salutation to be found in a public letter of Julius Cesar,
and in one of Cicero's familiar epistles.
Your letters which greet me here are of the 2d and 20th of December
only; only two. Why, I expected to find a dozen, and some of them down
to within three or four days of this date. Having a hundred letters
before me unread, I must defer writing to you for the present. Adieu.
Washington, January 16, 1802.
Your letter of the 20th December (the venison letter) is still the
last, though the Carolinians here have so late as the 3d and 4th of
January, of which I am a little jealous. It is quite unlucky that you
have been out of Charleston when your things arrived. How cook and
maid will dispose of themselves for the interim, I know not. Mighty
meek and humble we are grown. You really expect to do the honours of
your house _equal_ to, &c. I know better. It will be one of the most
cheerful and amiable houses in the United States. I am gratified that
you do not start with splendour; to descend with dignity is rare.
Pray make no definitive arrangements against the mountains. My heart
is set on running over them with Mr. Alston in the spring. Why may not
Papa Alston be weaned as well as Papa Burr? My movements must depend
on the adjournment of Congress. Some say we shall adjourn the middle
of April, and some the middle of June. As yet, I know nothing of the
matter; for, during the few days I have been here, I have been
enveloped in ceremonies. I am pleasantly lodged near the capitol.
Eustis opposite to me. Law and Iruko my nearest neighbours.
Good venison is not to be had at this season, and to send indifferent
any thing (except a wife) from New-York would be treason. Yet, on this
important subject, venison meaning, I have written to New-York. You
need not expect it, for I repeat that the best cannot now be had.
You must walk a great deal. It is the only exercise you can take with
safety and advantage, and, being in Charleston, I fear you will
neglect it. I do entreat you to get a very stout pair of over shoes,
or short boots, to draw on over your shoes. But shoes to come up to
the ankle bone, with one button to keep them on, will be best; thick
enough, however, to turn water. The weather has not yet required this
precaution, but very soon it will, and I pray you to write me that you
are so provided: without them you will not, cannot walk, and without
exercise you will suffer in the month of May. To be at ease on this
subject, you must learn to walk without your husband--alone--or, if
you must be in form, with ten negroes at your heels. Your husband will
often be occupied at the hours you would desire to walk, and you must
not _gener_ him: oh, never. Adieu.
TO BARNABAS BIDWELL.
Washington, February 1, 1802.
The newspapers will have shown the position of the bill now before the
Senate for the repeal of the act of last session establishing a new
judiciary system; and that the bill, when on its third reading, was,
by the casting vote of the vice-president, referred to a select
committee. This day notice has been given that a motion to discharge
that committee will be made to-morrow. It should be noted that the
arrival of Mr. Bradley has given a vote to the republican side; hence
it may be presumed that the committee will be discharged, and that the
bill will pass the Senate to-morrow, and that in the course of three
weeks it will become a law. I state this, however, as mere conjecture.
The constitutional right and power of abolishing one judiciary system
and establishing another cannot be doubted. The _power_ thus to
deprive judges of their offices and salaries must also be admitted;
but whether it would be _constitutionally moral_, if I may use the
expression, and, if so, whether it would be _politic_ and expedient,
are questions on which I could wish to be further advised. Your
opinion on these points would be particularly acceptable.
With entire respect and esteem,
Your obedient servant,
Washington, January 22, 1802.
Still silent. Yet is 20th December the latest date which I have
received from you; hence I infer that you have remained at Georgetown
much longer than was intended. Five weeks without hearing from you!
Intolerable. Now I think to repose myself in sullen silence for five
weeks from this date. I know that the apples and nuts will bring you
out again. Thus children are moved; but I also thought that a pretty
little letter, even without bonbons, would have done the same. I have
a very beautiful elegy on a lady whom you love better than any one in
the world; even better, I suspect, than L. N., and I was about to send
it, but I won't till I hear from you: a nice, handsome letter; none of
your little white ink scrawls. They talk of adjourning. No; I won't
tell you that either. I have nothing to say of myself, nor any thing
to ask of you which has not been often asked. Tell me that Mari is
happy, and I shall know that you are so. Adieu, my dear little
negligent baggage. Yes; one question. Do you leave your cards T. B. A.
or Joseph A.? What are L. N.'s? And one injunction repeated. Do not
suffer a tooth to be drawn, or any operation to be performed on your
TO JOSEPH ALSTON,
Washington, February 2 1802.
Your letter of the 10th of January was the first evidence of your
existence which I had received for near a month preceding. I hope your
wife is allowed the use of pen, ink, and paper. Her letter, three days
later, has been also received. The successful "execution of your
energies" is highly grateful to me. It _seems probable_ that I shall
pronounce, in person, on the merit of the workmanship somewhere about
The repeal of the judicial system of 1801 engrosses the attention of
both houses of Congress. The bill is yet before the Senate. You may
have observed that some days ago it was referred to a special
committee by the casting vote of the vice-president. Bradley having
arrived two days ago, and the republicans having thus an additional
vote, the committee was this day discharged, and it is highly probable
that the bill will pass the Senate to-morrow. On this subject I
hesitate, though it is not probable that my vote will be required. Of
the constitutionality of repealing the law I have no doubt, but the
equity and expediency of depriving the twenty-six judges of office and
pay is not quite so obvious. Read the Constitution, and, having
informed yourself of the out-door talk, write me how you view the
It has for months past been asserted that Spain has ceded Louisiana
and the Floridas to France; and it may, I believe, be assumed as a
fact. How do you account for the apathy of the public on this subject?
To me the arrangement appears to be pregnant with evil to the United
States. I wish you to think of it, and endeavour to excite attention
to it through the newspapers. If you publish any thing, send me the
papers which may contain it.
Truxton is going out to the Mediterranean with three large and one
small frigate. Apprehensions are entertained that our good ally,
George III, does secretly instigate and aid the Barbary powers. We do
not know that Tunis has declared war, but such an event will not
I have not heard a syllable of any changes made or to be made in
offices in your state, and, for reasons well known to you, I shall
neither make an inquiry nor offer advice. C. Pinckney's nomination was
confirmed by one vote. All the other nominations have been confirmed,
mostly without opposition.
Theodosia writes me that the mountain plan is wholly abandoned for
Sullivan's Island. I do not, however, as yet abandon it; and, if I can
get hence early in April, I think of going direct to Columbia, there
to establish myself till you shall both condescend to visit me.
When you shall be both settled in your own house, I crave a history of
_one day,_ in the manner of Swift's journal to Stella; or, as you do
not like imitation, in your own manner. Vale.
TO THEODOSIA. Washington, February 2, 1802.
I have just received a pretty little letter from C. C., all on nice,
pretty figured paper, such as you love, and she talks a great deal
about you; the substance of it is, that you are an ugly, little, lazy,
stupid, good-for-nothing knurle, and that she is very sorry she ever
wrote you a line. I can't vouch for the very words, but I think this
is a fair abridgment of that part of her letter which concerns T. B.
A. I wish you would teach half a dozen of your negroes to write; then
you might lay on the sofa, and, if you could submit to the labour of
thinking and dictating, the thing would go on.
We make a pleasant society here, so that one may get through the
winter without ennui. I live at Mr. Law's, not nominally, but in fact.
Mrs. Madison is distant one mile. Anna Payne  is a great belle.
Miss Nicholson  ditto, but more retired; frequently, however, at
Mrs. Law's. But pray, miss (madam), as to busts and statues, all the
B.'s being out of the question, is there nothing in this line to be
found in South Carolina? I suppose it never came into your head to
think or inquire. Pray shake your little noddle, to give the brains,
if any there be, a little action; but who can do two things at once?
That's true. I forgive thee all thy sins, without any further penance
than that which you have imposed on yourself. But write C. and poor
little Anna, to congratulate her. Tell her what a fine fellow I learn
her husband is. Mrs. Anna Constable Pierpont.
We have a perpetual summer here. I am weary of it, though, in truth, I
care nothing about it. With you it must be burning hot.
The cook had only Peggy to aid him; but as Peggy is equal to about
forty South Carolina Africans, he is very reasonable if he asks only
thirty-five, and ought to be indulged. Your maid will make a miserable
housekeeper, and be spoiled as femme de chambre, which last character
is, I take it, the more important one. The poem or elegy is not sent,
and is not forgotten. I am now going to smoke a segar and pray for
FROM CHARLES BIDDLE.
Philadelphia, February 3, 1802.
I enclose you a letter for Commodore Truxton. Should he be gone to
Norfolk, please to forward it.
Every _gentleman_ here, and, what I am sure you think of much more
consequence, every _lady_, was much pleased with your vote on the
judiciary bill. Those who do not think it unconstitutional to repeal
the law are of opinion it would be very injurious to do it. Your
FROM COLONEL MARINUS WILLETT.
New-York, February 4, 1802.
What a racket this vile judiciary law makes. It must be repealed; but
how the judges, who have their appointment during good behaviour, are
to be removed without making a breach in the constitution, is beyond
my abilities to develop. It will not, however, be the first assault on
that instrument; and, if two wrongs could make one right, this account
might be squared. But that horrid law must, indeed it must, be
I have received your two favours, one dated the 28th of January, and
the other without date. The effect of the abolition of the internal
taxes on Mr. Osgood  gives me no concern. He has plenty of other
business, and money enough without the income from his office.
God bless you; you have my prayers always; and who dare say they are
not as good as a bishop's, or any member of a Presbyterian synod?
Sometimes I think I'll turn Presbyterian, that I may have the benefit
of their prayers not to outlive my useful days; an event I deprecate
above all others, and this is a prayer I never heard in our church--I
mean my church, which, you know, is the Episcopal. Most sincerely your
FROM JOHN M. TAYLOR. Philadelphia, February 5, 1802.
I had the pleasure of writing you some days ago, since which there are
petitions circulating through the city for a repeal of the judiciary
system. My own opinion is that there is no necessity for such a
measure, as the two houses of Congress have the subject before them,
and their decision will be had ere the petitions can be sent forward,
and I have no doubt it will be repealed.
I have reasoned with all those who thought you ought to have voted
against it being referred to the committee of five, that your
intention must have been to afford the opposite party time to discuss
the subject fully, so that they might not say of you and your friends
(as Governeur Morris has said) that they pertinaciously forced it on
the then minority. I think it is better to give them time.
Yours, very respectfully,
JOHN M. TAYLOR.
FROM MRS. *******.
New-York, February 9, 1807.
At the sight of my writing you will exclaim--" She is unhappy, or she
would not write to me." 'Tis not so, my dear friend; I am neither more
nor less happy than when you left here. With every passing day I have
resolved to inform you of my health, but from day to day it has been
deferred, till I suppose my very existence is forgotten. Let me, then,
awaken your recollection, by presenting to you the image of my
thoughts, and retrace, however faintly, the impression I once
flattered myself to have made on your memory.
Tell me how you do, and how you pass your time. Taking lessons of
Wisdom from your Minerva? or flying after the Atalanta's of Virginia,
more swift than their celebrated racers? or, more probably, poring
over musty records; offering your time, your pleasures, your health,
at the shrine of Fame; sacrificing your own good for that of the
public; pursuing a chimera which ever has and ever will mock the
grasp; for, however the end may be crowned with success, the motives
will be questioned, and that justice which has been refused to a
Regulus, a Brutus, a Publius, who can hope for?
I once admired for device a _skyrocket_, and for motto--_Let me perish
so I be exalted_." I afterward changed my opinion, and preferred the
_glow-worm_ twinkling in a hedge. But I now reject them both. They
strike for a moment, but neither of them are impressive; and it is
thus, in changing, we pursue that something "which prompts, the
eternal sigh," which never is, which never can be attained. These
reflections arise continually on my reading the newspapers, where your
actions are so freely canvassed and so illiberally censured. They
often excite my wrath; but when I consider that my anger can no more
check their calumnies than the splendour of your reputation be clouded
by their impotent attempts, my indignation subsides, and I console
myself by saying,
"Vain his attempt who strives to please them all."
Washington, February 21, 1802.
Your letter of the 31st, accompanied by a note dated 1st February,
came by the mail of yesterday. A few lines from Mr. Alston, received
some days before, advised me of your journey to Clifton, and of the
distressing occasion. My heart sinks within me when I think of that
lovely and disconsolate woman. Your conduct was worthy of you and of
my daughter. She must be restored to reason and to life, by being
convinced that she has some motive for enduring existence. If no other
can be shown, at least she can be persuaded that she is necessary to
you. But I learn from your letter, though you say nothing of it, that
although she feels with anguish, yet she will not sink into
despondency. This testifies a mind of that dignity and firmness which
you had taught me to expect.
Nothing could have been more fortunate than the revival of the
project. It will divert the attention and summon up the spirits. You
must not condemn; it would be better to cherish it. Enter into all the
details. Transport yourselves to Europe, and there take a nearer view
and more accurate estimate of the dangers and advantages. Let those
who oppose it offer something in lieu. What! is she to wear out her
youth and beauty, dissipate her talents, and exhaust her spirits
without an object in life or a place in society? Without enjoyment,
without distinction? These hints will make you think I may hereafter
My life has no variety, and, of course, no incident. To my feelings
your letters are the most important occurrence. I am blessed with
three of them in three months. It did not use to be so. It would be no
excessive encroachment on your precious time to give me an hour twice
a week the evening preceding the post days. This I shall expect; _and
then_, and after one more communication, to be presently mentioned, I
will write definitely as to my spring projects.
It is of sculpture: a hint in your last indicates that you have
something in view. Be pleased to give me name and description, in some
mystical, sybillistical way, which, in case of robbery of mail, will
not disclose too much. One letter may contain the name, and another
the comment--_"Car ou l'arreter?_" is rather too mystical. I can make
nothing of it, having studied it a full hour to no purpose.
I entreat that you will always enclose your letter in a blank sheet,
on which is to be the seal and superscription. Health and blessings.
TO THEODOSIA Washington, February 23, 1802.
On the 4th day of March next I propose to write you of certain matters
and things of high import, heretofore touched, but not elucidated to
the entire satisfaction of all the parties concerned, if, in the mean
time, you shall be of good behaviour.
This, however, was not what I sat down to say, nor can I by any
possible means recollect what it was; but, in truth, I had something
to communicate or something to ask. I don't know which. That we have a
great snow storm and cold weather (now) will be no news to you, for
they will undoubtedly both be at Charleston long before this letter.
I project, as you may have understood, a journey southward at some
time, yet nameless, during the current year (or century). Now, if my
evil stars or good ones should, against my will and my judgment, take
me through Norfolk, I am ruined and done; and there my journey will
most infallibly end. That I had better be hanged or drowned, you will
readily agree. The antidote or preventative is in your hands, or, if
you please, head. The bust, slightly referred to in the letter of the
1st of February, has occupied some of my waking and sleeping moments.
Be more particular, and especially the estimated value in dollars and
cents; also, in what year or era manufactured, and the character and
merit of the work, as it strikes your fancy, but with some minuteness.
You know my rage for sculpture has cost me some money and led me into
some bad bargains. Thank God, I have got rid of them _all._ If you
will have _Pet_ or _Peet, Peter, Peter Yates, Peter Alston, Petrus
Burr_ (or by every other name he may be known) taught to write a good
hand, and make me a present of him, I will subscribe myself your very
much obliged and humble servant,
1. The author of "A History of John Adams's Administration." This
letter relates to the suppression of that book, which, although its
publication was suspended for a time, was published according to the
advice of General John Swartwout and M. L. Davis
2. Sister of Mrs. Madison.
3. Daughter of Commodore James Nicholson, and sister of Mrs. Gallatin.
4. Samuel Osgood, Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Washington, February 22, 1802.
Never were orders obeyed with more promptitude and effect. It is not
twelve hours since I desired (directed) you to write, and lo! a letter
dated the 9th of February. And even "enclosed in a blank sheet of
paper." A zealous manifestation of reciprocity is due to such
respectful attention, and thus, in obedience to the high commands of
T. B. A., I do most sincerely and devoutly execrate all the postboys
and the legislatures of the two most noble states the Carolinas.
You women: it is so with you all. If one wishes to exhibit the best
side, one must provoke you. Gratify your wishes and expectations, or,
still worse, anticipate them, and it produces a lethargy. How have I
laboured for three months, working and writing to please a certain
lady: nothing comes but inanity and torpor. I provoke her, and behold
the effusions of spirit and genius. Be assured that I shall not
speedily relapse into the same error. Indeed, I knew all this before;
but I thought it was only one's mistress that was to be thus
managed--it is sex.
For certain reasons of state, neither the name nor the epitaph can yet
be given ; nor can it now be said precisely when. The verses are
allowed to be very beautiful. Those on the anniversary of the wedding
were received (this day) in the presence of two poets and a poetess,
who said handsome things of them. The _ess_ being a maiden of
thirty-five, drew a deep sigh.
Indeed, it is impossible to say, for I never before heard of such a
thing as that any public body should "ajourn." They do commonly
adjourn; and if, perchance, this should be what you mean, and you
shall write me so, I will do my best to give you a categorical answer.
Natalie arrived at Orleans on the twenty-sixth day; meaning that she
had twenty-six days' passage. She has written both from Orleans and
Nantz. Her letters are full of good sense, of acute observation, of
levity, of gravity, and affection. No news of her mother, Adieu,
Washington, February 26, 1802.
The arrival of your letter of the 14th justifies me in noticing you by
this mail. Your newspapers of the same date, and also of the 15th,
contain particulars of the races; but so technically expressed that I
comprehend nothing of it. Your story is quite intelligible as far
forth as it is legible. I am very glad that Papa Alston has won once.
It is, I am told, the first time in his life. Where is Hampton all
this while, that you say nothing of him? Already I have told you that
on the 4th of March I shall say something of the adjournment, if, in
the mean time, you behave well. I shall not go first to New-York. Send
back your chairs. General Smith's carriage has just ran away with four
ladies, viz.: Mrs. Smith, Miss Speare, Miss Smith, and Mrs. Law. Miss
Smith was taken up dead, and brought home dead. After twenty-five
minutes she began to show signs of life. In two hours she began to
know those about her, and now (three hours) she is perfectly well; and
having been stripped and thoroughly examined, it cannot be discovered
that she has received the slightest injury, save being frightened to
death, as before mentioned. Miss Speare came off unhurt. Mrs. Smith
and Mrs. Law are much bruised. You will, I hope, understand that the
horses ran off with the carriage, and not that the carriage, of its
own mere motion, ran off with the ladies. Adieu.
Washington, February 27, 1802.
Last evening Eustis happened in my room while I was at Smith's
(opposite); he saw the cover of your letter, and the few lines which
it contains. He wrote what you will find enclosed, and left it on my
table. His cure is radical; that which I recommend is temporary.
A dull, raw, misty, vile day. Mrs. Law confined to her bed, as I
expected, but not dangerous. The Smiths doing pretty well.
The judiciary bill debating in the House of Representatives, being the
last day of the second week devoted _exclusively_ to that subject. It
may and it may not be finished next week. When this shall be done
with, we may be able to make some sort of calculation as to the
duration of the session.
Your last letter is pleasant and cheerful. Careless, incorrect,
slovenly, illegible. I dare not show a sentence of it even to Eustis.
God mend you.
Washington, March 4, 1802.
You have supposed it to be from malice that I have not written you of
the adjournment and of my intentions. The truth is, that I know little
more of those matters than you do, and I have chosen rather to
postpone it _en badinant_ than to write you crude conjectures; yet I
can do but little more at present.
I left New-York with a determination not to return till I should have
seen you and Charleston, and I arranged my business for an absence of
six months. I had hoped that the session of Congress would close by
the 15th of March or the 1st of April. On my arrival here every one
said so, and I had like to have written it to you; but appearances did
not seem to justify the expectation of a short session. The business
is hardly commenced, and I see no prospect of an adjournment until
some time in May. This is a great embarrassment; and your project of
remaining on the coast is another. I could, with pleasure, have passed
the summer with you in the mountains; but the heat and dissipation of
Sullivan's Island is not so inviting. All this, however, is nothing to
the purpose of your inquiry. To come to the point. I still propose to
go South the instant I can disengage myself from this place; which may
be a very few days before the close of the session. I shall be at
least twenty days on the road. I entreat you, however, not to excite
any expectation on the subject of my visit; not even to mention my
intentions, until we shall see how far it may be in my power to
execute them. The judiciary bill being out of the way, I am in hopes
we shall engage zealously in the despatch of business. Of this matter
I shall write further when I shall receive answers from you to my late
letters. They may hasten or retard my movements a little, but not
Washington, March 8, 1802.
From an accurate attention to the dates of your letters, I discover
that you write on Sunday only; that if, by accident or mental
indisposition, to which people in warm climates are liable, the
business should be put off for that day, it lays over to the next
Sunday, and so to a third or fourth, according to exigences, active or
passive. Your letter, dated the 22d, but, in fact, written on Sunday
the 21st, was received by the mail preceding the last, which brought
nothing. This letter is a confirmation of my theory of provocations,
which I have lately enlarged and more accurately defined, deducing it
from philosophical principles, and adapting it to different
_climates_. When this volume shall be ready for publication, I propose
to add, in an appendix, by way of illustration, a series of our
What you say of Huger shall receive due attention. Which _Maria_ did
your husband go for, the biped or the quadruped? It is impossible to
determine from any thing in your letter. On the subject of busts you
are more whimsical than even your father; just now you had something
in view; but, on the 22d of February, "worse than any part of the
United States." I have no time to give you now an explanation of your
ice phenomenon, but will talk with T.I. and W.E. on the subject. Your
last was sealed _on the writing_, a vulgarism which I again condemn.
Washington, March 8, 1802.
At the moment of closing your letter, this scrap of a newspaper 
caught my eye, and is sent for your amusement. It is aimed at Aaron
Burr, by whom, it is well known, the publication of the book  is
delayed or suppressed. The book consists of five hundred pages,
principally low scurrility and illy-told private anecdotes; with about
thirty pages of high eulogium on A. B. There may, for aught I know,
have been twenty other publications criminating the person by whom the
work has been suppressed. They are so utterly lost on me, that I never
should have seen even this, but that it came enclosed to me from a
friend in New-York, who is solicitous for _my honour_, &c.
You may judge of the purity and decency of the book when I mention
that some dozen of persons, by name, are charged with being bribed by
British gold, and there is a surmise that General Pinckney is not
reputed very _honest_. Of all the federal men, General Hamilton alone
is treated with respect, even to flattery. My "solicitous friend" has
given me a curious fact, of which I was ignorant till the receipt of
his letter. Barlas, a Scotchman, the publisher of the book, is private
tutor to the children of General Hamilton. Adieu.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
Washington, March 8, 1802.
I learn, with a good deal of regret, that the mountain plan is
abandoned; at least, that no measures are taken or meditated for its
execution. I should cheerfully acquiesce in any reasons founded on
motives of economy, convenience, regard to law business, or personal
influence; but the solitary one assigned to me by Theodosia is, that
you and she _"may be near papa and mamma"_. Of this, too, I
acknowledge the force; yet it might be considered that the mountain
residence was intended for certain months only, and that during the
residue (the greater part) of the year, papa and mamma might indulge
their fondness. I had seen, or fancied that I saw in this project the
assurance of health to yourself and wife, and sound constitutions to
your children; profit in the location; amusement and economy in the
residence, and an increase of your influence and connexions. How far
it might comport with professional engagements, if seriously pursued,
was not considered. One personal motive, I confess, might have
influenced my judgment; the pleasure I had promised to myself in
passing the summer with you, and in projecting little schemes of
improvement and occupation. It is, indeed, with some hesitation that I
shall visit your coast after the middle of May, and there is now no
prospect of an adjournment of Congress before that time. Nevertheless,
I shall come, though _at your hazard_, which, you know, would be a
great consolation to me if I should be caught by a bilious fever in
some rice swamp. The situation of Theodosia, so far from being an
objection, ought, in my mind, to be an additional and strong motive.
With her Northern constitution she will bring you some puny brat that
will never last the summer out; but, in your mountains, one might
expect to see it climb a precipice at three weeks old. Truly, I mean
to be serious, and beg to know whether you have, in fact, resolved,
and whether the resolution has, in good faith, been the result of
reflection or of inertness. You will pardon the surmise. I allow
something for the climate, much for the influence of example; and
then, considering the uncommon warmth of the winter! it must be
fatiguing even to talk of any thing requiring exertion.
The rapidity, however, with which your house has been furnished and
established ought to redeem your wife from any share in this reproach.
On the 22d of February I find her fully occupied in those concerns,
with hopes of accomplishing the object by the time of my arrival. She
was then, however, taking an eight days' repose, that she might renew
her labours with more vigour at the expiration of that time. But,
again, gravely I inquire where I am to find you about the middle or
last of May. I presume, in the place where this will find you.
Locomotion is labour.
I entreat your prompt attention to the enclosed memorandum, from my
good friend Mr. Law. He says that Chisholm has never informed him of
the disposition of the indents mentioned in his letter, of which the
enclosed is a copy. Pray inquire and advise me. The thing is of small
moment; but I should be gratified in the occasion to show an interest
in his concern, for I am daily overwhelmed by the multiplied
kindnesses of himself and wife.
The gazettes will tell you better, I suspect, than I can what is doing
in the House of Representatives. The sloth with which things move is a
daily source of vexation to me, as tending to protract the session. I
dine with the president about once a fortnight, and now and then meet
the ministers in the street. They are all very busy: quite men of
business. The Senate and the vice-president are content with each
other, and move on with courtesy.
Your Rutledge will be in Charleston in the course of this month. I
hope you are on terms of civility with him, for I receive from him the
most marked politeness. He will tell you of many strange things. God
bless you ever.
FROM CHARLES BIDDLE.
Philadelphia, March 13, 1802.
MY DEAR SIR,
Mr. Eckfeldt brought me five medals, four of which I sent by Mr. Ross;
the other shall be disposed of as you direct. The die of Truxton's
medal broke after fifty-two had been struck. I suppose Truxton will
feel more pain for this accident than he would to hear of the death of
his friend T. Coxe.
You mentioned that if Murray wrote in favour of Richard Jones, you had
no doubt he would be appointed a midshipman. If the Secretary of the
Navy sees the enclosed letter, perhaps he will give him a warrant. It
could be forwarded by Commodore Truxton, who I do not expect will sail
before the 1st of April. Although I frequently trouble you about
different persons, believe me, my clear Sir, I do not wish you to do
any thing whatever that will be disagreeable to you.
Mrs. Wilkinson is much obliged to you for your friendship to the
general, which she says she will never forget. When James  sailed
he desired I would inform you that he would write you as soon as he
had any thing worth writing about. I believe you have no friend feels
a warmer attachment to you than James. Sincerely yours,
FROM JOHN COATS.
Easton (Maryland), March 13, 1802.
MY DEAR SIR,
I have long had it in serious contemplation to address a letter to
you, but have frequently been restrained, from a knowledge that your
time has been and still is devoted to public service, and that every
moment is precious; and often I have been prevented by my own
avocations and engagements on this our bustling stage. I have vanity
enough to think I possessed a share of your esteem and friendship,
which could only originate from your belief that I had a claim to the
virtues, truth, candour, and sincerity. I detest the character of a
hypocrite, and flatter myself no part of my past conduct can fix it
upon me. Then permit me, with solemn truth, to declare, that when I
see your name in the prints, I feel involuntarily an animating glow,
and it immediately brings to my recollection incidents sometimes
producing pleasing, and at others painful sensations, in which we have
been mutually engaged and gone hand in hand. Although, to borrow the
language of our president, there may exist shades of political
difference between us, I have been your defender; and it was well
understood and known that I spoke from an intimate acquaintance with
you as a soldier and a gentleman.
Frequent reflection upon the various scenes we have encountered
together has led me to lament the great distance that has so long
prevented any social intercourse; but if the following description of
a new route, when you revisit New-York, meets your approbation, I may
again have the happiness of a friendly salute of the hand. I have
travelled from Philadelphia to Annapolis, _via_ Baltimore, and ever
thought it a rugged road. I propose that you should come to Annapolis,
where exceeding commodious passage-boats constantly ply, and you will
in a few hours be landed at Haddaway's, upon our eastern shore, from
whence a line of stages run to Philadelphia.
Upon this route you will see a great number of your friends, added to
which there will be novelty and ease. I cannot, indeed, promise you
any romantic objects, such as _Caratoncka_ or Morenci Falls, or
gigantic mountains, such as we clambered together in 1775; but you
will see a country approaching a high state of cultivation, and a
number of towns, the most of which bear evident marks of daily
improvement. Between these towns are interspersed gentlemen's seats;
some of them beautifully situated, and the inhabitants generally
affable, courteous, and hospitable. As to your ease, if you do not
travel in your own carriage, you will find the horses and carriages
equal to any others; the public houses comfortable, the country
abounding with the good things of this world, whether flesh, fish, or
fowl, and the road good, having occasionally what may with propriety
be called gentle ascents and descents. My friends, Mr. Robert Wright,
of the Senate, and Joseph H. Nicholson, of the House, who live
directly on the road I have described, will confirm what I have
written. Let me, then, once again enjoy your company, and that at my
own hermitage. I shall be gratified by introducing the old lady, my
two girls, and my boy to the companion and friend of my youth. They
will endeavour to make their _lillapee_ of a superior savour to what
our cooks in days of yore could do for us. And although, as Partridge
says, "non sum qualis eram," I shall certainly use my best exertions,
while with us, to render your time agreeable.
Your sincere and old friend,
Washington, March 14, 1802.
Your letter of the 1st, postmarked the 3d, was received last evening.
I regret that L. N. did not come to town, believing that you only
could console her; that she would make you an intelligent companion;
and that you could restore the tone of her mind, without diminishing
the firmness of your own.
Papa's present was the most gallant and charming thing that could have
been imagined. By Mr. Rutledge, who goes to-morrow, I send this papa a
little token which has been some weeks waiting for an opportunity. Mr.
Rutledge will tell you how I do, and what I do, and, _to an hour_,
when Congress will adjourn. He sets off to-morrow, and will be in
Chilton about four days after this letter; of course, I do not write
It is probable that the box went with the ship which took your first
cargo; but, as no one paid the least attention to the landing of the
articles, nor to compare the delivery with the invoice, it may have
been left on board. I will, however, write to New-York.
The story of P. is a fable. We are on the best terms, and he calls
very often to see me. The elegy may now be seen in the newspaper,
which, considering how nearly it touched you, I thought the best mode
of communication. Avoid sights. You say nothing of the progress of
housefurnishing and housekeeping.
Your last was sealed, as too often before, on the writing. If your
_Mari_ denies you a sheet of paper to enclose a letter, pray lay out
_one_ of your four hundred dollars for this purpose. Adieu, ma chere
P. S. Somebody (I believe the Spectator) says that a postscript is
always the most important part of a lady's letter. This, then, will be
I have had three letters from Natalie. All full of interest and
amusement. Her remarks are equal to those of Lady Mary W. Montague for
their truth and spirit, and far superior to any of our diplomatic
communications. She is to travel from Nantz to Paris (about four
hundred and fifty miles) _with her maid and postillion only_: an
enterprise which no woman in France under forty hath executed without
shipwreck during the last hundred years. Yet Natalie will do it
without injury and without suspicion. I have taught her to rely on
_herself_, and _I_ rely on her pride.
I have said, and truly, that the story of P. is a fable. It may,
however, by remote concatenation, and with the aid of great fancy and
a little malice, have grown out of a trifling and ridiculous incident
which took place at New-York, and which I am sure you have heard. P.
was laughed at, and has behaved better ever since. There are at least
twenty (my neighbour, Mrs. Law, says fifty) such anecdotes now
circulating in this vicinity, _all equally unfounded_. Without any
appeal, therefore, you may contradict all such as are inconsistent not
only with truth, but with probability. A lady of rank and consequence,
who bad a great curiosity to see the vice-president, after several
plans and great trouble at length was gratified, and she declared that
be was the very ugliest man she had ever seen in her life. His bald
head, pale hatchet visage, and harsh countenance, certainly verify the
Your very ugly and affectionate father,
FROM C. A. RODNEY.
Wilmington, March 15, 1802.
HONOURED AND DEAR SIR,
This will be delivered to you by Dr. A. Alexander, of Newcastle, in
this state. He has ever been a uniform and firm friend to the
principles of our late glorious revolution. He has served many years
in the capacity of a senator, and also of a representative in our
legislature, and can give you particular information as to the public
pulse here. He is a personal friend of mine; one whom I can recommend
in the strongest terms.
I had the pleasure of receiving yours of the 10th inst. on yesterday,
and was very happy to hear from you. The advice you kindly give me I
shall cheerfully take. It has ever been my maxim to be moderate but
firm. _Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re_, should be an axiom with all
politicians. We continue to progress in the high way of republicanism,
and you will find, by our toasts, we have not forgot one of its ablest
supporters.  With great personal regard,
Your sincere friend.
C. A. RODNEY.
Washington, March 19, 1802.
From your letter of the 6th, received last evening, I infer that you
are in some sort settled in your own house; that you pleased yourself
on that day is very grateful; that, too, I should have inferred from
the spirit of your letter. By the "attack on Sullivan's Island" was
intended an attack on the plan of residence.
I am just going on an errand to Baltimore, _de retour_ on Tuesday; so
that by the next mail you will have nothing from me. Where will you be
from the 10th to 15th May? In Charleston, Sullivan's Island, or
Clifton? Is L. N. coming to live with you? I am quite charmed with
John and Sally. Preparations for Baltimore occupy me so entirely that
I cannot even think of you by this mail. Adieu.
The preceding was written the morning of yesterday. I folded, and
directed, and took it to Senate, thinking there to add a word. At ten
last night I found it lying in my pocket. The weather (rain) has
prevented my Baltimore jaunt which was planned for this day. The hope
of an early adjournment recedes. In short, all is uncertainty. It will
depend more on the thermometer than on the progress of business. When
the heat shall be intolerable here, shall I set my face towards the
sun? I think I will. If you had been in the mountains! but that is not
Natalie arrived in Paris the 31st December; her mother not there; but
numerous friends, who fatigue her with civilities. Her heart is in the
This will remain in the postoffice till the 23d. If, in the mean time,
I receive a letter from you, a supplement will accompany this. Adieu.
FROM C. A. RODNEY.
Wilmington, March 20, 1802.
I have perused with much pleasure the papers enclosed in your
highly-acceptable favours. The proposed state will possess the
republican tone, and give additional weight to the scale which already
so strongly preponderates. The repeal of all internal taxation will be
sensibly felt by the people, and will _popularize_ our administration.
The expense of collecting those taxes, in consequence of the swarm of
pensioners attached to them, points them out as the proper object of
retrenchment. The brown-sugar gentry in Congress; your tea-sippers and
salts-men (not Attic), who, by-the-by, have laid all those duties,
cannot _agitate_ the public mind on those topics.
I am happy to discover in the proceedings of the republicans so much
moderation, firmness, and unanimity. I trust their opponents will not
hereafter think they want _nerve_. This conduct forms a striking
contrast with federal gasconade; and the effect of those things, in a
free country, is not easily calculated by common rule.
The polite and kind invitation you give me I should certainly accept
of if in my power. I had thought seriously of it some weeks back; but
you must know I have purchased a little tract of land adjoining Dr.
Tilton's, which I once showed you, and have cut out abundant work for
the season. This, Dr. Tilton says, is to restore my health perfectly.
There are many friends at Washington it would give me great pleasure
to see, but none more than yourself.
Must sincerely yours,
C. A. RODNEY.
FROM URIAH TRACEY. 
Washington, March 29, 1802.
The sermon, for which I am indebted to your goodness, is now returned,
with many thanks for the loan.
I have perused it with pleasure, and, I hope, profit. It is an
excellent treatise, worthy of the attention of every man, and more
emphatically so of men in high and responsible stations in government.
Our time is short, my friend, too short to allow an opportunity of
retrieving almost any misspense of it; much more so to allow a
redemption for any neglect to perform great public services when once
happily in our power. God grant that you may be profited by this, and,
in turn, be more profitable to this distracted nation.
FROM GENERAL HORATIO GATES.
New-York, March 30, 1802.
MY DEAR SIR,
Yesterday I was favoured with your obliging letter of the 23d inst. by
Mr. Peter Townsend; also, with a most beautiful silver medal from the
die I have presented you. It is in the highest polish and perfection.
In respect to the tin medal and its case, I have only heard of them
from you, as I never received either, or a single line from Mr.
Dallas. But men so much engaged in business seldom have time to attend
to such small affairs.
When you see Dr. Murray, present my affectionate respects to him; he
is, indeed, an old and highly esteemed friend. As to news, I never
expect any from statesmen high in office. So far as the session of the
Congress has proceeded, _I_, poor little _I_, am satisfied with what
they have done. Taxes and law diminished should be approved of by the
many. The stricken deer will weep; but the powerful will, I trust, be
generous to those who are not malignant. The charming Miss Church was,
on Thursday, married to Mr. Cruger. But I have a more serious piece of
news for your private ear. Young Secretary Sumter, on the passage to
Europe, fell desperately in love with Miss Natalie d'Lage. They landed
at Nantz, near her mother's chateau. The old lady is a furious
royalist, and will not hear of her daughter's being married to a
republican; perhaps you know more than I can tell you what is likely
to be the result.
Mr. Townsend goes so immediately to Orange county, that he prevents my
intended civilities; but I trust be will hereafter put it in my power
to cultivate his acquaintance. For any thing I see, your session will
be shortly over.
Judge Brockholst Livingston took his seat in the City Hall yesterday.
This phenomenon (what shall I call it?) in office or in policy has
caused a grumbling in the legislature, where it seems to be laid aside
for future contention; but you will hear more from your
correspondents. I am told it is nicknamed the Livingston act. My Mary
is well, and has every desire to oblige you.
FROM DAVID GELSTON.
New-York, April 3, 1802.
I am favoured with yours of the 30th ult., with its enclosure. The
subject contained in my letter of the 22d to you has, in several
instances, become so important, that I wrote yesterday to Mr. Gallatin
on the same business.
You are, in general, so apt to decide promptly and correctly, that if
you had at once told me my construction of the law referred to was
right, I should have wanted no more. We begin to look better in the
city--alarms are less frequent, confidence is gaining, and business
I have just received permission from the secretary of the treasury to
make some additional inspectors. Mr. L. shall be gratified, but my
authority is limited to the 15th of November next. If you have a
particular wish for any other person, please let me know immediately.
Washington, April 5, 1802.
MA CHERE ENFANTE,
Different accidents and interruptions prevented me from writing by the
two last mails; a very unusual omission, and thus happens what, I
believe, has never before occurred, that I have two of your letters
unanswered, those of the 19th and 22d, both affecting and interesting.
The last of them acknowledges the receipt of a letter from me dated
March 9th. Now, I did not write any letter under that date, it must be
a forgery. On the 8th and 12th I did write to you.
It is, I hope and believe, true that Richmond Hill is competent to all
purposes; but nothing is done nor can be speedily done. The thing
constantly eludes a conclusion, and matters are, in fact, now as badly
circumstanced as one year ago. When I left New-York I arranged my
affairs of _all kinds_ for six months' absence, which would extend to
the middle of June, with the determination to go hence to South
Carolina, in which determination I persist; yet you know that _a
single letter may take me in a contrary direction_, and mar all my
plans of pleasure. This, and this only, produces the instability of my
resolutions, and the equivocal tenour of my letters on the subject of
Nothing certain can be predicated of the adjournment; but I am quite
resolved not to remain here beyond the 25th, more probable that I may
leave it on the 19th. In either case, it will be vain to address a
letter to me at Washington after the receipt of this, as I shall not
be here to receive it. My route will be through Richmond and
Petersburgh to Fayetteville, and thence to Georgetown and Clifton,
where I presume I shall find Papa Alston, Ellen, &c. You may address
me a line to Richmond, and another to Fayetteville, merely to say how
you are, and who more are dead. Recollecting, when you write, that it
will be very uncertain whether they will reach me; still, on my
arrival at those places, I shall be quite out of humour if I find no
letter from you, and _will stay a week_ at each place in hopes of
I have ordered Vanderlyn to send you, from New-York, both his and
Stuart's picture of A. Burr; and have told him to ship himself for the
port of Charleston on the 1st of May.
I have also desired that my beautiful little bust of Bonaparte be sent
to Mr. William Alston.
You may send a letter to meet me at Clifton, and two or three to each
place if you find my movements so retarded as to admit a probability
of their being received. Adieu.
Washington, April 12, 1802.
Your letter of the 29th came by the last mail, exactly, as heretofore,
on the eighth day after the date of your last preceding. Whether it be
invariably Sunday or not, at least it is always octo-diurnal. Pray get
an eight-day clock, and then all family matters will move on in strict
uniformity. Thank your husband for his letter about Mr. Law's indents.
The instability of all human concerns has been a theme of remark for
the last 4000 years. Lately, very lately, I wrote you of my
determination to leave this city on the 26th. I then thought so, as
you will readily believe; because, why should I deceive my dear little
Theodosia? Now this thing is altered, for reasons too numerous and
mighty to be here enumerated; and, besides, you know our doctrine is
not to give reasons, but to let the facts speak for themselves. On
this occasion, however, even your hard heart would yield to the
motives which govern me. The plan, I say, is all altered. Instead of
leaving this fair region, as was gravely proposed, on the 26th of this
month, the present project is to part from all I here hold dear on the
20th (the _twentieth_) inst., which piece of caprice I hope you will
pardon. If no letter intervenes before that day, Papa Alston may
expect to see me in some twelve or fifteen days thereafter. I shall
hope to find letters at Richmond, Fayetteville, &c. Adieu.
Clifton, May 3, 1802.
At the moment of my arrival on Friday evening I wrote you from Mr.
Kinlock's. The day following (May 1) I came here, and, being without
horses, sent on Sunday morning to engage the whole stage, which was to
go to-morrow, and, as I understand, reaches Charleston in a day.
Unfortunately, the stage was full--not even a seat vacant for the
vice-president. I am, therefore, doomed to remain here one day longer,
and to be two days on the road. My horses not having arrived, Mr.
Alston will, on Wednesday morning, set out with me in his curricle. We
shall dine and stay the night of Wednesday at Mrs. Mott's, and on the
day following, Thursday evening, reach Charleston.
I now send my man George (late Azor Le Guen, now George d'Grasse) to
Georgetown. If he can get a place in the stage, he goes on with my
baggage; if not, he sends this letter, with all affectionate good
wishes. William arrived here this afternoon, and tells us that you are
well, and your husband _ill_. This is exactly wrong, unless he means
to take the whole trouble off your hands, as some good husbands have
heretofore done; so, at least, Darwin records. God bless thee, my dear
FROM MIDSHIPMAN JAMES BIDDLE.
U. S. Ship Constellation, at Gibraltar, May 8, 1802.
As the frigate Philadelphia will sail in a few days for America, I
cannot neglect so good an opportunity of writing, and returning you my
sincere thanks for the marked civilities I have received at all times
from you, particularly at New-York in the summer of 1800. Be assured,
Sir, I feel the liveliest sense of the obligations I am under for the
many favours conferred upon me, and shall ever feel extremely happy to
have it in my power to render you any service.
Owing to our being perplexed with almost constant easterly winds, we
did not make the land until the 24th ult., when we made Cape Canter,
on the coast of Africa. On the 28th we got into the Straits of
Gibraltar, but the wind heading us off the rock, we were obliged to
bear away for Malaga. There we found the Essex and Philadelphia at
anchor. On the 3d inst. we left Malaga, and arrived here in company
with the Philadelphia and Essex on the 5th, and I expect to remain
until Commodore Truxton arrives on the station.
While the ship lay at Malaga I had an opportunity of seeing every
thing that could attract the eye of a stranger. The country round the
city is extremely fertile, abounding with all the different kinds of
fruit-trees. Indeed, the lower class of the Spaniards subsist almost
entirely upon fruit, the produce of the country. The chief articles of
exportation are grapes, figs, raisins, oranges, anchovies, wines, &c.
Their streets are very narrow, running at random in every direction.
Their houses are mostly built of marble, four stories high, different
families occupying different stories of the same house. They have two
or three forts, built on eminences adjacent to the city for its
protection, but they are out of order and decaying.
I anticipate enjoying a very pleasant cruise, as we seem to be
favoured with every thing that could render our situation agreeable.
Captain Murray is one of the best of men, and treats us with all the
kindness and attention we could wish. The climate is mild and healthy.
The Tripolitans keep among themselves, and never venture out, so that
we shall have nothing to do but to visit the different ports of the
Mediterranean. The closest friendship and harmony prevails among the
officers of the ship. Every thing, in short, that we could wish, we
seem to have, to make our situation comfortable. Pray remember me
kindly to Mrs. Alston, and believe me, with esteem and respect, your
most obedient servant,
FROM JOHN TAYLOR, OF CAROLINE.
Virginia, Caroline, May 25, 1802.
Your favour, covering the medal struck to commemorate the most
brilliant exploit of the American war, from some cause unknown to me,
never arrived until this instant. It is particularly acceptable from
the circumstance of my having imbibed a personal affection for General
Gates by having served under him for a few months.
It would be quite premature in me to consider whether I would go into
Congress unless it was probable that I could. The government have no
means of providing for the gentleman you mention; and if they had, to
do so for the purpose of making room for another might expose them to
censures which they will hardly encounter. As to a voluntary
resignation of his station, there are some circumstances in his case
which do really justify him in refusing to do it, unless for some
better prospect of public benefit.
Not until some days after you left this was it discovered that you had
forgotten your travelling map. I lamented the inconveniences to which
the oversight would expose you, but had no mode of removing them,
despairing, from a recollection of your horses, that either of mine
would be fleet enough to overtake you. The map could, therefore, only
be taken care of for the purpose of being restored to you. Permit me
to hope that you will allow me to do this at my own house as you
return; and that you will apprize me of your resolution to do so, both
that I may be at home and that I may enjoy the hope of your company
before the pleasure is realized. Farewell.
1. A paragraph cut from the Aurora.
2. Wood's History of John Adams's Administration.
3. The present Commodore James Biddle.
4. The vice-president, Colonel Burr. This letter was written more than
a year after the presidential contest in Congress.
5. At that time a member of the United States Senate.
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, June 24, 1802.
We arrived yesterday morning, exactly the eighth day since I left you.
Our passage was pleasant, inasmuch as we had no storms, and the most
obliging, attentive captain. I never met with more unremitted
politeness. He was constantly endeavouring to tempt my appetite by all
the delicacies in his own stores. To the child he proved an excellent
nurse when I was fatigued and the rest sick. We are now in my father's
town-house. Mrs. Allen had gone up the North River before my arrival;
thus I have seen neither her nor her sons. John is to return and be
married in a few days.
I have just returned from a ride in the country and a visit to
Richmond Hill. Never did I behold this island so beautiful. The
variety of vivid greens; the finely-cultivated fields and gaudy
gardens; the neat, cool air of the cit's boxes, peeping through
straight rows of tall poplars, and the elegance of some gentlemen's
seats, commanding a view of the majestic Hudson, and the high, dark
shores of New-Jersey, altogether form a scene so lively, so touching,
and to me now so new, that I was in constant rapture. How much did I
wish for you to join with me in admiring it. With how much regret did
I recollect some rides we took together last summer. Ah, my husband,
why are we separated? I had rather have been ill on Sullivan's Island
with you, than well separated from you. Even my amusements serve to
increase my unhappiness; for if any thing affords me pleasure, the
thought that, were you here, you also would feel pleasure, and thus
redouble mine, at once puts an end to enjoyment. You do not know how
constantly my whole mind is employed in thinking of you. Do you, my
husband, think as frequently of your Theo., and wish for her? Do you
really feel a vacuum in your pleasures? As for your wife, she has bid
adieu to pleasure till next October. When, when will that month come?
It appears to me a century off. I can scarcely yet realize to myself
that we are to be so long separated. Do not imagine, however, that I
mean to beg you to join me this summer. No, my husband, I know your
reasons, and approve them. Your wife feels a consolation in talking of
her sorrows to you; but she would think herself unworthy of you could
she not find fortitude enough to bear them! God knows how delighted I
shall be when once again in your arms; but how much would my happiness
be diminished by recollecting that your advancement and interest
suffered. When we meet, let there be nothing to alloy a happiness so
pure, so unbounded. Our little boy grows charmingly; he is much
admired here. The colour of his eyes is not yet determined. You shall
know when it is.
As our papers were mixed, I left my writing-desk open; pray lock the
drawers and desk both, and keep the key yourself.
Have you any rice on hand yet? It sells here for five dollars cash. If
you have any, had you not better send it? Papa intends writing to you
on the subject.
I began a letter to you this morning in time for the mail, but was
prevented by innumerable visits, which commenced before I was dressed
for breakfast. I am most impatiently waiting for a letter from you. I
hope you wrote soon after my departure. I am counting every minute to
next Wednesday, when I hope to receive one, though I have many fears
it is too early. With how much anxiety do I expect a letter. Maybe,
one of these days, I may tell you of a piece of weakness of mine on
that subject; maybe, for I do not know whether it is quite right for a
wife to display all her foibles in that way to her husband. We have
not determined when or where we shall move in the country. It shall
certainly not be long ere we leave the city.
Anna Pierpont is well. She and husband go on merrily. They love each
other very much, and that is half the battle. She begged me not to
omit giving a thousand loves to you. My love to the Hugers. Tell them
I have seen Nancy. She looks better than they ever saw her. She has
got a colour, and is so much more beautiful that I scarcely recognised
her. Adieu, mon bien aimi.
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, June 26, 1802.
When, when will the month of October come? It appears to recede
instead of approaching; and time, which extinguishes all other
sorrows, serves but to increase mine; every moment I feel that I have
lost so much of your society which can never be regained. Ah, my
husband, what can be pleasure to your Theo., unassisted by the charms
of your presence and participation? Nothing. It is an idea which has
no place in my mind unconnected with you.
I send you M'Kenzie; there is no London edition in town more elegantly
bound. Before my departure you complained grievously of the bad cigars
sold in Charleston. In the hope that this city affords better, I send
you a box containing a thousand; the seller took some trouble to
choose the best for me, and I have added some Vanilla and Tonka beans
to them. May the offering please my great Apollo! If you should do so
rash a thing as to visit the city during the summer, pray smoke all
the time you remain there; it creates an atmosphere round you, and
prevents impure air from reaching you.
I wish, also, that you would never be in town before or after the
middle of the day. I have somewhere heard that persons were less apt
to catch infectious disorders at that time than any other, and I
believe it. Have you never remarked how highly scented the air is
before sunrise in a flower-garden, so much so as to render the smell
of any flower totally imperceptible if you put it to your nose? That
is, I suppose, because, when the sun acts with all his force, the air
becomes so rarefied, that the quantity of perfume you inhale at a
breath can have no effect; while, on the contrary, during the night,
the vapours become so condensed that you perceive them in every blast.
May not the same be the case with noxious vapours? It is said that the
fever in Charleston does not arise from that, but the filth of the
streets are quite enough to make one think otherwise. Perhaps I am
wrong both in my reason and opinion. If so, you are able to correct;
only do as you think best, and be prudent. It is all I ask. I imagine
the subject worth a reflection, and you cannot err. Montesquieu says
he writes to make people think; and why may not Theodosia?
We have this evening been to visit Mrs. Caines (late Mrs. Verplanck)
at her country place. The marriage was thus published--Married, G.C.,
Esq., counsellor of law, from the West Indies, _and now having a work
in the press_, to Mrs., &c. That work has been the cause of some
curiosity and not a little amusement.
I dined the other day with Mrs. Montgomery. The chancellor has sent
her out a list of statues, which are to be so exactly imitated in
plaster as to leave the difference of materials only. The statues are,
the Apollo Belvidere, Venus de Medicis, Laocoon and his children,
Antinous, and some others. The patriotic citizens of New-York are now
subscribing to the importation of a set here for the good of the
public. If they are really perfect imitations, they will be a great
acquisition to this city. But, _selon moi_, there is the difficulty.
Our son looks charmingly. Adieu.
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, June 28, 1802.
And do you, indeed, miss your Theo.? Do you really find happiness
indissolubly blended with her presence? Ah! my husband, how much more
amiable you are as the man than as the philosopher! How much better
your wife can love you! The latter character produces a distance
between us; it so resembles coldness, that it annihilates all that
free communication of the heart, that certainty of the most perfect
sympathy and concord of feeling, which affords so much real happiness.
Believe me, it is a very mistaken idea, that to discover sensibility
at parting with a friend increases their sorrow. No; it consoles them.
That apparent indifference, instead of lessening their pain at
separation, only adds to it the mortification of finding themselves
alone; wounds their feelings by the idea that, where they expected the
most sincere reciprocity, they meet with the most calm tranquillity;
and, above all, it is apt to make them involuntarily exclaim--If I am
thus regretted, how little shall I be thought of! How soon forgotten!
Never, then, my beloved, attempt to play the philosopher. If you see a
friend weeping, weep with them. Sympathy is the sovereign cure for all
wounds of the heart.
Your letter of the 16th, which I received yesterday, delighted me the
more as it was unexpected. I did not _hope_ you would have written so
soon; still less did I imagine a letter from Charleston would reach
this on the eleventh day after date. How anxious I am for to-morrow.
Perhaps I may hear from you again.
S. appears more pleased with New-York than any person I ever saw from
South Carolina. With the beauty of the country it is impossible not to
be delighted, whether that delight is confessed or not; and every
woman cannot fail to prefer the style of society, whatever she may
say. If she denies it, she is set down in my mind as insincere and
Pray write your journal this summer; you have little else to do. I
should be charmed to find it finished on my return. Adieu.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, July 3, 1802.
Your letter of the 19th of June, covering two for Theodosia, was
received this morning. She, with Lady Nisbett and your boy, sailed
yesterday for Red Hook (120 miles north) on a visit to Mrs. A., who
had solicited this attention in terms and under circumstances which
admitted of no refusal. The boy has grown surprisingly. The mother has
recovered her appetite and spirits. I shall go up to take care of them
in ten or fifteen days.
I desired your father to bring or send a barrel of rough rice (rice
unpounded). The young Scotchman of whom I spoke to him has already
invented a machine which I think will clean ten times as much as your
pounding machine with the same power; that is, ten times as fast. Send
the rice that we may try.
As to the publications of Cheetham and Wood, it is not worth while to
write any thing by way of comment or explanation. It will, in due
time, be known what they are, and what is Dewitt Clinton, their
colleague and instigator. These things will do no harm to me
personally. What effect they may have on the cause is a problem.
I forgot to pay Placide for two or three times bathing. Give him a
guinea for me. Yours, affectionately,
New-York, July 5, 1802.
Your letter of the 22d of February, announcing your intended marriage,
is this minute received. Nothing could be more grateful to me than
your proposed connexion with Mr. Sumter. I know little of him
personally, but his reputation and standing in society fully justify
your choice, and I pray you to assure him that I shall most cordially
take him to my bosom as a son. With his father I have been long
acquainted, and always greatly respected him. We were fellow-soldiers
during our revolutionary war, in which he acted a most distinguished
part, though we were not then known to each other. We served together
some years in Congress, and laboured in the same party. These
circumstances never fail to generate attachments, and I am truly happy
in being more closely allied to him.
I perceive, and with pleasure, that I shall pass much of my time in
South Carolina, and shall divide it between you and Theodosia; but the
mountains are my favourite residence. Which is my favourite daughter I
have not yet been able to decide. We must not, however, abandon
New-York. I will have you both here, if possible, every year, and at
Richmond Hill you shall renew the recollection of the happy hours of
I have been long impatient, my dear Natalie, to write you on this
subject, but I waited for advice from yourself. I was mortified to
learn from common report _only_ an event so nearly interesting, and
which I had supposed you would have communicated to me the first. Your
letter, however, has been long in America, and has travelled nearly
two thousand miles in pursuit of me, having come in this morning from
I arrived here on the 23d with Theodosia, her boy--a most lovely boy,
and her sister, Lady Nisbett, who salutes you as a sister, and longs
to embrace you. We had a most charming passage of seven days.
This is a great holyday. We are celebrating, with show and much noise,
the 4th of July. This may appear to you a little ridiculous when you
look at the date of this letter; but, _madame_, please to look at your
almanac, and you will see that yesterday was Sunday. I should not have
attempted to write to you amid so much bustle; but the good Mr.
Arcambal came in just as I received your letter, and informed me that
there was an immediate and safe opportunity to France, and I was
impatient to express to you and your husband my participation in your
joys, and hearty approbation of your union. God bless you, my dear
P.S. I have not received a line from your mamma in some years. I am
not at all surprised at her repugnance to your marriage with a
democrat, the son of a rebel. She must hate, above all things,
democrats and rebels. But tell her, as doubtless you have told her a
thousand times, that she is wrong; and that we are not like your
French democrats. Encore, adieu.
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, September 3, 1802.
What a pity minds could not be made sensible of each other's approach!
Why were we not so formed, that when your thoughts, your soul were
with your Theo., hers could be enabled, by the finest sensation of
sympathy, to meet it. How superior to writing would that be! A letter
is a month old before it is received; by that time other thoughts and
subjects engage the writer. The sentiments expressed in it seem no
longer warm from the heart. I have been all this evening divining your
occupation. Sometimes I imagine you writing or reading, and then the
hope that you are thinking of me arises. Pray what have you been
doing? If you can possibly recollect, let me know. After all, it is
more than probable that you have been smoking with Huger, entirely
absorbed in your society and segar.
How does your election advance? I am anxious to know something of it;
not from patriotism, however. It little concerns me which party
succeeds. Where you are, there is my country, and in you are centred
all my wishes.
Were you a Brutus, I should be a Roman. But were you a Caesar, I
should only wish glory to Rome that glory might be yours. As long as
you love me, I am nothing on earth but your wife and your friend:
contented and proud to be that.
Mr. M'Pherson is much better. He sits up--I mean out of bed, a great
part of the day. Mr.----- spent about three hours with him yesterday.
What a Chesterfieldian that is; he has not had the civility to call on
me, although you were so attentive to him. He has grown sentimental.
He caught a moscheto the other day, and kept it under a tumbler to
meditate on, because it reminded him of Carolina, and consequently of
Miss -----. What man under heaven ever before discovered an analogy
between a moscheto and his mistress? I am very happy you have chosen
chess for your amusement. It keeps you constantly in mind how poor
kings fare without their queens. Our little one has been very amiable
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, July 19, 1802.
On Saturday (17th) Mr. and Mrs. Alston, Lady Nisbett, and Charlotte
took passage for Red Hook. The wind has been so favourable that they
undoubtedly arrived yesterday before dinner. Charlotte had three or
four fits of ague and fever, but had escaped two days before she
sailed, and was again in health.
You will herewith receive the second book. The malice and the motives
are in this so obvious, that it will tend to discredit the whole. The
charges which are of any moment will be shown to be mere fabrications.
But there seems at present to be no medium of communication. The
printers, called republican in this city (Denniston and Cheetham), are
devoted to the Clintons, one of them (Denniston) being nephew of the
governor, and, of course, cousin to Dewitt. Wood, after absconding for
some time, returned to this city, was put in jail, where he lay some
days and until taken out by _Coleman_. You will shortly receive an
explanation of this controversy, but not from me. Very affectionately
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, August 2, 1802.
Your letter of the 18th is received. Mr. Williams had before shown me
the pamphlet, and had informed me that it had produced all the effect
that the writer could have wished, which is the best evidence of the
merit of the work. It is evidently a hasty performance, and
incorrectly printed, yet it displays ability as a writer, and
sentiments honourable to him as a man.
Wood's book has surprised us. We all expected a new series of abuse
against A.B. It should be entitled "The Confessions of John Wood, one
of the Conspirators lately associated with James Cheetham and Dewitt
Clinton against the vice-president." It shows pretty clearly the
motives and views of this clan.
The enclosed paper will give you the particulars of the affair of
Swartwout and Clinton. You will perceive that the latter indirectly
acknowledges that he is an agent in the calumnies against me.
I am about to take possession of Richmond Hill for the reception of
Theodosia and her boy, and shall go for them in about ten days. We
propose to pass part of September in Orange county.
The letter herewith enclosed came to me under a _blank_ cover; through
inattention, I broke the seal without looking at the superscription.
The first sentence betrayed my error, and I have scolded her a good
deal for her blank cover. Affectionately yours,
New-York, August 8, 1802.
With extreme reluctance, _madame_, I am constrained to resign to Dr.
Brown the honour of escorting you hither. The circumstances which have
led to this measure are briefly noted in a letter which I have this
day written you by the mail.
By Tuesday the 9th inst. I shall be settled at Richmond Hill, ready to
receive you and your incumbrances. Tell Mr. and Mrs. Alston, &c., that
I hope there to have the pleasure of accommodating them more to their
satisfaction than was in my power in the little mansion in Broadway.
The moment you shall receive this, send a line for me to the
postoffice, saying how you are, when you will move, &c. Leave with the
postmaster a written direction to forward to New-York all letters for
Mrs. Joseph Alston. I recommend to you to go round by Stockbridge to
see Binney. She is there at the house of Mr. Bidwell. You will also
there see your old great-uncle Edwards. But this is left to your
discretion. If you go through Pittsfield, you should call and see H.
Van Schaack, for whom Dr. Brown has a letter of credence. Make your
journey perfectly at your ease; _id est_, with dignified leisure.
Write me at every post-town, for I shall have a deal of impatience and
anxiety about you and your little nonentity.
All your friends here are well except George's dog and one of his
South Carolina birds. We are all in the bustle of moving. Heighho! for
Richmond Hill. What a pity you were not here, you do so love a bustle;
and then you, and the brat, and the maid, and thirty trunks would add
so charmingly to the confusion. Adieu.
TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, September 8, 1802.
The debility and loss of appetite which your wife has experienced
alarmed me; yet I was totally ignorant of the cause. I was first
informed of it by Dr. Bard, who came accidentally to this city about a
fortnight ago. He, with Hosack and Brown, all of whom I consulted,
joined with me in opinion that she ought immediately to wean her child
or provide a wet nurse. This she peremptorily refused, and the bare
proposition occasioned so many tears and so much distress that I
abandoned it. Within the last three days, however, she has such a loss
of appetite and prostration of strength, that she is satisfied of the
necessity of the measure for the sake of the child, if not for
herself; and I have this day sent off a man to the country to find a
suitable nurse. The complaint continued from the period of her
_confinement_ during the whole time that she remained in Charleston.
It is most unfortunate that she left the Springs. While she was there,
either by means of the air or the water, or perhaps both, she had got
quite rid of the complaint, and there is no doubt but that, had she
remained there a fortnight longer, the cure would have been radical.
The ride to Hudson, only thirty miles, brought on a relapse; and, with
slight variations, the affliction was increased and her strength
diminished. Bard advised the Springs, and was quite angry that she
There is nothing in this disorder which immediately threatens life;
nor is it, at present, attended with pain; but if it should become
fixed upon her, of which there is danger unless speedily cured, it
will unfit her for every duty and every enjoyment in life. The
medicines, which under the direction of Bard she used at Lebanon, have
hitherto proved ineffectual since her return. I have written fully to
Eustis, and expect his answer within two or three days.
The present state of her health and strength will not, I think, admit
of an attempt to take her to either of the Springs, or I should not
hesitate to go off immediately with her. I have, however, strong and
well-grounded hopes that, when she shall have a nurse, and resume the
use of proper remedies, a cure will be effected.
I have thought that you ought to be informed of these facts, as well
to explain the varied accounts which you may have received of her
health, as to anticipate the vague or exaggerated relations which you
may receive through other channels.
Most affectionately yours,
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, September 30, 1802.
Another mail has arrived, but to your Theo. it has brought only
unhappiness. It is now a week since I received your last letter. You
are ill. You have been imprudent, and all my fears are fulfilled.
Without any one near you to feel for you, to attend to you, to watch
every change and share every pain. Your wife only could do that. It is
her whose soul clings to yours, and vibrates but in harmony with it;
whose happiness, whose every emotion, more than entirely dependant on
yours, are exchanged for them. It is she only who forgets herself in
you, and who, in gratifying your wishes or alleviating your pain,
serves the interest nearest her heart. I know you have friends with
you; but, when you lose your vivacity, and your society is robbed of
its usual charms, they will find your chamber dull, and leave it for
some more amusing place. They cannot, like your little Theo., hang
over you in your sleep, and, with a beating heart, listen to every
groan and tremble at every noise. Your son, too, were we with you,
would charm away your cares. His smiles could not fail to sooth any
pain. They possess a magic which you cannot conceive till you see him.
Would we were with you, my beloved. I am miserable about you. Adieu.
Heaven bless my husband, and I am happy.
THEODOSIA TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, October 30, 1802.
I have just received yours of the 21st. You already know the result of
my confinement in bed. It certainly relieved me for some time, which
proves how easily that cure would have succeeded at first. I have now
abandoned all hope of recovery. I do not say it in a moment of
depression, but with all my reason about me. I am endeavouring to
resign myself with cheerfulness; and you also, my husband, must summon
up your fortitude to bear with a sick wife the rest of her life. At
present, my general health is very good; indeed, my appearance so
perfectly announces it, that physicians smile at the idea of my being
an invalid. The great misfortune of this complaint is, that one may
vegetate forty years in a sort of middle state between life and death,
without the enjoyment of one or the rest of the other.