Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist

My dear Nicholas.

I have been long silent; and perhaps even now do not choose a favourable moment to write you; for you may still be at the Springs, wh. I am glad to hear from mother have been of service to you. You know that we did not stop, as we had intended, at West-Point; and your kind letters, of course, were of no use to us then; tho. they may be hereafter. In New York I asked George Lafayette to take charge of your quinine; but, hearing how long it would be before he reached Monticello, thought it would be better to send it by another opportunity, since which none has offered: In a few days, however, I shall make inquiry for a vessel bound to Richmond; for Ellen and myself have been in search of a piano, and have one in view, and she means to send in the case in wh. it goes sundry shreds of carpeting &c to shew mother the colours of those upon our drawing rooms & chambers; & I shall send, at the same time, the two little books upon Latin Prosody wh. I were imported from Europe for you, and which have already been months in my hand:—Of late we have been incessantly occupied with our house, and in returning visits, and going to parties: Ellen’s letters will shew you what impression Boston has made upon her: she had heard too much before visiting it, and the consequence has been, as ever, that extravagant anticipations have been followed by disappointment. The Common (or Park as it would be called in England) she acknowledges is to be beautiful; and the private houses are large, and magnificent for this country; but she thinks we have less elegance, and less hospitality, than we have credit for; but the hospitality of cities is, at best, but an ostentatious virtue, and exists less in fact than in idea & I confess that I do not think she has good reason to complain of her new townsmen; we are out incessantly; but it so happens that almost all our rich people (who are, also, our pleasant ones) have been, or are absent—, living in the country, or gone to watering places, or absent away on journeys, so that tho she has seen many, she has not seen all who are agreeable, or even those who are the most so. There have, too, been many circumstances to diminish the pleasure she would otherwise have enjoyed; particularly the ill-health of both my father & mother; the cold season, however, is approaching, and will—I hope—revive them, exhausted and utterly overcome as they have been by the excessive heats of the last Summer: and this season will bring with it many pleasures—: the theatre, wh. is excellent; and the Circus, & the regular concerts, will form an agreeable variety to the balls, and thepetit soupers ”, wh. were in vogue, and will be, I suppose, again: These, added to the occupations of housekeeping, and to the employment of letter writing, will prevent her I trust from feeling lonely during our long winter; yet the wish is almost a daily one, if not an hourly, that some member of the Monticello family come here to partake in of our enjoyments, and help to bear the unavoidable little vexations wh. occur to all. My own family regretted very sincerely that one of her Sisters had not accompanied Ellen when she left Monticello; and I assure you that (although I know of how little importance in your eyes are such things,) I never look around upon our new house, and furniture, without a wish that you could see, some of you, how comfortably and prettily we are established. you can form an idea of the effect, the ensemble, by being told of chairs, and tables, and lamps, and pier glasses—; and, therefore, all I can add is a hearty invitation to come and see for yourselves—. I have written thus much without a word about your own affairs—: how do all things go on with you? your own health and spirits—are they good, or better than when I left Monticello—? of course you have escaped something of the fatigue to wh. others have been subjected by the sickness of your neighbours, and by the ceaseless throng of visitors: and I see no way for the others to live, during Summer, at the mountain, unless they effect an anual [. . .] retreat to Poplar forest, or Come north!—about myself, and my own affairs, dear Nicholas, you shall hear from time [. . .] time; I have a strong heart, and hope that all will pr[os]per with me;—I have taken my house for eight years—; and mean, if possible, to procure the means in that time of passing the remainder of my life à manqué: yet, ’tis a bad plan so completely to relinquish present enjoyment, on in the hope to secure, for future years, the means of indulgence, as to make youth and all its hopes and capacities a dead letter; and this I have no thought of doing.—I have scribbled then in a dark hour of a rainy day; and only add—dear Nicholas—my love to all and the good measure to yrself

J: C Jr.
RC (DLC: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “To Nicholas Philip Trist Monticello Charlottesville, Albemarle Cy Virginia”; stamped and postmarked ; endorsed by Trist: “Coolidge (J. Junr). Boston. Sep. 27—25.”
Date Range
September 27, 1825