Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist
|Boston April 18. 1827.|
Yours of March 26. gave me great pleasure:—I mean the hearing from you gave me pleasure, for you give me rather a discouraging picture of your own health and spirits. I feel sorry that you are so completely in the Dr’s hands, for tho I think well of Dunglison, yet I think ill of too much medicine; if it do no other harm it affects the patient thro: the imagination, and fills his mind with “thick-coming fancies.” I have been affected myself formerly with a disposition to drowsiness, and indisposition to exertion of any kind, but this I think was the consequence of bile, and too much food. In this last you do not offend, (this I can testify,) let me then recommend perseverance in the shower-bath, rigid abstinance, and sufficient sleep by night and you will soon I trust be better but, for Heaven’s sake give up your pills, whether white or blue, your mercury and soda & all the horrible etceteras wh. do nothing but give you a clammy mouth, and low spirits—: but pursue what course you will remember that I feel interest enough in you to be glad to learn all that concerns you, even if it be but a detail of your sufferings.—I have your last letter before me, and read it as I write that I may answer its questions.—you are satisfied the North would not answer for you; so am not I—how far you would like it as a professional man I pretend not to say, but certain I am that your health would be better for a residence in a more healthy and bracing atmosphere. Mother, I trust, will correct some of the mistakes respecting us, and that which relates to our climate among others. as for your going to Tallahassee, or New Orleans, it would be madness: and I protest against it:—a climate on the one hand which is poisonous, and a state of things on the other which is fit only for the mere animal man!—no, better far go to Washington! and if Wirt be disposed to aid you he can do it then efficiently—who knows but that he or Walter Jones, might not associate you with himself—! Sometimes I fear, however, that your aims are too high, (not a common fault,) and that your ideas of a style of pleading &c are impracticable—or rather incompatible with success—: I think it probable that the practise in Virginia is loose, (indeed, of necessity it must be so,—) & the lawyers, too many of them are half educated in their profession, and wholly without education in that which should be its basis—: besides the standard is not high enough—Dd public opinion, after all, is but the opinion of a village—& the inter[. . .] magnus may after all be a very insignificant personage. It did not surprise me to hear that you had not as yet had one suit; though I was sorry that you did not make use of Southall’s docket—as for your scruples about making “the wrong appear the right” they reminded me of Hugh Trevor,—a capital wood by the way of Holcroft’s—
I have been at Hilliard’s, and suppose that you have recd his accts, and information about the Roman Law—I sent their letter some night since. I am now looking for the cuts &c wh. you procured for me at the sale, and hope Zenobia will be among them; you say that Mother has given Ellen the “Monticello besides.” I am very glad of it, though I did not know she had done so. at a distance we shall value such things more perhaps than those who have the original in their view, and can walk at will over spots wh. He had consecrated to them—: Something I trust has been done about Mr Sparks—for J’s silence has mortified me.—S. wrote me that he should be detained some months at Mt Vernon—and that he should be engaged in a constant correspondance with Mr Madison—We cannot but hope that if he visits Albemarle Orange, he will be induced to go into Albemarle Cy—and that J. will consult with him about the manuscripts! he is a practical man, and his opinion upon what would be best, and most profitable, entitled to every attention.—as for old Willard, he is with you before this, and I am obliged by your good will towards him. remember when the Clock is up that my interest in it is great, and my exertions and inspection have been unremitting—. do not fail therefore to tell me all that is said about it, and how the dial looks from the lawn!and now, dear N., in reply to a more important matter—your queries about Mother—I am going to answer them in the most perfectly frank and candid manner, and begin by the assurances that I what I say I mean. When it was proposed that she should come north and pass the winter, the plan gave me unfeigned pleasure. I delighted in the prospect of her society, and the thought of how pleasant would be to her the quiet, and unostentatious elegance of our home; she would see that Ellen was comfortably established, and that want of love for her was not among the faults of her husband: when it was proposed that the children should accompany her, it filled me with apprehension: I knew how necessary to me was the tranquility of my home, how much it would distress me to see the furniture wh. I had selected & wh. I could not afford to renew, destroyed or defaced—I dreaded their want of manners, their frequent bickerings, their absence of all subordination, and saw in the freedom wh. they had enjoyed, and which is not permitted to children of their age at the north, much annoyance—: I knew that if they came, and behaved amiss I could not avoid chiding them—this I feared would distress mother—I told Ellen of my apprehensions; but, as Mother could not come without them, and as it was absolutely necessary for her to come, we both thought it best to make up our minds to submit to the trouble they would give us: I so[ught] therefore Mother’s promise to join us and did not desist until we had obtained it [. . .] all the difficulties wh. I had foreseen took place: and the pleasure wh. I hoped [to] give and to receive has been destroyed by their presence. yet I would subm[it to] this and to much, very much, more to accomplished, what we have done, the removal of Mother from Monticello! Were she only the daughter of Thomas Jefferson, my house should be open to her—I should take a pleasure in offering a shelter to the child of such a man: & to the mother of my wife, to a woman who has whose sufferings are only equalled by her merits, I can but say—remain with us for life, if it please you—share what we have, and let the pleasure you confer remove every thing like a thought of dependance—: this I have said; and, assured of the sincerity of my wish, She consents to remain, and I trust that our summer will be without the disagrémens of this winter. If I can hire a house at a suitable distance from town, and comfortable in itself, we shall all go into the country for 5 or 6 months—in such case the children will be with us;—they will find schools, too, wherever we go, and all will be better than it has been: for the mild season will enable them to be amusing themselves out of doors, and Ellen will get rid of housekeeping in town, and the trouble of furniture, and morning visits—this is necessary for her health. you are sufficiently behind the scenes to know that her confinement takes place during summer, & this makes me anxious that she should have the benefit of country air and quiet, before it takes place: happens. My object is to get a house in Cambridge, one of the most beautiful of our New England villages where the society is excellent and with which she is already acquainted: The university is there, and the Professors with their families, and [. . .] of the place iteself constitute a delightful circle; where you may find something of town elegance and country ease.—If, as I said, I succeed in this—that is in obtaining the house of Professor Farrar we shall all go on pleasantly and harmoniously—if I fail, in consideration of Ellen’s health and the comfort of all of us, I shall put the children to the family of a friend, a clergyman distinguished for the excellence of his character and for his happy mode of instructing the young—His name is Coleman; he lives about twelve miles from Boston in the town of Salem, and might be induced I think to receive Geo. & Septimia at a reasonable rate. He is a man of the world, entirely devoid of cant, tho. a clergyman, and a residence in his family would be attended with most excellent effects upon the characters of both of them. as for your proposition to receive a compensation for Mother it was well meant and I forgive it, but did you think that I would divide the widow’s mite? No! the additional expense to wh. she has put me has been but small and I never would or could consent to receive one farthing from her or from any living being. If my means were not equal to my mode of life I would reduce the latter, but never consent to increase the former by such an expedient—Nor would you dear N—if the Law persuaded!—One of my reasons for wishing to go into the country is that six or seven houses are to be erected momentarily in our neighbourhood this Summer, and I wish to save Ellen the noise and dust, again our house, tho. very pretty and big enough for visitors is not large enough to hold comfortably all who are and will be in it. For the monthly nurse must be provided for, and it will be impossible for our invalid to do in the heat of summer as she could do in winter. All these things make me determine upon the plan mentioned above, and this plan has the approbation of my most judicious friends.If we do not succeed in getting the house at Cambridge—I must remain in town, in which case the children will go to Mr Coleman’s for the Summer. between Boston & Salem 35 stage-coaches run every day of the week. it is a ride in an hour and a quarter only, a little beyond Nahant—so that we should see them often, and they would come to town frequently—My own opinion is that they had better go there whether we go into the Country or not. as for the expense, I have already told mother she should continue to pay what she now pays for their schooling and every thing over I should insist upon paying myself.
This allusion to a crowded house and to the discomfort wh. it produces reminds me of yourselves—what a wretched time you must have had, how thoroughly uncomfortable. All must have suffered. Jane & the girls—the old and the young.—the well and the sick—I have sometimes thought how pleasant it would be if Mother quit Monticello to unite all at Charlton—but then that animal would torment you to death, and return to his old haunts—till he had driven every one else out of there. Write soon to me, and be assured of the interest we all feel in You & Yours