Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist

My dear N.

I have this day put aboard the Brig Levant, for Richmond, on yr. a/c, the address of Bernard Peyton, sundry articles, viz

an oil Cask; and cannister; a box of Sperm. candles; & a small box—marked N. P. T.—in the same vessell are 32 small kegs; containing best, and freshest white lead, just arrived from London, and sent from the Ship to the Coaster for T. J. R I hope the delay which has thus given Jefferson “warranted pure” lead, will have been no serious inconvenience to him! respecting the lamps which I now send you, all, excepting myself, at first, thought them too dear; but, as your eyes are weak, and as these lamps give a pure, clear, flame, and permit you to trim the wicks ’till they are entirely consumed, and each give more light than two common lamps, as candles would do, I determined to send them: they are London made, and of a good, and neat pattern;—they will wear well, and do good service, and answer your purpose better than a pair which would have cost you only half price—: they are sold at $ 15—: I gave pr 14. and hope you will not think them too dear: part of the wicks and two pair of the shades are in addition! by unscrewing the lamps you will see how they work: the cylinder for the oil screws off—and, at the end of the bottom tube, you unscrew a plug, and here the oil is poured in—: then screw in the plug, and put the cylinder into its socket; screw it together, and then push down the valve, by means of an iron wire which you will see for this purpose; the oil then runs into the lamps and diffuses itself over the wick—which, when lighted, should be raised exactly so high as to give the greatest possible light, without smoking in the least: you need not fear that it will break the chimney-glass if the it (the wick) be exactly trimmed, even, all round, and not put so high as to smoke! the cup which is attached to y[r] cylinder for the wick, in like manner, screws off—: when the lamp has been used some time if a little oil falls from the neighbourhood of the wick, where the air passes up through the flame, and gradually fills the cup, which must then be taken off and emptied; it must not be sufferd to fill, as, in such case, the lamp burns thick, and sickly, there being no passage for the air:—these directions are sufficient; only unnecessarily adding that, now and then, once in a whole winter, perhaps, the inside of the lamp should be washed with a little pearl-ash and water, or, if you have not this, with soap-suds, to keep the passages free, and clean. So much for your lamps; an oil keg of oil of 15 gallons, winter strained, and an empty double tinned cannister are forwarded by the same vessell; as, also, a box of best spermaceti candles; my reason for getting these was that the box was only half size, and a different quality would have been in a much larger box! they are expensive, very, I think 45 cents per lb, cheaper could have been had, but only in larger boxes:—be precious of them! in the box containing yr. lamps is a pair of india-rubber shoes, they are invaluable: your feet, will be never cold, and can be never wet, while you wear them; they will last several years, unless they are burned, or cup cut: when stiff soften them by the fire; and when discoloured, black them as you would a pair of shoes.—they are an offering “de la part de votre J. Cge”.Ellen sends to Virginia a most excellent little book upon nursery discipline, called “Hints” etc, and a small pamphlet, designed to assist in the management of little Martha; and I add a copy of Foster’s last “Essay”—for yrself. I should have been very glad dear N. to have sent you a cask of wine, or some one of our preservatives against cold—wh. go under the name, of wrapper, upper-benjamin, surtout, great-coat, dreadnought, wrap-rascal &c &c—but, in good truth, my purse has been hard run this year, and is dying of “consumption.” If I get time I shall write a word tomorrow. till then farewell: I am anxiously waiting for a letter from you for Sparks.

I add a line this morning to say that old Willard has been again after his money; and that in my letter to Brockenbrough, this morng. announcing that the University Bell was forwarded to Peyton by the Levant, I gave him another hint respecting Capt. Perry’s debt to the old man. after receiving yr. last letter I wrote to Walker at Northampton, giving him as discreetly as possible the information you furnished me with: this morning there came a letter from Walker wh. I transcribe in part.

Dear Sir. I received your letter last evening and take this early opportunity of thanking you for the exertions you have kindly made in my behalf, and of acquainting you with my determination. It is, to make no farther effort to obtain that situation. In the first place I think there can be very little doubt that the place is filled; and in the second, if it is not yet filled, it is quite uncertain whether I could produce sufficient testimonials of qualification to give me the place. With this double contingency before me I cannot think it worth while to make application. Yet I beg you to believe I am as grateful for your offers of further assistance, as if I had come to a determination to avail myself of them. (sgd.) Timy Walker

This, I think, shews independence and good sense: whether the choice of Dr. J. is made, and he accepts you probably know by this time: But can any one suppose that a man who holds a high station in a capital, would consent to relinquish its pleasures and society, for a situation in a village like Charlottesville! No! yf a young man, just entering upon his career might be induced to relinquish a remote prospect for a present certainty which is less attractive; but who could give up independence and the public estimation of Boston or Philadelphia, for a few mere dollars only than he could earn with less labour in such a sphere.You see how freely I write to you; ’tis because I have perfect confidence in you, and acknowledge you to be t more free [. . .] local prejudices than almost any man I have met with.

I send by this da[y’s] mail two newspapers: the review of Bonaparte is by Dr Channing; if the advocate wants a beautiful article let them reprint it, or a part; and if they wish to give an idea of the enterprise and spirit of the north, and of the means wh. must ere long be made use of to save the falling fortunes of the South, let them publish Booth’s letter!We are well. Cornelia’s flannel not arrived: nor the books;—send the atlas to Micali, only, be assured of the health of Mother, and the girls; George is doing well: he is most admirably situated:—What is ___ doing? is he coming on? Heaven forbid!—

ever. dr. N. Yrs.
J: C jr.

I have paid 60 dollars for Jefferson’s white lead.

When you put out your lamps, at night, draw up the valve to prevent the oil from continuing to run down.

RC (DLC: NPT); undated; torn at seal; addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist. Charlottesville; albemarle; Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 13 Nov.; endorsed by Trist: “Coolidge (Jos.) recd Nov. 20. 27.”
Date Range
November 10, 1827