Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist
|dear N.||Monday: 24 March 1828.|
I have many things to say, and but little time to say them in: I will begin therefore with the business part of your letters, it being of more interest to you than any other: Your books on Roman law are on their way to Charlottesville;—the shoes you ordered for Mr Madison have not been sent, for want of an opportunity;—I have not yet made inquiry about the value of a pamphlet “on a certain subject,” as you desired, owing to my repugnance to have any communication with Hilliard & Co; and I have not made inquiry about the German universities, their relative character, expenses &c, because I firmly believed that Dr Lieber would have been , ere this, some days in yr. neighbourhood, and you would have been able to satisfy yourself.—On receipt of your last memo, knowing that precisely a similar work was in preparation by Bancroft, of Northampton, (upon History, as a text-book for Universities, based upon Heeren & Eichern,) I attended to Dunglison’s request: Hilliard & Co decline having any thing to do with the work, on the ground that they are pledged to do all in their power for Bancroft, whose publishers they are; and Wells & Lilly, decline purchasing, but offer to publish on a/c of Dunglison. My opinion is that he had better print in Phila. or New York; but let him print by all means & if He succeeds in introducing the work into our schools or Colleges it will be a little fortune to him: as for the proposal that Dunglison should write for the N. A. R. it was entirely my own; I have never seen Sparks on the subject, but I have heard that he does not pay so well as Walsh: I would give something for a Review from Binny—of Farrar’s compilations (making these merely the thema;) and if he is severe so much the better; let him write, too, for the Quarterly, if he likes—; I could advise a grand subject if he were competent to it, (but he is not,) one wh. Playfair of Edinbro. had in contemplation when he died—viz, an examination of the several papers of Dr Bowditch wh. are to be found in the collections of the American Academy, published here. in wh. he first pointed out errors in Laplace, in Playfair, and in old Mathew Stewart now dead, of Edinbro.—in such a manner as to call forth the expression—“Such a mathematician has not appeared in England, since Sir Isaac Newton! If Bonnycastle were equal to this he might give an article wh. would raise him here abroad, and make him known [. . .] here: the subject is novel, and full of interest to European mathematicians—: they are generally most deplorably ignorant about the state of Science here when Capt Hall first arrived, he asked in a company of educated men, “if there was any one in this country capable of taking a celestial observation?” and talked learnedly till he was detected in a gross blunder in astronomy by one of those who were accidentally present. However, attention is now paid to us in a greater degree than formerly—: one of the last recd English Reviews contains an article upon the Essay by Dr Channing wh. friend Davis refused to insert in the advocate—, (by the way, dear N. please to discontinue my subscription there, as soon as it can be done properly,) and there is a periodical in Paris called “La Revue Americaine”! as also one in Germany!—Stimulate Binny, then, to this good work, or something similar. The mention of that name brings to mind your having sent “The books” to the University; and also that you had a list of those remaining wh. you would forward;—I want to know if those 5 small volumes upon Architecture, in French, were sent away? and, at the same time, please tell me if you have any news of the Portico of Diocletian and if the Cremona with the makers name pasted on it was made by Amati, or Guarnerius, or Stradaverius?—There has been a communication lately with Jefferson on the subject of the pictures: I wish you to see him, and to read the letter wh. was addressed to him: if any thing is done, it must be done quickly. perhaps upon the assurance that the pictures would be forwarded, the Committee would defer opening the exhibition, for a short time, to enable him to get them forward: my opinion is that more money can be had for them here than any where else in the U:S:A.—at all events make a point of seeing Jefferson and the letter he has recd as soon as possible. Lilly has written him on the proposal to publish the M. M. S. and his letter will, I fear, completely destroy all hopes of making much money from the vols. but as Jefferson is the owner he must act as he sees fit. My fears are that he has mistaken the manner altogether, and will find the publication, as a source of raising money utterly fruitless!
You mention; dear N. Davis’s mare—I want her, and would give 200. for her, if I could get her on: I know of but 2 ways to do so—; to entrust her to some such person as Phil, or to get you, when you come on for Mother, to devise a way br of bringing her—: I should not like to employ young Carter—Phil could not come on alone!—though I could ship him back to Richmond, direct—: but, if you came, he might accompany you: and this, dear N. is what I am very desirous of—I mean your coming.I tell you frankly—I see no prospect of my being soon again in Va—let me then welcome you here, in my own house, make you known to my friends, shew you what is worth your notice in this part of the country, and then return you with confirmed health to your own pursuits—I have it much at heart! [. . .].—you wrote me that J. promised to write to W. R. Johnson on the subject. of a horse: has he done so? can you stir him up to do so, before it is too late? all my friends who were to have visited you have returned, bringing accounts of roads utterly impassible; Lieber arrived last night; (have you seen his article in the Q. on gymnastics?) I am very sorry that these gents did not penetrate as far as Albemarle: they are not every day men!By the way, Dennie & Sons have recd a letter from Dunglison—.
I wanted to have said something about Mr’s return; the prospect which awaits her seems to me a very melancholy one. Could she not wait until something is known about the proceeds of the M. M. S? or ’till Jackson has given some situation to —? She is certainly better here than there with you: and they the girls can take turns, and visit us in town, wh. will relieve the monotony of Cambridge, which now the win[ter] is over, will be pleasant enough. at all events, if I can do any thing to retain her let me know it. perhaps you had better write on the subject: The late movements in yr. neighbourhood seem to m[e] clearly to predict an intention to gradually take possession.I am very anxious to write to you about Mr Jefferson’s papers—but I should probably give offence by expressing strongly what I feel deeply—the sacred obligation to publish unaltered, even to a word, whatever he has left. I have often spoken of this, to Mr—but it does not become me to do more. You will be glad to hear how admirably George is going on. Mr Wells, his excellent and gentlemanly teacher, speaks highly of him—if he remains here till he is twenty one he may rebuild the family name and fortunes!—I think I mentioned that Sparks entrusted the papers about wh. Mr Madison is so anxious to Col Storrow, who has unquestionably forwarded them long since.Before I close let me again repeat—that I am most anxiously desirous that you should come on this Spring for Mother, if she returns: I am even disposed to put it on the score of a personal favor:—write me about Johnson’s answer to Jeff concerning a horse;—tho. Davis’s mare would suit me if nothing better were to be had; & also how it would be possible to get her here;—by steam boats, chiefly, I suppose, if a careful hand could be found to take care of her. Do not let it be long before I hear from you.
Mother in her letter to Jefferson speaks of sending on Mr Madison’s portrait, the young one, and the profile of Mr J. by Stuart, for show only, in the exhibition: I pray you let it be done. Could you see what wretched caricatures have been exhibited of these great men your feelings would be unleashed to correct the impression which has thus been made upon people here by such likenesses.—Mr Madison looks like a vulgar drunkard & Mr J like a blood thirsty and bigotted fanatic. moreover, I want Allston to make a copy of the Profile for my own parlour.I want that my wife and children should have before their eyes a not unworthy representation of his features.
we are all well. mother had a slight attack at Cambridge of an old complaint, before she came last to town and we determined to send for Dr Warren that she might have advice on her case wh. was worth attending to.He has visited her, and gave her medecine: she is now perfectly well, except a little weakness from confinement to the house, and dieting. She will probably remain with us until her departure if that takes place in May.The girls are well, and so is Ellen and les petites.
I am so ashamed of this rigmarole that I have been more than once tempted to throw it in the fire.