Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist

dear N.


My last letter gave you an a/c of my efforts to engage a printer: I took unwearied pains to procure a suitable person, making very minute inquiries, and in every instance found that they were in vain; those whom I could most confidently have recommended falling away from their application on learning where they were to go: at last, in despair, I took Woolsen; and, in half an hour afterward, heard of a young man just married who would have answered your purpose perfectly, in every respect:If you have any idea of book-printing, Woolsen, perhaps, will not answer; in such case I have made a conditional engagement with the other young man.—I am not able to answer your enquiries about Blaetterman’s book—Ticknor is absent, and I have nothing to do with Hilliard & Co—; the teachers of modern language at Cambridge have such works of their own, either published, or in a state of preparation; a very excellent Italian reader has just been beautifully printed there, and some elementary Spanish books—; nevertheless I have no doubt that, well executed, such a book as Dr B. proposes would ultimately be profitable: by far the most valuable works published in our country, in a pecuniary point of view, are those which are used in education; readers, as they are called, and text books of every description, are common in almost every language; but, in a german work of the sort, the Dr. would about preocupy the ground, very few having as yet, been published in our country, (we have one in Boston,) and this, also, is true in some degree of Spanish.I hope Dunglison will go on with his book of history:—Bancroft’s, I believe, is already out; I think it is called a “history of the states of antiquity”!—. In reply to your remarks about Davis’s mare, I have given up all pur thoughts of purchasing her, at present; indeed, although she might answer to buy, if she were here, I am afraid that she would hardly be sufficiently esteemed to account for excuse my bringing her from such a distance: I must add a hundred dollars to the sum and get Jeff. to make interest with W. R. Johnson to send me by & by a first rate! but bien des graces, mon cher N. for all your solicitude upon this subject.—after waiting a week or more in expectation of seeing Jefferson, he came and passed a few hurried days with us—He has many noble qualities—; courage, and disinterestedness—: but he is nevertheless altogether and entirely a Virginian—exclusive and uncompromising—; and full of strange and erroneous opinions, arising probably from the mode of life he has led—. I remember, (as an exemplification) speaking one day of the provincialisms wh. are prevalent and wh. disfigure the English language, he seriously contended that1 “we must and will have another language from the English”—he was’nt willing that we should even consider the literature of England as a model, a standard, but would, to shew our independance, create a new language, which would be to reduce us virtually to the condition of illiterate barbarians!—so, again, about the Jefferson papers—! his unwise and mistaken course will, I fear, be the cause of great loss to him—; as far as I could learn, he does not succeed in making any arrangement which will leave him decent profits—: his first expectations were that nearly 100.000. dls might be made out of these manuscripts; and now he hardly hopes for 5000.—I certainly do not lay claim to any extraordinary sagacity, but I have all along predicted that such would be the result; and so has every one here who took any interest in the subject.—His coming, tho. deferred a week from what we had expected, was nevertheless a month earlier than we wished—many things remained to be done by Mother, which she was compelled to omit; and many of my plans were defeated; when the question came to be considered, if she should return, Ellen and myself were both opposed to it; we thought the girls could go back, and Mother return from Cambridge to my house, by which means her board would be saved, and indeed every expense, excepting for George’s education—; by this means she would be spared much work wh. will grieve and offend her the coming summer—: but all that we could urge was of no avail—She felt it to be her duty to go, and went; Cornelia, I think, was reluctant to return, but Septimia with the levity of childhood, looked forward to a journey with hope and pleasure. The This parting from George was a very painful one; and I, even I, could not, tho. it seems to me unwise and unavailing at such moments to give way to sorrow, refrain from some emotion, at the thought of all she had already suffered, and might again undergo. However the time came, and on the first of may, at 5 a.m. they left us—!If this letter should reach you before she arrives, you must make no allusion to her return; the moment when she is expected is to be kept secret; I presume she will follow this letter, however, by only a day or two:—Since I began to write, the pictures have arrived; I believe some of them are injured; the violins, too, are here, and this afternoon a celebrated performer is to examine them at my house—, they are not stringed; and the bridges are broken; but this I suppose is of little consequence: when I know his opinion, I shall write to you.There was a meeting, yesterday, of the Committee of the Athenaeum about the pictures—; I have not seen them since; they are, however, personal friends of mine, and will do every thing in their power to aid me: the exhibition had opened before they arrived—whether they will make room for some of them, or open another room, I cannot say—. I shall have them washed, and examined, and then apprized by artists and connoisseurs—: If they can be made to produce their value here, well and good; if not, let them be sent wherever J. shall direct.I am assured, however, by painters, and others, that they will pictures produce more here than in any part of the United States!At all events, if they do nothing more, they will let people, here, see the true image of Mr Jefferson, and of Mr Madison, and this will be no small gratification to Ellen and myself:when Jefferson returns, I wish you to say to him that I have shipped aboard the Traffic, (which carries your types and printer,) the apparatus from Philpot,—his ground glass, and a cask of Porter in small bottles together with mother’s trunks; of this last the porter I wish him to send [. . .] one half to mother, in my name: tell him also, (or rather do you [. . .] do it for me) to send me the precise description of the monument to be placed over “the grave ”; its proportions, and inscription; the number of pieces to be employed, &c—and I will have it made, at my own expense, and shipped around to him, immediately!—You may say, also, to Mother, when she returns, that Ellen and myself have been to see Mrs Stearns, she since her departure, and found her full of the kindest sentiments and recollections; and absolutely, in despite of every urgency, refusing to receive one farthing for Cornelias board—. in fact counting in only for two persons during the last quarter, and in like manner for George: we have also been to see George at Mr Wells’s , and found him cheerful, at play with the boys, and acknowledging that he was much happier than before Mr went! Mr Wells has not applied for the situation of Head teacher at the Latin school, here; and will not accept it, if offered:—Ellen has given George his book and money; and invited him to come and spend a day with her;—this she means to do, occasionally;Tell Cornelia that I have a letter from Chester, this morning, mentioning that he has sent me a rug—; and that I am greatly obliged by her remembrance of my request:—I hope soon that [. . .] to hear from you on the subject of the Diocletion; the copy of Zenobia we shall like to have, as it is uncertain if it can be procured in England, where I have sent for it: Have you a chance to procure Humboldt? or did Key take him away? I never properly acknowledged your Cider, which was excellent—and for wh. many thanks!

P.S. I have just heard that the Committee have selected from 12 to 15 pictures, those they esteemed the best, and mean to add them to the exhibition: they will afterwards previously close the Hall for one day, in order to make the arrangements—: the pictures will be carefully washed and varnished; previously; the varnish will rub wash off easily, and without injury.

during Jeff’s stay here, the weather was detestable; it has since been delightful.

You ask me what are our accommodations for passengers across the Atlantic—I answer as beautiful and commodious ships as ever floated—superbly fitted up, with every luxury and comfort—; sailing the 1. of every month, punctually;Jefferson visited one which sailed the 1. May.—ask his opinion. in great haste Yrs—

I have addressed a letter to Jefferson, wh. is meant for his head Carpenter—; Mr Williams: It came from his father and sister, whom Jefferson saw.

RC (DLC: NPT); with “Private!” at head of text and in bottom left margin of first page; addressed: “To Nicholas P: Trist: Monticello. near Charlottesville, Albemarle Cy. Virginia”; stamped and postmarked ; endorsed by Trist: “Coolidge, J. recd (I think) May 14. 28.”
1Manuscript: “they.”