Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist

My dear N.

A long time has passed without my writing to you, and several events occurred of so much interest to yourself that I have been on the point, again and again, of sending a line (for I had not time nor thought for more,) to tell you of the pleasure it gave me to hear that you had obtained a situation in Washington; that you had been enabled to dispose of your share of the advocate without an utter loss; and that your property in Louisiana seems at length improving:—It was a magnanimous act in Clay to give you the office; and, if the boy were mine, who is yours, I would certainly name him for a man who has been the best benefactor to the children of a bitter enemy!The arrangement which places the Monticello family at Edge hill for the winter I think an admirable one; and, as good, that which decides that mother and the girls are subsequently to be with you in washington: letters from Mary tell us that the books of Mr J. are to be sent to Richmond for sale: what a scheme! who in Heavens name, there, will buy critical editions of Greek and Latin authors—: or such works as Borda, Montucla, archimedes—; or even works in foreign languages upon natural history; or expensive books of belles lettres? they must be sacrificed, entirely and absolutely—and all those french and other writers upon religion and morals, and that curious collection of law and politics which constitutes so large a part of the whole number of volumes. do prevent this, if you can: write to J, to Mother, tell them that people in Richmond have neither taste nor money to buy such books, and they must in prudence be sent elsewhere, and that elsewhere should be Washington—! where, during the session of congress, and at an early part of it, they would find among the members of congress, people who have various tastes, and money to enable them to gratify them. some who will buy your german editions of Homer and aristophanes, although these may be six volumes of notes to two of text—others who are free thinkers and not, therefore, to be alarmed by the names of diderot and d’Holbach; and others who are curious in the history of Politics and will, therefore, give something for pamphlets which by most persons would be accounted trash, and therefore sell for nothing!—P. Thompson would buy many of the beautiful editions of the Classics to sell again, and Mr Adams himself would buy others as curiosities, and almost every member of Congress would purchase something as a relict of Mr Jefferson: but, in such case, the books should be sent immediately, put into a large and convenient hall, or room; arranged; a catalogue printed, under the direction of yrself—advertised, specifically, and as the library of Mr Jefferson, by him collected after the sale of his former one to Congress—; and then sold by auction, one and all—: a contract being first made with all concerned by which they shall do it the business for nothing, or merely to have their expences covered: In this way I pledge myself a handsome sum may be raised, and if by any other way, much of the collection will bring next to nothing, and none of it its value.—There are books there which are not to be found elsewhere in the U. S. A. and in no other way can justice be done them. If. Jeff. will not send them to Washington, which I beg of you to exhort him to do, by every means in your power, do not let them be given away in Richmond, rather try Phila: and if they are to be taken from the University, let Mother at least realize something from the painful necessity wh. exists of diverting his bequests!—and now to yourself—your book went immediately to N. O. for Mr Perry—I think I gave $12. for it. but Ellen knows: your india rubber shoes were sent by the first opportunity to Washington, by Mr Sprague, my friend, and a member from Maine: they were to be left at the tavern you mentioned, if you have not recd them, you had better call upon him to inquire. your lamp has not yet been sent because I did not know if you would want it in Washington; if you do, say so!—and so Jackson has succeeded. and I am not sorry: Mr A’s last communications have estranged from him the old regard he once possessed here. he has done one thing good, however—, made M[. . .] son-in-law postmaster of New York—Would to Heaven he would m[. . .] me postmaster here in Boston.The present incumbent will certainly [. . .] turned out—; what thing think you! has your mother-in-law’sother son-in-law—influence enough with Van B. and Tazewell, and Stevenson, and Gen. Eaton and Judge white &c &c to hope for success—and could Mr M. of Mt Pellier, lend a good word?—this possibility of stepping into 4000 a year is a most agitating thing; in such case I should say—[. . .]but a truce to such phantasies.—I return again to the subject of the books—if they are sent to Richmond it will be at a season when the Judges of the Courts will be in Washington, as well as most of the higher class of educated men: in washington also will be many strangers to pass the winter and a numerous host of foreign envoys, and their attachés to whom a book from the library of Mr Jefferson would be of value. besides I know that many of our members from the North buy largely of books there, and that P. Thompson has made a large sum in the business—press therefore this matter upon J. send him if you please, this letter, and decide him to take the wiser step.

I remain, affty.
J. C jr.

Ellen sends remembrances: write to me, and tell me if there be any one to whom of letters can be addressed for you, which by this such means will be franked?

RC (DLC: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “To Nicholas P: Trist. Washington: District of Columbia”; noted by Coolidge “single”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by Trist: “Coolidge, J. Dec. 1828.”
Date Range
December 1, 1828 to December 31, 1828