Elizabeth Trist to Nicholas P. Trist

My Dear Nicholas

I received yours of the 17 April last evening to hear from you always gives me pleasure, but your long silence augur’d no good to my repose, the natural conclusion was that you were either sick or indolent for cou’d not suspect you of want of feeling towards a Grand Mother whose chief happiness is center’d in the only representatives of a beloved husband and son, and I am sorry to tell you that your letter was not calculated to give joy to my heart I had flatterd my self that your dilligence and general conduct wou’d have done honor to your name, but you appear to be indifferent to the good opinion of the masters and hold those in contempt who are assiduous in their attending to their tutors. nor can I conceive it degrading so to do. you [o]ught to take into consideration that every one has not had the advantages that you have had, in seeing good Company as to their going there for the advantage of getting an education [gra]tuitous, the seminary was establishd for that purpose and [. . .] on a footing in that respect, perhaps the Parents of these young Gentlemen may hire bonne arms in defence of their Country and altho they may be ignorent in many respects they must have some talents to gain the good will of the Professors and believe me My Dear Child that all arrogant supercillious manners can never insure respect, to behave with propriety is essential to your own respectability, in all seminaries you must be subordinate to those who are placed over you and that school being a military establishment may perhaps be ruled with more Strictness than is common in most colleges but as you were not forced to go there you shou’d make it a point to conduct your self in a manner to give satisfaction to arrogate nothing for having been born in Virginia it is very immaterial what our birth or birth place few have any thing to boast of, with regard to family or connections and a persons own merit must insure him respect or he will never obtain it, I am sorry that Mr Elicot has withdrawn his attention because I believe he felt interested in you from the knowledge he had of your Father who always obtaind the approbation of all the tutors that he had any thing to do with. Mr Elicot is advanced in years and may be capricious but he certainly has a claim to the respect and attention of every one: the general character of the Virginians as Students are not very much admired or respected and the Carolinians still less their intransigence and dissipation brought Princeton in to disrepute no Student ought to feel him self independent no more than a prentice who is bound to learn a trade. it grieves me that you shou’d adopt those high notions of independence especially while you are so backward in your learning, it mortified me in the list you sent your Brother to see your name among the lowest in the ranks of Students I am sorry to be inform’d by your self that1 you have not employ’d your time to much advantage lately your time for improvement will be quickly pass’d the 2d of next Month you will enter your eighteenth year and if you are not industrious I fear that you will make but a poor figure these are hard times and I fear it will be difficult for your Father to meet his expences even if he makes a good crop. how much do you expend beside what you are [. . .] from the establishment, I never heard any thing about the Stockings you left with Mr Brown for me I was at the Store about 2 weeks since your Brother was in Charlottesville yesterday is still at the mountain Cornelia and James accompanied their Grand Father to Poplar Forest and they returnd yesterday the Colonel Ellen, and virginia, were not at home yesterday. unless they returnd in the evening which is probable as the Court sits to morrow. I make no doubt your Brother writes to you often, I wrote to you on the 9th of Feby and on the 24 also on the 9th of March and the 9th of April, Mr Divers is getting quite hearty Mrs Diversalso, my own health is not the most firm in the world being as the Negroes say very parified but I can eat my allowance I want very much to go to the mountain and I hope to be there in the course of this month. your Cousin Mary and the family were well on the 5th of this month Peachey wrote a ver[y] affectionate letter to your Brother in answer to one he s[ent?] to him I wish I cou’d find time to write to them, I begin to long to go to Bedford tho I know I sho’d not be as well accomodated as I am here, but I am always afraid of wearing out welcome tho I have no reason to be dissatisfied every body treats me kindly but it increases my expences being here if only in giving the servants who are attentive to me it is a great misfortune to have a disposition to be liberal when one has not the means to gratify it. I shou’d be Sorry to inculcate these feelings in my Grand Sons which was injurious to their Father and indeed to all my family but it is the least of two evils to be too liberal rather than too parsimonious, I got a letter from Mrs Freeman to day she mention’d that Captn Reynolds has become quite a Maniac how unfortunate has those three sisters been, poor Cormick Ross and Reynolds the latter I have understood was brought on by inebriety God bless you and give you firmness to resist all evil propensities is my ardent prayer

E Trist.

I saw in the paper that De Wit Clinton Governor of New York is married to a Miss Jones. I want to know if it is one of your Father Phils sisters Mr and Mrs Divers desire to be remembered to you, and I wish you wou’d present my respectful Remembrance to Mr Ellicot

RC (DLC: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “Mr Nicholas—P— Trist West Point New York”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville 4 May; endorsed by recipient: “2d May 1819.”
1Manuscript: “that that.”