Mary Trist Jones Tournillon to Nicholas P. Trist, with postscript by Etienne St. Julien de Tournillon

My Dearest Nicholas

Your letter of the 1st of April gave me the greatest pleasure as two long months had elapsed since the date of your last, be assured my child we have written more letters than you acknowledge but surely if we are negligent that does not Justify your being so, one of the greatest evils in life to a Mother is that of being seperated from her children therefore do not deprive me of the consalation of hearing frequently from you, and believe that neither time or absence can ever make us unmindful of your happiness or interest. you know dearest Nicholas my reason for urging your studying law is the great desire I have of seeing you independent, from a conviction that it is necessary to the comfort and respectability of every man and with a profession you have it always in your power to become so, however if you cannot conquer your repugnance I have only to hope that whatever line of life you adopt you will dignify1 it by your conduct and that it will never be a military one, except when the situation of your country requires your services.—Lewis was spending some time with us when your last letter arrived I did not shew it him but I mentioned your taste for a planters life, he told me he would write to you on his return to town, do my dear take the trouble of correcting your letters when you write to strangers, Lewis is really a charming young man and appears to be devoted to study, he is preparing himself for the Bar—Poor D—s has been in prison for debt and his Father refused to pay the smallest sum for him, to Justify himself he has vilified the character of his unfortunate Son, I am sorry for the young man though I was apprehensive from the idle trifling manner he spent his time while he remaind here that he would never distinguish himself. the mill has been sawing since the eight of last month, and the crop notwithstanding the bad weather has a very smiling aspect, your Father is collecting money to send to you and your brother, I am very desirous to hear from him I think he will be guided by his friends in the choice of a College, if he decides on Princeton it will require all his natural prudence to protect him from the follies of that place as I am told it is the most dissipated village in the union, I will expect every thing that is [. . .] reasonable from him and I trust the society he has enjoyed will give him a disgust for such scenes—Julian and Mary become daily more interesting the dear little girl suffers greatly from the heat which is almost insupportable, your Grandmothers health is tolerable, but your father has had a slight fever for the last two days which I am sure is produced by fatigue, fare well dear child continue [. . .] to prosecute your studies and remember how dear you are to us all

your Mother
M Tournillon

mon Cher trist. Dans la dere lettre que Vous adressez à votre mère, je lis que, Vous avez besoin de mon approbation pour obtenir le privilège de Vous absenter: je vous donne là-dessus toute la latitude possible bien persuadé que vous êtes trop raisonnable pour faire un mauvais [. . .] usage de Votre liberté. Songez Surtout que vous avez à peine dix-neuf ans et que cet âge est bien précoce pour les grandes entreprises aux-quelles Vous visez et Sur lesquelles repose Votre bonheur présent et à venir. Différez, Si vous le pouvez, les années passent rapidement et Employez celles qui doivent S’écouler, jusqu’au moment que vous desirez avec tant d’impatience, à achever votre éducation. Soyez persuadé que vous n’aurez pas à vous reprocher en Suivant le conseil que vous donne Votre ami et père


editors’ translation

My dear Trist, in the last letter that you sent to your mother I read that you need my approbation in order to obtain the privilege of being absent. I give you here all possible latitude, convinced as I am that you are too reasonable to make bad use of your freedom. Keep in mind especially that you are barely nineteen and that this is a precocious age for the great undertaking that you envision and upon which rests your current and future happiness. Postpone it, if you can. Years go by quickly. Employ those that must elapse prior to the moment that you desire with so much impatience to complete your education. Be persuaded that you will not regret following the advice that your friend and father gives you

RC (NcU: NPT); addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Cadet West Point New York”; stamped; postmarked Lafourche, 16 May; endorsed by Trist: “My Mother May 15th <1820> 1819.” Translation by Dr. Roland H. Simon.
1Manuscript: “didnify.”