Mary Trist Jones Tournillon to Nicholas P. Trist

My Dearest Nicholas

your letter found us in the most painful consternation, Mr Dumoulin who has had frequent relapses, had another attack of fever last week, and on monday morning was deprived of speech with every other appearance of immediate dissolution, he remained in this state for ten hours, when contrary to the Doctors opinion he began to recover and is to day much better, how long he will continue so God only knows, for notwithstanding those appearances I fear it will devolve on us to perform the last sad offices of friendship. My darling Child you must promise me never to permit any necessity whatever to induce you to sleep in the same bed with a stranger, Doctor Martin assures me that Mr D—s disorder was not sufficiently advanced to be communicated when you slept with him, otherwise I should be too wretched; I fear by your putting on flannel you are not in as good health as you wish me to believe, I entreat of you to do every thing in your power to reestablish it, could I be certain that it really was so, I should be relieved from all anxiety respecting you (except that which distance must ever create for a beloved object) for I am sure you have sense and goodness enough to improve all your present advantages and make up for your hitherto desultory Education. New Orleans has been the theatre of misery, the greater part of the unfortunate strangers have fallen victims to the dreadful malady that rages there, particularly the French, as the Americans fled early in the season, Walstoncraft was buried last week; Caralie has had a slight attack, and Rosa Mantique was so ill that her recovery was considered next to a miracle, we offered to divide our house with Mr Livingston and family, but Mr L—s engagements did not then allow of his leaving the city, and the Physicians think a change of air would be more dangerous at present than a continuance there, Mrs L— observes that she hopes you would not forget your promise of writing to her as she feels a tender interest in all that concerns you, remember when you write, which I hope will be soon, that your letter will be scanned by the eye of criticks, you had better write in French,, I am delighted that you are pleased with your relations, they are so estimable and agreeable that I was sure you would be happy under their roof, give me a description of their family; and tell me what impression your Grandmother made on you, and how she looks, in short let me know every thing you think, or do, who you board with, what your books, paper, and washing, cost you a quarter, every trifle concerning you will be read with pleasure by your Mother who thinks of you perpetually. your Father and myself approve of your reasons for not delivering the letters of introduction, he desires me to tell you that you shall receive the last of January $350, and Browse $250, which you must manage until the first of July; from that time you will receive your allowance quarterly. for your portion you will then have had $979, and Browse $679 you may always be certain of receiving the sum [y]our Father promised, and more if his revenue permits it [. . .] it is so uncertain, I advise you always to have a [. . .] [par]ticularly when you receive an addition as you will in January, for to be without money so far from home would subject you to much inconvenience. Mr Dumoulin has Just received your letter and sent it me to read, I am sorry to observe that all my advice on the subject of epistolarry composition has not engaged you to pay a little more attention to yours, and regret that I cannot induce you to believe that you expose your talents in that way to a more severe scrutiny than you can by any oral discourse, I could quote the first authorities in favour of this opinion. you will oblige me extremely my dear Son if you will make it a rule never to write to a stranger until you are master of a stile without writing a copy a few days before that you may have an opportunity of correcting your letter particularly that fault of tautology which which you have to a sad degree, and never make any mark to refer to the opposite page. believe me we cannot be too particular in doing every thing in the most genteel manner and refinement in trifles mark our mind and character more than you are aware of, I shall be very much gratified by your writing to Mrs Bache if you will adopt the plan I request, but do not mention my promise of doing so as I wish that to come from myself; Julian frequently asks to go and see his brothers and when offended with me sais says he will go. have you received your Father and Grandmothers letter enclosing checks for $558.

adieu my Child console us for your absence by doing and being every thing you ought, your affectionate Mother
M Tournillon
RC (NcU: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Williamsburg Virginia”; forwarded to “Charlottsville”; stamped; postmarked Lafourche, 12 Oct.; endorsed by Trist: “10th October 1817 My Mother.”
Mary Trist Jones Tournillon
Date Range
October 10, 1817