Hore Browse Trist to Nicholas P. Trist
|My Dear Brother||charlottesville 30th May 1820|
You have the boldness to say that I am in your debt to a considerable amount of epistolary specie, whereas, I am well convinced, if all accounts were settled between us, the balance would be in my favour. no doubt you find it some what more irksome to write a letter than to read one, and for that reason, you make Ideal-duplicates in your mind, of those which you have the trouble to write, while those which are only perused & laid aside imperceptibly escape your memory; but I excuse you, on account of those lengthy naps, which you are in the habit of taking & which (if you want my opinion) are superfluous & prejudicial, for I am convince[d] the more that drowsiness is indulged, the stronger its hold becomes, & the inclination to gratify it increases in the same ratio, so that in that this point it resembles the love of lucre, which is said to increase in proportion as wealth accumulates & I believe the same principle is inherent in all our appetites. make therefore a bold stand and you will no doubt gain a victory over so dull and life less an enemy.
I received the other day the copy of the laws and regulations of Cambridge, which, although published four years ago, contains, I suppose the course which is pursued there1 at this time. Both Mr Jefferson and Mr Stack are directly opposed to my going there, & the latter has clearly proved to me, that the course at Harvard is a very flimsy one. they both approve of Philadelphia, and Mr S says, that I could acquire ten times more solid information there, than at the former place. that besides attending the different lectures at college, I could study a french course of mathematics with an excellent mathematician whom he knows. That I would have an opportunity of acquiring any of the modern languages, in short that I might dispose of my time, in the most advantageous manner; without being coerced to learn all their flim flam, such as Grotius de veritate religionis christianæ &c. he has brought me over, to his way of thinking entirely, & I imagine Philadelphia is the place that suits me, provided the annual expenditures of a young man there, do not surpass my income, & Mr S says not. I must put you to the trouble of making some enquiries on that subject, although I am afraid you are heartily tired of doing so, considering how long I have been making up my mind, but you must reflect that it is to me a matter of the greatest moment, & that my future success depends in some measure on the choice I am about to make. In a letter which I received a few days since from Father, he expresses a wish that I should go to college immediately, for he sees no prospect of my ever getting back home if I continue in charlottesville much longer, & truly my inclinations are in unison with his. he desires me to tell him what funds I will stand in need of to make my infernal escape & he will send them directly so you see that my going is no jest this time.
I was very much mortified to hear that mead had written to me without receiving an answer, I assure you I never received the letter you speak of, and certainly he could not suppose me guilty of such neglect as to let a letter from him remain unanswer’d. I will write to him shortly and exculpate myself, for I feel a great regard for him, which his unfortunate situation increases. how did you hear all that news about Davis and our old sweet hearts. of my long and ardent attachment not the least vestige remains, even the recollection of her features and countenance has entirely escaped me, I should, however, pity her if she were ever hitched to Dumoulin, as, (entre vous at moi) he must be perfectly unfit for family duty.
Ragland is studying law and latin, the latter under my direction, he has just commenced reading and no doubt will succeed in making himself master of the language, if he perseveres. he says he will write to you in a few days. I must not forget to tell you what progress I have made in mathematics. In Algebra I have reached division of surds and will finish the 3d Book of Euclid this week. I have the satisfaction to see that2 I understand them as well as any in class. Grandmother has just written and has, no doubt, told you how every thing goes on here. Good bye my Dear Brother, you have already to be distinguished, every qualification except prudence and economy endeavour to obtain them, and afterwards you will need nothing to reach the summit.