Hore Browse Trist to Nicholas P. Trist

Dr Nic

I plead guilty to the charge of laziness which you have been pleased to prefer against me & am now about to atone for it in the manner you wished. I had partly discharged the penance imposed upon me by the decree before it arrived, on a small sheet of paper which I suppose at first excited your indignation, although strictly speaking it contained more on its small surface, owing to close writing, than your quarto sheets. I acknowledge & have been long regretting it that I am a bad œconomist both of time and money, without any great disposition to waste either, I contrive to throw away a good deal of both, owing chiefly to carelesness. in money matters you know what kind of carelesness I mean, having been a sufferer from it yourself. as it respects time, although I have too much ambition, and too high a sense of its value, to waste much of it, yet to my shame, too much is ill spent too much slattern’d away. In the course of the day I am convinced some hours are lost by every one who is not regular in his habits, although in general industrious. quarters of hours are daily lounged away by him for the sake of relaxation. after being on the stretch for any length of time, the mind requires to be relaxed but there are ways of doing that, at once advantageous and agreable. some books of a lighter descriptions might be read in these fits, some of the english classics with which all gentlemen says Ld Chesterfield ought to be acquainted, in this manner when Reason tired, imagination would be fresh so that when one felt disposed to Slumber, the other would be ready for exercise. I would not advise the reading of works calculated to captivate the youthful fancy too much & thereby divert the attention, but such works as every one feels it his duty to read and which stand preeminent in the ranks of polite literature. I think any one who wishes to dispose of his time at interest, must manage [. . .] some how or other not to slattern any of it away, if we have not energy in youth I dont know when we may expect it.

Although I am a great votary of Liberty I find it troublesome to be one’s own master sometimes, as in my present case: If I had any one to dictate to me, my situation would be a much less embarassing and perplexing one there would be no room for indecision or irresolution, whereas I never felt more perplexed or bother’d in my life, I am absolutely at a stand & if Philosophers and Mathematicians were to examine my case they would decide that I would undoubtedly remain in statu quo, as in the case of the Ass in which the question was this if an Ass were placed exactly between two bundles of fodder so that his inclination was exactly balanced between them would this ass eat or not? it was decided that the Ass would die of hunger in the midst of Plenty. Judge Cooper spent a few days at monticello & I was as much pleased with him as well as with a young man he was taking on as an assistant, by the name of Vanhuxem a Philadelphian who had been in Europe to prosecute with greater advantages the studies which he had devoted himself to, namely, Botany and mineralogy; I did not become well acquainted with & Judge him from his reputation which is great; his manners are certainly not Parisian not the least polish or elegance in them & therefore he could not please by a short acquaintance, I gave them to understand that I would go to Columbia, Grandmother is also in favour of that place & mr Jefferson gives it the preference, the expences are not so great either as at Philadelphia, which [is]1 a great consideration in these flinty times, as to sickness if fevers are less prevalent to the North than South, complaints of the breast are more common. again, the transition would not be so great from the climate of S.C. to that of Louisiana, as from one more to the North. notwithstanding nevertheless, much could be said in favour of Philadelphia and one of the greatest inducements to go there would be the pleasure of seeing you. a happiness which my heart yearns after, but which I am afraid is yet distant however our destinies will I trust unite us at last ere long. You see my indetermination is still great, but it is necessary that I should decide shortly. I received a few days ago a letter from Father wherein he mentioned that $500 would be at my disposal as soon as that letter reached me. I shall get it through mr James a merchant in Richmond who transacts business in New York & who will take a dft on mr Callender. if I go to Columbia this will suit me exactly, as my route will be through Richmond & even if I go to P. although you say virginia notes undergo a discount, I will be obliged to have a large part of it in order to settle my accounts here and bear my expences on the road. the balance in favour of Leitch amounts to $187 & I have procured some articles there since, & I owe something at Winns so that the sum total will be upwards of $200 how much I can’t exactly say. I will have a sufficiency remaining to take me any where, for I have now about me $165. Grandmother does not feel very much disposed to leave Albemarle this year, indeed it is very difficult to procure a conveyance but if I can I will try and persuade her to go to Liberty if not I will lay aside money if it can possibly be spared, to pay the expence of her conveyance as it ought to devolve on me having received money for that purpose, if I have it when you come next year I will send it you. Il faut avouer que ses amis doivent un peu s’ennuyer de l’entretenir depuis si long tems. W qu’en penser v[ou]s? mr Jeffersons trip to Bedford is knocked in the head by a disease which prevails [amon]g his horses, called the sore tongue, they were to have made two trips and provide the accommodation of Grandmother if She pleased. I am very sorry so good an opportunity is lost.Father desired me to inform you that your sword and dagger had arrived but were not landed because the Captain of the ship and the collector could not agree about tonnage. Could you not provide yourself with a sword in your own country, you must be somewhat fastidious, are you learning to fence for you should try to supply by skill what you want in strength, you have hardly enough of that to make a dragoon. however you have much more than Ragland who had been in Canada and is the weakest man living, as it respects bodily strength, but he has what is better strength of mind.I want you to send me Thénard’s work on chymistry which mr vanhuxem told me was the best, it is a french work, and you had better procure for yourself, for you must study chymistry and mineralogy by all means, the Governor whose opinion has weight with you, says they are more useful in our country than Mathematics, however waving the Governors opinion (for he is some times chimerical) they are undoubtedly very interesting and useful studies, and deserve to be cultivated were it only for the amusement they afford. You must let me know if you will have any opportunity of sending to Columbia, I will have some money to spare to procure some books with. I shall attend Dr Cooper if I go to C. who is professor of Chymistry and mineralogy. I will leave this neighborhood with much regret, having remained so long in it & having experienced in general the Kindest treatment, you may easily Judge of my own feelings by your own when you left it. the consideration which makes me leave it is so important however as to engross all that all others are light in comparison, but I feel sensibly what I will lose by going to a land of strangers Grandmother & myself feel the same desire of seeing and embracing you again I think she is in very good health. that all your plans & happiness may succeed is the wish of

H. B Trist.
RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “Nicholas Philip Trist West Point New York”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 26 Oct.; endorsed by recipient: “Browse October 23d 1820.”

il faut avouer ... penser v[ou]s?: “It has to be confessd that her friends must be a little annoyed at having to look after her for such a long period of time. What do you think?”

1Omitted word editorially supplied.
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October 23, 1820