Joseph Coolidge to Nicholas P. Trist

Dear N,

I have yours of novr 1— Your letter-paper, to the amo. of half a ream, all he had, was sent to James, by Hilliard, at least a fortnight since: and Jefferson who left us this morning is the bearer of your shaving-brush, a cake of English shaving soap, a box of English tooth-brushes, and tooth powder (for Virginia) together with your no. of Portfolio, pencils for Cornelia and yourself, and a copy of “Vivian Grey” for Mary; there is also a pamphlet for Dunglison, and a report upon Canals’ for Jefferson, who purchased new a most accurate and valuable map of new England, now publishing by Hale: there remains, therefore, unexecuted your commissions for a pair of gloves, (furs) and a loaded whip; Jefferson has promised to get you the first in new York, and I will send the 2d but the earliest oppty to Richmond.—for your kind remembrances of me by mother, in the Crozets, I thank you: I am glad to have that copy of the “descriptive”;=the It is said here that Davies of West-point, has now in press a work on that subject, which will probably be an improvement upon your friend’s. I am told that Davies now now ranks high among the mathematicians of this country;—Lieutenants Bache and Smith, who left the academy about one year since, where they were adjunct professors, speak highly of him!— I told you above that Jefferson left us this morning; his stay has been too short, yet he insists that he is imperiously called home by his affairs; he did not succeed in dispersing of the manuscript, to his satisfaction; indeed the plan he proposed was radically bad, calculated to bring little money, and injure the effect of the works— I am very much in hopes that one which was suggested here by Greenwood & Sparks will be carried into effect: this he will himself explain to you. and so you have given up Rutland! well, perhaps it is for the best: as for the family ever becoming Yankees, there is no probablility of that; George and Septimia will be put to school, however, immediately; and he may in time I think, make something—: mother, tho. certainly looking less well than when we left Monticello, is clearly on the recovery; and, in one week, I predict, will be decidedly stronger and more cheerful. Ellen and herself are to walk to-day in the mall, and in Beacon Street, the most beautiful part of the town and this plan, if persevered in, will send her back quite renovated in body and mind. Dabney T. has persisted in going to New Orleans, and I hope will succeed there, but you estimate him higher than I do, intellectually I mean: I think the sonnet to Mr Jefferson written in 1822, is however excellent, and shews talent but the languor of his body is shewn I think in his mind; in all he says there is kindness, highmindedness, and information;—his Southern life and his European education may both, I think, be distinctly traced, and explain with the circumstances of his melancholy history, all that is peculiar about him. I confess I was struck with the purity of his mind; it1 seems to have an uncommon share of refinement, and to be undebased by the miserable intercourse to which he has been compelled in the West— I do not mean, however, to dispute the justice of your estimate of his powers; and, if he has done any thing to encourage, or awaken, or confirm good resolutions and a becoming confidence on your own powers, he is [. . .] doubly dear to me: do not however, dear N, suffer yourself to forget that your first object and first duty, now, is moneymaking, and this must be effected by the accursed drudgery at which your mind revolts. do not mistake me, I am far from wishing to damp any of your hopes,—I trust that your most [. . .] animating views may all come to good; I would only direct your thoughts to “the one thing needful;” and for if Jefferson’s fears are founded, nothing will remain to the family, and his own estate will go to swell the general wrecks! in such event, you know, a good practice, tho. it may consist in collections, and petty litigation in part, will stand you more in stead than the delightful hopes of future fame.—as for this secret which you allude to, it shall be kept; I hope it may be soon lawfully divulged in the announcement of that all you wish has been effected; but do not dwell too confidently upon it, the fact that something has been done for T. M. R. will make it more difficult to accomplish any-thing for another member of the family: that the Col. has been provided for I thank Heaven!—In brief reply to your remarks upon Story’s pamphlet—I think his few words about Mr Jefferson more beautiful and touching than any wh. I have seen from others.—

Jefferson tells me that all is advertised, and all be sold, tho. not at a sacrifice2, in Jany—: I beg you to write me very fully what articles will be put up and sold in albemarle, and what will be reserved, if good prices cannot be obtained, to be sent to Phila and New York:—My conversation with Webster, about which you inquire, was short, but, if any thing, shewed interest. I recommend you, if any application is to be made, to write to him, dear and ask his aid: he is very generous, and warm hearted, and would, I believe, do all he could in your favor.—his name brings to my mind Tho. B. Coolidge, who has decided upon giving up law, and is now in treaty with a young man about entering into business. He has been a good deal dejected of late, owing to his unfortunate position, being engaged to a sweet girl in maryland, whose parents as well as his own, object to his marrying until he is very [. . .] actually employed in some way or other.—so much vor my Bro.—and, now, what are the boys doing at Tufton? James—I fear will be a doolittle—always; the army is the only place for Ben. and as for Lewis Jefferson told me he meant to send him to Gilet’s school, and afterwards to Cambridge: if James or Ben. had been brought up differently the best thing would be to procure some situation for them in a Merchant’s Compting-room: as it is, no merchant would take them! One of the arrangements which I look forward to the coming summer with pleasure is, a residence for a permanence, during the hot months, at a pleasant house about 7 miles from town, where my Bro. means to reside, and which belongs to the family, and this will be enlivened by an occasional visit to Nahant, the most delightful watering place that I ever saw or heard of, and a journey along the Connecticut to the white mountains, returning thro. maine: this will prevent our visiting Virginia, where indeed the situation of things will be such as to make us inconvenient guests, for Monticello will be sold, and Jefferson’s new house not yet built, and Tufton, of course, over-stocked;— I hope the prospect will brighten before the Summer, however—: would that there were a probability that Virginia and Yourself could relieve mother’s party in the Spring.

fare well— Yrs.
J: C— Jr

mother’s health improves.

N.B—There are so many Coolidge’s here, in Boston, that I intend petitioning the legislature to allow me to take the name of J. Apthorp Coolidge; their next session. One reason is that there are 5 or 6 who sign themselves J. Coolidge, and two who sign J. Coolidge Jr.

RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “To Nicholas P. Trist: Charlottesville, Albemarle County; Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 9 Nov.; endorsed by Trist: “Coolidge (Joseph) Nov. 9. ’26.”

vivian gray was the first novel of Benjamin Disraeli, future prime minister of the United Kingdom, and published in 1826. A Treatise on descriptive Geometry: For the Use of the Cadets of the United States Military Academy, by Claudius Crozet, was published in 1821. Five years later professor of mathematics Charles Davies published his own work on that subject entitled, Elements of Descriptive Geometry, with Their Application to Spherical Trigonometry, Spherical Projections, and Warped Surfaces.

1Manuscript: “its.”
2Manuscript: “sacifice.”
Date Range
November 9, 1826