David M. Randolph (1798–1825) to Nicholas P. Trist

My Dear Friend

Shakespear in Hamlet makes Polonius give his son Laertes some very good advice, of which I send you a part in his own words, this I do because I think you want it, as all of the sentence can’t apply to you I make a mark under that which can

“The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried tryd,

Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steal:

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new hatch’d unfledged comrade.”

You may perhaps think it strange & possibly impertinent in me to attempt to advise you, if you do you must pardon me and I shall do so no more, my reason for making the above quotation was this When I first saw you last winter, you admitted me into your confidence unasked, & without any acquaintance allmost, had I betrayed you trust you would have been much chagrined, you will meet with persons in your journey through life who would not have treated you as you would have wished, sincere and honorable yourself, you think every one else so. but trust me you are mistaken. A burnt child dreads the fire, they say, & it is to save you from the fire that I write I have been burnt, when about 16. from having read a damnd parcel of novels I was induced to believe that all I heard of Friendship &c &c was true I thought of nothing so much as having some friend to whom I could unbosom myself trust every thing to. well, I formed a friendship with one who shall be nameless, to sacrifice my life for him would have been a pleasure, my feelings at finding him unworthy, you may judge of by what your own would have been had I made the contents of a letter you gave me on a certain occasion the subject of pleasantry and you the standing jest of the neighbourhood, that passion of all the most amiable the most delightful which man alone can enjoy, a subject of ridicule. you will ask what I did on the occasion. the wretch chose his time so well that all this happened while I was absent from home & when I returned he was gone and I have never seen him since. my folly was not cured by this event. again & again I was deceivd until I became such a so suspicious1 that I would not trust my own brother with any thing I wished to be secret, in addition to having you feelings wounded you will meet with pecuniary losses you will be cheated out of a great deal, one instance I have seen since you left us the person who bought your mare has sold her to Jefferson for $200. dollars, but I will resume this subject some other time, as to any intelligence of a local nature there is very little the Capt is gawn to Norfilk but before his departure in crossing the river his horse fell doon wuth him and he had to creep a shore like drooned poop. the Coll has taken a fancy to your spurs and I believe he will keep them. this I know you would wish old TJ is getting out again the girls are well C. had a teri terrible fall from her horse but fortunately escaped unhurt, V. looks & really is much better than when you left us, the day after your departure was gloomy enough Browse & Francis went to the College to hide their grief I went to the river and scored V

VIR on the old beach tree & when I returned I found my good aunt in tears which she confessed was were shed for you if you could have heard what she said of you your heart would get in to your mouth. but Keep Cool, I suppose you delivered my letters as directed, when you write direct to this place for if I am not here the letters can be sent after me. pray recollect Hamtranch & Deusenbury, also Francis Brook & enquir what was thought of BR Corbin for I long to know. did you ever see a letter with so many Is in it I never did certainly I must be a great egotist.

good night

P[S I] have just received your letter giving an account of your [mo?]ther informing us that the valice is found, [the f]amily all send their best love to you

Mary says yours was the parting of Paul & Virginius

RC (NcU: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “Cadet N P Trist West Point New York state”; stamped, postmarked Charlottesville, 7 Nov.; endorsed by Trist: “D M Randolph Monticello November 6th 1818.”
1Manuscript: “supicious.”
David M. Randolph (1798–1825)
Date Range
November 6, 1818