Elizabeth Trist to Sarah Maria Thompson

A thousand thanks, My Dr Girl, for your kind letter of the 6th Feby, which I shou’d have acknowledged sooner had I not written to your Mother so recently. I shou’d have enjoy’d your sprightly strain if it had not been attended with an account of your want of health, a circumstance that really gives me concern, tho not of an alarming nature, all nervous complaints are very distressing, change of air, change of scene, and a free use of the Chalybeate waters, with exercise, are the best restoratives. I need not say that I shou’d be glad if you cou’d visit our Rugged Country; but the distance is so great that I have little hope of that pleasure being ever realized. suppose you were to try the waters at Bristol: they were formerly in great repute, and much resorted to, I have not heard much about them latterly; but as they are so near, you might easily ascertain in what estimation they now are, in, and if people still frequent them. at any rate I wou’d have you go some where, for a month or six weeks this summer. The Bells Town Springs wou’d be a jaunt of pleasure, as well as profit to your health; but, as they say in this Country, it will take a heap of Money to go there, being a place of fashionable resort. I presume unless your Brother was to return prosperous; it wou’d not be very convenient to take such a Trip; however you must do all in your power to restore health to your system, you don’t mention in what way you are effected, to judge from your writting you are not a Hypochondriac; you will not fancy your self a hogshead of Stone lime, and be ready to faint if a drop of water fell upon you, from the apprehension of being set on fire. I fear that you will not see Samuel till the Olive Branch blooms again in our Country. God grant that it may not be long before that happy period arrives; and many are sanguine in the belief, that a negotiation is on foot now, for that purpose, through the mediation of the Emperor of Russia. Mr Gilmer saw Mr Burwell since his return from Congress: he thinks we shall have peace in the course of the summer; tho’ I must confess I shou’d like to hear that our Troops had done something Brilliant first, to make amends for the disasterous events that have taken place. we have been disappointed in getting our papers for the last two weeks; but there is a report that our brave seamen have had another cause for triumph, that the Hornet of 16 Guns sunk the Peacock of 22 Guns after an engagement of 15 minutes and that 3 of our brave tars who were in a boat and 13 of the British were lost—even our victories occasion feelings of regret. our success in the engagements that have taken place are is intirely owing to our superior skill in the management of the Guns, as well as the undaunted courage of our brave men in a good cause. Mr Burwell observed to a young midshipman, that He was surprized at our success on the Ocean; that every Vessel they encountered had to surrender. the Officer observed, that he might rest assured that we shou’d always be successful; for if they engaged the enemy their detirmination was to conquer, and they were certain of success., we shall bring down their pride a little if we go on as we have done. I presume that Mr Burwell did not get the parcel you mention’d wou’d be sent by the mail, or he wou’d have mention it to Peachey. we expect to see him and his Lady to morrow, if the rain which has just set in, don’t prevent them; it has been much wanted, and the weather has been for the last month uncommonly warm; March has been as mild as the month of May, the Trees are deck’d in their richest attire even the forrest trees are robed in their green dress: we shall have a charming season if there comes no killing frosts. I think the Boys were lucky in getting there cloathes safe in these perilous blockading times. I do suppose that Breeches have never given way to overals in England; for when my son return’d from there he bought a host of them, full dress of corded brown silk, cloath for common wear, and Buckskin for riding; and I believe He had a Dozn pr of them but the ruffles had not made their appearance; they have not got them to the wrists, I hope. your remarks, my Dr Sally are just, as it respects my Grandsons. I am sensible of the instabilities of human happiness, and am almost afraid to indulge the hope of seeing them establish’d in the world; they are certainly endow’d with talents that will fit them for any Station, if properly cultivated the principles of moral rectitude seems implanted in their hearts; but they have a dangerous and perplexing journey to go the years of education and upon which the complexion of the rest of their days will depend. the danger of love of pleasure so natural to youths, and the fear of close application and labourious diligence, are difficult to resist; but I trust they will have sufficient firmness to do what is right

I am well pleased that they are in a situation proper for study and improvement. I give you an extract of a letter I rec’d the other day from Nicholas “I am now at Madame Habines, as there is no class, this being the Birth day of Washington, there is to be a grand Ball to night, but I do not think that the Americans pay enough honor to the memory of this great Man. I am learning latin, mathematics, French, English, drawing; and I shall soon begin dancing again. My Mother will perhaps be enabled to give my Brother the same advantages she gives me this year, as she has hired out her Negroes, it will make me much happier to have my Brother with me; my Masters are all pleased with me, and say if I continue so dilligent I will be the first of my Class, I will always endeavour to do honor to my family by virtue and application to my studies, and I am sure Browse will do the same:—be assured My Dear Grand Mother that if I was old enough to bear arms I wou’d be the first to level a musket in my Country’s defence. I parted from My dear Mother two weeks ago: it was heart breaking to us both to be seperated; but it was necessary, and we were obliged to submit to it.” Dear fellow! is it any wonder that I shou’d fix my heart on those Boys? I hope My Dear friends in jersey are all well: pray has Aunt Kitty settled her affair with Lacey; is Betsy Stretch married; does Mary Van Wyke ever see or hear from her husband? my sincere good wishes will never fail to follow them: my love to your Mother, Georgianna, Charles, and hopeful, not forgetting Aunt Stretch and Cousin Sprogell. I think of you all every day, have you seen the Miss Martins lately? my love to them. I have not heard from Mrs Bache for several months: in her last letter she complained of ill health; her silence fills my mind with apprehensions for her safety. if you visit Philada shortly, do make some enquiry they did live in penn Street pray how is Mrs Miller and all her family, did Capt Binns recover his health? my affectionate remembrances to Mr and Mrs [. . .] and if Susan is married, present congratulations in my name your cousin Gilmer unites with me in warm and tender wishes for the restoration of your health; and with love to Cousin Lyon and family, I bid you Adieu

E Trist
RC (DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers); addressed: “Miss Sally Maria Thompson Mount Holly W. Jersey Mail”; stamped; postmarked Martinsville, Virginia, 17 April. Tr (DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers); posthumous copy.