Nicholas P. Trist to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)

Your last, written more than six weeks ago, informed me of the existing indisposition of several of the family. A “mere circumstance,” how ever, I suppose; since I am indebted, for any alleviation of my uneasiness on the subject, to an “all’s well” in a letter Browse lately got from Francis.—I am really at a loss to account for this silence: and, to tell the truth, really anxious, notwithstanding the all’s well: for I cannot believe that any motive, even apparent neglect from me, (supposing that my frequent letters have miscarried) could induce you knowingly and willingly, to keep me in this state of anxious suspense. My last to you is of the 22d last month. Ever since the beginning of this, it has been my intention to write; and if I have not before done so, it is only from the confidence I have all along been in, that by waiting till the next post, I should have a letter to answer. This confidence is still alive for tomorrow’s mail, but I will not defer writing any longer.

I have had it some time in contemplation to present you with a detailed view of my means and plans; and am now glad of not having before done so: for I fear that the visit of the caterpillars will lay some pretty heavy shades on the picture. Before the ravages of this cursed insect, Browse and I expected that we should each have nine or ten thousand dollars from the estate; and this capital, laid out in slaves, and employed on our Batonrouge land, would with even tolerable management, have secured an income fully adequate to his, or your and my expenses. There would have been nothing then, to hurry me to the bar, which I dread exceedingly to approach, until I am tolerably qualified; in my own opinion, at least. This will not be the case until a year after my return; (may I not say after our marriage?) From the peculiar circumstances in which I have been placed during the last, that has been almost entirely lost: and though I never was so desirous of making a good use of my time; I scarcely ever did less.—I had not studied more than six or seven weeks, when it became necessary to go to Natchez—after my return, except when unwell, I made it a rule to read Law every day: but those were the very moments in which reflections crowded upon me the thickest. it was therefore without much profit. Since my fever, after being a hard student, and profiting by my labor for about a fortnight, symptoms which it was unnecessary to mention to you at the time, forced me to give up my Law books until I should be sufficiently strong to feel no ill effects from applying to them. The cool North westers which commenced blowing some days ago, and have probably put an end to the rainy season; make me feel strong enough, Mentally and Physically, to resume my studies; and I do so today in strong hopes that they will not be interrupted for a few months to come, at least.—It shall require absolute want of money, to prevent my being with you in the Spring; So I do not exactly despair of embracing my dearest Love at that time. if you wish to lengthen this letter, read over those of Burns to a female friend (p. 241. vol. 1) they contain many sentiments (and you will know them on reading the letters) which I should often have expressed had I been gifted with his graceful and rich flow of Language; and which you may therefore add here.—What a disappointment if I do not get a letter tomorrow! Adieu my beloved: present me most affectionately to all; and believe me most devotedly

Your own
Nicho Ph: Trist

À propos of teeth. I have been with Parmly, one of the first dentists in the world; and can also speak from experience: therefore, do you all yield obedience to the following directions. for a fortnight only if you do not feel disposed of your own accord to do so for ever after—Use a tolerably hard brush morning and evening: and after every meal, one of the soft thick kind, in such a manner as to clean between the teeth. no powder. and once a week at least, pass a thread between all the teeth. Though I used to clean mine regularly, I never was free from a bad taste in my mouth; now I never have any. adieu—

RC (NcU: NPT); addressed: “Mrs M. Randolph of Monticello Near Charlottesville Albemarle County Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Donaldsonville, 12 Sept.