Nicholas P. Trist to Virginia J. Randolph Trist


You have heard before this of our having staid at Tufton to breakfast: we did not leave there ’till a quarter past six; and travelling very slow it was quite late before we got to Mrs Carter’s. There I got introduced to Wyndham Robertson, also on his way to the Springs, who has probably fulfilled his intention of calling at Monticello, and given you the news of the death of Mrs Eppes’s mother. We reached Warren about 1 o’clock—the sun quite hot—got an execrable dinner there, of which I eat like a ploughman; and crossed the river about three. The little I saw about Warren, I liked exceedingly; and when I was shewn the beautiful low grounds and told of the very cheap rate at which they had sold, I regretted much for the sake of your brother Jeff and his family, that his [. . .] occupations in the service of your grandfather had made it impossible for him to purchase it. Scarcely a day passes that I do not become more and more aware of the deep nature of the obligations under which you all are towards him; services and sacrifices for which, in a pecuniary point of view, there is not in prospect a possibility1 of his ever being remunerated. At night we stopped at a house two miles and a half beyond “the Raleigh”: I exceedingly tired and worsted, notwithstanding the frequent exchanges I had made of Stella’s back for Jefferson’s chair. The man’s name is Morris: a very obliging fellow, who being very well off in the world (owning among other good things, two good plantations) takes people in, for their accommodation, and not his own. His house is very large, and the most oddly contrived building imaginable: one of the apartments in which we set, and which, of course, must be the grand room, is merely twenty four feet square. It had just been painted, ‘through out and out’, and the artist was still watching over the productions of his pencil, viz. a good deal of mahogany color and a vast profusion of ‘shell work’, which he told me was a ‘new style, considerably approved of’. Squire Morris’s good dame was out, and he gave us as good a supper as he could without her assistance. Soon after he led us into a three bed chamber, newly painted, and hermetically closed; [. . .] luckily for me, there was a large door opening on an upstair porch, I immediately had it wide upon; then seised upon the bed next to the window, and after some struggle, had the window up, and thus established in the chamber something like an inhalable atmosphere. I was asleep in a twinkling, notwithstanding the suspicion that which haunted me, that Mr painter and a filthy apprentice he had with him had pressed the very identical sheets the night before. My first sleep was not however of long duration: about twelve, a luckless dog of the neighborhood was led by his ill stars to our yard; and was immediately set upon by two fierce watchmen of the premisses, who despatched him before he could be rescued from their fangs. It is the first instance I have known of a dog’s being actually killed in a conflict with others. When I heard that they had been near serving a chicken thief in the same way, I wished that there were two such in the fowl yard at Monticello. A negro ventured in on a thieving expedition; and they did not actually tree him like a possum, but cornered him; ran him into a fence corner where they kept him lodged until he was taken. Next morning, we made an early start, and got to ‘clover hill’ (Patterson’s) 6 7 miles, to breakfast. It is an excellent house, they gave us a neat table, good Meal, and we eat accordingly: So heartily that it was with difficulty we crawled (for our horses had behaved like ourselves) to Hunter’s, another excellent house, eight miles farther, to dinner.—This left us fifteen miles to Lynchburg, which we accomplished with great ease between four & half after seven o’clock. Instead of an encrease of fatigue this evening, I felt well enough to ride forty miles further: we stopped however in Lynchburg, passed the night there, and did not set out for here until after breakfast, when it was already quite warm. You will probably learn from Elizabeth how things are going on here, as soon as you get this; for the mail does not leave here before tuesday, the time Jefferson has fixed for his departure, and as it will in all probability be detained several days at Buckingham Ct house before it begins to travel again, I have concluded on sending my letter by him. He will be the bearer of three peach stones, which you must plant in a box for me as soon as you get them.—

Saturday evening.

I had intended to have gone as far as Liberty this evening, but at F’s sollicitation have postponed my departure ’till day break tomorrow. on monday I shall reach Fincastle; perhaps some house beyond it: and the next day, the Sweet Springs. I have walk[ed] out twice today with the two planters on visits to their tobacco which has suffered considerably from drought; there having been here none of our fine rain of last week. Elizabeth heard in Buckingham (at which you will be exceedingly rejoiced) that our friend Wayles is already got into fine business, and is to be married shortly to a miss Eggleston, not rich, but independent.—

I feel “quite hearty”; have neither smoked, chewed nor snuffed, although the desire has fifty times arisen: and shall I’m quite sure, return to you quite another man. Adieu dearest, and inexpressably dear, wife: kiss our beloved mother and sisters for me—love to your grandfather and the rest of the family: and preserve yourself for your own

N. P. T.

If the letter from Colo P. has not arrived, tell Jefferson of it.—Enquire in your next whether the Cumumbra lamp is to be had in Boston. Copy the description of it in the Port Folio & refer to it stating the No & page. If it is not to be had in Boston ask E. to order it one to be sent for, if there be a person who receives orders in that line.—I’m now writing by candle light & my eyes adminish me that they will require something better this winter, or they will refuse to serve. Adieu—I print here a kiss.

RC (NcU: NPT); addressed: “To Mrs Nicholas P. Trist Monticello Albemarle County Virginia.”
1Manuscript: “possiblity.”