Elizabeth Trist to Nicholas P. Trist

I thank you My Dear Nicholas for the proofs you give me of your remembrance, which to hearing you are well & doing well constitutes my greatest pleasure and happiness my anxiety that you shou’d make the very best use of the opportunit[y] afforded you and that you will acqi acquire habits of industry and application that will insure your respectability and future comfort—for industry and frugality are the surest foundation on which to build the temple of independence

Your time for improvement will be quickly past and as your fortune is not sufficient for you to lean upon, and altho your Fathers liberality exceeds the bounds of Prudence circumstanc[ed] as he is, not clear of debt and children of his own to provide for, and the uncertainty of all Sublunary blessings which daily experience evinces the instability of—I am desireous that my Dear Grand Sons shou’d learn to be oeconomists, by being careful of what they have, and spending no more than necessary, mean sordid characters I despise, [. . .] but prudence is so essential to our well being and respectability that it ought to be cultivated and nourish’d1 with the greatest care, let your conduct be such as to insure you the good will of every one but have firmness to resist all [. . .] evil temptations and commit no indiscretions that will cause you to reflect upon your self in time to come, when I took up the pen it was for the purpose of telling you that I had the pleasure of seeing Mr Jefferson and Mr Burwell yesterday accompanied by Cornelia and Virginia they arrived after the table was laid for Dinner found Mr Divers very Ill in bed with a bilious Plurisy Dr Ragland has staid here to attend to him 3 nights and days what with bleeding and blistering and medicine I am in hopes that he will survive this bout he is a little better to day but not able to set up, his health has been very bad all Winter as usual and I hope if he lives to see this pass over that he will go to some warmer climate before another I have just been in to see him [. . .] he says that he is no better his fever high cough bad and the pain in his side still continues I can not but feel uneasey about him tis impossible for him to hold out much longer without a change for the better—It gave me much pleasure to see Mr Jefferson so well he mounts his Horse with as much agility as most young men they have had colds at the Mountain and Mrs Randolph has still a bad cough, Ellen has gone with her Father to Richmond to get a dentist to operate on her teeth and Virginia is going for the same purpose Jefferson rides about the Plantation with Phil to attend him as he has no use of his arm yet I presume your Brother wrote to you while he was at the Mountain intended to return the day of the court but staid till Wednesday he escorted the Young ladies to pay Mrs Garret a visit and to shop I gave him a memorandum to get me a few little articles I wanted but tho he was at Leitches he forgot my commission amusing him self with a ficticious Snake but I hope to see him next Saturday or Sunday I had hardly an opportunity to ask Mr Burwell any questions I took the Girls over to my room as there were other Gentlemen in the Dining room I coud not ask them the Questions I wanted, Ann has written to them several times and express’d great unhappiness at the event that took place but at the same time she thinks Jefferson brought it on him self by commencing hostilities, he took good care not attend the court and the Girls say that he is under the impression that by not appearing and paying the five hundred Dollars that he is exempted from further trial, he sent up some ploughs and some other articles to Carlton and gave him some orders but Mr Randolph who it seems has the power has orderd the Overseer to pay no attention to Mr Bankheads orders that in future he is to have nothing to do with the plantation Ann mention’d that they were looking out for a Plantation to sent down in the Neighbourhood of his Father. Mr Burwell told me that you had written to him on the subject of the commotion you had at W Point that the Secretary at War had sent an2 Officer a french Gentleman whoes name I have forgotten, to enquire into the State of affairs in that seminary, I am sorry that General Jackson did not reach West Point I shou’d have been glad if you cou’d have had the opportunity of paying your respects to the Hero of N Orleans I owe him so much gratitude that I can not subscribe to any act that wou’d censure him, tho he may have over step’d the bounds prescribed by the constitution his motives were pure, and the welfare of his country was I believe his sole object it may perhaps be necessary to take notice and investigate the conduct of military Gentlemen least they shou’d usurp too much power and become second Bonapartes and take the Goverment out of the hands of the people; pray what kind of Young men are his Nephews, the Session of the Floradies will open the door for speculation I wish you had Money to invest in city lots at Pensicola for I dare say under our Goverment that will be an important city I mention’d to Mr Jefferson what you said respecting the offers made to Judge Cooper to be a Professor of Chymistery &ca at West Point but he seems to be pretty secure of his coming here I am not very sanguine that the College will be in readiness for him your Brother and calculate on his going to Princeton he has waited long enough, I love you both too much not to sacrafise the pleasure I may derive from being near you to what may be more beneficial for your welfare the time is not very distant when a seperation is inevitable perhaps before another year passes over, I shall be exempted from a mental suffering by your return to Louisiana—I cou’d wish to live to see you both establishd in the world, independent by your own exertions for of all the objects in the world the most contempable is a lazy poor proud Gentleman leaning on others for support it is humiliating to an old woman to be placed in such a situation your Grand Father Trist wou’d have become a day labourer rather then have submitted to solicit aid even of near connections he thought it ignoble without bodily or mental defect to become a useless burthen upon any one and he wou’d have lived on bread and water rather than put him self in the power of any one to abridge him of his liberty and never run in debt, it is humiliating to be in the power of any one and therefore let me beseech you to regulate your expences so as to avoid that evil, your Father allows you a 100ƒƒ more than he does your Brother and what you get from the public ought to be sufficient for your support there, and if you spend much you cant have time for Study you shou’d set an example to your Brother he will no doubt follow expensive habits are soon acquired and difficult to correct and let me implore you my beloved Grand Son to have firmness to act with Prudence and never lay your self under pecuniary obligation to any one, or run in debt least you may be disappointed in your intention of paying at the time you calculated on and by that means accumulate the debt by extortion on interest—and take It for granted that you can always buy any thing cheaper for Ready Money provided you look out for those who will deal honorably, but be careful of your cloaths and not let them be throwing about the room as you did at Bentivar keep your trunk lock’d, that puts me in mind to ask you if you gave me the Key of the dressing case you left in Henry Your Cousin Mary Says she has never seen it if you gave it to me I put it into a drawer excuse my long lecture and be assured of the Affection of your devoted Grand Mother

E Trist
RC (DLC: NPT); edge trimmed; addressed: “Mr Nicholas. P—Trist west Point New York”; stamped; postmarked; endorsed by Nicholas P. Trist: “Grandmother Trist Farmington, 9th March 1819.”
1 Manuscript: “noursh’d.”
2 Manuscript: “an an.”
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