Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1.
Matthew L. Davis
Part 4 out of 9
Governor Tryon planned an expedition to Horse Neck, for the purpose of
destroying the salt-works erected there, and marched with about 2000
men. Colonel Burr received early information of their movements, and
sent word to General Putnam to hold the enemy at bay for a few hours,
and he (Colonel Burr) would be in their rear and be answerable for
them. By a messenger from him, Colonel Burr was informed by that
general that he had been obliged to retreat, and that the enemy were
advancing into Connecticut. This information, which unfortunately was
not correct, altered Colonel Burr's route towards Mamaroneck, which
enabled Tryon to get the start of him. Colonel Burr then endeavoured
to interrupt him in Eastchester, according to his first plan, and
actually got within cannon-shot of him; but Tryon ran too fast, and in
his haste left most or all of his cattle and plunder behind him, and
many stragglers, who were picked up.
I will mention another enterprise, which proved more successful,
though equally hazardous. Soon after Tryon's retreat, Colonel
Delancey, who commanded the British refugees, in order to secure
themselves against surprise, erected a block-house on a rising ground
below Delancey's bridge. This Colonel Burr resolved to destroy. I was
in that expedition, and recollect the circumstances.
He procured a number of hand-grenades, also rolls of port-fire, and
canteens filled with inflammable materials, with contrivances to
attach them to the side of the block-house. He set out with his troops
early in the evening, and arrived within a mile of the block-house by
two o'clock in the morning. The colonel gave Captain Black the command
of about forty volunteers, who were first to approach. Twenty of them
were to carry the port-fires, &c., &c. Those who had hand-grenades had
short ladders to enable them to reach the port-holes, the exact height
of which Colonel Burr had ascertained. Colonel Burr gave Captain Black
his instructions, in the hearing of his company, assuring him of his
protection if they were attacked by superior numbers; for it was
expected that the enemy, who had several thousand men at and near
Kingsbridge, would endeavour to cut us off, as we were several miles
below them. Burr directed those who carried the combustibles to march
in front as silently as possible. That, on being hailed, they should
light the hand-grenades, &c., with a slow match provided for the
purpose, and throw them into the port-holes. I was one of the party
that advanced. The sentinel hailed and fired. We rushed on. The first
hand-grenade that was thrown in drove the enemy from the upper story,
and before they could take any measure to defend it, the block-house
was on fire in several places. Some few escaped, and the rest
surrendered without our having lost a single man. Though many shot
were fired at us, we did not fire a gun.
During the period of Colonel Burr's command, but two attempts were
made by the enemy to surprise our guards, in both of which they were
After Colonel Burr left this command, Colonel Thompson, a man of
approved bravery, assumed it, and the enemy, in open day, advanced to
his headquarters, took Colonel Thompson, and took or killed all his
men, with the exception of about thirty.
My father's house, with all his outhouses, were burnt. After these
disasters our troops never made an effort to protect that part of the
country. The American lines were afterwards changed, and extended from
Bedford to Croton bridge, and from there, following the course of that
river, to the Hudson. All the intermediate country was abandoned and
unprotected, being about twenty miles in the rear of the ground which
Colonel Burr had maintained.
The year after the defeat of Colonel Thompson, Colonel Green, a brave,
and in many respects a valuable officer, took the command, making his
headquarters at Danford's, about a mile above the Croton. This
position was well chosen. But Colonel Green omitted to inform himself
of the movements of the enemy, and consequently was surprised.
Himself, Major Flagg, and other officers were killed, and a great part
of the men were either killed or taken prisoners: yet these officers
had the full benefit of Colonel Burr's system.
Having perused what I have written, it does not appear to me that I
have conveyed any adequate idea of Burr's military character. It may
be aided a little by reviewing the effects he produced. The troops of
which he took command were, at the time he took the command,
undisciplined, negligent, and discontented. Desertions were frequent.
In a few days these very men were transformed into brave and honest
defenders; orderly, contented, and cheerful; confident in their own
courage, and loving to adoration their commander, whom every man
considered as his personal friend. It was thought a severe punishment,
as well as disgrace, to be sent up to the camp, where they had nothing
to do but to lounge and eat their rations.
During the whole of this command there was not a single desertion. Not
a single death by sickness. Not one made prisoner by the enemy; for
Burr had taught us that a soldier with arms in his hand ought never,
under any circumstances, to surrender; no matter if he was opposed to
thousands, it was his duty to fight.
After the first ten days there was not a single instance of robbery.
The whole country, under his command, enjoyed security. The
inhabitants, to express their gratitude, frequently brought presents
of such articles as the country afforded; but Colonel Burr would
accept no present. He fixed reasonable prices, and paid in cash for
every thing that was received, and sometimes, I know, that these
payments were made with his own money. Whether these advances were
repaid, I know not.
Colonel Simcoe, one of the most daring and active partisans in the
British army, was, with Colonels Emerick and Delancey, opposed to Burr
on the lines, yet they were completely held in check.
But perhaps the highest eulogy on Colonel Burr is, that no man could
be found capable of executing his plans, though the example was before
When Burr left the lines a sadness overspread the country, and the
most gloomy forebodings were too soon fulfilled, as you have seen
The period of Colonel Burr's command was so full of activity and of
incident, that every day afforded some new lesson of instruction. But
you will expect only a general outline, and this faint one is the best
in my power to give.
With esteem, yours,
1. See Chapter IX
The military career of Colonel Burr was now drawing to a close. The
state of his health became alarming. His constitution was shattered.
His medical and other friends were of the opinion that he was
incapable of enduring the fatigues of another campaign. In the
judgment and talents of Dr. Eustis he reposed great confidence. That
gentleman pressed upon him, in a manner the most affectionate, the
necessity for his retiring. The sacrifice required of Burr was
inconceivably great. All his views and feelings were military. He
seemed as though he was born a soldier. He was ambitious of fame in
his profession. He had acquired a character for vigilance and
intrepidity unrivalled in the army. He was more than respected by his
brother officers, and idolized by the troops. As a man and a citizen,
he was exceedingly disliked by General Washington. Causes, unnecessary
to examine at this late period of time, had created between these
gentlemen feelings of hostility that were unconquerable, and were
never softened or mollified. Yet even General Washington, while he
considered Burr destitute of morals and of principle, respected him as
a soldier, and gave repeated evidence of entire confidence in his
gallantry, his persevering industry, his judgment, and his discretion.
At length, however, protracted disease compelled him to abandon all
those hopes of glory, nobly won in the battle-field, which had
inflamed his ardent and youthful mind; and on the 10th of March, 1779,
he tendered to the commander-in-chief his resignation.
TO GENERAL WASHINGTON.
Phillipsburgh, 10th March, 1779.
The reasons I did myself the honour to mention to your excellency in a
letter of September last still exist, and determine me to resign my
rank and command in the army.
The polite indulgence you favoured me with at that time restored
temporarily my health. At the instance of General McDOUGALL, I
accepted the command of these posts; but I find my health unequal to
the undertaking, and have acquainted him of my intentions to retire.
He has ordered an officer to relieve me before the 15th of March, on
which day I purpose to leave this command and the army.
FROM GENERAL WASHINGTON.
Middlebrook, 3d April, 1779.
I have to acknowledge your favour of the 10th ultimo. Perfectly
satisfied that no consideration save a desire to reestablish your
health could induce you to leave the service, I cannot therefore
withhold my consent. But, in giving permission to your retiring from
the army, I am not only to regret the loss of a good officer, but the
cause which makes his resignation necessary. When it is convenient to
transmit the settlement of your public accounts, it will receive my
I am, &c.,
A few days previous to Colonel Burr's resignation of his commission,
he received from the widow of General Montgomery the following
FROM MRS. J. MONTGOMERY.
Rhinebeck, 7th March, 1779.
I should before this have answered your obliging letter, had not the
marriage of my eldest sister entirely taken up my time. I now return
you, sir, many thanks for your kind offers of service. The sincerity
with which they were made would have allowed me to accept them,
without fears of giving you trouble, had I not determined to run no
more risks, as I have been very unfortunate in my ventures that way.
You have awakened all my sensibility by the praises you bestow on my
unfortunate general. He was, indeed, an angel sent us for a moment.
Alas! for me, that this world was not more worthy of him--then had I
still been the happiest of women, _and his friends in stations more
equal to their own merits_. Reflections like these imbitter
continually each day as it passes. But I trust in the same merciful
Hand which has held me from sinking in my extreme calamity, that he
will still support and make me worthy of a blessed meeting hereafter.
Can you excuse, sir, the overflowing of a heart that knows not where
to stop when on a subject so interesting?
Mr. Tutard tells me you mean to quit the service. Whenever that
happens, you will doubtless have leisure to pay us a visit, which I
wish you to believe will give real pleasure to,
Sir, your obliged
FROM WILLIAM PATERSON.
The Ponds, 18th March, 1779.
MY DEAR BURR,
I came to this place yesterday in the afternoon, and regret extremely
that I did not arrive earlier in the day, as I should have received
your letter. My stay here will be uncertain. At home I must be by the
beginning of April. I should be happy in seeing you before my return,
but how to effect it is the question. If I could possibly disengage
myself from business, I would take a ride to Paramus. My best respects
await on Mrs. Prevost; and every thing you think proper to the
mistress of your affections. I am married, Burr, and happy. May you be
equally so. I cannot form a higher or a better wish. You know I should
rejoice to meet you. Tell Mrs. Prevost that I shall take it unkindly
if she does not call upon me whenever she thinks I can be of any
service to her. To oblige her will give me pleasure for her own sake,
and double pleasure for yours. This is a strange, unconnected scroll;
you have it as it comes.
I congratulate you on your return to civil life, for which (I cannot
forbear the thought) we must thank a certain lady not far from
Paramus. May I have occasion soon to thank her on another account; and
may I congratulate you both in the course of the next moon for being
in my line: I mean the married. Adieu.
I am most sincerely yours,
FROM GENERAL McDOUGALL.
Headquarters, Peekskill, 20th March, 1779.
My late intelligence from New-York and headquarters clearly mark the
enemy's intention to make a movement very soon. Whether it is intended
against the grand army, these posts, or New-London, time only can
determine. It is, however, our duty to be prepared. As a few days will
open up his views, _I imagine you do not think of quitting the ground
when business is to be done_. Should the enemy move up the river in
force, his thieves will be very busy below. Colonel Hammond's
regiment, on such an event, is to remain there; and one hundred rank
and file of continental troops _only_ are to keep them in countenance.
The rest, under charge of officers, to be sent up to join their corps.
You know the state of forage at this post. I wish you would make an
exertion to your left in front, to secure all you can for us; as much
as will consist with the safety of your party, and covering to the
rebels at Tarrytown. Send for Haynes and his assistant, and keep them
on the ground till they secure all that is practicable to be got from
your left. The weather has been so stormy and uncertain, the ----- are
not yet sent for. To-morrow morning it will be done. Please to attend
to the enclosed order respecting provisions. Late Learned's is moved
to West Point.
Major Hull's, of the 19th, is this moment received, and will be
attended to. I wish Captain Kearsley, Lieutenants Hunter and Lawrence,
to be sent to their regiments when Colonel Burr has finished what he
intends. They are much wanted. Note the contents of the enclosed
Yours, very respectfully,
It has been seen that Colonel Burr, while he commanded at White
Plains, on the frontier, not only kept the adjacent country in a state
of security, but that he kept the enemy in complete check. He was
succeeded in his command by Colonel Littlefield, who was soon
captured, and the post abandoned. Major Hull, in a letter to Colonel
Burr, dated the 29th of May, 1779, says, "_The ground you so long
defended is now left to the depredations of the enemy, and our friends
in distressing circumstances_."
In the beginning of June, Sir Henry Clinton captured the forts at
Stony Point and Verplanck's Point, and threatened West Point. His
force in this direction was upwards of six thousand rank and file. The
communication between General Washington, who was in New-Jersey, and
General McDOUGALL, who was at Newburgh, was greatly embarrassed.
Bandits were placed by the British in or near the passes through the
chains of mountains leading to Sussex, for the purpose of capturing
the expresses charged with despatches. At this critical moment Colonel
Burr was on a visit to McDOUGALL, who informed him that he had made
various unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Washington, and that
his expresses had either been captured or had deserted. After
apologizing to Burr, who was no longer in active service, the general
stated the importance of the commander-in-chief's knowing the position
and movements of the enemy, as well as the state of the American army.
He then very courteously requested Burr to be the bearer of a verbal
communication to Washington on the subject. To this, notwithstanding
his ill health and the danger of the enterprise, he assented. The
mission was undertaken and succeeded. He was also charged at the same
time with _verbal_ orders from General St. Clair, of a confidential
character, to officers commanding at different posts.
_To whom it may concern_:--
Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, is to be put across the
ferry to New-Windsor without delay. Given this second day of June,
ALEXANDER McDOUGALL, Major-general.
_To whom it may concern_:--
Colonel Burr, being on very pressing public business, every magistrate
will assist him in changing horses, and all friends of the country
will also assist him.
June 2d, 1779. ALEXANDER McDOUGALL, Major-general.
_To whom it may concern_:--
Colonel Burr, being on urgent public business, must be put across the
ferry to Fishkill landing without a moment's delay. Given at Pompton,
3d June, 1779.
ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, Major-general.
_To whom it may concern_:--
The quartermaster and commissary, at Newburgh or New-Windsor, will
receive and observe, as my orders, the verbal directions given by
Colonel Burr. Given at Pompton, 3d June, 1779.
ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, Major-general.
On this enterprise a most amusing incident occurred. Colonel Burr
arrived at the iron-works of the elder Townsend, in Orange county,
with a tired and worn-out horse. No other could be obtained; but,
after some detention, a half-broken mule, named _Independence_, was
procured, and the colonel mounted. But _Independence_ refused to obey
orders, and a battle ensued. The mule ran off with his rider, and
ascended a high bank, on the side of which stood a coal-house, filled
with coal through an aperture in the top. At length, _Independence_,
in the hope of clearing himself of his encumbrance, entered the
coal-house at full speed, the colonel firmly keeping his seat, and
both came down an inclined plane of coal, not less than thirty feet in
height. On reaching the ground without injury, Burr hired a man to
lead the animal a mile or two, and then again mounted him and pursued
his journey. This scene was exhibited on a hot day in the month of
June, amid a cloud of coal-dust. The anecdote Burr occasionally
repeated to his friends, and some of the younger branches of the
About the first of July, 1779, Colonel Burr, then in feeble health,
visited his friends in Connecticut. He was at New-Haven when, on the
5th of July, the British landed, with 2600 men, in two divisions; one
under Governor Tryon, at East Haven, and the other under Garth, at
West Haven. At East Haven, where Tryon commanded, great excesses were
committed, and the town set on fire. Colonel Burr was at this moment
confined to his bed; but, on hearing that the enemy were advancing,
rose and proceeded to a part of the town where a number of persons had
collected. He volunteered to take command of the militia, and made an
unsuccessful attempt to rally them. At this moment he was informed
that the students had organized themselves, and were drawn up in the
college-yard. He immediately galloped to the ground, and addressed
them; appealing, in a few words, to their patriotism and love of
country; imploring them to set the example, and march out in the
defence of those rights which would, at a future day, become their
inheritance. All he asked was, that they would receive and follow him
as their leader.
The military character of Colonel Burr was known to the students. They
confided in his intrepidity, experience, and judgment. In their ranks
there was no faltering. They promptly obeyed the summons, and
volunteered. Some skirmishing soon ensued, and portions of the militia
united with them. The British, ignorant of the force that might be
presented, retired; but shortly returned, with several pieces of
artillery, when a cannonading commenced, and the boys retreated in
good order. An American historian says,--"The British entered the town
after being much galled and harassed." The slight check which they
thus received afforded an opportunity for the removal of some
valuables, and many of the women and children.
Trifling and unimportant as this skirmishing appears to have been,
Colonel Burr never referred to the incident but with exultation and
pride. Perhaps no event in his military life has he more frequently
mentioned. The confidence evinced by these young men he considered
complimentary to himself as a soldier; and usually alluded to the
circumstance as evidence of the effect which the character of an
officer would ever have upon undisciplined men, when called to command
them upon trying occasions.
The following letter, written by Colonel Platt, will close all that is
intended to be said of Colonel Burr as a soldier. More space has been
occupied with an account of his military character than would have
been thus occupied, if it was not known that he felt proud of his own
career as an officer. For history Mr. Burr entertained a great
contempt. He confided but little in its details. These prejudices were
probably strengthened by the consideration that justice, in his
opinion, had not been done to himself.
COLONEL RICHARD PLATT TO COMMODORE VALENTINE MORRIS.
New-York, January 27th, 1814.
In reply to yours of the 20th of November last, requesting to be
informed what was the reputation and services of Colonel Burr during
the revolutionary war? I give you the following detail of facts, which
you may rely on. No man was better acquainted with him, and his
military operations, than your humble servant, who served in that war
from the 28th of June, 1775, till the evacuation of our capital on the
memorable 25th of November, 1783; having passed through the grades of
lieutenant, captain, major, major of brigade, aid-de-camp, deputy
adjutant-general, and deputy quartermaster-general; the last of which
by selection and recommendation of Generals Greene, McDOUGALL, and
Knox, in the most trying crisis of the revolution, viz., the year
1780, when the continental money ceased to pass, and there was no
other fiscal resources during that campaign but what resulted from the
creative genius of Timothy Pickering, at that crisis appointed
successor to General Greene, the second officer of the American army,
who resigned the department because there was no money in the national
coffers to carry it through the campaign, declaring that he could not,
and would not attempt it, without adequate resources, such as he
abounded in during the term of nearly three years antecedently as
In addition to the foregoing, by way of elucidation, it is to be
understood by you, that so early as from the latter part of the year
1776, I was always attached to a commanding general; and, in
consequence, my knowledge of the officers and their merits was more
general than that of almost any other in service. My operations were
upon the extended scale, from the remotest parts of Canada, wherever
the American standard had waved, to the splendid theatre of Yorktown,
when and where I was adjutant-general to the chosen troops of the
At the commencement of the revolution, Colonel Burr, then about
eighteen years of age, at the first sound of the trump of war (as if
bred in the camp of the great Frederick, whose maxim was "to hold his
army always in readiness to break a lance with, or throw a dart
against, any assailant"), quit his professional studies, and rushed to
the camp of General Washington, at Cambridge, as a volunteer from
which he went with Colonel Arnold on his daring enterprise against
Quebec, through the wilds of Canada (which vied with Hannibal's march
over the Alps), during which toilsome and hazardous march he attracted
the attention and admiration of his commander so much, that he
(Arnold) sent him alone to meet and hurry down General Montgomery's
army from Montreal to his assistance; and recommended him to that
general, who appointed him an aid-de-camp, in which capacity he acted
during the winter, till the fatal assault on Quebec, in which that
gallant general, his aid McPherson, and Captain Cheeseman, commanding
the forlorn hope, fell. He afterwards continued as aid to Arnold, the
survivor in command.
Here I must begin to draw some of the outlines of his genius and
valour, which, like those of the British immortal, Wolf, who, at the
age of twenty-four, and only major of the 20th regiment, serving on
the continent, gave such specimens of genius and talents as to evince
his being destined for command.
At the perilous moment of Montgomery's death, when dismay and
consternation universally prevailed, and the column halted, he
animated the troops, and made many efforts to lead them on; and
stimulated them to enter the lower town; and might have succeeded, but
for the positive orders of Colonel Donald Campbell, the commanding
officer, for the troops to retreat. Had his plan been carried into
effect, it might have saved Arnold's division from capture, which had,
after our retreat, to contend with all the British force instead of a
part. On this occasion I commanded the first company in the first
New-York regiment, at the head of Montgomery's column, so that I speak
from ocular demonstration.
The next campaign, 1776, Colonel Burr was appointed aid-de-camp to
Major-general Putnam, second in command under General Washington at
New-York; and from my knowledge of that general's qualities and the
colonel's, I am very certain that the latter directed all the
movements and operations of the former.
In January, 1777, the continental establishment for the war commenced.
Then Colonel Burr was appointed by General Washington a
lieutenant-colonel in Malcolm's regiment, in which he continued to
serve until April, 1779, when the ill state of his health obliged him
to retire from active service, to the regret of General McDOUGALL,
commanding the department, and that of the commander-in-chief, who
offered to give him a furlough for any length of time, and to get
permission from the British general in New-York for him to go to
Bermuda for his health. This item will show his value in the
estimation of Generals Washington and McDOUGALL.
During the campaign of 1777, Malcolm's regiment was with the main
army, and commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Burr. For discipline, order,
and system, it was not surpassed by any in the service; and could his
(the lieutenant-colonel's) and Wolfe's orderly-books be produced, they
would be very similar in point of military policy and instructions,
and fit models for all regiments.
This regiment was also but led at the Valley Forge in 1777 and winter
of 1778, under General Washington, and composed part of his army at
the battle of Monmouth on the 28th of June, 1778, and continued with
it till the close of the campaign of that year, at which time it was
placed in garrison at West Point by General Gates; but, upon General
McDOUGALL's assuming the command of the posts in the highlands in
December, Malcolm's, Spencer's, and Patten's regiments were together
ordered to Haverstraw. The three colonels were permitted to go home
for the winter on furlough, and Lieutenant-colonel Burr had the
command of the whole brigade, at a very important advanced post.
At this period General McDOUGALL ordered a detachment of about three
hundred troops, under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield,
of the Massachusetts line, to guard the lines in Westchester county,
then extending from Tarrytown to White Plains, and from thence to
Mamaroneck or Sawpits, which last extension was guarded by Connecticut
troops from Major-general Putnam's division.
In this situation of affairs a very singular occurrence presented,
viz., that neither Lieutenant-colonel Littlefield, nor any other of
his grade, in the two entire brigades of Massachusetts troops
composing the garrison of West Point, from which the lines were to be
relieved, was competent, in the general's estimation, to give security
to the army above and the lines of those below; and, in consequence,
he was compelled to call Colonel Burr from his station at Haverstraw
to the more important command of the lines in Westchester, in which
measure, unprecedented as it was, the officers acquiesced without a
murmur, from a conviction of its expediency. At this time I was doing
the duty of adjutant-general to General McDougall.
It was on this new and interesting theatre of war that the confidence
and affections of the officers and soldiers (who now became permanent
on the lines, instead of being relieved every two or three weeks as
before), as well as of the inhabitants, all before unknown to Colonel
Burr, were inspired with confidence by a system of consummate skill,
astonishing vigilance, and extreme activity, which, in like manner,
made such an impression on the enemy, that after an unsuccessful
attack on one of his advanced posts, he never made any other attack on
our lines during the winter.
His humanity, and constant regard to the security of the property and
persons of the inhabitants from injury and insult, were not less
conspicuous than his military skill, &c. No man was insulted or
disturbed. The health of the troops was perfect. Not a desertion
during the whole period of his command, nor a man made prisoner,
although the colonel was constantly making prisoners.
A country, which for three years before had been a scene of robbery,
cruelty, and murder, became at once the abode of security and peace.
Though his powers were despotic, they were exercised only for the
peace, the security, and the protection of the surrounding country and
In the winter of 1779, the latter part of it, Major Hull, an excellent
officer, then in the Massachusetts line, was sent down as second to
Colonel Burr, who, after having become familiarized to his system,
succeeded him for a short time in command, about the last of April, at
which time Colonel Burr's health would not permit him to continue in
command; but the major was soon compelled to fall back many miles, so
as to be within supporting distance of the army at the highlands.
The severity of the service, and the ardent and increasing activity
with which he had devoted himself to his country's cause, for more
than four years, having materially impaired his health, he was
compelled to leave the post and retire from active service. It was two
years before he regained his health.
Major Hull has ever since borne uniformly the most honourable
testimony of the exalted talents of his commander, by declaring his
gratitude for being placed under an officer whose system of duty was
different from that of all other commanders under whom he had served.
Having thus exhibited the colonel's line of march, and his operations
in service, I must now present him in contrast with his equals in
rank, and his superiors in command.
In September, 1777, the enemy came out on both sides of the Hudson
simultaneously, in considerable force, say from 2 to 3000 men. On the
east side (at Peekskill) was a major-general of our army, with an
effective force of about 2000 men. The enemy advanced, and our general
retired without engaging them. Our barracks and storehouses, and the
whole village of Peekskill, were sacked and burnt, and the country
On the west side, at the mouth of the Clove, near Suffren's, was
Colonel Burr, commanding Malcolm's regiment, about three hundred and
fifty men. On the first alarm he marched to find the enemy, and on the
same night attacked and took their picket-guard, rallied the country,
and made such show of war, that the enemy retreated the next morning,
leaving behind him the cattle, horses, and sheep he had plundered.
The year following, Lieutenant-colonel Thompson was sent to command on
the same lines in Westchester by General Heath, and he was surprised
at nine or ten o'clock in the day, and made prisoner, with a great
part of his detachment.
Again, in the succeeding winter, Colonel Greene, of the Rhode Island
line, with his own and another Rhode Island regiment, who was a very
distinguished officer, and had with these two regiments, in the year
1777, defeated the Hessian grenadiers under Count Donop, at Red Banks,
on the Delaware, who was mortally wounded and taken prisoner,
commanded on the lines in Westchester; there receded to Pine's bridge,
and in this position Colonel Greene's troops were also surprised after
breakfast and dispersed, the colonel himself and Major Flagg killed,
and many soldiers made prisoners, besides killed and wounded.
On the west side of the Hudson, in the year 1780, General Wayne, the
hero of Stony Point, with a large command and field artillery, made an
attack on a block-house nearly opposite to Dobbs's ferry, defended by
cowboys, and was repulsed with loss; whereas Colonel Burr burnt and
destroyed one of a similar kind, in the winter of 1779, near
Delancey's mills, with a very few men, and without any loss on his
part, besides capturing the garrison.
Here, my good friend commodore, I must drop the curtain till I see you
in Albany, which will be on the first week in February, where I can
and will convince you that he is the only man in America (that is, the
United States) who is fit to be a lieutenant-general; and let you and
I, and all the American people, look out for Mr. Madison's
lieutenant-general in contrast.
I am your friend,
On retiring from the army, Colonel Burr visited his friends in
New-Jersey and Connecticut. He had previously determined, as soon as
his health would permit, to commence the study of law. During the four
years he was in public service, his patrimony was greatly impaired.
Towards his brethren in arms he had acted with liberality. Naturally
of an improvident character, he adopted no means to preserve the
property which he inherited. The cardinal vices of gaming and drinking
he avoided. But he was licentious in the extreme, and regardless of
consequences in the gratification of his desires. His extravagance was
unrestrained when, in his opinion, necessary to the enjoyment of his
pleasures. From the arms of his nurse until he had numbered fourscore
years, he was perpetually the dupe of the artful and the selfish.
Colonel Burr was about five feet six inches in height. He was well
formed, and erect in his attitude. In all his movements there was a
military air. Although of small stature, yet there was about him a
loftiness of mien that could not pass unnoticed by a stranger. His
deportment was polished and courtly. His features were regular, and
generally considered handsome. His eye was jet black, with a
brilliancy never surpassed. The appropriate civilities of the
drawing-room were performed with a grace almost peculiar to himself.
His whole manner was inconceivably fascinating. As a gentleman, this
was his great theatre. He acted upon the principle that the female was
the weaker sex, and that they were all susceptible of flattery. His
great art consisted in adopting it to the grade of intellect he
addressed. In this respect he was singularly fortunate as well as
adroit. In matters of gallantry he was excessively vain. This vanity
sometimes rendered him ridiculous in the eyes of his best friends, and
often enabled the most worthless and unprincipled to take advantage of
Such traits of character would appear to be incompatible with an
elevated and towering mind; yet they usually influenced, and
frequently controlled, one of the greatest and most extraordinary men
of the age. A volume of anecdotes might be related as evidence of
Colonel Burr's quickness of perception and tact at reply, when an
ill-judged or thoughtless expression was addressed by him to a lady.
One is sufficient for illustration.
After his return from Europe, in 1812, he met a maiden lady in
Broadway somewhat advanced in life. He had not seen her for many
years. As she passed him, she exclaimed to a gentleman on whose arm
she was resting, "Colonel Burr!" Hearing his name mentioned, he
suddenly stopped and looked her in the face. "Colonel," said she, "you
do not recollect me."
"I do not, madam," was the reply.
"It is Miss K., sir."
"What!" said he, "Miss K. _yet_!"
The lady, somewhat piqued, reiterated, "Yes, sir, Miss K. _yet_!"
Feeling the delicacy of his situation, and the unfortunate error he
had committed, he gently took her hand, and emphatically remarked,
"Well, madam, then I venture to assert _that it is not the fault of my
On Burr's being appointed, in 1777, a lieutenant-colonel in the army,
he joined his regiment, then stationed at Ramapoa, in New-Jersey. At
Paramus, not far distant, resided Mrs. Prevost, the wife of Colonel
Prevost, of the British army. She was an accomplished and intelligent
lady. Her husband was with his regiment in the West Indies, where he
died early in the revolutionary war. She had a sister residing with
her. It was her son, the Hon. John B. Prevost, who in 1802 was
recorder of the city of New-York, and subsequently district judge of
the United States Court for the district of Louisiana. The house of
Mrs. Prevost was the resort of the most accomplished officers in the
American army when they were in the vicinity of it. She was highly
respected by her neighbours, and visited by the most genteel people of
the surrounding country. Her situation was one of great delicacy and
The wife of a British officer, and connected with the adherents of the
crown, naturally became an object of political suspicion,
notwithstanding great circumspection on her part. Under such
circumstances, a strong sympathy was excited in her behalf. Yet there
were those among the Whigs who were inclined to enforce the laws of
the state against her, whereby she would be compelled to withdraw
within the lines of the enemy. In this family Colonel Burr became
intimate in 1777, and in 1782 married the widow Prevost.
JAMES MONROE TO MRS. PREVOST. 
Philadelphia, November 8th, 1778.
A young lady who either is, or pretends to be, in love, is, you know,
my dear Mrs. Prevost, the most unreasonable creature in existence. If
she looks a smile or a frown, which does not immediately give or
deprive you of happiness (at least to appearance), your company soon
becomes very insipid. Each feature has its beauty, and each attitude
the graces, or you have no judgment. But if you are so stupidly
insensible of her charms as to deprive your tongue and eyes of every
expression of admiration, and not only to be silent respecting her,
but devote them to an absent object, she cannot receive a higher
insult; nor would she, if not restrained by politeness, refrain from
Upon this principle I think I stand excused for not writing from B.
Ridge. I proposed it, however; and, after meeting with opposition in
-----, to obtain her point, she promised to visit the little
"Hermitage,"  and make my excuse herself. I took occasion to turn
the conversation to a different object, and plead for permission to go
to France. I gave up in one instance, and she certainly ought in the
other. But writing a letter and going to France are very different,
you will perhaps say. She objected to it, and all the arguments which
a fond, delicate, unmarried lady could use, she did not fail to
produce against it. I plead the advantage I should derive from it. The
personal improvement, the connexions I should make. I told her she was
not the only one on whom fortune did not smile in every instance. I
produced examples from her own acquaintance, and represented their
situation in terms which sensibly affected both herself and Lady
C----. I painted a lady full of affection, of tenderness, and
sensibility, separated from her husband, for a series of time, by the
cruelty of the war--her uncertainty respecting his health; the pain
and anxiety which must naturally arise from it. I represented, in the
most pathetic terms, the disquietudes which, from the nature of her
connexion, might possibly intrude on her domestic retreat. I then
raised to her view fortitude under distress; cheerfullness, life, and
gayety, in the midst of affliction.
I hope you will forgive me, my dear little friend, if I produced you
to give life to the image. The instance, she owned, was applicable.
She felt for you from her heart, and she has a heart capable of
feeling. She wished not a misfortune similar to yours; but, if I was
resolved to make it so, she would strive to imitate your example. I
have now permission to go where I please, but you must not forget her.
She and Lady C---- promise to come to the Hermitage to spend a week or
two. Encourage her, and represent the advantage I shall gain from
travel. But why should I desire you to do what I know your own heart
will dictate? for a heart so capable of friendship feels its own pain
alleviated by alleviating that of another.
But do not suppose that my attention is only taken up with my own
affairs. I am too much attached ever to forget the Hermitage. Mrs.
Duvall, I hope, is recovering; and Kitty's indisposition is that of my
nearest relation. Mrs. de Visme has delicate nerves. Tell me her
children are well, and I know she has a flow of spirits, for her
health depends entirely on theirs.
I was unfortunate in not being able to meet with the governor. He was
neither at Elizabethtown, B. Ridge, Princeton, nor Trenton. I have
consulted with several members of Congress on the occasion. They own
the injustice, but cannot interfere. The laws of each state must
govern itself. They cannot conceive the possibility of its taking
place. General Lee says it must not take place; and if he was an
absolute monarch, he would issue an order to prevent it.
I am introduced to the gentleman I wished by General Lee in a very
particular manner. I cannot determine with certainty what I shall do
till my arrival in Virginia.
Make my compliments to Mrs. and Miss De Visme, and believe me, with
the sincerest friendship,
Mr. Peter De Visme, the brother of Mrs. Prevost, was captured at sea,
and made prisoner of war. As she was personally acquainted with
General Washington, she solicited his influence to promote his
exchange, to which the general replied:--
Headquarters, Middlebrook, 19th May, 1779.
It is much to be regretted that the pleasure of obeying the first
emotions in favour of misfortune is not always in our power. I should
be happy could I consider myself at liberty to comply with your
request in the case of your brother, Mr. Peter De Visme. But, as I
have heretofore taken no direction in the disposal of marine
prisoners, I cannot, with propriety, interfere on the present
occasion, however great the satisfaction I should feel in obliging
where you are interested. Your good sense will perceive this, and find
a sufficient excuse in the delicacy of my situation.
I have the honour to be, madam,
Your obedient servant,
FROM WILLIAM PATTERSON.
Morristown, 29th September, 1779.
About four weeks ago I received a letter from you of the 8th of
August, and, a week after, another of the 23d. They came by the way of
Moorestown, from which to Rariton, where I reside. The conveyance is
easy and safe. I cannot point out any mode of sending your letters
better than that which you have adopted.
I was pleased extremely to hear from you, and, indeed, was quite
disappointed in not hearing from you sooner. I was for a time in
expectation that you would return into Jersey, as the scene of
military operations was directed to your part of the world, and would
unavoidably drive you from your study and repose. Military operations
are so fluctuating and uncertain as to render it exceedingly difficult
to fix upon a retreat which may not be broken in upon in the course of
a campaign. New-Haven bid fair to be the seat of calmness and
serenity, of course well suited for a studious and contemplative mind,
and therefore made choice of as the place of your abode. New-Haven,
however, partook of the common calamity; and, in the evolution of
human events, from a place of safety and repose, was turned into a
place of confusion and war.
You are not contented, my dear Burr, and why are you not? You sigh for
New-Jersey, and why do you not return? It is true we are continually
broken in upon by the sons of tumult and war. Our situation is such
that the one army or the other is almost constantly with us, and yet
we rub along with tolerable order, spirit, and content. Oh! that the
days of peace would once more return, that we might follow what
business, partake of what amusements, and think and live as we please.
As to myself, I am, my dear Burr, one of the happiest of men. The
office I hold calls me too frequently, and detains me too long, from
home, otherwise I should enjoy happiness as full and high as this
world can afford. It is, as you express it, "serene, rural, and
sentimental;" and such, one day, you will _feel_.
"You see no company--you partake of no amusements--you are always
grave." Such, too, has been the life that I have lived for months and
years. I cannot say that it is an unpleasing one. I avoided company;
indeed, I do so still, unless it be the company of chosen friends. I
have been ever fond of my fireside and study--ever fond of calling up
some absent friend, and of living over, in idea, past times of
sentimental pleasure. Fancy steps in to my aid, colours the picture,
and makes it delightful indeed. You are in the very frame of mind I
wish you to be; may it continue.
I cannot tell you what has become of Mrs. Prevost's affairs. About two
months ago I received a very polite letter from her. She was
apprehensive that the commissioners would proceed. It seems they
threatened to go on. I wrote them on the subject, but I have not heard
the event. I am at this place, on my way to a superior court in
Bergen. If possible, I shall wait on the good gentlewoman. At Bergen I
shall inquire into the state of the matter. It will, indeed, turn up
of course. You shall soon hear from me again. Adieu. May health and
happiness await you
The precarious and unsettled state of Colonel Burr's health, in the
autumn of 1779 and the beginning of 1780, was such that he was unable
to adopt and adhere to any regular system of study. Among his most
intimate personal friends was Colonel Robert Troup. He, too, had
determined to retire from public service, and was anxious to study in
the same office with Burr. His letters cast much light on their
pursuits at the time they were written.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Philadelphia, 16th January, 1780.
My dear Friend,
Watkins was kind enough to deliver me yours of the 8th of December,
written, I presume, at Paramus. I almost envy you the happiness you
have enjoyed. From the first moment of my acquaintance with Mrs.
Prevost and her sister, I conceived an admiration for them both, which
is much increased by the opinion you entertain of them. How, then, am
I flattered by their polite manner of mentioning my name. To whom am I
indebted but to you, my friend, for this unmerited favour? Surely
these ladies saw nothing in me at Governor Livingston's which was
worthy of remembrance, unless a terrible noise, which some people call
laughter, could be worth remembering. With the best intention,
therefore, to serve me, you have done me an injury, Aaron. I shall be
afraid to see our favourites in the spring, because I shall fall
infinitely short of their ideas of cleverness. Pray, do you recollect
the opinion which Judge Candour solemnly pronounced upon us both, in a
court of reason held at the Indian King? Why, then, will you expose my
weakness by ascribing to me imaginary excellences? If you persist in
such cruel conduct, sir, I will make you feel the weight of my
resentment, by publishing to the world the purity of my esteem for
your public and private character.
I am happy to find our plan of studying together appears more and more
rational to you. It really does to me, and I hope we shall follow it.
Since you left Philadelphia, some circumstances have turned up which
render my office so disagreeable to me that I am determined to resign.
_Vous pouvez compter sur moi_. Besides the disgust I have taken, I am
led to it by ambition, which has a small share of influence over me as
well as you.
But I am desirous of a change in our plan, which I request you to
think of seriously. I am inclined to believe it would be best for us
to study the law with Mr. Stockton, at Princeton. This, I know, will
surprise you; but your surprise will be lessened when you hear my
The practice of Connecticut differs so materially from the practice of
New-York and New-Jersey, that we should lose time by being with Mr.
Osmer. For, after being eighteen months or two years with him, it
would be necessary to continue nearly the same time in another office,
to get a competent knowledge of the practice. This is a matter of
consequence, especially as it is my object to qualify myself for
practice as soon as possible.
I have the highest opinion of Mr. Osmer, and, did I intend to follow
the law in Connecticut, there is no man I would sooner study with. I
believe he would ground us well in the knowledge of the dead-letter of
the law; but I wish to have the practice and the theory accompanying
each other. Mr. Stockton has been polite enough to make me an offer,
and has promised to spare no pains to instruct me. He would be glad to
instruct you likewise; for I have heard him express himself of you in
the most friendly manner. I propose to lodge at some substantial
farmer's house, about a mile from the main road, and have made a
solemn league and covenant with my own mind to seclude myself from the
pleasures of the world. This I know I can do. And have you not as much
philosophy as I have?
It is true, Mr. Stockton has unmarried daughters, and there is a
number of genteel families in and near Princeton. But why should we
connect ourselves with any of them, so as to interrupt our studies?
They will be entitled to a civil bow from us whenever we meet them;
and, if they expect more, they will be disappointed. Indeed, l shall
take care to inform them of my intentions, and if they afterwards
complain of my want of politeness in not visiting them, it will give
me little uneasiness.
I entreat you, my dearest and best friend, to reflect on this matter,
and favour me with your answer without a moment's loss of time. My
happiness, and my improvement in the law, depend entirely upon
pursuing my studies with you. The change I now propose is conformable
to the sentiments and wishes of all my friends, particularly of
Chancellor Livingston, who is certainly a judge.
I forgot to mention that Mr. Stockton is universally allowed to be one
of the best speakers we ever had in this part of the continent, and it
will therefore be in his power to teach us the eloquence of the bar,
which may be considered as a capital advantage.
I have communicated my sentiments on this subject more fully to our
mutual friend, Colonel Wadsworth, who will deliver you this letter,
than I have to you in writing. He will explain them to you, and, I am
sure, will give you his own with the utmost candour and sincerity. I
have left several messages at the house Dr. ----- lodges when he is in
town; but cannot get an answer, and see little prospect of getting
your money unless you write him a dunning letter. I shall leave one
for him to-morrow, and will endeavour to have the affair settled this
I write this at my lodgings, where I have not a single newspaper.
Colonel Wadsworth will leave town in the course of an hour; and, if I
can find time, I will go to the office and collect all I can find.
There have been none, however, since you left town, which are worth
reading. Wadsworth will tell you all the news I have, which is, that
old Roger Sherman is metamorphosed, by some strange magical power,
into _a very honest man_.
God bless you, and may Dom. Tetard soon have the pleasure of drinking
a glass of wine with us both, in his house at Kingsbridge. I mean,
after the British gentry have left it. I should have written to you
before, but I have been waiting these three weeks past for Colonel
Wadsworth to leave Philadelphia. He will inform you of the cursed
slavish life I lead at the treasury office. I am obliged to attend it
even on Saturday nights, which places me below the level of a negro in
point of liberty. Pray present my best respects to Tetard, and assure
him of my wishes to serve him at all times, and on all occasions.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Philadelphia, February 14th, 1780.
My Dear Burr,
I have resigned my office, and am now preparing to leave Philadelphia
to go to Princeton, agreeable to the plan in my letter by Colonel
Wadsworth. This week I expect to finish a little private business I
have on hand, and, by the latter end of the next, to be settled in a
regular course of study with Mr. Stockton. What think you of this
alteration in the plan we settled? Can you leave Mr. Osmer without
injury? I assure you, the only motive I have to prefer Stockton is a
desire to qualify myself for practice as soon as possible. All my
friends are against my studying in Connecticut, for the reason
mentioned in my last; and they all recommend Stockton to me. I am
therefore determined to study with him.
I am very much afraid that Princeton will be disagreeable to you on
many accounts, and particularly on account of the number of
acquaintances you have in and near it. This is a misfortune, to be
sure; but do as I shall, _neglect them all_; it is matter of perfect
indifference to me whether I affront them or not. My object is to
study with the closest attention. I must do it. I have no other
Permit me to declare, like a sincere friend, that my happiness is so
intimately connected with yours, that I shall be chagrined to an
extreme if you find it inconvenient to join me. We could be useful to
each other. Besides facilitating each other's progress in the law, we
could improve ourselves in writing and speaking. In one word--I am
confident I should acquire as much knowledge in three years with you
as in six years without you. I never was more serious. Come,
therefore, immediately, and bring Mr. Tetard with you to perfect us in
the French language, which I have paid little attention to since I
wrote you, and indeed since you left me.
Pray why have you neglected to answer my letter by Colonel Wadsworth?
I suspect something extraordinary is the matter with you. Or are you
so angry as not to think I merit an answer? Whatever your reason was,
let me request you to favour me with an answer to this by the first
opportunity. If it is sent under cover to Mr. Stockton, it will
perhaps reach me sooner.
It is reported, and pretty general believed, that Sir Henry Clinton,
with the fleet that came from New-York about six weeks ago, has
touched at Georgia; taken Prevost's troops with him, and gone either
to St. Augustine or the Havannah. This is very important news, if
true; but it seems to wait confirmation.
Your unalterable friend,
TO WILLIAM PATERSON.
Middletown, February 16th, 1780.
Your friendly letter of September has at length found its way to me. I
am once more a recluse. It accords with my feelings. I should
doubtless be happier if I enjoyed perfect health and the society of a
friend _like you_; but why do I say like you? No likeness could
compensate for the absence of the original.
I am something at a loss how to regulate my motions for the coming
summer. The prospect of peace is still distant. It is an object of
importance with me to be not only secure from alarms, but remote from
the noise of war. My present situation promises at least those
advantages. Perhaps yours does equally. Events only can determine.
My health, which was till of late very promising, seems to decline a
little. This circumstance will oblige me to alter my course of life. I
shall be in your state in May or June, perhaps sooner. If you have a
prospect of tranquillity, I Shall have no thought of returning.
Colonel Troup, a worthy, sensible young fellow, and a particular
friend of mine, wishes to know where I shall prosecute my studies, and
is determined, he says, to be my companion. A gentleman who has been
long eminent at your bar, and whom we both know perfectly well, had
made Troup some polite offers of his service as an instructor. He was
pleased with the scheme, and as he knew the gentleman was professedly
my friend, urged me to put myself also under his tuition. I mentioned
to him in a late letter the objections which had been decisive with
me, and I fancy he will view them in the same light. He is the
companion I would wish in my studies. He is a better antidote for the
spleen than a ton of drugs. I am often a little inclined to _hypo_.
My best respects attend Mrs. Paterson. Speak of her in your letters. I
would not feel indifferent to one so near to you, even if no personal
acquaintance had confirmed my esteem. You would have heard from me
sooner, but no post has rode this fortnight. I have been pursuing the
track you marked out for me, though not with the ardour I could wish.
My health will bear no imposition. I am obliged to eat, drink, sleep,
and study, as it directs. No such restraint interrupts your bliss. May
you feel no bonds but those of love and friendship--no rules but those
that lead to happiness. Adieu.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Philadelphia, 29th February, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
Your favours of the 1st and 5th inst. came to hand last night, and are
both before me. I am very much indebted to you for your candour in
stating the objections which are against Princeton, as well as Mr.
Stockton. I had anticipated them all. They are far from being
groundless. But my situation was peculiar when I determined to live
with Mr. Stockton. In my last a principle of delicacy induced me to be
more reserved than is consistent with the sincerity of our affection
for each other. Forgive my criminal reserve. I will be plain with you
By a strange kind of contracted system, which pervades all the civil
establishments of Congress, I was reduced to the necessity of
resigning my office at least six weeks sooner than I expected. Though
I laboured both day and night, with as much drudgery as a negro on a
plantation in the West Indies, the board of treasury did not think
themselves authorized to report a warrant in my favour for money to
answer the common demands of living. They confined me to my salary of
_ten thousand dollars_  per annum. Finding that I had not the most
distant prospect of getting a decent support while I continued in
office, and that I was obliged to pay four or five thousand dollars
out of my own private purse for _necessaries, I cursed and quit them_
the beginning of this month.
Being thus out of office, I thought it would be prudent to settle
myself at the law without a moment's delay, both on account of the
heavy expense of living in this city, and the loss of time, which is
of the greatest consequence to me. I did not forget Mr. Paterson when
I gave the preference to Mr. Stockton. The private character of the
former is infinitely superior to that of the latter, and so is his
public. But he is immersed in such an ocean of business, that I
imagined it would be out of his power to bestow all the time and pains
on our improvement we would wish. Besides, I was afraid of being more
confined to the drudgery of copying in his office than I ought. This
is inseparable from an office in which there is a good deal done,
however well disposed a lawyer may be to promote the interest of his
clerk. You observe that his present office expires next summer. I
grant it. Yet he may be chosen attorney-general again; and this I
believe will be the case, for there is not a man of sufficient
abilities in the state, except him and Morris, to whom the people
would give the office. Morris, I fancy, will not accept it if offered
to him, as he has lately resigned his seat on the bench; and I will
venture to predict that Paterson will be continued, though against his
Upon the whole, then, I feel extreme regret in telling you that I must
go and sit down at Princeton the latter end of this week at farthest.
The die is cast. My honour forbids me to act contrary to the
engagement I have entered into with Mr. Stockton. Had I received your
kind letter before my _absolute determination_, I should certainly
have followed your advice. Our plan, therefore, will be frustrated.
Painful the reflection! You would hurt me exceedingly if you came to
live at Princeton, and subjected yourself to the inconveniences you
mention, merely to please me.
I am glad to hear your health is mending, and should be still more
happy if it was unnecessary to make use of the mineral springs in the
Clove. I have always suspected that the law would disagree with your
delicate constitution. It requires the most intense study. Your
ambition to excel will stimulate you to the closest application, and I
dread the effects it may produce. You should therefore be cautions.
Health is a source of more substantial pleasure than the most
A few days ago Dr. Edwards left a bundle of bills, amounting, as he
says, to one thousand pounds, at Dr, Rush's for me, to be sent to you.
I have not yet counted it, but I suppose it is right. To-day or
to-morrow I shall leave a receipt for it at Dr. Rash's. I believe I
shall presume so far upon your friendship as to borrow a part of it
for my own use for about a fortnight. I am much disappointed in
receiving a small sum to pay my debts in town. I sold two thousand
dollars in certificates to Mr. Duer just before he left town, and he
gave me an order upon a lady for the money. I find she will not be
able to pay it for some time hence, and I am so pressed for cash that
I have written to Duer, at Baskenridge, for the certificates or money
immediately. I expect an answer every moment; and, till I receive it,
shall consider part of yours as my own. The remainder I shall transmit
you by the first safe conveyance. I think it would be wrong to trust
the post with it.
I thank you sincerely for your offer of a horse. The present state of
my finances is such that I cannot afford to keep one. If I could it
might detach me from my studies. Beware of temptation, saith the
Scripture, and so saith my interest.
I suppose you have read the king's speech. He makes no mention of his
rebellious subjects in America, or of any allies, and is resolved to
prosecute the war. The debates in the House of Lords, as well as
Commons, on the motion for an address of thanks, were very warm. Lord
North, in one of his speeches, makes no scruple of declaring that they
have no allies to assist them. That they can get none. That the
combined fleets have a _decided superiority_; and that it would have
been highly dangerous for the English fleet to have fought them last
fall. The bills on Spain and Holland sell very fast. They will all be
disposed of in a very short time. There are large arrivals in Virginia
and Maryland; and there are several vessels below, waiting for the
river to be cleared of ice, which will be in three or four days. Poor
_continental_ is still going down hill. _Fifty-eight_ was refused
yesterday; and I have no doubt it will be _seventy_ for _one_ before
ten days hence. Adieu. As long as you are Aaron Burr, I will be
FROM MAJOR R. ALDEN.
I intended to have wrote you a letter in answer to your last, but
neither head or heart will enable me at present. Although I am
answerable for my conduct, yet I cannot govern the animal fluids. I am
so much of a _lunatic thermometer_, that both _moon_ and _atmosphere_
very much influence my _aerial_ constitution. My brain is subject to
such changes, and so much affected by _external_ objects, that I may
be properly compared to a _windmill_. You may make the similitudes as
you please. I have not a single sentiment in my head, or feeling in my
heart, that would pay for expressing. At any rate, my mill will not
grind. What is all this says my friend Aaron? The pleasure I enjoyed
yesterday in feasting in good company, and in a variety of other
agreeables, at the nuptial anniversary of our dear and happy friends,
Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Burr, has deprived me of that common share of
sensibility which is generally distributed through the days of the
year, and rather destroyed the equilibrium. I set out for camp the
last of this week; may I expect letters from my friend? Be assured of
my warmest friendship, and make me happy by the like assurance, as it
will afford the sincerest pleasure to,
Yours, with affection,
FROM WILLIAM PATERSON.
Rariton, April 14th, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
I take the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the receipt of your
_dateless_ letter, and returning you my best thanks for it. Mr. and
Mrs. Reeve  have been so kind as to tarry a night with me. We
endeavoured to prevail upon them to pass a few days with us, and
should have been happy if we could have succeeded. This letter goes
with them. That circumstance cannot fail, of making it still more
welcome to your honest and. benevolent heart.
I wrote you the latter end of January from the Hermitage, and
intrusted the letter to Mrs. Prevost. It was a mere scrawl. This is of
the same cast. However, I promise, the very first leisure hour, to
devote it entirely to you in the letter way. Although I do not write
frequently to you, yet, believe me, I think frequently of you. Oh,
Burr! may you enjoy health, and be completely happy; as much so as I
am--more I cannot wish you. Nor will you be able to attain high
felicity until you experience such a union as I do. Mrs. Paterson is
in tolerable health, and gives you her best respects. I wish her
safely through the month of May, and then I shall be still more happy.
When you come to Jersey I shall certainly see you. If I do not, it
will be treason against our friendship.
Peace is distant. There is no prospect of it in the present year. Nor
do I think that Britain will come to terms while she fancies herself
superior on the ocean. The war, however, goes southward, and there is
some hope that we shall be more in quiet this year than we have been
since the commencement of hostilities. On the opening of the campaign
we shall be able to judge better. Adieu.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Princeton, April 27th, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
I wrote to you yesterday, and happened to put the letter into the
postoffice a little after the post had gone. In that letter I
requested you to come here as soon as possible, for it was highly
probable that I should leave Princeton entirely, and determine to
follow our original plan. The event has confirmed my conjecture. I
came here from General Morris's yesterday, and exerted all the
influence I was master of to get new lodgings, but could not, without
lodging in the town, which would be disagreeable to me on many
accounts. I have now given over all thoughts of staying here; and,
having an excellent pretext for changing my ground, I shall write to
Mr. Stockton, who is still in Philadelphia, and acquaint him with my
intentions of going away. Nothing is therefore wanting but yourself,
with a horse and chair, to make me completely happy. I wish to God I
could push off eastward immediately, but I cannot. I have no horse,
neither is it practicable to borrow or hire one. I must, then, wait
for you; and I request you, in the most pressing terms, to lose not a
moment's time in coming for me at General Morris's, about six miles
from this, near Colonel Van Dyke's mill, on the road to Somerset,
where I shall wait impatiently for you.
I am extremely uneasy lest this letter should reach you after you have
left home, and begun your journey northward. In that case I shall be
very unfortunate; and, to prevent too great a delay, I write to Mr.
Reeves at Litchfield, and enclose him a letter for you, and desire him
to forward it to you, wherever you are, with all expedition. I shall
likewise enclose another for you to Mrs. Prevost, who will be kind
enough to give it to you the moment you arrive there.
If we once get together, I hope we shall not be soon parted. It would
afford me the greatest satisfaction to live with you during life. God
grant our meeting may be soon. You have my best and fervent wishes for
the recovery of your health, and every other happiness. Adieu.
TO COLONEL TROUP.
Fairfield, 15th May, 1780.
MY DEAR BOB,
I wrote you from this place the 12th inst. This follows close upon it,
that I may rest assured of your having heard from me.
I go to-morrow to Middletown, from whence I shall hasten my departure
as much as possible. No trifling concerns should command me a moment;
but business of importance, and some embarrassments too serious to be
laughed out of the way, will, I fear, detain me this month. But the
month is already gone before you can receive this. I hope your
philosophy will not have forsaken you. Far from you be gloom and
despondency. Attune your organs to the genuine ha! ha! 'Tis to me the
music of the spheres; the sovereign specific that shall disgrace the
physician's art, and baffle the virulence of malady. Hold yourself
aloof from all engagements, even of the _heart_. We will deliberate
unbiased, that we may decide with wisdom. I form no decision on the
subject of our studies till I see you.
I write from the house of our friend Thaddeus, in a world of company,
who are constantly interrupting me with impertinent questions. Your
summons came unexpected, and found me unprepared. Nevertheless, my
assiduity shall convince you that you may command
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
At General Morris's, near Princeton, 16th May, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
I wrote you, about three weeks ago, a very pressing letter, and
requested you to come for me here as soon as possible. My anxiety to
see you is extreme, and, lest my letter should have miscarried, I
cannot help troubling you with another. Every thing, my dear Burr, has
succeeded to my wishes. I have left Mr. Stockton upon the most
friendly terms imaginable, and I am still at General Morris's to avoid
expense, but am so situated that I cannot study. I assure you, my
future prosperity and happiness in life depends, in a greater measure
than you may imagine, on my living and studying with you; and the
sooner we get seated in some retired place, where we may live cheaply
and study without interruption, the better. I know myself--I think I
know you perfectly. I am more deceived than ever I was if we do not
live happily together, and improve beyond our most sanguine
expectations. Delay not, therefore, a single moment, my dear Burr, but
come for me yourself. A horse or a chair without you will be
unwelcome. I want to consult you about several matters of importance
to me before I leave this state. I say leave this state, for our
original plan of studying with Mr. Osmer appears the most rational to
me on many accounts.
I am so much attached to you, my dear Burr, and feel myself so much
interested in every thing which concerns you, that I believe, and hope
sincerely, it will be many years before we separate if we can once sit
down together. As long as my slender fortune will permit me to live
without business, we will, if you find it agreeable, enjoy the
pleasures of retirement. And when we enter on the theatre of the
world, why not act our parts together? Heaven grant that we may. I
repeat it again, my dearest friend, lose not a moment's time in coming
for me. It is painful to trespass so long upon General Morris's
bounty, though he be my friend, and I have not any means of stirring
an inch from him unless I walk. For fear you should not be at
Middletown, I shall enclose a copy of this letter to Mr. Reeves, and
request him to forward it to you immediately if you should not be with
With what pleasure did I receive yours of the 24th ult., at Princeton,
the other day, when I went to pay Mr. Stockton a visit after his
return from Philadelphia. I cordially congratulate you on the
improvement of your health by rash experiments. May it be as well
established as my own, which is perfectly capable of the closest
application. But I was not a little mortified to find you say nothing
about your intention to ride to Jersey. Let me entreat you once more
to set off as soon as possible. Every moment is precious, and ought to
be employed to advantage. I shall wait for you with the greatest
impatience; and, in the meantime, I am, what I always wish to be,
Your affectionate and sincere friend,
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Society-Hall, General Morris's, 23d May, 1780.
MY DEAR AARON,
My patience is almost exhausted. I have been waiting for you this
month past. Here I am, a pensioner upon the bounty of my good friend
General Morris, and am likely to continue so, unless you are kind
enough to come and carry me away. This is the fifth or sixth letter I
have written you on the subject. What can be the reason of the great
delay in forwarding letters by the post? Your last was above a
fortnight old before it got to Princeton; and, upon inquiry, Daddy
Plumb informs me the riders are ordered to ride _forty miles_ a day
during the season. Must I attribute it to the fatality which has
already separated us, and, I fear, is determined to put an eternal bar
to our junction? Such an event would blast all my hopes of future
happiness. My dear Aaron, I want words to express my pleasure in
anticipating the satisfaction of retiring from the cares of the world
with you, and living in all the simple elegance of ancient
philosophers. We should make a rapid improvement in every branch of
useful literature; and when we came to act our parts on the theatre of
the world, we might excite admiration, and, what would be infinitely
more pleasing to us, we should be better men and better citizens.
After Mr. Stockton returned from Philadelphia, I communicated to him
my situation and my intentions. He approved of my determination to go
away, and gave me some advice, which you shall know when you see me.
Thus I have left Mr. Stockton without causing the least uneasiness,
and I am now ready to enter upon our old plan, which appears the most
consistent with our present views. As I said in all my letters to you
on the subject, I am here from a principle of economy; but it is
disagreeable to stay so long as a visitor, and I am therefore obliged
to request you to alter your intention about coming here, and set off
the moment you receive this. I have no horse, and depend entirely upon
you. Besides the time we lose by postponing our settlement, I have a
matter of great importance to us both to communicate to you, that has
no connexion with our studying, and which makes it necessary for me to
see you immediately.
Poor Mr. Stockton is incurable. He cannot survive the summer.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Baskenridge, June 27th, 1786.
MY DEAR AARON,
After a very disagreeable ride indeed, I came here the day before
yesterday in the afternoon; and yesterday morning, just as I was going
to mount my horse, I was seized with a violent fever, which lasted
till sunset. This morning I feel much better, though I am exceedingly
weak. In a few minutes I shall take an emetic; after which I suppose
the bark will be necessary. The fever seems to be of the intermittent
kind, and, I think, is occasioned principally by riding in the hot
sun. I am so agreeably situated here, that I shall stay till I
recover, which I hope will be in three or four days. The family are
very polite and attentive to me, and Dr. Cutting, who quarters in the
neighbourhood, is both my physician and apothecary.
The Miss Livingstons have inquired in a very friendly manner about
you, and expect you will wait upon them when you pass this way. Since
I have been here, I have had an opportunity of removing entirely the
suspicion they had of your courting Miss De Visme.  They believe
nothing of it now, and attribute your visits at Paramus to motives of
friendship for Mrs. Prevost and the family.
Wherever I am, and can with propriety, you may be assured I shall
represent this matter in its true light.
I have obtained a few particulars of -----, which I was before
unacquainted with, and which I cannot forbear communicating. He is the
son of the vice-president of Pennsylvania, who I always understood in
Philadelphia was a respectable merchant, and I believe is worth a
moderate fortune, though I am not certain. His family was not ranked
in the genteeler class before the war; but at present may be called
fashionable, or _a la mode_. The girls here think him handsome,
genteel, and sensible, and say positively he is no longer engaged to
Miss Shippen. He has frequently spoken to them in raptures, latterly
of Miss De Visme, and once declared he was half in love with her. I
have taken care to touch this string with the greatest delicacy.
How is your health? Better or worse? Pray neglect no opportunity of
writing to me. Present my most respectful compliments to Mrs. Prevost
and the family, and also the ladies on the hill.
Miss Susan Governor Livingston desires her compliments to you and the
two families. So do Susan and Eliza Baskenridge.
FROM PETER COLT. 
Weathersfield, 7th July, 1780.
MY DEAR SIR,
Will you allow me that appellation, who have so long neglected to
inform you of the situation of your affairs left in my hands? But
figure to yourself the thousand embarrassments that have attended me
in conducting my public concerns _towards a close_, and you will be
led to put a more favourable construction on my conduct than I should
My last informed you of the loss of the _Hawk_, being chased on shore
the back side of Long Island. It was a few days after she went out on
her last cruise, and before she had any success. Of course, about
L20,000, the amount of her last outfits, were thrown away. I fear this
will make her die in debt. Though all her goods are either sold or
divided, yet her accounts are not settled. I wish I could see a
tolerable prospect of their being speedily closed. But the agents are
embarrassed. As soon as I can get her accounts, will inform you of the
state of this unlucky adventure. There is on hand some clothing, some
duck, and rigging, out of which I hope to raise hard money. What shall
I do with the other articles, a small parcel of glassware and rum, and
the money arising from the sales of the vessel's sea-coat, &c.? I am
advised to sell every thing for continental money, at the present
going prices, and exchange it for hard. What is the exchange with you?
With us it is from sixty to seventy for one. Let me know what I am to
do with your money when I get it into my hands. I have not settled any
of your accounts but Stanley's.
Your friends are generally well, and wish to hear from you. Miss
H----- has been quite unwell since you left us, as she tells me she
hears you are. You will not be vain when I add, she has more than once
lamented _your ill state of health_, and expressed some fears that it
was not growing better. The Sallys beg me to make their best wishes
for your health and happiness acceptable to you. Shall I add, their
Friend Wadsworth has engaged in the supplies for the French navy and
troops. I think it will keep him employed, and much to his advantage.
FROM PETER COLT.
Weathersfield, July 16th, 1780.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your polite and friendly letter
of the 1st inst. My little family would have been too much elated with
your attention to them had you not dashed the pleasure with the
account of your ill state of health. Pray be more attentive to the
recovery of it, even should it interfere with your study of the law.
Let your diet and exercise be simple and regular; directed by
experience. The former not too low. It is a good old maxim--be
religious, but not superstitious. So respecting health, be exactly
attentive, but not whimsical. Excuse the term, for invalids are but
too apt to be governed by whim rather than reason and experience.
Enclosed you have an account current with the agents of the Hawk.
Indeed, take it altogether, it is but a poor adventure. I shall
endeavour the settlement of your account with Friend -----, and remit
you. In the meantime, it will not be amiss to send me an account of
money advanced to him.
As to news, must refer you to the newspapers, where you will get a
large supply. I wish _our printers_ did not deal so much in the
marvellous. It is in vain for them to attempt copying Rivington. 
They had better stick to the truth.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Rariton, July 18th, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
Mr. Paterson went to Brunswick court this morning. The few lines by
Dr. Brown are the first I have had from you since I left Paramus;
where the other letters you refer to stay, I know not.
I am charmed with my present situation in every respect. It could not
be more agreeable to my wishes. I shall have reason to thank you, as
long as I live, for my change. The man I lodge with is an able
farmer--has a large house--is fond of me, and is possessed of every
thing a reasonable person could expect or wish for. I study
attentively, and have no interruption whatever. There is an agreeable
neighbourhood in this part of the country, and, when I choose, I can
unbend myself in very genteel company.
I am reading Wood at present. I have almost done with his 4th chapter,
and am looking over his chapter on courts. I confine my whole
attention to the practice, for reasons I will tell you when we meet. I
am translating Burlamaqui's Politic Law. Reading Robertson's Charles
V., Dalrymple on Feudal Property, and Swift's Works. The morning I
devote to the law. I am up sometimes before, generally at sunrise.
From two to half after three in the afternoon, and from nine to eleven
in the evening, I apply to other matters. I am in a fair way, if
public affairs will suffer me, to be retired.
Paterson is the very man we want. He is sensible, friendly, and, as
far as I am capable of judging, profound in the law. He is to examine
me on Saturday or Monday on what I have read, and I am preparing
accordingly. I have heard him examine Noel yesterday on the practice,
and I find his examinations are critical. In a couple of months I
expect to be as far advanced in the practice as Noel. I cannot bear
that he should be before me. It must not, it shall not be.
My health is perfectly restored, and I am now as well as ever I was. I
am happy to hear you grow better. May you soon be well enough to join
me. The weather is so intensely hot, and I am so closely engaged in
study, that I cannot determine when I shall pay you a visit.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
On the Rariton, 21st August, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
The account I have given of my situation is far from a fiction. You
will find it a pleasing reality when you come here, which I suppose
you will postpone till you see me, as I have no doubt at present that
the second division of the French fleet has arrived, with a
re-enforcement of 4000 troops. This event will render it necessary for
me to be ready to move at a moment's warning; and, presuming there
will be no delay in commencing our operations, I think, in the course
of a fortnight, or three weeks at most, I shall be at Paramus.
Will your health permit you to join the army? I fear not. Fatigue and
bad weather may ruin it. I confess I am much disappointed in my
opinion of the mineral waters. From your letters, I conclude the stock
of health you have gained since I left you is scarcely perceptible.
Something else must be tried. Life is precious, and demands every
exertion and sacrifice to preserve it. Mr. Paterson and I have often
spoken together on this subject, and we both agree that a ride to the
southward next winter, and a trip to the West Indies in the spring,
would be of infinite service to you. This might be done with ease in
five or six months.
Mrs. Paterson is perfectly recovered, and her little girl grows
finely, and promises to be handsome. Mrs. Paterson often asks about
you, and seems anxious to have you among us. When you come, remember
to bring with you the book you took with you on our way to Paramus. I
believe it is an essay on health. Mrs. Paterson wants it, the idea you
gave me of her is just. She is easy, polite, sensible, and friendly.
Paterson is rather deficient in the graces, but he possesses every
virtue that enters into the composition of an amiable character.
I can hardly go out anywhere without being asked a number of questions
about you. You seem to be universally known and esteemed. Mr. Morris's
family are exceedingly particular in their inquiries concerning your
health. It would be easier for you to conceive, than for me to tell
you, how much they like you. They insist upon our paying them a visit
as soon as you are settled here, which I have promised, on your part
as well as my own.
Let me entreat you to avoid engaging any of your French books in
Connecticut, especially Chambaud's Exercises, to any person whatever.
I, and perhaps you, will stand in need of them all.
I am greatly indebted to the good family for their favourable
sentiments, which, as I said once before, must proceed more from
affection to you than what they find meritorious in me. I am certain,
however, that their esteem for me cannot exceed mine for them, and
this you will be kind enough to hint to them when you present my
respectful compliments. Assure Dom. Tetard of my friendship for him,
and fixed determination to use all endeavours to metamorphose him into
a Crassus after the war is ended. Adieu
1. Late President of the United States.
2. The residence of Mrs. Prevost.
3. Continental paper dollars--equal in value to _sixty for one silver
4. Judge Tappan Reeve, whose lady was the sister of Colonel Burr.
5. The sister of Mrs. Prevost
6. Deputy quartermaster-general; subsequently commissary for the
French army, and treasurer of the state of Connecticut.
7. Printer to the king in the city of New-York.
FROM WILLIAM PATERSON.
Morristown, 27th August, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
I was not at Rariton when the doctor, who was the bearer of your
letter, passed that way. It would have given me pleasure to have shown
him every mark of attention and esteem in my power.
I dare say you count it an age since I have written you; and, indeed,
I must confess that the time has been long. Your good-nature, however,
will induce you to forgive me, although I cannot expect it from your
justice. I hope the water you drink will prove medicinal, and soon
restore you to health; although I am more disposed to think that it
will take time, and be effected gradually. Persons indisposed (I speak
from experience) are generally impatient to become well, and that very
impatience has a natural tendency to prevent it. Do not be restless,
my dear Burr; nor think that, because you do not get well in a month,
or in a season, you will not get well at all. The heat of this summer
has been intense, nor is it as yet much abated. Perhaps that too may
have had some effect upon you. The hale and hearty could scarcely bear
up under it. May health soon visit you, my good friend.
Mrs. Paterson is well. Our little pledge, a girl, Burr,  has been
much indisposed, but is at present on the mending hand. I am from home
as usual. My official duty obliges me to be so. I grow quite uneasy
under it, and I find ease and retirement necessary for the sake of my
constitution, which has been somewhat broken in upon by unceasing
attention to business. The business has been too much for me. I have
always been fond of solitude, and, as it were, of _stealing_ along
through life. I am now sufficiently fond of domestic life. I have
every reason to be so. Indeed, I know no happiness but at home. Such
one day will be your situation.
My compliments to the family at the Hermitage. I shall write you
before I leave this place.
FROM WILLIAM PATERSON.
Morristown, 31st August, 1780.
MY DEAR BURR,
It is now near the midnight hour, and yet, late as it is, I could not
acquit myself to my conscience if I had not again written you before I
left this place, which will be early tomorrow. My life is quite in the
militant style--one continued scene of warfare. From this place I go
down to the Supreme Court at Trenton, which will be on Tuesday next,
and the Tuesday after that I shall return once more to Morristown, and
when I shall leave it will be uncertain. I rejoice when the hour of
rest comes up, and sicken at the approach of day. Business fairly
bears me down. The truth is, that I am tired of writing, tired of
reading, tired of bustling in a crowd, and, by fits, heartily tired of
I hope you go on gaining strength, and that you will in a little while
get the better of your disorder. The mind and the body affect each
other extremely. To a person in your state, hilarity, cheerfullness, a
serene flow of spirits, are better than all the drugs in a doctor's
shop. Gentle exercise is of infinite service. I hope you are not
wanting in any of these. If you are, I cannot easily pardon you,
because they are all within your power.
Make my compliments acceptable to the family at the Hermitage. I have
a high regard for them, and sincerely wish their happiness. I really
pity and admire Mrs. Prevost. Her situation demands a tear; her
conduct and demeanour the warmest applause. Tell Mrs. Prevost that she
must remember me among her friends; and that I shall be happy to
render her all the service in my power.
Since I have been at this place I have had a letter from Mrs.
Paterson, who is well. Our little girl, who was indisposed when I left
home, is not worse. I flatter myself I shall find her better when I
return. Alas, that I cannot be more at home. A husband and a parent
have a thousand tendernesses that you know nothing of. Adieu, my dear
Burr; live and be happy.
FROM COLONEL TROUP.
Morristown, October 23d, 1780.
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
I want words to express the pleasure I feel at the receipt of yours of
the 22d, by the boy who came for your horse. It relieved me from a
burden which had sunk my spirits lower than I recollect them to have
been by any calamity I have met with during the war. My imagination
had crowded my mind with a thousand melancholy reflections from the
moment I got your letter by Dr. Cutting, who, like a modern well-bred
gentleman, left it at my lodgings only three days ago. Some evil
genius certainly interrupts our correspondence. I write letters
without number, and yet you seldom hear from me, and when you do, the
letter is as old as if it had come from the other side of the
Atlantic. It is exactly the case with yours.
Mr. Paterson has been more unfortunate than I. He has often complained
of your neglect, as he thought it; but I informed him of the fate my
letters shared, and he was easy. However, he desired me last night to
give you a hint, that he had lately written you several long letters
without receiving an answer to either. He is now at Princeton,
attending court. I shall forward your letter that accompanied mine to
him by a safe conveyance. Paterson really loves you with the tenderest
affection, and can scarcely speak of your state of health without
shedding a friendly tear. As God is my judge, I could not forbear
shedding several when I read yours by Dr. Cutting, which is the first
I have had from you in near five weeks. I was afraid all farther
attempts to recover your health, so as to qualify you to execute our
plan, would be fruitless. In short, I thought you on the brink of
eternity, ready to take your final farewell of this wrangling world.
The critical situation of your sister increased my distress, and
extinguished every hope. How much more happy should I be if your
sister's health took the same fortunate turn. Your ride to Litchfield
must be doubly agreeable, as it will tend to establish your health and
I must now communicate to you a disagreeable piece of news respecting
myself. It shows how rare it is to find a man of real disinterested
benevolence. Sears and Broome, I understand by Mr. Noel, who returned
from Philadelphia a few days ago, have protested the bill I drew upon
them last summer. Colonel Palfrey bought it, and has it returned to
him, for what reasons I cannot say positively, but I suspect they are
determined not to assist me, although they were lavish of their offers
when they supposed I never would be reduced to the necessity of
accepting them. Such conduct is characteristic of excessive meanness
of spirit, and I confess I am deceived in my opinion of them most
egregiously. True it is, that instances of this kind of behaviour
often occur in our intercourse with mankind; but, from the fortunes
these men have made since the war, and the frequent reports of their
generosity, I was led to imagine there was something more than mere
idle compliment and ostentatious parade in their offers. I was
deceived, and I hope it will be the last time. This affair has wounded
my pride so sensibly, that I shall be extremely cautious in future. I
must and will endeavour to adopt some mode of drawing supplies from my
certificates, which will be three years old next spring, and therefore
ought to be taken up by Congress By the table of depreciation
published by Congress to regulate the payment of the principal of
their certificates, I am entitled to three hundred and fifty pounds,
at the very lowest calculation, and this sum in specie.
When you come here you must exert all your abilities in finance, to
make me no longer dependant upon the bounty of friends; or rather, I
should say, your bounty, for you are the only person I have borrowed
money of. Till that time, my dear friend, can you keep me above water,
and do justice to yourself? Will you be able to extricate me from the
difficulties attending this bill? In plain terms, can you spare me the
amount of it? My reputation suffers by having the bill protested, and
I must, in a short time, send the money to Colonel Palfrey, for I am
persuaded I have no farther ground to expect the least assistance from
Sears and Broome. Fail not, by any means, to write me on this subject
before you leave Paramus, and be careful how you send the letter.
There is nothing but your health and my poverty that retards my
progress in study. They are fruitful sources of disquietude. When I
lay me down to sleep, they often prevent me from closing my eyes. When
I look into a book, they present a variety of melancholy images to my
imagination, and unfit me for improvement In all other respects I am
situated to my wishes: Paterson treats me as a bosom friend. He has
gone so far as to press me in the warmest terms to command his purse.
How I shall be able to requite your friendship is a matter beyond my
penetration. I declare, before the Searcher of all hearts, that I
consider your happiness and welfare as inseparable from my own, and
that no vicissitudes of fortune, however prosperous or calamitous they
may be, will ever tear you from my heart. Circumstanced as I now am,
words are the only proofs I can give you of my gratitude and
affection. Time will prove whether they are the cant of hypocrisy or
the language of esteem.
I lent your horse to Mrs. Paterson about a week ago, to carry her to
Elizabethtown to see her brother, who was to meet her there from
New-York; and disappointments in not seeing him, from day to day, have
detained her much longer than was expected, and it is probable that
she will not return until Thursday next; I have therefore sent the boy
down to Elizabethtown, or, more properly, shall send him in the
morning, with Mr. Noel's horse, which will answer full as well in the
wagon. This change will produce no inconvenience at all, and is better
than to detain the boy till Mrs. Paterson returns. She was exceedingly
well when she left home, and so was her little girl, which is
handsome, good-tempered, fat, and hearty. I am very particular in
presenting _her_ your respects, and _she_ is as particular in
inquiring about you.
Bring all the French books you can from Connecticut, particularly
Chambaud's Exercises, and all the other elementary books you have. I
should be fond of having the perusal of Rousseau's Social Compact, if
you can borrow it of Mrs. Prevost for me. I am quite rusty in the
French, for I have neglected it totally for two or three months. The
business of the office has engrossed so much of my attention, that I
have not lately read any other book but Blackstone. I am still in the
third volume. I digest thoroughly as I advance. I have unravelled all
the difficulties of the practice, and can do common business with
The horse will be delivered to you without a saddle. Gales, a young
fellow who was studying with Mr. Paterson, requested me to lend it to
him to ride as far as Newark last August, and he ran off to New-York,
and I never could get the saddle again. This piece of villany I could
not foresee, and it surprised almost as much as Arnold's. The grass
has been very short, and I fancy the horse will be leaner than you
expect. He is a most excellent saddle-horse.
I am extremely sorry to hear Mrs. Prevost and her sister are unwell.
Remember me to them in the most friendly manner. Give my compliments
also to Dr. Latimer, and all friends in the army near you. Don't
forget Mrs. De Visme, the children, Dom. Tetard, and the family on the
hill, although I hear they are strongly prejudiced against me. Mrs.
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