Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1.
Matthew L. Davis
Part 5 out of 9
Judith Watkins, as you well know, has spoken maliciously. She is far
from being your friend. Every thing that passed one day at dinner in
confidence respecting our reception at her house, has been told to her
and her husband, with no small exaggerations, by some person of the
company. Governor Bill Livingston related some particulars that
astonished me, and added, that he and Mr. and Mrs. Watkins thought it
cruel in you to put such an unfair construction upon Watkins's
behaviour to us. All this talk is beneath our notice. What I said to
Bill was sufficient to erase any unfavourable impression from a candid
mind. If it has not produced that effect, any further attempt to
refute the calumny will only serve to confirm it.
Mrs. P. Livingston is here, and desires her respects to you. She was
glad to hear of the prospect you have of growing hearty. She is an
amiable woman, and loves you. Your friend,
The preceding correspondence contains in itself a tolerable history of
Colonel Burr's situation and employment from the summer of 1779 until
the autumn of 1780. After retiring from the army, he suffered most
severely from ill health--that ill health was, in a great degree,
produced by the fatigues and exposure on the 27th and 28th of June,
1779, at the battle of Monmouth. His constitution was feeble, and had
been shattered by his unparalleled vigilance in the winter of 1778-79,
while commanding the advanced post in Westchester. But the battle of
Monmouth seemed to have given it the finishing stroke.
The letters of Judge Paterson and Colonel Troup afford the best
evidence of his ill health, and of their affectionate devotion to him
as friends. They are given at some length, because they present rare
and extraordinary examples of fidelity in friendship. Both these
gentlemen preceded Colonel Burr to the tomb. Both continued to
respect, to esteem, and to love him, to their last hour. Their
character requires no panegyric. Colonel Troup lived until the year
1832. In manhood, for more than half a century, he venerated Colonel
Burr for his genius, his talents, his chivalry, his intrepidity of
character, his disinterestedness, his generosity. He deplored his
weaknesses, and abhorred his vices. But when he viewed the whole man,
from youth to more than threescore and ten years, he loved and
respected him. Both these distinguished citizens, as politicians, were
opposed to Colonel Burr from the year 1788 until the close of their
In the autumn of 1780, Colonel Burr commenced the study of law with
Judge Paterson, who resided at that time on the Rariton, about twenty
miles from Brunswick, in New-Jersey. Here he remained till the spring
of 1781. The judge was a man governed by fixed and settled rules. In
the application of these rules Colonel Burr found that his study of
the law would require much more time to prepare him for an examination
than he was willing to devote. He concluded that there must be a
shorter mode to get at the mechanical or practical part; and, having
determined to make the experiment, he left the office of Judge
From New-Jersey, in the spring of 1781, he removed to Haverstraw, then
in Orange county, State of New-York. Residing at this place was Thomas
Smith, Esq., formerly of the city of New-York, and brother to William
Smith, the king's attorney-general. Thomas Smith had a good law
library, which had been removed from the city into the Highlands for
safety. With Smith, Colonel Burr made an arrangement to study on a
plan of his own. By the contract, for a specified sum to be paid,
Smith was to devote certain portions of his time to Burr. At these
interviews, he was to answer such questions as Burr propounded. The
answers were taken down in writing, and formed the basis of additional
interrogatories; while, at the same time, they aided in directing his
attention to those legal points or authorities which were necessary
for him to examine or read. During the time he remained at Haverstraw,
he studied from sixteen to twenty hours a day.
In the summer of 1780, Major Andre, of the British army, was in
correspondence with Mrs. Arnold (the wife of General Arnold), under a
pretext of supplying her, from the city of New-York, with millinery
and other trifling articles of dress. On the 23d of September, 1780,
Major Andre was captured, and the treason of the general discovered.
When this news reached West Point, Mrs. Arnold became, apparently,
almost frantic. Her situation excited the sympathy of some of the most
distinguished officers in the American army. Mrs. Arnold, having
obtained from General Washington a passport, and permission to join
her husband in the city of New-York, left West Point, and on her way
stopped at the house of Mrs. Prevost, in Paramus, where she stayed one
night. On her arrival at Paramus the frantic scenes of West Point were
renewed, and continued so long as strangers were present. Mrs. Prevost
was known as the wife of a British officer, and connected with the
royalists. In her, therefore, Mrs. Arnold could confide.
As soon as they were left alone Mrs. Arnold became tranquillized, and
assured Mrs. Prevost that she was heartily sick of the theatrics she
was exhibiting. She stated that she had corresponded with the British
commander--that she was disgusted with the American cause and those
who had the management of public affairs--and that, through great
persuasion and unceasing perseverance, she had ultimately brought the
general into an arrangement to surrender West Point to the British.
Mrs. Arnold was a gay, accomplished, artful, and extravagant woman.
There is no doubt, therefore, that, for the purpose of acquiring the
means of gratifying an inordinate vanity, she contributed greatly to
the utter ruin of her husband, and thus doomed to everlasting infamy
and disgrace all the fame he had acquired as a gallant soldier at the
sacrifice of his blood. Mrs. Prevost subsequently became the wife of
Colonel Burr, and repeated to him these confessions of Mrs. Arnold.
The preceding statement is confirmed by the following anecdote. Mrs.
Arnold was the daughter of Chief-justice Shippen, of Pennsylvania. She
was personally acquainted with Major Andre, and, it is believed,
corresponded with him previous to her marriage. In the year 1779-80,
Colonel Robert Morris resided at Springatsbury, in the vicinity of
Philadelphia, adjoining Bush Hill. Some time previous to Arnold's
taking command of West Point, he was an applicant for the post. On a
particular occasion Mrs. Arnold was dining at the house of Colonel
Morris. After dinner, a friend of the family came in, and
congratulated Mrs. Arnold on a report that her husband was appointed
to a different, but more honourable command. The information affected
her so much as to produce hysteric fits. Efforts were made to convince
her that the general had been selected for a preferable station. These
explanations, however, to the astonishment of all present, produced no
effect. But, after the treason of Arnold was discovered, the family of
Colonel Morris entertained no doubt that Mrs. Arnold was privy to, if
not the negotiator for, a surrender of West Point to the British, even
before the general had charge of the post.
In the autumn of 1781 Colonel Burr left Haverstraw and went to Albany,
with a determination to make an effort to be admitted to the bar. He
continued his studies with the most untiring industry. He had his own
apartments and his own library, sleeping, when he did sleep, in a
blanket on the floor.
Colonel Burr's liberality in pecuniary matters had tended to impair
his private fortune. No man possessed a more benevolent heart. The
following letter presents one case out of many which might be
enumerated, evincing his generosity, and the delicate manner in which
he could confer a favour. Major Alden had become embarrassed in his
circumstances, and was greatly at a loss for a profession, at the
approaching close of the war, by which he might acquire a decent
support. These reflections rendered him gloomy and desponding. At
length he unbosomed himself to Colonel Burr, who thus replies to his
TO MAJOR R. ALDEN.
Rariton, February 15th, 1781.
If it will solace your woes to know there is a heart that feels them
as its own, that heart is mine. The thwarts of delicacy, which you
would exclude from the catalogues of distress, are certainly the
keenest humanity can feel. I know their force. I have felt them in all
A want of uniformity in the mode and object of my pursuit has been
long my misfortune, and has, I fear, been yours. There is a
persevering firmness that will conquer embarrassment, and, aided with
the secret smile of an approving conscience, cannot fail to put us
above the power of adversity. Thus "we shall shun misfortunes, or
shall learn to bear them."
I have ever found the moment of indecision to be the moment of
completest anguish. When our resolutions are taken with determined
firmness, they engross the mind and close the void of misery. Yes, my
friend, save the pang of sympathy, I am happy. These are my halcyon
days. Let us taste them together. We shall mutually heighten their
relish. Let us rescue some moments of rational enjoyment from the
wreck of impetuous time. Friendship shall smooth the rugged path of
science, and virtue cheer the way.
If law is your object, this situation is favourable to the pursuit.
You shall have access to the library and office, without the customary
expense. Your _ostensible reason_ for coming here shall be to pursue
your studies with me, under my friend Mr. Paterson. The two boys  I
wish you to instruct are of the sweetest tempers and the softest
hearts. A frown is the severest punishment they ever need. Four hours
a day will, I think, be fully sufficient for their instruction. There
are hours enough left for study--as many as any one can improve to
advantage; and these four will be fully made up to you by the
assistance you will derive from such of us as have already made some
If it is possible, we live together. At any rate, you shall live near
me; we shall at least meet every day, or oftener, if we please.
Nothing will interrupt us. We will regulate our own amusements and
pursuits. Here are no expensive diversions of any kind. Your salary
shall be a genteel maintenance in such a situation. You shall have
sixty pounds, New-York currency, which is more than I expend here. You
will find it impossible to spend a farthing except board and clothing.
If, from this short sketch, you think the situation adapted to your
views, of which I feel a pleasing assurance, acquaint me immediately,
that I may prepare for your reception.
I purpose bringing the boys here the beginning of April. Be here by
that time, if possible. Get Mr. Thaddeus Burr to enclose your letter
to Loudon the printer, who will be careful to forward it to me. How
could I write to you How divine your residence? Never again harbour,
for a moment, a surmise that derogates from my sincerity.
My health is nearly established. I have not enough to despise the
blessing, but enough to relish every enjoyment of life. Adieu, my
friend; may that cheerfullness of which you have been robbed return,
and be as permanent as your merit or my affection.
FROM THOMAS SMITH.
Haverstraw, 1st March, 1781.
The preparations at New-York look this way, and that inclines me to
seek an asylum in New-Jersey, any part of which I believe will be
safe, if Hudson's river is the object of the enemy. If I could get
Mrs. De Visme's place, it would be most agreeable to Mrs. Smith. A few
weeks will determine me, and then I shall be in a situation to give
you and Colonel Troup every assistance in my power. As it is your
object to fit yourselves as soon as possible for admission to the bar,
without submitting to the drudgery of an attorney's office, in which
the advancement of the student is but too often a secondary
consideration, I should cheerfully devote a sufficient part of my time
to lead you through the practice of the law in all its parts; and make
no doubt, with close application on your part, I should be able in a
short time to introduce you to the bar, well qualified to discharge
the duties of the profession, with honour to yourselves, and safety to
My library is now in a situation to be removed. Two boxes are missing,
and I fear have fallen a sacrifice to the liberty of the times. I only
wait till the roads will permit me to remove the remainder down, as I
think my books by no means safe where they now are, if the forts
should be attacked.
Your obedient servant,
At this period Colonel Burr was closely engaged in his studies. His
constitution was somewhat renovated. His correspondence now became
limited, and was principally confined to Mrs. Prevost. Here again the
peculiarity already referred to was in full operation. The greater
part of this correspondence is in cipher. But portions of it that are
not thus written are highly interesting, and give evidence that Mrs.
Prevost possessed a cultivated mind. Her health was very feeble, and
continued so, after she became the wife of Colonel Burr, until her
decease. Some extracts from her letters will be given.
FROM MRS. PREVOST.
Litchfeld, February 12th, 1781
I am happy that there is a post established for the winter. I shall
expect to hear from you every week. My ill health will not permit me
to return your punctuality. You must be contented with hearing once a
Your opinion of Voltaire pleases me, as it proves your judgment above
being biased by the prejudices of others. The English, from national
jealousy and enmity to the French, detract him. Divines, with more
justice, as he exposes himself to their censure. It is even their duty
to contemn his tenets; but, without being his disciple, we may do
justice to his merit, and admire him as a judicious, ingenious author.
I will not say the same of your system of education. Rousseau has
completed his work. The indulgence you applaud in Chesterfield is the
only part of his writings I think reprehensible. Such lessons from so
able a pen are dangerous to a young mind, and ought never to be read
till the judgment and heart are established in virtue. If Rousseau's
ghost can reach this quarter of the globe, he will certainly haunt you
for this scheme--'tis striking at the root of his design, and
destroying the main purport of his admirable production. Les
foiblesses de l'humanite, is an easy apology; or rather, a license to
practise intemperance; and is particularly agreeable and flattering to
such practitioners, as it brings the most virtuous on a level with the
vicious. But I am fully of opinion that it is a much greater chimera
than the world are willing to acknowledge. Virtue, like religion,
degenerates to nothing, because it is convenient to neglect her
precepts. You have, undoubtedly, a mind superior to the contagion.
When all the world turn envoys, Chesterfield will be their proper
guide. Morality and virtue are not necessary qualifications--those
only are to be attended to that tend to the public weal. But when
parents have no ambitious views, or rather, when they are of the more
exalted kind, when they wish to form a happy, respectable member of
society--a firm, pleasing support to their declining life, Emilius
shall be the model. A man so formed must be approved by his Creator,
and more useful to mankind than ten thousand modern beaux.
If the person whose kind partiality you mention is Paterson, I confess
myself exceedingly flattered, as I entertain the highest opinion of
the perspicuity of his judgment. Say all the civil things you please
for his solicitous attention to my health. But if it should be Troup,
which I think more probable, assure him of my most permanent
FROM MRS. THEODOSIA PREVOST.
Litchfield, 6th March, 1781.
----Where can ----- be? Poor suffering soul; worthy a better fate.
Heaven preserve him for his own sake; for his distressed mother's. I
pity her from my heart, and lament my inability to alleviate her
sorrows. I invoke a better aid. May her "afflicted spirit find the
only solace of its woes"--Religion, Heaven's greatest boon to man; the
only distinction he ought to boast. In this, he is lord of the
creation; without it, the most pitiable of all created things.
How strangely we pass through life! All acknowledge themselves mortal
and immortal; and yet prefer the trifles of to-day to the treasures of
eternity. Piety teaches resignation. Resignation without piety loses
its beauty, and sinks into insensibility. Your beautiful quotation is
worth more than all I can write in a twelvemonth. Continue writing on
the subject. It is both pleasing and improving. The better I am
acquainted with it, the more charms I find. Worlds should not purchase
the little I possess. I promise myself many happy hours dedicated at
the shrine of religion,
FROM MRS. THEODOSIA PREVOST.
Litchfield, May, 1781.
Our being the subject of much inquiry, conjecture, and calumny, is no
more than we ought to expect. My attention to you was ever pointed
enough to attract the observation of those who visited the house. Your
esteem more than compensated for the worst they could say. When I am
sensible I can make you and myself happy, I will readily join you to
suppress their malice. But, till I am confident of _this_, I cannot
think of our union. Till then I shall take shelter under the roof of
my dear mother, where, by joining stock, we shall have sufficient to
stem the torrent of adversity.
You speak of my spirits as if they were at my command, or depressed
only from perverseness of temper. In these you mistake. Believe me,
you cannot wish their return more ardently than I do. I would this
moment consent to become a public mendicant, could I be restored to
the same tranquillity of mind I enjoyed this time twelvemonth. The
influence my letters may have on your studies is imaginary. The idea
is so trite that I ask in hopes it was worn from your mind. My last
year's trials are vouchers. I was always writing with a view to please
you, and as often failed in the attempt. If a desire for my own
happiness cannot restore me to myself, pecuniary motives never can. I
wish you to study for your own sake; to ensure yourself respect and
independence; to ensure us the comforts of life, when Providence
deigns to fit our hearts for the enjoyment. I shall never look forward
with confidence till your pride extends to that. I had vainly
flattered my self that pride was inseparable to true love. In yours I
find my error; but cannot renounce my idea of its being a necessary
support _to_, and the only security _for_, permanent affection.
You see by the enclosed how ready my friends are to receive you, and
promote your interest. I wish you may be fortunate in executing aunt
Clark's business. My health and spirits are neither better nor worse
than when you left me. I thank you for your attention to Bird's
FROM MRS. THEODOSIA PREVOST.
Sharon, September 11th, 1781.
My friend and neighbour, Mr. Livingston, will have the pleasure of
presenting you this. You will find him quite the gentleman, and worthy
your attention. Enclosed is a letter to my sister, which must be
delivered by yourself. You know my reasons too well to infer from my
caution that I entertain the least doubt of Mr. Livingston's
Monsieur Tetard is gone to the manor, summoned by Mrs. Montgomery, on
pretence of his being the only surviving witness to the general's
will. The business that was to have detained him but a few days has
kept him these six weeks. I cannot account for his delay, unless his
extravagant encomiums on the progress of a friend of yours has proved
a stimulation to those of superior talents. He exaggerates exceedingly
in extolling his pupils. Those whose expectations are raised from his
description must prepare themselves for disappointment.
Mr. and Mrs. Reeve were well a few days ago. She rides every morning
to visit the boy, and returns before breakfast. I fear they will
disappoint me in the promised visit.
We were obliged to Dr. Cutting for the most pleasing account of your
health and spirits. Also, of your great progress in law. Judge Hobart
expects Colonels Burr and Troup will make his suite to the October
court, where he hopes to usher them, with all the eclat due to their
merit. He counts the weeks, which he has now reduced to five. While
the warmth of friendship animates his countenance, his heart swells
with pride at the honour of patronising two such characters. He must
not be disappointed; this must be the route, or he will believe
himself slighted. I am obliged to his zeal, as it will procure us the
pleasure of seeing you. The sight of an old acquaintance is quite a
phenomenon. I am not surprised that genuine hospitality is fled to
cottages. You will find it a la rustique chez votre amie.
FROM MAJOR R. ALDEN.
Fairfield, 26th February, 1781.
Your letter of the 15th inst. pleases me. You have a heart that feels:
a heart susceptible of tender friendship. Life has not a single charm
to compare with such sensations. You know too well how to excite such
emotions. Happy for us. These expel the keenest pangs. There is no
such thing as real happiness. At best, it is but a delusion. We make
our own pleasures as we do our troubles. Friendship will heighten the
one and moderate the other.
I have been tortured with the anxiety of suspense. It has given me the
most poignant distress. It disordered my mind; at times, almost drove
me to despair. Some of my friends saw the effect, but could not
conjecture the cause. You alone could penetrate the feelings of my
heart; you alone are in possession of that evidence which will convict
me of my weakness; my want of fortitude. I dare intrust you. I feel
the influence of your friendship. To a heart like yours, this will
prove the sincerity and affection of mine. I bid adieu to camp, having
completed my business, with my thanks to our worthy commander-in-chief
for his attention to my character. The discharge he gave me equalled
my wishes and exceeded my expectations. I have enjoyed the most
rational satisfaction for three days past. I have commenced student.
Dr. Johnson has given me my plan of studies, and free access to his
library. My ambition is not great, nor my views unbounded. I shall
proportion the means to the object. If I persevere with attention, I
have something more than wishes to build upon. Nothing within the
compass of my abilities, that is justifiable, will be left untried, to
gratify my reasonable desires.
I know that your request proceeded entirely from your friendship for
me, and that you felt happy that it was in your power to oblige me. I
feel the force of your kindness, but must deny myself the pleasure of
spending some months with my friend. My time is short; age presses
upon me. Four years have been devoted to my country, for which I have
received no compensation.
It gives me pleasure to hear that your health is such that you can be
thankful for the blessing, and are in a situation to enjoy yourself in
the pursuit of your studies. My heart is sincerely interested in your
happiness. Let me know your feelings, that I may know how to refine
mine. Your friendship and letters add a continual charm to my life,
and will always please the heart and secure the affection of, yours,
TO MRS. PREVOST.
Albany, 5th June, 1781.
I was absent when yours of the 10th ultimo came, and therefore did not
receive it till the first inst. You may be assured will one day repent
his insolence. Uniformity of conduct and great appearance of
moderation are all that can be put in practice immediately. The maxim
of a man whom neither of us esteem very highly is excellent on this
occasion--"_Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re_." See, my dear
Theodosia, what you bring upon yourself by having once piddled at
Latin. The maxim, however, would bear sheets of comment and days of
reflection. I second the just pride of ----, in being averse to crouch
to a villain. Your letter to E. would have every influence that mine
These crosses are of that class which, though they may perplex for a
moment (a moment is too much), yet cannot affect our real happiness.
That mind is truly great which can bear with equanimity the trifling
and unavoidable vexations of life, and be affected only by those
events which determine our substantial bliss. Every period, and every
situation, has a portion of these trifling crosses; and those who
expect to avoid them all, or conquer them all, must be wretched
without respite. Witness -----. I am half vexed at the manner in which
you speak of what you term "the sorrows of -----." They are just of
this trifling kind. Say and think no more of them. Their impression
was momentary, and is long past.
G.'s uniformity of conduct for some time has established his
character, and crushed the malice of his enemies. He has, however,
mingled some address in his deportment--has made visits, and some acts
of civility, to his avowed enemies, by which means he has gained some
and silenced others. His whole conduct, his language, and even his
thoughts, seem to have in view the happiness of. I believe this idea
is impressed on him every hour of his life.
TO CHIEF-JUSTICE MORRIS.
Albany, 21st October, 1781.
I do myself the honour to enclose you several letters, which were
intended, I believe, to introduce me to your acquaintance, perhaps to
your friendship. I am particularly unfortunate to see neither Mr.
Hobart nor yourself on the present occasion; the more so, as I find a
rule of unexpected rigour, which, if strictly adhered to, must
effectually exclude me from this bar. Mr. Judge Yates gives me reason
to hope this rule may be enlarged. If it should be deemed unadvisable
to make one of such latitude as may include me within a general
description, perhaps my particular situation may be thought to claim
particular indulgence. Before the revolution, and long before the
existence of the present rule, I had served some time with an attorney
of another state. At that period I could have availed my self of this
service; and, surely, no rule could be intended to have such
retrospect as to injure _one whose only misfortune is having
sacrificed his time, his constitution, and his fortune, to his
It would give me sensible regret were my admission to establish a
precedent which might give umbrage to the bar; but, should your
opinion accord with my wishes, with respect to the indulgence due to
my particular case, the expression of it, to any gentleman of the
profession, would doubtless remove the possibility of discontent.
Perhaps I assume a freedom which personal acquaintance only could
warrant. I beg, sir, you will ascribe it to the reliance I am taught
to place on your goodness, and the confidence with which your
character inspires even those who have no other title to your notice.
Whatever may be the success of my present designs, I shall do myself
the honour of waiting on you, and assuring you, in person, of the
respect and esteem with which I am your obedient servant,
Colonel Burr frequently impressed upon those with whom he was in the
habit of a regular correspondence, the advantage of committing to
paper daily, in the form of a journal, such thoughts or ideas as
occurred and were deemed desirable to repeat. He adopted this form in
his communications with Mrs. Prevost. The following is a specimen:--
Albany, Thursday, December 3d, 1781.
I am at length arrived at my destined haven, and, what is very unusual
for me, have been successful in several trivial circumstances, such as
getting over the ferry (which is difficult at this season), finding
temporary quarters for my chevaux without difficulty or delay. I
cannot help regarding these as harbingers of good luck. I am, however,
not fortunate in finding Judge Yates. He is from home. G. civil, but
unwell. The room promised me is not fitted; must therefore seek other
lodgings. Bon soir. Visit me in my slumbers.
Friday night, December 4th.
Till sunset I was in doubt whether I should not be obliged to leave
Albany for want of quarters. Have at length found tolerable. No price
yet fixed. Probably not less than trois piasters the week. A day
completely lost, and I, of course, in ill humour with every thing but
Saturday, December 5th.
A sick headache this whole day. I earned it by eating last night a
hearty supper of Dutch sausages, and going to bed immediately after. I
am surprised it did not operate in the way of my disorder, which was
formerly the certain consequence of every error in diet; but no
symptom of that, though I was very restless.
I took the true Indian cure for the headache. Made a light breakfast
of tea, stretched myself on a blanket before the fire, fasted till
evening, and then tea again. I thought, through the whole day, that if
you could sit by me, and stroke my head with your little hand, it
would be well; and that, when we are formally united, far from deeming
a return of this disorder un malheur, I should esteem it a fortunate
apology for a day of luxurious indulgence, which I should not
otherwise allow myself or you.
Most unexpectedly, Lewis called upon me this evening, civilly offered
me his house, and asked me to dine. I was wrong, I think, to accept
his invitation, but this did not strike me till I had engaged. Must
dine there to-morrow.
Sunday, 6th December.
This is the third day in town, and no business done. These two days
past I have been studying the second volume of Rousseau. G. is
returned. He never appeared more unlike himself. I was somehow
uncommonly stupid, and, would you believe it, even awkward. Said very
little, and that little with hesitation. You know there are days when
every thing goes against one. Paid little attention to anybody (that
little, somehow, ill timed), and received still less from them.
How could we forget Latimer? He has sung Theodosia's praise among the
southern army in terms with which her best friends must be pleased. He
has also established the character of A. Burr. Quackenbush is
determined to be civil. Says his visits will be frequent.
Yates is returned. More of him to-morrow. An old, weather-beaten lady,
Miss Depeyster, has given the whole history of Burr, and much of
Theo., but nothing unfavourable. In a place where Burr thought himself
a stranger, there is scarce any age or sex that does not, either from
in formation or acquaintance, know something of him.
I am surprised I forgot to advise you to get a Franklin fireplace.
They have not the inconvenience of stoves, are warm, save wood, and
never smoke. The cost will not be, probably, more than ten or fifteen
dollars, which will be twice saved this winter in wood and _comfort_,
and they may be moved anywhere. If you have fears about _brat_,
[Foonote: Mrs. Prevost's youngest child.] I have none. He will never
burn himself but once; and, by way of preventive, I would advise you
to do that for him. It will be put up in a few hours by anybody. I am
in doubt whether it will be best to have it in the common room or one
of the back rooms. The latter will have many advantages. You may then
have a place sacred to love, reflection, and books. This, however, as
you find best; but that you have one I am determined, unless you can
give some better reason against it than I at present know of. Indeed,
I would wish you had two. You will get them with no trouble from the
Salisbury furnace. It is of the first importance that you suffer as
little as possible the present winter. It may, in a great measure,
determine your health ever after. I confess I have still some
transient distrusts that you set too little value on your own life and
comfort. Remember, it is not yours alone; but your letters shall
convince me. I waive the subject.
I am not certain I shall be regularly punctual in writing you in this
manner every day when I get at business; but I shall, if possible,
devote one quarter of an hour a day to you. In return, I demand one
half of an hour every day from you; more I forbid, unless on special
occasions. This half hour is to be mine, to be invariably at the same
time, and, for that purpose, fixed at an hour least liable to
interruption, and as you shall find most convenient. Mine cannot be so
regular, as I only indulge myself in it when I am fatigued with
business. The children will have each their sheet, and, at the given
hour, write, if but a single word Burr, at this half hour is to be a
kind of watchword.
Monday, 7th December.
I keep always a memorandum for you, on which, when I think of any
thing at any time of day that I wish to write, I make a short note in
a manner which no other person would understand. When I sit down to
write I have nothing to do but look at my memorandum. I would
recommend the same to you, unless you rather choose to write at the
moment when you think of any thing.
I have continually felt some apprehensions about the success of Troup
with the court. The Springs are but twenty-eight miles from Albany; I
will meet you there.
Phil. Van Rensselaer, whom I have never before seen, has been to
introduce himself, and tender his services of every kind. He is of the
most respectable and richest inhabitants.
Tuesday, 8th December.
No place yet; but, that time need not be lost, I have been looking
over Rousseau's 4th volume. I imagine ----- gathered thence his
sentiments on the subject of jealousy. If so, he has grossly mistaken
the ideas of Rousseau. Do you discover a symptom of it? Far otherwise.
You see only confidence and love. That jealousy for which you are an
advocate, he condemns as appertaining to brutes and sensualists.
Discard, I beseech you, ideas so degrading to true love. I am
mortified with the reflection that they were ever yours.
I think ----- must have taken pains to have overlooked the following
paragraph, when, in enumerating the duties of a woman towards a lover
or husband, he makes it principally to consist "in respecting
themselves, in order to acquire respect. How delightful are these
privileges! How respectable are they! how cordially do men prize them,
when a woman knows how to render them estimable." I fear ----- will be
convinced of this but too late. I am glad to find, however, that the
idea so often urged (in vain) by me, is not a mere vagary of my own
brain, but is supported by so good authority.
Wednesday, 9th December.
I have this day made a feint at law. But, were my life at stake, it
could not command my attention.
Thursday, 10th December.
We have about twelve or fourteen inches of snow. When you read my
letters I wish you would make minutes at the time of such facts as
require an answer; for, if you trust your memory till the time of
writing, you will omit half you would otherwise say.
Friday, 11th December.
I really wish much to know the conduct of -----. It is, however, more
curiosity than anxiety. It would be childish to build any part of
one's happiness on a basis so unstable.
The Van Rensselaer before mentioned, and henceforth to be designated
by _Ll_., proves to be a phenomenon of goodness and (can you believe
it) even tenderness. Tenderness, I hear you cry, in a Hollandois! But
hold your injustice; the character and fine heart of Van Rensselaer
will, I think, in future, remove your prejudice, especially when you
add to this his marked attention and civility.
Saturday, 12th December.
Van Rensselaer finds fault with my quarters, which, indeed, are far
removed from elegance, and, in some respects, from convenience. He
insists that I suffer him to provide me better.
I have not hitherto had an hour of Yates. His reasons, however, have
been good. On Monday we are to mangle law.
Sunday, 13th December.
Van Rensselaer has succeeded perfectly to my wish. I am with two
maidens, aunts of his, obliging and (incredible!!) good-natured. The
very paragon of neatness. Not an article of furniture, even to a
teakettle, that would soil a muslin handkerchief. I have two upper
rooms. I was interrupted at the line above, and cannot now, for my
life, recollect what I was intending to write. I leave it, however, to
plague you as it has done me.
Monday, 14th December.
I really fear Yates is playing the fool with me. Still evasive, though
plausibly so. I have just had an interview. To-morrow I must and will
come to a positive eclaircissement.
I am determined, in future, when doubt arises in my mind whether I
shall write a thing or not, invariably to write it. You recollect
-----'s advising that Carlos  should learn the violin.
G. was unkind enough to remind him that he was formerly opposed to
that opinion. There was a degree of insult in this reproach of which I
did not think G. capable. I truly believe he did not reflect on the
tendency of it. I do not remember that he is apt to take such unfair
advantage of his friends. Happy they who can make improvement of each
other's errors. The necessary, but dear-bought knowledge of
experience, is earned at double cost by those who reap alone.
Since I left you, I have not taken pen in hand without intending to
write you. I am happy in having done it, for I now feel perfectly
Tuesday, 15th December.
Yesterday was partly a day of business. The evening wholly and
advantageously so. This day has been rather a feint. Yates engaged. I
beg ten thousand pardons of Miss Depeyster; she is our warm friend and
advocate. One Bogart, at Tappan, is the scoundrel.
Wednesday, 16th December.
I perceive this letter-writing will not answer; though I write very
little, it is still half my business; for, whenever I find myself
either at a loss what to do, or any how discomposed or dull, I fly to
these sheets, and even if I do not write, I ponder upon it, and in
this way sacrifice many hours without reflecting that time passes
away. Yates still backward, but the day tolerably spent.
I have also been busy in fixing a Franklin fireplace for myself. I
shall have it completed to-morrow. I am resolved you shall have one or
two of them. You have no idea of their convenience, and you can at any
time remove them.
I expect to despatch Carlos to-morrow. I think I have already
mentioned that I wrote you from Kinderhook, and also this week by
Colonel Lewis, enclosed to our friend at Sharon.
An engagement of business to-day and this evening with Yates, prevents
me preparing for Carlos as I expected.
1. The lady of the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer
2. The sons of Mrs. Prevost, Frederick and John B. The latter was
Judge Prevost, of Louisiana. Mrs. Prevost was unable to expend such a
sum on these young gentlemen. it was a means adopted by Colonel Burr
delicately to assist, from his own purse, a desponding son of science.
Similar instances of his liberality, in the course of his life, were
3. A negro boy belonging to Colonel Burr.
In the autumn of 1781, as may be seen by the preceding correspondence,
Colonel Burr was in Albany, preparing himself for admission to the
bar. Judge Yates rendered him essential service on the occasion. His
friendship and kindness were appreciated, and gratefully recollected.
At that time Chief-justice Richard Morris, Robert Yates, and John
Sloss Hobart composed the bench of the Supreme Court of the State of
New-York. All these gentlemen were friendly to Burr, and treated him
with the utmost courtesy; but for Judge Yates he entertained, during
the continuance of his life, the most profound respect and veneration.
By the rules of the court it was required that candidates for
admission should have pursued a course of legal studies not less than
three years previous to presenting themselves for examination. Colonel
Burr applied to the court to dispense with this rule in his case. The
application was opposed with great zeal by all the members of the bar;
and, as no counsellor would make the necessary motion on the subject,
Burr was not only compelled to do it himself, but to argue the
question with the ablest of the profession.
After hearing the argument, the court determined that, as he had been
employed in the service of his country, when he might, under other
circumstances, have been a law-student, they would dispense with the
rigour of the rule so far as it applied to the period of study; but
that no indulgence would be granted in reference to the necessary
qualifications. In pursuance of this decision he underwent a severe
and critical examination by some of the most eminent members of the
bar, who were anxious for his rejection. The examination, however,
resulted in a triumphant admission that the candidate was duly
qualified to practise; and he was accordingly licensed as an attorney,
on the 19th day of January, 1782. And at "a supreme court of
judicature, held for the State of New-York, at the City Hall of the
city of Albany, on the 17th day of April, 1782, Aaron Burr having, on
examination, been found of competent ability and learning to practise
as counsellor," it was ordered that he be accordingly admitted.
Soon after Colonel Burr commenced the practice of law in the city of
Albany, he invited his friend and brother soldier, Major W. Popham, to
join him, and pursue a course of legal studies. This invitation was
given with his accustomed kindness. About the period of Burr's
marriage, Major Popham replies.
FROM MAJOR W. POPHAM 
Fishkill, August 16th, 1782
Yesterday I was accidentally favoured with your friendly letter of the
3d of May, from Litchfield, which was peculiarly agreeable, as it
contained the first official accounts I have had of you since my
leaving Albany, and dispelled a train of gloomy reflections which your
supposed long silence had suggested.
The approbation you have given of my conduct, in an affair in which
you have so generously interested yourself, is very flattering. A
detail of the circumstances which rendered it necessary to postpone
the prosecution of my intended plan, would be too prolix for the
subject of a letter. They would not present one pleasing reflection;
and I love you too well to give you pain. Suspend, therefore, your
curiosity and your opinion, until the duties of the field permit me to
see you, when you shall be satisfied.
I hope the alterations you have made in your plan of life may equal
your most sanguine wishes. I am pleased that you have taken a house in
Albany, and sincerely congratulate you on an event that promises you
so much happiness. May you long enjoy all the blessings which can flow
from that happy state, for which Heaven has so remarkably designed
But why am I requested to "_say nothing about obligations_," while you
continue to load me with new ones? Or, why should I be denied the
common privilege of every liberal mind, that of acknowledging the
obligation which I have not the power of cancelling? Yes, my friend,
your generous offer claims my warmest thanks; but the very principle
which excites my gratitude forbids me to accept it. Dr. L informs me
you have written twice to me. One of the letters is lost. Will you
speedily supply the deficiency? If you can spare an hour from
business, retirement, or love, let me entreat you to devote it to your
friend. I cannot tell you how much I long to hear from you. Adieu.
To Mrs. Prevost.
Albany, December 23d, 1781.
My dear Theodosia is now happy by the arrival of Carlos. This was not
wishing you a happy Christmas, but actually making it so. Let all our
compliments be henceforth practical. The language of the world sounds
fulsome to tastes refined by the sweets of affection.
I see mingle in the transports of the evening the frantic little
Bartow.  Too eager to embrace the bliss he has in prospect;
frustrating his own purposes by inconsiderate haste; misplacing every
thing, and undoing what he meant to do. It will only confuse you.
Nothing better can be done than to tie him, in order to expedite his
own business. That you might not be cheerful alone, I have obeyed the
orders of your heart (for you cannot, even at this distance, conceal
them) by a determination to take a social, friendly supper with Van
You wrote me too much by Dom. I hope it was not from a fear that I
should be dissatisfied with less. It is, I confess, rather singular to
find fault with the quantity, when matter and manner are so
delightful. You must, however, deal less in sentiments and more in
ideas. Indeed, in the letter in answer to my last, you will need to be
particularly attentive to this injunction. I think constantly of the
approaching change in our affairs, and what it demands. Do not let us,
like children, be so taken with the prospect as to lose sight of the
Remember to write me facts and ideas, and don't torment me with
compliments, or yourself with sentiments to which I am already no
stranger. Write but little, and very little at once. I do not know for
what reason, Theodosia, but I cannot feel my usual anxiety about your
health, though I know you to be ill, and dangerously so. One reason
is, that I have more belief in your attention to yourself.
Your idea about the water was most delightful. It kept me awake a
whole night, and led to a train of thoughts and sensations which
cannot be described. Indeed, the whole of your letter was marked with
a degree of confidence and reliance which augurs every thing that is
good. The French letter was truly elegant, as also that enclosed in
compliance with my request.
If Reeves has received the money upon the order I gave him, he may
send me by Carlos about twenty-five guineas, if he can spare so much
of it. I am in no present want.
Pardon me for not answering your last. My mind is so engrossed by new
views and expectations, that I cannot disengage it. I have not, these
five days past, slept more than _two hours_ a night, and yet feel
refreshed and well. Your presentiments of my illness on a certain
evening were wide from truth: believe me, you have no talent that way.
Leave it to others.
I think, if you keep Carlos two nights, it will serve; but keep him
longer rather than fatigue yourself. Adieu.
On the 2d of July, 1782, Colonel Burr was married to Mrs. Theodosia
Prevost. In April preceding he had entered into the practice of the
law in the city of Albany. His attention to business was unremitted.
In consequence, he soon found himself crowded with clients from every
quarter of the state. During his residence in Albany, his mind was
exclusively engrossed with his profession and his family. In the
education of Mrs. Burr's children by her first husband he took a deep
interest. Neither labour nor expense was regarded. It was his wish
that they should be accomplished, as well as educated men.
The preliminary treaty of peace having been signed, Colonel Burr
resolved to remove his family to the city of New-York so soon as the
British should evacuate it. Here he anticipated (and in this he was
not disappointed) an extensive practice. On the 20th of November,
1781, the legislature of the State of New-York passed an act
disqualifying from practice, in the courts of the state, all
"attorneys, solicitors, and counsellors at law," who could not produce
satisfactory certificates, showing their attachment and devotion to
the whig cause during the then pending war with Great Britain. This
act was in full force at the peace of 1783, and remained so, without
any attempt to modify it, until March, 1785, when a bill was
introduced into the legislature to repeal certain sections of it, so
far as they operated upon individuals therein named. The bill was
lost. But, on the 4th of April, 1786, the restriction thus imposed on
the tory lawyers was removed by an act of the legislature.
The law of 1781, previous to its repeal, had operated most favourably
for the Whig lawyers. Those of talents and standing, such as Colonel
Burr and others, had obtained a run of business which enabled them to
compete with the most profound of their tory rivals.
It was supposed that the British troops would evacuate the city of
New-York in the spring or early in the summer of 1783; but they
remained until the 25th of November of that year. Colonel Burr applied
to his friend, Thomas Bartow, to procure him a house for the
accommodation of his family, which he accordingly did.
FROM MR. BARTOW.
New-York, April 16th, 1783
I received your agreeable favour a few days ago, and am happy to
congratulate you on the establishment of a peace: hope I shall soon
have the pleasure of seeing you in town. I have procured you a good
house in Maiden-lane, at the rate of two hundred pounds a year. The
rent to commence when the troops leave the city. Doctor Brown can
inform you more particulars about it, as he went with me to view it.
Before I engaged this house, I consulted Mrs. Clark She proposed her
house in Broadway, but could not get the tenant out, so that she gave
her consent to this.
Very respectfully yours,
FROM MRS. BURR.
Albany, 25th March, 1783.
Some think absence tends to increase affection; the greater part that
it wears it away. I believe neither, but that it only tends to prove
how far the heart is capable of loving; or rather, whether it is real
or imaginary. When the latter, every object that amuses, blots out the
idea of the absent, we find that they are not so necessary to our
happiness as we had fancied. But when that love is real, what can
amuse, what engage the mind, to banish, for a single instant, the
object of its delight? It hates every necessity that wrests it an
instant from the contemplation of its beauties; its virtues are ever
presenting themselves to increase our regret, and suggest innumerable
fears for its safety. Such have been the occupations of this day. I
tremble at every noise: new apprehensions are ever alarming me. Every
tender sensation is awake to thee.
My extreme anxiety operated severely upon my health. I have not had so
ill a turn in some months. The remedies of S. prove but little more
efficacious than those of G. I do without either. Various are the
conjectures respecting your errand. All think me of the party. My
spirits need, my heart grows impatient for your return. Every
countenance speaks for you, while Theodosia grieves.
My health is rather better. I have just this moment heard of General
Schuyler's going; have only time to tell you I rejoice at the
enclosed. It will save your hurry and anxiety Popham has written and
engaged for your attendance.
When the British were about to evacuate the city of New-York, and it
was ascertained that Colonel Burr had made the necessary arrangements
to settle there, his whig friends became anxious that he should
receive an appointment. Among those who urged this measure was Judge
Hobart, who had ever entertained an exalted opinion of his talents and
business habits. As soon as Colonel Burr was informed of the friendly
views entertained by the judge, he wrote him, expressing his
unwillingness to be considered a competitor with any gentleman for an
appointment. To this he received an answer.
FROM JUDGE HOBART.
June 17th, 1783.
Your favour has been received. However pure your views may be, I fear
you must be contented with the character of a private gentleman so
long as you determine to avoid a competition; for I am told there are
long lists of applicants for all the offices in the city and county of
With great respect, yours,
JOHN SLOSS HOBART.
FROM MRS. BURR.
Albany, August 14th, 1783.
How unfortunate, my dearest Aaron, is our present separation. I never
shall have resolution to consent to another. We must not be guided by
others. We are certainly formed of different materials; and our
undertakings must coincide with them.
A few hours after I wrote you by Colonel Lewis, our sweet infant 
was taken ill, very ill. My mind and spirits have been on the rack
from that moment to this. When she sleeps, I watch anxiously; when she
wakes, anxious fears accompany every motion. I talked of my love
towards her, but I knew it not till put to this unhappy test. I know
not whether to give her medicine or withhold it: doubt and terror are
the only sensations of which I am sensible. She has slept better last
night, and appears more lively this morning, than since her illness.
This has induced me to postpone an express to you, which I have had in
readiness since yesterday. If this meets you, I need not dwell upon my
wish. I will only put an injunction on your riding so fast, or in the
heat, or dew. Remember your presence is to support, to console your
Theo., perhaps to rejoice with her at the restoration of our
much-loved child. Let us encourage this hope; encourage it, at least,
till you see me, which I flatter myself will be before this can reach
you. Some kind spirit will whisper to my Aaron how much his tender
attention is wanted to support his Theo.: how much his love is
necessary to give her that fortitude, that resolution, which nature
has denied her but through his medium. Adieu.
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, March 22d, 1784.
My Aaron had scarce quitted the door when I regretted my passiveness.
Why did I consent to his departure? Can interest repay the sacrifice?
can aught on earth compensate for his presence? Why did I hesitate to
decide? Ten thousand fears await me. What thought suggested my assent?
The anxiety he might suffer were he to meet with obstacles to raising
the sum required; should his views be frustrated for want of the
precaution this journey might secure; his mortification; mine, at not
having the power to relieve him, were arguments that silenced my
longing wish to hold him near me; near me for ever. My Aaron, dark is
the hour that separates my soul from itself.
Thus pensive, surrounded with gloom, thy Theo. sat, bewailing thy
departure. Every breath of wind whistled terror; every noise at the
door was mingled with hope of thy return, and fear of thy
perseverance, when Brown arrived with the word--_embarked_--the wind
high, the water rough. Heaven protect my Aaron; preserve him, restore
him to his adoring mistress. A tedious hour elapsed, when our son was
the joyful messenger of thy safe landing at Paulus Hook.
Stiff with cold, how must his papa have fared? Yet, grateful for his
safety, I blessed my God. I envied the ground which bore my pilgrim. I
pursued each footstep. Love engrossed his mind; his last adieu to
Bartow was the most persuasive token--"Wait till I reach the opposite
shore, that you may bear the glad tidings to your trembling mother."
O, Aaron, how I thank thee! Love in all its delirium hovers about me;
like opium, it lulls me to soft repose! Sweet serenity speaks, 'tis my
Aaron's spirit presides. Surrounding objects check my visionary charm.
I fly to my room and give the day to thee.
TO MRS. BURR.
Albany, October 29th, 1784.
Mr. Watts this instant acquaints me that he is just setting off for
New-York. I run from court to waft you a memorandum of affection. I
have been remarkably well; was fortunate in my journey. The trial of
Livingston and Hoffman is now arguing. It began on Thursday of last
week, and will not conclude till to-night. No other business has been
or will be done this term. All this cursed long absence for nothing.
I cannot leave this till Sunday or Monday. Then to Westchester Court.
The return to joy and Theo. cannot be till Thursday or Friday, and
that depending on my business in Westchester. Miss Yates is on her
passage to New-York to spend eight or ten days.
I read your memorandum ten times a day, and observed it as religiously
as ever monk did his devotion. Yesterday I burnt it. To me it seemed
I fear I did not caution you enough against sleeping in the new house.
For Heaven's sake (or rather for my sake), don't think of it till I
come and judge. I left you an immensity of trouble, which I fear has
not promoted your health. Kiss our dear little flock for me. Adieu.
Late in the autumn of 1783 Colonel Burr removed from Albany into the
city of New-York. In the spring of 1784 he was elected a member of the
state legislature. At that early period political parties had not
assumed either form or shape. The simple and intelligible terms of
whip and tory were universally used. Colonel Burr's mind was occupied
with his professional business. The legislature met in the city of
New-York. He attended two sessions as a member. The first commenced on
the 12th of October, 1784. He was in the house only a small portion of
the time, and never interfered in what might be considered the
ordinary business of the day. On great questions he took an active and
decided part. His character for sagacity, discrimination, and
firmness, was well established; and he would, therefore, have
possessed great influence, if such had been his object; but his
ambition, at this time, was not political; or, if it was, he had
determined to smother it "until a more convenient season."
The second session while he was a member commenced on the 27th of
January, 1785. During this he was more attentive than at the preceding
session, but governed by the same system of policy, acting only when
great and important questions were under consideration. On the 14th of
February a joint committee of the two houses was appointed to revise
the laws of the state. Colonel Burr was chairman of the committee on
the part of the house. He introduced, on leave granted him, several
important bills. One in relation to the public lands, another relative
to the titles to real estate, &c. On the 25th of February a bill was
pending for the gradual abolition of slavery within the State of
New-York. It provided that all born after its passage should be born
free. Burr moved to amend, and proposed to insert a provision, that
slavery should be entirely abolished after a day specified. His
amendment being lost, he voted for the bill as reported. He was a
member of the legislature, and supported the law in 1799, by which,
ultimately, slavery within the state was abolished.
The question upon which he took the most prominent part related to an
application of some tradesmen and mechanics in the city of New-York
for an act of incorporation. The advocates of this bill had united
their interest with certain land speculators, and by these means it
was supposed both bills might be carried through the legislature.
Both, however, failed. Colonel Burr was the only member from the city
of New-York that opposed what was termed the Mechanics' Bill. His
opposition produced so much feeling and excitement, that a man of less
firmness would have been driven from his course. Riots were
threatened, and by many it was supposed his house would be assaulted.
His friends volunteered their services to protect him, but he declined
receiving their aid, averring that he had no fears of any violation of
the laws by men who had made such sacrifices as the whigs had made for
the right of self-government, and that he could and would protect
himself, if, contrary to his expectations, it should become necessary.
That he was prepared to resist any attack was universally known, but
none was attempted, and perhaps for that reason.
The Mechanics' Bill passed the legislature late in February, and was
sent to the Council of Revision. At that time the chancellor and the
judges of the Supreme Court formed a Council of Revision, and had a
qualified negative on all bills. If they considered a bill
unconstitutional, they returned it to the house in which it
originated, with their objections; after which, if it received the
vote of two thirds of both houses, it became a law. This bill was
returned on the 9th of March by the council, with their objections,
and, two thirds not voting in favour, it was lost. These objections,
in substance, were precisely what had been urged against it by Colonel
Burr on the floor of the assembly. The petitioners were forty-three in
number. The bill gave them unlimited powers in some particulars. It
did not incorporate their successors, only so far as they pleased to
admit them. They might hold landed estate in perpetuity to an
unlimited amount, provided their _income_ did exceed fifteen hundred
pounds beyond their _outgoings_. Their by-laws were to be approved by
the city corporation; thus, by rendering the one dependant on the
other, either the mechanics would influence the magistrates, and the
powers of the corporation of the city and county of New-York be made,
at some future day, instruments of monopoly and oppression; or, which
was more probable, the corporation of the city and county of New-York
obtain a controlling power over the mechanics, and thus add to the
extensive influence which that corporation already enjoyed, thereby
rendering it dangerous to the political freedom of the people. Such
were some of the objections entertained and urged by Colonel Burr
against this bill. The great body of the community were prepared to
sustain him; and, before the succeeding session of the legislature,
the intelligent among the mechanics were so well satisfied with the
correctness of his views, that a similar application was never
From the year 1785 until the year 1788, Colonel Burr was unknown as a
politician. His practice was extensive and lucrative. His domestic
relations seemed to occupy all his leisure time. His family was large,
and to direct the education of his children was to him the most
delightful employment. His zeal for their improvement is evinced in
some of the preceding letters. His own health was precarious, while
that of Mrs. Burr caused him constant alarm and apprehension. He had
but one child, a daughter; but the children of his wife by her first
husband (Colonel Prevost) he reared as his own, and with all the
tenderness of an affectionate father. The subjoined letters present
Mrs. Burr in a most estimable point of view, while they cast some
light upon Colonel Burr's character as a parent and a husband. They
cannot be read, it is believed, by even the giddy and the thoughtless
without feeling an interest in the destiny of their writers.
In the office of Colonel Burr, as students, were his two stepsons,
Frederick and John Bartow. When absent from home on professional or
other business, one of them frequently accompanied him as an
amanuensis. On these occasions all his instructions in relation to
lawsuits in which he was employed as counsel, or papers connected
therewith, were communicated to the attorney or clerk in the office
through Mrs. Burr. She appeared to be held responsible for the
punctual and prompt performance of any duty required of them. To him
she was indeed a helpmate; for she not only had charge of his domestic
concerns, but was counselled with, and intimately associated in, all
his business transactions.
TO MRS. BURR.
Princeton, April, 1785.
I had just embarked in the stage at Paulus Hook when I learned that it
went no further than Newark; so that, after being three hours close
packed with rabble, I trudged an hour more to find a conveyance to
Elizabethtown, where I arrived at eight o'clock, chilled, fatigued,
and with a surly headache. A comfortable bed and tea made amends.
We arrived here at six o'clock this evening. I am fortunate in
company, and find the travelling much less fatiguing than I imagined.
Remind Frederick of the business with Platt. Write me by the nest
post, and by every stage. If I should even have left Philadelphia, I
shall meet the letters. Speak of Harriet, and sur tout des trois
TO MRS. BURR.
Philadelphia, April, Saturday, 1785.
I did not write you on Friday, as promised in my letter from
Princeton, for which I will apologize when we meet. I arrived here in
good plight on Friday evening. Augustine came down about noon on
Saturday. We have made some satisfactory progress in our business.
Seeing the great men of other countries puts me in more conceit of
those of my own.
I shall be released on Tuesday evening, which will permit me to see
thee on Thursday morning. Mr. Colt will inform you about every thing.
Unfortunately, a gentleman with whom part of our business is has left
town. If he should return to-morrow morning, I shall be the happiest
of swains on Wednesday morning. I am very minute in these
calculations, because I make them very often. Does Theodosia employ
herself ever in the same way?
I have been to twenty places to find something to please you, but can
see nothing that answers my wishes; you will therefore, I fear, only
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, April, Saturday, 1785.
I persuade myself this is the last day you spend in Philadelphia. That
to-morrow's stage will bring you to Elizabethtown; that Tuesday
morning you will breakfast with those who pass the tedious hours
regretting your absence, and counting time till you return. Even
little Theo. gives up her place on mamma's lap to tell dear
papa--"come home." Tell Augustine he does not know how much he owes
me. 'Tis a sacrifice I would not make to any human being but himself,
nor even to him again. It is the last time of my life I submit to your
absence, except from necessity to the calls of your profession. All is
well at home. Ireson gone on his intended journey. Morris very little
here. The boys very attentive and industrious; much more so for being
alone. Not a loud word spoken by the servants. All, in silent
expectation, await the return of their much-loved lord; but _all
faintly_ when compared to thy
TO MRS. BURR.
Since writing to you last evening, every thing has conspired to harass
and delay me. I was really in hopes of surprising you on Wednesday
morning; but am now most unfortunately and cruelly detained here till
to-morrow evening; shall therefore, with the usual luck of stages,
embrace you on Thursday morning.
I have been walking, in the course of this day, hunting offices,
records, &c., &c., above eight hours, and am not fatigued. I must
really be very robust. Thine,
TO MRS. BURR.
Albany, April, 1785.
I arrived here on Tuesday evening very late, though little fatigued.
Wednesday afternoon I went with Sill to Bethlehem (Nichols), drank
tea, supped, and breakfasted. I am pleased with our friend's choice,
of which more next Tuesday evening. I am vexed you were not of my
party here--that we did not charter a sloop. I have planned a
_circuit_ with you to Long Island, with a number of pleasant &c.s,
which are also reserved to a happier moment.
I shall succeed in all Mrs. Clarke's business except that of the
lands, in which I hope little.
I feel impatient, and almost angry, that I have received no letter
from you, though I really do not know of any opportunity by which you
could have written; but it seems an endless while to wait till
Saturday night before I can hear from you. How convenient would a
little of the phlegm of _this region_ be upon such occasions as these!
I fear very much for our dear petite. I tell every one who asks me
that both she and you are well, because I abhor the cold, uninterested
inquiries, which I know would be made if I should answer otherwise. Do
you want the pity of such? Those you thought your very good friends
here have forgotten you.
Mademoiselle Y. is very civil. Are the Wadsworths with you? Have you
not been tormented with some embarrassments which I wickedly left you
to struggle with? I hope you don't believe the epithet. But why these
questions, to which I can receive no answer but in person? I
nevertheless fondly persuade myself that I shall receive answers to
them all, and many more about yourself, which I have in mind,
notwithstanding you will not have seen this. There is such a sympathy
in our ideas and feelings, that you can't but know what will most
Give Johnstone the enclosed memorandum; or, if he has gone home, to
Bartow; the business is of importance, and admits of no delay.
TO MRS. BURR.
Chester, Friday, May, 1785.
I arrived here about eleven o'clock this forenoon, with little
fatigue, my horse being an excellent one. Appearances are hostile;
they talk of twenty or twenty-five days at least. I believe I shall
not hold out so long. The commissioners are met, but not all the
parties, so that the business is not yet begun. The gentlemen from
Albany are not yet arrived or heard of. We shall probably do nothing
till they come. I have comfortable clean quarters.
Tell one of the boys to send me some supreme court seals; about six. I
forgot them. Write me what calls are made at the office for me.
Distribute my love. Let each of the children write me what they do.
You may certainly find some opportunity. Adieu.
TO MRS. BURR.
Chester, May, 1785.
I strayed this morning for an hour or two in the woods, where I lay on
a rock to enjoy the wild retreat. The cheerfullness of all around me
led me to ask why all animated nature enjoyed its being but man? Why
man alone is discontented, anxious--sacrificing the present to idle
expectations;--expectations which, if answered, are in like manner
sacrificed. Never enjoying, always hoping? Answer, _tu mihi magna
Apollo_. I would moralize, but time--and my companions are coming in.
Let me hear of your health. Avoid all fatigue. Judge Yates proposes to
come down with me. Quoi faire?
My good landlady is out of tea, and begs me to send for a pound. Put
it up very well. I am in better health than spirits. Adieu.
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, May, 1785.
I am vexed that I did not inquire your route more particularly. I
cannot trace you in imagination, nor find your spirit when at rest;
nor dare I count the hours to your return. They are still too
numerous, and add to my impatience. I expect my reward in the health
you acquire. If it should prove otherwise, how I shall hate my
acquiescence to your departure. I anticipate good or evil as my
spirits rise or fall; but I know no medium; my mind cannot reach that
stage of indifference. I fancy all my actions directed by you; this
tends to spur my industry, and give calm to my leisure.
The family as you left it. Bartow never quits the office, and is
perfectly obliging. Your dear little daughter seeks you twenty times a
day; calls you to your meals, and will not suffer your chair to be
filled by any of the family.
Judge Hobart called here yesterday; says you are absent for a month. I
do not admit that among possibilities, and therefore am not alarmed. I
feel obliged to Mr. Wickham for his delay, though I dare not give
scope to my pen; my heart dictates too freely. O, my Aaron! how many
tender, grateful things rush to my mind in this moment; how much
fortitude do I summon to suppress them! You will do justice to their
silence; to the inexpressible affection of your _plus tendre amie_.
Bartow has been to the surveyor-general; he cannot inform him the
boundaries of those lots for J. W. There is no map of them but one in
TO MRS. BURR.
Chester, May, 1785.
I joined the commissioners and parties in the woods, near this place,
on Wednesday noon; found the weather severe, and roads bad. Have,
since my arrival, been following the commissioners in their surveys.
Nothing transpires from which we can conjecture their intentions.
This morning came your kind, your affectionate, your truly welcome
letter of Monday evening. Where did it loiter so long? Nothing in my
absence is so flattering to me as your health and cheerfullness. I
then contemplate nothing so eagerly as my return; amuse myself with
ideas of my own happiness, and dwell on the sweet domestic joys which
I fancy prepared for me.
Nothing is so unfriendly to every species of enjoyment as melancholy.
Gloom, however dressed, however caused, is incompatible with
friendship. They cannot have place in the mind at the same time. It is
the secret, the malignant foe of sentiment and love. Adieu.
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, May, 1785.
Your dear letter was handed me this day, at a moment which, if
possible, increased its value. I have a little fever hanging about me,
which tends to depress my spirits for the time. Your moralizing
changed my dulness to a pleasing melancholy. I am mortified at the
interruption it met, and impatient to renew the theme; to renew it in
a more pleasing manner than even your letters afford. When my health
is ill, I find your absence insupportable; every evil haunts me. It is
the last that must take place till term; _that_ I must submit to. I am
pleased with your account of your health and spirits; they are both as
When you write again, speak of your return. The uncertainty makes it
more irksome. The company you speak of will be as welcome as any at
this juncture; but my health and mind seem to require the calm
recreation of friendly sympathy; the heart that has long been united
to mine by the tenderest esteem and confidence, who has made every
little anxiety its own, to whom I can speak without reserve every
imaginary wo, and whose kind consolation shall appease those miseries
nature has imposed. But whatever present inconveniences may arise, I
submit to them with perfect resignation, rather than, even in idea, to
expect the one mentioned by you when last at home. My mind is
impressed with a perfect dread of all of that kind. We never can have
one to give us so little trouble as E. W., and yet we found it great.
We must avoid all such invitations, for the sacrifice on my part is
I have passed a most tedious night. I went to bed much indisposed. M.
absent; mamma also. Ten thousand anxieties surrounded me till three,
when I fell asleep; waked at six, much refreshed, and in better health
than I could possibly have expected. I flatter myself your task will
end sooner than you expected. Mr. Marvin calls for my letter this
morning, which will be delivered with a pound of green tea I have
purchased for your landlady at two dollars. He has called. I am
hurried. Ten thousand loves
_Toujours la votre_.
TO MRS. BURR.
Jane's in the Mountains, May, 1785.
I wrote my dear Theodosia a long letter of business and nonsense last
evening from Chester. I am now about twelve miles nearer to you, and
shall sleep to-night within thirty-five miles (only six hours' ride),
and shall to-morrow return surlily to Chester.
Our cavalcade is most fortunately composed. Some who abhor fatigue,
others who admire good fare, by which by which combination we ride
slow and live well. We have halted here half an hour to lounge and
take a luncheon. Of the last, I partook reasonably. The time which
others devote to the former, I devote (of right) to you, and thus
lounge with peculiar glee.
By return of Mr. Smith (who is obliging enough to deliver this), I
expect much longer letters from our lazy flock. By the next
opportunity I determine not to write you, but some others who deserve
more attention than I fear they will think I mean to give them.
The girls must give me a history of their time, from rising to night.
The boys any thing which interests them, and which, of course, will
interest me. Are there any, or very pressing calls at the office? The
word is given to mount. I shall have time to seal this and overtake
them. Kiss for me those who love me.
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, April, 1785.
Mrs. Wickham just called to tell me of an opportunity to Chester. How
joyfully I embrace it. I had a most insupportable impatience to
communicate to you my gratitude and thanks for your last visit. It was
a cordial to my health and spirits; a balm to my soul. My mind is
flushed with pleasing hopes. Ten thousand tender thoughts rush to my
pen; but the bearer may prove faithless. I will suppress them to a
happier moment, and anticipate the dear indulgence.
The family as you left it. Thy Theodosia's health and spirits increase
daily. Bartow's industry and utility are striking to the family and
strangers. Johnstone returned yesterday. Your letter was as eagerly
read as though I had not seen you. Write when you have leisure; if it
does not reach me immediately, it will serve to divert some tedious
moment in a future absence; even when you are at home, engrossed by
business, I frequently find a singular pleasure in perusing those
testimonies of affection.
I find I am continually speaking of myself. I can only account for it
from my Aaron having persuaded me 'tis his favourite subject, and the
extreme desire I have to please him induces me to pursue it. I take no
walks but up one stairs and down the other. The situation of my house
will not admit of my seeing many visitors. I hope some arrangement
will be accomplished by the next week.
A packet from Sill. He writes like a happy man--not the happy man of a
day, or I am much deceived in him. She is certainly to be ranked among
the fortunate. I wish she may be sensible of her lot.
I have fixed the time of seeing you. Till Saturday I will hope the
best. I cannot extend my calculations beyond it; four days of your
absence is an age to come. My compliments to your chum, and who else
you please. _Pense avec tendresse de la votre_.
TO MRS. BURR.
Chester, May 12, 1785.
Nothing could be more welcome than your affectionate letters by Mr.
Wickham. They met me on Tuesday evening, on our return from a tour
through the mountains. I was for some hours transported home, to
partake of that domestic tranquillity which you so feelingly paint.
Continue to write if opportunity presents. They will cheer me in these
rustic regions. If not, they will not be lost.
This being a rainy day, we have kept within doors. Tomorrow, if fair,
we resume the business of climbing mountains, which will probably be
our employment till about the middle of next week. After which a week
more (at most) will finish the controversy.
Pay Moore nothing till I return, unless you see cause. Let him
rough-cast, if he is confident of succeeding; but tell him I will not
pay him till I am convinced it will bear weather, and last.
If the sheriff of Bergen (Dey) calls for his money, I enclose a note
with a blank for the name. You must speak to either Malcom or Lente
for their assistance, unless you can think of something more
convenient, putting the matter in such light as your address shall
think proper. If for any reasons you should prefer to make use of
Popham's name, do it. The person whose name is put in the note must
endorse it, and the note be dated. Let one of the boys go over to Mrs.
Baldwin for the certificate of the balance of the account, which, if
obtained, a deduction must be made accordingly. Perhaps, by paying
three or four hundred pounds, Mr. Morris will consent to wait my
return. Perhaps, at your instance, he will wait that time without any
payment. All which is humbly submitted. I enclose two notes, that you
may take your choice.
Mr. Watrous's business respecting the land is not very material. If it
should have failed, you may inform him that I have long since filed a
caveat which will cover his claim.
I bear the fatigues of our business to admiration. Have great
appetite, and sleep sound about ten hours a night. I am already as
black as a Shawanese. You will scarce know me if I continue this
business a few days longer. Thank our dear children for their kind
letters. But they are so afraid of tiring either me or themselves (I
suspect the latter), that they tell me few, very few, of those
interesting trifles which I want to know.
Let T. give them any new steps he pleases, but not one before the
others. If any one is behind or less apt, more pains must be taken to
keep them on a par. This I give in charge to you.
I fear you flatter me with respect to your health. You seem a little
studied on that score, which is not very natural to you when speaking
truth. But, if it is not true, it is surely your own fault. Go to bed
early, and do not fatigue your self with running about house. And upon
no account any long walks, of which you are so fond, and for which you
are so unfit. Simple diet will suit you best. Restrain all gout for
intemperance till some future time not very distant.
I do not _nor can_ promise myself all you promise me with respect to
the children. I have been too much mortified on that subject to remove
it at once.
This is the last expedition of the kind I shall ever undertake; and
ever since I have been here I have been planning ways to extricate
myself from it, but am defeated, and shall be absolutely detained
prisoner till the business is concluded. Johnstone can give you an
account of my quarters and mode of life. You haunt me daily more and
more. I really fear I shall do little justice to the business which
brought me here.
The children must pardon my not writing. I have a number of
memorandums of business to make out for Johnstone. Thank them again
for their letters, and beg them not to be so churlish.
Let one of the boys haunt Moore. But you surely can do it without
letting him vex you, even supposing he does nothing. I had much rather
that should be the case than that you should be one minute out of
humour with him.
The girls must go on with Tetard in his own way till I come, when I
will set all right.
It is already late. I must be up at sunrise. Bon soir, ma chere amie.
TO MRS. BURR
Chester, 19th May, 2 o'clock P. M., 1785.
We have this day begun the examination of witnesses, which, together
with the arguments, will keep us the greater part, and probably the
whole, of next week. I find myself gaining strength exceedingly since
my return from New-York, though perfectly out of humour with the
business, the distance, and the delay.
My trip to New-York has quite ruined me for business. I cannot confine
my mind to it. I am literally homesick, and think of nothing else. A
witness attending in court informs me of his going to New-York as soon
as his testimony is finished. I desert a moment to tell you that I am
6 o'clock P. M., 19th May.
Since I wrote you at two o'clock our court is adjourned till nine
to-morrow. We go on briskly and in great good nature. If you were half
as punctual or as fortunate (which shall I call it?), I should
absolutely fancy myself talking with you. It would be some
indemnification for the distance and vexation. Make up in thinking of
me, and taking care of yourself, what you omit in writing. Thine at
9 o'clock at night, 19th May.
A thousand thanks for your dear affectionate letter of Tuesday
evening. I was just sitting pensively and half complaining of your
remissness, when your letter is received and dispels every gloomy
thought. I write this from the impulse of my feelings, and in
obedience to your injunctions, having no opportunity in view.
The letters of our dear children are a feast. Every part of them is
pleasing and interesting. Le Jenne is not expected to be in New-York
for some weeks at least. I avoid the subject. I shudder at the idea of
suffering any thing to mar the happiness I promise myself.
There is no possibility of my return till the middle of next week. In
one of my letters I put it to the last of next week, but we have this
day made unexpected progress. If we are equally fortunate and equally
good-natured, we may finish Wednesday night; but this is conjecture,
and perhaps my impatience makes me too sanguine.
I broke off at the bottom of the other page to pay some attention to
those who deserve much from me (our dear children). To hear that they
are employed, that no time is absolutely wasted, is the most
flattering of any thing that can be told me of them. It ensures their
affection, or is the best evidence of it. It ensures, in its
consequences, every thing I am ambitions of in them. Endeavour to
preserve regularity of hours; it conduces exceedingly to industry.
I have just heard of a Mr. Brown who goes down by water. As I may not
have another opportunity, I hazard it by him. He promises to leave it
at old Mr. Rutherford's. Our business goes on very moderately this
morning. Witnesses all tardy. We have adjourned for want of something
to do. Melancholy and vexatious. It has given me a headache. We shall
be holden, I fear, all next week. Adieu.
TO MRS. BURR.
Chester, 8 o'clock, 20th May, 1785.
Worse and worse. During the whole day we have not been five hours at
business. Our witnesses are so aged, and many so remote, that they
will not be in till Monday, so that, at this rate, we shall eke out
the whole of next week. I have at no time been so completely out of
patience; just now particularly, being a little churlish with my
headache, which, though not very severe, unfits me for any thing but
writing to you.
I wrote you and the whole flock last evening, and added a line to you
this morning, and sent off the packet by a Mr. Brown, who goes by
water, and promised to deliver it him-self. He has business at old Mr.
Rutherford's. If he is punctual, don't forget him in thinking of the
letters. Do say something that will make me a little more content with
this vexatious delay and imprisonment. I am prompted to write a
hundred things which I dare not, for fear I shall not find a safe
conveyance: that was particularly the case last evening and this
morning. It is perhaps fortunate, or I should spend too much time with
you in this way. I believe I do as it is. Adieu, a little while. I am
just going to prepare some hot punch.
I have been till this minute making and sipping punch, and with great
success. It has thrown me into a perspiration, which obliges me to go
to bed. I am very illy reconciled to leave you and bid you good-night,
but so says my hard lot.
Saturday morning, 8 o'clock.
I lay awake till after three o'clock this morning; then got up and
took a large dose of medicine. It was composed posed of laudanum,
nitre, and other savoury drugs, which procured me sleep till now: have
no headache; must eat breakfast, and away to court as fast as
Every thing almost stands still. I begin to despair of getting away. I
am sure the whole of next week will not finish our business at the
present rate. To make it more tedious and disagreeable, some of us are
less good-humoured than at first. Not a line from you since that I
have mentioned. I can find no opportunity for this. I am too vexed to
utter one sentiment.
Sunday, 22d May.
No opportunity for this scrawl yet. I begin to be tired of seeing it,
and wish it gone for this reason; and also, because I try to persuade
myself you would be glad to receive it.
To-day we have fine scope to reflect how much better we might have
employed it, had we been active in our business last week. I find the
whole might have been finished by yesterday (if the witnesses on both
sides had been ready) as well as a month hence.
My room is a kind of rendezvous for our side: have seldom, therefore,
time either to think or write, unless at night or early in the
morning. Judge Yates concludes to give us a few days of his company,
and to accept of a room with us. The coming of Le Jeune uncertain; not
probably till fall. You will receive a pail of butter, perhaps, with
this. I have been contracting for the year.
Have you done running up and down stairs? How do you live, sleep, and
amuse yourself? I wish, if you have leisure (or, if you have not, make
it), you would read the Abbe Mably's little book on the Constitution
of the United States. St. John has it in French, which is much better
than a translation. This, you see, will save me the trouble of reading
it; and I shall receive it with much more emphasis par la bouche
d'amour. Adieu. I seal this instantly, lest I be tempted to write
more. Again adieu.
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, May 22d, 1785.
Your letter by Mr. Bayard was brought me on Saturday, and the first I
had received since the one by Mr. Marvin till to-day. Mr. Brown very
punctually and civilly came with your welcome packet of Thursday, nine
o'clock. It was just before dinner; the children were dispersed at
different employments. I furnished the mantelpiece with the contents
of the packet. When dinner was served up they were called. You know
the usual eagerness on this occasion. They were all seated but Bartow,
when he espied the letters; the surprise, the joy, the exclamations
exceed description. The greatest stoic would have forgot himself. A
silent tear betrayed me no _philosopher_. A most joyous repast
succeeded. We talked of our happiness, of our first of blessings, our
best of papas. I enjoyed, my Aaron, the only happiness that could
accrue from your absence. It was a momentary compensation; the only
one I ever experienced. Your letters always afford me a singular
satisfaction;--a sensation entirely my own; this was peculiarly so. It
wrought strangely on my mind and spirits. My Aaron, it was replete
with tenderness! with the most lively affection. I read and re-read,
till afraid I should get it by rote, and mingle it with common ideas;
profane the sacred pledge. No; it shall not be. I will economize the
boon. I will limit the recreation to those moments of retirement
devoted to thee. Of a sudden I found myself unusually fatigued. I
reflected on the cause, and soon found I had mounted the stairs much
oftener than I could possibly have done on any other occasion.
I am vexed with my last letter to you; 'tis impossible for me to
disguise a single feeling or thought when I am writing or conversing
with the friend of my heart. I hope you have attended only to the last
paragraph, and avoided all unnecessary anxiety for her who wishes to
be a constant source of pleasure to thee. I have been in good health
since Saturday morning. Since yesterday, unusually gay and happy;
anticipating a thousand pleasures, studying every little arrangement
that can contribute to thy comfort. This wet weather is a bar to any
essential progress. The walls are still too damp to admit of either
paint or paper. I have a bed ready for the judge; _ne vous genez pas
la-dessus_. I am afraid some foolish reflections in my last will
embarrass you. Your affection and tenderness has put them to flight.
"Let nothing mar the promised bliss." Thy Theo. waits with
inexpressible impatience to welcome the return of her truly beloved.
Every domestic joy shall decorate his mansion. When Aaron smiles,
shall Theo. frown? Forbid it every guardian power.
Le Jeune perplexes me no longer. I am provoked with myself for having
repeated it to you. Your dear little Theo. grows the most engaging
child you ever saw. She frequently talks of, and calls on, her dear
papa. It is impossible to see her with indifference. All moves as you
wish it. All count the passing hours till thy return. Remember, I am
in good health and spirits; that I expect the same account of yours.
To think of me affectionately is my first command; to write me so, the
second. Hasten to share the happiness of thy much loved and much
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, August 28th, 1785.
The enclosed was to have gone yesterday, but the intended bearer
disappointed me. Young ---- and his companions have just left us; at
tasting your Madeira he pronounced you a d----d clever fellow. Your
merit increased with the number of glasses; they went away in
good-humour with themselves and the hostess. O my love, how earnestly
I pray that our children may never be driven from your paternal
direction. Had you been at home to-day, you would have felt as fervent
in this prayer as your Theo. Our children were impressed with utter
contempt for their guest. This gave me real satisfaction.
I really believe, my dear, few parents can boast of children whose
minds are so prone to virtue. I see the reward of our assiduity with
inexpressible delight, with a gratitude few experience. My Aaron, they
have grateful hearts; some circumstances prove it, which I shall
relate to you with singular pleasure at your return. I pity A. C. from
my heart. She will feel the folly of an over zeal to accumulate.
Bartow's assiduity and faithfullness is beyond description. My health
is not worse. I have been disappointed in a horse; shall have Pharaoh
to-morrow. Frederick is particularly attentive to my health; indeed,
none of them are deficient in tenderness. All truly anxious for papa's
return; we fix Tuesday, beyond a doubt, but hope impossibilities.
I had a thousand things to write, but the idea of seeing you banishes
every other thought. I fear much the violent exertions you are obliged
to make will injure your health. Remember how dear, how important it
is to the repose, to the life of
FROM MRS. BURR.
New-York, August 29th, 1785.
As soon as Tuesday evening came, I sent repeated messages to Cape's,
who persevered in the answer of there being no letter. I slept ill;
found my health much worse in the morning; rode out; in spite of
exercise, continued ill till your dear letter was handed me. I
immediately called for refreshment, and imagined I had recovered my
health; my sensations still tell me so. Ten thousand thanks for the
best prescription that ever physician invented. I ride daily;
breakfasted with Clem. Clarke this morning, who has scarce a trait of
himself. He neither knows nor cares for anybody but his son, who is
three years and a half old, fair hair, but not handsome; much
humoured; is introduced as a pet of the first value. Aunt more in
temper than was expected. He dines here to-morrow with the two Blakes.
I felt no other compulse to notice them than your wish.
Our little daughter's health has improved beyond my expectations. Your
dear Theodosia cannot hear you spoken of without an apparent
melancholy; insomuch that her nurse is obliged to exert her invention
to divert her, and myself avoid to mention you in her presence. She
was one whole day indifferent to every thing but your name. Her
attachment is not of a common nature; though this was my opinion, I
avoided the remark, when Mr. Grant observed it to me as a singular
You see I have followed your example in speaking first of myself. I
Back to Full Books