Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1.
Matthew L. Davis
Part 8 out of 9
Philadelphia, 13th February, 1794.
I received your letter and enclosures yesterday in Senate. I stopped
reading the letter, and took up the story in the place you directed;
was really affected by the interesting little tale, faithfully
believing it to have been taken from the Mag. D'Enf., and was
astonished and delighted when I recurred to the letter and found the
little deception you had played upon me. It is concisely and
handsomely told, and is indeed a performance above your years.
Mr. Leshlie is not, I am afraid, a competent judge of what you are
capable of learning; you must convince him that you can, when you set
in earnest about it, accomplish wonders.
Do you mean that the forty lines which you construed in Virgil were in
a part you had not before learned?
I despair of getting genuine Tent wine in this city. There never was a
bottle of real unadulterated Tent imported here for sale. Mr.
Jefferson, who had some for his own use, has left town. Good Burgundy
and Muscat, mixed in equal parts, make a better Tent than can be
bought. But by Bartow's return you shall have what I can get--sooner
if I find a conveyance.
Bartow is the most perfect gossip I ever knew; though, I must say, it
is the kind of life I have advised him to while he stays here. Adieu.
Philadelphia, 7th March, 1794.
Your letter of the 4th was three days on the road. I am certain that I
have answered punctually all which have come to hand. True, I have not
written to you as frequently as during the first few weeks of my
residence here. For the last month I have been very much occupied by
public business. You will need no other proof of it when I tell you
that near twenty unanswered letters are now on my desk, not one of
yours among them, however, except that received last evening. I have
not even been to the theatre except about an hour, and then it was
more an errand of business than amusement.
Poor Tom,  I hope you take good care of him. If he is confined by
his leg, &c., he must pay the greater attention to his reading and
I shall run off to see you about Sunday or Monday; but the roads are
so extremely bad that I expect to be three days getting through. I
will bring with me the cherry sweetmeats, and something for _Augusta
Louisa Matilda Theodosia Van Horne_. I believe I have not recollected
all her names.
Philadelphia, 31st March, 1794.
I am distressed at your loss of time. I do not, indeed, wholly blame
you for it, but this does not diminish my regret. When you want
punctuality in your letters, I am sure you want it in every thing; for
you will constantly observe that you have the most leisure when you do
the most business. Negligence of one's duty produces a
self-dissatisfaction which unfits the mind for every thing, and
_ennui_ and peevishness are the never-failing consequences. You will
readily discover the truth of these remarks by reflecting on your own
conduct, and the different feelings which have flowed from a
persevering attention to study, or a restless neglect of it.
I shall in a few days (this week) send you a most beautiful assortment
of flower-seeds and flowering shrubs. If I do not receive a letter
from you to-morrow, I shall be out of all patience. Every day's
journal will, I hope, say something of mamma.
Philadelphia, 7th June, 1794.
I have received my dear Theo.'s two little, very little, French
letters. The last left you tormented with headache and toothache, too
much for one poor little girl to suffer at one time, I am sure: you
had doubtless taken solue sudden cold. You must fight them as well as
you can till I come, and then I will engage to keep them at bay.
I remark that you do not acknowledge the receipt of a long letter
which I wrote you on the road the night after I left New-York. I hope
it has not missed you; but it is needless now to ask about it, for I
shall certainly see you before I could receive your answer to this.
Whatever you shall translate of Terence, I beg you to have copied in a
book in a very fair handwriting.
Albany, 4th August, 1794.
MY DEAR THEO.,
We arrived here yesterday, after a hot, tedious passage of _seven
days_. We were delayed as well by accidents as by calms and contrary
winds, The first evening, being under full sail, we ran ashore at
Tappan, and lay there aground, in a very uncomfortable situation,
twenty-four hours. With great labour and fatigue we got off on the
following night, and had scarce got under sail before we missed our
longboat. We lost the whole tide in hunting for it, and so lay till
the morning of Wednesday. Having then made sail again, with a pretty
strong head wind, at the very first tack the Dutch horse fell
overboard. The poor devil was at the time tied about the neck with a
rope, so that he seemed to have only the alternatives of hanging or
drowning (for the river is here about four miles wide, and the water
was very rough); fortunately for him, the rope broke, and he went
souse into the water. His weight sunk him so deep that we were at
least fifty yards from him before he came up. He snorted off the
water, and turning round once or twice, as if to see where he was,
then recollecting the way to New-York, he immediately swam off down
the river with all force. We fitted out our longboat in pursuit of
him, and at length drove him on shore on the Westchester side, where I
hired a man to take him to Frederick's. All this delayed us nearly a
whole tide more. The residue of the voyage was without accident,
except such as you may picture to yourself in a small cabin, with
seven men, seven women, and two crying children--two of the women
being the most splenetic, ill-humoured animals you can imagine.
On my arrival here I was delighted to receive your letter of the 30th,
with the journal of that and the preceding days. Your history of those
three days is very full and satisfactory, and has induced me, by way
of return, to enlarge on the particulars of my journey. I am quite
gratified that you have secured Mrs. Penn's (observe how it is
spelled) good opinion, and content with your reasons for not saying
the civil things you intended. In case you should dine in company with
her, I will apprize you of one circumstance, by a trifling attention
to which you may elevate yourself in her esteem. She is a great
advocate for a very plain, rather abstemious diet in children, as you
may see by her conduct with Miss Elizabeth. Be careful, therefore, to
eat of but one dish; that a plain roast or boiled: little or no gravy
or butter, and very sparingly of dessert or fruit: not more than half
a glass of wine; and if more of any thing to eat or drink is offered,
decline it. If they ask a reason--Papa thinks it not good for me, is
the best that can be given.
It was with great pain and reluctance that I made this journey without
you. But your manners are not yet quite sufficiently formed to enable
you to do justice to your own character,  and the expectations
which are formed of you, or to my wishes. Improve, therefore, to the
utmost the present opportunity; inquire of every point of behaviour
about which you are embarrassed; imitate as much as you can the
manners of Madame De S., and observe also every thing which Mrs. Penn
says and does.
You should direct your own breakfast. Send Cesar every morning for a
pint of milk for you; and, to save trouble to Madame De S., let her
know that you eat at breakfast only bread and butter.
I wish you would read over your letters after you have written them;
for so many words are omitted, that in some places I cannot make out
the sense, _if any they contain_. Make your figures or ciphers in your
letters, but write out the numbers at length, except dates. Adieu,
Albany, 14th August, 17 94.
MY DEAR THEO.,
Last evening's mail brought me your letter and journal from the 1st to
the 11th of August, according to your dates, which, however, are
The account of your time is very satisfactory. You really get along
much better than I expected, which is infinitely to the credit of your
good sense, that being your only guide. From the attentions you
receive from Mrs. Penn and her family, I judge you have been so
fortunate as to gain her esteem, and that her prejudices are turned
into prepossessions, which I assure you gratified me not a little.
Your invitation to the Z.'s was, I confess, a very embarrassing
dilemma, and one from which it was not easy to extricate yourself. For
the future, take it as your rule to visit only the families which you
have known me to visit; and if Madame De S. should propose to you to
visit any other, you may tell her what are my instructions on the
subject. To the young ladies, you may pretend business or engagements:
avoid, however, giving any offence to your companions. It is the
manner of a refusal, much more than the refusal, which gives offence.
This direction about your visits applies only to the citizens or
English families. You may, indeed it is my wish, that you should visit
with Madame De S. all her French acquaintance.
I go this afternoon to attend a court at Ballston, and shall, on
Monday, attend one at Troy, which will probably last about three days;
after which I shall take passage for New-York, proposing, however, to
pass a day at Kingston, and another at Poughkeepsie, with citizen
Hauterieve, so that I may be expected home some time in the week after
next; but you will hear often from me before that time. You must not
send me any letter after those which will come by the mail leaving
New-York on Monday next; yet you must continue your letters and
journal as usual, for my amusement on my return.
In future, write no more on the little paper, but let the letters and
journal be together on paper of this size, or common letter-paper. Set
apart every day half an hour or an hour to write to me, and I must
again entreat you to write at least legibly: after great pains, I am
wholly unable to decipher some of the hieroglyphics contained in your
Four pages in Lucian was a great lesson; and why, my dear Theo., can't
this be done a little oftener? You must, by this time, I think, have
gone through Lucian. I wish you to begin and go through it again; for
it would be shameful to pretend to have read a book of which you could
not construe a page. At the second reading you will, I suppose, be
able to double your lessons; so that you may go through it in three
weeks. You say nothing of writing or learning Greek verbs;--is this
practice discontinued? and why?
I wish you to go oftener to the house. You may, if you like, go any
morning, to take an early breakfast there, giving notice the day
before to Mr. Leshlie, that he may attend at the hour of your return,
when I know you can readily make up the lost time.
Do you continue to preserve Madame De S.'s good opinion of your
talents for the harp? And do you find that you converse with more
facility in the French? These are interesting questions, and your
answer to this will, I hope, answer fully, all the questions it
contains. Vale, vale.
Albany, 16th August, 1704.
Another post has arrived, and brought me no letter from you. It is the
last omission which I shall readily pardon, and this only in
consideration of your not having then received my last. I returned
this day from Ballston, and my principal business to this city was to
receive and answer your letters. Judge, therefore, of my
Mr. and Mrs. Witbeck made many inquiries about you, and appeared much
mortified that you did not accompany me.
I hope you will, before this can reach you, have answered J. Yates's
letter. Once more I place my expectations on the arrival of the next
Let me know whether Mrs. Penn has left town, how often you have been
with her, and what passed. I need not repeat my anxiety to know how
you and Madame de S. agree, and what progress you make in music,
dancing, and speaking French. She promised to give you now and then a
lesson on the forte-piano; is she as good as her word?
Having failed in your promise to write by every post, you cannot
expect me to return within the month--one promise being founded on the
Your affectionate papa,
Albany, 18th August, 1794.
Yesterday I received your letter and journal to the 13th inclusive. On
the 13th you say you got nine pages in Lucian. It was, to be sure, a
most surprising lesson. I suspect it must have been the second time
going over; and even then it would have been great, and at the same
rate you will be through a second time before my month is up. I should
be delighted to find it so. I have not told you directly that I should
stay longer than a month, but I was angry enough with you to stay
three months when you neglected to write to me for two successive
I am very sorry to see so many blank days with Mr. Leshlie. If he is
not at your room within a quarter of an hour of his time, Cesar should
be forthwith sent off express for him. Let Cesar, therefore, call on
you every morning at the hour Mr. Leshlie ought to come.
I left New-York on the 28th of July. My month, therefore, will expire
on the 28th of August, so that you cannot complain until that day is
past. The court at Troy will probably detain me the whole of this
week, which is three days longer than I expected.
I long to hear what you contributed towards Madame de S.'s _jour de
fete_. No letter yet for John Yates. Why do you delay it so long? You
have had several leisure days; for this delay there should be some
apology in your letter.
Affectionately your papa,
Troy, 21st August, 1794.
MY DEAR THEO.,
I sent Alexis in the rain to Albany for your letter of the 18th and
journal, which he has just brought me. Your letters are my only
consolation during this afflicting absence--for it is to me a real
affliction. I have forborne to express to you my impatience, lest it
should increase yours.
The business I have undertaken here will, contrary to all expectation,
detain me till Saturday night. I hope to be on my return on Monday,
when you must begin to pray for northerly winds; or, if you have
learned, to say mass, that the French Roman Catholics rely on to
procure them all earthly and spiritual blessings. By-the-by, if you
have not been to the Roman chapel, I insist that you go next Sunday,
if you are not engaged in some other party.
I am very happy to receive a letter for John Yates. I shall send it to
him to-day; it is very handsome, and will please him much. I will
indeed return with all possible speed. Continue your journal. Adieu.
Philadelphia, 21st December, 1794.
I obeyed faithfully the command in your letter which bade me read the
journal first, and I read it with great eagerness, hoping to find what
I did find in the last sentence. That 16th was really a surprising
day. Three hundred and ninety-five lines, all your exercises, and all
your music. Go on, my dear girl, and you will become all that I wish.
I keep carefully your letters and journals, and when we meet you shall
read them again, which I am sure you will do with pleasure. It is
always delightful to see and correct our own errors.
Monsieur Maupertuis is highly mortified that you should suppose him so
ignorant as to have lost himself on the road. It seems he only went a
little off the highway _from curiosity to see the country_.
I hope you like Terence. Can't you lug a scrap from him now and then,
apropos, into your letters? It will please
Your affectionate papa,
TO THEODOSIA IN PHILADELPHIA.
New-York, 5th January, 1795.
You see me safe arrived in New-York. I have passed but one hour at
Richmond Hill. It seems solitary and undesirable without you. They are
all well, and much, very much disappointed that you did not come with
Pray write to Mrs. A., if but one line; she expects and deserves it. I
was there last evening for the first time. Your picture is really like
you; still it does not quite please me. It has a _pensive,
sentimental_ air; that of a love-sick maid! Stewart has probably meant
to anticipate what you may be at sixteen; but even in that I think he
has missed it.
Bartow has grown immensely fat. Mrs. A. has recovered and walks about.
There has been a serious attempt to institute masquerade. It has not
succeeded, nor is it yet abandoned.
We (you and I) have both neglected one duty of civility. Some weeks
ago Mrs. Jackson was polite enough to call on you, with Miss Jackson
and Miss Brown, who left you cards. You have never returned the visit.
I beg you to do it without delay. Doctor Edwards will probably make
time to go with you for a few minutes. It is at Doctor Jackson's in
Third-street, between High and Arch.
Our house in Partition-street is very neatly finished, and pleases me
much; so much that I propose to inhabit it upon our return from
Philadelphia, at least until the hot weather.
You are now in the arms of Somnus, or ought to be; for though I date
my letter the 5th, it is in truth about half past eleven at night of
the 4th. So wants half an hour of the 5th. Dream on. _Salutem_.
Bristol, 14th September, 1795.
Saturday night I lodged at Elizabethtown, and, after two wettings,
dined on Sunday with General Freelinghuysen. Madame (late Miss Yard)
asked much after you, as did Maria, the general's daughter. The family
is a picture of cheerfullness and happiness. At Princeton (to-day) I
met Le Mercier, who is well, except a broken scull, a face disfigured,
and some bruises about the ribs--considerable deductions, you will
say, from the "corpore sano." They are the effects of a very huge
beating bestowed on him (gratis) by two gentlemen of the town. He had
some difference with one of them, who had challenged him, which Le
Mercier refused, not being a Christian-like and clerical way of
settling differences. So the challenger, with a friend (for L. M.
could have thrashed him singly), took an opportunity to catch poor Le
Mercier alone, and discussed the subject with him in the manner above
Your friends Miss Stockton and Miss Smith said some civil things about
you, and send abundance of love, which I promised them I would forget
My journey thus far has been wonderfully fortunate, having only
overset once and broken down once, which, considering that I am
seventy miles on my route, is, for me, a very small list of
grievances; but I shall count it full measure if I am prevented from
entering Philadelphia to-morrow, which is a little to be apprehended.
You must pay off Meance and Hewlet for their attendance on you and
Natalie.  They must be paid regularly at the end of each month. I
forgot it. Get their accounts, and give them an order on Strong for
the amount. When either of you want money, Roger Strong will furnish
it. Pray settle also your account with Madame Senat, and write me that
these things are done.
Tell Mr. Martel that I request that all the time he can spare you be
devoted to Latin; that I have provided you with a teacher of French,
that no part of his attention might be taken off. I will send from
Philadelphia the certificate he requested, which escaped my memory
while at New-York.
I fear it will puzzle you all to decipher this. You may show to Mr.
Martel the clause which relates to him. Salutem, chere Theodosia.
Philadelphia, 17th September, 1795.
By this post I received a letter from Colonel Ward, requesting leave
to remove his family into my house, Richmond Hill. He lives, you may
recollect, in the part of the town which is said to be sickly. I could
not therefore refuse. He will call on you to go out with him. You had
better, immediately on receipt of this, go out yourself, and apprize
Anthony and Peggy.
Your letter to Kersaint is much to the purpose. It came by this day's
mail, though put in the postoffice on Tuesday, but after the closing
of the mail. With it I have also received your letter, written, I
suppose, on Tuesday evening, because it speaks of the circus; but, as
usual, without date. I beg that, when you sit down to write a letter,
you will begin by putting a date at the top; this will then presently
become a habit, and will never be omitted.
I am sorry, very sorry that you are obliged to submit to some reproof.
Indeed, I fear that your want of attention and politeness, and your
awkward postures, require it. As you appear desirous to get rid of
these bad habits, I hope you will soon afford no room for ill-nature
itself to find fault with you--I mean in these particulars; for as to
what regards your heart and your motives of action, I know them to be
good, amiable, and pure. But to return to the subject of manners, &c.
I have often seen Madame at table, and other situations, pay you the
utmost attention; offer you twenty civilities, while you appeared
scarcely sensible that she was speaking to you; or, at the most,
replied with a cold _remercie_, without even a look of satisfaction or
complacency. A moment's reflection will convince you that this conduct
will be naturally construed into arrogance; as if you thought that all
attention was _due_ to you, and as if you felt above showing the least
to anybody. I know that you abhor such sentiments, and that you are
incapable of being actuated by them. Yet you expose yourself to the
censure without intending or knowing it. I believe you will in future
avoid it. Observe how Natalie replies to the smallest civility which
is offered to her.
Your habit of stooping and bringing your shoulders forward on to your
breast not only disfigures you, but is alarming on account of the
injury to your health. The continuance in this vile habit will
certainly produce a consumption: then farewell papa; farewell
pleasure; farewell life! This is no exaggeration; no fiction to excite
your apprehensions. But, setting aside this distressing consideration,
I am astonished that you have no more pride in your appearance. You
will certainly stint your growth and disfigure your person.
Receive with calmness every reproof, whether made kindly or unkindly;
whether just or unjust. Consider within yourself whether there has
been no cause for it. If it has been groundless and unjust,
nevertheless bear it with composure, and even with complacency.
Remember that one in the situation of Madame has a thousand things to
fret the temper; and you know that one out of humour, for any cause
whatever, is apt to vent it on every person that happens to be in the
way. We must learn to bear these things; and, let me tell you, that
you will always feel much better, much happier, for having borne with
serenity the spleen of any one, than if you had returned spleen for
You will, I am sure, my dear Theodosia, pardon two such grave pages
from one who loves you, and whose happiness depends very much on
yours. Read it over twice. Make me no promises on the subject. On my
return, I shall see in half an hour whether what I have written has
been well or ill received. If well, it will have produced an effect. I
have sent Alexis with your letter to Kersaint while I write this.
After closing of the mail I shall present myself. To-morrow morning I
take stage for Baltimore; thence to Washington, &c. You shall
certainly hear often from me. You have not yet acknowledged the
receipt of my letter from Bristol. R. Strong has received his, written
at the same time. Having many letters to answer by this mail, I cannot
add any thing sprightly to this dull letter. One dull thing you will
hear me repeat without disgust, that I am your affectionate friend,
City of Washington, 23d September, 1795.
I write from the house of our friends, Law and Duncanson, where I make
my home. Miss Duncanson, who is mistress of the house, is a very
sprightly, sensible, ladylike woman. My remarks on this city are
reserved till we meet.
Your letter of the 17th, and one without date (I suppose the 18th),
came in this evening. They contain more wit and sprightliness than you
ever wrote in the same compass, and have amused me exceedingly. But
why do you diminish their value by carelessness? There is an omission
of one or more words in almost every sentence. At least I entreat you
to read over your letters before you seal them: some clauses are
absolutely unintelligible, though in several I can guess what word you
Why are you still in town? I am very much dissatisfied with it; for
Mr. Strong writes me that the fever is in Partition-street. I beg you
to go off with a good parcel of books to Frederick's.
I told Madame Senat that I should want the two front rooms in
Partition-street, and the very small room which adjoins the smallest
of the front rooms; and surely she will have room enough without it.
Try to arrange this so; that is, by asking her if she cannot spare
that room (the large front). Mr. Strong writes me that she is taking
possession of it. In that case my papers will be moved, which will be
very disagreeable to me.
I fix the 24th of October for my return; if any very extraordinary
thing should detain me, you shall be advised of it seasonably. Direct
to me at the city of Washington until the 10th of October. Tell R.
Strong the same. I forgot to write it to him.
When, you go on any party from Pelham, to Brown's Mrs. Cox's, &c.,
your studies may be intermitted. At least as much of them as may be
necessary. I am tired, and half sick; a great cold, for which I shall
lie by here tomorrow.
City of Washington,
26th September, 1795.
Since Tuesday last I have been here much against my will; arrested by
high command; performing quarantine by authority not to be questioned
or controverted. In plain English, I am sick. On Wednesday I found one
side of my face as large as your uncle F.'s; red swollen eyes; ears
buzzing and almost stopped; throat so closed as to refuse a passage to
words out or food in; and a stupid mazy-headedness, well adapted to
the brilliancy of my figure. Being the guest of my friends Law and
Duncanson, I receive from them the most distressing attentions, but
especially from Miss Duncanson, a well-bred, sprightly, and agreeable
woman. My person had not, however, till this morning, received its
last embellishment. Alexis came in at his usual hour, and presenting
himself at my bedside, after staring at me for half a minute,
exclaimed, with an air of great astonishment--_Diable!_ and not a word
more. _Qu'a-t-il_, Alexis? To which he made not a word of reply, but
fell to drawing up the curtains; and having also very deliberately
opened the window-shutters, he returned again to his examination.
After gazing for some time (which I found it useless to interrupt), he
_diabled_ two or three times at intervals of some seconds, and then
pronounced that I had _ou la petite verole ou la rougeole_; and to
convince me, brought a glass. In truth he did not _diable_ without
reason, for my whole face, neck, hands, and arms are most bountifully
covered with something like the measles or rash. All these pleasant
appearances seem to be the effects of a great cold, taken I know not
when or how--
"_Nil illi larva aut tragicis upus esse cothurnis._"
My throat is something better, notwithstanding I went abroad
Sunday, 27th September.
I am so much better to-day, that, if the weather was good, I should
prosecute my journey if I could find the means of getting on; but the
rain, which is continual and very heavy, keeps well and sick within
It is now ten days since I have heard from you; a very long time,
considering the situation in which you was left at the date of your
last: in a city infected with a mortal and contagious fever. I hope,
nay, I persuade myself that you obeyed my wishes by escaping from it
to Pelham. The next mail will tell me, and, I trust, relieve me from
an anxiety which pursues me day and night.
Monday, 28th September.
Your letter of the 21st, written, I suppose, at Dr. Brown's, is just
come in, and relieves me from a weight of anxiety about your health. I
am sorry, however (very sorry), that you are not at Frederick's, and
am not absolutely either pleased or satisfied with the change.
Of attention and tenderness you will receive not only enough, but a
great deal too much; and an indulgence to every inattention, awkward
habit, and expression, which may lead you to imagine them to be so
many ornaments: as to your language, I shall expect to find it
perfectly infantine. As to studies or lessons, I do not know which of
them you allude to, as you do not say what books you have taken up. If
Mr. Leshlie is your _only_ master, as I suppose, your lesson must be
larger than ever heretofore. Your translation of the comedy into
French, if not finished, must go on; and if finished, something
similar must be taken up. Some English or French history must employ a
little of every day. I hope you will ride on horseback daily if the
weather should permit--Sam  always with you. Visit your neighbours
B. B. as often as you please, taking very great care not to surfeit
the family with your charming company, which may happen much sooner
than you would be inclined to believe.
You ought to be out of the Odyssey before this will reach you,
counting only two hundred lines a day since we parted. You may begin
the Iliad, if you please. Since you are at uncle B.'s, I will not now
pretend to inquire into the motives, much less to censure. I have no
doubt but you meant to do the best, and I now hope you will endeavour
to make the best _of_ it, and bad enough that will be, with respect to
all improvement, if I am not disappointed.
Pray allot an hour for your journal, and never let it be a day in
arrear. I shall consider this as occupying usefully the hour which
used to be Hewlet's or Meance's. At any rate, let me not, on my
return, have occasion to apply to you the motto,
"Strenua me exercet inertia,"
nor that other of
"Operose nihil agit."
But so improve your time that you may with pleasure review and commit
it to journal.
----"Hoc est, Vivere bis, vita priori frui."
And let it, at no very distant period, be said of you,
"Tot, tibi, sunt, ergo dotes, quot sidera coelo."
If you should never deserve this, it shall not be the fault of
TO THEODOSIA IN PHILADELPHIA.
New-York, 8th February, 1796.
What will you think of the taste of New-York when I shall tell you
that Miss Broadhurst is not very generally admired here? Such is the
fact. I have contributed my feeble efforts to correct this opinion.
Mat's  child will not be christened until you shall be pleased to
indicate the time, place, manner, and name.
I have promised Tom that he shall take me to Philadelphia if there be
sleighing. The poor fellow is almost crazy about it. He is importuning
all the gods for snow, but as yet they don't appear to listen to him.
Your being in the ballette charms me. If you are to practise on
Wednesday evening, do not stay away for the expectation of receiving
me. If you should be at the ballette, I will go forthwith to see you.
Adieu, chere fille.
Philadelphia, 16th January, 1797.
When I write to you oftener than your turn, you must not let it be
known, or there will be jealousy. Your two letters of the 11th and
13th have so much wit, sprightliness, and good sense, that I cannot
delay to tell you how much they pleased me. Go on, and you will write
better than Cynthia herself. To aid your advances towards perfection,
I shall often point out such errors as shall appear to me more
particularly to claim your attention.
At present you fail most in punctuation. A very little thought will
teach where the sense is complete and a full period is proper. The
lesser pauses may be found by reading over two or three times what you
may have written. You will naturally make small pauses where the sense
shall require it. In spelling you are very well. Always write your
name with great care. Adieu.
Philadelphia, 23d January, 1797.
You must not "puzzle all day," my dear little girl, at one hard
lesson. After puzzling faithfully one hour, apply to your arithmetic,
and do enough to convince the doctor that you have not been idle.
Neither must you be discouraged by one unlucky day. The doctor is a
very reasonable man, and makes all due allowance for the levities as
well as for the stupidity of children. I think you will not often
challenge his indulgence on either score.
And do you regret that you are not also a woman? That you are not
numbered in that galaxy of beauty which adorns an assembly-room?
Coquetting for admiration and attracting flattery? No. I answer with
confidence. You feel that you are maturing for solid friendship. The
friends you gain you will never lose; and no one, I think, will dare
to insult your understanding by such compliments as are most
graciously received by too many of your sex.
How unpardonably you neglect C. and N. B. Where are the promised
letters? I see with delight that you improve in diction, and in the
combination and arrangement of your little ideas. With a view to
farther improvement, your letters to me are a most useful exercise. I
feel persuaded that all my hopes and wishes concerning you will be
Never use a word which does not fully express your thoughts, or which,
for any other reason, does not please you. Hunt your dictionary till
you find one. Arrange a whole sentence in your mind before you write a
word of it; and, whatever may be your "hurry" (never be in a _hurry_),
read over your letter slowly and carefully before you seal it.
Interline and erase lightly with your pen what may appear to you to
require amendment or correction. I dispense with your copying unless
the letter should be much defaced, in which case keep it till the next
mail. Copy and improve it.
Your play on "Light" is pretty and witty, and the turn on the _dear
little_ letter does not dishonour the metempsychosis of Madame Dacier.
I shall probably see you very soon; we will then rearrange your hours,
and endeavour to remove the present and forestall all future troubles.
I should be mortified--I should be almost offended--if I should find
that you passed over any word in my letters without becoming perfectly
acquainted with its meaning, use, and _etymology_.
Since I commenced this letter, yours of the 21st has come in. It
speaks of another which has not come, and of Martel's paper, neither
of which have come. This arises from "hurry." The note to Mr.
Livingston is middling. Affectionately--no, you hate that word;
perhaps every thing is implied in plain.
Albany, 4th January, 1799.
On Tuesday I arrived here, and yesterday received your two letters of
the 29th and 30th of December. Your despondency distresses me
extremely. It is indeed unfortunate, my dear Theodosia, that we are
constrained to be separated. I had never so much need of your society
and friendship, nor you, perhaps, of mine. It is a misfortune which I
sincerely regret every hour of the day. It is one, however, which you
must aid me to support, by testifying that you can support your share
of it with firmness and activity. An effort made with decision will
convince you that you are able to accomplish all I wish and all you
desire. Determination and perseverance in every laudable undertaking
is the great point of difference between the silly and the wise. It is
essentially a part of your character, and requires but an effort to
bring it into action. The happiness of my life depends on your
exertions; for what else, for whom else do I live? Not that the
acquisition of the languages alone can decide your happiness or mine;
but if you should abandon the attempt, or despair of success, or relax
your endeavours, it would indicate a feebleness of character which
would dishearten me exceedingly. It is for my sake that you now
labour. I shall acknowledge your advancement with gratitude and with
the most lively pleasure. Let me entreat you not to be discouraged. I
know you to be capable of much greater efforts than this will require.
If your young teacher, after a week's trial, should not suit you,
dismiss him on any pretence without wounding his pride, and take the
old Scotchman. Resolve to succeed, and you cannot fail.
I parted with you amid so much hurry and confusion, and so many
vexations, that, when I had time to reflect, I seemed to have said
none of the things which I had wished and intended. I reproached
myself perpetually that I had not urged you to attend me. Your letters
almost confirmed me in the design of returning to fetch you; and yet
more sober reason seems to tell me that these things were rather the
effusions of sentiment than of a deliberate estimate of your real
interests. In six weeks, however, we shall meet.
I intended to have recommended to you the ancient and modern history
of Millot. Natalie has some of the volumes--some are in the library at
Mrs. D.'s, of which I hope you keep the key. Millot is concise,
perspicuous, and well selected. Rollin is full of tedious details and
There is nothing more certain than that you may form what countenance
you please. An open, serene, intelligent countenance, a little
brightened by cheerfullness, not wrought into smiles or simpers, will
presently become familiar and grow into habit. A year will with
certainty accomplish it. Your physiognomy has naturally much of
benevolence, and it will cost you some labour (which you may well
spare) to eradicate it. Avoid, for ever avoid, a smile or sneer of
contempt; never even mimic them. A frown of sullenness or discontent
is but one degree less hateful. You seem to require these things of
me, or I should have thought them unnecessary. I see, with pleasure I
see, that you have engaged in this matter. We shall both be gratified
by the result, which cannot fail to accord with our wishes.
R. has a deal of godly coquetry. It makes a strange medley. I was most
hospitably received, and full opportunity given with pretty apparent
design. R. has promised to be in Albany in a month. Things are in
I am unsettled, and at present at Witbeck's. One would think that the
town was going into mourning for your absence. I am perpetually
stopped in the streets by little and big girls. Where is Miss Burr?
Won't she come up this winter? Oh, why didn't you bring her? &c.
J. B. P. arrived yesterday, he has not given me a letter, or any other
thing from you. He suspects, however, that he has at least a letter; a
fact which he will endeavour to ascertain in the course of this week.
I wrote you two letters on my way up, addressed to 135
Greenwich-street. Is that right? Adieu, chere amie,
Albany, 11th February, 1799.
On Saturday, the 9th, I received Your two letters, from the 1st to the
6th inclusive; the last of which is the only one that has come in due
season, or in what is termed the course of post. You now see that a
letter can come from New-York in three days; a truth which has been
frequently verified by the receipt of my letters, but never before by
the despatch of your own.
How very perverse and provoking you are about your correspondence with
Mr. Martin. I told you expressly that he was not angry, but, on the
contrary, that he sent it laughingly and as a good joke. Pray, from
whom did you learn that he was angry? You charge me with not noticing
two of your letters, and that I have not given you any directions
about heedlessness. With submission, miss, you are mistaken. It is
true that I have not repeated the word, but I have intimated several
things intended to this point. You expected, I presume, that I should
treat the subject scientifically, as Duport does his art, and begin by
explanation of terms, and then proceed to divide and subdivide the
matter, as a priest does a sermon. Such a dose would, I am sure, have
sickened you. I have therefore thought it best to give you very little
at a time, and watch, as physicians do with potent medicines, the
effect produced. When we meet, which I verily believe will be in five
or six days after the receipt of this, you shall have as much as I
shall find your stomach will bear.
What the deuse can have got into Madame S. and N., I am utterly at a
loss to conjecture, and beg you not to give the remotest hint, but
meet them as usual.
My overtures to B. Livingston and Mr. and Mrs. R. were mere
volunteers, not produced by any thing you said or wrote; but I thought
it might tend to produce a certain effect in your favour. So you have
no apologies to make or pardons to ask on this subject. As this,
however, is much the best composed part of your letter, I am
particularly obliged to you for it, even if you did it to display your
eloquence. It is, indeed, very happily expressed.
You seem to have emerged from your lethargy, which, I must confess,
was obvious to an alarming degree in several preceding letters. I
congratulate you upon it, and hope you will never suffer it again to
invade your faculties.
We will talk of houses, &c. about the 19th inst. Henry Walton has gone
to New-York by the last stage. He is one of those whose good opinion
and esteem I wish you to acquire. He has delicacy, taste, and
refinement--very, very rare qualities in this country at this day. He
will be often at your house; receive him with courtesy.
I go to bed between 12 and 1, and rise between 7 and 8. For some
reasons to me unknown, I cannot drink a single glass of wine without
serious injury; still less can I bear ardent spirits; of course, I am
pretty much in the bread and water line; this is the more provoking,
as I dine out almost every day, and the dinners are really excellent
and well-dressed, not exceeded in New-York. I have dined at home but
four days since my arrival in this city. Think of that Miss B., and be
hush about hospitality, &c.
Your name to one letter is beautifully written; to the other, _la la_.
The handwriting of the letters various; very good, very bad, and
middling; emblematic, shall I say, of the fair authoress? Please to
resolve me whether author is not of both genders, for I hate the
appendix of _ess?_
What novel of Miss Burney or D'Arblay is that in which the heroine
begins by an interesting account of little details on her debut in
London, and particularly of a ball where she met Lord Somebody and did
twenty ridiculous things? I want such a description of a ball from
you. Be pleased to read those first letters of the novel referred to,
and take them for a model.
You don't say half enough about the long letter which I wrote you on
Sunday of the last week. Adieu, chere amie.
Albany, 26th January, 1800.
We arrived yesterday without accident. To-day I expected Alexis and
John; but the stage has arrived without them, and without a line
explanatory of the cause of their delay.
On alighting from the stage yesterday, I found at the door of my
intended lodgings a number of persons who were impatiently expecting
my arrival. I perceive that I shall be day and night engrossed by
business. If I should write to you less or less often than usual, you
will know the cause.
The ideas, of which you are the object, that daily pass through my
mind, would, if committed to writing, fill an octavo volume; invent,
then, and teach me some mode of writing with the facility and rapidity
that we think, and you shall receive by every mail some hundred pages.
But to select from a thousand thoughts that which is best and most
seasonable; of the variety of attitudes of which every object is
susceptible, to determine on that which is most suitable for the thing
and the occasion; of all possible modes of expression and language, to
discern the most appropriate, _hic labor, hoc opus est_. Yet have we
both known persons of a moderate grade of intellect who could write
whenever you would put a pen in their hands, and for any length of
time you might please, without one moment of reflection or
embarrassment. Pray explain to me this phenomenon. All this I confess
is not very applicable to you or to my present occupation, for I
generally write you what first offers, without considering whether it
be the best; and if many obtrude themselves at once, I write you, as
at present, of--_nothing_. Indeed, my dear Theodosia, I have many,
many moments of solicitude about you. Remember that occupation will
infallibly expel the fiend ennui, and that solitude is the bug-bear of
fools. God bless and aid thee.
Albany, 30th January, 1800.
At length John and Alexis have arrived; but what gratified me more,
and what I looked for with much more impatience was, a letter. I
selected yours from the number which they brought me. I was not
disappointed. It merits all the eagerness with which I had expected
You reflect, and that is a security for your conduct. Our most
humiliating errors proceed usually from inattention, and from that
mental dissipation which we call heedlessness. You estimate your
situation with great truth. Many are surprised that I could repose in
you so great a trust as that of yourself; but I knew that you were
equal to it, and I am not deceived.
You do right to stay much at home. It will scarcely be worth while to
go to V. P.'s. C. is excluded from all rule. I am quite oppressed with
the kindness and friendship of _b. b._ towards you. How fortunate you
are in such a friend. If their invitations should be so frequent as to
interrupt your lessons, you will do well to refuse even them. There is
a measure to be observed in the acceptance of the good offices even of
our best friends; and at your age, to prefer duty to pleasure when
they are in collision, is a degree of firmness rarely exhibited, and,
therefore, the more calculated to inspire respect. I perceive that I
am not very explicit; but you will reflect and discern my meaning.
Montesquieu said he wrote to make people think, and not to make them
read--and why may not A. Br. Perhaps, however, there may be no
collisions; and then your good sense will teach you not to wear out
You indicate a very pleasant mode in which you suppose I may make you
happy; but you do not estimate things rightly. What you imagine to be
symptoms of love are the mere effusions of politeness, added to
respect and esteem.
I forget the plan we projected, but there can be no better one than
that of your last letter, to which, therefore, you may adhere, unless
indeed you can invent a better.
You may tell C. that as she and I _are on ceremony_, I shall expect
the first letter. She knows well that the bare sight of her
handwriting would drive Le Guen and the parchments to the antipodes. I
do thank you for your constancy about the French ball. Do not be
alarmed lest I expect too much. I know your force, and now feel
assured that I shall have reason to be more than satisfied both with
your discretion and your attainments. I shall not again find time to
write you two pages; so do not expect it. Nevertheless, you will
engross much, very much of the thoughts and affections of
Previous to the year 1800, slavery existed in the State of New-York.
Colonel Burr, at different periods, was the owner of slaves. All those
that remained in his family for any length of time were taught to read
and write. During his absence from home it was his practice to
correspond with one or more of them. As a master, he was beloved. A
few letters are here given as specimens of this correspondence. They
are copied _literally_.
TO COLONEL BURR.
New-York, 3d December.
I received your letter December 1st, and we are all happy to hear that
you are well. Harry has taken the chair to the coachmaker's, and has
gave him directions according to your orders. I have asked James to
write to you to know how the venison was to be done; but I will now
have it cured as you have ordered. The sashes of the windows were
nailed down the day that you went away, and the ladder that you
mention belongs to Mr. Halsey, and be has taken it away. All the
papers that have any writing on is put into the drawers, and I will
take care of the ink that it does not freeze. Colonel Platt was here,
and has taken the four red cases that was in the wine-room; and he
asked me for a square box, and as you had not told me of it, I said
that I had never seen it. There is nothing in the stable; but don't
know what is in Sam's room, as he has locked the door. We are happy to
hear that Sam, and George, and the horses are in good order, and all
the family gives their love to them.
TO COLONEL BURR.
New-York, 17th December.
I received your letter, and am happy to hear that you are in a good
state of health. Harry went to Mr. Alston's farm the day after I
received the letter, and the man had gone away the 11th day of
December. Stephen was not at home when he went there, and by what he
could understand there was a great difference between Daniel and
Stephen; and Harry says that for the time that he has been there he
had not neglected his work. But, master, I wish to beg a favour of
you; please to grant it. I have found there is a day-school, kept by
an elderly man and his wife, near to our house, and if master is
willing that I should go to it for two months, I think it would be of
great service to me, and at the same time I will not neglect my work
in the house, if you please, sir.
TO COLONEL BURR.
New-York, 29th December.
I received your letter, which has given me no satisfaction concerning
your health; and as there has been a report in the paper that you was
wounded, it has made us very uneasy, supposing it to be true; but I
hope that it is not so, as I hear that people gives no credit to it. I
go to the school, since master is willing, and I like the teacher very
much. He pays great attention to my learning, and I have teached Nancy
her letters ever since you have been gone, which I think will be of as
much service to her as if she went to school. We are all well at
present, and I hope that you are the same.
TO COLONEL BURR. New-York, 12th January.
I have received your letter of the 4th inst., and it gives us great
happiness to hear that you are in good health, as all the family are
except myself. I was taken sick on the 30th of last month, so that I
have not been able to go to school; and as I am better than I have
been, to write these few lines; I am too weak to write Mrs. Alston,
but Elenora's child is well. The woman came here the 7th of this month
for the money, and Harry went to Mrs. Van Ness the 9th, and she said
that Mr. Van Ness did not tell her any thing of it, and she could not
1. Theodosia's preceptor.
2. A coloured boy.
3. A coloured man, the slave of Colonel Burr.
4. Theodosia had now entered her _twelfth_ year.
5. Natalie De Lage was the daughter of a French lady, who was once a
member of the family of the Princess L'Ambaul. Natalie was adopted and
educated by Colonel Burr as his child. She married the son of General
Sumter, of South Carolina.
6. A slave of Colonel Burr's.
7. A servant of Colonel Burr.
The preceding correspondence not only introduces the reader into the
social circle of Colonel Burr, but into the bosom of his family. It
develops his character, so far as the most sacred and confidential
communications can develop it--as a friend--a husband--a parent--and a
master. We are approaching a period, however, in his history when the
scene is to be changed. In the spring of 1794 Mrs. Burr died; and in
1801 his daughter was married, and removed to South Carolina. Thus
terminated, in a great measure, all those domestic relations and
enjoyments which had afforded him so much pleasure, and connected with
which be had indulged the best feelings of his heart.
Colonel Burr was a member of the Senate of the United States from the
4th of March, 1791, until the 4th of March, 1797. During this period
he continued to practise the law. He was in that class of his
profession to which belonged a Hamilton, a Harrison, and a Livingston.
The partiality of some of his friends may have placed him at the head
of the bar. His opponents ranked him second _only_ to their particular
favourite. As a speaker, Colonel Burr was calm and persuasive. He was
most remarkable for the power which he possessed of condensation. His
appeals, whether to a court or a jury, were sententious and lucid. His
speeches, generally, were argumentative, short, and pithy. No flights
of fancy, no metaphors, no parade of impassioned sentences, are to be
found in them. When employed on the same side of a cause with General
Hamilton, it was his uniform practice to permit that gentleman to
select his own place in the cause.
It has often been remarked that Colonel Burr's character could not be
better drawn than it is in a short sketch of his father, by Governor
Livingston. "Though a person" (says the governor) "of a slender and
delicate make, to encounter fatigue he has a heart of steel; and, for
the despatch of business, the most amazing talents, joined to a
constancy of mind that ensures success in spite of every obstacle. As
long as an enterprise appears not absolutely impossible, he knows no
discouragement; but, in proportion to its difficulty, augments his
diligence; and, by an insuperable fortitude, frequently accomplishes
what his friends and acquaintance conceive utterly impracticable."
In the year 1793 Albert Gallatin was appointed a senator of the United
States by the State of Pennsylvania. On claiming his seat in January,
1794, a petition was presented against his admission into that body,
on the ground that he had not been a citizen the requisite number of
years. The subject was referred to a committee of seven. Their report
elicited a warm debate, which continued for several days. Colonel Burr
took an active part, and greatly distinguished himself in support of
Mr. Gallatin's claim. His colleague, Mr. King, had taken the lead
against the right of Mr. Gallatin to a seat. John Taylor, of Caroline,
Virginia, addressed a note to Colonel Burr, in which he says--"We
shall leave you to reply to King: _first_, because you desired it;
_second_, all depends upon it; no one else _can_ do it, and the
audience will expect it."
On the 28th of February, 1794, the Senate "_Resolved_, That the
election of Albert Gallatin to be a senator of the United States was
void, he not having been a citizen of the United States the term of
years required as a qualification to be a senator of the United
States."--Ays 14, nays 12.
On the 20th of February, 1794, the Senate adopted a resolution,
declaring that their galleries, at the commencement of the next
session, should be opened while the Senate were "engaged in their
legislative capacity." For this, or a similar resolution, Colonel Burr
had voted at every previous session since he had been a member.
His personal respect for John Jay has been heretofore mentioned; but
on no occasion did he permit such feelings to interfere with his
political acts, when called upon to perform a public duty. On the 16th
of April, 1794, the president nominated John Jay, then chief-justice
of the United States, as envoy extraordinary to Great Britain. On the
19th, when the nomination was called up for consideration, Mr. Burr
offered the following resolutions--
"_Resolved_, That any communications to be made to the court of Great
Britain may be made through our minister now at that court with equal
facility and effect, and at much less expense, than by an envoy
extraordinary; and that such an appointment is at present inexpedient
"That to permit judges of the Supreme Court to hold, at the same time,
any other office or employment emanating from, and holden at the
pleasure of, the executive, is contrary to the spirit of the
constitution; and, as tending to expose them to the influence of the
executive, is mischievous and impolitic." Ays 10, nays 17.
The nomination was then confirmed by a vote of 18 to 8, Mr. Burr
voting in the negative. This vote, it was understood at the time, gave
pain to Mr. Jay. In a letter to his lady, dated the 20th of April, the
judge says--"Yesterday the Senate approved of the nomination by a
great majority. _Mr. Burr was among the few who opposed it_."
About this period the democratic party were highly incensed against
the president for continuing Gouverneur Morris as a minister to the
French Republic. The Executive Provisory Council had requested his
recall. He was considered a monarchist, and hostile to the revolution.
Many of the opposition senators had spoken with great freedom of the
policy of General Washington in this particular. These remarks having
been communicated to the president, he expressed, informally, a
willingness to recall Mr. Morris, and to nominate a member of the
opposition, if they would designate a suitable person. In consequence
of this suggestion, the democratic members of the Senate, and some of
the most distinguished members of the House, had a conference, and
resolved on recommending Colonel Burr. Mr. Madison, Mr. Monroe, and
another member of Congress whose name is not recollected, were
delegated to wait on the president and communicate the wishes of the
General Washington paused for a few moments, and then remarked, that
he had made it a rule of life never to recommend or nominate any
person for a high and responsible situation in whose integrity he had
not confidence; that, wanting confidence in Colonel Burr, he could not
nominate him; but that it would give him great pleasure to meet their
wishes if they would designate an individual in whom he could confide.
The committee returned and reported the result of their conference.
The senators adhered unanimously to their first nomination, and the
same delegates waited upon the president and reiterated the adherence
of their friends to Colonel Burr. Whereupon General Washington, with
some warmth, remarked that his decision was irrevocable; but
immediately added, "I will nominate you, Mr. Madison, or you, Mr.
Monroe." The former replied that he had long since made up his mind
never to leave his country, and respectfully declined the offer. They
retired, and reported the result of their second interview. The
democratic gentlemen were not less inflexible, and instructed their
delegates to say to the president that they would make no other
recommendation. On the third visit they were received by Mr. Randolph,
secretary of state, to whom they made the communication, but who
considered it indecorous, knowing the president's feelings, to repeat
This incident demonstrates, on the one hand, the strong and
unchangeable prejudices of General Washington against Colonel Burr;
and on the other, the firm and unbounded confidence reposed in him by
the democracy of those days. The anecdote is not related on the
authority exclusively of Colonel Burr. It is confirmed by the written
statement of a gentleman of high standing, to whom Mr. Monroe repeated
all the details. No other selection was made by the opposition
senators; but, on the 27th of May, 1794, James Monroe was nominated as
Minister Plenipotentiary to the French Republic.
On the 8th of June, 1795, the president submitted to the Senate of the
United States the treaty negotiated with Great Britain by John Jay.
This question called into operation all the powers of Mr. Burr's mind.
He was opposed to it in the form it had been negotiated. His views and
opinions may be distinctly understood by comparing the amendments
which he proposed with the original treaty. On the 22d June the Senate
resumed the consideration of it, whereupon he offered the following
"That the further consideration of the treaty concluded at London the
19th of November, 1794, be postponed, and that it be recommended to
the President of the United States to proceed without delay to further
friendly negotiation with his Britannic Majesty, in order to effect
alterations in the said treaty in the following particulars:----
"That the 9th, 10th, and 24th articles, and so much of the 25th as
relates to the shelter or refuge to be given to the armed vessels of
states or sovereigns at war with either party, be expunged.
"2d Art. That no privilege or right be allowed to the settlers or
traders mentioned in the 2d article, other than those which are
secured to them by the treaty of 1783 and existing laws.
"3d. Art. That the 3d article be expunged, or be so modified that the
citizens of the United States may have the use of _all_ rivers, ports,
and places within the territories of his Britannic Majesty in North
America, in the same manner as his subjects may have of those of the
"6th Art. That the value of the negroes and other property carried
away contrary to the 7th article of the treaty of 1783, _and the loss
and damage sustained by the United States by the detention of the
posts_, be paid for by the British government--the amount to be
ascertained by the commissioners who may be appointed to liquidate the
claims of the British creditors.
"12th Art. That what relates to the West India trade, and the provisos
and conditions thereof in the 12th article, be expunged, or be
rendered much more favourable to the United States, and without any
restraint on the exportation, in vessels of the United States, of any
articles not the growth, produce, or manufacture of the said islands
of his Britannic Majesty.
"15th Art. That no clause be admitted which may restrain the United
States from reciprocating benefits by discriminating between foreign
nations in their commercial arrangements, or prevent them from
increasing the tonnage or other duties on British vessels on terms of
reciprocity, or in a stipulated ratio.
"21st Art. That the subjects or citizens of either party be not
restrained from accepting commissions in the army or navy of any
In 1797, while Colonel Burr was yet a member of the United States
Senate, his mind was occupied with the project of a bank, and he
conferred with several of his personal friends on the subject. Among
others, he wrote the honourable Thomas Morris, who was at the time a
member of the state Senate.
TO THOMAS MORRIS.
New-York, 1st February, 1797.
I have been informed that the present sheriff of Dutchess either has
resigned or will decline a reappointment, and that Platt Smith is
among the candidates. I have very little personal acquaintance with
Mr. Smith--am not, indeed, certain that I should recognise him if I
should meet him; but I have long known him by reputation, and can
assure you that he is a man of irreproachable character, of
independent property, and much above ordinary in point of
intelligence. His connexions are very influential (perhaps the most
so) in that county. He is, in short, a man, in my opinion, every way
qualified to fill the office. Has always been of your party, and
supported Jay's election. He is withal a generous, manly, independent
fellow, of that cast which you like; one who will feel sensibly any
favours or civilities which may be done him. If you should not be
otherwise pledged, you will oblige several of your personal friends by
supporting his pretensions.
I have drawn out a plan for a bank, but find that it will require so
many explanations that I forbear to send it. I perceive that you are
about selling our stock in the funds of the United States. We have
already talked over this matter. The more I reflect, the stronger
appear the objections. It will doubtless be urged in favour of an
immediate sale, that our funds are in danger of seizure by the United
States. This is a mere bugbear. Such a thing will never again be even
proposed, and, if proposed, will never receive three votes in the
Senate. I hope, therefore, our legislature will not suffer themselves
to be precipitated into this sale from any such unfounded
Mr. Belasies, a gentleman, a man of education and fortune, by birth an
Englishman, has come out with his family to reside in this country. If
he should apply for leave to hold lands in this state, I hope he may
be gratified; from the little I have seen, and the much I have heard
of him, I am persuaded that he will be a valuable acquisition to any
state and to any society. He is no politician.
I return to-morrow to Philadelphia, where I shall remain for this
month. May l expect to see you here in the spring? Present me most
respectfully to Williamson, and be assured of my esteem and
In April, 1798, Colonel Burr was elected a member of Assembly for the
city and county of New-York by the democratic party. This year was
marked with more political virulence than any other year since the
independence of the country. It was during the year 1798 that the
alien and sedition laws were passed. In the autumn of 1798, Matthew
Lyon, then a representative in Congress from Vermont, was endicted for
harbouring an intention "to stir up sedition, and to bring the
president and government of the United States into contempt," &c. He
was convicted, and the sentence was--"Matthew Lyon, it is the pleasure
of this court that you be imprisoned four months, pay costs, and a
fine of one thousand dollars, and stand committed until the judgment
be complied with." This year the celebrated mission to France,
consisting of Messrs. Marshall, Pinckney, and Gerry, excited the
attention not only of the American people, but of the civilized world.
In short, this year the foundation was laid for the overthrow of
federal power in the United States.
In no section of the country was there more political excitement than
in New-York. Parties were nearly balanced. There were only two banks
in the city; the Bank of New-York, and the branch of the United States
Bank. They were charged with being influenced in their discounts by
political considerations. At all events, they were under the
management and control of federalists; and to counteract their alleged
influence, Colonel Burr was anxious for the establishment of a
democratic institution. With this view he proposed to obtain a charter
for supplying the city with water; and as it was certain that if
confined to that particular object the stock would not be subscribed,
he caused the application to be made for two millions of dollars, and
inserted a clause in that charter, that the "surplus capital might be
employed in any way not inconsistent with the laws and constitution of
the United States or of the State of New-York." It is under this
clause that the Manhattan Company use and exercise all the privileges
of a bank. The directors were named in the charter, and a majority of
them were of the democratic party.
It has been said that the charter was obtained by trick and
management; and that, if suspicion bad been entertained by any of the
federal members, Colonel Burr could not have got the bill through the
legislature. It is due to him, so far as it can be justly done, to
rescue his memory from the imputation of having _misrepresented_ or
_misstated_ to any member the object he had in view. The facts in
reference to the passage of the charter of the Manhattan Company
through the Senate will now be given. The statement is upon authority
that cannot be contradicted.
When the bill had passed the Assembly and was sent to the Senate,
Colonel Burr, during the hours of business, went into the Senate
Chamber, and requested a federal senator (now living) from the western
district to move a reference of that bill to a select committee, to
report complete, which would supersede the necessity of its going to a
committee of the whole. The senator replied, that though he had no
objection to make the experiment, yet that he was persuaded the motion
would not prevail, because the Senate, not having a press of business
before them, uniformly refused thus committing bills to select
committees instead of a committee of the whole. Colonel Burr then
suggested, that perhaps if the mover would intimate, while on the
floor, that the honourable Samuel Jones was contemplated as chairman
of that committee, the confidence which the Senate was known to repose
in him, and in his uniform attention to every thing relating to the
city of New-York, would perhaps induce the Senate on this occasion to
depart from its accustomed mode of proceeding. Accordingly the motion
was made, and passed without opposition.
The committee named by the honourable Stephen Van Rensselaer, then
lieutenant-governor, were Samuel Jones, Ambrose Spencer, and Thomas
Morris. It was suggested to one of these gentlemen that the part of
the bill authorizing the employment of the surplus capital had better
be stricken out of it; in consequence of which that gentleman applied
to Colonel Burr for an explanation on this point. Mr. Burr promptly
and frankly informed the honourable member, that it not only did
authorize, but that it was in tended the directors should use the
surplus capital in any way they thought expedient and proper. That
they might have a bank, an East India Company, or any thing else that
they deemed profitable. That the mere supplying the city with water
would not, of itself, remunerate the stockholders. Colonel Burr added,
that the senator was at liberty to communicate this explanation to
other members, and that be had no secrecy on the subject. The bill was
subsequently reported by Mr. Jones and passed.
This view of the proceedings of the legislature is sustained by what
occurred in the Council of Revision, from the minutes of which an
extract has been made.
"_At a meeting of the Council of Revision, held at the City Hall of
the City of Albany, on Monday, the 1st of April, 1799._
"PRESENT--His Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Chancellor,
the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson.
"Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Robbins, from the honourable the Assembly,
delivered to the council the bill entitled _An act for the relief of
John Lansing_, the bill entitled _An act for supplying the city of
New-York with pure and wholesome water_, and the bill entitled _An act
to amend the statute of limitation_, and the bill entitled _An act
making provision to keep in repair the bridge over Schoharie Creek, at
Fort Hunter, in the county of Montgomery_.
"The council proceeded to take the said bills into consideration, and
"_Resolved_, That the bill entitled _An act for supplying the city of
New-York with pure and wholesome water_ be committed to the honourable
the Chief Justice; that the bill entitled _An act to amend the statute
of limitation_ be committed to the honourable the Chancellor."
"_At a meeting of the Council of Revision, held at the City Hall of
the City of Albany, on Tuesday, the 2d of April, 1799._
"PRESENT--His Excellency the Governor, the Honourable the Chancellor,
the Chief Justice, and Judge Benson.
"The honourable the Chief Justice, to whom was committed the bill
entitled _An act for supplying the city of New-York with pure and
wholesome water_, reported the following objections, to wit:
"_Because_ the bill creates a corporation, with a capital of two
millions of dollars, vested with the unusual power to divert its
surplus capital to the purchase of public or other stock, _or any
other moneyed transactions or operations not inconsistent with the
constitution and laws of this state or of the United States_, and
which surplus may be applied to the purposes of trade, or any other
purpose which the very comprehensive terms in which the clause is
conceived may warrant; this, in the opinion of the council as a novel
experiment, the result whereof as to its influence on the community
must be merely speculative and uncertain, peculiarly requires the
application of the policy which has heretofore uniformly obtained,
that the powers of corporations relative to their money operations
should be of limited instead of perpetual duration."
"The council proceeded to take the preceding objections into
consideration, which were overruled; it was thereupon
"_Resolved_, That it does not appear improper to the council that the
said bill, entitled _An act for supplying the city of New-York with
pure and wholesome water_, should become a law of this state.
"_Ordered_, That the honourable the Chancellor deliver a copy of the
preceding resolution, signed by his excellency the Governor, to the
honourable the Assembly."
"_State of New-York, Secretary's Office_.
"I certify the preceding to be true extracts from the minutes of the
Council of Revision of this state.
"_Albany, April 29th_, 1836."
Of the correctness of the above statement, and the fairness of Mr.
Burr's conduct in relation to the Manhattan Company, there cannot be
the shadow of a doubt; but it is probable that a large portion of the
members never attempted to examine into the extent of the powers
granted to the Manhattan Company; while another portion considered the
project of Colonel Burr, in reference to an East India Company or a
bank, as chimerical and visionary. It is, however, evident that no
trick or misrepresentation was practised to procure the passage of the
bill; unless, indeed, his silence on the floor of the house as to his
ulterior views may be so construed. His object was a bank; and when
appealed to on this particular point, he admitted the fact. At all
other times he remained silent on the subject. When the bill had
passed he was lauded by the democratic party for his address, and they
rejoiced in his success. Its political effect was considered highly
important, as it tended to break down a system of pecuniary
favouritism, which was made to operate in support of the party in
During the summer of 1799 vague rumours were privately circulated
respecting certain transactions of Colonel Burr with the Holland Land
Company. It was whispered that a bond, which the company held against
him for twenty thousand dollars, had been given up for secret services
rendered them. In other circles it was hinted that the compensation
was for procuring the passage of a bill through the legislature
authorizing aliens to hold lands, &c. Connected with these rumours,
John B. Church, Esq. had spoken with so much freedom as to produce a
challenge from Colonel Burr. On the 2d of September, 1799, the parties
met at Hoboken, and having exchanged a shot without effect, Mr. Church
made the _amende honorable_, and the affair was so satisfactorily
adjusted as to restore the social intercourse of these gentlemen. Mr.
Church was attended by Abijah Hammond, Esq., and Colonel Burr by Judge
Edanus Burke, of South Carolina.
On the ground a most ludicrous incident occurred. Previous to leaving
the city of New-York, Colonel Burr presented to Judge Burke his
pistol-case. He explained to the Judge that the balls were cast
intentionally too small; that chamois leather was cut to the proper
size to put round them, but that the leather must be greased (for
which purpose grease was placed in the case), or that there would be a
difficulty in getting the ball home. After the parties had taken their
stand, Colonel Burr noticed the judge hammering the ramrod with a
stone, and immediately suspected the cause. When the pistol was handed
him by his friend, he drew the ramrod, and ascertained that the ball
was not home, and so informed the judge; to which Mr. Burke replied,
"I forgot to grease the leather; but you see he is ready, don't keep
him waiting; _just take a crack as it is, and I'll grease the next_!"
Colonel Burr bowed courteously, but made no reply, and discharged his
pistol in the state it had been given to him. The anecdote for some
time after was the subject of merriment among those who had heard it.
No explanation was ever given, it is believed, of the transactions
between Colonel Burr and the Holland Land Company. It was his practice
to let his actions speak for themselves, and to let the world construe
them as they pleased. This was a great error, and was the source in
after life of much trouble and suffering to him, yet he would not
depart from it. A few weeks subsequent to this duel, however, be
received from a friend a kind letter, asking confidentially an
explanation of these transactions, to which he replied,
COLONEL BURR TO -----.
New-York, 6th October, 1799.
I cannot refuse to the manner of your request, nor to the friendly
motives which have produced it, to satisfy your inquiries with regard
to Witbeck's bond and the Holland Company.
In December, 1795 or 1796, I forget which, I entered into a covenant
with the Holland Company for the purchase of one hundred thousand
acres of land, at twelve shillings per acre, payable by instalments.
The covenant contained a penalty of twenty thousand dollars; as
security on my part for this penalty, in case it should become due, I
mortgaged to Cazenove, or the Holland Company, twenty thousand acres
of land in Presque Isle, being one hundred shares of two hundred acres
each in the Population Company, and I assigned to him Thomas L.
Witbeck's bond, payable to me, for twenty thousand dollars, as further
In the fall of 1797 Cazenove joined with me in a power of attorney to
James Wadsworth, then in Europe, for the sale of one hundred thousand
acres, and, until the summer or fall of the year following, we had
reason to believe that they were or would be sold, which of course
would have terminated all questions about the penalty. Some time in
the year 1797 or 1798, it was noised in Albany that Thomas L. Witbeck
had given a bond for twenty thousand dollars, and his credit at the
bank and elsewhere became affected by it. He wrote me often on the
subject. In reply, I begged him to explain that the bond was not for
the payment of money, and that, even if it should become forfeited,
the twenty thousand acres of Presque Isle lands were alone a
sufficient security. Witbeck, however, continued to be uneasy for his
credit, and teased me to take up his bond by giving other security. I
thought this rather unkind, and did not trouble myself about it.
Indeed, I was in hopes that the sale of the land in Europe would have
closed the transaction. Not long after this, I think in November last,
Cazenove informed me that be had been applied to by Witbeck to change
that security, and added that he was willing to change it for one of
equal solidity, provided it would not impair his rights.
Witbeck's importunities continued, and he became so very urgent and
repeated that I was finally (November last), long after the passing of
the alien bill, induced to offer A. I. Frederick Prevost's bond in the
place of Witbeck's. Cazenove took time to consider and inquire; and
finding, in fact, that Prevost's bond was a much better one than
Witbeck's, agreed to take it. Prevost accordingly executed _to me_ a
bond for twenty thousand dollars, of which Harrison drew a special
assignment to the Holland Company. We made a memorandum that this
exchange should not vary the rights of the parties (viz., the Holland
Company and Aaron Burr), and Thomas L. Witbeck's bond was given up. In
this transaction I never suspected that Cazenove imagined that _he_
was doing a favour either to me or Thomas L. Witbeck, and I am
confident that he never entertained so absurd a belief. It was with
great reluctance that I gave Prevost's bond. I had claims on Witbeck
which justified me in exposing him to some hazard. Prevost had a
family, a clear, independent estate, and did not owe a cent in the
world; but he had better nerves than Witbeck, and would not tease me.
About this time we learned that all prospect of selling the land in
Europe had failed, and as I never had an expectation of paying except
from the land itself, it became necessary to close the transaction. It
should be observed, that soon after my contract with Cazenove he
received orders, as he informed me, to sell no more under sixteen
shillings (two dollars), and afterward I understood that he had raised
the price to twenty shillings. In December last we had several
conferences for the purpose of settling this business. I offered to
give back the land and cancel the covenants. He talked of the penalty.
I replied that be would only recover the damages sustained, which, by
his own account, were nothing; for, as the price of the land was
raised to twenty shillings, the Holland Company would, by their own
estimation, gain one hundred thousand dollars by taking back the land.
He appeared to feel the unreasonableness of his demand, and finally
evaded my proposal by questioning his own authority. This I considered
as a pretence; some irritation ensued, and we parted without
concluding any thing.
Thus the matter remained until May last (1799), when our negotiations
were renewed. After various overtures and propositions on either side,
it was at length agreed that I should convey to the Holland Company,
absolutely, the twenty thousand acres Presque Isle lands. That this
should be received in discharge of the advances that Cazenove had made
thereon, and in full satisfaction of all damages claimed on the
covenants; and that thereupon the covenants should be cancelled, the
bond of I. A. Frederick Prevost be given up, and the Holland Company
take back their lands. This was accordingly done a few days before
Cazenove sailed for Europe, which was, I think, in June last.
I should have noted, that about the year 1792 or 1793, I became
jointly concerned with the Holland Company and sundry individuals in
the purchase from the State of Pennsylvania of the whole Presque Isle
angle, and of other lands adjoining to the amount of a million of
acres. The association was called the Population Company, and was
under the management of directors, who had a right to assess on the
proprietors or associates any sums they might think proper to promote
the settlements required by the patents. My interest was one hundred
shares, or twenty thousand acres, for which I had paid, at the time I
mortgaged to Cazenove, upwards of seven thousand five hundred dollars.
The thing was considered as extremely valuable, and I have no doubt
but my interest would, if I could have retained it five years, have
been worth to me more than one hundred thousand dollars. Lands within
the angle were last year sold at twenty dollars per acre.
Though it be obvious that no damages were due or could have been
recovered by the Holland Company on the penalty contained in the
covenants, yet I had several motives to urge me to some sacrifice in
order to get rid of the business. _First._ I could not repay the
advances made by Cazenove, which amounted to several thousand dollars.
_Second._ I could not bear to give any uneasiness to Frederick
Prevost, which might have been the consequence of a legal proceeding.
_Third._ I was a little apprehensive of being sued on the covenants
for payment of the purchase money. Cazenove, on his part, had but a
single motive, to wit--he found that these lands were all I had to
give, and that a suit would have produced only expense.
The aforegoing facts are substantially known to Le Roy, Bayard, and
McEvers, and to Harrison and Ogden. The two last were consulted on the
closing of the business in May and June last (1799). The former of
them, Harrison, several times on the exchange of the bonds. I have not
spoken to either of those gentlemen on the subject since the
transactions took place; but any person is at liberty to do it who may
choose to take the trouble.
I have given you a summary of my whole concern with Cazenove and the
Holland Company, not knowing what part of it might tend to elucidate
By those who know me, it will never be credited that any man on earth
would have the hardiness even to propose to me dishonourable
compensations; but this apart, the absurdity of the calumny you allude
to is obvious from the following data, resulting from the deeds and
That at the time the Alien Bill was under consideration, and long
after, the bond, the covenant, and the penalty were objects of no
concern, as we had reason to believe that the lands were or would be
sold in Europe, so as to leave me a profit:
That Witbeck's bond was _never given up_, but exchanged for one more
safe and valuable:
That I had not, nor by possibility could have, any interest in this
exchange, as it was relieving one friend to involve another still more
dear to me:
That, so far from any understanding between Cazenove and me, we had
controversies about the very bond and penalty for more than a year
after the passing of the Alien Bill: That no part of the penalty was
ever due from me to the Holland Company; and that of course, they
could never have demanded the bond, which was expressly a security for
the penalty, and not for the payments:
That nevertheless I did finally give Cazenove a valuable and
exorbitant compensation to induce him to cancel the covenants and
discharge the penalty.
This, sir, is the first time in my life that I have condescended
(pardon the expression) to refute a calumny. I leave to my actions to
speak for themselves, and to my character to confound the fictions of
slander. And on this very subject I have not up to this hour given one
word of explanation to any human being. All the explanation that can
be given amounts to no more than this--_That the thing is an absolute
and abominable lie_. I feel that the present detail is useless and
trifling; but you have asked with good-nature, and I could not, with
the appearance of good-nature, refuse. I pardon you the labour I have
had in writing, and for that which you will have in reading no apology
can be due from
Your friend and obedient servant,
In January, 1801, Colonel Burr's daughter Theodosia was married to
Joseph Alston, Esq., of South Carolina. Mr. Alston was in his
twenty-second, Miss Burr in her eighteenth year. He was a gentleman of
talents and fortune, and a few years after his marriage was chosen
governor. Some opinion of his style of writing may be formed by his
defence of early marriages; while that portion of his letter which
relates to his native state cannot be uninteresting to South
THEODOSIA BURR TO JOSEPH ALSTON.
New-York, January 13th, 1801.
I have already written to you by the post to tell you that I shall be
happy to see you _whenever you choose;_ that I suppose is equivalent
to _very soon;_ and that you may no longer feel doubts or suspicions
on my account, I repeat the invitation by a packet as less dilatory
than the mail; but for all these doubts and suspicions I will take
ample revenge when we meet.
I yesterday received your letter of the 26th of December, and am
expecting your defence of early marriages to-day. My father laughs at
my impatience to hear from you, and says I am in love; but I do not
believe that to be a fair deduction, for the post is really very
irregular and slow--enough so to provoke anybody.
We leave this for Albany on the 26th inst., and shall remain there
till the 10th February. My movements will after that depend upon my
father and _you_. I had intended not to marry this twelvemonth, and in
that case thought it wrong to divert you from your present engagements
in Carolina; but to your solicitations I yield my judgment. Adieu. I
wish you many returns of the century.
I have not yet received your promised letter; but I hope it may be
long in proportion to the time I have been expecting it. The packet
has been delayed by head-winds, but now that they are fair she will
have a quick passage; at least such I wish it. Adieu, encore.
JOSEPH ALSTON TO THEODOSIA BURR.
Charleston, S. C. December 28th, 1800.
Aristotle says "that a man should not marry before he is
six-and-thirty:" pray, Mr. Alston, what arguments have you to oppose
to such authority? Hear me, Miss Burr.
It has always been my practice, whether from a natural independence of
mind, from pride, or what other cause I will not pretend to say, never
to adopt the opinion of any one, however respectable his authority,
unless thoroughly convinced by his arguments; the "ipse dixit," as
logicians term it, even of Cicero, who stands higher in my estimation
than any other author, would not have the least weight with me; you
must therefore, till you offer better reasons in support of his
opinion than the Grecian sage himself has done, excuse my differing
Objections to early marriages can rationally only arise from want of
discretion or want of fortune in the parties; now, as you very well
observe, the age of discretion is wholly uncertain, some men reaching
it at twenty, others at thirty, some again not till fifty, and many
not at all; of course, to fix such or such a period as the proper one
for marrying, is ridiculous. Even the want of fortune is to be
considered differently, according to the country where the marriage is
to take place; for though in some places a fortune is absolutely
necessary to a man before he marries, there are others, as in the
eastern states for example, where he marries expressly for the purpose
of making a fortune.
But, allowing both these objections their full force, may there not be
a single case that they do not reach? Suppose (_for instance, merely_)
a young man nearly two-and-twenty, already of the _greatest_
discretion, with an ample fortune, were to be passionately in love
with a young lady almost eighteen, equally discreet with himself, and
who had a "sincere friendship" for him, do you think it would be
necessary to make him wait till thirty? particularly where the friends
on both sides were pleased with the match.
Were I to consider the question personally, since you allow that
"individual character" ought to be consulted, no objection clearly
could be made to my marrying early.
From my father's plan of education for me, I may properly be called a
hot-bed plant. Introduced from my infancy into the society of men,
while yet a boy I was accustomed to think and act like a man. On every
occasion, however important, I was left to decide for myself; I do not
recollect a single instance where I was controlled even by advice; for
it was my father's invariable maxim, that the best way of
strengthening the judgment was to suffer it to be constantly
exercised. Before seventeen I finished my college education; before
twenty I was admitted to the bar. Since that time I have been
constantly travelling through different parts of the United States; to
what purpose I leave you to determine.
From this short account of myself you may judge whether my manners and
sentiments are not, by this time, in some degree formed.
But let us treat the subject abstractedly; and, as we have shown that
under particular circumstances no disadvantages result from early
marriages, let us see if any positive advantages attend them.
Happiness in the marriage state, you will agree with me, can only be
obtained from the most complete congeniality of mind and disposition,
and the most exact similarity of habits and pursuits; now, though
their natures may generally resemble, no two persons can be entirely
of the same mind and disposition, the same habits and pursuits, unless
after the most intimate and early association; I say early, for it is
in youth only the mind and disposition receive the complexion we would
give them; it is then only that our habits are moulded or our pursuits
directed as we please; as we advance in life they become fixed and
unchangeable, and instead of our governing them, govern us. Is it not
_therefore_ better, upon every principle of happiness, that persons
should marry young, when, directed by mutual friendship, each might
assimilate to the other, than wait till a period when their passions,
their prejudices, their habits, &c. become so rooted that there
neither exists an inclination nor power to correct them? Dr. Franklin,
a very strong advocate for my system, and, I think, at least as good
authority as Aristotle, very aptly compares those who marry early to
two young trees joined together by the hand of the gardener;
"Trunk knit with trunk, and branch with branch intwined,
Advancing still, more closely they are join'd;
At length, full grown, no difference we see,
But, 'stead of two, behold a single tree!" 
Those, on the other hand, who do not marry till late, say "thirty,"
for example, he likens to two ancient oaks;
"Use all your force, they yield not to your hand,
But firmly in their usual stations stand;
While each, regardless of the other's views,
Stubborn and fix'd, it's natural bent pursues!" 
But this is not all; it is in youth that we are best fitted to enjoy
that exquisite happiness which the marriage state is capable of
affording, and the remembrance of which forms so pleasing a link in
that chain of friendship that binds to each other two persons who have
lived together any number of years. Our ideas are then more refined;
every generous and disinterested sentiment beats higher; and our
sensibility is far more alive to every emotion our associate may feel.
Depend upon it, the man who does not love till "thirty" will never,
never love; long before that period, he will become too much enamoured
of his own dear self to think of transferring his affections to any
other object. He may marry, but interest alone will direct him in the
choice of his wife; far from regarding her as the sweetest friend and
companion of his life, he will consider her but as an unavoidable
encumbrance upon the estate she brings him. And can you really hope,
my Theodosia, with all your ingenuity, to convince me that such a
being will enjoy equal happiness in marriage with me? with me, about
to enter into it with such rapture; who anticipate so perfect a
_heaven_ from our uniting in every study, improving our minds
together, and informing each other by our mutual assistance and
observations? No--I give you full credit for your talents, but there
are some causes so bad that even you cannot support them.
Enough, however, of this topic till we meet; I have already given you
a volume of nonsense upon it.
Now for the fable, I cannot call it description, your "dear friends"
have given you of this state. "The country," they say, because of the
marshy grounds, "is rendered continually unhealthy with fever and
agues." One would really conclude from this that we were a good
representation of a meeting of _Shaking Quakers_. Alas! beautiful and
romantic hills of Carolina, which the delighted traveller so often
stops to admire; fair and fertile plains interspersed with groves of
the orange, the lemon, and the myrtle, which fling such healthful
fragrance to the air, where are ye fled? Has some earthquake, some
sudden and dreadful concussion of nature, ingulfed you? No! You still
remain for the delight and ornament of our country; you have lost
existence only in the imagination of some beau or belle of New-York;
who, ignorant of the geography and appearance of the most celebrated
states, believes every other place except the Park and the Battery a
desert or a marsh. But let us proceed:--"As to Charleston, an annual
epidemic, joined to the yells of whipped negroes, which assail your
ears from every house, and the extreme heat, make it a perfect
purgatory!" What! is Charleston, the most delightfully situated city
in America, which, entirely open to the ocean, twice in every
twenty-four hours is cooled by the refreshing seabreeze, the
Montpelier of the south, which annually affords an asylum to the
planter and the West-Indian from every disease, accused of heat and
unhealthiness?--Island of Calypso, where reigned perpetual spring! may
we not, after this, expect thy flower-enamelled fields to be
metamorphosed into dreary wastes of snow, and the sweet concerts of
the feathered choir, which elysionized thy woods, converted into the
howling of the tiger, or the horrid bark of the wolf? But this is not
all, unfortunate citizens of Charleston; your disposition has been
even still more outraged than your climate. Your mildness, humanity,
and benevolence, are no more; cruelty, barbarity, a sanguinary love of
torture, are now your distinguishing characteristics; the scream, the
yell of the miserable, unresisting African, bleeding under the scourge
of relentless power, affords music to your ears! Ah! from what
unfriendly cause does this arise? Has the God of heaven, in anger,
here changed the order of nature? In every other region, without
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