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MY DEAR BURR,
Your favours of the 1st and 5th inst. came to hand last night, and are both before me. I am very much indebted to you for your candour in stating the objections which are against Princeton, as well as Mr. Stockton. I had anticipated them all. They are far from being groundless. But my situation was peculiar when I determined to live with Mr. Stockton. In my last a principle of delicacy induced me to be more reserved than is consistent with the sincerity of our affection for each other. Forgive my criminal reserve. I will be plain with you now.
By a strange kind of contracted system, which pervades all the civil establishments of Congress, I was reduced to the necessity of resigning my office at least six weeks sooner than I expected. Though I laboured both day and night, with as much drudgery as a negro on a plantation in the West Indies, the board of treasury did not think themselves authorized to report a warrant in my favour for money to answer the common demands of living. They confined me to my salary of ten thousand dollars  per annum. Finding that I had not the most distant prospect of getting a decent support while I continued in office, and that I was obliged to pay four or five thousand dollars out of my own private purse for necessaries, I cursed and quit them the beginning of this month.
Being thus out of office, I thought it would be prudent to settle myself at the law without a moment's delay, both on account of the heavy expense of living in this city, and the loss of time, which is of the greatest consequence to me. I did not forget Mr. Paterson when I gave the preference to Mr. Stockton. The private character of the former is infinitely superior to that of the latter, and so is his public. But he is immersed in such an ocean of business, that I imagined it would be out of his power to bestow all the time and pains on our improvement we would wish. Besides, I was afraid of being more confined to the drudgery of copying in his office than I ought. This is inseparable from an office in which there is a good deal done, however well disposed a lawyer may be to promote the interest of his clerk. You observe that his present office expires next summer. I grant it. Yet he may be chosen attorney-general again; and this I believe will be the case, for there is not a man of sufficient abilities in the state, except him and Morris, to whom the people would give the office. Morris, I fancy, will not accept it if offered to him, as he has lately resigned his seat on the bench; and I will venture to predict that Paterson will be continued, though against his inclination.
Upon the whole, then, I feel extreme regret in telling you that I must go and sit down at Princeton the latter end of this week at farthest. The die is cast. My honour forbids me to act contrary to the engagement I have entered into with Mr. Stockton. Had I received your kind letter before my absolute determination, I should certainly have followed your advice. Our plan, therefore, will be frustrated. Painful the reflection! You would hurt me exceedingly if you came to live at Princeton, and subjected yourself to the inconveniences you mention, merely to please me.
I am glad to hear your health is mending, and should be still more happy if it was unnecessary to make use of the mineral springs in the Clove. I have always suspected that the law would disagree with your delicate constitution. It requires the most intense study. Your ambition to excel will stimulate you to the closest application, and I dread the effects it may produce. You should therefore be cautions. Health is a source of more substantial pleasure than the most cultivated understanding.
A few days ago Dr. Edwards left a bundle of bills, amounting, as he says, to one thousand pounds, at Dr, Rush's for me, to be sent to you. I have not yet counted it, but I suppose it is right. To-day or to-morrow I shall leave a receipt for it at Dr. Rash's. I believe I shall presume so far upon your friendship as to borrow a part of it for my own use for about a fortnight. I am much disappointed in receiving a small sum to pay my debts in town. I sold two thousand dollars in certificates to Mr. Duer just before he left town, and he gave me an order upon a lady for the money. I find she will not be able to pay it for some time hence, and I am so pressed for cash that I have written to Duer, at Baskenridge, for the certificates or money immediately. I expect an answer every moment; and, till I receive it, shall consider part of yours as my own. The remainder I shall transmit you by the first safe conveyance. I think it would be wrong to trust the post with it.
I thank you sincerely for your offer of a horse. The present state of my finances is such that I cannot afford to keep one. If I could it might detach me from my studies. Beware of temptation, saith the Scripture, and so saith my interest.
I suppose you have read the king's speech. He makes no mention of his rebellious subjects in America, or of any allies, and is resolved to prosecute the war. The debates in the House of Lords, as well as Commons, on the motion for an address of thanks, were very warm. Lord North, in one of his speeches, makes no scruple of declaring that they have no allies to assist them. That they can get none. That the combined fleets have a decided superiority; and that it would have been highly dangerous for the English fleet to have fought them last fall. The bills on Spain and Holland sell very fast. They will all be disposed of in a very short time. There are large arrivals in Virginia and Maryland; and there are several vessels below, waiting for the river to be cleared of ice, which will be in three or four days. Poor continental is still going down hill. Fifty-eight was refused yesterday; and I have no doubt it will be seventy for one before ten days hence. Adieu. As long as you are Aaron Burr, I will be
- Robert Troup
- Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1., by Matthew L. Davis, 1836