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[To Aaron Burr]
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
I want words to express the pleasure I feel at the receipt of yours of the 22d, by the boy who came for your horse. It relieved me from a burden which had sunk my spirits lower than I recollect them to have been by any calamity I have met with during the war. My imagination had crowded my mind with a thousand melancholy reflections from the moment I got your letter by Dr. Cutting, who, like a modern well-bred gentleman, left it at my lodgings only three days ago. Some evil genius certainly interrupts our correspondence. I write letters without number, and yet you seldom hear from me, and when you do, the letter is as old as if it had come from the other side of the Atlantic. It is exactly the case with yours.
Mr. Paterson has been more unfortunate than I. He has often complained of your neglect, as he thought it; but I informed him of the fate my letters shared, and he was easy. However, he desired me last night to give you a hint, that he had lately written you several long letters without receiving an answer to either. He is now at Princeton, attending court. I shall forward your letter that accompanied mine to him by a safe conveyance. Paterson really loves you with the tenderest affection, and can scarcely speak of your state of health without shedding a friendly tear. As God is my judge, I could not forbear shedding several when I read yours by Dr. Cutting, which is the first I have had from you in near five weeks. I was afraid all farther attempts to recover your health, so as to qualify you to execute our plan, would be fruitless. In short, I thought you on the brink of eternity, ready to take your final farewell of this wrangling world. The critical situation of your sister increased my distress, and extinguished every hope. How much more happy should I be if your sister's health took the same fortunate turn. Your ride to Litchfield must be doubly agreeable, as it will tend to establish your health and better hers.
I must now communicate to you a disagreeable piece of news respecting myself. It shows how rare it is to find a man of real disinterested benevolence. Sears and Broome, I understand by Mr. Noel, who returned from Philadelphia a few days ago, have protested the bill I drew upon them last summer. Colonel Palfrey bought it, and has it returned to him, for what reasons I cannot say positively, but I suspect they are determined not to assist me, although they were lavish of their offers when they supposed I never would be reduced to the necessity of accepting them. Such conduct is characteristic of excessive meanness of spirit, and I confess I am deceived in my opinion of them most egregiously. True it is, that instances of this kind of behaviour often occur in our intercourse with mankind; but, from the fortunes these men have made since the war, and the frequent reports of their generosity, I was led to imagine there was something more than mere idle compliment and ostentatious parade in their offers. I was deceived, and I hope it will be the last time. This affair has wounded my pride so sensibly, that I shall be extremely cautious in future. I must and will endeavour to adopt some mode of drawing supplies from my certificates, which will be three years old next spring, and therefore ought to be taken up by Congress By the table of depreciation published by Congress to regulate the payment of the principal of their certificates, I am entitled to three hundred and fifty pounds, at the very lowest calculation, and this sum in specie.
When you come here you must exert all your abilities in finance, to make me no longer dependant upon the bounty of friends; or rather, I should say, your bounty, for you are the only person I have borrowed money of. Till that time, my dear friend, can you keep me above water, and do justice to yourself? Will you be able to extricate me from the difficulties attending this bill? In plain terms, can you spare me the amount of it? My reputation suffers by having the bill protested, and I must, in a short time, send the money to Colonel Palfrey, for I am persuaded I have no farther ground to expect the least assistance from Sears and Broome. Fail not, by any means, to write me on this subject before you leave Paramus, and be careful how you send the letter.
There is nothing but your health and my poverty that retards my progress in study. They are fruitful sources of disquietude. When I lay me down to sleep, they often prevent me from closing my eyes. When I look into a book, they present a variety of melancholy images to my imagination, and unfit me for improvement In all other respects I am situated to my wishes: Paterson treats me as a bosom friend. He has gone so far as to press me in the warmest terms to command his purse. How I shall be able to requite your friendship is a matter beyond my penetration. I declare, before the Searcher of all hearts, that I consider your happiness and welfare as inseparable from my own, and that no vicissitudes of fortune, however prosperous or calamitous they may be, will ever tear you from my heart. Circumstanced as I now am, words are the only proofs I can give you of my gratitude and affection. Time will prove whether they are the cant of hypocrisy or the language of esteem.
I lent your horse to Mrs. Paterson about a week ago, to carry her to Elizabethtown to see her brother, who was to meet her there from New-York; and disappointments in not seeing him, from day to day, have detained her much longer than was expected, and it is probable that she will not return until Thursday next; I have therefore sent the boy down to Elizabethtown, or, more properly, shall send him in the morning, with Mr. Noel's horse, which will answer full as well in the wagon. This change will produce no inconvenience at all, and is better than to detain the boy till Mrs. Paterson returns. She was exceedingly well when she left home, and so was her little girl, which is handsome, good-tempered, fat, and hearty. I am very particular in presenting her your respects, and she is as particular in inquiring about you.
Bring all the French books you can from Connecticut, particularly Chambaud's Exercises, and all the other elementary books you have. I should be fond of having the perusal of Rousseau's Social Compact, if you can borrow it of Mrs. Prevost for me. I am quite rusty in the French, for I have neglected it totally for two or three months. The business of the office has engrossed so much of my attention, that I have not lately read any other book but Blackstone. I am still in the third volume. I digest thoroughly as I advance. I have unravelled all the difficulties of the practice, and can do common business with tolerable dexterity.
The horse will be delivered to you without a saddle. Gales, a young fellow who was studying with Mr. Paterson, requested me to lend it to him to ride as far as Newark last August, and he ran off to New-York, and I never could get the saddle again. This piece of villany I could not foresee, and it surprised almost as much as Arnold's. The grass has been very short, and I fancy the horse will be leaner than you expect. He is a most excellent saddle-horse.
I am extremely sorry to hear Mrs. Prevost and her sister are unwell. Remember me to them in the most friendly manner. Give my compliments also to Dr. Latimer, and all friends in the army near you. Don't forget Mrs. De Visme, the children, Dom. Tetard, and the family on the hill, although I hear they are strongly prejudiced against me. Mrs. Judith Watkins, as you well know, has spoken maliciously. She is far from being your friend. Every thing that passed one day at dinner in confidence respecting our reception at her house, has been told to her and her husband, with no small exaggerations, by some person of the company. Governor Bill Livingston related some particulars that astonished me, and added, that he and Mr. and Mrs. Watkins thought it cruel in you to put such an unfair construction upon Watkins's behaviour to us. All this talk is beneath our notice. What I said to Bill was sufficient to erase any unfavourable impression from a candid mind. If it has not produced that effect, any further attempt to refute the calumny will only serve to confirm it.
Mrs. P. Livingston is here, and desires her respects to you. She was glad to hear of the prospect you have of growing hearty. She is an amiable woman, and loves you. Your friend,
- Robert Troup
- Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1., by Matthew L. Davis, 1836