James Madison Papers

Nicholas P. Trist to James Madison, 28 October 1827

Monticello Oct. 28 __27.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 23d. was not received until last night. I had been thinking some time, that I ought to have long ago written to you on the subject; and now feel ashamed that a letter from you should have found the design yet unaccomplished. The matter shall, however, be immediately attended to: that is, as soon as little piece of business which the same mail brought from Mr Coolidge on behalf of Sparks shall have been despatched.

I presume you have filled the chair with Dr Jones. In case this should not yet have happened, however; or in case he should decline: I here transcribe, for your perusal, the following passages from Mr Coolidge’s letter.

"Walker, who was mentioned from Cambridge as a fit person for the vacant professorship, has been provisionally engaged, at a handsome salary, as teacher at Round Hill, Northampton. He tells me that his brother (now in Phila.) writes that Patterson has declined the offer of the situation in Charlottesville, and advises him, Walker, to make application for it. He begs me to ask of you, confidentially, what his chance is, and whether you recommend him to offer for the newly created post to which he feels himself, & is thought by Mr Farrar, more competent than for the first. He is young, ardent, ambitious, used to government, & would work day & night, & has applied himself to these studies entirely, the last two years; and, in good measure, to the practical parts, such as lecturing about application of steam, and I believe rail roads &c &c."

In a postscript, he adds. "I hear that Mr Jones of Phila. is a candidate for the new professorship; but they say he is not fit for it."

A piece of literary intelligence brought by the same letter, that will interest you, if you have ever looked into "Hall’s journal" (not Lieut Hall who was here some years ago) is that Capt. Basil Hall is in Boston writing a book upon america. "No man in England" says Mr C. "possesses greater talent at observation & a greater union of science & practical knowledge. If I could choose from all Europe a man to write about us, it should be Hall. His book will do infinite service at home, & not a little here. It will correct prejudice in one country, & vanity in the other."

No holliday I could possibly take to myself would be half so agreeable as a trip to Montpellier; and I should have ridden down, to confirm with my own eyes the good reports I have received of your health, but for various hindrances, in themselves, not of the most pleasant nature. Among others, I am here as a sort of Garrison of occupation. Mr C. has returned from his summer retreat to Boston. Mrs R has taken board in the family of Mr Stearns, professor of Laws, a massachusetts democrat, and is delightfully situated. Septimia & George are both doing very well, & Cornelia took advantage, some weeks since, of Mr Gilmer’s escort, to join her mother.

I perceive that they have succeeded in dragging you into the papers. What a furious strife it is! Virginia & Mary send their love to Mrs. Madison. Please to present me to her in the most affectionate terms, and to accept the assurance of my veneration & gratitude

Nichs. Ph. Trist

RC, two copies (ViHi: Nicholas P. Trist Album Book). First RC docketed by James Madison. Second RC includes a note on the bottom of the page: "Will you have the goodness to drop me a single line, unless there be some secret in the matter, letting me know whether the business of the professorship is closed?"

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