Montpellier Jany. 16th. 1831.
I have received, my young friends, your letter inviting me, in behalf of the Whig Society of Nassau Hall, to deliver the annual address in September next on the day preceding the commencement.
I value too much the source from which the invitation comes, and respect too much the occasion which is the Subject of it, not to be flattered by the choice made of me for such a service. I am duly sensible also of the gratification promised by a visit to the scene of my youthful studies and associations, and by the many grateful recollections to be awakened by it. But besides my very advanced age with its ordinary infirmities, the state of my health greatly impaired by an unyeilding rheumatism, would oblige me to decline an undertaking to which I should be unequal. It remains for me therefore, only to avail myself of the opportunity afforded, of expressing anew my veneration for the Alma Mater to which I have been so much indebted, with my congratulations on her brightening and expanding prospects; assuring at the same time, the Society of which I was an early member, my continued sympathies in its laudable and successful pursuits. For yourselves, my young friends, I beg you to accept the acknowledgements due for the partial, the too partial eye, with which I have been regarded by you.
RC (NjP); draft (DLC).