James Madison Papers
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James Madison to Benjamin Waterhouse, 28 November 1835

Montpellier Novr. 28. 1835.

Dear Sir

Your letter on the subject of Mr. Pemberton has not passed into oblivion; but I am sensible that the lapse of time since it was received exposes it to that appearance. For my silence, I must plead my growing dislike to the pen, and the condition of my fingers, which imposes on me often, as in the present case, the unwelcome task of dictating to borrowed one’s. Though I am aware of your junior age, and presume on your continued exemption from the infirmities added to mine, I may appeal, I doubt not, in aid of my apology, to an incipient experience by yourself of the effect of time in diminishing the alacrity with which you take hold of the ink-stand.

I well recollect Mr. Pemberton in the aspects which his character presented, when I was his pupil; and I readily conceive that your favorable picture is a good likeness of its developements in after life. He must at least have become an adept in the Classics. Being a good scholar at an early day, he could not fail in a long course of teaching others, to be a successful tutor to himself. I have no distinct recollection of the Latin address to him from his pupils including myself, nor of my share in the preparation of it. I suspect that its merit, if it has any, consists rather in the just and grateful feelings of the authors, than in the Latinity which conveys them, if otherwise the greater the merit of our Preceptor.

With the assurance of my continued esteem and regard I pray you to accept that of all my good wishes, in which Mrs Madison desires to join me.

James Madison

RC (MH: Schools of Medicine and Public Health Library); draft (DLC).

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