James Madison Papers

Nicholas P. Trist to James Madison, 12 April 1828

Monticello Apr. 12. 28.

Dear Sir

Taking the white sheet in which the papers were wrapped, for a mere envelope; I did not notice your "iterum", until I came to put away my letters, after my last to you was despatched. The extract you desire, is now enclosed. Mr Gilmer’s information leaves it uncertain whether the contract be in this county, or with his uncle, in Liberty. To the latter, I shall write by the first mail. In the mean time, Mr G. has promised to search among the papers now at Mrs Minor’s.

You must lay in a stock of patience & strength for an uncommonly arduous & perhaps long, session; as the next fully promises to be. Probably not your least disagreeable duty will be receive and act upon some reports which Dr D. feels constrained to make, in relation to the deportment of Dr. J. There has just occurred in the medical department a transaction which, but for Dr D’s uncommonly gentlemanly & dispassionate mode of acting on such occasions, would have led to an open rupture. A child (black, I believe) was brought to Dr D. for his advice on some tumor with which it was afflicted. The Dr. decided that an operation was not to be attempted, because death would certainly ensue and explained his reasons to his class. For the advantage of the students, & through courtesy to Dr J. he desired the child to be brought back at an appointed day; that Dr J. might have an opportunity of exhibiting & explaining the disease. Dr D. heard nothing more on the subject for a day or two; when he was told by one of the students that Dr J. was going to perform the operation Sure enough, the next day, when Dr D. repaired to the lecture room, there were but three of his class present; the rest having gone off with Dr. J. to the operation. The operation was performed; and the child died. Those are but the outlines; the filling up makes the case worse: and the worst part of it is, perhaps, that it constitutes merely the climax to a series of acts done in the same spirit; which is, but too palpably, of not a laudable character.

Here, I must break off, to hurry to town. Excuse this hasty scrawl, and accept my usual adieux.

N. P. Trist

RC (ViHi: Nicholas P. Trist Album Book). Docketed by James Madison.

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