From George W. P. Custis1
Mount Vernon Decr, 5th, 1801
With the utmost sorrow have I lately perused the unhappy fate of your son, and among the many that have come forward to condole with you on so afflicting an event, I beg I may be permitted, to make one of the number. We were brought up as it were, together in our earlier years and that mutual friendship which then existed between us, would I have no doubt have at a future time ripened into esteem.
But my Dr Sir, he has fallen in the field of honour, & altho it has not pleased the Almighty Ruler to prolong his days, yet as he lived respected, & admired, so has he died lamented, & beloved. “How sleep the brave &c.”2
Permit me to offer you my best wishes for your happiness & prosperity. May the shafts of faction fall harmless upon the shield of your integrity & should occasion require may Alexander Hamilton again appear as an American soldier.
My Compliments &c
George W P Custis
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Custis was the son of John Parke Custis, who was the stepson of George Washington. A second lieutenant in the Light Dragoons, Custis served as an aide-de-camp to Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney during the undeclared war with France.
For background to this letter, see Benjamin Rush to H, November 26, 1801.
2. Stanza I of William Collins’s Ode Written in 1746 reads in part:
“How sleep the brave, who sink to rest,
By all their country’s wishes blest!”