As a Father

From Letters to Theodosia, his only surviving child by Theodosia Prevost-Burr

“My property, our home with all of its baubles, mean nothing to me, and whatever honors I have won in this world are empty. You are my only true treasure, and in you is the distillation of all that is pure and noble in your ancestry. Live your life to the full, and beware of giving your heart prematurely, for I will not consent to the gift of your hand to any man who is not worthy of you.”

“You know that you and your concerns are the highest, the dearest interest I have in this world, one in comparison with which all others are insignificant.”

“My letters to others are always ready; but toward you, a desire to say something at the last moment; a reluctance resembling that of parting – but all this you know and feel.”

“What book shall I buy for her? said I to myself. She reads so much and so rapidly that it is not easy to find proper and amusing French books for her; and yet I am so flattered with her progress in that language, that I am resolved that she shall, at all events, be gratified. Indeed, I owe it to her.”

“I really think, my dear Theo., that you will be very soon beyond all verbal criticism, and that my whole attention will be presently directed to the improvement of your style. Your letter of the 9th is remarkably correct in point of spelling.”

“I continue the practice of scoring words for our mutual improvement. The use, as applicable to you, was indicated in a former letter.

I am sure you will be charmed with the Greek language above all others. Adieu.”

“Your little letter from Alexandria assured me of your safety, and for a moment consoled me for your absence. The only solid consolation is the belief that you will be happy, and the certainty that we shall often meet.”


On 19th Century Paris

In 1810, AB found himself in Paris, what was then the latest state of refuge for the disgraced former Vice President. Acquitted of treason, but guilty of naked ambition, he was eventually shunned whever he went – England, Sweeden, Germany, etc. In writing to his daughter, he had this to say of “modern” Paris.

“No sidewalks. The carts, cabrioles, and carriages of all sorts run up to the very houses. You must save yourself by bracing flat against the wall, there being, in most places, stones set up against the houses to keep the carts from injuring them. Most of the streets are paved as Albany and New York were before the Revolution, with an open gutter in the middle. Some arched in the middle, and a little gutter each side, very near the houses. It is a fine sport for the cabriole and hack drivers to run a wheel in one of these gutters, always full of filth, and bespatter fifty pedestrians who are braced against the wall. The gutters or conduits for the water from the eaves of the houses are carried out a few feet from the roofs, and thus discharge the rainwater over your head. In most places there are no such pipes, and then you have the benefit of the water from the eaves. This was a great ridicule against the city of Albany about twenty years ago; but Albany has reformed the evil.”