To his son, Lyle B. Fawcett.
Master Lyle B. Fawcett, Strasburg, Shenandoah, Va
Harrisonburg, 9th February 1821
Your favor of the 2nd Instant is to hand. I have no desire that you should follow surveying for the purpose of making a living, I only want you to become well acquainted with that branch of the mathematicks in order enlarge your fund of useful Information, I therefore would not like to be at the expense of purchasing a set of Instruments for the only purpose of making a few experiments, as they would be of no use afterwards. If you had a set in this place they would be continually out on loan or then you would have to be out wasting your time in doing little unprofitable jobs, for which you would neither get thanks or pay. I know all this from experience for I once had a fine set of Instruments in this place which perhaps cost 40 or 50 dollars, and I loaned them until they were ruined in a great measure besides I wasted more time with them than two such sets were worth, and I cannot help thinking that you may borrow a set for a week or two to answer your purpose but if you cannot you must go on and study the Theory as well as you can, and when you come home in the spring I can very soon learn you how to use the Theodilite. My Dear Son there is an other reason why I can not comply with your request that is the immense demand on me for money if you knew my distress you would not ask me to pay a cent unless it would be for something of absolute necessity. The business of Daniel Ragin is coming to a crisis, and the alternatives before me exhibit nothing but what appears full of awful responsibility or great loss. I shall in all probability be compelled to enforce the sale of his lands and become the purchaser in which I hazzard all. If I succeed I shall avoid certain ruin, and if I do not succeed it will be only ruin. be therefore prepared to hear the worst, but always hope for the best.
Your mother, Brothers and Sisters are as well as they were when you at home. The whooping cough hangs to the young ones without abatement.
Mr McDowell will leave me on Monday next to commence the Study of Law.
Lyle B. Fawcett