To his son, Lyle B. Fawcett
Mr.Lyle B Fawcett, Engineer departments, War Office, Washington
Harrisonburg 23rd April 1824
Dear Son Lyle,
Your letter of the 13th Inst is to hand. it gives me great pleasure to find that you are pleased with your society and prospects. I trust most fervantly [sic] that your regular and studious habits will entitle you to a continuans [sic] of the comforts which now appear to surround you. depend on it, long experience has convinced me that all real enjoyments have their foundation in Innocens [sic] of Intention, prudence in matters of contracts and regular habits of useful Industry. these means regularly pursued never failed to make those who use them at least respectable and Hapy [sic] and very frequently rais [sic] them to great distinction. you know that I am not superstitious and that I am not over burdened with religioun [sic]. Perhaps one of my greatest errors has been that I have not set you so good an example in it as I ought to have done, but there is no proposition more clear to my mind than that it is allways [sic] our true Interest to do what is strictly our duty in the spirit of sincerity and meekeness [sic] without parade or ostentation all nature as well as the prcepts [sic] of religion Illustrate the truth of this opinion as well as the precepts of religion. it is the law of divine as well as of moral & Pysical [sic] nature. you cannot add any one substance to a body more than was intended by its author without making it just so much more than it ought to be, nor can you take a way a member or a limb without producing the contrary effect breake [sic] a glass or a stone and you must gather up all the parts before you can restore the whole. I am Truly glad to find you so grateful to our friends pray do not forget them. Thankfulness and gratitude for past favors are the first duties we owe to our mcher (??and) to our fellow men. depend on it every vice has its in(??)orable punishment and every Virtue its proper reward.
your remarks to me on the subject of Gnl. (??M)acombs capacity tho quite respectful and perhaps not amis [sic] when wailing to me would be improper if communicated to others who might expose your opinions. you cannot have had an opportunity of Judging of his abilities. it is only on great occasions that even a great man display great Talents. few such I presume ever in a time of peace about a war office. did you expect when you was about to be introduced to him to see any thing more than a man? be assured after becoming acquainted with a great man in all cases, much of his greatness disappears. but we ought no on this accont [sic] to suppose him to be a man of ordinary talents. when we view Genl. Macomb at the head of a heterogenous [sic] army of americans [sic] awaiting the attack of Genl. Provost with his veteran british [sic] troops, cannadian [sic] militia, and Indians, in double the numbers of his own army on the shore of lake champlain [sic] at a time too when we all Trembled for the fate of our country not only awaiting the attack, but also defeating and repulsing the enemy with great loss we must at least admit him to be great in firmness and determination and I am not certain that he does not give a further evidence of greatness, after performing such a splendid exploit, in appearing like a common man. you appear to love him and esteme [sic] him and if you remembered the time I allude to, as well as I do, you would respect him as a great man. his maker and his country called him to act on a great occasion and he supported with credit to him self and with glory to his army and his country. the high station he filled under these curcumstances [sic] it is hazardous to doubt his greatness.
your sister Virginia as taken Ill the next day or two after you left here and continued quite sick for about a week. her old complaint soar throat & Rheumatism. she is now pretty well. I was also quite unwell a day or two about the same time but soon got over it. Niles was also very unwell for a few days but is well again
It would seem as if the want of excitement after the sale had the same effect here as it had after the battles of orleans [sic]. there it is said, during the siege, not a case of disease occurred, but so soon as it was over, the inhabitants were generally attacked by the complaints of the place. we are all well however now, and putting off the time as well as we can.
we buried our old neighbor John Bosche a few days ago. Doct Waterman is sleeping a way the little remains of life which is left. he will perhaps not last more than a few days longer. James Smith is muc(??h as) he was when you left here perhaps a little Improved. (??I) fear however that it is probable he may not recover. from the opinion of (??Doct) Harrison, corroborated by the opinion of Doct Jackson of Phila. his symtoms [sic] are rather unfavorable.
all the inquirries [sic] I could make of Genl. Mason if I were to write are contained in the little memo I gave you before you set out. I should be glad to hear from you on that subject as well as all others which you may think it my Interest to know before I leave home. Abner and my self have concluded to set out Immediately after court. I shall in all probability write you again before I set out, but any communication you have to make to me here ought to by someone at farthest in two or three days after the court. on the subject of the business at the Ferry I want you to be as watchfull [sic] as a Hawk but as Inocent [sic] as a dove say nor do anything to the Injury of any but mark what passes. I have sinned too often to desire the punishment of others. but if a change should take place I would then have the same right of others