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Letter from William Beaumont to Samuel Beaumont (1811)

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


St. Albans, 24th Nov 1811

My Dear parents

Who at this time, and for some time gone, have been affectionately upbraiding their ungrateful Son for neglecting to comply with their most anxious and reasonable solicitations, will kindly pardon a breach of duty which arises not from want of natural feelings or grateful rememberance—But buried among books and absorb'd by thoughts and reflections, am indifferent to almost every other topic, even to those endearing themes of Paternal love, Maternal affection and Fraternal esteem, which demand the first, the last and the dearest sentiments of my heart.

I enjoy two of the best gifts of Heaven; health and peace; the wealthiest can enjoy but one more (which is competence) but many, very many, Frowns and misfortunes which by me are unexperienced.

My situation affords me a very pleasant life, though it requires my utmost diligence and perserverence in the pursuit of a Medical Profesion of which, sooner or later, I hope to exhibit specimens of proficiency in an art which in this enlightened age of reason and under the modern improvements of Chemistry and Physiology, bids fair to rise with healing on her wings.

My local situation is such that you need give yourself no uneasiness about, I shall be able to meet the exegencies of my Education[1] Education without any difficulty (extraordinaries excepted) my prospects are fair, and my encouragements are by no means indifferent as I am considerably in the habit of riding with my Preceptor and have the charge of many of his patients, during his calls other where, which are numerous and at a distance, he has just return'd from a distant patients in whom he has, as it were, effected a... and is now gone 20 or 30 miles to perform an amputation.

Perhaps you may think I am tardy in acquiring the Profession—But I suppose the transcendent intellects of your more southern Geniuses vegetate more rapidly than the cold, frozen, torpid intellectuals of us northern beings can be expanded by the genial beams of science—Indeed am sure they do—yea almost start up spontaneously, for when I was there last a little more than two years gone, they had just begun the theory; but now I understand they are gifed[?] quite dut[?] in practice; performing almost miracles (at least are Miracle Mongers—) It takes us, in this country, at least six or five years, to become an expert theorist and some longer to be perfect in the art, and there are some that have practiced 18 or 20 years and more of skill too, that acknowledge their want and ability of improvement in some of the accomplishments of Physic—finally the Physicians of this cold climate don't come to maturity (Quacks excepted) like the Bienial Geniuses of Old Lebanon, in less time than it takes to cultivate a crop of Squashes— A blessed country for raising Doctors, Lawyers, and Divines! O that I was then![2]

I rec'd a letter from Abel some time since and ought to have answered it but the expense of Postage, the necessity of economy, the scarcity of money these hard times, and the deficiency of news of importance has induced me to defer it—but I would recommend a reperusal of my former ones as containing the true sentiments and wishes of his affectionate Brother. To one suggestion in his however, I shall insert a reply in this. He informs me that Doct. Luther Newcomb stated when at Lebanon, that he believed I had become a Federal. I should be glad to know by what authority he made the assertion or what was his malice, if it was, to slander my person and defame my character he could not have missed his object—So far am I from deserving that despicable appellation and so different is the impression among the people and on the mind, even of my Preceptor (who is the fastest Fed that I ever knew, though a man of superior talents) that am counted a Republican and under the daily threatening of being turned out of door for cherishing a true Republican principle, the legitimate sentiment of every real American hereditarily bestow'd and carefully cultivated by an anxious Father whose precepts and instructions have made an indeliable impression on the heart of his son who is farther from ever having the infamous name of Federal justly applied to his character or associated with his name than the North is from the South, who feels the glowing influence of that noble sentiment of Liberty and Independence which the Veteran Fathers of our Country fought, bled and died to obtain! Which influence, elevates the soul of every true American as much above the factious Spirit prevalent in our country, as Zenith is above Nadir or as Virtue is above vice—[3] St. Albans, Nov 26[4]

          Mr. Samuel Beaumont,

Marginal annotations
  1. Additional text in left margin: I most anxiously enjoin it upon my dear Sisters and Brothers to improve every possible opportunity of gaining the best education and fund of information that their circumstances, and the ease and comfort of their Parents will possibly allow and lose not a golden moment of improvement or exchange it for worlds of vain pleasures—I wish John to acquire the Latin language the first opportunity he may possibly have in special company with my request under the anticipation of its familiarity to him.
  2. Written in left margin: Sam'l and family are in Plattsburgh, were well when I saw them last which is 5 or 6 weeks since. He was then teaching School—Lucretia, Lucy and the rest of the children will be assured that I am no less mindful of them for not writing to them respectively, I should only mask my feelings to attempt to express them—all that is loving, grateful or affectionate is hereby tendered to them—Oh Girls don't think me unfeeling if you don't see me soon.
  3. Written in left margin: Yes, Dear Sir, erase and let every impression be obliterated from every mind, of my ever being made a convert to the present system of Federalism! Sooner might they remove the everlasting Hills, than to bribe my integrity, waver my faith, shake my belief or divert my course from the Position of Republicanism while reason holds her empire over the province of my intellects.
  4. Written on other side of fold: Having crowded my name out of place, will let you know here that it is your affectionate Son William who addresses his two Parents.