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John P[eter] Van [Ness] to MVB, 6 January 1803

Dr Sir

Your's of the 3d & 27th. ult. have both been received by me and the contents have afforded me much gratification. Believe me it has not been either from an Indifference towards either yourself or those contents that they have remained so long unanswered. Among all the complicated private concerns in which I found myself involved immediately upon my return to this place, I felt a constant anxiety upon a different subject which I trust you know is not an uninteresting one to me. After the Arrangement concluded upon in N York when I left it, I expected soon expected to hear from you, or about you; but was disappointed until I recd your first letter in answer to mine. That satisfied me very much, and this circumstance together with the accumulation of both public & private business of different kinds has prevented me, however agreeable an uninterrupted correspondence with you would be, from communicating with you as I otherwise would have done. I knew you was doing well, & knew I would before long be able to congratulate you upon a change in your situation which I can not but think very important and It gives me great pleasure to find that your experience is such as ought to confirm our Opinions upon this subject. I have no doubt you will (reflecting ^I think your^ & considering that your future prospects are principally founded upon your attention to the Improvement of that mind, & those talents, with which you are blessed) neglect no opportunity of accomplishing this desireable object to such a degree as to render you an ornament & an honor to your friends & your Country. You have now advantages before you; let me, however, remind you that you have dangers around you. Temptations to vice are every where presenting themselves. I need not tell you that the first, & often an insensible, step towards it is Idleness. This is not only a negative evil inasmuch as you neglect your business; but a positive one inasmuch as it brings you to a point from which you plunge with great facility into the worst mischiefs of every kind. The transition is a very easy one. I need not dilate upon this subject to you, indeed I have now no time. I would not wish to be understood that I am hostile to rational amusements:—by no means. They are necessary, as well as close applications to the advantageous cultivation of the mind. And a due intermixture with good society we all know contributes vastly to the Improvement of both mind & Body. The Theatre, about which you ask my Opinion, affords certainly a great opportunity for both:—the only objection (or at least a principal one) is that we are sometimes so fascinated & subdued by it’s charms as to become wholly devoted to it. This will not ^do,^ and I confide in your good sense to prevent any such effect, in your case. I am very happy to hear you are agreeably situated, I mean domestically. I think you are really fortunate in this respect for the several reasons you give me. Since my return we have been unfortunately disappointed in our receipt of Cash by a man who owed us about Thirty three thousand Dollars. He has failed, and we lose about 4 or 5 thousand Dollars by him. Had we not held extensive securities upon real property in this State & Virginia we would have done worse. Indeed I had to advance about Sixteen hundred Dollars in Cash to me effect as good a come-off as I did. We have received large landed Estates from him which we will sell as soon as we can to advantage. This has somewhat embarrassed me as I made considerable calculations upon a different result. Your Brother will I hope find it convenient to advance you liberally from time to time. I shall certainly not forget you. I now enclose a Twenty Dollars which I hope will be safely received & will be of a little service to you. If you should, owing to particular circumstances, at any time be [. . .]ardly pressed you must let me know. Be [so] good as to inform me immediately whether you receive the few dollars I now send you safely: and also do the same upon every similar future occasion that I may feel satisfied, and if in this respect. I must rely on you for the keeping a little acct., by way of memorandum, of what takes place between us in future. Let me beg of you as a very particular favor to keep this transaction a profound secret even from my most intimate friends or relations, in or out of N. York, in every stage of it.

If you send me the number of your Boarding House in Catherine Street you may receive your letters there without their coming into the office. Mrs. Van Ness has been confined to her Bed the whole Week, we are in hopes, however, she is convalescent.

Write me about our friends at Kinderhook &c. You will find I have written pretty pl[. . .] you on some points. I will continue to [. . .] as I am your friend. After that it is no [. . .]

In great haste I am [. . .]

John P. Van [Ness]

N.B. My friends need feel no uneasiness about my Seat in Congress. The Republicans, whatever their sentiments are upon the point (& here indeed they differ among themselves) are universally disgusted at Davis for raising it. And I suspect you will not see much decided about it until a pretty late period in the Session altho’ the Federalists & a very few others are very anxious about it.

Washington Bearing Date

Jany 6. 1802 but really 1803

J. P. VNess Esqr

As noted on the docket, this letter was misdated 1802.

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 1 (5 December 1782-31 December 1811)