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MVB to J[ohn] P[eter] V[an] Ness, 3 December 1802

Dr. Friend,

I Received your welcome Letter this of Nov. 19th. this Evening in which you ask me “where I am & what I am about." To the first question from the Date of my Letter is a sufficient answer, to the seccond I answer by Informing you that I am engaged in studying the Law with your Brother Willm. You Rember the situation in which you Left me (viz) in expectation of hearing from you or your Brother some time having elapsed, after your Departure without receiving that Information which was to Regulate my ^then^ future Conduct (not doubting for a moment the sincerity of your offers but supposing that the multiplicity of Business which you must unavoidably have had rendered it Impossible for you to attend to the Business & also thinking that possibly you might have Left directions with your Brothers) I wrote a Letter to Cornelius requesting him to inform me <illegible> in what situation the Business stood soon after which I received a Letter from him Informing me of the arrangements mentioned in your Letter & also one from your Brother in which he gave me a very friendly Invitation to come down & with assurances that he would give me every assistance in his power to procure an agreeable situation for me, & also & offer of the use of his Books & office untile that place could be found After Receiving those Letters I immediately began to prepare myself to come down & upon the most mature Consideration concluded that it wa the most Beneficial plan that I could adopt would be to remain in your Brothers office untill spring where I could have a fair opportunity to read & go in the office of some extensive practitions in the spring & attend to practice exclusively. I made out to procure me about $130 from my Brother with an Engagement to advance me more about July. I called on Lockwood he said he could not then tell me what he heard Brebner say wo but would at a future Day since which I have not seen him, I was employed agt. Brebner shortly before I left Town on an Information for Blasphemy made by one Moores, in Chatham, he again had a Jury of the proper kind to acquit him, but on application made to the Court by me to have the Jury Discharged, on the principle that in such a Case he was not entitled to a trial by Jury, they were Discharged & after a Trial which lasted almost a Day he was convicted, The Judgment of the Court was that he pay 8 or 9 Dollars (I forget which) or sit two hours in the Stocks, he had not the money & I Demanding Bail, he procured Bail for 6 Days, a privilege which the Law <allows> expressly allowed him or he would not have had it. Was not this sweet Retaliation. I have procured my Board in a retired place in Catherine Street, with Mr. O Blenis (a Demo,) I like the people, Situation & accommodations extremely well, there are two Students at Law besides myself in the same house one of who studies with the mayor we pay $4 per wek for Boarding & Lodging & 12/ each per. month for <firewood> an elegantly furnished room, & Candles, which is one third less than I could procure it for in the Centre of the City besides the very much better oppertunity to read, & the Benefits which result from examing each other & convising together <fr> From this Statement you will perceve that nothing is wanting but my own Exertions, to improve myselve, which I promise you shall be exercised, I would be very happy to receive a Letter fro[m] you w with some advice & Directions for m[y] future Conduct, how seldom It would be w[. . .] to attend to the theatre &c ^&c &c &c^ Dont be afraid to be too Rigid I am Determined to undergo any thing which is my power necessary to obtain (if possible) that eminence in the profession which alone I consider honorable, & which will enable me to con shew you that your Generosityus Conduct towards me has not been sown on Sterile soil, your Your Letter went to Kinderhook & returned here. The other Letter you speak of I have [. . .] Your Letter to Wall Street No. 4 [. . .] To your Lady & Believe ^me to be^ in Sincerity

Your Fri^e^nd, Martin Van Buren Junr

N.B. Pray write me what reception Ogdens Letter meets with

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Source: MoSHi Missouri Historical Society
Collection: Presidents Collection, 1802-1969 (MoSHi)
Series: Series 1 (5 December 1782-31 December 1811)