New-York, July 10, 1804.
Having lately written my will, and given my private letters and papers in charge to you, I have no other direction to give you on the subject but to request you to burn all such as, if by accident made public, would injure any person. This is more particularly applicable to the letters of my female correspondents. All my letters, and copies of letters, of which I have retained copies, are in the six blue boxes. If your husband or any one else (no one, however, could do it so well as he) should think it worth while to write a sketch of my life, somematerials will be found among these letters.
Tell my dear Natalie [his adopted daughter] that I have not left her any thing, for the very good reason that I had nothing to leave to any one. My estate will just about pay my debts and no more—I mean, if I should die this year. If I live a few years, it is probable things may be better. Give Natalie one of the pictures of me. There are three in this house; that of Stewart, and two by Vanderlyn. Give her any other little tokens she may desire. One of those pictures, also, I pray you to give to Doctor Eustis. To Bartow [his step-son] something—what you please.
I pray you and your husband to convey to Peggy the small lot, not numbered, which is the fourth article mentioned in my list of property. It is worth about two hundred and fifty dollars. Give her also fifty dollars in cash as a reward for her fidelity. Dispose of Nancy as you please. She is honest, robust, and good-tempered. Peter is the most intelligent and best-disposed black I have ever known. (I mean the black boy I bought last fall from Mr. Turnbull.) I advise you, by all means, to keep him as the valet of your son. Persuade Peggy to live with you if you can.
I have desired that my wearing apparel be given to Frederic. Give him also a sword or pair of pistols.
Burn immediately a small bundle, tied with a red string, which you will find in the little flat writing-case—that which we used with the curricle. The bundle is marked “Put.”
The letters of “Clara” (the greater part of them) are tied up in a white handkerchief, which you will find in the blue box No. 5. You may hand them to Mari, if you please. My letters to “Clara” are in the same bundle. You, and by-and-by Aaron Burr Alston, may laugh at Gamp when you look over this nonsense.
Many of the letters of Clara will be found among my ordinary letters, filed and marked, sometimes “Clara”, sometimes “L.”
I am indebted to you, my dearest Theodosia, for a very great portion of the happiness which I have enjoyed in this life. You have completely satisfied all that my heart and affections had hoped or even wished. With a little more perseverance, determination, and industry, you will obtain all that my ambition or vanity had fondly imagined. Let your son have occasion to be proud that he had a mother.
I have directed that the flat writing-case and the blue box No. 5, both in the library, be opened only by you. There are six of these blue boxes, which contain my letters and copies of letters, except those two clumsy quarto volumes, in which letter-press copies are pasted. They are somewhere in the library. The keys of the other five boxes are in No. 5.
It just now occurs to me to give poor dear Frederic my watch. I have already directed my executors here to give him my wearing apparel. When you come hither you must send for Frederic, and open your whole heart to him. He loves me almost as much as Theodosia does; and he does love you to adoration.
I have just now found four packets of letters between “Clara and Mentor” besides those in the handkerchief. I have thrown them loose into box No. 5. What a medley you will find in that box!
The seal of the late General Washington, which you will find in the blue box No. 5, was given to me by Mr. and Mrs. Law. You may keep it for your son, or give it to whom you please.
Assure Mrs. Law of my latest recollection. Adieu. Adieu.