Letter, from John Parke Custis, July 5, 1773

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  • Letter, from John Parke Custis, July 5, 1773

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Letter, from John Parke Custis, July 5, 1773


Jacky reports to his mother after arriving and settling in at King's College (now Columbia) in New York. He expresses his sorrow for and condolences at the death of his sister.


John Parke Custis


Fields, Joseph E. 'Worthy Partner': The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994


Greenwood Press




Joseph E. Fields, editor




Published version of manuscript document

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Fields, Joseph E. 'Worthy Partner': The Papers of Martha Washington. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

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George Washington Papers, Library of Congress

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My Dear Mama,                               Kings-College July 5th (1773)

I have at length the Pleasure of informing you that I am settled in every respect according to my satisfaction. There has Nothing been omitted by the Professors, which could be in any means condusive to my Happiness, & contentment during my residence at this place, and I believe I may say without vanity that I am looked upon in a particular Light by Them all, there is as much distinction made between me & the other students as can be expected. I dine with them (a liberty that is not allow'd any but myself) associate & pertake of all their recreations, their Attention to my Education keeps pace with their other good offices, and from their Words as well as Actions. I have reason to form the most pleasing Hope of Pleasure & Satisfaction entertainment in the pursit of my Studies. It does not become me to Speak much in praise of my own attendance but I assure you that I have done as much or more in 2 months than in the eight Months before, and I flatter myself you will never hear anything but what is agreable from Doctor cooper or any other of the Professors. It is now time to give you short plan of my apartments, and of my way of living. I have a large parlour with two Studyes or closets, each large enough to contain a bed, trunk and couple of chairs, one I sleep in, & the other Joe calls his, my chamber and parlour are paper'd with a cheap tho very pretty Paper, the other is painted; my furniture consists of Six chairs, 2 Tables, with a few paultry Pictures; I have an excellent Bed, and in short every thing very convenient &clever. I generally get up about Six or a little after, dress myself & go to chappel, by the time that Prayers are over Joe has me a little Breakfast to which I sit down very contented after eating heartyly. I thank God, and go to my Studys, with which I am employed till twelve than I take a walk and return about one dine with the professors, & after dinner study till Six at which time the Bell always rings for Prayers they being over college is broak up, and then we take what Amusement we please.

Things My dear Mother were going on in this agreable Manner, till last Thursday, the day I receiv'd Pappa's melancholy letter, giveing an account of my dear & only Sister's Death. I myself met the Post, & brought the sad Epistle to Doctor Cooper who I beg'd to open his Letter immediately, the Direction I did not know, but the Seal I knew too well to be deceived. My confusion & uneasiness on this occasion is better conceiv'd that expresst. Her case is more to be envied than pitied, for if we mortals can distinguish between those who are deserveing of grace & who are not, I am confident she enjoys that Bliss prepar'd only for the good & virtuous, let these considerations, My dear Mother have their due weight with you and comfort yourself with reflecting that she now enjoys in substance what we in this world enjoy in imagination & that there is no real Happiness on this side of the grave. I must allow that to sustain a shock of this kind requires more Philosophy than we in general are (possest) off, my Nature could not bear the shock, (illegible) sunk under the load of oppression, and hindered me from administring any consolation to my dear and nearest relation, this Letter is the first thing I've done since I received the malancholy News, & could I think my Presence wou'd be conclusive to the Restoration of your Tranquillity neither the distance nor the Fatigue of traveling could detain me a moment here. I put myself & Joe into deep Mourning & shall do (all) Honour in my power to the Memory of a deceas'd & well belov'd Sister, I will no longer detain you on a subject which is painful to us both but conclude with beging you to remember you are a Christian and that we ought to submit with Patience to the divine Will and that to render you happy shall be the constant care of your effectionate and dutiful son

John Parke Custis

Mrs Washington
New- York
July 5th 1773



How to Cite this Item

John Parke Custis, "Letter, from John Parke Custis, July 5, 1773," in Martha Washington, Item #394, http://marthawashington.us/items/show/394 (accessed April 7, 2020).