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Smithfield Preston Foundation

Papers, 1784-1881, n.d., Ms1997-002

n.d. -- letter from William Cambell Preston in Lexington, Virginia to Susan S. Preston McDowell in Abingdon, Virginia

Lexington August 2nd

You see my vey dear Sue with what patient exactness I have obeyed your parting injunctions, who I confess occasionally I have felt restless and disposed to risk consequences. Nothing is I believe more dangerous in any situation, than such a disposition to "venture the consequences in cases, either confessedly ---- or at best, doubtful. Three days delay at powhatan would have saved me three months indisposition, but I risked the consequences, that is I silenced my judgement and followed my inclination, and I believe in all the little misfortunes of myy life I can trace this villianous disposition. Experience bringeth wisdom, but her progress like the sloth is slow and painful. Every system of morality, every seet of philosophy, may be regarded like the majority of those patent inventions that over run our country and may be called "experience--saving machines" which we hastily buy up, eagerly ---- and immediately abandon. Thus, but a fig for this drawling, when I have merely set down to tell you I am vexed to death that Col. McDowell will not permit me to start until Sunday when he goes to Smithfield. I should have been there ---- this had it not been for poor Patries misfortune. he cries out at the idea of my leaving him, but I shall be compelled to do it for it will be three weeks before he is able to travell.

I am distressed to hear that Cousin Betsy’s cough has grown more violent, it be ---- her to be extremely attentive to it, for if it is indulged with out a check or aggravated by iprudence the consequences may be more serious than I will permit myself to immagine. Let her diet be fruit and begetables, her exercise on horse back, and let her avoid every possibility of contracting cold. She will laugh at the idea of my becomming phisician, but I send her enclosed an extract from the writings of a phisician bred at Edinburgh and knighted for his professional emanence which will have might with her and I hope render her courteous and attentive.

You see I am at present in the seat of science and Presbyterianism and would you believe it! pass my time quite ----. I could be contented to live here a fortnight. I am invited to spend the morning at Mrs. Hayo’s to dine at Mr. Reid’s and to spend the evening at Mr. Grabaur’s bravisimo! and old General ---- shall not have a moments peace ‘til he asks me to his house, and I will go to spite him.

I came to this place on Monday and shall return to Cherry Grove tomorrow. This day a week, I will be at Smithfield and another week carries me home, how I ---- you your situation.

Mrs. Taylor and family are will I am la la (tell Eliza to translate for you) and no one out of order but unfortunate Patris he is on the ----.

Farewell my dear Sue. My heart is with you all.

William C. Preston


The Lord of the Isles "is in town I will spend a day with his Lordship before I quit the premises.


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