Stephen F. Austin to James E. B. Austin, 07-08-1822

Summary: Learn Spanish. Cultivate the governor. Do not discuss politics. Be attentive to church. Business going slowly, but is hopeful. Impressions of Mexico City.

Mexico July 8. 1822.

Dr Brother,

I fear you have often gone to the Post office and returned dissatisfied with your Brother for not writing more frequently, in fact I have had no very important news to communicate and the postage of a letter every mail is a tax which our funds at present would feel, for this reason I have not written as often as I otherwise should—I hope by this time you begin to speak Spanish and also to write it, remember that all your hopes of rising in this country depend on lear[n]ing to speak and write the language correctly, without that, you will do nothing—you have had a fine opportunity this summer and ought to be able by the time I arrive to speak and write the language so as to make yourself well understood—this subject is so very important that I note it first before I say any thing about my business—The Colonization law is still pending and as the Emperors Coronation is defered until the middle or last of this month I expect nothing will be done for some time yet—I have only to wate with patience and have no doubt that in the end all will be right—

I am uneasy about your situation as to money and have therefore sent you a draft on New Orleans for $50 which you can probably sell at Bexar for 10 to 20 prcent advance, you must be as frugal as possible and not loose one moment, you should rise at day light and be at your studies and continue at them all day, only taking exercise and amusement enough to keep you in health and to relax the mind and above all things do not fall into the habit of sleeping a siesta after dinner, you will not have such another opportunity of lear[n]ing the language and if you neglect it you will repent it when too late—attend to writing it, and in order to learn the spelling as well as to improve you in the language and in your hand, write down a long lesson every day out of some book and as you write it look for the words you do not understand in the Diccionary, and also attend to the parts of speech their concordance and government etc and thus you will learn to spell the words and in doing this you must also try and improve your hand, you see how plain the Spaniards generally write. If you could translate well and write a good hand I could get a place for you in the Captain Generals office as translator worth at least $2000 a year, so that you see that your future rise depends altogether on yourself, fortune is within your reach if you will only exert yourself to take it—and all the exertion required is close study for 3 or 4 months—Try and be intimate with Governor Trespalacios and if you can get into his office to copy and write for him. Speak to the Baron and Don Erasmo on the subject—I received a letter from Dr Andrews stating that Milum [Milam] and Cristy had made some extravagant threats about the Govr. you must act cautiously and keep clear of those men if you find they intend anything against the Govr.—they are very imprudent men and I fear will get themselves into difficulty—all you have to do is to study hard, and say nothing about Politics and be attentive to church—I have received two letters from you since my arrival here, in the last you say you begin to "jabber Spanish" I am rejoiced to find you are improving, it is of so much importance that I cannot too earnestly press upon you the necessity of close application,—I shall probably not be in Bexar before the 1 of September, but do not be discouraged at my detention, all will be well, at any event a correct knowledge of the language will get you a situation for life if you wish it, so that the application of this summer will lay the foundation of your fortune whether I succeed or not—

This city is truly a magnificent one, as regards the external appearance of the buildings, and altho I at first thought it not larger than New York, I now think after a better examination of it that it is much larger than any city in the U. S. and much more populous— The population however is very much mixed and a great proportion of them are most miserably poor and wretched, beggars are more numerous than I ever saw in any place in my life—robberies and assassinations are frequent in the Streets—the people are biggoted and superstitious to an extreem, and indolence appears to be the gen aperal order of the day—in fact the City Magnificient as it is in pearance is at least one century behind many other places in point of intelligence and improvement "in the arts" and the nation generally is in the same situation . . . [Eight lines are here torn away.]

Should anything of consequence happen write to me directed to the care of Dr. R. Andrews Saltillo and I will get the letter as I pass—Remember me very particularly to the Baron and speak to him about the surveying for H. Elliott write me to Saltillo how many families have moved in since I left there etc—