Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Trumbull, 13 October 1786

To John Trumbull

Paris Oct. 13. 1786.

Dear Sir

Not knowing Mrs. Cosway’s address, I take the liberty of putting the inclosed under your cover, and of begging you to deliver it personally. Your reward will be the visit it will occasion you. She promised to write to me. Be so good as to take charge of her letters, and to find private conveiances for them, or to put them under cover to Mr. Grand banker rue neuve des Capucins à Paris. Or she will do the last herself. All letters directed to me are read in the post offices both of London and Paris.

I duly received your favor dated Antwerp, and notwithstanding the little disappointment occasioned by a circumstance which Mrs. Cosway will explain to you, I was much entertained with it. It revived my inclination to travel, an inclination which always lies uppermost. My first wish was to see the places you described; my second to see in preference Italy, Greece &c. But god knows when I may be able to see either, or if ever. I intended to have visited the South of France this fall, but am prevented by this unlucky accident to my wrist which I cannot in the least use yet. We are now however satisfied that it is set, and that time alone is necessary for it’s reestablishment. In the mean time the left hand is learning to perform the functions of the right. This however it does awkwardly and slowly. It is with pleasure it executes that of assuring you of the sincere esteem with which I have the honour to be Dear Sir your friend & servant,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); written by TJ with his left hand, endorsed by him with right. Enclosures: TJ to Mrs. Cosway, 12 and 13 Oct. 1786.

Not knowing Mrs. Cosway’s address: This could not have been the actual reason for TJ’s sending letters to Mrs. Cosway through Trumbull, for the fact is that he did know her address. On an undetermined date in 1786 TJ wrote on a fragment of paper (part of an address-cover to some unidentified letter he had received):

“What is Mrs. Cosway’s address?

Mr. Trumbull Th:J.” Beneath this, and on the same fragment, Trumbull wrote: “Mrs. C- Pall Mall London” (MHi; the fragment also contains on verso a number of calculations of uncertain meaning, including “Grand 2613.livre tournois”). This note may have been sent to Trumbull by a servant, but this seems unlikely in view of its character—and especially in view of the fact that Trumbull stayed with TJ at the Hôtel de Langeac. So informal a scrap would certainly not have been sent to Trumbull in London; hence the conclusion that it was written between 2 Aug. and 9 Sep. 1786 when Trumbull was in Paris. Possibly, too, it was written while TJ and Trumbull, with the Cosways and others, were on one of their numerous excursions around Paris.

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