Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Short to John Jay, 1 January 1788

William Short to John Jay

Paris Jan. 1. 1788


Mr. Jefferson charges me to explain to Your Excellency the reason of your not receiving the copies of the Arrêt of the King’s Council as mentioned in his letter. After having written and sealed it with the certainty of receiving the printed copies this morning, he is in the instant informed by the printer that it is impossible for him to deliver them although printed, until he shall have received from Versailles the original on parchment, in order to compare with it the copies printed. This seems an unalterable law of the press and it is in vain that I have tried to prevail on the King’s printer, at whose table I am writing at present, to deviate from it in this instance.

Mr. Jefferson was obliged to set off this morning for Versailles. He has desired me to come here, and if nothing better could be done, to obtain uncorrected proof-sheets which I have done, and have the honor of forwarding to your Excellency together with a copy of the Comptroller’s letter to him. News of the diligence by which these copies will be sent, being arrived, and the person who carries them, fearing to be left, I have only time to add that if the Vessel should still be detained some days at Havre, Your Excellency will receive yet the number of copies of the Arrêt mentioned in Mr. Jefferson’s letter.1 I cannot help profiting of this circumstance to re-iterate to your Excellency assurances of the pleasure it would give me at all times to be charged with any of your commands, and to add how much I should consider myself honored by any communications you should please to make me.2

I have the honor to be with sentiments of the most profound respect Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant,

W Short

RC (DNA: PCC, No. 87, ii). Dft (DLC: Short Papers); with a number of variations in the text; only those which are concerned with content rather than form have been noted below. Enclosures: See note to Lambert to TJ, 29 Dec. 1787, and TJ to Jay, 31 Dec. 1787.

1Short wrote the following in Dft, then drew a line through it: “Mr. Jefferson was obliged to set off this morning for Versailles. He desired I should, if nothing better could be done, send you a copy of the Comptroller’s letter to him, together with either a manuscript or proof-sheet copy of the Arrêt. The Printer has not yet determined which he will allow me to send, his office being at some distance from this place and I have fears that the hour of the diligence will not allow the Messenger to wait untill I should be able to write after his determination. I therefore continue the letter without being certain what kind of a copy of the Arrêt will be sent to your Excellency. It will however be the best I can get. Should the vessel be detained some days longer at Havre you will still receive by it the number of copies as mentioned in Mr. Jefferson’s letter.” See illustration in this volume.

2Dft ends at this point; following this Short wrote in Dft: “(à l’Imprimerie Royale).”

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