From William Short
Paris Nov. 7. 1790
This letter accompanies my No. 46. and will be delivered to you with the several papers therein mentioned by M. Louis Osmont. He is a young man that Madame D’Houdetot insists on my recommending to what she calls your protection, viz. your counsel and advice. Notwithstanding I have on all occasions avoided sending you these kind of recommendations, yet I think you will easily see Sir that it would have been impossible to have refused Mde. D’Houdetot, and will therefore excuse me for it. His object is to go and settle in America, and serve an apprenticeship to commerce. His family is injured in their fortune, probably ruined, by the present revolution, and his father sends him therefore to the U.S. in hopes of his being soon able to provide for himself. He is well educated and above all well disposed. Mde. D’Houdetot assures me qu’il est un jeune homme unique par sa sagesse. I have told him however freely that my letter to you would be of much less service probably than he might imagine. That it was entirely out of your line to give him instructions respecting commerce, and also that your occupations left you no time for particular attentions. But these things substracted I did not doubt you would give him such advice and such countenance as might be in your power.—He carries letters from Le Coulteux to Mr. Morris, which he has hopes of being useful to him in his way. He has letters also from Mr. Crevecoeur and by his advice adopts his family name of Louis Osmont instead of de la Pouillaude which he has hitherto borne. He has from him also a good deal of written advice which I hope will be useful to him. He has made an unfortunate beginning in purchasing land of a M. Tonnelier in the country of the Oneidas. Tonnelier has since I believe, eloped from Paris, so that those to whom he sold suppose it an imposture.
I send you inclosed also my accounts with you. One is for expences in packing up your furniture and sending it to Havre, and others included in Petits account. By your order I drew on Amsterdam for this money and therefore that account as you will see is balanced. Its vouchers are Petits account of which I inclose you a copy with remarks, and also copies of the accounts of the most considerable contained in it, such as Arthurs, Piebots, &c. The originals with the reciepts remain in my hands as my vouchers. The account of the emballeur amounting to six thousand and odd livres after being reglé remains also in my hands for the same reason. I sent a list of the articles formerly but do not recollect whether the prices were annexed. In the doubt I have sent to have a copy taken of this account to be sent to you, I hope to recieve it before my letter is finished. If not, it shall be sent by another opportunity.
My other account with you as you will see is still open. It is for your servant’s wages. The medal boxes made for Congress by your order as I then expected your return I thought it best that I should charge them to you as you had an account already open with Congress for them. If however you chuse that they should now enter into my account with Congress it might be done. I have not yet drawn on Amsterdam to be re-imbursed this account. However I have given notice some time ago to the bankers that I should draw for it. I then only waited until I had finally discharged de la Motte’s account, and sold your horses and other things here. Your horses are at length sold but with a loss of which I had no idea. I had them put in the petites affiches and they were in perfect order, yet I have been only able to get 18. Louis for them. I could find no body to take them for their food, or I should not have thought myself warranted to take that price for them, particularly as I had been offered more on a former occasion, and did not sell them then because I thought them worth much more and still think so. I am offered so little for my cabriolet horse that I hastened to leave him with my Sellier, who offers to take him for his food. I fear he will suffer in his hands, but it seems better than to give him for nothing.—This is a most unfortunate period for selling here, owing to the total ruin of immense numbers of people by the changes which have taken place. There are outcrys every day where all sorts of effects are purchased for almost nothing. All the papers also are filled with advertisements which gives a list of effects to be sold in the different magasines with the former cost and present prices. It is alarming and I fear will produce much disorder here ere long. It is to be observed that amongst these sufferers are for the most part the Bourgeois of Paris who have contributed much to the revolution, and hitherto to the preservation of peace and order here.
I spoke to Mazzei about your account. He does not seem much disposed to settle it in the manner mentioned. He insists it was your intention to settle it otherwise viz. to take money in America for it. I observed to him the uncertainty of that business which he could not doubt of. I mentioned the Abbe Morellets affair about the maps, and that your affairs had cost much more for packing &c. than had been expected. He promises to speak to the Abbe Morellet on this business. He is much more ready to engage others to pay than to pay himself, and if any thing can be done with the Abbé Morellets bookseller he will do it. As soon as I see that nothing can be done however which I apprehend, I will mention this matter again to Mazzei and get him to settle his own account one way or another.
Houdon is having the dress that you desired, made. I hoped to have sent it to you by this occasion but it is not ready. The Marquis de la fayettes picture is begun and will be sent to Havre as soon as finished. Your watch is now in the hands of Chanterot, and he says it will take eight days to finish it, and for greater security he would wish to keep it some time after its being finished, to try it. I am very sorry not to have recovered it in time to have been able to have sent it by this opportunity.
M. Morris has lately arrived here from England by the way of Brussels, Liege &c. He tells me that a letter which he has recieved from America says ‘it is supposed here that Mr. Jefferson supports Madison warmly for Paris.’ He supposes therefore that the plan is to make no appointment until Madison’s time shall have expired, as there might be some doubt whether he was eligible at present, then to send him here and to keep me Chargé des affaires in Holland. Until this delay took place he was persuaded I should be appointed for Paris, as he says. This delay induces him to believe that I shall not. His inference from the delay is therefore directly the contrary to mine. I had supposed the delay and my being sent to Holland rendered it much more probable that I should be named for Paris. The trust reposed in me at present if I perform well, and the time I have already remained in Paris seemed to me arguments in my favor, and particularly as the being kept here merely because another could not be sent would have the air of being a bouche-trou, that would be deemed little flattering. The business to be executed in Amsterdam being of all others the most disagreeable and dangerous also when confided to one person alone, if he who is charged with it has the appearance of not having the approbation of those who employ him, it is no ground for public censure. Morris has placed these considerations very strongly before me in telling me, what I did not know, that even Mr. A. had been censured by some, though he had given no ground at all for it. This makes me wish still more that a second person had been joined with me in this business. Mr. Morris gives me to understand, or tells me indeed that he has taken care to inform his friends at N. York that he did not chuse to be employed in it.—Be this as it may, I will exert myself for the best, and I cannot conceal to myself that I have now more hopes of being named for Paris than formerly, not only from considerations which relate to myself, but because I think Madison can render much more service in America than here. It is certain let who will come, unless he has been here before he will find himself for a long time quite depaysé, and have to learn what no talents can supply the place of. I never have mentioned to you, because I thought it then useless, that M. de Montmorin has more than once expressed to me his desire that I should be named and his persuasion that it would be so, as you would necessarily have it in your power. This is also so fully the persuasion of the corps diplomatique, that when I express my doubts they suppose it merely a façon de parler. Should it be thought proper however for reasons unknown to me to send another person here, and a minister should be sent to London, I should like much to go there, though I still think I could be more useful here. The business in Holland not requiring by any means constant presence there, and having no connexion with the Hague might be done from hence and in concert with the minister residing in London if there was one there. I hope I shall not be obliged again to beg your excuse for such details. Nothing is more common than Chargés des affaires being appointed ministers and sometimes ambassadors. Yr. friend,
RC (DLC); at head of text: “Private”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Mch. 1791, and so recorded in SJL. PrC (PHi).
It was not until the spring of 1791 that TJ received either the various Accounts enclosed by Short in this letter or their duplicates sent in another (Short to TJ, 30 Dec. 1790). But on the 22d of October, just a month before his return to Philadelphia, the Henrietta, Captain Benjamin Wickes, had arrived from Le Havre with the furniture, household goods, books, and papers that he had left in Paris in 1789 in the full expectation of returning (Federal Gazette, 22 Nov. 1790; Le Mesurier & Cie. to TJ, 27 Aug. 1790; TJ to Delany, 15 Jan. 1791). Other effects from his house in New York had arrived by sea in mid October. He had also sent on from Virginia a trunk by stagecoach and three boxes by the Linnet, the latter containing books and a harpsichord. Soon an additional box came from Charleston by the Philadelphia (Account Book, 12 and 15 Nov., 15 Dec. 1790; TJ to Brown, 4 Nov. 1790; Remsen’s statement, 25 Nov. 1790).
These coastal shipments were not inexpensive, but on the 30th of November, when he accepted the consignment brought by the Henrietta, he had to pay a really “monstrous bill of freight” amounting to $544.53 (Account Book, 30 Nov. 1790). The shipment had cleared customs in France under diplomatic passport, though after a disagreeable experience with a revolutionary mob at Le Havre that added to the delay and expense (Le Mesurier & Cie. to TJ, 27 Aug. 1790; charges from Paris to Le Havre amounted to 3,023 livres and included an item of 36 livres “Lost by our Clerk out of his Pocket, during the Scuffle on board with the Mob”; invoice of Le Mesurier & Cie., 8 Sep. 1790, DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10121). On TJ’s return to America in 1789 the collector at Norfolk had permitted his sizeable amount of baggage to enter duty free but had remained doubtful about the decision. On account of that importation as well as the much larger one on the Henrietta—and no doubt also because he wished to reach an accommodation with the Secretary of the Treasury on the mint, the proposed standard of weights and measures, and other matters of policy—TJ called on him three days after he arrived in Philadelphia. Except for twelve cases of wine and 145 rolls of wall paper, Hamilton allowed both the 1789 and the 1790 importations to enter free (Vol. 15: 375–7; TJ to Hamilton, 24 Nov. 1790; TJ to Lindsay, 10 Jan. 1791; TJ to Delany, 15 Jan. 1791).
Petits account, covering purchases of items TJ had instructed Short to make, as well as other miscellaneous expenditures between 20 Aug. and 14 Nov. 1790, amounted to 3,406 livres, including household expenses of 269 livres (Tr in DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10123, with note by Short; original in DLC: Short Papers; Petit’s account of household expenses, dated 14 Nov. 1790 and with explanatory notes by Short, is in DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10122, 10124, being intermingled with the foregoing account of purchases; for TJ’s instructions, see TJ to Short, 12 Mch. and 6 Apr. 1790). This total was slightly reduced by Petit’s sale of two carriage horses, a secretary, four dumb waiters, two book presses, and a stove. One of Petit’s purchases was from Piébot, a grocer, for 50 lbs. of Parmesan cheese, 25 lbs. of nectarines, 20 lbs. of raisins, 40 lbs. of almonds, 10 lbs. of mustard, 40 pints of vinegars, a barrel of olive oil, and a barrel of anchovies at a total cost of 496 livres (Piébot’s invoice, 8 July 1790, DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10116). Another purchase—the costliest of those authorized by TJ—was 145 rolls of wall paper, procured for 1,117 livres from Messrs. Arthur & Robert, “Manufacture Royale de Papiers pour Tentures et Decorations” (Arthur & Robert’s receipted invoice, 29 July 1790, in DLC: Short Papers; see TJ to Short, 6 Apr. 1790; see also, Kimball, Jefferson, iii, 113–14). Other authorized purchases included 118 livres to the bookseller Froullé for TJ’s subscription to the 34th–39th instalments of the Encyclopédie; 377 livres to Goldsmith for books and periodicals, including Buffon’s works; 649 livres to Dupuis for materials for “eight best and thickest hair mattrases” and 38 livres to Husson for making them (Froullé’s invoice, 22 June 1790; Goldsmith’s invoice, 20 June 1790; Dupuis’ invoice, 23 June 1790; Husson’s invoice, 23 June 1790-all in DLC: Short Papers; copies of invoices of Dupuis and Goldsmith are also in DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10117–8, 10120; see Sower by, No. 1024).
The account of the Emballeur who packed TJ’s books and household goods was almost twice that of Petit, totalling 6,443 livres. The emballeur was one Grevin, who described himself as a maître layetier. His invoice, dated 17 July 1790, covers 16 pages (DLC: Short Papers, in French). Short also enclosed his own two Accounts with TJ. The first covered the transactions of packing and shipping the household goods, which was balanced by Short’s draft on the Amsterdam bankers as authorized by TJ. These drafts, totalling more than 13,000 livres, discharged the obligations of Petit, Grevin, and Le Mesurier & Cie. (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 70: 12182, with notations “a” and “b” in TJ’s hand designating the public and private elements: the former indicating credits totalling 636 livres for the sale of TJ’s saddle horse, the old carriage, and a secretary; the latter designating the drafts on the bankers; PrC in DLC: Short Papers; Short’s memoranda of bills of exchange on Amsterdam given Grand, 21 Aug. and 22 Sep. 1790; the originals that Short retained as vouchers included Petit’s statement and receipt, 20 Aug. 1790, and the invoices of Goldsmith, Grevin, and others: PrC of Short’s letter of advice to W. & J. Willink, N. & J. Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 21 Aug. 1790; same). The second statement of account enclosed by Short, left open, was for the period 1 Nov. 1789–2 Nov. 1790. It showed total debits of 5,063 livres against TJ, chiefly for servants’ wages, medal boxes from Upton, and “two months gratification to coachman, Petit and Henri” at their discharge on 1 Aug. 1790. Against this there were credits of 611– 16–0 livres for the items sold by Petit, including the two horses that fetched only 432 livres. Short appended a note to explain this item: “Pettit kept them till lately trying in vain to sell them, and has never been able to get more for them” (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 70: 12176, 12178, with pencilled total of credits and endorsement by TJ on verso reading in part: “This account is stated on another paper and continued therefore useless”; PrC of this and also of TJ’s restatement, with public and private debts separated in two columns, are in DLC: Short Papers). After reaching Amsterdam, Short sent a duplicate of this account, adding to the debit balance payments to Petit for “gunlocks ordered by you for public use” and to Charpentier for the new copying-press ordered by TJ. He drew on the Amsterdam bankers for the balance of 4,716–14–0 livres and closed the account as of 30 Dec. 1790 (Dupl of statement, DLC: TJ Papers, 70: 12179; see Short to TJ, 29 Dec. 1790). The task of packing and shipping all of TJ’s effects, discharging the servants, selling some articles, purchasing others, and terminating the lease of Hôtel de Langeac was an onerous assignment. Short handled it with remarkable dispatch and efficiency.
Now, just before Congress opened, the burden of coping with such a cargo as “no other American had ever brought from France” fell upon the owner (Malone, Jefferson, ii, 322). Grevin the maître layetier had made and packed 86 crates, including those for the cabriolet and the phaeton that did not arrive until the summer of 1791 (Short to TJ, 15 Aug. 1790; Le Mesurier & Cie. to TJ, 27 Aug. 1790; Remsen to TJ, 16 June 1791). Six of the crates, two of which enclosed the marble pedestal given to TJ by Madame de Tessé, were shipped on the John to Norfolk, being destined for Monticello along with the delayed carriages (TJ to Brown, 16 Dec. 1790). The bulk of the shipment, totalling 78 crates, came directly to Philadelphia on the Henrietta. TJ had instructed Short to have an exact invoice prepared specifying the contents of each crate so that it might, among other uses, serve as a customs declaration (TJ to Short, 12 Mch. 1790). This characteristic attention to detail served history as well, for it is only from the invoice of Grevin that we know what a cargo of treasures TJ brought back from France.
Crates Nos. 1–15, as Grevin’s invoice shows, were filled with books, appropriately placed first in the shipment because first in TJ’s estimation. “While residing in Paris,” he later wrote in offering his library to the nation, “I devoted every afternoon I was disengaged, for a summer or two, in examining all the principal book-stores, turning over every book with my own hands, and putting by every thing which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science. Besides this, I had standing orders during the whole time I was in Europe, in it’s principal book-marts, particularly Amsterdam, Frankfort, Madrid, and London, for such works relating to America as could not be found in Paris. So that, in that department particularly, such a collection was made as probably can never again be effected; because it is hardly probable that the same opportunities, the same time, industry, perseverance, and expence, with some knolege of the bibliography of the subject would again happen to be in concurrence” (TJ to Samuel H. Smith, 21 Sep. 1814; Fiske Kimball, Thomas Jefferson Architect, p. 91, first suggested that TJ’s undated list of books in MHi comprised principally the books purchased abroad in the years 1784–1789, a conjecture amply supported by the evidence adduced in Sowerby’s Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson; another MS catalogue and list of desiderata, also in MHi, bears this notation: “√ This mark denotes the books I have. Those unmarked I mean to procure. 1783. Mar. 6. 2640. vols.”—a clear indication that, on his expected voyage to France in 1783, TJ made the acquisition of books one of his primary objects; see Randolph G. Adams, Three Americanists [Philadelphia, 1939], p. 69–96). TJ had directed that each volume be wrapped separately in paper and then the whole covered in oil cloth (TJ to Short, 12 Mch. and 6 Apr. 1790).
Crates Nos. 16 and 17 held the 8 mattresses. No. 18 with 6 large crimson chairs, 9 woollen blankets and a servant’s mattress; No. 19 with 6 blue chairs, 6 cotton blankets, 4 woollen blankets, and a servant’s mattress; No. 21 with 4 large blue chairs, 6 large blue damask curtains, 22 bell pulls, 8 medium-size blue damask curtains, 1 drapery, and 4 pillows for day beds; and No. 24 with 2 large blue arm chairs, 2 crimson chairs with their cushions, 2 crimson cords and tassels, the brass lock on TJ’s bedroom door, and an old mattress—these exemplified the improvement over Abigail Adams’ suggestion for packing that TJ had specified for those chairs and couches upholstered in silk (TJ to Short, 6 Apr. 1790). No. 20 with 6 chairs in red Morocco; No. 22 with 6 chairs and a servant’s mattress; and No. 23 with 6 chairs of crimson velvet and 17 packages of wall paper, one meridian, and the base of a marble table, evidently were packed as Mrs. Adams suggested (Vol. 16: 323).
The following summary lists the principal articles in the remainder of Grevin’s crates. Crate No. 25: 9 pictures, some paintings in a roll, a pair of large pistols in a leather case, a roll of parchment and a piece of Moroccan leather. No. 26: 4 large pictures from TJ’s study. No. 27: 6 large pictures. These pictures included his likenesses of American worthies—among them Joseph Wright’s unfinished portrait of Washington that Trumbull had completed in Paris. No. 28: a day bed, 2 rugs, an ivory duster from the library, a library ladder, 4 screens, 1 lectern, 2 mahogany tables, a bridle and saddle. No. 29: 2 stoves, basins, pots, cauldrons, 12 hot water tins, 4 butler’s pantry daybooks, 28 round saucepans, 2 oval ones, 2 small copper frying pans, 3 butler’s pantry saucepans, 1 strainer, 1 kettle, 1 coffee mill, 3 waffle irons, 1 coffee pot, 4 tin plated pie pans, 1 sheet-iron camp stove, 2 fish kettles and 1 pair of scales, 19 copper saucepan covers, and various spoons, ladles, cleavers, knives, spits, shovels, tongs, and a poker. Nos. 30 and 31: 2 cast iron stoves, with their stone bases. No. 32: 3 busts. TJ had acquired seven of Houdon’s portrait busts—Voltaire, Turgot, Lafayette, Franklin, Washington, Jones, and three copies of his own bust in plaster (Kimball, Jefferson, iii, 116). This box, perhaps having the three copies of his own bust, was one of those the mob at Le Havre caused to be opened. No. 33: 2 crimson arm chairs, 2 blue easy chairs and their cushions, a fountain and its basin from the anteroom, 12 food warmers, 3 iron kettles. No. 34: 5 pairs of brass andirons, 3 iron pokers, 2 large tongs, 2 shovels, and 2 sconces. No. 35: dishes for hors d’oeuvres, 4 porcelain salt cellars, 8 crystal decanters, 12 crystal goblets, and 4 small flasks. No. 36: 2 stoves, a large cauldron, a barrel of olive oil, a barrel of anchovies, and 4 packages of nectarines. No. 37: 7 unframed mirrors. No. 38: 2 blacksmith’s paring irons and base, 1 package of almonds, and 4 white porcelain cups. No. 39: 3 gaming tables, 1 wooden cover trimmed in green cloth, 1 lectern, 2 ordinary tables, 3 mahogany table legs, 2 pillows of red Morocco, and a servant’s mattress. No. 40: a commode from TJ’s bedroom, the filing cases, 2 brass locks for the secret drawers, 2 cases of macaroni, one leather bag filled with iron tools. No. 41: 9 master’s mattresses, 2 feather beds, 2 bolsters, and 2 cotton blankets. No. 42: a plaster Vestal virgin, 3 cases of instruments, business papers, a thermometer, 2 white glass jars, 3 tubes and 8 cups for medicine, 2 plates and paper for the copying-press, the copying-press, 2 rules, 3 pieces of mahogany, and 2 iron weights for a pendulum. This crate included a part of the scientific instruments that TJ had ordered to be “most carefully packed.” The copying-press was neither the new one made by Charpentier, which was shipped later, nor “the great copying press … from London,” which was public property and which TJ directed to be left in Paris, but presumably the small portable copying-press which he had also acquired in London and carried with him to the south of France in 1787 (TJ to Short, 12 Mch. and 6 Apr. 1790; Short’s account of 30 Dec. 1790). No. 43: 4 pairs of candle-sticks, 2 girandoles, 1 mahogany press, 5 boxes with glassware, 1 box of tools, a small trunk of business papers from the writing desk, a double syringe, a mirror, a pair of silver-plated pistols, several books, 2 plates, 1 package of various kinds of paper, and folios for use in the copying-press. No. 44: a blue silk ottoman and its cushions, 4 chairs to accompany it, 2 lanterns from TJ’s carriage, a wooden model for a coffee urn. This was perhaps the wooden model for the two silver coffee urns that were made by Odiot in 1789 after TJ’s design (see Vol. 15: xxvii–xxix). No. 45: a red Morocco ottoman, 2 mahogany tables, 4 epergnes. No. 46: 1 day bed, 2 crimson armchairs, 1 commode, 2 servant’s mattresses, 2 whips trimmed in silver, 3 swords (one of them silver), 2 maps, 3 collapsible parasols, 1 double-barreled gun, 2 carpenter’s chalk strings, 1 piece of toile de Jouy, 1 bedspread of “Col. Onfry’s” [Humphreys], 2 bolsters (with a confused description seeming to indicate that they were made of a textile print showing red partridges in a garden). No. 47: the marble top to TJ’s commode and 4 marble tops with gilt borders. No. 48: 4 floor-length mirrors with gilt borders (still to be seen at Monticello). No. 49: 14 pictures. No. 50: maps, 7 pairs of TJ’s shoes, 16 books and pamphlets. No. 51: 10 dozen porcelain plates and 2 porcelain soup tureens. No. 52: 2 jars of mustard, a large porcelain platter, 4 large oval platters, 42 porcelain cups, and 39 porcelain saucers. No. 53: 2 mirrors, 2 silver and vermillion goblets, 2 silver-plated vases and sugar bowls, 6 crystal vases, 2 of TJ’s silver-plated candle-sticks from his bedroom, a chiffonier, a gilt tin lamp, 1 powder horn, and various candlesticks and snuffers. No. 54: 2 porcelain soup tureens and 2 hot water tins. No. 55: a glass figurine and its base from the drawing room, 7 glasses, 4 porcelain figurines, 2 large casseroles, 2 presses, and a quarter of cheese. No. 56: a telescope, a violin case, 2 jalousies from the window in the drawing room, a figurine from the mantle of the drawing room, a clock from TJ’s study, a porcelain figurine, a meridian trimmed with copper, a pistol and its case, a Moroccan ammunition pouch, 3 reams of fine paper, a package of blue paper, 8’ quires of coordinate drawing paper such as TJ had purchased of Corneillon in 1788. No. 57: TJ’s clothes and linen, 23 table settings, 30 knives and 30 forks. No. 58: 9 pairs of TJ’s sheets, 6 pairs of servant’s sheets, 18 regular aprons, and 30 kitchen aprons. No. 59: a trunk filled with business papers. No. 60:30 pictures. No. 61: 145 rolls of wall paper and 1 servant’s mattress. No. 62: a roasting spit, a waffle iron, a chair, 2 nets from the carriage, bed-spread ornaments, and a letter addressed to TJ. No. 63: a slab of marble, a vial of paint for the busts, 39 glass goblets, 16 porcelain cups, 14 white glass jars, 1 porcelain platter, 12 chocolate molds, 2 copper hot plates, 3 round platters, 2 window curtains, a carriage seat, 4 molds for ices, 2 pistol cases and various pieces of harness. Nos. 64–72 had in each 5 dozen bottles of wine. Grevin did not particularize the contents of No. 73, but it presumably contained wine also, as did No. 74 and perhaps No. 75, since the customs declaration for the wine and wall paper described 12 cases containing 56 ⅔ dozen bottles (ViU). No. 74: 40 bottles of vinegar and 20 bottles of wine. No. 75: 2 servant’s mattresses. No. 76: an ornament for the end of a staircase baluster. No. 77: one part of the marble pedestal given by Madame de Tessé to TJ together with its base and accessory iron hooks, screws, leather thongs, straw matting, bolts, and locks. No. 78: two other pieces of the pedestal and base with its similar accessories. No. 79: a bundle of harness. No. 80: a bundle of jalousies. Nos. 81 and 82: a chest of drawers in each. No. 83: two marble tops for the chests. No. 84: TJ’s cabriolet seat and cushion. Nos. 85 and 86: contained the phaeton and cabriolet which were delayed in getting to Virginia. The six crates sent by the John to Norfolk were Nos. 77, 78, 81, 82, 83, and 84 (see TJ to Brown, 16 Dec. 1790).
Grevin’s charge for making the 86 crates came to 2,408–7–0 livres. The cost of packing materials and services amounted to almost twice as much. For packing materials he used 356 ells of coarse cloth, 10 lbs. of oil, 526 ells of strong packing cloth, 887 toises of rope, 79 ells of oil cloth, 8 ells of oil cloth for the carriages, 624 bundles of rye straw, 385 quires of coarse paper, 36 bundles of hay, 37 quires of “papier de Soye,” 39 quires of ordinary paper, 397 lbs. of shredded paper, 32 ells of flannel for the carriages and the unframed mirrors, 122 balls of twine, 60 lbs. of hair, 6 lbs. of cotton, 40 screws for the unframed mirrors, 26 covers of “papier de Soye,” and 52 covers of coarse paper for the carriages, furniture, and busts, 21 lbs. of fine and large nails for the stoves and pieces of marble. For these materials; for making 80 bags out of coarse cloth and oil cloth; for plumbing and procuring 87 seals at the customs; for his trouble, care, and packing of the furniture and other items; and for transporting the whole to Port St. Nicolas for shipment to Rouen—for all of these supplies and services Grevin charged an additional 4,215–8–0 livres, making a total of 6,623–15–0 livres. One Maris Debrie who audited the invoice for Short or Grand on 19 Aug. 1790 found it just and reasonable but deducted 180 livres—presumably the charge for making 40 of the oil cloth bags. Grevin signed a receipt for the reduced amount on the following day. Since his invoice bears the date 17 July 1790 at its head and the auditor’s notation the date 19 Aug. 1790 at its foot, it is obvious that the crating, packing, and transportation to Port St. Nicolas took place in the four weeks between these dates (MS in DLC: Short Papers). In expedition and thoroughness as well as in his zeal for itemizing liberal costs, Grevin was clearly a maître layetier.
The immense cargo from the Henrietta descended upon TJ at a time when he was as embarrassed for space as he was for finances with which to pay the staggering freight bill, to say nothing of the invoices of Petit, Grevin, and Le Mesurier & Cie., yet to come. He had warned his landlord that it was essential for his house to “be in readiness by the 1st. of October” (TJ to Leiper, 4 Aug. 1790). But the shipments from New York and France were obliged to incur warehouse charges and he to seek lodgings at Mrs. House’s famous boarding-house for almost a month because the house in High Street west of Eighth was far from being completed. It was not until the 11th of December that TJ “entered into possession of the 2. rooms of 3d. story.” On the 17th, after laying in oats and firewood, he took over the use of the stable. Two days later he gained a bedroom. On the 22d there arrived the first of the twenty-seven drayloads required to move the great mass of crates from the wharf. On the day before Christmas TJ “took kitchen.” On the 29th and the last day of the year the final loads of crates arrived. On the 9th of January he got possession of the drawing rooms and parlour and began to dine at home. But, two months after his return to Philadelphia, half of the crates were still unopened and the house was still unfinished (Account Book under the dates given: TJ to Short, 24 Jan. 1791; see also, Dumbauld, Tourist description begins Edward Dumbauld, Thomas Jefferson American Tourist, Norman, Oklahoma, 1946 description ends , p. 160–6; Malone, Jefferson, ii, 322–3; and Marie Kimball, “Thomas Jefferson’s French Furniture,” Antiques, xv [Feb. 1929], 123– 8, the first published account to be based on Grevin’s invoice).
Thus in the six weeks from the middle of December to the end of January TJ was unpacking crates, contending with carpenters and masons, and undoubtedly adding to the delay by moving in before the house was ready for occupancy. His insistence on doing so was understandable, for his official duties were pressing and Mrs. House’s congenial establishment—the focal point of all activities of the Virginia delegation in Congress—afforded no such solitude as was required for the preparation of state papers. The confusion of unpacking and getting settled was also compounded because, except for the cases of books and wine that were so essential to him, chairs, sofas, pictures, blankets, tools, clothing, and food were hopelessly intermingled under a logic of packing known only to Grevin. In one crate almonds were mixed in with a blacksmith’s paring irons. Anchovies and nectarines were to be found in another containing two stoves and a sprinkler. Macaroni and raisins were in still another, along with the commode from TJ’s bedroom, his filing cases, and a leather bag filled with tools. Pillows and bolsters were stuffed among chairs and sofas to protect their silk coverings, while sheets, blankets and mattresses were elsewhere, so that the task of assembling even a single bed and bedding meant opening several of Grevin’s solid crates and well-tied bundles. One’s imagination balks at the spectacle of confusion that must have transpired in these six weeks—carpenters and plasterers trying to get on with their work, servants opening crates and removing refuse, departmental clerks coming and going on official business, and the Secretary of State, standing amid piles of Grevin’s hay, straw, rope, twine, packing cloth, and mountains of ordinary paper, coarse paper, shredded paper, and papier de soie, trying to get at the most essential articles and at the same time to protect his books, papers, apparatus, and objets d’art from damage. The very thoroughness of Grevin’s packing contributed to TJ’s ordeal of moving.
Such was the household crisis that befell a man who took extraordinary care and pleasure in planning every detail of his domestic surroundings, who understood the problems of the carpenters at work because he was himself adept in working with wood and metal, but who, always cherishing privacy among his books and papers, was in dire need of it at this precise time. For these six weeks of household confusion—aggravated particularly for one who was hypersensitive to cold because this was in the middle of a severe winter—were the very weeks in which TJ produced, one after the other and always with his prompt and sure touch, a remarkable series of state papers of fundamental importance on foreign and domestic policy: reports and opinions on territorial government, the manufacture of textiles, the cod and whale fisheries, commercial and diplomatic relations with Great Britain, the first determination on impressment abuses, the French protest of the tonnage acts, the supplement to the report on weights and measures, trade with the Mediterranean. the situation of the Algerine captives, and so on. Settled principles, habitual anticipation of the course of events, and an unflagging devotion to system were the traits of character that made possible this simultaneous discharge of unusually heavy duties both in household and in office. In the midst of the ordeal, TJ declared that his mind had been so totally occupied with public affairs that he had been unable “to think of anything private” (TJ to Hiltzheimer, 19 Jan. 1791). But during this time he had not failed once to write the weekly letter to the family at Monticello on his alternating plan of correspondence. That plan placed upon each of his daughters and his son-in-law the need to write only one letter to his three. The almost total silence from Virginia evoked in the records of these six weeks his only hint of distress of mind.
The concurrent pressures created by the arrival of the Henrietta, by the failure of the landlord to have the house in readiness, and by the extraordinary public demands upon a cabinet officer in an administration divided beyond hope of concord presented both a public and private ordeal. But they also provide a lens of crystal clarity with which to read both the state papers of this period of crisis and the character of the man who wrote them.