Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Carlo Bellini, 24 April 1799

To Carlo Bellini

Monticello Apr. 24. 99

I recieved, my dear friend, with great sensibility your favor of the 1st. instant. [it] recalled to my mind many very dear scenes which passed while we had the happiness of possessing you here. events have separated the actors & called them to other stages; but neither time, distance, nor events have weakened my affections for them. the portrait of one of them1 which you propose to gratify me with, would be placed with my most precious reliques. but why, my friend, separate yourself from the portrait2 till you go to rejoin3 the original. then, if I am living, let it dwell with me till I also can join you all. let it come as a testamentary donation. it will at all times meet an affectionate reception; but I should then feel as succeeding to it of right, when it’s functions could no longer be performed for you.

I hope you will have better health, and still many years of life to enjoy it. I mean if you desire it; for I feel myself how possible it is that we may cease to desire to live. every course of life doubtless has it’s difficulties: but in the stormy ocean of public life the billows are more furious, the blasts more deadly,4 than those which assail the bark moored in a retired port. the world judges differently, and misjudges as is frequent.5

My last letter from Mazzei was of Dec. 97. he was then living at Pisa. the property remitted him from America has I hope been sufficient to keep him from want. you know that Giovanni Strobia has got rich as a grocer in Richmond. Vincent is in flourishing circumstances. Anthony Giannini6 has raised a large family, married several of them, &, after thriving for a while, has become embarrassed, & little esteemed. Francis, his brother in law, & Anthony Molina have done tolerably well.7 Giovannini da Prato has been constantly sickly & miserably poor. all these are still in this neighborhood.—I have some acquaintance with8 the young gentleman mentioned in your letter. I consider him9 as remarkeably clever & well read; and have no doubt that any little anomalies10 in his character will soon rub off in the world. I am sorry he has given the dissatisfaction you mention: but he is too well worth our care not to have11 a claim to it. I sent him some books from Philadelphia, and will render him every service in my power. I have been obliged to decline universally to take young men to live with me,12 or I should have had no retirement, and without that I would rather not live. but if he could have found a position in this neighborhood, I should with great pleasure have advised and aided his course of studies, as I have done for the sons of some of my friends.

May your days here be just as many as yourself would wish them; but filled with health & the full enjoyment of those faculties which rendered your life a happiness to yourself, & precious to your friends; among whom continue to esteem one who is with unalterable sentiments of affectionate attachment, my dear Sir,

Your sincere friend & sevt

Th: Jefferson

RC (DLC); addressed: “Charles Bellini esq. one of the Professors of Wm. & Mary college Williamsburg”; portion of page cut or torn away cleanly, missing text supplied from PrC (see notes 2 and 11 below); franked; endorsed as received 1 May 1799. PrC (same); faint. Dft (same); written on the address cover of an unidentified letter to TJ, possibly John Barnes’s second letter of 6 Apr.

Concerning TJ’s last letter from Mazzei, see TJ to Philip Mazzei, 29 Apr. 1800.

Giovanni strobia, originally a tailor, was among the artisans Mazzei recruited in Italy in 1773. He resided in TJ’s household in Williamsburg in 1780 and moved soon thereafter to Richmond, where at the time of his death in 1809 he was known as John Strobia (MB description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 1:431; Richmond Enquirer, 17 Mch. 1809). Vincent: Vincenzo Rossi, a Tuscan, had also joined the Mazzei-sponsored emigration to America. At the beginning of the American Revolution he served briefly as an ad hoc military volunteer from Albe-marle County along with Mazzei and Bellini, who had also first been drawn to Virginia through an association with Mazzei. Rossi, like Strobia and Bellini, remained in the United States. Presumably the individuals called here Francis and Anthony Molina (or Molini, in TJ’s Dft) were part of the same group of Italian émigrés. Mazzei had ties to the town of Prato in northern Italy, where he had attended school, and in all likelihood Giovannini da Prato was not a formal name but a nickname given to someone from that place—perhaps in a deliberate allusion to Giovanni da Prato, a fifteenth-century poet and intellectual (S. Eugene Scalia, trans., and Margherita Marchione, ed., Philip Mazzei: My Life and Wanderings [Morristown, N.J., 1980], 62–3, 135, 198, 216–17; ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends , 2:528; Stanley Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed., 29 vols. [London, 2001], 9:895).

Young gentlemen: William G. Munford.

1Here in margin of Dft TJ wrote “mrs Bellini.”

2Damaged RC begins here. Preceding text supplied from PrC.

3Word interlined in Dft in place of “possess again.”

4word “stormy” is lacking in Dft, where TJ first wrote “the storms are more tempestuous the passions more deadly” before altering the passage to read as above.

5In Dft TJ originally intended to close the letter following this sentence, and in Dft he here first wrote the paragraph beginning “May your days here.”

6Surname interlined in Dft.

7In Dft TJ first wrote “little Anthony has done tolerably well,” then altered the sentence to read “Anthony Molini and Francis have done tolerably well.”

8Preceding four words interlined in Dft in place of “know.”

9TJ first wrote “letter, and considered him” before altering the passage to read as above.

10In Dft TJ first wrote “any anomalies,” then substituted “the little” for “any,” and also in Dft he interlined “have no doubt” in place of “believed.”

11Remainder of paragraph lacking in RC, supplied from PrC.

12Here in Dft TJ canceled “to preserve myself from such a croud as would have.”

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