Thomas Jefferson Papers

Anonymous ("Goodwill") to Thomas Jefferson, 1 June 1812

From Anonymous (“Goodwill”)

——— June 1, 1812


Being retired, as you now are from the affairs of State, you doubtless have much time which you devote to reading. Permit a friend to recommend the writings of Bishop Porteus, the late Bishop of London. Also Dr. Buchanan’s researches in Asia. And should you wish to look at the productions of any Lady I think you would find the writings of Miss Hannah Moore, especially her late work, called practical piety, to be well worthy of your perusal.—Nothing will give me greater joy than to hear, that the books above mentioned have been read by you with satisfaction and delight.

And be assured, Sir, it would be no small gratification to all your religious friends to hear, that your library was as well furnished with books on practical religion as it is with books of taste on other subjects. And it would give them still greater joy to hear you introduce and hold conversation on religious topics, with the same ease and apparent satisfaction, which you converse on other topics. But I am sorry to say, that not a word of this did I hear, tho I had the privilege of passing an hour or two at your house.

Every person, who knows the true consolation, which religion can, & does afford, to all who enjoy it, must continually aim to extend its benign1 influence & if possible induce all to seek it.

The wise man tells us it is better, than silver & more to be desired, than the most fine gold.

That you, Honored Sir, and the humble writer of these lines may ever taste its joys is the sincere prayer of one, who for good reasons with holds his name, a little longer, but hopes to make himself known to you as your real friend, at a future period.

RC (MHi); between dateline and salutation: “To Mr. Jefferson, late President of the US.”; endorsed by TJ as an anonymous letter on “religion” received 10 June 1812 and so recorded in SJL, which adds: “postmark Lancaster. P.”

The unidentified author of this letter also wrote TJ as “Goodwill” on 20 June 1809, as “A Friend to the Christian Religion” on 28 Apr. 1811, and anonymously on 13 Apr. and 24 Aug. 1812. He had already recommended a work by Beilby porteus on 28 Apr. 1811, as had Benjamin Rush on 26 Apr. 1812, and on 11 Nov. 1811 Robert Patterson urged TJ to read the researches of Claudius Buchanan, an East India Company chaplain seeking to bring evangelical Christianity to India. Hannah More’s late work was Practical Piety; or, The Influence of the Religion of the Heart on the Conduct of the Life, 2 vols. (London, 1811, and numerous later editions). The biblical paraphrase, the wise man … fine gold, draws on Proverbs 3.13–4.

1Manuscript: “bnign.”

Index Entries

  • anonymous correspondence; letters from search
  • A Summary of the Principal Evidences for the Truth and Divine Origin of the Christian Revelation (Porteus) search
  • Bible; Proverbs referenced search
  • Buchanan, Claudius; “Goodwill” recommends his works search
  • More, Hannah; Practical Piety search
  • Porteus, Beilby; A Summary of the Principal Evidences for the Truth and Divine Origin of the Christian Revelation search
  • Practical Piety (H. More) search
  • “Goodwill” (“A Friend to the Christian Religion”); letters from search
  • “Goodwill” (“A Friend to the Christian Religion”); recommends religious works search