Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Benjamin Rush to Thomas Jefferson, 3 [March] 1812

From Benjamin Rush

Philadelphia Feby [Mar.] 3rd 1812.

Dear Sir

In a letter which I received a few days ago from Mr Adams, he informs with1 a kind of exultation, that After a correspondence of five or six & thirty years had been interrupted by various Causes, it had been renewed, and that four letters had passed between you & him. In speaking of your letters he says “they are written with all the elegance, purity and Sweetness of Style of his youth and middle age, and with (what I envy more)—a firmness of finger, and Steadiness of chirography, that to me, are lost for ever.”—

It will give me pleasure as long as I live to reflect, that I have been in any degree instrumental in effecting this reunion of two Souls destined to be dear to each Other, and animated with the same dispositions to serve their country (tho’ in different ways) at the expense of innumerable Sacrifices of domestic ease, personal interest, and private friendships.—Posterity will do you both justice for this Act. If Mr Adams’s letters to you are written in the same elevated and nervous Style, both as to matter and language that his letters are, which he now and then addresses to me, I am sure you will be delighted with his correspondence. Some of his thoughts electrify me. I view him as a mountain with its head clear and reflecting the beams of the sun, while all below it is frost and Snow.—

Health, respect & friendship! from Dr Sir yours truly & Affectionately

Benjn Rush

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 195:34638); misdated; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 3 Mar. (misdated Feb.) 1812 received 11 Mar. 1812 and so recorded in SJL.

John Adams showed his exultation in a letter that fancifully hailed Rush as “Dreamer,” “Mediator,” and “Conjurer,” and went on to report that, as a result of the “Sorceries and Necromances” employed by Rush, “a Correspondence of thirty five or thirty Six years Standing interrupted by various Causes for Some time, has been renewed in 1812 and no less than four Letters have already passed between the Parties; Those from Jefferson written with all the Ellegance, purity and Sweetness, I would rather Say Mellifluity or Mellifluidity [preceding seven words interlined] of his youth and middle age: and what I envy Still more with a firmness of Finger and a Steadiness of Chirography, that to me is lost, forever.” In a postscript on the coining of new words, Adams also remarked that “I approve Jeffersons Word ‘Belittle[’] and hope it will be incorporated into our American Dictionaries” (Adams to Rush, Quincy, 10 Feb. 1812 [RC courtesy of Hans Peter Kraus, New York City, 1966, at foot of text: “Dr Rush”; FC in Lb in MHi: Adams Papers]).

1Manuscript: “with with.”

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; on coining of new words search
  • Adams, John; resumes correspondence with TJ search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with J. Adams search
  • Rush, Benjamin; and resumption of correspondence between TJ and J. Adams search
  • Rush, Benjamin; letters from search