Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Francis Adrian Van der Kemp to Thomas Jefferson, 11 May 1818

From Francis Adrian Van der Kemp

Oldenbarneveld 11 May 1818.

Dear and respected Sir!

I take again the liberty of Sending you a few lines—and this without any further apologÿ, as I take it for granted that you do me the justice, that I can not wish, to intrude on your more Serious occupations, or importune you, for making a Sacrifice of your precious time, in answering these:—what value I may place on one of your lines—I do not desire these at that rate—and on this footing I do not hesitate, to continue writing

I do not recollect if I asked in a former—if you was acquainted with the contents and the author of a Book—published in Italy about the latter part of the 15th Century—called by Sacchetti libretto aureo—with the title „Ammaestramento degli Antichi„1—if So—I Should be gratified—if in a moment of leisure you did gratify me with this information.

I mentioned, I believe, that I had accepted to translate2 in English—the old Dutch Records of this State—It was done with So much courtesy, it was urged by my high respected friends that I could not decline—at least to try, here I could Succeed—

I expected to meet an immense mass of dross—but after decyphering these heiroglyphics—at the risk of loosing my Sight, I discover a precious treasure—for the Statesman—the historian—& merchant. Although their Political principles were highly Aristocratical even despotic—betraying themselves often in a language rather congenial to an absolute master than to Republicans and their Religious tenets were those of Bigots—yet their commercial views were luminous—and to this all other considerations must give way—They appointed as early as 16523 a Minister, to preach in English, to gratify their Subjects—they reprimanded their clergy—to gain the Lutherans, to whom they would not allow a free exercise of Religion—They were the principal carriers of Virginia and N. England, and provided Both these colonies with European and West-Indian goods—while they preserved the monopoly of the fur-trade and Salt—but carefully prevented the establishment of a printing press—every placard being printed in Holland while they had established a Latin school—and a Botanical garden—on a Small Scale4 As early as 1659 they permitted the N. Netherland merchants, to trade on France Spain—Italy—the caribean Islands and any where else—to try the experiment, if the company would be benefitted by Such an extensive privilege—and under this pretext, a considerable quantity of good from the South and the North was Shipped in N. amsterdam for Europe.

I could enlarge upon these topics, was I Sure, that it would be acceptable—and if I may meet with any peculiarity worthy your notice—I Shall deem it a duty—to make a memorandum of Such a point. your courtesy will now permit me Some farther enquiries—leaving the time and manner of answering to you unconditionallÿ—but earnestly Soliciting the continuance of your Honoured remembrance, as I owe it to your kindness in 1788, you will permit me to recall this to your memory, that I received So many marks of regard from Several of the wise and good—now alas! chiefly departed. The portrait of Dr. Wistar—Sent me lately by mrs Busti, as knowing how highly I respected that man, calls to my mind—the engraving of yours—in De La Plaine’s Repository—for which I am endebted to our Gov. Clinton—Is this correct—Characteristic? or if there is a better—may I expect it, Sooner or later from you? I See not how this boon can be deny’d, after what has been granted.

From that Biography I learn—that „a Summary view of the rights of British America„ has been written by you and was published in 1774. So too a reply to the propositions of Lord North in 1775. neither of these productions I have ever Seen.

The first Book I purchased in Philadelphia—on my visit to Mount Vernon—in 1788—were your Notes on Virginia—the edition of that year—I never Did See any other—from the Biography it appears—that Several have been published—one of 1797. with an app—to defend the authenticity of Logans Speech. This I had read in Europe in the voyageur Americain—or rather in the app. of it Precis Sur l’amerique Septentrionale Pag. 229 Published Amst. by C. Shuring 1783—which I presume was borrowed from Raynal’s Hist. Phil: T. ix. Pag. 47 ed. de Geneve 1783—because a whole § was literally borrowed from it. pag—48—Did Raynal obtain it from you—or might he have received it from that distinguished foreigner—whom you notice in your advertisement of Febr. 27. 1787—the Raynal too ought to have given his Source—but Such dutifulness—or generosity was not congenial to a man, who when he did good, wanted its trumpetting through the Streets—

Did you receive more Substantial and correct information about the Mammoth in the N.W— parts on the Missouri, as that which was communicated through the N. Papers? Such an enquiry deserved encouragement by offered rewards from our Philosophical Societies.

Permit me to assure you, that I remain with the highest respect—

Dear and respected Sir! Your most obed— and obliged Servt

Fr. Adr. van der Kemp

RC (DLC); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 23 May 1818 and so recorded in SJL. RC (DLC); address cover only; with PoC of TJ to Caesar A. Rodney, 7 Oct. 1818, on verso; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson LLD at his Seat Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Trenton, N.Y., 12 May.

Bartolomeo da San Concordio was the author of Ammaestramenti degli Antichi (Florence, 1661). In an edition of novellas by Franco sacchetti, editor Gaetano Poggiali referred to San Concordio’s work as the “aureo libretto” (“golden booklet”) (Poggiali, ed., Delle Novelle di Franco Sacchetti Citadino Fiorentino [Florence, 1724], 1:lxx). Van der Kemp posed the same query regarding this work to John Adams in a letter of 8 May 1818 (MHi: Adams Papers).

app: “appendix.” t.: “tome” (“volume”). The distinguished foreigner noticed in the advertisement prefaced to TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia was Barbé Marbois.

1Omitted closing guillemet editorially supplied.

2Manuscript: “transate.”

3Manuscript: “i652.”

4Preceding fifteen words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Adams, John; friendship with F. A. Van der Kemp search
  • Ammaestramenti degli Antichi (B. da San Concordio) search
  • An Appendix to the Notes on Virginia Relative to the Murder of Logan’s Family (Thomas Jefferson) search
  • A Summary View of the Rights of British America (Thomas Jefferson) search
  • Barbé Marbois, François, comte de; andNotes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson) search
  • Busti, Elizabeth May; and portrait of C. Wistar search
  • Christianity; F. A. Van der Kemp on search
  • Clinton, DeWitt; and F. A. Van der Kemp search
  • Cluny, Alexander; Le Voyageur Américain … Augmenté d’un Précis sur l’Amérique Septentrionale & la République des Treize-États-Unis (trans. J. Mandrillon) search
  • Delaplaine, Joseph; Delaplaine’s Repository search
  • Delle Novelle di Franco Sacchetti Citadino Fiorentino (F. Sacchetti; ed. G. Poggiali) search
  • Histoire Philosophique et Politique (G. T. F. Raynal) search
  • Indians, American; speeches by search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Descriptions of; biographies of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; An Appendix to the Notes on Virginia Relative to the Murder of Logan’s Family search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; A Summary View of the Rights of British America search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • Le Voyageur Américain … Augmenté d’un Précis sur l’Amérique Septentrionale & la République des Treize-États-Unis (A. Cluny; trans. J. Mandrillon) search
  • Logan, James (ca.1725–80) (Mingo Indian); speech of search
  • mammoth; and TJ’sNotes on the State of Virginia search
  • Mandrillon, Joseph; translatesLe Voyageur Américain … Augmenté d’un Précis sur l’Amérique Septentrionale & la République des Treize-États-Unis (A. Cluny) search
  • New York (state); Dutch inhabitants of search
  • New York (state); public records of translated search
  • North, Lord Frederick (later 2d Earl of Guilford); conciliatory propositions of search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); praise for search
  • Poggiali, Gaetano; editsDelle Novelle di Franco Sacchetti Citadino Fiorentino search
  • Raynal, Guillaume Thomas François; Histoire Philosophique et Politique search
  • Repository of the Lives and Portraits of Distinguished Americans (J. Delaplaine) search
  • Sacchetti, Franco; Delle Novelle di Franco Sacchetti Citadino Fiorentino (ed. G. Poggiali) search
  • San Concordio, Bartolomeo da; Ammaestramenti degli Antichi search
  • Schuring, Jan; as publisher search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; and mammoths search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; letters from search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; on Christianity search
  • Van der Kemp, Francis Adrian; translates public records search
  • Wistar, Caspar; portrait of search