Thomas Jefferson Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Cooper, Thomas" AND Correspondent="Cooper, Thomas"
sorted by: date (ascending)

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Cooper, 6 February 1804

From Thomas Cooper

Northumberland Feby. 6. 1804

Dear Sir

It is with much regret I inform you of the decease of Dr. Joseph Priestley this morning at 11 oClock. He retained his faculties, his cheerfulness, his kindness to the last moment; he died without pain; it was a gradual falling asleep. He wd. have been 71 in March.

Knowing how much he respected you, and believing, that in common with those who know how to appreciate uncommon attainments uncommon Industry and a life of uncommon utility, that you also bore high respect for your departed friend, I hasten to communicate to you the intelligence. May your life long continue to be useful as it has been, and your end be as cheerful as his. Believe me very sincerely and respectfully your friend

Thomas Cooper

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Feb. but recorded in SJL as received 17 Feb.

your end be as cheerful as his: an account of Priestley’s final days, probably written by Cooper, explained that after his health had worsened to the extent that “he was unable to speak,” Priestley rebounded enough to meet with friends and family members to whom he expressed happiness at the prospect of his impending death. On the morning of the 6th, he dictated revisions to some pamphlets, concluding “That is right, I have now done.” Thirty minutes later he asked to be moved to a cot, where he soon “breathed his last so easily, that those sitting close to him, did not immediately perceive it” (Aurora, 18 Feb. 1804; Robert E. Schofield, The Enlightened Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1773 to 1804 [University Park, Pa., 2004], 400-1).

Index Entries