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Carlo Botta to Thomas Jefferson, 29 November 1815

From Carlo Botta

Paris 29 Novembre 1815 Rue de la Tixanderie No 41.

Monsieur

le Dr Valli, mon ami, et mon compatriote, se rend en amérique pour se procurer l’occasion d’y observer la fievre jaune. Je n’ai pas voulu laisser echapper cette occasion sans me rappeller á votre souvenir, et sans vous rémercier de l’accueil favorable que vous avez bien voulu faire á mon histoire de la guerre d’amérique. J’imprime dans ce moment-ci un poème epique intitulé, il Camillo, o Vejo conquistata; aussitôt qu’il sera imprimé, je me ferai un empressement de vous en faire passer un exemplaire. Heureux, si vous pouvez trouver que j’aie rempli, du moins en partie, les loix et le but de l’Epopée.

le Dr Valli qui aura l’honneur de vous remettre la présente, est un des médecins les plus distingués de l’Europe. Il a vu la peste á Smyrne et á Constantinople; il a eu le courage de faire sur lui meme des expériences aussi dangereuses qu’intéressantes. Il veut maintenant essayer de la fievre jaune. l’amour de l’humanité que personne n’a jamais poussé plus loin que lui, lui fait braver toute espèce de fatigues et de dangers. Il joint les sentiments les plus élévés aux connaissances les plus profondes.

Je n’ai pas le droit de vous le recommander. Je prends seulement la liberté de vous l’adresser. l’amour de l’humanité qui vous distingue si eminement l’un et l’autre, fera le reste.

veuillez, Monsieur, agréer les nouveaux souhais que je fais, pour votre bonheur, et me conserver toujours une place dans votre bon souvenir.

votre très humble Serviteur

Charles Botta

Editors’ Translation

Paris 29 November 1815 Rue de la Tixanderie Number 41.

Sir

Dr. Valli, my friend and compatriot, is going to America to observe cases of yellow fever. I did not want to let this occasion pass without remembering myself to you and thanking you for the favorable welcome you were pleased to give to my history of the American war. I am just now printing an epic poem entitled Il Camillo, o Vejo Conquistata. As soon as it is published, I will hasten to send you a copy. I will be happy if you find that I have fulfilled, at least in part, the rules and objects of the epic genre.

Dr. Valli, who will have the honor of delivering this letter to you, is one of the most distinguished physicians in Europe. He witnessed the plague at Smyrna and Constantinople; he has had the courage to perform experiments on himself that were as dangerous as they were interesting. He now wants to try out yellow fever. The love of humanity, which no one has ever pursued farther, allows him to brave every kind of fatigue and danger. He combines the most elevated sentiments with the most profound knowledge.

I have no right to recommend him to you. I only take the liberty of sending him to you. The love of humanity that so eminently distinguishes you both will do the rest.

Please accept, Sir, my renewed wishes for your happiness and always preserve for me a place in your kind memory.

Your very humble servant

Charles Botta

RC (DLC); dateline above signature; at foot of text: “Mr. Thomas Jefferson en amérique”; endorsed by TJ as received 3 May 1816 and so recorded in SJL. Translation by Dr. Amy Ogden. Enclosed in Eusebio Valli to TJ, 26 Apr. 1816.

Eusebio Giacinto Valli (1755–1816), physician, was born in what is now Casciana Alta, Italy. In 1776 he enrolled at the University of Pisa, where he studied medicine and philosophy for two years before obtaining a scholarship to the university’s Collegio di Sapienza, eventually earning a dual doctorate in philosophy and medicine in 1783. Valli then embarked on a trip that took him to Smyrna in what is now Turkey, where he observed and wrote about cases of bubonic plague. From Smyrna he traveled successively to Greece and France. After obtaining a position as a doctor in the French army, Valli and his regiment departed for Pondicherry, in what is now India. During his military service he traveled extensively in southern Asia before returning to Italy in 1789. In 1802 Valli journeyed to Constantinople (later Istanbul) to observe cases of plague, and in 1809 he solicited a medical post with the French army in Spain in order to study yellow fever there. His interest in that disease brought him to New York City by March 1816 and later that year to Havana, where he died of the malady after attempting to inoculate himself. Throughout his career Valli published his observations on a wide array of medical topics, including disease, rabies vaccination, and animal electricity (Giuseppe Valli, Cenni Biografici sul dottore Eusebio Valli [1886]; Giovanni de Bernardis, “Eusebio Valli,” Rivista di Storia delle Scienze Mediche e Naturali 29 [1938]: 249–56; Eclectic Repertory and Analytical Review 7 [1817]: 413–8; Medical Repository, new ser., 3 [1817]: 362–75; 4 [1818]: 104; Georgetown Daily Federal Republican, 2 Mar. 1816; New York Commercial Advertiser, 9 Mar. 1816; Valli to TJ, 5 June 1816; New-York Evening Post, 9 Nov. 1816; Tomás Romay y Chacón, Elogio del Dr. D. Eusebio Valli … Leído en junta ordinaria de la Sociedad económica de esta ciudad el 22 de noviembre de 1816 [Havana, 1816; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 (no. 163)]).

Index Entries

  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; Il Camillo, o Vejo Conquistata search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; introduces E. G. Valli to TJ search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; letters from search
  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America search
  • French language; letters in, from; C. G. G. Botta search
  • health; plague search
  • Il Camillo, o Vejo Conquistata (C. G. G. Botta) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction to search
  • plague; study of search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search
  • Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America (C. G. G. Botta) search
  • Valli, Eusebio Giacinto; identified search
  • Valli, Eusebio Giacinto; introduced to TJ by C. G. G. Botta search
  • Valli, Eusebio Giacinto; medical research of search
  • yellow fever; study of search