Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys, 4 July [1784]

To David Humphreys

Boston July 4. 6. oclock P. M. [1784]

My dear sir

A letter which I wrote you by express to bring you on here will have informed you of the circumstances which have occasioned me to sail from hence. A tissu of unfortunate events has deprived me of the pleasure of your company. We have waited till this moment in expectation of your joining us, but the return of the express now informs us you had left New-haven and therefore we sail in the instant. I inclose you in my original of this date, and leave in the hands of Colo. Ingersol here, Mr. Lovell’s receipt for the order for seven hundred and fifty dollars to you and his promise to pay it, and the money is in bags waiting for you. I have time to add one article only. It is that if no previous connection nor engagement with either of my collegues should prevent it, you will do me the favor of taking up your quarters with me wheresoever and how long soever we shall be engaged together in the execution of this commission. I shall provide accomodations and make all my arrangements in this hope. If you should receive this or it’s original so that you may go in the French packet, it will be a good mode of passage. In that case perhaps you can negotiate your money here for as much in New York. If you should not, I trust that you may take your passage in any London bound ship and get ashore on the coast of France somewhere between Ushant and Calais, and come on directly to Paris. I cannot tell you where to enquire for me. Perhaps in the hotel d’Orleans, hotel de Valois, or hotel de Luxembourg. If in none of these Dr. Franklin at Passy will be able to inform you. I am indeed mortified with my failure in having you with me, and the more so as my counsel originally produced it. But it is too late to repine. Therefore Adieu till I see you & be assured of the esteem with which I am Dr. Sir Your friend & servt.,

Th: Jefferson

P.S. If you negotiate your order, authorize the assignee of it to ask for and open the letter for you which I leave with Colo. Ingersol and which incloses the paper.

RC, 2d copy (Andre deCoppet, N.Y., 1949); addressed: “Colo. David Humphreys”; endorsed. The first copy and its enclosures have not been found. Entry in SJL reads: “[July] 4. Colo. Humphries. Inclosing his draught on Lovell. Invitation to live with me while acting in same commission.”

We sail in the instant: Actually the recently built vessel owned by Nathaniel Tracy of Newburyport, the Ceres, Captain St. Barbe, weighed anchor at 4:00 a.m. the next morning. She made a fast crossing in good weather: “the winds were so favourable through the whole passage that we never devi– ated from the direct course more than was necessary to avoid shoals, &c.,” TJ wrote in his Account Book. At the mouth of the channel on 24 July soundings were taken in “50. fathom water at 4. o’clock a.m. being 19. days complete from weighing anchor at Boston”; at 10:00 p.m. that night the Ceres “made the light house at Silly” and the next day “landed at West Cowes” (same). TJ recorded the position of the vessel at noon each day during the crossing, set down the number of miles covered, and entered the direction of the wind and thermometer readings. According to his reckoning the vessel traveled 2,728 geographical miles from Boston, the lowest day’s run being 73 miles and the highest 196. On their arrival at West Cowes, Patsy was ill and TJ remained at Portsmouth with her until 30 July when they crossed the channel, arriving at Havre on 31 July (Dumbauld, Jefferson, American Tourist, p. 58–9, 231–2; see also TJ to Monroe, 11 Nov. 1784, and Martha to Mrs. Eliza House Trist, 24 Aug. 1785). The travelers arrived in Paris on 6 Aug. 1784. TJ’s slave James accompanied him. Humphreys sailed from New York on the Courier de l’Europe ten days after TJ had left Boston. Ushant: Now Ile d’Ouessant, an island off the coast of Brittany, opposite Brest.

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