Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 5 July 1785

To James Monroe

Paris July 5. 1785.

Dear Sir

I wrote you by Mr. Adams May. 11. and by Mr. Otto June 17. The latter acknoleged the receipt of yours of Apr. 12. which is the only one come to hand of later date than Dec. 14. Little new has occurred since my last. Peace seems to shew herself under a more decided form. The emperor is now on a journey to Italy, and the two Dutch plenipotentiaries are set out for Vienna there to make an apology for their state having dared to fire a gun in defence of their invaded rights. This is insisted on as a preliminary condition. The emperor seems to prefer the glory of terror to that of justice, and to satisfy this tinsel passion plants a dagger in the heart of every Dutchman which no time will extract. I enquired lately of a gentleman who lived long at Constantinople in a public character and enjoyed the confidence of that government insomuch as to become well acquainted with it’s spirit and it’s powers, what he thought might be the issue of the present affairs between the emperor and porte. He thinks the latter will not push matters to a war, and that if they do they must fail under it. They have lost their warlike spirit, and their troops cannot be induced to adopt the European arms.—We have no news yet of Mr. Lambe. Of course our Barbary proceedings are still at a stand. This1 will be handed you by Mr. Franklin. He has a separate letter of introduction to you. I have never been with him enough to unravel his character with certainty. It seems to be good in the main. I see sometimes an attempt to keep himself unpenetrated which perhaps is the effect of the cause2lessons of his grandfather. His understanding is good enough for common uses but not great enough for uncommon ones. However you will have better opportunities of knowing him. The doctor is extremely wounded by the inattention of congress to his applications for him. He expected something to be done as a reward for his own services. He will preserve a determind silence on this subject in future. Adieu. Your’s affectionately.

P.S. Europe fixes an attentive eye on your reception of Doctr. Franklin. He is infinitely esteemed. Do not neglect any marks of your approbation which you think just or proper. It will honour you here.

RC (James Monroe Law Office, Fredericksburg, Va., 1947); unsigned; endorsed; partly in code. PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL as sent “by W. T. Franklin”; entry in SJPL under this date reads: “Monroe Jas. Europe.”

1This and subsequent words in italics are written in code and in part were decoded interlineally by Monroe, who experienced some difficulty in the process. The text presented here is a decoding by the editors, employing Code No. 9.

2The decoding here makes sense, follows that given by Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , viii, No. 315, note 3, and could be accepted without question were it not for one puzzling fact. The symbol for “cause” in Code No. 9 is “534,” and in the present instance it occurs at the end of a line, bearing underneath each of the last two figures a mark resembling a cedilla. Such marks are employed in two other instances in the code passages of this letter and require the decoder to delete the last two letters of the word for which the number stands. This, if done in the present instance, would of course make a nonsense reading (“cau”) which could be explained only on the ground that TJ had intended to encode the phrase “cautionary lessons” (or some equivalent), but failed to complete the encoding of the first word in the phrase. It is also possible that TJ intended this but, after making the marks for subtraction, saw that the word “cause” made sense as it was and allowed it to stand, but failed to erase the marks. The editors have assumed, but without full confidence, that the latter is the correct explanation.

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