Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Short, 2 April 1786

From William Short

Paris April 2d. 1786

Dear Sir

My last Letter was by the Post eight Days ago. Since that a Letter has come to your Address from Monsr. de Vergennes; and as I have not yet received any Thing like an Answer from Monsieur de Reyneval, I am induced to suppose this Letter may be partly on that Subject; Its being somewhat thicker than a common Letter would lead to suppose it contained other Matters also. I am very impatient to find a private Conveyance for it; notwithstanding Colo. Humphries Enquiries whilst I was at St. Germains and mine since my Return I can hear of no Body who goes soon for London. There is also a Letter here which the Handwriting and the Post-mark shew me to be from Mr. Dumas at the Hague; it arrived yesterday.

There are no other Circumstances that have come to my knowlege with which I suppose you would wish to be acquainted. Not a Tittle of Intelligence from America not even an American arrived at Paris except three or four, soon after your Departure, from England. Mr. Norris the elder goes by the Packet of this Month to Philadelphia. I imagine you have before this recieved particular Accounts of the Proceedings of our late Assembly. A Letter from Mr. Skipwith in London a few Days ago brought me a List of the Acts passed at their late Session. They have in a great Measure made up for their last Session by the Number they have passed at this. The Facility of Legislation seems from thence an Evil more difficult to cure than I had supposed, since a Reduction of the number of Sessions does not produce a Reduction of the Number of Laws.

I sent yesterday to the Convent to enquire about Miss Patsy that I might be able to compensate you for the Trouble of this Letter in adding something about her. She is well and wanting only to hear more frequently from you to render her still more happy. She flatters herself with the Hopes of seeing you soon. After her Sir do me the Justice to believe that no Body can desire it more than him who is with Sentiments of the purest Friendship, Yours &c.,

W. Short

Sunday Evening April 2d.

P.S. The Moment after finishing my Letter yours of March 28th came to Hand. I send it although I think it very probable and almost certain that you will have left London before its Arrival. Colo. Humphries desires me to add his most respectful Compliments for you, and to tell you that he had begun a Letter in Answer to yours which he had received to be sent by to-morrow’s Post. The Probability of your early Departure from London prevents his continuing it. He will leave a Letter here for you. WS

RC (DLC); endorsed. Noted in SJL as received “while in London.”

Short’s last letter was that of 26 Mch.; no letter from Vergennes subsequent to that date has been found or is recorded in SJL, nor is there a file copy of a letter from Vergennes to TJ for the latter part of March in Arch. Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., E.-U., as there should have been if Vergennes had written one. Further, no reply by TJ to a supposed letter of this period is known to have been made (see TJ to Vergennes, 3 May 1786). Nevertheless, Short could scarcely have been mistaken in the categorical statement that a letter somewhat thicker than … common had come from Vergennes, and it is very likely that he was correct also in supposing it to be partly on that subject. For on 28 Mch., in response to Calonne’s letter of 15 Mch. (see TJ to Borgnis Desbordes, Frères, 5 Mch. 1786), Vergennes wrote Calonne: “D’après la réponse que vous aviez faite à Mr. de Rayneval j’avois fait prévenir M. Jefferson que dans le cas ou le Capne. et l’équipage de ce Navire jugeroient à propos d’appeler de la Sentence prononcée contr’eux, ils auroient leur liberté provisionelle en Deposant une partie de l’amande ou en fournissant caution ainsi que cela est énoncé dans la lettre que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de m’ecrire le 15 de ce mois. Je vous prie, M. de vouloir bien donner aux fermiers-généraux de nouveaux ordres conformes à votre décision; ils me paroissent d’autant plus necessaires que j’ai lieu de croire que les particuliers dont il s’agit entreprendront la voye de l’appel” (Vergennes to Calonne, 28 Mch. 1786; Arch. Aff. Etr., Corr. Pol., E.-U., xxxi; Tr. in DLC). In view of this it is quite possible that Vergennes sent TJ, in confidence and with the request that no record be kept, a copy of his and Calonne’s interchange of 15 and 28 Mch. 1786. To this Calonne responded on 20 May that he had issued the necessary orders in accordance with Vergennes’ request (same).

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