Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Maria Cosway, 9 July 1787

From Maria Cosway

London 9 July 1787

Do you deserve a long letter, My dear friend? No, certainly not, and to avoid temptation, I take a small sheet of paper; Conversing with you, would break on Any resolution. I am determind to prevent it. How long you like to keep your friends in anxiety!—How Many Months was you without writing to Me? And you felt no remorse?—I was glad to know you was well, sure of your being much engaged and diverted, and had only to lament I was not a Castle hanging to cloud, a stream, a village, a stone on the pavement of Turin, Milan, and Genoa &c. &c. No! I enter’d in the Calculation of hours that prevented you from visiting Rome. I am not sure if I had any share in the provoking part; oh! if I had been a shadow of this Elysium of yours! how you would have been tormented! I must excuse you a little, since you tell me you thought of me, and Italy was your Object. You advise me to go this beautifful tour, do you forget, che fu la Mia Cuna, che sull’ limpido Corrente del’ Arno ricevei la Vita? Che all Tevere fu il mio primo viaggio. Che Turino M’arrestò Nella Mia strada a Londra? Contutto ciò vorrei che M’avesse dato una pià lunga relazione dell’ Suo Viaggio; le Sue osservazioni mi piacciono, il Suo gusto e buono, le Sue lettere m’interessano, ed aspettavo quasi in dritto, che mi avrebbe scritte tante pagine, quanti giorni fu assente. Specialmente avendo tanti suggetti, se pure qualcosa può Mancare per ajutare la Sua immaginazione, Ma renderebbeli lo Scrivermi più piacevole, Mentre, ripass[er]ebbe con la penna quei luoghi che gli dettero tanto piacere. Sono veramente Mortificata, nientte potrebbe pacificarmi, che queste linee sono Sue, ed allora, Non Misuro la scarsezza delle linee Ma il piacere che M’apporttano.

Non so se verremo a Parigi quest’ anno, temo di No, Mio Marito Comincia a dubitarne, giusto al tempo che dovrebbe prepararsi per partire; Non puol credere quanto Mi dispiace quest’ incertezza, ò tutto da temere contro il Mio desiderio. Perche promettere? Perche lusingarmi? Mi par Un sogno d’ esservi stato, e lo desidero adesso realizzato, per l’ impressione che mi lasciò. Almeno dia la Consolazione di ricevere nuove di un luogo che tanto M’interessa. Mi dica che Comedie ci sono nuove e buone, che Opere, che produzioni d’arti &c. &c. tutto quelche può indurlo a scrivermi delle lunghe lettere. Mi guastò sull’ principio della nostra corrispondenza, glielo dissi, non a piu seguitato.

Ho avuto il piacere finalmente di vedere Madme. de Corny Mi piace assai, e molto amabile, e graziosa. Mi rincresce non averla Conosciuta prima.

Non. Mi dice niente ne della Sua Salute, ne del Suo braccio, bravo bravissimo.

Mi dispiace che non o occasione di vedere la Sua Figlia che mi dicono e qui presentemente. Non Conosco Mrs. Adams, e mi lusingo che se lei avessi creduto che io potessi esserle utile in qualsiasi Cosa, avrebbe reso giustizia all’ Mio desiderio di Mostrarli in ogni occasione quanto son riconoscente della Sua amicizia per la Sua piu ed Serva,

Maria Cosway

Mio Marito à l’onore di presentarli i Suoi ossequi.

Will you excuse the liberty I take in troubling you with these letters and a parcel. I shall be much obliged to you if you will be so good to send them. I dont know where the Duchess of Kingston leaves [lives] as I used to send to her at Calais and have been told she has removed from her House in Paris.

RC (ViU); endorsed. Recorded in SJL as received 15 July 1787. Accompanying “letters and a parcel” not further identified.

Translation of that part of the text in Italian: [do you forget] that it was my cradle, that on the limpid current of the Arno I received life! That my first voyage was to the Tiber. That Turin stopped me on my way to London! With all that I wish you had given me a longer account of your voyage; your observations pleased me, your taste is good, your letters interest me, and I expected almost by right, that you would write me as many pages as you were days absent. Especially having so many subjects to aid what was lacking in your imagination, it would render writing to me more pleasant for you while you reviewed with your pen those places which gave you so much pleasure. I am truly mortified. Nothing could pacify me, except that these lines are yours, and then I do not measure the sparseness of the lines but the pleasure which they bring me.

I do not know that we shall come to Paris this year. I fear not. My husband begins to doubt it, just at the time when one should begin to prepare to leave; You cannot believe how much this uncertainty displeases me, when I have everything to fear against my desire. Why promise? Why lead me to hope? It seems a dream to have been there and I now wish it to be real, because of the impression it left upon me. At least console me by receiving news of a place which so much interests me. Tell me what comedies there are that are new and good, what operas, what works of art &c. &c. everything that can induce you to write me long letters. You spoiled me in the beginning of our correspondence, I told you, you have not continued.

I have finally had the pleasure of seeing Mdme. de Corny. I like her very much, she is amiable and gracious. I regret not having known her earlier.

You do not tell me anything either of your health or of your arm, bravo bravissimo.

I am sorry I have not had occasion to see your daughter who they say is presently here. I do not know Mrs. Adams, and I flatter myself that if you had believed that I might have been useful to her in any way at all, you would have gratified my desire to show you on every occasion how grateful I am for your friendship for your most affectionate and obedient servant, Maria Cosway—My husband has the honor to present his respects.

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