Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to John Trumbull, 27 March 1788

To John Trumbull

Amsterdam Mar. 27. 1788.

Dear Sir

I wrote you a line just as I was taking wing from Paris for this place. I expected to have staid here a week, and have been here three already, and know not yet the term of my stay. I hope however to get away in three or four days. I intend to make my return somewhat circuitous, in order to see what I have not yet seen. This renders the moment of my arrival at Paris incertain. In the mean while, the little balances I expected you would receive for me turning out less than I had calculated, you will be so good as to take one half of the inclosed bill of exchange to be applied as wanting to the purposes I had troubled you with. The other half, being £15. I will beg the favor of you to pay for me to Mr. Stockdale on account, letting him know at the same time that any letters he may have written to me since the last of February will be unanswered till I get back. The substantial answer however is that which you will give him as above desired.

Will you consult with some Amateur in classical reading to know who is the bookseller for classical authors in London, the most curious and copious, of whom one may get the particular editions they would wish, and send me his address? Give my love to Mrs. Church and Mrs. Cosway. Tell them they will travel with me up the Rhine, one on each hand, and for this I shall be indebted, not to any goodness of theirs, but to my own imagination, which helps me on cheerily over the dull roads of this world. God bless them and you, and Adieu. Yours affectionately,

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I must trouble you to send me from Mr. Woodmason 2. sets of wetting and drying books, 2 brushes and a ream of quarto copying paper of the best quality. Be so good as to notify it to Mr. Short that he may have it demanded at the bureau of the Diligence.

PrC (DLC). PrC of a Dupl (DLC); at head of text in TJ’s hand: “Copy.”

The two sets of wetting and drying books were for use in connection with TJ’s copying press. Both were made up of coarse blotting paper, the former for moistening with brushes so that, when a sheet of the thin copying paper was placed in contact with the letter or document being copied and both were inserted between the leaves of the wetting book, a reverse offset impression resulted from the moisture and pressure; this impression could be read through the copying paper. The drying books were for removing most of the moisture that the letter copied had absorbed in the process, so that it could be folded, sealed, and posted. With the introduction of envelopes the need for the drying book was eliminated.—The original of this letter was sent through the Van Staphorsts and was returned because of insufficient address. Trumbull wrote TJ on 23 May that he had not received it and TJ forwarded a duplicate in his reply of 28 May 1788. Trumbull received the original and its enclosed bill of exchange on 20 June 1788. What appears to be a duplicate of the bill of exchange—“Second of Exchange (first not paid)”—is in DLC: TJ Papers, 38:6549; it is signed “Nic & Jac. van [Staphorst],” dated 28 Mch. 1788, and drawn in favor of TJ for £30 sterling on Messrs. Charles Herries & Co. of London, being endorsed by TJ in Trumbull’s favor and having the signature cancelled by being torn away. Its presence in TJ Papers indicates that the “First of Exchange” was paid and was evidently the one enclosed in the present letter; see TJ’s Account Book, 28 Mch. 1788.

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