Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Angelica Schuyler Church, 24 May 1797

To Angelica Schuyler Church

Philadelphia May 24. 1797.

Dear Madam

I learn through the newspapers your arrival at New York and hasten to welcome you to the bosom of your friends and native country. I feel1 one anxiety the less for the fate of the rotten bark from which you have escaped, and sincerely congratulate you on that escape. I wish I could have welcomed you to a state of perfect calm: but2 you will find that the agitations of Europe have reached even us, and that here, as there,3 they are permitted to disturb social life: that we have not yet learnt to give4 every thing to it’s proper place, discord to our5 senates, love and friendship to society. Your affections,6 I am persuaded, will spread themselves over the whole family of the good, without enquiring by what hard names they are politically called.7 You will preserve, from temper and8 inclination, the happy privilege of the ladies, to leave to the rougher sex, and to the newspapers, their party squabbles and reproaches. A thorough disgust at these had withdrawn me from public life under an absolute determination to avoid whatever could disturb the tranquility of my mind. I have been recalled however by the only voice which I had not resolution to disregard.9 Whether their will or my own will first carry me back10 is not yet very certain.11 A mutual consent is12 perhaps the most probable.

Tho’ you have taken so great a step, there is still a wide space between us. I shall entertain the hope that we may meet at this place, as on a middle ground. Perhaps you may find it not unpleasant in winter to get this much nearer the sun. But whether we meet or not, I shall for ever claim an esteem which continues to be very precious to me, and hope to be, at times, indulged with the mutual expression of it. What is become of our friends Cosway and de Corny? From the latter I have never heard. I had a letter from Madame Cosway about a year ago.13 I must join others with me in my enquiries after14 Catharine. Her friends at Monticello are well, and will be impatient to hear of her and from her. She must still permit an old man to love her. It will not stand in the way of any younger passion.15 Make my respects and congratulations acceptable if you please to Mr. Church, and recieve yourself the homage as constant as it is sincere of Your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU). Dft (DLC); with one significant variation (see note 10) and numerous emendations, the most important of which are noted below.

The Church family’s arrival at New York in the Fair American on 20 May 1797 was announced in the Philadelphia Gazette, 23 May 1797.

Letter from Madame Cosway: Maria Cosway to TJ, 4 Dec. 1795.

1Word interlined in Dft in place of “shall have.”

2Sentence to this point interlined in Dft.

3In Dft TJ first wrote “you will find however that we also have our agitations, and that here, as in the country you left” before altering the preceding passage to read as above.

4Word interlined in Dft in place of “confine.”

5Word interlined in Dft in place of “the.”

6Word interlined in Dft in place of “good will.”

7In Dft TJ first wrote “by what names they are politically distinguished” before altering the passage to read as above.

8Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

9Word interlined in Dft in place of “withstand.”

10In Dft TJ here wrote “to the calm from which I have been extracted.”

11In Dft TJ here canceled “I shall flatter my self with the la[tter.] It is not improbable that both may.”

12In Dft TJ first concluded the sentence with “not improbable” before altering it to read as above.

13In Dft TJ here canceled “Nor do I forget my young friend Catherine tho’ she has probably forgotten her old one.”

14In Dft TJ here canceled “Miss.”

15Preceding sentence interlined in Dft.

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