Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Pinkney to Thomas Jefferson, 25 September 1810

From William Pinkney

London. 25th Septr 1810

Dr Sir.

Mrs Leigh, who is I believe known to you,1 sent me some Time ago two Copies of her Book upon Government, with a Request that I would tender them to you on her Behalf as a Mark of her Respect.—I promised that I would do so; but missed the opportunity on which I had calculated.—At Length however I fulfil my promise and send the Books.

I have not the Honour to know Mrs Leigh personally.—She made some Noise here a few years ago.—Her Book has not made quite so much, but it is a respectable performance and2 worthy of a kind Reception; although a Treatise upon Government (at least the Sort of Government which Mrs Leigh considers) is3 not exactly what one expects from a Woman.—

I have forwarded4 the Letters with which you lately entrusted me,5 and thank you sincerely6 for the friendly Lines which enclosed them.7

Do you not congratulate yourself prematurely on the8 Tranquillity of your Retirement?9—You cannot I am sure10 be tranquil while your Country is otherwise; and the restless Powers that shake the World with their mad11 Quarrel will not suffer us to be quiet.12—We might be steady however!—

You13 call by a very appropriate Name the occupations of public Men at present.—They are indeed Turmoils.—My little Share of them14 is I hope not far from its End.—It has already been sufficient for me,15 and ought sooner to have ceased.—Your Share has been a16 full and a conspicuous one.—Your Tour of Duty is past.—but The Consciousness still remains of great and faithful Services in all the Varieties of our national Fortune. I can have no Idea of a better Reward in this World than the Enjoyment of such a lofty Consciousness.—I feel that the Consciousness of even a fruitless (and certainly a thankless) Fidelity is much.—

Believe me to be, with unfeigned respect and Attachment—Dear Sir, Your faithful Friend and Obedient Servant;—

Wm Pinkney

RC (DLC); at foot of first page: “(To Thomas Jefferson)”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of 25 Sept. 1811 received 2 Mar. 1811 and so recorded (with no year of composition) in SJL. Dft (NjP: Pinkney Papers); heavily emended. Enclosures: (1) Rachel Fanny Antonina Lee, An Essay on Government (London, 1809; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 2339). (2) Thomas Gillet to TJ, 12 Apr. 1809.

1Preceding seven words interlined in Dft.

2Reworked in Dft from “is at any Rate worthy of a kind Reception,—whe[re afforded?].”

3In Dft Pinkney here canceled “rather out.”

4Word interlined in Dft in place of “taken care of.”

5In Dft Pinkney here canceled “and beg you to believe that you always give me pleasure.”

6Word interlined in Dft.

7In Dft Pinkney here canceled “I need not say that Whenever You can contrive to make me useful to you you will oblige me by laying your commands upon me.—Be assured that I cannot be happier than I shd be made by having opportunity of showing my sincere attachment <& respect>.”

8Reworked in Dft from “You boast prematurely I fear on your.”

9In Dft Pinkney here canceled “I wish you all possible Happiness.”

10Preceding three words interlined in Dft.

11Word interlined in Dft.

12Remainder of paragraph interlined in Dft in place of a heavily reworked and partially illegible passage, portions of which include “I know not which most to admire—the Folly or the Injustice of Europeans these Competitors in Folly & Injustice insult & injure us without Ceasing. Our want of steadiness,” “We have committed a great Error in how,” “we owe something if only,” “If we could have been steady indeed! in the [. . .] adherence to a great system. But that is past—and we cannot be,” and “I will not revive an old Regret (it has been a very deep one) by <alluding to> dwelling on the Cause of it.”

13In Dft Pinkney here canceled “rightly characterize.”

14Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft in place of “cannot last—but we must all look with Anxious Hearts whether in or out of office upon the <Events> Days that are passing over us. we must all look with Solicitudee to the <Scenes> Measures <that> of those who hold the [Cup?]—but it will have lasted long enough.—Happy if our Country was any better.”

15Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft.

16Remainder of letter interlined in and added to margins of Dft in place of “large Share but it was [. . .] with Honour and had a consolatory Consciousness.”

Index Entries

  • An Essay on Government (Lee) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • Lee, Rachel Fanny Antonina; An Essay on Government search
  • Pinkney, William; forwards letter to TJ search
  • Pinkney, William; letters from search