Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Caspar Wistar, 17 August 1813

To Caspar Wistar

Monticello Aug. 17. 13.

Dear Sir

I recieved your favor of June 29. by mr Correa, it’s bearer. I found him what you had described in every respect; certainly the greatest collection, and best digest of science in books, men, and things that I have ever met with; and with these the most amiable and engaging character. the only alloy to the pleasure of his society was the reflection that we were never more to enjoy it. it is a partial taste of that death which is to separate us from all things.—not knowing his address I take the liberty of placing under your cover a letter put into my hands for him.

The world as well as myself will readily excuse the delay of your observations on the Mammoth bones, in favor of the more interesting work on our own structure, which has occasioned the delay; and our country will rejoice to see her capable sons at length entering the field of science and emulating the European quarter in it’s brightest ornament. for indeed, excepting their science, they have little worthy of emulation.

I thank you sincerely for your kind offers1 respecting my grandson. our purpose in sending him to Philadelphia was that he should lay a foundation there in those branches of useful2 science which he could not acquire at home; and on his return apply to those which could be acquired here. for some time after he came home he pursued this plan with assiduity. but at the beginning of the present year, he was put into possession of a farm, and has become so much attached to it’s management as to make his studies now a3 secondary concern. they are therefore now but irregularly attended to. and as farming will be the business of his life, a calling yielding to none in happiness, independance and respectability, we must be contented with the superstructure which his leisure will permit him to raise of himself on the foundation of the sciences already laid. towards this he has no one to thank so much as yourself. of this I can assure you he retains the most lively sense; altho from a want of habit in epistolary correspondence he is remiss in expressing his gratitude to those to whom it is due. to myself your kind offers increase the obligations for which I was so much your debtor before. I can only express to you my sincere sense of them, & assure you that occasions only, and not the will, are wanting to prove it by every thing in my power. among the valuable intimacies, scattered here and there thro’ a long life, and which interest both the heart and the head, there are none I look back to with warmer feelings, than yours; nor one to whom I can with more truth than to yourself repeat the assurances of affectionate friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Doctr Wistar”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosure not found.

Earlier this year TJ passed the bulk of his farm at Shadwell to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph (Conveyance of Part of Shadwell to Thomas Jefferson Randolph, 26 Mar. 1813).

1Reworked from “offices.”

2Word interlined.

3Manuscript: “a a.”

Index Entries

  • Corrêa da Serra, José; conveys letters search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; TJ forwards letters to search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; TJ on search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; visits Monticello search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; friendship with C. Wistar search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with grandchildren search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; science, European search
  • mastodon (mammoth, Ohio); C. Wistar on search
  • Monticello (TJ’s estate); Visitors to; Corrêa da Serra, José search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); and C. Wistar search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); education of search
  • Randolph, Thomas Jefferson (TJ’s grandson; Jane Hollins Nicholas Randolph’s husband); TJ conveys land to search
  • Shadwell (TJ’s estate); TJ conveys part of to T. J. Randolph search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and mastodon bones search
  • Wistar, Caspar; and T. J. Randolph search
  • Wistar, Caspar; letters to search