Thomas Jefferson Papers

Francis Hall to Thomas Jefferson, 10 February [1817]

From Francis Hall

Charleston. Feby 10th

My dear Sir

From the best Information I can procure here The Composition for lining Cisterns consists of ⅕ German Terrace or Cement (an imported Article) mixed with ⅘ of Lime. This mixture is said to be perfectly insoluble, and even to harden in water.

I regret that this trifling piece of Information is the only method I have of evincing1 my grateful sense of your kind hospitality, and of the essential aid I received from your Servants when waggon-wrecked on your shore.

I remain, my dear Sir—

With great sincerity & Respect Your very obliged Servant

F Hall

P.S. The following Lines came accidentally in my way: I should not have troubled you with them, had I had no sounder excuse for writing

      To Monticello

From Monticello’s verdant Brow,

What Eye hath scann’d Th’ Expanse below

Where glebe and farm, & forest-shade

Alternately in distance fade;

The red hill’s crest of spiry Pines;

And Mountain Ridge, whose long blue Lines

Seem pencill’d on the cloudless Sky;

And Village glist’ning white, and nigh;

What eye hath gaz’d on Scene so fair,

In the pure light, and Mountain air,

Nor felt it was a thought of pain

Never to gaze on it again?

From Monticello’s classic seat

What Pilgrim e’er bent willing feet:

Turn’d from its hospitable door,

Nor sigh’d he ne’er should pass it more?

For there doth Wisdom sit retir’d,

Whom hoary years have nigh inspir’d:

There Science holds Communion high

With the bright Wand’rers of the Sky,

or bends attentive to peruse

The Tablets of th’ Historic Muse;

And there the Doves of Peace are found,

And Freedom loves to tread the mound,

And drink upon the mossy Lawn

The Gale of Eve, and breath of Dawn;

Not the mad Nymph by Gaul ador’d

Grasping the bloody Axe, and sword;

But such as Phidias had design’d;

An Image of th’ immortal mind,

And sculptur’d into breathing stone

To si[t] [beside?] th’ Olympian Throne—

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 209:37278–9); partially dated; mutilated at seal; addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Monticello Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Charleston, 12 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as a letter from “Hall J.” received 27 Feb. 1817 and so recorded in SJL.

Tarras (terrace) is a mortar or cement made from pulverized German pumice (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). For the waggon-wrecked departure from Monticello, see Hall’s Account of a Visit to Monticello, 7–8 Jan. 1817. A mad nymph appears in line 47 of William Collins’s poem, “Ode to Fear” (Roger Lonsdale, ed., The Poems of Thomas Gray, William Collins, Oliver Goldsmith [1969], 421). phidias was an ancient Athenian famed for his sculpture of an enthroned Zeus in the god’s temple at Olympia (OCD description begins Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2003 description ends , 1158).

1Manuscript: “evining.”

Index Entries

  • building materials; cement search
  • building materials; lime (mineral) search
  • cement; for cisterns search
  • Charleston, S.C.; cisterns in search
  • cisterns; in Charleston, S.C. search
  • Hall, Francis; and cement search
  • Hall, Francis; letter from search
  • Hall, Francis; visits Monticello search
  • lime (mineral); as building material search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); poem about search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Hall, Francis search
  • Phidias (ancient Greek sculptor) search
  • poetry; on Monticello search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search