Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Madame de Corny, 2 March 1817

To Madame de Corny

Monticello Mar. 2. 1817.

It had been so long, my very dear and antient friend, since I had heard any thing of you thro’ any channel, that I had become uncertain whether you might still be among the living. I have been relieved from that incertitude by the request of mr and mrs Derby to give them a letter to you, informing me at the same time that they had one for you from mrs Cruger. I give it therefore readily in return for the happiness they have procured me by this information, as well as to oblige them. I am not personally acquainted with them, but their reputation authorises me to assure you of their worth, and of the esteem in which they are held in the United States. they visited France and the Southern countries of Europe about a dozen years ago, and now propose to visit France and the Northern regions. permit them then, en passant, to pay their respects to you, & favor them with a portion of that partial attention which you have ever so kindly shown to us Americans. I claim it particularly for mrs Derby as a sample of our American fair.

Thro’ what scenes, my dear friend, have we passed since those endeared to us by the society of mrs Church, Cosway, Trumbul Etc.   what transitions from those to the tyrannies of Robespierre, of the Directories, of Bonaparte, and now of the allies! these cannot have failed by their sweeping afflictions, to have overshadowed even your life with gloom, if not with suffering. and when are these to end? and how are they to end? but let us1 not hoist the curtain which separates our time from those horrors. let us live out our little day without sympathising, if we can, with miseries which are to belong to another age.   my country has been prosperous and happy: but, in endeavoring to make it so, my life has been worn down with cares and anxieties. twenty years of labor and solicitude, after parting with you, during which the whole of my time and attention was absorbed by incessant occupations, which cut me off from intercourse and correspondence with my friends, brought me to that period of life which it ceases to be enjoyment. altho’ I have had good health, yet the hand of time presses heavily on me. I am become feeble in body, inert in mind, and much retired from the society of the world to that of my own fire-side. my eldest daughter, who was just old enough to be a little known to you, has rendered that a circle of no small compass. among ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren, we are in no solitude.   to another than yourself these would be uninteresting egotisms but the same friendship will render them acceptable to you, which makes me wish to hear from you, to know if you enjoy good health, if your spirits are lively, if they still derive nourishment from society, & above all if you have recovered from the effects of your unfortunate fall, so as to walk out and cheer yourself with the enlivening variety of the fields and public walks. give me another letter, my friend, and tell me all this, and a great deal more about yourself, and be assured of my unabated sentiments of affection and respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of first page: “Mde de Corny”; endorsed by TJ. Enclosed in TJ to Richard C. Derby, 6 Mar. 1817.

TJ’s eldest daughter was Martha Jefferson Randolph.

1TJ here canceled “draw.”

Index Entries

  • aging; TJ on his own search
  • Church, Angelica Schuyler (John Barker Church’s wife) search
  • Corny, Marguérite Victoire de Palerne de; letter to search
  • Corny, Marguérite Victoire de Palerne de; TJ inquires about search
  • Corny, Marguérite Victoire de Palerne de; TJ introduces R. C. Derby and M. C. Derby to search
  • Cosway, Maria Louisa Catherine Cecilia Hadfield; friendship with TJ search
  • Derby, Martha Coffin (Richard C. Derby’s wife); TJ introduces search
  • Derby, Richard Crowninshield; TJ introduces search
  • France; Directory search
  • France; TJ on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of introduction from search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; great-grandchildren search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with grandchildren search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; aging search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Health; good health of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; France search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; living in U.S. search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; TJ on search
  • Randolph, Martha Jefferson (Patsy; TJ’s daughter; Thomas Mann Randolph’s wife); children of search
  • Robespierre, Maximilien François Marie Isidore de; TJ on search
  • Trumbull, John (artist); friendship with TJ search
  • United States; TJ on life in search
  • women; letters to; Madame de Corny search