Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Henry Latrobe, [25] August 1817

To Benjamin Henry Latrobe

Poplar Forest Aug. 24. [25] 17.

Dear Sir;

Our letters, crossing one another by the way, have produced some confusion. their dates are as follows, in the margin.

your lres when reced when answd
June 28. July 15. July 16
July 24 Aug. 2 Aug. 3.
July 18 Aug. 7. Aug. 7.
Aug. 12. Aug. 22. Aug. 24.

I shall be glad to recieve your drawings; but not at this place, to which the mail is uncertain, and I shall be at Monticello nearly as soon as they will. the elevations of pavilions will be most acceptable. I inclose you a very ragged sketch of the one now in hand. I am well aware of all the importance of aspect, and have always laid it down as a rule that in drawing the plan of a house, it’s aspect is first to be known, that you may decide whether to give it most front or flank, and also on which side to throw passages & staircases, in order to have the South, whether front or flank unembarrassed for windows. the range of our ground was a law of nature to which we were bound to conform. it is S. 20.° W. we therefore make our pavilions one room only in front, and 1. or 2. in flank as the family of the professor may require. in his apartments, or the best of them, his windows will open to the South. the lecturing room below has the same advantage, by substituting an open passage adjacent instead of a dormitory. the dormitories admit of no relief but Venetian blinds to their window & door, and to the last the shade of the covered way. this will be the less felt too, as the pupils will be in the schoolrooms most of the day.

Volney’s Recherches I have no doubt are curious, & marked with the stamp of genius, & I thank you for the offer of their perusal. but they are too bulky to come by mail, & not to be trusted to the stages. I have never moreover paid any attention to Oriental literature, antient or modern, and am therefore not qualified to recieve much edification or perhaps amusement from them. I read with pleasure what you say of Bruce’s travels. it strengthens their authority which has been so much impaired by doubt.—a stiffening wrist obliges me now to curtail my letters. with constant esteem and respect your’s

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC: TJ Papers, 211:37621); on verso of reused address cover of Fernagus De Gelone to TJ, 5 Aug. 1817; misdated; at foot of text: “Mr Latrobe”; endorsed by TJ as a letter of <24> 25 Aug. 1817 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure not found.

Latrobe’s letter to TJ of july 18 was actually dated 28 July 1817. TJ’s dates of receipt and response for Latrobe’s letter of aug. 12. do not reflect TJ’s ultimate correction of them to 23 and 25 Aug. 1817.

Index Entries

  • books; on Egypt search
  • books; on history search
  • Bruce, James; Travels to discover the Source of the Nile, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 search
  • Central College; TJ’s architectural designs for search
  • Egypt; works on search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; and Central College design search
  • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry; letters to search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ visits search
  • Recherches Nouvelles sur L’Histoire Ancienne (Volney) search
  • Travels to discover the Source of the Nile, In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 (J. Bruce) search
  • venetian blinds search
  • Volney, Constantin François Chasseboeuf, comte de; Recherches Nouvelles sur L’Histoire Ancienne search