Thomas Jefferson Papers

D. Mariano to Thomas Jefferson, 7 August 1819

From D. Mariano

Lexington (Ky) August 7th 1819.


Were I to write to such a man, as there are great many in this world, I should have provided myself with a letter of introduction, and inclosed it to you: lest my introducing myself should be deemed either boldness or disrespect; but I am confident that such a judgement does not attend me, though quite unknown to you, and disregardful of these laws. Still I would have complied with all what they prescribe on such an occasion, had I known some friend of yours. All the letters which I should have obtained, could not have increased either my regard for you, or my respect for those private and publick virtues, which shall perpetuate your name through ages in the grateful breast of your countrymen, and the mind of every civilized people.—

After having apologized, (I hope, successfully), my abrupt appearing before you, may I be now allowed to explain the motive of such an intrusion, and supply the deficiency of a letter of introduction.—

I am from Italy, Sir: when I saw her fettered, and every hope of rescuing her quite vanished, I wept, and left her. I did not cease since to lament her slavery, forgetful of my own poverty and exile.—Death proved me lately that these misfortunes do not deserve such a name, when compared to the loss of a person dearly loved. I had a friend, a brother, who cheered my solitary hours. He is no more, and now every other grief has superseded.—

I read and read again the plan of your rising University. I admired it, though without astonishment, as I knew before hand it could not be, but the most beautiful, and the best adapted to the high purpose.—The idea of belonging to such an Institution arose in my mind, and although diffident of my own sufficiency, I dare to present myself as a candidate for the Professorship of modern languages, untill you may find a more accomplished scholar than I am.—

I am now teaching in the Transylvania University the Southern languages of Europe, and occasionally the Latin. My engagements with this Institution do not exceed three months; every quarter I contract new ones, and that as far as it shall be convenient both to the University, and myself; Were I to find in your country two or three families desirous having their children instructed, I could offer them my assistance for the musick too in all its branches.—The instrument taught should be the Piano as I am quite ignorant of any other. I taught it in Philadelphia when I first arrived, 18 months ago; I declined it Since, because the Musick in this country is generally considered more as a mechanick art, than as a Science.—The Teachers themselves, very few excepted, know nothing about it, except few tunes, which they transmit and Sell to their scholars as pieces of accomplishment. The Parents themselves think their children possessed of the utmost skill in that art, when their own ears are gratified by some eccentrick popular tunes, and a quarter the longest time to be devoted to it. In my country, you know, we think and act quite otherwise.—

Be so good, Sir, as to make me acquainted, if you are not already provided with a Professor for the afore mentioned chair, with the salary and obligations attached to it: and whether it is to be found such an employment in some private families, and where it is more probable.—In both cases I dare to reccomend myself to your patronage—. As for the information you shall take on my subject, I only fear, that you may have them through too friendly channels, and find me afterwards too far from answering the recieved impression.—

Whatever1 may be the result of my letter, I shall always consider myself very successfull if it obtains me few lines and if you permit me to avail myself of my first boldness, to convince you, that nobody in both Worlds does admire, more than I do, the union of virtues and knowledge, to which2 is your country indebted both of its prosperity and literature.—

I am, Sir, respectfully,

Your most humble Servant

D. Mariano.

P.S. I was told that you are now translating the beautiful history of the American Revolution by Botta: Should you think that I could spare you some trouble, nothing could afford me more gratification than to be employed by you, and for you—
 The only apology which I can make for my letter, is to Say that 18 months ago this language3 was quite unknown to me: I am assured, it shall be treated indulgently—I might have it corrected, but there are some occasions in which one’s blunders are to be preferred to others’ corrections.

RC (ViU: TJP); addressed: “M. Thomas Jefferson Ex President of the U.S.—Monticello Ste of Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Lexington, Ky., 10 Aug.; endorsed by TJ as received 8 Sept. 1819, but recorded in SJL as received two days earlier.

P. D. Mariano (ca. 1785–1821), linguist and educator, was born in Italy and served in the military under Napoleon before immigrating to America. In 1818 he moved to Lexington, Kentucky, where he taught French, Italian, and Spanish, but declined a professorship of modern languages at Transylvania University. Mariano coedited the short-lived Journal of Belles Lettres, 1819–20. In the latter year he went to Washington, D.C., and unsuccessfully sought a federal appointment in South America or Florida. TJ learned from Thomas Sully that Mariano was “genteel, good humored, correct. perhaps a little salacious,” and “single.” He died in Washington (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1817–25; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends , 2:614, 868–9; Lexington Kentucky Reporter, 14 July 1819, 9 July 1821; TJ’s Notes on Mariano, [ca. Mar. 1821]; Washington Gazette, 11 June 1821).

1Manuscript: “Wathever.”

2Manuscript: “wich.”

3Manuscript: “langage.”

Index Entries

  • Botta, Carlo Giuseppe Guglielmo; Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America search
  • Italian language; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • language; collegiate education in search
  • Latin language; collegiate education in search
  • Mariano, P. D.; identified search
  • Mariano, P. D.; letters from search
  • Mariano, P. D.; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • music; piano search
  • music; study of search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • pianos search
  • schools and colleges; Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.) search
  • Storia della Guerra dell’ Independenza degli Stati Uniti d’America (C. G. G. Botta) search
  • Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.); professors at search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; modern languages professorship search