Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Wayles Eppes to Thomas Jefferson, 6 February 1820

From John Wayles Eppes

Mill Brook Feb. 6. 1820.

Dear Sir,

While Francis was here I heard with considerable regret that his cousin Wayles and himself had quarreled and were not on speaking terms—From Francis’s Representation of the circumstances I consider Wayles as the aggressor. I do not however consider this circumstance as important. Disputes between near connections reflect no credit on either. I take the liberty therefore of asking that you will use your influence with both Francis & Wayles to have the past buried in oblivion & the cordiality & friendship which ought to be cherished by such near connections restored—

I have suffered most severely from bad health. The complaint in my head still continues and renders me alike unfit for business or pleasure. Hitherto while at home I have been accustomed to take an active personal share in the management of my affairs. as you are a Farmer it is unnecessary to say that active1 personal attention is essential to render a Farm interesting as an occupation. During the present winter we have had so much damp weather that, very often I have not been out of my yard for ten or twelve days at a time. I pass my time in a sort of idle dream and trash reading constitutes my only occupation—I have never known (until from bodily infirmity, I have been unable to attend to my affairs)2 how much an object of pity is the man who either from necessity or choice passes through life without active employment.

I gave to Francis money to pay Mr Laporte and Mr Stack and 50 dollars pocket money. You promised to procure for him a mattress &c—This I understand from Francis has been done—If you will be so good as to inform me of the cost the amount shall be placed in Richmond subject to your order—

Francis mentioned to me that you were anxious to get some silver perch for your Fish pond—I have written to Archer Thweatt at Eppington to know whether they can be procured in that neighbourhood with certainty. Archer Eppes who lives at city [point]3 could I know procure for you any quantity & would take great pleasure in doing it—My Father got his originally from that neighbourhood and to send direct from monticello the distance would not be much greater than to Eppington.

I have thought that as you pass some time in Bedford occasionally & the young ladies with you the Harpsicord might afford amusement to you and them—The Box which belongs to it is here in which it could be packed. If you think it worth sending by one of your teams while passing to Bedford4 I shall feel great pleasure in your accepting it—It wants nothing but some new strings and is of no use here, as mrs Eppes does not play—   Present me to the family & accept yourself my best wishes.

With respect and esteem I am yours sincerely

Jno: W: Eppes


Archer Epes fishes a Sein immediately at the mouth of Appamattox—by Sending your team to Varina the fish could be brought from city point by water to that place—Mr Epes I know takes great numbers of fine large Silver Perch—They abound more in Appamattox than James River—I have written to him today—

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Esqr Near Charlottesville Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Raines Tavern, 5 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as received 12 Feb. 1820 and so recorded in SJL.

On 31 Jan. 1820 TJ recorded receipt of funds from John Wayles Eppes sent via Francis Eppes to pay the latter’s educational costs. These included $63 for Peter laporte for the second half of Eppes’s board for the school year, which TJ kept to reimburse himself for sums he had paid as Laporte’s security. John Wayles Eppes had also sent money to repay TJ for a $25 draft he had given Francis Eppes on 12 Dec. 1819 to pay Gerard E. stack his tuition for the second half of the school year that had begun on 18 Oct. 1819 (MB description begins James A. Bear Jr. and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends , 2:1359, 1360).

1Word interlined.

2Closing parenthesis editorially supplied in place of comma.

3Omitted word editorially supplied.

4Preceding four words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Appomattox River search
  • Baker, John Wayles (TJ’s grandnephew); relationship with F. W. Eppes search
  • books; “trash reading” search
  • Eppes, Archibald; and fish for TJ search
  • Eppes, Francis (TJ’s brother-in-law); and fish search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); and fish for TJ search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); education of, in Charlottesville search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); relationship with J. W. Baker search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); and fish for TJ search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); and harpsichord for Poplar Forest search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); health of search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); letters from search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); relationship with son search
  • Eppes, Martha Burke Jones (John Wayles Eppes’s second wife); and harpsichord for Poplar Forest search
  • fish; perch search
  • harpsichords; for Poplar Forest search
  • household articles; mattresses search
  • James River; fish in search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with grandchildren search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with J. W. Baker search
  • Laporte, Peter; TJ as security for search
  • Laporte’s boardinghouse (Charlottesville); bedding for search
  • Laporte’s boardinghouse (Charlottesville); charges for boarding at search
  • mattresses search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); fishponds at search
  • music; harpsichord search
  • perch search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); harpsichord at search
  • Stack, Gerard E.; and Charlottesville Academy search
  • Thweatt, Archibald; and fish for TJ search
  • weather; damp search