Thomas Jefferson Papers

Peter S. Du Ponceau to Thomas Jefferson, 3 January 1821

From Peter S. Du Ponceau

Philada 3d Jany 1821

Dear Sir

I have received the Letter you have done me the honor to write to me, dated the 28th ulto which shall be treated as it is meant, as Strictly private & confidential. I am well acquainted with Mr Sanderson. Some Years ago a Mr Carré, a planter from St Domingo, & a refugee here from that Island, being an excellent Latin Scholar, & possessing other literary qualifications, established an Academy in the vicinity of this City, & took Mr Sanderson as his Usher—Sanderson had had an University Education, & having given satisfaction to Mr Carré, he married his only daughter & became his partner, in which station he still continues. From his Father in law he imbibed an enthusiastic fondness for ancient literature, & following Horace’s precept Vos exemplaria Græca &c, he acquired the style & manner which has obtained your approbation. He is still a young Man, & begins to have a growing family, which his profession of a Schoolmaster is not sufficient to Support. In this situation, he accepted the offer of a Bookseller to write the lives of the signers to the declaration of Independance, which Subject was not his choice. Thus you see he writes for money as well as fame, tho’ the love of the latter strongly predominates. He Spent more time in writing his first Volume than pleased the Bookseller, & would have spent more, could he have followed his own inclination. As to character & disposition, he is ingenuous, diffident & modest; he is a young Man of perfect integrity & may be trusted. He places great confidence in my advice, & has none of that Self Sufficiency So disgusting in young Authors.

This is my candid opinion of Mr Sanderson. I should have added that he lives much retired, tho’ of late, Some of our1 principal characters, & among others Chief Justice Tilghman, have taken notice of him & endeavoured to draw him from his retirement, by inviting him to mixed parties—He knows very little of the world, tho’ his manners are neither rustic nor aukward.

When I said that Mr sanderson places great confidence in my advice, I said it with this view, that if you wish any thing to be indirectly communicated to him, I believe it will have its effect. But, perhaps, you need not have recourse to this mode, for it is my firm opinion, that Mr Sanderson is incapable of betraying any confidence that you may honor him with.

I have the honor to be With the greatest veneration & respect Sir   Your most obedient humble servant

Peter S, Du Ponceau

RC (DLC); at head of text: “Thos Jefferson, Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Jan. 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

In his Ars Poetica, 268–9, Horace advised poets: “vos exemplaria græca nocturna versate manu, versate diurna” (“For yourselves, handle Greek models by night, handle them by day”) (Fairclough, Horace: Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica description begins Horace: Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, trans. H. Rushton Fairclough, Loeb Classical Library, 1926, repr. 2005 description ends , 472–3).

1Manuscript: “out.”

Index Entries

  • Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (J. Sanderson) search
  • books; biographical search
  • Carré, John Thomas; academy of search
  • Declaration of Independence; signers of search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; and J. Sanderson search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; letters from search
  • Horace; quoted by P. S. Du Ponceau search
  • Philadelphia; schools in search
  • Sanderson, John; academy of search
  • Sanderson, John; Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence search
  • Sanderson, John; TJ inquires about search
  • schools and colleges; in Philadelphia search
  • Tilghman, William; mentioned search