Thomas Jefferson Papers

Edward Postlethwayt Page to Thomas Jefferson, 16 December 1821

From Edward Postlethwayt Page

New York. December 16=1821.— (Post office till called for)

Most illustrious Father of American Freedom
Venerable Sire!

Your address to Congress in behalf of your University and Science universally, to have duties removed from rare and valueable books, is evidence that you retain a solid judgment & a virtuous heart.—The name of Thomas Jefferson is dear to my affections—Two years ago, when I was as Saul before he became Paul, a conscientious tory—I ridiculed, I reviled the sage of Monticello.—Now, the dew of his wisdom to me is as life to a thirsty land p[a]rched1 up by the horrors of a Babylonick hell.—If God is Love—if he that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God and God in him—If Immanuel was the good man that he is represented to have been—what is it will be so horrible at the day of judgment?—Hatred—& hellishness is horrible but I am imagining that Immanuel is entering my door—Welcome—thou Son of God—thou who lovest even thine enemies—has no harm in thee for me—Indeed Mr Jefferson, these ghosts, & hobgobblins are much of a sort with witches and devils—There is no God but God—consequently, no devil god other than ignorance.—As contrasted with God (whose name nearly resembles Good) there is evil, & call it Satan or the reverse is opposite of Light.—Satan then is folly. Pity those who are deprived of reason. All mankind are deranged, and non compus mentis.—Jesus Christ was a type of the afflicted and conflicting human family—what they will eventually be in their aggregate & politic body, he was. What they were when Adam was the Son of God, he was.—But he was a man like unto our selves. God was his mental father—but I deny that he was his corporeal father. The father of his five outward senses or foolish virgins was whom you please—Joseph or any other like our selves.—But the father of his understanding—who was a fire a fountain of light—lit his understanding2 with a gaseous and celestial fluid of 7 attributes—the 7 colours in the rainbow signify them & the bow denotes the rotundity of the head the seat of understanding.3 The water on which the bow seems to rest are the two pillars—Light and Love.—You are too high a mason not to discern this analogy. I, who never was one, think I hear you say—As the chain to Aaron’s incense-pot was connected with the handles & the links with each other—so by exchanging the selfish for the social principle must we all assimilate that the electric fluid of Jehovah’s Love may pervade the whole—Or as many sticks make one large fire so must each of us, having our 54 wise virgin lamps lit by the 7 of God, be one chandelier or fire, originating from the communicable yet never decreasing fountain of Love, but rather augmenting it or making it at least the more manifest.—Now sir, it is a truth no longer to be concealed that the 12 jewels in Aaron’s breast-plate represented our 5 intellectual or spiritual senses or agency mental hand, & the 7 spirits or eyes of the Great Spirit!—The two golden responses in the breast-plate are the true oracle.—Wisdom (or Light) and Love.5 Every man has them as well as Aaron—but they are internal, & Aaron’s was external—Christ came among us to make them manifest, not outwardly, but inwardly—for ’twas a sad case when man had so far degenerated as not to discern that God was in him, & that in him we live, move & have our being—One would also suppose that there could be no mistaking of John’s first chapter (Note Mathew, Mark, Luke, John are 4 cardinal Masonic compass points) The word is lost. What is that word? All nature duly labelled and rightly put together and discriminated is that word & makes the true Temple—Sir, I persuade myself, & say prophetically that the schools for deaf and dumb persons (like Baalim’s ass) shall speak the antient Egyptian hieraglyphic & symbolic voice, & teach our teachers. This is always God’s way of working. He will bring to naught the things that are. Moses was an Egyptian wrote the 5 books6 old Testament after the science of correspondincees—And, N.B Jesus Christ was crucified in Egypt says John—Observe—he was killed at Jerusalem or the city of peace by the war spirit—then in Sodom, or the distorted, polluted aristocratical masonry of the Popish whore & her harlot protestant children under the gag law of the oath system—And in Egypt where the shadow has been taken for the substance the letter for the spirit.—Sir, the Illuminati & the Carbonari are with all their wild fire the lights of the world—I say this—and yet I verily believe the Scriptures—but not in three Gods—nor in any hell but the absence of love divine.—I am indefatigable in spreading my principles—I went to Albany & gave 200 copies of my Magic harmonies to the members of the convention and others—

I have 2000 printed—at 120 dollars loss—I give all to God—I am the same as sworn never to give up the ship.—England said Nelson expects every man to do his duty—Kings shall die, Republicks shall live.—The decree has gone forth from heaven that all the world shall be saved.—Now Sir, it has possitively been communicated to my spirit by that Great sublime, supernal, immaculate Spirit of all the Spirits, that when Immanuel (God with us) comes in clouds descending, Civil and religious freedom, the entire abolition of slavery throughout the world—the total death of all kingly and aristocratic power—and consequently universal peace and knowledge will be his second advent.—Then the money that now supports armies, navies and devil rulers will be applied to the relief of the widows and the fatherless, infirm, aged & unfortunate brothers and sisters of the great human family.—Sir equal representation all over7 the globe will gradually bring us all this good—& that as they are qualified to understand it—for it is continually qualifying them.—Sir, the thieves lie when they say the people cannot govern themselves.—I have made many important discoveries since I published my magic harmonies—but I can give no more to the public—I cannot afford it in print—they would not sell—people do not understand me—besides, it is a conflict with too many crafts—touch their interests and they are so selfish, you touch the apple of their eye.—I apprehend that the great difference between God and man is—that God regards the universe and identifies the good of all with himself. Man regards his own precious self.8 Christ intreats him to know his own good better than this and to become social.—See then my dear Sir, the inestimable benefit of communities.9 I am in concert with others endeavoring to form a redeeming Commonwealth whose land may be named Social Paradise—and city Peace.—8 doctors, 2 lawyers & several teachers are already of our number—which is between 20 & 30 in New York—

In Tammany Hall is a true copy and history of the Grand-Master’s Jewel of Malta—Bless God, it has returned to Egypt & is in the possession of the Pacha—On the French invading the Island it was thrown into the sea indignantly by the Master—Fishermen found it in their nets (note, J. Christ10 called fishermen) A representation of Davids 5 smooth pebbles in Jewels (or inward senses) is between 5 compasses—The token of 15 fellow crafts (as many as letters in your name) is on it—The cross stands in a crescent!—Three, viz jubila, lo, lum, were killed Note On Christ’s Cross King of the Jews was in Hebrew, Greek, Latin—The old Testament was written in Hebrew, the new in Greek, & Immanuel Swedenborg wrote in Latin.—I think these 3 languages slew Hiram.—What is the word that was made flesh; but the language of God—By language is our God or soul within us—Whence knowledge but by language—& what the mind of man without it? How evidently the trinity becomes 12 !—But I am only trespassing on your time—Perhaps you dislike the subject—Perhaps not Doctor Mitchell tells me I am 60 years in advance11 of the times.—I certainly have operated upon the minds of some shrewd philosophers.12 Tis men of your stamp I wish to communicate to—not that I am unconscious how easily they can detect my superficial knowledge of things—but that they, receiving the hint may improve from their resources what I am inadequate to from my scantiness of education.—I delight in the truth, & like God I love to communicate—Of this I may boast because, I do love him and all the family of beings he has created, for all that comes from him is good—there fore all the world is better than we take it to be.—If matter is the devil, and mind is God, the conflict between mind and matter is necessary because they are opposites.—Matter is desire—Mi[n]d is fruition.—Mind gives matter motion.—Quere, does mind [. . .] from matter? With men it does not—with Christ it did not—and I question whether it ever did with Deity.—Matter itself may be spirit as said Dr Berkeley & spirit may be matter as said Dr Priestley—They are both correct, & mean the same thing.—Affinity seems necessary to love—yet there is affinity in opposites—Nothing is more evident to me tha[n] th[at] [every?] thing terminates in love,—for uniformly good comes of evil.—How pleasing to your contemplative mind to plunge into the ocean of God’s love, thus

“Your wrapt13 soul, anticipating heaven,

 Bursts through the thraldom of incumbring clay

 And on the wings of ecstacy upborne

 Springs into Liberty, and Light, and Life.”


One thing more before you leave us to go to that Spirit who gave you a spirit.

Petition Congress for a new State to be created in the wilderness on credit, on the principle of an equal distribution of land—& perfect equality all adult men and women having equal voices at elections, & officers chosen annually—the dwelling houses as barracks—the law love one another, do as you would be done by—no lawyers—but the common sense of the body politic—the inhabitants to be the towns poor all over the United States—each town to pay the travelling expences, to be indemnified with interest in due time. & & & St Johns New Jerusalem (if you consult the most ancient Greek Manuscripts) is not 12000 furlongs, but 12 times 12000, the measure of the belt of the earth.—The following is in the shape of a prediction by me—14

When Greece and Sun(1) the Crescent,(2) robs (1) Sun means Persia (2) Turkey
The Sun and Moon will Abraham(3) cob. (3) Exchange the type Abraham for the father of all mankind
When Carbonari’s lose one(4) head, (4) The beheading of one is the signal for general and simultaneous insurrection
Then excommunication’s dead.(5) (5) Pope’s Bulls unavailing
So Beast(6) and Prophet(7) fare alike (6) Popery (7) mahomet’s religion.
And Whores(8) and kings to death must strike. (8) Popery & her harlots the protestants

And now, venerable sire!—Peace be unto you—Do not mistake me the 12 attributes of God and man are not material as we understand of matter, but immaterial & perhaps the diametrically opposite of matter.—I conceive nothing material in Wisdom Love Truth Justice, Goodness &a It is a great thing to know God’s true attributes, for then & then only do we know him—Without his attributes both he and we are non entities

I am your friend

Edward Postlethwayt Page

RC (DLC); damaged at seal; addressed: “A pamphlet for Thos Jefferson Esqre (late) President of the United States Montecello Virginia”; franked; postmarked New York, 17 Dec.; endorsed by TJ as received 30 Dec. 1821, with his additional notation: “insane,” and so recorded (as a letter of 20 Dec. 1821) in SJL.

In the Bible, saul converted to Christianity and became the apostle paul (Acts 9.1–18, 13.9). Jesus told a parable of five foolish virgins who were excluded from a wedding banquet because they did not bring enough lamp oil to last until the bridegroom’s arrival, whereas five wise virgins could attend because they came prepared (Matthew 25.1–13). you are too high a mason: TJ was not, in fact, a Freemason.

The 12 jewels in aaron’s breast-plate were carved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28.17–21). in him we live, move & have our being is taken from Acts 17.28. In the gospels, john’s first chapter opens with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1.1). Balaam’s (baalim’s) ass spoke in protest of being beaten in Numbers, 22.21–38.

science of correspondincees: the “Doctrine of Correspondences” is the theory of Emanuel Swedenborg “that every natural object symbolizes or corresponds to some spiritual fact or principle which is, as it were, its archetype or prototype, and that the Scriptures were written in harmony with these correspondences” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). In the biblical book of Revelation 11.8, John prophesied that “their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” carbonari: members “of a secret society (the Carboneria) formed in the kingdom of Naples in the early 19th cent. during the French occupation under Murat, and having patriotic, republican, and libertarian ideals” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

my magic harmonies: Page, Magic Harmonies; exemplifying the Second Advent Dispensation (New York, 1821), a copy of which may have been enclosed with the above letter. Page distributed it at the New York state constitutional convention of August–November 1821. His oath never to give up the ship recalls the words of the mortally wounded United States naval captain James Lawrence during the defeat of the USS Chesapeake by HMS Shannon in 1813 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ). Just before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Viscount Horatio nelson signaled his fleet that “England expects every man will do his duty” (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ). A hymn by Charles Wesley has a variant of comes in clouds descending (Hymns of Intercession for All Mankind [Bristol, Eng., 1758], 32). In the New-York Evening Post, 8 Feb. 1822, Page advertised his new commonwealth, the “Union Concentric Society of Light,” and printed its constitution, which was “Given at the city of Peace, (though in too much reality, New York).”

A drawing of the jewel of malta accompanied by a written description of its conveyance after 1816 from the grand master of the Knights of Malta to the Egyptian pasha (pacha) is in the journal of George Barrell (MS in MiU-C). Jesus called fishermen to follow him and become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4.19; Mark 1.17). In the Bible, David gathered 5 smooth pebbles and used one to kill Goliath with a sling (1 Samuel 17.40–50).

In masonic tradition, toward the end of construction of the biblical temple of King Solomon, 15 fellow crafts wished that Hiram would name them master builders and three, Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum (jubila, lo, lum), killed him when he refused (Hiram: or the Grand Master-Key To the Door of both Ancient and Modern Free-Masonry [London, 1764], 57–60; 1 Kings 7.13–45). When Jesus was crucified, a sign posted on the cross read king of the jews in hebrew, greek, latin (Luke 23.38; John 19.19–20). The biblical phrase word that was made flesh is in John 1.14.

George Berkeley’s philosophy of immaterialism suggested that the corporeal world is only knowable through one’s perceptions, and thus that matter itself may be spirit (ODNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ). Joseph Priestley argued that spirit may be matter in his Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit (London, 1777). The lines of Beilby porteus come from his Death: a Poetical Essay (Cambridge, Eng., 1759), 20. Jesus gave commands to love one another and do as you would be done by in the Bible (John 13.34, 15.12, and Matthew 7.12, Luke 6.31, respectively). The new jerusalem is described as a holy city descending from heaven and measuring 12000 furlongs in Revelation 21.2, 16. cob: “to strike” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Word faint.

2Manuscript: “understanging.”

3Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

4Number interlined.

5Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

6Manuscript: “boks,” with this and preceding number interlined.

7Preceding two words interlined in place of “in any part of.”

8Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

9Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

10Page here canceled “found.”

11Preceding two words interlined in place of “ahead,” mistakenly left uncanceled.

12Omitted period at right margin editorially supplied.

13Superfluous opening quotation mark preceding this word editorially omitted.

14Remainder on address leaf, with notes 1–4 to right and 5–8 to left of the adjacent lines of poetry.

Index Entries

  • Aaron (Hebrew priest; Moses’s brother) search
  • Abraham (Old Testament patriarch) search
  • Adam (Old Testament figure) search
  • Barrell, George; and Jewel of Malta search
  • Berkeley, George; on immaterialism search
  • Bible; 1 Kings referenced search
  • Bible; 1 Samuel referenced search
  • Bible; Acts referenced search
  • Bible; Exodus referenced search
  • Bible; John referenced search
  • Bible; Luke referenced search
  • Bible; Mark referenced search
  • Bible; Matthew referenced search
  • Bible; Numbers referenced search
  • Bible; Revelation referenced search
  • books; tariffs on search
  • Carbonari (revolutionary societies) search
  • Chesapeake, USS (frigate); capture of during War of1812 search
  • Christianity; and E. P. Page’s cosmology search
  • Congress, U.S.; mentioned search
  • Congress, U.S.; Petition of University of Virginia Board of Visitors to United States Congress search
  • cosmology; of E. P. Page search
  • David, king of Israel search
  • Death: A Poetical Essay (B. Porteus) search
  • Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit (J. Priestley) search
  • Egypt; and Jewel of Malta search
  • Freemasonry; and cosmology search
  • Freemasonry; symbolism of search
  • Goliath (Old Testament figure) search
  • Hymns of Intercession for All Mankind (C. Wesley) search
  • Islam search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; correspondents described by TJ as insane search
  • Jesus; and E. P. Page’s cosmology search
  • Jesus; crucifixion of search
  • John (New Testament evangelist) search
  • Joseph (Jesus’s father; New Testament figure) search
  • Knights of Malta; and Jewel of Malta search
  • Lawrence, James; quoted search
  • Magic Harmonies; exemplifying the Second Advent Dispensation (E. P. Page) search
  • Mitchill, Samuel Latham; mentioned search
  • Moses (Hebrew prophet) search
  • Naples, kingdom of (later Kingdom of the Two Sicilies); and Carbonari search
  • Nelson, Horatio, Viscount; as naval commander search
  • Nelson, Horatio, Viscount; quoted search
  • New York (state); constitutional convention of1821 search
  • New York (state); utopian schemes for search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; letters from search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; Magic Harmonies; exemplifying the Second Advent Dispensation search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; prophecies of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; regarded as insane by TJ search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; utopian scheme of search
  • Page, Edward Postlethwayt; worldview of search
  • Paul, Saint search
  • Porteus, Beilby; Death: A Poetical Essay search
  • Priestley, Joseph; Disquisitions Relating to Matter and Spirit search
  • Shannon, HMS (frigate) search
  • slavery; abolition of search
  • Solomon, king of Israel search
  • Swedenborg, Emanuel; and theology search
  • Swedenborg, Emanuel; mentioned search
  • taxes; on books search
  • Trafalgar, Battle of (1805) search
  • utopian societies; E. P. Pages’s vision for search
  • Virginia, University of; Board of Visitors; petition of, to U.S. Congress search
  • Wesley, Charles; Hymns of Intercession for All Mankind search