Thomas Jefferson Papers

Duncan Forbes Robertson to Thomas Jefferson, 3 February 1822

From Duncan Forbes Robertson

Danville Ky, Feb 3rd, 1822

Honoured Sir,

Yours of the 11th of Dec I received; words are wanting to express my gratitude for your kindness, a remembrance of which shall descend with me to the grave, although, I assure you, that a simple lock of your hair, whitened by the frosts of 79 winters, would have been received with equal respect, and a degree of veneration. I addressed you from pure motives, your receiving it as such, has rendered me superlatively happy, and could I believe as you do, that thousands have acted from the same disinterested motives, that have ever characterized your life, gladly would I, but I fear true patriotism will be lost in the death of Mr Jefferson. I will trespass no longer on your patience, (not to have returned you thanks, would have made me uneasy) but merely observe, that in the humble capacity of an Abecedarian, I obtain a competency, which is the height of my ambition, and that to the list of friends in the West, I may add the names of Joshua Fry Esqr and F F Maury formerly of Albemarle. May your few remaining days be tranquil and happy, and when the messenger of Death shall receive his mandate to put a final period to your earthly existence, may yo[u] pass without fear the glor[ious] vale, that separates tim[e] from eternity, and be cheered with the welcome sound, of well done thou good and faithful servant.

with emotions too great for utterance I subscribe myself your sincere admirer

Duncan Forbes Robertson

RC (ViW: TC-JP); torn at seal; addressed: “The Hon Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville Virginia”; franked; postmarked Danville, Ky., 10 Feb.; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Mar. 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

In this context, an abecedarian is a “teacher of the alphabet or of the basics of a particular subject; a person who teaches in an elementary school” (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 parable of the talents, Jesus tells of two trustworthy servants who are each praised with the words well done thou good and faithful servant (Matthew 25.14–30).

Index Entries

  • Bible; Matthew referenced search
  • Fry, Joshua (ca.1760–1839); friend of D. F. Robertson search
  • hair; lock of TJ’s requested search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Portraits; as gifts search
  • Maury, Francis F. search
  • Robertson, Duncan Forbes; and lock of TJ’s hair search
  • Robertson, Duncan Forbes; family and friends of search
  • Robertson, Duncan Forbes; letters from search
  • Robertson, Duncan Forbes; TJ gives miniature portrait to search