Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to G. E. Stack, 25 November 1819

Monticello. Nov. 25.19.

Dear Sir

To your letter of Sunday last, explaining your propensities for retirement, I will answer in the words of Cicero, which an experience of three or four years at one period of my life, proved to be full of wisdom. ‘Te ad coenas itare desisse, molesté fera magnâ enim te delectatione et voluptate privasti. et me hercule mones tes quod pertinere ad beate vivendum: arbitror, ut cum viris bonis, jucundis amantilies tui vivas. nihil aptius vitae, nihil ad beaté vivendum accomodatius. nec id ad voluptatem refero, sed ad communitatem vitae atque victis, remissionemque animorum, quae maximé sermone efficitur familiari, qui est in conviviis dulcissimus. vides ut te philosophando revocare coner ad coenas? Cura ut valeas. id foris coenitando facillime consequere.’ Epist. ad Famil. IX. 24.

With respect to the letter of yesterday, proposing my signature to the advertisement it covered, I must say I do not think I can sign it with propriety. it would authorise an understanding that I am some way personally identified with the school, and under responsibilities for it, which I never contemplated. some gentlemen and myself, considering Charlottesville as a good stand for a classical school, and that it might prepare a number of subjects to enter the University as soon as that should open, you were invited to undertake such a school, on your own private account. and believing further that the opportunity of learning to speak French might induce many to come to it, we in like manner proposed to Mr Laporte to come and keep a boarding house, on his own account also. this done we considered ourselves as withdrawn from all other interference, and that, as your private institution, it was under your own care & direction. that you would conduct it under the superintendance of the Visitors of the University, as properly mentioned in the advertisement, I believe will encorage many to give it a preference, and the Visitors are willing to consider it as under their counsel and patronage but, as one of that body I could not sign the advertisement unless my colleagues were to sign also for in that character I can act only in concert with them. I am sincerely anxious for the success of the school, and, as a private individual, should be willing to subjoin to your own advertisement such a certificate as is below written. I restrain it to the classical languages considering these alone, under your establishment, as the necessary Portico of entrance into the University, to which the other sciences you mention will belong. if therefore you will put the advertisement into such a form as you would think proper to sign yourself, my certificate shall be subjoined to it, and every service I can render it, short of personal responsibility and implication, shall be rendered with a ready zeal I think the removal to Milton well advised, because I see no other place where accomodations can be had, if the school should become numerous. I salute you with friendship and respect.

Th: Jefferson

Believing that it would be advantageous to have a school established in the neighborhood of the University, where the classical languages should be accurately taught, and subjects might be competently prepared for entering that institution as soon as it should be opened, mr Stack of Philada, subscriber to the preceding advertisement was invited to come & establish such a school. he was strongly recommended by Dr Cooper of Philadelphia as a Classical scholar of very superior qualifications; & these recommendations he has fully justified, by his methods & assiduities since he has been here, to which has been added a great degree of esteem for the correctness of his conduct and general demeanor, entitling him to the entire confidence of the parents and guardians of youth. to give such students as desired it an opportunity of acquiring the habit of conversing in French, mr Laporte of the Calf-pasture, in whose family that is the native and habitual language, was invited to come and keep a boarding house in which no other should be spoken at all, which he has accordingly done. the removal from Charlottesville to Milton, in the same neighborhood, will give to the school the benefit of less crowded accomodations, both for lodging and study, and that in any degree to which the number of students may probably extend.


DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

Index Entries