James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 19 February 1823

To Thomas Jefferson

Montpellier Feby. 19. 1823

Dear Sir

The inclosed letters & papers being addressed to you as well as me,1 I am not at liberty to withold them, tho’ I know the disrelish you will feel for such appeals. I shall give an answer, in a manner for us both, intimating the propriety of our abstaining from any participation in the electioneering measures on foot.2

I congratulate you on the loan, scanty as it is, for the University; in the confidence that it is a gift masked under that name; and in the hope that it is a pledge for any remnant of aid the Establishment may need in order to be totus teres atque rotundus.3

Can you not have the hands set to work without the formality of a previous meeting of the Visitors? I have recd no notice from Richmond on the subject. Health & every other happiness

James Madison

Partial RC (DLC); partial RC (ViU: Jefferson Papers); partial Tr (ViU: Jefferson Papers). First partial RC docketed by Jefferson as “recd. Feb. 23.” A note on the second partial RC reads: “Taken off for an autograph for Mrs Judge White March 18th. 1838.” Partial Tr is a tracing of the partial RC (ViU: Jefferson Papers), with the following note: “The orignl in the Livingston Collection. N.B. Mrs. Livingstons grandmothr who made this collection was a Miss Peyton and married Senr. White of Tennesse.”

1JM enclosed Tench Coxe’s letters of 31 Jan. and 1 Feb. 1823 to himself and Thomas Jefferson.

2The first partial RC ends here; the rest of the letter is taken from the second partial RC.

3Totus teres atque rotundus. Horace, in his Satires, II vii. 86, says that a man indifferent to desires and honors is “in se ipso, totus, teres, atque rotundus,” that is, whole in himself, smoothed, and rounded (Horace: Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, Loeb Classical Library [1970 reprint], 230–31). Note JM’s clever play on words: the Rotunda was the last piece left in building the University of Virginia.

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