Extract from George Ticknor’s Account of a Visit to Monticello

The evening passed away pleasantly in general conversation, of which Mr. Jefferson was necessarily the leader ... He has the same discursive manner and love of paradox, with the same appearance of sobriety and cool reason. He seems equally fond of American antiquities, and especially the antiquities of his native State, and talks of them with freedom and, I suppose, accuracy. He has, too, the appearance of that fairness and ... love of old books and young society ...

... The afternoon and evening passed as on the two days previous; for everything is done with such regularity, that when you know how one day is filled, I suppose you know how it is with the others. At eight o’clock the first bell is rung in the great hall, and at nine the second summons you to the breakfast-room, where you find everything ready.After breakfast every one goes, as inclination leads him, to his chamber, the drawing-room, or the library. The children retire to their school-room with their mother, Mr. Jefferson rides to his mills on the Rivanna, and returns at about twelve. At half past three the great bell rings, and those who are disposed resort to the drawing-room, and the rest go to the dining-room at the second call of the bell, which is at four o’clock. The dinner was always choice, and served in the French style; but no wine was set on the table till the cloth was removed. The ladies sat until about six, then retired, but returned with the tea-tray a little before seven, and spent the evening with the gentlemen; which was always pleasant, for they are obviously accustomed to join in the conversation, however high the topic may be. At about half past ten, which seemed to be their usual hour of retiring, I went to my chamber, found there a fire, candle, and a servant in waiting to receive my orders for the morning, and in the morning was waked by his return to build the fire.

Published in George S. Hillard, ed., Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor (1876), 1:34–8. Published in PTJRS, 8:238–43.
George Ticknor
Elisha Ticknor
Date Range
February 4, 1815 to February 7, 1815
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson
Ticknor, Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor