Extract about Thomas Jefferson, by Margaret Bayard Smith

Although Sir Augustus Foster in his notes lately published ... candidly says, he believed his careless toilette and unceremonious manners to be mere affectation, assumed to win popularity. The picture this gentleman has drawn of Mr. Jefferson is a mere characature, in which those who personally knew him cannot discover a trait of resemblance. ... His simplicity never degenerated into vulgarity, nor his affability into familiarity. On the contrary there was a natural and quiet dignity in his demeanour that often produced a degree of restraint in those who conversed with him, unfavorable to that free interchange of thoughts and feelings which constitute the greatest charm of social life ... At Mr. Jefferson’s table the conversation was general; every guest was entertained and interested in whatever topic was discussed. To each an opportunity was offered for the exercise of his coloquial powers and the stream of conversation thus enriched by such various contributions flowed on full, free and animated: of course he took the lead and gave the tone, with a tact so true and discriminating that he seldom missed his aim, which was to draw forth the talents and information of each and all of his guests and to place every one in an advantageous light and by being pleased with themselves, be enabled to please others.

Published in Gaillard Hunt, ed., The First Forty Years of Washington Society: Portrayed by the Family Letters of Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith (1906), 385–6, 389.
Author
Margaret Bayard Smith
Date
July 1, 1840 to July 31, 1841
Collection
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson
Repository
First Forty Years, 1906