Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Charles Bellini

you are perhaps curious to know how this new scene has struck a savage of the mountains of America. Not advantageously I assure you. I find the general fate of humanity here most deplorable. The truth of Voltaire’s observation offers itself perpetually, that every man here must be either the hammer or the anvil ... I have never yet seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of the people. were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy their architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should want words. it is in these arts they shine. the last of them particularly is an enjoiment, the deprivation of which with us cannot be calculated. I am almost ready to say it is the only thing which from my heart I envy them, & which in spight of all the authority of the decalogue I do covet.

PrC (DLC). Published in PTJ, 8:569.
Date Range
September 30, 1785
Quote Category