Letter To Thomas Appleton, Monticello, July 18, 1816
Monticello, July 18, 16
—Your letter of Mar. 20. & Apr. 15. are both received. The former only a week ago. They brought me the first information of the death of my antient friend Mazzei, which I learn with sincere regret. He had some peculiarities, & who of us has not? But he was of solid worth; honest, able, zealous in sound principles Moral & political, constant in friendship, and punctual in all his undertakings. He was greatly esteemed in this country, and some one has inserted in our papers an account of his death, with a handsome and just eulogy of him, and a proposition to publish his life in one 8-vo. volume. I have no doubt but that what he has written of himself during the portion of the revolutionary period he passed with us, would furnish some good material for our history of which there is already a wonderful scarcity. But where this undertaker of his history is to get his materials, I know not, nor who he is.
I have received Mr. Carmigniani’s letter requesting the remittance of his money in my hands. How and when this can be done I have written him in the inclosed letter, which I leave open for your perusal; after which be so good as to stick a wafer in it, & have it delivered. I had just begun a letter to Mazzei, excusing to him the non-remittance the present year, as requested thro’ you by his family. And I should have stated to him with good faith, that the war-taxes of the last year, almost equal to the amount of our whole income, and a season among the most unfavorable to agriculture ever known made it a year of war as to it’s pressure, & obliged me to postpone the commencement of the annual remittances until the ensuing spring. The receipt of your letter, and of Mr. Carmigniani’s only rendered it necessary to change the address of mine. The sale was made during the war, when the remittance of the price was impossible: nor was there here any depot for it at that time which would have been safe, profitable, and ready to repay the principal on demand. I retained it therefore myself to avoid the risk of the banks, to yield the profit the treasury could have given, and to admit a command of the principal at a shorter term. It was of course, therefore that I must invest it in some way to countervail the interest, and being but a farmer receiving rents and profits but once a year, it will take time to restore it to the form of money again, which I explained to Mr. Mazzei in the letter I wrote to him at the time. Exchange is much against us at present, owing to the immense importations made immediately after peace, and to the redundancy of our paper medium. The legislatures have generally required the banks to call in this redundancy. They are accordingly curtailing discounts, & collecting their debts, so that by the spring, when the first remittance will be made, our medium will be greatly reduced, and it’s value increased proportionably. The crop of this year too, when exported will so far lessen the foreign debt & the demand for bills of exchange. These circumstances taken together promise a good reduction in the rate of exchange, which you can more fully explain in conversation to Mr. Carmigniani.
I am happy to inform you that the administrator of Mr. Bellini has at length settled his account, and deposited the balance 635. Dollars 48 cents in the bank of Virginia, at Richmond. I think it the safest bank in the U. S. and it has been for some time so prudently preparing itself for cash payments, as to inspire a good degree of confidence, & moreover I shall keep my eye on it, but the money while there bears no interest; and I did not chuse to take it myself on interest reimbursable on demand. It would be well then that Mr. Fancelli should withdraw it as soon as he can; his draught on me shall be answered at sight to the holder, by one on the bank. In the present state of our exchange, & the really critical standing of our merchants at this time, I have been afraid to undertake it’s remittance, because it could only be done by a bill of some merchant here on his correspondent in England, and both places are at this time a little suspicious. I know nothing so deplorable as the present condition of the inhabitants of Europe and do not wonder therefore at their desire to come to this country. Laborers in any of the arts would find abundant employ in this state at 100. D. a year & their board and lodging. And indeed if a sober good humored man understanding the vineyard & kitchen garden would come to me on those terms, bound to serve 4. years, I would advance his passage on his arrival, setting it off against his subsequent wages. But he must come to the port of Norfolk or Richmond, & no where else. If such a one should occur to you, you would oblige me by sending him. I remark the temporary difficulty you mention of obtaining good Montepulciano, and prefer waiting for that, when to be had, to a quicker supply of any other kind which might not so certainly suit our taste. It might not be amiss perhaps to substitute a bottle or two as samples of any other wines which would bear the voyage, and be of a quality and price to recommend them. You know we like dry wines, or at any rate not more than sillery. I salute you with constant friendship and respect.