Thomas Jefferson letter to John Page, 1763 July 15

Dublin Core


Thomas Jefferson letter to John Page, 1763 July 15


Ambler, Jaquelin, 1742-1798
Ambler, Rebecca Burwell, b. 1746
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826--Correspondence
Page, John, 1744-1808--Correspondence


Jefferson writes to Page concerning his love for "Belinda" (Rebecca Burwell) and his rival for the affection of Miss Burwell, Jaquelin Ambler. Jefferson informs Page that he is considering building a house in Williamsburg "which shall contain a room for myself and another for you, and no more, unless Belinda should think proper to favor us with her company ..."


Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826


Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation










MS 1952.1

Document Item Type Metadata


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Shadwell, July 15'th 1763
Dear Page

Yours of May 30'th came safe to hand. The rival you mentioned I know not whether
to think formidable or not as there has been so great an opening for him during my absence.
I say has been because I expect there is one no longer since you have undertaken to act as my
attorney. You advise me to 'go immediately and lay siege in form.' You certainly did not think
at the time you wrote this of that paragraph in my letter wherein I mentioned to you my
resolution of going to Britain. And to begin an affair of that kind now, and carry it on so long
a time in form is by no means a proper plan. No, no, Page, whatever assurances I may give
her in private of my esteem for her, or whatever assurances I may ask in return from her,
depend on it they must be kept in private. Necessity will oblige me to proceed in a method
which is not generally thought fair, that of treating with a ward before obtaining the ap=
probation of her guardian. I say necessity will oblige me to it, because I never can bear to
remain in suspense so long a time. If I am to succeed the sooner I know it the less unea=
siness I shall have to go through : if I am to meet with a disappointment the sooner I know
it the more of life I shall have to wear it off: and if I do meet with one, I hope in god
and verily believe it will be the last. I assure you that I allmost envy you your present
freedom: and if Belinda will not accept of my service it shall never be offered to another.
That she may I pray most sincerely, but that she will she never gave me reason to hope. With regard
to my not proceeding in form I do not know how She may like it : I am afraid not much:
that her guardians would not if they should know of it is very certain. But I should think
that if they were consulted after my return, it would be sufficient. The greatest inconveni=
ence would be my not having the liberty of visiting so freely. This is a subject worth your

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talking over with her; and I wish you would and would transmit me your whole confab at
length. I should be scared to death at making her so unreasonable a proposal as that of wai=
=ting until I returned from Britain, unless she could be first prepared for it. I am afraid it
will make my chance of succeeding considerably worse. But the event at last must be this,
that if she consents I shall be happy; if she does not, I must endeavor to be as much so as
possible. I have thought a good deal on your case, and as mine may perhaps be similar
I must endeavor to look on it in the same light in which I have often advised you to look
on yours. Perfect happiness I beleive was never intended by the deity to be the lot of any
of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the near=
ness of our approaches to it, is what I steadfastly beleive. The most fortunate of us all
in our journey through life frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may
greatly afflict us: and to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and mis=
=fortunes should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives. The only me=
=thod of doing this is to assume a perfect resignation to the divine will, to consider that
whatever does happen, must happen, and that by our uneasiness we cannot prevent the
blow before it does fall, but we may add to it's force after it has fallen. These consi=
=derations and others such as these may enable us in some measure to surmount the
difficulties thrown in our way, to bear up with a tolerable degree of patience under
this burthen of life, and to proceed with a pious and unshaken resignation till we ar=
=rive at our journey's end, where we may deliver up our trust into the hands of him who
gave it, and receive such reward as to him shall seem proportioned to our merit. Such
dear Page, will be the language of the man who considers his situation in this life, and

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such should be the language of every man who would wish to render that situation as
easy as the nature of it will admit. Few things will disturb him at all; nothing will dis=
=turb him much.

If this letter was to fall into the hands of some of our gay acquaintance, your corres=
=pondent and his solemn notions would probably be the subjects of a great deal of mirth and
raillery, but to you I think I can venture to send it. It is in effect but a continuation
of the many conversations we have had on subjects of this kind, and I heartily wish we
could now continue these conversations face to face. The time will not be very long now
before we may do it, as I expect to be in Williamsburg by the first of October if not sooner.
I do not know that I shall have occasion to return if I can rent rooms in town to lodge in;
and to prevent the inconveniency of moving my lodgings for the future, I think to
build. No castle though I assure you, only a small house which shall contain
a room for myself and another for you, and no more, unless Belinda should think pro-
=per to favor us with her company, in which case I will enlarge the plan as much as
she pleases. Make my compliments to her particularly, as also to Sukey Potter, Judy
Burwell and such others of my acquaitances as enquire after me. I am

Dear Page
Your sincere friend
T. Jefferson

Original Format

Ink on paper.


Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, “Thomas Jefferson letter to John Page, 1763 July 15,” John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, accessed August 7, 2022,