Thomas Jefferson to Wythe, 29 May 1786

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Thomas Jefferson sent a recommendation for John Paradise to George Wythe saying that Paradise is a generous and honest man; however, he has a fault that has held him back from making a trek to Williamsburg before this point. Jefferson says his fault is that he tends to shrink from obstacles rather than try to overcome them. Jefferson calls Paradise's thinking a "false calculation" because he says shrinking from small pain will make the pain harder to deal with when faced with bigger difficulties in the future. Jefferson hopes that by being in Williamsburg and working under Wythe then Paradise will overcome his fault.

"Thomas Jefferson to Wythe, 29 May 1786." Image from the Library of Congress, The Thomas Jefferson Papers.

Letter text

Paris May 29. 1786.

Dear Sir

This will be handed you by Mr. Paradise, a Græcian & honest man by birth, a gentleman & man of learning by education, & our countryman by choice the most rational of all titles. I need not say more to ensure him all the services you can render him. He has a heart which will repay your attentions with overflowings of gratitude. Probably he will want your counsels, perhaps too your encouragement to do what you shall find for his interest; for he is of a temperament disposing him to recoil from difficulties rather than meet & surmount them. This is a false calculation, for by shrinking from a small pain, it often recurs upon us from another quarter with double force. His interests & inclinations would have led him to Virginia, but a singular dread which he has of thunder and the informations he had gathered that it is formidable about Williamsburg seemed to leave him fixed in England. I told him what many years residence both in the lower & upper county, & particular observations enabled me to tell him, that there was infinitely less in the latter than former. He goes to try this, & the result on his sensations will determine him ultimately. present me affectionately to mis Wythe & be assured of the sincere esteem with which I am Dear Sir your friend & servt.

Th: Jefferson

See also