To Thomas Jefferson June 18, 1789

From the original letter at the Library of Congress.

London June 18th 1789

Dear Sir

I wrote you last night by Mr. Parker & this morning received the following from Sir Joseph Banks

“Sir Jos. Banks sends his compts. to Mr. Paine and has the honor for his and Mr. Jefferson’s information to inclose the particulars of Mr. Ledyard’s death which have been received by the Association for investigating the interior of Africa —”

Soho Square

June 18th, 1789.

Mr. Beausay presents his complts to Sir Joseph Banks, and is much concerned that he cannot manage the hope which Mr. Jefferson entertains that there is not truth in the report of Mr. Ledyard’s death —

The letter which Mr. Beausay received from Mr. Baldwin the British Consul at Cairo, and which is dated Alexandria, March 4th, 1789 informs him — that a day was fixed for Mr. Ledyard’s departure as he was prepared and seemed anxious to set off — but bad weather or other causes occasioned delay as happens to most caravans — Mr. Ledyard took offence at the delay and threw himself into a violent rage with his conductors which deranged something in his system that he thought to curb by an Emetic, but he took the dose so strong as at the first or second effect of its operations to break a blood vessel — In three days he was suffocated and died —

This account is confirmed by a letter from the Compte de Rosetta, the Venetian Resident at Cairo, to Mr. Hunter, an English merchant who had lived in great intimacy with Mr. Ledyard from the time of their travelling together from Alexandria to Cairo to that of Mr. Hunter’s departure for England — This letter is dated Cairo 27th Jan. 1789 and tells Mr. Hunter “that seventeen days ago poor Mr. Ledyard went to his eternal rest. — he suffered himself to be transported to anger against the persons who had engaged to conduct him to (illegible) because they delayed setting out on their voyage for want (as they said) of a fair wind — He was seized with a pain in his stomach occasioned by bile and understood to cure himself — Excessive vomiting ensued, in consequence of which he broke a blood vessel and died in six days.” —

— From the general correspondence of those two accounts Mr. Beausay apprehends that no doubt can be entertained of the Melancholy fact which they announce —

Great George Street

June 16th, 1789

Thus far Sir Joseph’s and Mr. Beausay’s letters. They were sent to me in answer to an extract from your letter which I gave to Sir Joseph.

Ledyard was a great favorite with the Society — They consider him as falling a Sacrifice to integrity and lament him with an affectionate Sorrow — (illegible) they at first considered him a bold but deliberate adventurer. That man, said Sir Joseph one day to me, “was all mind” —

I wish I could have sent you a better account — but I fulfill your request by sending such as it is —

your affectionate friend and Obliged Humble servant