James Madison Papers

Noah Webster to James Madison, 17 March 1826

New Haven March 17, 1826


I have this day received a note from you, intended to correct a passage in a former letter to me on the subject of the first proposition made to the legislature of Virginia in 1789 for a convention of Commissioners to regulate the Commerce of the country. For this, please to accept my acknowledgements.

By your letter, I perceive you suppose me to be yet in Europe. This is a mistake—I returned last June. The objects I had in view in going to Europe, were in part accomplished. I spent 2 months in Paris, where I had the benefit of examining the latest works on the physical sciences–the new terms in which I have been seeking, for my Dictionary. I spent several months in England, most of the time at Cambridge, but several weeks in London–This gave me an opportunity of observing the state of the language in that country. I had intended to publish my Dictionary in England, & one of the principal booksellers, who examined the mss. told me, the work would maintain its ground in that country. But the publishers, who have competent property to undertake such a work, are all embarked in other enterprizes–& particularly in works of a similar character to mine–& they would not bring into market a book which should enter into competition with Johnson & others.

Besides this, I am not known in that country, & could expect no patronage but such as would be slowly acquired.

I have however ascertained to my satisfaction that my researches into philology extend much farther than those of any Englishman.

Mr Converse has sent to Germany for types of the oriental languages—Every thing else about the work will be American. Accept the respects of Sir, Your Obed Servt

N Webster

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

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