Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan, 6 April 1816

To Joseph Milligan

Monticello Apr. 6. 16.

Sir

Your favor of Mar. 6. did not come to hand until the 15th. I then expected I should finish revising the translation of Tracy’s book within a week, and could send the whole together. I got thro’ it, but on further consideration thought I ought to read it over again, lest any errors should have been left in it. it was fortunate I did so, for I found several little errors. the whole is now done and forwarded by this mail, with a Title, and something I have written which may serve for a Prospectus, and indeed for a Preface also with a little alteration. you will see by the face of the work what a horrible job I have had in the revisal. it is so defaced that it is absolutely necessary you should have a fair copy taken, and by a person of good understanding. for that will be necessary to decypher the erasures, interlineations Etc of the translation. the translator’s orthography too will need great correction, as you will find a multitude of words shamefully mispelt, and he seems to have had no idea of the use of stops. he uses the comma very commonly for a full stop, and as often the full stop, followed by a capital letter for a comma. your copyist will therefore have to stop it properly quite thro’ the work. still there will be places where it cannot be stopped correctly without reference to the original. for I observed many instances where a member of a sentence might be given either to the preceding or following one, grammatically, which would yet make the sense very different, and could therefore be rectified only by the original. I have therefore thought it would be better for you to send me the proof sheets as they come out of the press. we have two mails a week which leave this Wednesdays & Saturdays and you should always recieve it by return of the first mail. only observe that I set out for Bedford in 5. or 6. days and shall not be back till the first week in May.

The original construction of the style of the translation was so bungling that altho’ I have made it render the author’s sense faithfully, yet it was impossible to change the structure of the sentences1 to any thing good. I have endeavored to apologise for it in the prospectus; as also to prepare the reader for the dry, and to most of them, uninteresting character of the preliminary tracts, advising him to pass at once to the beginning of the main work, where also you will see I have recommended the beginning the principal series of pages. in this I have departed from the order of pages adopted by the author.

My name must in no wise appear connected with the work. I have no objection to your naming me, in conversation, but not in print, as the person to whom the original was communicated. altho’ the author puts his name to the work, yet, if called to account for it by his government he means to disavow it, which it’s publication at such a distance will enable him to do. but he would not think himself at liberty to do this if avowedly sanctioned by me here. the best open mark of approbation I can give is to subscribe for a dozen copies; or if you would prefer it, you may place on your subscription paper a letter in these words. ‘Sir, I subscribe with pleasure for a dozen copies of the invaluable book you are about to publish on Political economy. I should be happy to see it in the hands of every American citizen. Th Jefferson.’

The Ainsworth, Ovid, Cornelius Nepos & Virgil came safely. I shall be glad of another copy of the same edition of Virgil as also of the 2. books below mentioned, & formerly written for. I fear I shall not get the Ovid and Nepos I sent to be bound, in time for the pocket in my Bedford trip. Accept my best wishes and respects.

Th: Jefferson

Moore’s greek grammar translated by Ewen.

Mair’s Tyro’s dictionary.

The revised translation forwarded by this mail has not been found. For background on this French-language manuscript and TJ’s role in its subsequent publication as Destutt de Tracy, Treatise on Political Economy, see Destutt de Tracy to TJ, 15 Nov. 1811, and note. Although TJ here specified that my name must in no wise appear connected with the work, he later agreed to public acknowledgement of his involvement with the translation and publication (TJ to Milligan, 25 Oct. 1818, first and second letters).

1Reworked from “senses.”

Index Entries

  • Ainsworth, Robert; An Abridgement of Ainsworth’s Dictionary (ed. T. Morell) search
  • An Abridgement of Ainsworth’s Dictionary (R. Ainsworth; ed. T. Morell) search
  • A Treatise on Political Economy (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • Bailey, Nathan; editsMinellius Anglicanus, sive Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (Ovid) search
  • Blatchford, Samuel; Elements of the Greek Language … Being a Translation of Dr. Moor’s Celebrated Greek Grammar search
  • books; dictionaries search
  • Delphin edition; TJ orders search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; A Treatise on Political Economy search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; TJ onTreatise search
  • Elements of the Greek Language … Being a Translation of Dr. Moor’s Celebrated Greek Grammar (eds. S. Blatchford and G. Ewing) search
  • Ewing, Greville; Elements of the Greek Language … Being a Translation of Dr. Moor’s Celebrated Greek Grammar search
  • French language; TJ translates works from search
  • Greek language; study of search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; prefers Delphin edition search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Note for Destutt de Tracy’sTreatise on Political Economy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Title and Prospectus for Destutt de Tracy’sTreatise on Political Economy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; translates Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • La Rue, Charles de; edits Virgil,Opera. Interpretatione et Notis (Delphin edition) search
  • Mair, John; The Tyro’s Dictionary, Latin and English search
  • Milligan, Joseph; and Destutt de Tracy’sTreatise on Political Economy search
  • Milligan, Joseph; binds books for TJ search
  • Milligan, Joseph; letters to search
  • Minellius, John; annotates Ovid’sMetamorphoses search
  • Minellius Anglicanus, sive Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (Ovid; ed. N. Bailey) search
  • Moor, James; Elements of the Greek Language … Being a Translation of Dr. Moor’s Celebrated Greek Grammar (eds. S. Blatchford and G. Ewing) search
  • Morell, Thomas; editsAn Abridgement of Ainsworth’s Dictionary search
  • Nepos, Cornelius; works of search
  • Nepos, Cornelius; works of bound for TJ search
  • Opera. Interpretatione et Notis (Virgil, Delphin edition; ed. C. de La Rue) search
  • Ovid; Minellius Anglicanus, sive Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (ed. N. Bailey) search
  • Ovid; Pub. Ouidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (ed. J. Pontanus) search
  • Ovid; works of bound for TJ search
  • Pontanus, Jakob; editsPub. Ouidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (Ovid) search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ plans visit to search
  • Pub. Ouidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon (Ovid; ed. J. Pontanus) search
  • The Tyro’s Dictionary, Latin and English (J. Mair) search
  • Virgil; Opera. Interpretatione et Notis (Delphin edition; ed. C. de La Rue) search