Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Vaughan, 5 April 1788

From Benjamin Vaughan

Jeffries Square London, April 5, 1788.

Dear Sir

I have the honor to inclose a letter written at the time of its date, but which I have since had transcribed on account of an alteration I have since made in my sentiments. The letter was delayed to allow me time to make experiments, which I have not been able to accomplish.

I send the hygrometer I describe in it, somewhat doubtful however of its success. I have the pleasure to add another, invented by Mr. De Saussure, and executed by Messrs. Nairne and Blunt. The outer rim of the circular brass plate turns round and serves as a standard index.

I am doubtful whether I sent or you received one of the thermometers I take the liberty to allude to within. If you have not, I shall beg to be allowed the honor of sending you one.—In thermometers it is of advantage to see the thread with quickness and at a distance, and these two advantages seem obtained by the little artifice I describe.

With the above hygrometers, I take the liberty to send Dr. Crawford’s book on Animal Heat and Combustion; and seven numbers of a new work to which you are, unknown to yourself, a contributor.

Lord Wycombe has been returned to us some time. It gives me extreme pleasure to find that both himself and Lord Lansdown Speak with respect and even considerable sensibility of your attentions to him, which will not easily be forgotten I hope on either side.

I have the honor to be, With great respect & esteem, Dear sir, Your most obedt. & most humble servt.,

Benjn. Vaughan

I have marked on the wooden hygrometer its position in a north room in London without a fire, and up one pair of stairs, on the 5th. of April, 1788. It has been made about 15 or 16 months.

The little slider to the magnet box I had the pleasure to forward, was too long by a trifle for its place; owing I suppose to the sides of the case having shrunk after making.

RC (DLC); endorsed. Enclosure: Vaughan to TJ, 26 Jan. 1787, which, with its covering letter, the two hygrometers, the book, and the periodical, arrived while TJ was in Germany (TJ to Vaughan, 23 July 1788).

The seven numbers of a new work were Nos. i-vii of The Repository (1 Jan.—1 Apr. 1788), issued in London by Vaughan himself “or under his auspices” (Sir Samuel Romilly, Memoirs, London, 1890, i, 97); No. v, p. 336–7, contained what purported to be an extract of TJ’s letter to Stiles, 1 Sep. 1786, but what was actually a full reprinting of the text, save for the opening sentence. Issue No. vii contained a comment on the “new Method of copying or multiplying Writings and Drawings, lately discovered in Paris, as mentioned in Mr. Jefferson’s Letter”; the writer of this comment concluded that “those who know it, justly think it not a very extraordinary improvement” (p. 387), but, since it might be thought “of singular use in particular cases,” he proceeded to describe Hoffman’s invention of polytype printing—“or at least a process capable of performing” what TJ had described. The process set forth was a form of offset printing produced by putting reverse images, freshly struck from an intaglio plate, under pressure and in contact with wet paper—but this was not Hoffman’s method (see Vol. 10: 321). Stiles had permitted TJ’s letter to get into print (see note to Stiles to TJ, 30 Apr. 1788).

Crawford’s book: Experiments and Observations on Animal Heat, and the Inflammation of Combustible Bodies; being an Attempt to resolve these Phenomena into a General Law of Nature, by Adair Crawford (1748–1795). This work was first published in 1779; TJ’s copy of the second edition (London, 1788), sent to him by Vaughan, is in DLC (Sowerby, description begins Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, compiled with annotations by E. Millicent Sowerby, Washington, 1952–55 description ends No. 842). John Henry Petty, second marquis of Lansdowne, was Lord Wycombe; he was the eldest son of the first marquis of Lansdowne, better known as Lord Shelburne (DNB description begins Dictionary of National Biography, 63 vols. description ends ). “During 1789 and 1790 he [Shelburne] was kept carefully informed of everything that passed in Paris, not only by his old correspondent, Morellet, but by his eldest son Lord Wycombe, by Benjamin Vaughan, who made more than one journey at this period to the French capital, and by Dumont, who had gone thither to be by the side of his friend Mirabeau, and to assist him with his own invaluable political knowledge, during the crisis of French liberty” (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, afterwards first Marquess of Lansdowne, London, 1876, iii, 484). See also TJ to Wycombe, 25 July 1789. TJ also received information from Wycombe, as the following MS memorandum in DLC: TJ Papers, 36: 6195 testifies:

“An account of the nett produce of all the taxes of Great Britain, received from Lord Wycombe

1786. July 5—Oct. 10 1787. July 5—Oct. 10
Stamps  £306,095  4s. 5d¼  £340,593 10  8
Customs 1,337,005  9  9 ½ 1,361,473  7  7¼
Excise 1,500,463  7 11 ¼ 1,708,358
Incidents   309,779  0 11 ¾   353,509  0  3
3,453,343  3  1 ¾ 3,763,933 18   6½

Another state from the Cour. de l’Europe Dec. 18. 1787

Douane  4,172,341  7 11½
Accise  6,156,797  4  9½
Timbre  1,168,236 16  7
Casuels  1,892,879 11  8½
Terres & malts  2,614,000  0  0
16,004,255  1  0½
Total expences from May 10. 1780 to May 10. 87 15,500,000  0  0
Surplus    504,255  1  0½.”

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