From William Jones
London Jany. 2nd. 17881
Herewith you receive the Two Thermometers, and I believe tolerably consistent with the description contained in the favour of your Letter. Being confined to a small period of time, and that near the most busy of Times, Christmas, I was prevented from paying that peculiar attention to the process in the fabrication of your Thermometers, as I wished. The essential parts, The Tubes and Scales I know to be good and the mounting in the larger to be eligible for your purpose. The smaller one is not immediately contrived for the same suspension but may be easily so placed as to be so by fixing 2 perpendicular peices of wood to the side of your window, and the Thermometer placed against them as per annexed figure.
If these should not please, upon more time being allowed I’ll make two others for you and take these back, as I am always desirous to make Instruments singularly exact and complete when intended for nice experiments and observations. I have made some small additions to my Portable Orrery the Description of which I have enclosed as a small present to you. Ere long Sir I expect to be in Paris and if there is any Instrument or Instruments, that I can take the charge of for yourself or friends The order for them will be a peculiar favour to Sir Your Much Obliged and Obedt. Servt.,
P.S. I have enclosed the particulars of a New Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. It is a Work that I have engagement in To make out and supply explanations &c. of all the new Philosophical Instruments. Should it merit the favour of your purchase, I shall be happy in supplying you with the work having a concern in it. Under the word “America” they have made some extracts from your late publication.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ: “Jones Wm. (Mathem.)”; addressed: “Thos. Jefferson Esqre.” Recorded in SJL as received 27 Jan. 1789 and (erroneously) as dated 22 Jan. Enclosures: (1) Jones’s The Description and Use of a New Portable Orrery … To which is Prefixed, A Short Account of the Solar System, or the True System of the World, 3rd. edn., London, 1787 (see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends No. 678). (2) The particulars (probably a prospectus) referred to the third edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, of which the first volume appeared in Oct. 1788 and the eighteenth and last in 1797. In the preface to this edition the editors list the principal contributors and acknowledge the occasional communications of others, including “Mr. William Jones, optician in Holborn, London.” In the section on America there occurs the following statement: “As ranging on the same side with the Abbé Clavigero, the ingenious Mr Jefferson deserves particular attention. This gentleman, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, &c. has taken occasion to combat the opinions of Buffon; and seems to have fully refuted them both by argument and facts.” Following this are several pages of text taken from Notes on Virginia, including the table setting forth a comparative view of the quadrupeds of North America and of Europe, material which may have been furnished by Jones himself (Encyclopedia Britannica, 3rd. edn., Edinburgh, 1797, i, xvi, 556 ff.) TJ already had copies of Chambers’ Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (London, 1751–2, 2 vols.; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends No. 4891) and of the 4-vol., London, 1763–4, edition of A New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (TJ to Madison, 2 Oct. 1785; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends No. 4892); but he seems not to have had the third English edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The first American edition, a reprint of the third English edition, was in TJ’s library (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1955, 4 vols. description ends No. 4890). Thomas Dobson, its publisher, made an interesting alteration in the reference to TJ: “As ranging on the same side with the Abbé Clavigero, our countryman Mr Jefferson deserves particular attention. This gentleman … has taken occasion to combat the opinions of Buffon; and seems, in many instances, to have fully refuted them, both by argument and by facts” (Encyclopædia; or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Philadelphia, 1798, i, 557). This letter was evidently carried by Daniel Parker, who seems to have left London on 19 Jan. and who also carried the letters from Paine and Trumbull of 15 and 18 Jan. respectively. On 3 Jan. Parker paid “J. Jones and Son Optical and Mathematical Instrument Makers No. 135 near Furnivals Inn, Holborn,” £1 11s. 6d. for an “Inch Thermometer of the very best construction and finishing” and 16s. for an “Inch Ditto on an Ivory scale” (engraved billhead with invoice stated and receipted, DLC).
1. An error for 1789.