From George W. Erving
London Oct: 10th. 1802
I have been honor’d by your letter containing a catalogue of books to be procured for the use of congress, & your instructions as to the œconomy & details of the purchase; & from the Treasurer of the United States I have at the same time received a remittance for this purpose of 226£. 14s. 9d Stg in a Bill payable at 60–days sight, which has been duly accepted; I shall give all possible attention to this business, & cause the order to be executed with as much dispatch as the nature of it will admit of;—The greater part of the Books being of a kind not Easily to be found, must be hunted up & collected from various dealers, which will require some considerable time; this circumstance too will make the prices a little arbitrary; new books have a fixed value, but that of old & curious books is variable & capricious.—
Mr. Duane has sent his order to Mr. Johnston an highly respectable bookseller, & perhaps the one most capable of Executing it satisfactorily; he has given me the best assurances upon this subject & I will take all collateral means of seeing that justice is done to it;—your instructions do not contemplate the probability of the fund remitted being more than sufficient for the purpose of this purchase, but there will be I believe a considerable surplus; I will venture Sir to avail myself of this circumstance to substitute better Editions than those required where they are to be had & are not very Extravagantly dear, & where a book has been completely transplanted by another (as is Cunningham’s Law Dictionary by Jacob’s) I hope that you will not disapprove of my making a change in the Catalogue.—
I am happy in this as I must be on every occasion which offers me a portion of your confidence & good opinion, & affords me an opportunity of assuring you of the perfect respect & sincere devotion with which I am always Respected Sir
Your very faithful Servt
George W Erving
RC (DLC); at head of text: “To Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 9 Dec. and so recorded in SJL.
A BOOK HAS BEEN COMPLETELY TRANSPLANTED BY ANOTHER: Timothy Cunningham’s two-volume A New and Complete Law-Dictionary, or, General Abridgment of the Law, first published in London in 1764–65, was superseded by Giles Jacob’s A New Law Dictionary, corrected and enlarged in its ninth edition by Owen Ruffhead and John Morgan in 1772. Jacob’s Law Dictionary, as it was commonly known, continued to be published in several other revised editions and remained popular even 60 years after the original author’s death in 1744 (DNB description begins H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, In Association with The British Academy, From the Earliest Times to the Year 2000, Oxford, 2004, 60 vols. description ends ; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends No. 1814).