Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Duane to Thomas Jefferson, 29 October 1810

From William Duane

Phila Oct. 29th 1810

Respected Sir

I have just received the returned parcel of Manuscript my motive for sending you the translation in the first instance was that you might judge and if you had leisure correct to your mind—my intention is to send you on the Manuscript as1 fast as translated and I can transcribe it; I am not perfectly2 satisfied myself with the manner of the translation; it is very difficult unless to a person equally conversant in both languages; there are some passages very difficult—I fear that on this account it will be to you more troublesome than I could wish it to be; the translation is generally too dry and frigid for the original; and the Whys & Wherefores and moreovers are too frequent for the English idiom. The work the more I peruse the more I am gratified and impressed with its importance, and feel a solicitude to see it before the public. The journeymenprinters having what they call struck for wages, I have no book printing now going on, nor can I have until they return, or I teach boys the lighter parts of the printing art; I mention this in order to shew that it is not through affectation or false delicacy I mention, that should it be suitable to you to pass over the whole, that I shall continue to send it as fast as I can transcribe it

I sent you along with the packet David Williams lectures on Montesquieu, they are not equal to the ideas and lucid illustrations, nor to the genius that marks the Review of Montesquieu; but they were bold in England; I have a duplicate of it, and intend the copy sent as a small mark of my wish to contribute even in the slightest degree to your rational gratification I have a copy of his pamphlet on liberty also, which tho’ good in its day, and very good in a few pages is not worth troubling you with.

We have a number of persons lately arrived from different parts of the British dominions here, whose accounts exhibit pictures not merely deplorable but horrible—the crisis of that Government is certainly at hand—and it must be for the benefit of mankind

Some of the Russian under agents here appear in discourse very remarkably attached to GB. and her policy. I refer to one particularly, that is Mr Politika, a young man, who really imagines he knows every thing in & about this country as well as if he had spent his life here. I only mention this fact, because from a correspondence you were once so good as to mention, I infer it may be kept up, and it may not be amiss to understand from a sure source the dispositions of agents. The conduct of Dashkoff appears uncommonly discreet & sensible—I know them both. Politika’s temper I discovered in a conversation on Walsh’s pamphlet which requires to be answered.

I am Dr Sir, with Affection & respect your friend

Wm Duane

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thos. Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ. Recorded in SJL as received 4 Nov. 1810.

David Williams’s pamphlet on liberty may have been his Letters on Political Liberty Addressed to a Member of the English House of Commons (London, 1782). Petr Ivanovich Poletika served as counselor of the russian legation at Washington, 1809–11, returning to America for three years in 1819. He later published a book about this country, A Sketch of the Internal Condition of the United States of America, and of their Political Relations with Europe (Baltimore, 1826) (Bashkina, United States and Russia description begins Nina N. Bashkina and others, eds., The United States and Russia: The Beginning of Relations, 1765–1815, 1980 description ends , 1137). Robert Walsh, A Letter on the Genius and Dispositions of the French Government, including a View of the Taxation of the French Empire (Baltimore, 1810), was the pro-English work needing to be answered.

1Manuscript: “as as.”

2Manuscript: “perfetly.”

Index Entries

  • A Letter on the Genius and Dispositions of the French Government (Walsh) search
  • A Sketch of the Internal Condition of the United States of America (Poletika) search
  • Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws (Destutt de Tracy); preparation of search
  • Daschkoff, André; Russian consul general to U.S. search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws search
  • Duane, William; and Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • Duane, William; letters from search
  • French language; TJ translates works from search
  • Lectures on Political Principles (Williams) search
  • Letters on Political Liberty (Williams) search
  • Philadelphia; printers in search
  • Poletika, Petr Ivanovich; A Sketch of the Internal Condition of the United States of America search
  • Poletika, Petr Ivanovich; counselor of Russian legation search
  • Russia; and Great Britain search
  • Walsh, Robert; A Letter on the Genius and Dispositions of the French Government search
  • Williams, David (1738–1816); Lectures on Political Principles search
  • Williams, David (1738–1816); Letters on Political Liberty search