Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Charles Clay, 1 May 1813

To Charles Clay

Monticello [Poplar Forest] May.1 1. 13.

Dear Sir

I think that on my recommending Tacitus to master Cyrus, you said you did not possess him, and perhaps that you had never seen him. on my return home I wrote to Philadelphia for a copy, which I now send for master Cyrus’s acceptance & perusal. the solidity of his matter, his brevity, & his fondness for point & antithesis make him difficult. I would advise the use of a translation, to be read after the original in order to ensure a full understanding of it. Murphy’s is preferred by those who cannot read the original, and who do not therefore know the spirit of the author. but those who do find much more of that spirit in Gordon’s. his selection of Tacitus & Sallust for translation seems to have been dictated by the similar causticity of his own genius.

From the points of Tacitus I will make an humble transition to those of your asparagus bed, some of which will be acceptable, and the more so if you should come to partake of them. I salute you in all friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Clay”; endorsed by TJ, with his additional notation: “dated Monticello instd of Pop. For.” Enclosure: C. Cornelii Taciti opera cum varietate lectionum selecta novisque emendationibus, 4 vols. (Zweibrücken, 1779–80).

On 25 Dec. 1812 TJ wrote to the Philadelphia bookseller Nicolas G. Dufief requesting a copy of Tacitus.

1Reworked from “Ap.”

Index Entries

  • asparagus search
  • books; on history search
  • C. Cornelii Taciti opera cum varietate lectionum selecta novisque emendationibus (Tacitcus) search
  • Clay, Charles; and asparagus search
  • Clay, Charles; letters to search
  • Clay, Charles; TJ invites to Poplar Forest search
  • Clay, Cyrus B.; and Tacitus search
  • Crispi Opera Omnia (Sallust; trans. Gordon) search
  • food; asparagus search
  • Gordon, Thomas, trans.; Crispi Opera Omnia (Sallust) search
  • Gordon, Thomas, trans.; The Works of Tacitus search
  • history; books on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; sends books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Tacitus and his translators search
  • Murphy, Arthur, trans.; The works of Cornelius Tacitus search
  • Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus); Crispi Opera Omnia (trans. Gordon) search
  • Tacitus; C. Cornelii Taciti opera cum varietate lectionum selecta novisque emendationibus search
  • Tacitus; The works of Cornelius Tacitus (trans. Murphy) search
  • Tacitus; The Works of Tacitus (trans. Gordon) search
  • The works of Cornelius Tacitus (Tacitus; trans. Murphy) search
  • The Works of Tacitus (Tacitus; trans. Gordon) search