Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Robert Walsh, 9 January 1818

To Robert Walsh

Monticello Jan. 9. 18.

Dear Sir

I returned a few days ago only from a long visit to my other home, the Poplar Forest. this must apologise for my long detention of your book. I have read it with great delight. Montucla is so voluminous that we can read him but once. but Playfair has brought into a small compass the leading facts in Mathematical history, and presented them so philosophically to our view, as that the memory can scarcely lose them a second time. observing that the printers of this dissertation say they are printing the whole set, I have therefore written to them for those already printed, & the others as they shall come out.

I possess a MS. by DesTutt Tracy, original & inedited. he entitles it Principes Logiques, ou Recueil de faits relatifs à l’intelligence humaine. it is an examination into the certainty of our knolege, and the most complete demolition of the Sceptical doctrines which I have ever met with. you know his character & peculiar strength in Ideological enquiries. I place him & Dugald Stewart so much in a line, that I can decide no more than that they are the two greatest men in that line at present known to the world. I have counted the words in a page of this little MS. and of one in your Register, & find it would occupy 31. pages or say 2. sheets in that. is such a tract within the plan of that work? I have supposed that, being inedited, might make it so, on the principle of preserving it. if so, it is at your service, on the only condition of returning the MS. when done with. it will require translation in terms of the most rigorous exactitude.

Our College continues to occupy me much. what the legislature will do for us, or whether any thing, is still in suspense. but whether or not, we shall go on, and if we do less than others, it shall be well done. Dr Cooper has accepted our Physiological chair, which of itself gives elevation to our out-set.

We shall be happy if the improvement of health, exercise change of scene, the pleasure of travelling with mr Correa, or any other motive shall induce you to accompany him in his next, and always welcome visits to Monticello, and that it may not be cut short, as before, by business which cannot be done here: for here you can be as abstracted for composition, perhaps more so, than at home. in this wish the whole family join, as they do in assurances of our sincere attachment and high respect.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. the book is separately inclosed.

RC (ViU: TJP); postscript added separately to RC and PoC; addressed: “Mr Robert Walsh Washington”; franked; postmarked (faint) Charlottesville, 1[0?] Jan. PoC (DLC); on reused address cover to TJ; damaged at seal, with one word rewritten by TJ; endorsed by TJ.

The printers were Wells & Lilly. inedited: “unpublished” (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). For the work separately inclosed, see Walsh to TJ, 21 Oct. 1817.

Index Entries

  • American Register; or Summary Review of History, Politics, and Literature (ed. R. Walsh) search
  • books; on mathematics search
  • Central College; funding for search
  • Central College; professors for search
  • Cooper, Thomas; and Central College search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; and R. Walsh search
  • Corrêa da Serra, José; visits Monticello search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; Principes Logiques, ou Recueil de Faits relatifs a l’Intelligence Humaine search
  • Destutt de Tracy, Antoine Louis Claude; TJ onPrincipes Logiques search
  • Dissertation Second: exhibiting a general view of the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science, since the revival of letters in Europe (J. Playfair) search
  • exercise, physical; and good health search
  • health; exercise search
  • Histoire des Mathématiques (J. E. Montucla and J. Lalande) search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; orders books search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; Destutt de Tracy’s works search
  • Lalande, Joseph Jérôme Le Français de; Histoire des Mathématiques search
  • logic; study of search
  • mathematics; books on search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); invitations to visit search
  • Monticello (TJ’s Albemarle Co. estate); Visitors to; Corrêa da Serra, José search
  • Montucla, Jean Étienne; Histoire des Mathématiques search
  • Playfair, John; Dissertation Second: exhibiting a general view of the Progress of Mathematical and Physical Science, since the revival of letters in Europe search
  • Poplar Forest (TJ’s Bedford Co. estate); TJ returns from search
  • Principes Logiques, ou Recueil de Faits relatifs a l’Intelligence Humaine (Destutt de Tracy) search
  • Stewart, Dugald; TJ on search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Walsh, Robert; and books for TJ search
  • Walsh, Robert; and Central College search
  • Walsh, Robert; and Destutt de Tracy’sPrincipes Logiques search
  • Walsh, Robert; and J. Corrêa da Serra search
  • Walsh, Robert; editor ofAmerican Register; or Summary Review of History, Politics, and Literature search
  • Walsh, Robert; health of search
  • Walsh, Robert; letters to search
  • Walsh, Robert; proposed visit of search
  • Wells & Lilly (Boston firm); and books for TJ search