5 Camden St. Camden town nr London Decr
I lately heard from Mr Barbour that it is the wish of the Visitors of the Univ. of Va. to procure from England a Professor of the antient Languages, if a competent person could not be found in America. That such a situation may possibly be vacant is now known, and several applications have been made to me. Two of these were from persons of good character & respectable attainments, but not such as to induce me, in case of a vacancy, to recommend them in any manner to a place of such importance—
A gentleman of Trinity Coll. Cambridge lately called on me to make some enquiries about the vacancy: he had heard of it from some person to whom Mr Barbour had communicated the information. He is a gentleman of undoubted classical attainments, & one who is highly spoken of, & I should suppose, in most respects well qualified for such a situation. I learned from him that he would decide, in a day or two, whether he would be a candidate for the Professorship: It is now 3 or 4 weeks since I saw him. I have heard nothing more, & I conclude after reflection he has decided to remain in England—I believe he wishes to be married, & I conjecture the lady has no inclination for a voyage across the Atlantic—
I believe it will be very difficult, & I think it is very improbable, that it will be in my power to give the visitors much assistance in England. The persons who would readily go are not the persons who could be recommended—I shall still continue however to do what I can in aiding the object of the Visitors—
A few days ago I heard from Mr Harrison, the present instructor in antient languages in the Univ. of Va. and my former very much esteemed pupil & friend. I did not know, ’till I recieved his letter, the terms on which he was engaged, which I think are advantageous to himself & such, as I hope, will be profitable to the University—
I learn from him, which I did not know before, as I never spoke to him on the subject, that he prefers the occupation in which he is now engaged to the profession for which he was designed—After a year’s experience of his success as a teacher, I do not think the visitors will have reason to repent of what they have done, and I hope they may find it unnecessary to apply to England for that which they already possess—
If I may venture an opinion, from what I know of the people of this country, I believe no person will leave it, who is so well qualified for the situation, as the diligence & the necessary experience of your present instructor will undoubtedly render him.
Mr Harrison has written to me to know the prices of some books & maps for his own use: I have sent him a list of such as I believe are good—It is a list of some lately purchased for our university & intended for the general use, but more particularly for the Latin & Greek classes—
If any such are wanted for the Univ. of Va. I can procure them at 25 per cent discount on the shop prices—Mr Bohn of Covent Garden, informs me that he has forwarded the remaining nos. of Stephens Thesaurus, which, according to the original agreement with Mr Gilmer, he has been taking in for the University—
It will occasionally be in my power to send small printed papers, which may be of some use to the Univ. such as lists of publications, accounts of our classes, & ca. I should be glad to know thro’ Mr Brockenbrough or any other person, in what way they can be most cheaply forwarded.
Our number of students is about 500—We have a short vacation at Xmas, after which several new classes open, & the Elementary scholars, those of Latin, Greek, & Mathemat expect considerable additions—We may reach 600, and perhaps go even beyond that number after Xmas—
The Latin class contains about 78, the Greek about 58, & the Mathematical class about 60 pupils; I have no doubt the Latin class will exceed 100 after Xmas. My own will always be somewhat smaller—Mr Key only heard lately & incidentally, that the Professorship of Nat. Philosophy is no longer vacant: Mr Ritchie had not received intelligence of it a few weeks ago, & was daily expecting to have some communication—
I shall feel obliged to you if you will present to the board of Visitors my most sincere good wishes for the success of the Institution over which they preside. It is my good fortune to have seen one University open, unfettered by antiquated forms & theological opinions: A second to wh. I have the honor to belong is imitating so encouraging an example, & it has every prospect of success which the most sanguine could anticipate. I remain with very great respect.
RC (ViU). Docketed by JM.