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It makes a very serious addition to the price of the book, and falls chiefly on a description of persons little able to meet it. Students who are destined for professional callings, as most of our scholars are, are barely able for the most part to meet the expenses of tuition. The addition of eighteen or twenty-seven per cent. on the books necessary for their instruction, amounts often to a prohibition as to them. For want of these aids, which are open to the students of all other nations but our own, they enter on their course on a very unequal footing with those of the same professions in foreign countries, and our citizens at large, too, who employ them, do not derive from that employment all the benefit which higher qualifiations would give them. It is true that no duty is required on books imported for seminaries of learning, but these, locked up in libraries, can be of no avail to the practical man when he wishes a recurrence to them for the uses of life. Of many important books of reference there is not perhaps a single copy in the United States ; of others but a few, and these too distant often to be accessible to scholars generally. It is believed, therefore, that if the attention of Congress could be drawn to this article, they would, in their wisdom, see its impolicy. Science is more important in a republican than in any other government. And in an infant country like ours, we must much depend for improvement on the science of other countries, longer established, possessing better means, and more advanced than we are. To prohibit us from the benefit of foreign light, is to consign us to long darkness.

The northern seminaries following with parental solicitude the interests of their eleves in the course for which they have prepared them, propose to petition Congress on this subject, and wish for the coöperation of those of the south and west, and I have been requested, as more convenient in position than they are, to solicit that coöperation. Having no personal acquaintance with those who are charged with the direction of the college of

I do not know how more effectually to communicate these views to them, than by availing myself of the knowledge I have of your zeal for the happiness and improvement of

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our country. I take the liberty, therefore, of requesting you to place the subject before the proper authorities of that institution, and if they approve the measure, to solicit a concurrent proceeding on their part to carry it into effect. Besides petitioning Congress, I would propose that they address in their corporate capac

, ity, a letter to their delegates and senators in Congress, soliciting their best endeavors to obtain the repeal of the duty on imported books. I cannot but suppose that such an application will be respected by them, and will engage their votes and endeavors to effect an object so reasonable. A conviction that science is important to the preservation of our republican government, and that it is also essential to its protection against foreign power, induces me, on this occasion, to step beyond the limits of that retirement to which age and inclination equally dispose me, and I am without a doubt that the same considerations will induce you to excuse the trouble I propose to you, and that you will kindly accept the assurance of my high respect and esteem.


MONTICELLO, November 23, 1821. DEAR SIR,—Absence at an occasional but distant residence, prevented my receiving your friendly letter of October 20th till three days ago. A line from my good old friends is like balm to my soul. You ask me what you are to do with my letter of September 19th ? I wrote it, my dear Sir, with no other view than to pour my thoughts into your bosom. I knew they would be safe there, and I believed they would be welcome. But if you think, as you say, that “good may be done by showing it to a few well-tried friends,” I have no objection to that, but ultimately you cannot do better than to throw it into the fire.

My confidence, as you kindly observed, has been often abused by the publication of my letters for the purposes of interest or vanity, and it has been to me the source of much pain to be exhibited before the public in forms not meant for them. I receive

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letters expressed in the most friendly and even affectionate terms, sometimes, perhaps, asking my opinion on some subject. I cannot refuse to answer such letters, nor can I do it dryly and suspiciously. Among a score or two of such correspondents, one

. perhaps betrays me. I feel it mortifyingly, but conclude I had better incur one treachery than offend a score or two of good people. I sometimes expressly desire that my letter may not be published; but this is so like requesting a man not to steal or cheat, that I am ashamed of it after I have done it.

Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to-wit: by consolidation first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence. The engine of consolidation will be the federal judiciary; the two other branches, the corrupting and corrupted instruments. I fear an explosion in our State Legislature. I wish they may restrain themselves to a strong but temperate protestation. Virginia is not at present in favor with her co-States. An opposition headed by her would determine all the anti-Missouri States to take the contrary side. She had better lie by, therefore, till the shoe shall pinch an eastern State. Let the cry be first raised from that quarter, and we may fall into it with effect. But I fear our eastern associates wish for consolidation, in which they would be joined by the smaller States generally. But, with one foot in the grave, I have no right to meddle with these things. Ever and affectionately yours.


MONTICELLO, November 29, 1821. DEAR SIR,—You have often gratified me by your astronomical communications, and I am now about to amuse you with one of mine. But I must first explain the circumstances which have drawn me into a speculation so foreign to the path of life which the times in which I have lived, more than my own inclinations, have led me to pursue.

I had long deemed it incumbent on the authorities of our country, to have the great western wilderness beyond the Mississippi, explored, to make known its geography, its natural productions, its general character and inhabitants. Two attempts which I had myself made formerly, before the country was ours, the one from west to east, the other from east to west, had both proved abortive. When called to the administration of the general government, I made this an object of early attention, and proposed it to Congress. They voted a sum of five thousand dollars for its execution, and I placed Captain Lewis at the head of the enterprise. No man within the range of my acquaintance, united so many of the qualifications necessary for its successful direction. But he had not received such an astronomical education as might enable him to give us the geography of the country with the precision desired. The Missouri and Columbia, which were to constitute the tract of his journey, were rivers which varied little in their progressive latitudes, but changed their longitudes rapidly and at every step. To qualify him for making these observations, so important to the value of the enterprise, I encouraged him to apply himself to this particular object, and gave him letters to Doctor Patterson and Mr. Ellicott, requesting them to instruct him in the necessary processes. Those for the longitude would of course be founded on the lunar distances. But as these require essentially the aid of a time-keeper, it occurred to me that during a journey of two, three, or four years, exposed to so many accidents as himself and the instrument would be, we might expect with certainty that it would become deranged, and in a desert country where it could not be repaired. I thought it then highly important that some means of observation should be furnished him, if any could be, which should be practicable and competent to ascertain his longitudes in that event. torial occurred to myself as the most promising substitute. I observed only that Ramsden, in his explanation of its uses, and particularly that of finding the longitude at land, still required his observer to have the aid of a time-keeper. But this cannot be necessary, for the margin of the equatorial circle of this in

The equastrument being divided into time by hours, minutes, and seconds, supplies the main functions of the time-keeper, and for measuring merely the interval of the observations, is such as not to be neglected. A portable pendulum, for counting, by an assistant, would fully answer that purpose. I suggested my fears to several of our best astronomical friends, and my wishes that other processes should be furnished him, if any could be, which might guard us ultimately from disappointment. Several other methods were proposed, but all requiring the use of a time-keeper. That of the equatorial being recommended by none, and other duties refusing me time for protracted consultations, I relinquished the

I idea for that occasion. But, if a sound one, it should not be abandoned. Those deserts are yet to be explored, and their geography given to the world and ourselves with a correctness worthy of the science of the age. The acquisition of the country before Captain Lewis' departure facilitated our enterprise, but his time-keeper failed early in his journey. His dependence, then, was on the compass and log-line, with the correction of latitudes only; and the true longitudes of the different points of the Missouri, of the Stony Mountains, the Columbia and Pacific, at its mouth, remain yet to be obtained by future enterprise.

The circumstance which occasions a recurrence of the subject to my mind at this time particularly is this : our legislature, some time ago, came to a determination that an accurate map should be made of our State. The late John Wood was employed on it. Its first elements are prepared by maps of the several counties. But these have been made by chain and compass only, which suppose the surface of the earth to be a plane. To fit them together, they must be accommodated to its real spherical surface; and this can be done only by observations of latitude and longitude, taken at different points of the area to which they are to be reduced. It is true that in the lower and more populous parts of the State, the method of lunar distances by the circle or sextant, and time-keeper, may be used ; because those parts furnish means of repairing or replacing a deranged timekeeper. But the deserts beyond the Alleghany are as destitute



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