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TO MR. DUPONCEAU.
MONTICELLO, December 30, 1817. DEAR SIR, -An absence of six weeks has occasioned your letters of the 5th and 11th inst., to lie thus long unacknowledged. After I had sent off the two other Westover MSS. I received a third of the same journal. On perusing it I am not sensible by memory, of anything not contained in the former, except eight pages of a preliminary account of the abridgment of our limits by successive charters to other colonies. I suppose this to be a copy of the largest of the other two, entered fair in a folio volume, with other documents relating to the government of Virginia. It is bound in vellum, and, by the arms pasted in it, seems to have been intended for the shelves of the author's library. As this journal is complete it might enable us to supply the hiatuses of the other copies.
I now send you the remains of my Indian vocabularies, some of which are perfect. I send with them the fragments of my digest of them, which were gathered up on the banks of the river where they had been strewed by the plunderers of the trunk in which they were. These will merely show the arrangement I had given the vocabularies, according to their affinities and degrees of resemblance or dissimilitude.
If you can recover Capt. Lewis' collection, they will make an important addition, for there was no part of his instructions which he executed more fully or carefully, never meeting with a single Indian of a new tribe, without making his vocabulary the first object. What Professor Adelung mentions of the Empress Catharine’s having procured many vocabularies of our Indians, is correct. She applied to M. de La Fayette, who, through the aid of General Washington, obtained several ; but I never learnt of what particular tribes. The great works of Pallas being rare, I will mention that there are two editions of it, the one in two volumes, the other in four volumes 4to, in the library I ceded to Congress, which may be consulted. But the Professor's account of the supposed Mexican MS. is quite erroneous, nor can I conceive through whom he can have received his information. It has probably been founded on an imperfect knowledge of the following fact: Soon after the acquisition of Louisiana, Governor Claiborne found, in a private family there, a MS. journal kept, (I forget by whom,) but by a confidential officer of the French government, proving exactly by what connivance between the agents of the compagnie d'occident, and the Spaniards, these last smuggled settlements into Louisiana, as far as Assinais, Adais, &c., for the purpose of covering the contraband trade of the company. Claiborne, being afraid to trust the original by mail, without keeping a copy, sent it on after being copied. It arrived safe, and was deposited by me in the office of State. He then sent me the copy, on the destruction of the office at Washington by the British ; apprehending the original might be involved in that destruction, I sent the copy to Colonel Monroe, then Secretary of State, with a request to return it, if the original was safe, and to keep it, if not. I have heard no more of it. My intention was, and is, if it is returned to me, to deposit it with your committee for safe keeping or publication. While on the subject of Louisiana, I have thought I had better commit to you also an historical memoir of my own respecting the important question of its limits. When we first made the purchase we knew little of its extent, having never before been interested to inquire into it. Possessing, then, in my library, everything respecting America which I had been able to collect by unremitting researches, during my residence in Europe, particularly and generally through my life, I availed myself of the leisure of my succeeding autumnal recess from Washington, to bring together everything which my collection furnished on the subject of its boundary. The result was the memoir I now send you, copies of which were furnished to our ministers at Paris and Madrid, for their information as to the extent of territory claimed under our purchase. The New Orleans MS. afterwards discovered, furnished some valuable supplementary proofs of title.
I defer writing to the Secretary at War respecting the observations of longitude and latitude by Capt. Lewis, until I learn from VOL. VII.
you whether they are recovered, and whether they are so complete as to be susceptible of satisfactory calculation. I salute you with great respect and esteem.
TO MR. WIRT.
MONTICELLO, January 5, 1818. I have first to thank you, dear Sir, for the copy of your late work which you have been so kind as to send me, and then to · render you double congratulations, first, on the general applause it has so justly received, and next on the public testimony of esteem for its author, manifested by your late call to the executive councils of the nation. All this I do heartily, and then proceed to a case of business on which you will have to advise the government on the threshold of your office. You have seen the death of General Kosciusko announced in the papers in such a way as not to be doubted. He had in the funds of the United States a ery considerable sum of money, on the interest of which he depended for subsistence. On his leaving the United States, in 1798, he placed it under my direction by a power of attorney, which I executed entirely through Mr. Barnes, who regularly remitted his interest. But he left also in my hands an autograph will, disposing of his funds in a particular course of charity, and making me his executor. The question the government will ask of you, and which I therefore ask, is in what court must this will be proved, and my qualification as executor be received, to justify the United States in placing these funds under the trust ? This is to be executed wholly in this State, and will occupy so long a course of time beyond what I can expect to live, that I think to propose to place it under the Court of Chancery. The place of probate generally follows the residence of the testator. That was in a foreign country in the present case. Sometimes the bona notabilia. The evidences or representations of these (the certificates) are in my hands. The things represented (the money) in those of the United States. But where
are the United States ? Everywhere, I suppose, where they have government or property liable to the demand on payment. That is to say, in every State of the Union, in this, for example, as well as any other, strengthened by the circumstances of the deposit of the will, the residence of the executor, and the place where the trust is to be executed. In no instance, I believe, does the mere habitation of the debtor draw to it the place of probate, and if it did, the United States are omnipresent by their functionaries, as well as property in every State of the Union. I am led by these considerations to suppose our district or general court competent to the object; but you know best, and by your advice, sanctioned by the Secretary of the Treasury, I shall act. I write to the Secretary on this subject. If our district court will do, I can attend it personally ; if the general court only be competent, I am in hopes it will find means of dispensing with my personal attendance. I salute you with affectionate esteem and respect.
TO DR. BENJAMIN WATERHOUSE.
MONTICELLO, March 3, 1818. DEAR SIR, I have just received your favor of February 20th, in which you observe that Mr. Wirt, on page 47 of his Life of Patrick Henry, quotes me as saying that “Mr. Henry certainly gave the first impulse to the ball of revolution.” I well recollect to have used some such expression in a letter to him, and am tolerably certain that our own State being the subject under contemplation, I must have used it with respect to that only. Whether he has given it a more general aspect I cannot say, as the passage is not in the page you quote, nor, after thumbing over much of the book, have I been able to find it.* In page 417 there is something like it, but not the exact expression, and even there it may be doubted whether Mr. Wirt had his eye on Virginia alone, or on all the colonies. But the question, who commenced the revolution is as difficult as that of the first inventors of a thou
[* It was found page 41.]
sand good things. For example, who first discovered the principle of gravity ? Not Newton; for Galileo, who died the year that Newton was born, had measured its force in the descent of gravid bodies. Who invented the Lavoiserian chemistry ? The English say Dr. Black, by the preparatory discovery of latent heat. Who invented the steamboat ? Was it Gerbert, the Mar
quis of Worcester, Newcomen, Savary, Papin, Fitch, Fulton ? · The fact is, that one new idea leads to another, that to a third,
and so on through a course of time until some one, with whom no one of these ideas was original, combines all together, and produces what is justly called a new invention. I suppose it would be as difficult to trace our revolution to its first embryo. We do not know how long it was hatching in the British cabinet before they ventured to make the first of the experiments which were to develop it in the end and to produce complete parliamentary supremacy. Those you mention in Massachusetts as preceding the stamp act, might be the first visible symptoms of that design. The proposition of that act in 1764, was the first here. Your opposition, therefore, preceded ours, as occasion was sooner given there than here, and the truth, I suppose, is, that the opposition in every colony began whenever the encroachment was presented to it. This question of priority is as the inquiry would be who first, of the three hundred Spartans, offered his name to Leonidas ? I shall be happy to see justice done to the merits of all, by the unexceptionable umpirage of date and facts, and especially from the pen which is proposed to be employed in it.
I rejoice, indeed, to learn from you that Mr. Adams retains the strength of his memory, his faculties, his cheerfulness, and even his epistolary industry. This last is gone from me.
The aversion has been growing on me for a considerable time, and now, near the close of seventy-five, is become almost insuperable. I am much debilitated in body, and my memory sensibly on the wane. Still, however, I enjoy good health and spirits, and am as industrious a reader as when a student at college. Not of newspapers. These I have discarded. I relinquish, as I ought to do, all intermeddling with public affairs, committing myself