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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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7732. SCIENCE, Elementary works.—
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7732. SCIENCE, Elementary works.—

have received a copy of your mathematical
principles of natural philosophy, which I have
looked into with all the attention which the rust
of age and long continued avocations of a very
different character permit me to exercise. I
think them entirely worthy of approbation, both
as to matter and method, and for their brevity
as a text book; and I remark particularly the
clearness and precision with which the propositions
are enounced and, in the demonstrations,
the easy form in which ideas are presented
to the mind, so as to be almost intuitive
and self-evident. Of Cavallo's book, which
you say you are enjoined to teach [in William
and Mary College], I have no knowledge, having
never seen it; but its character is, I think,
that of mere mediocrity; and, from my personal
acquaintance with the man, I should expect no
more. He was heavy, capable enough of understanding
what he had read, and with memory
to retain it, but without the talent of digestion
or improvement. But, indeed, the English
generally have been very stationary in
latter times, and the French on the contrary,
so active and successful, particularly in preparing
elementary books, in the mathematical
and natural sciences, that those who wish for
instruction, without caring from what nation
they get it, resort universally to the latter language.
Besides the earlier and invaluable
works of Euler and Bezont, we have latterly
that of Lacroix in mathematics, of Legendre
in geometry, Lavoisier in chemistry, the elementary
works of Haüy in physics, Biot in
experimental physics and physical astronomy,
Dumeril in natural history, to say nothing of
many detached essays of Monge and others,
and the transcendent labors of Laplace. I am
informed by a highly instructed person recently
from Cambridge. that the mathematicians of
that institution, sensible of being in the rear of
those of the continent, and ascribing the cause
much to their too long-continued preference of
the geometrical over the analytical methods,


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which the French have so much cultivated and
improved, have now adopted the latter; and
that they have also given up the fluxionary, for
the differential calculus. To confine a school,
therefore, to the obsolete work of Cavallo, is
to shut out all advances in the physical sciences
which have been so great in latter times.—
To Patrick K. Rodgers. Washington ed. vii, 327.
(M. 1824)