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The Manuscript of Jefferson's Unpublished Errata List for Abbé Morellet's Translation of the Notes on Virginia by Joseph M. Carrière
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The Manuscript of Jefferson's Unpublished Errata List for Abbé Morellet's Translation of the Notes on Virginia
Joseph M. Carrière

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY WITH NO VIEW to publication, but merely in answer to "a paper containing sundry inquiries" received in 1781 from M. de Barbé-Marbois, secretary of the French Legation in Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia (1785) contained a frank exposition of his views in favor of the revision of the constitution of that state and the abolition of slavery. The author was fully aware that these views differed radically from those held by many of his American contemporaries and might provoke to no useful purpose bitter controversy, if freely advocated in print.[1] For this reason, the Notes, which were first printed in Paris during the latter part of 1784 and the first months of 1785, [2] came off


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the press in a limited edition of 200 copies bearing no author's name and intended strictly for private distribution. Jefferson took great care to write on the fly leaf of every copy presented to friends a note enjoining them not to communicate the book to anyone who could not be relied upon to protect it against publication. Yet it was not long before he made the painful discovery that, at the death of one of the recipients, a copy had fallen into the hands of the bookseller Barrois, who was now planning to publish "a surreptitious translation." "This," Jefferson wrote to C. W. F. Dumas on February 2, 1786, "has induced me to yield to a friendly proposition from the Abbé Morellet, to translate and publish them, submitting the sheets previously to my inspection. As a translation by so able a hand will lessen the faults of the original, instead of their being multiplied by a hireling translator, I shall add to it a map and such other advantages as may prevent the mortification of my seeing it in the injurious form threatened."[3]

From a letter which Jefferson wrote to his friend Madison a few days later, we not only learn that Morellet had owned a copy of the Notes which had been presented to him by their author, but also that he had already translated "some passages for a particular purpose" before anything was known about Barrois's plan.[4] It was therefore natural that he should have agreed with the bookseller to prepare for him a translation of the entire book if he would refuse to publish the other version. As for Jefferson, he really had no choice but to accept such an arrangement, although he had never intended to have his work translated into French. He lived in an age when authors enjoyed no effective protection against unscrupulous printers.

The fact that Jefferson had given Morellet a copy of the


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Notes shows that he held him in very high esteem. Morellet and Franklin were habitués of the Société d'Auteuil composed of men of letters who met at the home of Mme. Helvétius.[5] Jefferson probably met the Abbé through Franklin, who, as we know, introduced his American colleague to many prominent literary personages in the French capital.[6] Morellet enjoyed great prestige in intellectual circles. His sharp wit led Voltaire to make a pun on his name and call him "l'Abbé Mord-les," "Abbé Bites-Them." In 1785, he was elected to the French Academy, the highest honor to which a man of letters could aspire. Jefferson knew, of course, that he had not only published in 1766 a translation of Beccaria's famous treatise Dei Delitti e delle Pene, for which Voltaire had written an anonymous preface, but that he had also translated in 1774 John Gregory's highly popular book, A Father's Legacy to his Daughters, and revised a French version of William Robertson's History of Scotland published in Paris in 1764.[7] Since Jefferson was uninformed about the careless way in which the delicate art of translation was generally practised at that time and took it for granted that others set for themselves the same high standards which he always imposed upon himself, it is not surprising that he should have fallen into the error of believing Morellet eminently qualified to render the Notes on Virginia into French.

One should like to follow the progress of the translation from the time it was begun for Barrois until it was completed. Unfortunately, we have little documentation on this subject. Our information has to be derived almost entirely from six


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letters dated only by days of the week and all of them from Morellet to Jefferson.[8] From these, we gather, however, a few details which are not without interest. On one occasion, Morellet sends Jefferson a few pages of his French text to find out from him whether he has understood well the trend of his thought.[9] At some other time, he returns pages which have been of help to him in correcting his translation. Although the context is vague, he is apparently referring to notes or comments which Jefferson had transmitted to him on specific details of translation.[10] In another letter, Morellet tries to justify the way he had rendered the phrase "a knowledge of the first order.[11] " On three different occasions, he comes back to the subject of the printing and engraving of the map of Virginia which both he and Jefferson considered an indispensable supplement to the book.[12] From remarks to be found in Morellet's letters, it seems clear that he did not first translate the entire book before transmitting his manuscript to the printer, but sent him from time to time a certain number of pages, which had been previously submitted to Jefferson for his examination.

The translation of the Notes appeared with the following title page: Observations| sur | La Virginie, | Par M. J***. | Traduites de L'Anglois. | A Paris, | Chez Barrois, l'aîné, Libraire, rue du | Hurepoix, près le pont Saint-Michel. | 1786. It should be noted that the title-page did not bear the name of the translator, and carried only the initial of Jefferson's name. The book was published with a new map of Virginia prepared by the author.[13]

Although the translation appeared with the imprint of


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1786, and this date has been accepted as that of publication by bibliographers as well as students of Jefferson, actually it was not published until the following year. In a letter to the English bookseller, John Stockdale, dated February 1, 1787, and dealing with the publication of an edition of the Notes in London, Jefferson wrote: "I never did intend to have made them public, because they are little interesting to the rest of the world, but as a translation of them is coming out, I have concluded to let the original appear also."[14] While we cannot determine the exact week or month Morellet's translation was actually published, we know that it came out during the first part of 1787, since the Mercure de France published a long review of it in its issues of June 2 and 9 of that year.[15]

The book as it appeared in print, with the exception of the map, had little which could appeal to a man of such exacting taste and high literary standards as Jefferson. It was printed on paper of mediocre quality; the type was not attractive; there were numerous misprints and errors of translation, and the order of the material had been changed.

In the Avertissement, Morellet explained the reason which had induced him to transpose parts of the text from the place where they occurred in the original to a different one in the translation. He wrote:

"L'Ouvrage qu'on donne ici au Public a été imprimé en 1782 [sic], sous le titre de Notes on Virginia, & n'est en effet qu'un recueil de Notes, ou Observations détachées, servant de réponse aux Questions d'un ami de l'Auteur, Européen qui cherchoit à connoitre cette partie des États-Unis; mais on ne craint pas d'annoncer que sous un titre si modeste, le Lecteur trouvera des connoissances approfondies & des idées étendues.
"L'Ouvrage n'ayant d'autre plan que celui qu'a donné l'ordre des Questions, qui n'est pas toujours le plus naturel


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qu'on pût suivre, le Traducteur a pris la liberté, avec l'agrément de l'Auteur, de transposer quelques morceaux."[16]

Morellet's explanation contains factual errors which must have irked the author considerably. The Notes on Virginia were not published in 1782 as stated by the translator, but in 1785, even if the title-page of the Paris edition bore the imprint of 1782. Jefferson and Barbé-Marbois exchanged letters, but the relationship which existed between them was not such that they can be called friends. Moreover, if Jefferson ever agreed to the changes made in the order of the text of the Notes, it must have been most reluctantly and only under very great pressure since he later expressed unequivocal disapproval of the transpositions made by the translator.[17]

Morellet lists the most important of these changes and adds that nothing has been omitted from the original. The seventh query of the original devoted to the study of the climate has become the second chapter of the translation.[18] The ninth and tenth queries of the English text dealing with military forces on land[19] and sea[20] have been placed towards the end of the book after the last paragraph of the part concerning public income and expenses. The proposal for the emancipation of the Negroes, which, in the original, came under the heading "Plan for the revision of our constitution"[21] has been transferred to the section devoted to the slaves.[22] The observations


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communicated to Jefferson by his friend Charles Thomson after reading the manuscript no longer appear in an appendix at the end of the book, but are printed in the text after the passages to which they refer. They are set off from Jefferson's text by square brackets. Jefferson's notes have been removed from the bottom of the page and printed also in the text. The translator justifies this change by saying that Thomson's notes are comments on those of Jefferson, which seem to be related closely enough to the text to form a connected sequence with it. "This is," Morellet adds, "the way notes should always be, if by following this rule, one were not dispensed from writing any."

However objectionable all these changes were to Jefferson, the presence of numerous misprints and errors in the translation was undoubtedly a still greater source of disappointment to him. As is well known to bibliographers, not one, but two errata lists entirely different in their contents were printed, the second as a cancellans after the sheets had been impressed. One of these lists is only nine lines long, while the other covers approximately two pages and a half.[23]

Among its rich collections of Jeffersoniana, the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia possesses two copies of the French translation of the Notes; one of these, in the Byrd collection, contains the short errata list, the other, in the McGregor collection, the long one. An interesting feature of the Byrd copy is that a large number of manuscript corrections in ink and in an eighteenth-century hand are to be found in its text.[24] None of the corrections in the short errata list appears


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among the notations in ink which are to be seen in this copy. An examination of these manuscript corrections and the long errata list shows, on the other hand, that all passages corrected in that list—and eleven others not to be found there—have also been corrected in the Byrd copy. Except in three cases, the French word or phrase written in ink in the text as a correction of an error of translation is the same as the one given at the corresponding place in the long errata list.

On the basis of the information which we have used up to this point, if it were not for the bibliographical evidence of the cancellation made in the final gathering in order to substitute the longer form, one might conclude that the long errata list was printed first, the shorter one later to supplement it.[25] As for the notations in ink, we might argue that they were written into the Byrd copy by some contemporary who had access to the long list. The presence of corrections in ink not to be found in the long list might be explained as the result of a very careful examination of the original and the translation, although it would be difficult to explain why none of the errata indicated in the short list are corrected in the notations in ink.

There exists, however, a little known document which throws a vivid light on the history of the errata lists and the manuscript notations in the Byrd copy, and which illuminates the bibliographical evidence. In the Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, is to be found a seven-page letter press copy of a memorandum written in Jefferson's hand, which is


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dated January 19, 1787, and entitled "Errors in the Abbé Morellet's translation of the Notes on Virginia the correction of which is indispensable.[26] "

In this memorandum, the English passages containing typographical errors, or words or phrases the translation of which Jefferson questioned, and the corresponding passage of the French text are presented in parallel columns. The English word or phrase which he considered wrongly translated and its French equivalent are in many cases underlined. A comparison of the contents of this document with those of the two errata lists provides an interesting revelation. Whereas none of the six errata in the short list is to be found in the memorandum, every one of the forty-five in the long list is included among the seventy errors which Jefferson recorded. It is clear that his memorandum was prepared after the short errata list had been printed. It would be indeed difficult to explain how Jefferson would have failed to notice and write down any of the errata indicated in it, if his list had been intended to supplement it. The fact that the person who prepared the long errata list did not find anything to correct which is not also found in Jefferson's memorandum points to an interesting conclusion.

Since a comparison of the original and the translation of the Notes shows many errors which Jefferson did not record, it seems impossible that the translator could have failed to discover at least a few misprints or evident errors of translation not listed in the memorandum, if he had made even a half-hearted attempt at preparing as accurate as possible an errata list. One is forced to conclude that whoever prepared the second errata list had at his disposal the original of Jefferson's memorandum and relied exclusively on it. The absence from that list of twenty-five corrections requested by the author in his memorandum does not invalidate that conclusion. In some instances, Morellet may have been convinced that his translation was


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correct. In others, he may have considered the error not important enough to warrant a correction, or he may have been unable to find an adequate substitute for what he had originally written. Moreover, he would naturally be inclined to shorten as much as possible a long list of errata which could only raise doubts as to the value of his translation. Finally, he may have failed to make all suggested corrections through sheer carelessness or indifference. In this connection, it should be pointed out that, when preparing the first errata list—the short one—he did not read proof much beyond page 99, since the last erratum which he recorded occurs on that page.[27] It can be taken for granted that, if it had not been for Jefferson, no other list would have ever appeared. One should not fail to add, however, that if Jefferson was most unfortunate in having Morellet as a translator, Morellet was equally unfortunate in choosing to translate the Notes on Virginia. It was not customary for authors to be in a position to exercise such close supervision over their translators.

There is still another interesting problem connected with the long errata list. Of the fifty-six manuscript notations in the Byrd copy, all without a single exception are corrections requested by Jefferson in his memorandum, and, as already stated, only in three cases does the wording of these notations vary from that of the corresponding entry in the long errata list. It is again clear that the writer of these notations had access to Jefferson's list. Morellet's name comes at once to one's mind as the probable writer of the manuscript notations. Unfortunately, we have no means of tracing the history of the Byrd copy. Moreover, with the exception of three notations, the longest of which is three lines, the corrections written on the various pages all consist of three or four words at the most. Their briefness makes it impossible for one who is not an expert


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in handwriting to draw any valid conclusion from a comparison of the hand in which they are written and that of the Morellet letters in the Jefferson Papers. Yet, to me, they present a number of common characteristics. But whether the corrections in the Byrd copy were written by Morellet or someone else, there can be no doubt that whoever wrote them had access to Jefferson's list.

Because of the interest of this list and its inaccessibility to the average student, it is printed here in full. Peculiarities of spelling and punctuation found in the letter press copy have been retained, with the exception, however, of Jefferson's spelling of the French preposition à as á, which has been changed.[28]

Errors in the Abbé Morellet's translation of the Notes on Virginia the correction of which is indispensable  
pa. 2. 36°30'  2. 36°3'[29]  
145. in the same season of 1780, Chesapeak bay was solid from it's head to the mouth of Patowmac. At Annapolis where it is 5 1/4 miles over between the nearest points of land, the ice was from 5. to 7. inches thick quite across, &c  13. Dans la meme annee 1780, la Chesapeak gela entierement depuis son extremité interieure jusqu'à l'embouchure du Patowmac. A Annapolis, située 5 1/5 milles au-dessus, entre les deux pointes avancées de terre,[30] la glace fut epaisse de 5 à 7 pouces, &c 
150. I knew an instance at York-town, from whence the water-prospect eastwardly is without termination, wherein a canoe with three men, at a great distance, was taken for a ship with it's three masts.  20. Je connois une situation [31] à York-town, d'ou la vue de la mer vers l'Est n'est point bornée, & d'ou un canot conduit par trois hommes vu à une grande distance, paroit [32] un vaisseau à trois mats. 


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5. those of 125. go to Rocket's a mile below Richmond.  22. ceux de 125. jusqu'a Rockett's un mille audessus [33] de Richmond. 
7. York river, at York-town, affords the best harbour in the state for vessels of the largest size.  23. La riviere d'York, à York town,[34] fournit le meilleur bassin que puissent trouver dans tous les etats unis [35] les plus grands. 
[the river there narrows to the width of a mile, & is contained within very high banks, close under which the vessels may ride.] [and up Mattapony to within 2. miles of Frazer's ferry, where it becomes 2 1/2 fathom deep, & holds that about 5. miles.]  [La riviere se retrecit en cet endroit, & n'a gueres qu'un mille de largeur: ses bords sont assez elevés pour que les vaisseaux puissent s'y mouiller.][36] [24. audessus de Mattapony, jusqu'a 2 milles endeça du lac de Fraser, elle n'a plus que 2 1/2 brasses de profondeur, qu'elle garde pendant environ 5. milles.][37]  
8. it is however used in a small degree up the Cohongoronta branch as far as fort Cumberland.  24. elle est cependant un peu pratiquée audessus [38] de la branche du Cohongoronta, en remontant jusqu'à l'endroit ou etoit situé le fort Cumberland. 
10. it's passage is commanded by a fort established by this state, 5 miles below the mouth of Ohio.  27. cinq milles au-dessus [39] de l'embouchure de l'Ohio &c 


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11. unless we suppose that the cold increases again with the ascent of the land from the Missisipi westwardly.  28. à moins qu'on ne suppose que le froid est plus grand à raison de la plus grande elevation des terres qu'arrose le Missisipi [40] au couchant. 
22. the Western fork is navigable in the winter 10. or 15. miles towards the northern of the Little Kanhaway 40. la branche de l'Ouest, appellée Western fork, est navigable en hyver jusqu'a 10. ou 15 milles du petit Kanhaway, en tirant vers le nord.[41]  
46. [outre ces trois &c—et perfectionnées] the [ ] are omitted, which should shew that this passage belongs to Mr Thomson.[42] [48. et en general à celles dont la reunion vient former ce que j'appelle proprement les Apalaches.][43]  
29. the ridges of mountains Eastward of the Alleghaney.   48. les chaines des montagnes qui sont au Nord-est [44] des Alleganeys. 
32. the mountains of the Blue Ridge, & of these the Peaks of Otter, are thought to be of a greater height, &c  49. les montagnes Bleues, et celle [45] du Pic d'Otter, sont regardées comme les plus hautes &c 
40. it is from 16. to 22 feet wide, III feet deep &c its breadth (i.e. the breadth of the fissure) at top is not sensibly greater than at bottom.  58. l'ouverture a de 16. à 22. pieds anglois de large, 3. pieds de haut &c[46] la largeur de l'arche [47] n'est pas sensiblement plus grande en haut qu'en bas. 


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42. this break has the advantage of the one described by Don Ulloa in its finest circumstance: no portion in that instance having held together during the separation of the other parts, so as to form a bridge over the abyss.  59. la scissure presente aussi chez nous la circonstance la plus singuliere dont parle Don Ulloa; car elle est absolue et entiere entre les deux parties opposées qui ne se tiennent que par un pont jetté sur cet abime.[48]  
33. it falls over a rock 200 feet into the valley below.  60. elle tombe sur des roches d'environ 200 pieds de haut.[49]  
[37. in the ridge which divides the water of the Cow & the Calf pasture.]  [63. dans la chaine des montagnes qui partagent les eaux des prairies, appellé Cow-pasture de celle qu'on appelle Calf pasture.][50]  
43. a canal of about half a mile.  66. un canal d'environ un mille de long.[51]  
48. a white as pure as one might expect to find on the surface of the earth.  71. aussi blanc qu'il soit possible d'en trouver en aucun lieu de la terre.[52]  
57. it rains here four or five days in every week.
Warm spring
Hot spring 
79. il pleut trois ou quatre fois la semaine.[53]
Source chaude Source tiede
Source brulante Source chaude[54]  


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60. the flame of which is a column of about 12. inches diam.  82. ou la flamme a d'environ[55] 12. pieds [56] de diametre. 
56. bushel  83. boisseau. id. 77. 325.[57]  
60. near the intersection of the Ld. Fairfax's boundary with the North mountain.  prés de l'endroit ou la limite du comté de Fairfax [58] coupe les montagnes du Nord. 
68. the following were found in Virginia &c most probably they were natives of more southern climates &c viz Nicotiana &c  entre le Liquidambar et Nicotiana. pa. 90.[59]  
73. the hippotamus had no tusks, nor such a frame that it was not an elephant I think ascertained by proofs especially decisive  103. n'a pas les dents ainsi configurées[60] Je ne puis donner une preuve tout aussi decisive, que l'animal &c n'est pas un elephant.[61]  
pa. 73. as M. de Buffon has admitted  103. tel que le decrit M. de Buffon.[62]  
75. of which however the globe exhibits no unequivocal indications.  104. quoiqu'elles presentent encore des signes certains de la presence de ces feux souterrains.[63]  


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76. and it is as probable as otherwise that this progression continues &c the center of the frozen zone then may be the achmé of their vigour  106. il est probable[64] que cette progression se soutient &c le centre de la zone glaciale est dont le lieu ou le Mammout arrive à toute sa force.[65]  
83. such subjects as came casually to their hands.  113. sujets qu'on peut regarder comme de la grosseur moyenne, puisque ce sont ceux qui tombent communément sous la main de l'Anatomiste.[66]  
91. if he be a carnivorous animal  122. cet animal etoit carnivore[67]  
95. it's gate a trot, & attended with a rattling of the hoofs but distinguished from that [the flat horned elk] decisively by it's horns which are not palmated, but round & pointed. and in fact it seems to stand in the same relation to the palmated elk, as the red deer does to the fallow.[70]   126. son allure est le trot, & il se coupe en marchant.[68] nettement distingué du cerf par le caractere de ses cornes, qui ne sont pas palmées, mais rondes et pointues.[69]  
96. should this last, tho' possessing so nearly the characters of the elk be found to be the same with the cerf d'Ardennes.  128. quand on trouveroit dans ce dernier assez de caracteres de l'elan pour le confondre avec le cerf des Ardennes[71]  


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pa. 99. have imported good breeders from England  131. qui ayant eu d'Angleterre de bons nourisseurs [72] de bestiaux 
100. & could it be supposed that I had seen the largest horses in America bullocks have been slaughtered which weighed 2500  132. et je crois avoir vu les plus grands[73] jeunes boeufs qui pesoient 2500[74]  
101. the 50th. generation where care had been taken of them on that side of the water, they have been raised to a size bordering on that of the horse.  133. la 16me generation[75] lors[qu'au contraire][76] nous en avons pris, il a atteint chez nous presqu'à la taille d'un cheval[77]  
103. as 100 to 126.  135. comme 100 à 26.[78]
142. le ] aprés le mot 'froideur' est omis.[79]
148. le ] aprés le mot 'prisonniers' est omis.[80]
160. ces faits sont suffisants pour montrer que les Americains aborigenes ont des formes de gouvernement.[81]  


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180. In going from Norway to Iceland, from Iceland to Groenland, from Groenland to Labrador, the first traject is the widest:, and this having been practised from the earliest times of which we have any account of that part of the earth, it is not difficult to suppose that the subsequent trajects may have been sometimes passed.  167. le trajet de Norwege en Islande, de l'Islande au Groenland, de Groenland au Labrador, est le plus long; et comme nous le voyons pratiqué des les premiers tems auxquels nous avons eu connoissance de cette partie de la terre, nous pouvons bien supposer qu'on aura pu faire des trajets encore plus courts.[82]  
pa. 167. 5000
3 to 10 
170. 5000 milles[83]
3. à 18[84]  
171. [la carte] Ouest pour Est. et contra.[85]  
188. les ecritures &c.—qu'ils la faisoient. les [ ] manquent.[86]  
131. they are of a pallid, cadaverous white—their hair of the same kind of white, short, coarse & curled as is that of the negro.  215. ils sont d'un blanc cadavereux,—leurs cheveux sont de la meme espece que ceux des blancs,[87] mais courts, durs & frisés comme ceux des negres 
131. they are uncommonly shrewd  216. elles sont trés mechantes[88]  
207. the colony supposed that by this solemn convention &c they had received the antient limits of their country [art. 4.] it's free trade [7.] it's exemption from taxation but by their own assembly [8.] and exclusion of military force from among them [8]  244. les habitans de la colonie ont toujours supposé que par cette convention solemnelle [sic] &c ils avoient assuré les anciennes limites de leur pays selon l'article 4. la liberté de leur commerce, selon l'article 7. et par ce meme article l'exemption de tout etablissement d'une force militaire etrangere chez eux.[89]  


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235. they are nominated by their fellows   272. ils sont nommés par leurs concitoyens [90]  
236. is less dangerous &c than one which makes part of a regular & uniform system  273. est moins dangereuse &c qu'un jugement porté par le magistrat ordinaire, qui devient plus aisement partie du systeme uniforme & regulier de la legislation[91]  
238. there are three superior courts. twice for business civil & criminal, & twice more for criminal only   275. il y a trois cours [92] deux fois pour les affaires civiles, et deux fois pour les affaires criminelles.[93]  
248. rules &c which it was not in his power, or in that of the crown to dispense with.[—the passage][94] were set aside  283. loix &c, quoiqu'ils n'en eussent pas le pouvoir et que la couronne ne put pas le leur donner.[95] etoient delivrés apart[96]  
249. the Surveior of the county the Surveior lays it off for him  284. l'Inspecteur du Comté [l'arpenteur][97] l'Inspecteur lui en montre la carte [l'arpente][98]  


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245. void as to the creditors & subsequent purchasers.  nullité, relativement aux creanciers de l'acheteur [99] et aux acheteurs subsequens qui la tiendroient du premier. 
250. the oldest statutes extant  290. des plus anciens statuts de l'etat de Virginie [100]  
251. to establish religious freedom on the broadest bottom  291. d'etablir la tolerance civile [101] sur la base la plus etendue 
278. the antient languages[102] literature of the North.  304. des langues et de la literature[103] du Nord de notre continent [104]  
288. they shewed equal intolerance in this country with their Presbyterian brethren who [had] emigrated to the Northern government.[105]   305. ils se montrerent aussi intolerants qu'en Europe envers leurs freres les Presbyteriens,[106] qui s'etablirent dans les gouvernemens du Nord. 
314. from 300. to 450 thousand  335. quatre a cinq cent mille[107]  
316. being merely a matter of charity  337. etant absolument volontaire & une acte de charité[108]  



See letter of Jefferson to Chastellux written on June 7, 1785, in which he gives the French author permission to translate for the Journal de Physique sections of the Notes which might be of interest to the editors, but adds: "The strictures on slavery and on the constitution of Virginia are not of that kind, and they are parts which I do not want to have made public, at least till I know whether their publication would do most harm or good. It is possible that in my own country these strictures might produce an irritation which would indispose the people towards the two great objects I have in view, that is the emancipation of their slaves & the settlement of their constitution on a firmer & more permanent basis. If I learn from thence, that they will not produce that effect, I have printed & reserved just copies enough to be able to give one to every young man at the College. It is to them I look, the rising generation, and not to the one in power, for these great reformations." The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Ford edition (New York and London, 1904), III, 318-19. Will be referred to henceforth as Ford. Chastellux's plan to translate parts of the Notes was never put into execution.


For more information on this subject, see Alice H. Lerch, "Who was the Printer of Jefferson's Notes?" in Bookmen's Holiday. Notes and Studies Written and Gathered in Tribute to Harry Miller Lydenberg (New York, 1943), 44-56.


Ford, III, 324-25; see also Jefferson's letter to Dr. Edward Bancroft, February 26, 1786, ibid., III, 325.


The text of this letter written on February 8 will be found in Ford, III, 322.


Morellet speaks at length of his relations with Franklin in his Mémoires sur le dix-huitième siècle et sur la révolution (Second edition, Paris, 1822), I, 295 ff.


See Gilbert Chinard, Les Amitiés américaines de Madame d'Houdetot d'après sa correspondance inédite avec Benjamin Franklin et Thomas Jefferson (Paris, 1924).


Morellet's Mémoires constitute an interesting record of his literary activities as well as a valuable source of information on French intellectual life during the eighteenth century. He was born in 1729 and died in 1819. Additional information on him will be found in Pierre Proteau's monograph, Etude sur Morellet considéré comme auxiliaire de l'école physiocratique et examen de ses principaux ouvrages économiques (Paris, 1910).


Jefferson Papers. Library of Congress. Volume 46, folios 7782-7792. A letter from Jefferson to Morellet dated July 2, 1787, and dealing with their difficulties with Barrois in connection with the map prepared for the book is printed in Ford, III, 332-35.


Folio 7783.


Folio 7782.


Folio 7785.


Folios 7782, 7787-7790.


This map was engraved by Neele of London and is also the one used in the 1787 edition of the Notes published by Stockdale.


Ford, III, 330.


Pages 29-40, 69-81. This is a highly enthusiastic review in which Jefferson's book is acclaimed as a notable contribution to science and philosophy.


The text of the Avertissement, found in the translation on pages i-v, is reproduced in French in Ford, III, 327-29.


See Ford, V, 367-68 for his comments in a letter written to William Carmichael on December 15, 1787.


Morellet, pp. 4-20; Jefferson, pp. 134-51. All references to the English text of the transpositions are to the 1785 edition of the Notes.


Morellet, pp. 339-42; Jefferson, pp. 162-65.


Morellet's chapter entitled "Marine militaire et Navigation," pp. 343-47, includes not only query x on the marine, found on page 165 of the original, but also the last part of query XXI on weights, measures, and money from page 317, line 25, to the end on page 322.


There is no such heading in Jefferson's text. The proposal for the emancipation of the slaves is outlined on pages 251, line 16, to 265, line 4, of "Query XIV. The administration of justice and the description of the laws?"


Morellet's chapter, "Esclaves noirs," pp. 198-217, comes from four different sections of the Notes. Pages 198, line 7, to 199, line 5; 199, line 6, to 212, line 11; 212, line 13, to 215, line 13; 215, line 14, to the end of the chapter correspond to pages 161, line 6, to 162 (end of query viii); 251, line 16, to 265, line 4; 298; line 8, to 301 (end of query xviii), and 130, line 27, to 133, line 4, of the original. The last section deals with the Albinoes.


Final gathering of the book is signed Bb and is a half-sheet octavo. The short form of the errata list occurs on signature Bb4 and was printed as an integral part of the book since it is physically conjugate with leaf Bb1. The longer form consists of a 2-leaf fold. Leaf Bb4, the original list, was cancelled, and to the stub of Bb1 was pasted this cancellans fold containing the longer form. The longer version, therefore, is a later addition, made after the original printing had been concluded and presumably after publication.


In addition to these corrections, there are in the Byrd copy six more manuscript notations in ink and in two different hand-writings. On the title page next to the letters M. J. someone wrote: "Jefferson," and under "Traduites de L'Anglois," the words "Par. M. l'abbé Morellet de L'Academie Françoise." In the translation, one finds in the same hand in the margin on page 21, "barre du Pec<heur>, the French equivalent of the place name Fishers-Bar in the text, and again in the margin on page 315 at the end of the chapter on religion: "La tolerance a été assur<ée> mais seule<ment> pour les sec<tes> chretiennes." Letters in pointed brackets were clipped off when the pages were trimmed by the binder. In a different and later hand, someone wrote the name "La Fontaine" on the title-page, and on the back of the false title the following bibliographical note: "Pour le nom de l'auteur et celui du traducteur, voir Dict. de Barbier, No. 12996."


The opinion that the long form was printed first and the short one later was expressed by John C. Wyllie in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, XXXV (1941), 71. Mr. Wyllie now acknowledges his error.


Jefferson Papers. Library of Congress. Volume 27, Folios 4717-4723. The date, written in a different ink, is crowded in at the top and is not certainly in Jefferson's hand.


In his memorandum, Jefferson lists three errors on page 103, one on page 104, two on page 106, one on page 113, etc. The fact that none of these appears in the short errata form should constitute ample evidence that checking was not carried much beyond page 99.


Jefferson's punctuation and spelling in the memorandum are much more informal than the spelling and punctuation found in his book and Morellet's translation.


Not changed either in manuscript notations in Byrd copy or in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list to read "où sa largeur est de 5 1/5 milles entre les deux pointes avancées de terre."


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed to paroît quelques fois in manuscript notations and to paroît quelquefois in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


York-Town in Morellet's text. Indications on the letter press copy show that contact was not made between paper and press with the result that -Town was not reproduced.


Changed in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


The English text of this passage and its French translation were crossed out by Jefferson, who, on second thought, must have felt that the translation, although not literal, did not do violence to the original.


The English text and its French translation were crossed out by Jefferson. It is difficult to understand why he did so, unless he felt that lac, a misprint for bac, English ferry, would be obvious to the reader.


Au-dessus de was changed to au-dessus sur. Occurs at top of page 25.


Changed to au-dessous both in manuscript notations and errata list.


Changed to situées au-delà du Mississipi in manuscript notations and errata list.


Changed to de la branche nord du petit Kanhaway in manuscript notations and errata list.


The brackets were inserted in manuscript notations and errata list.


This passage was crossed out by Jefferson.


Changed to read à l'est in manuscript notations and errata list.


Changed to read & parmi elles celle du Pic d'Otter in manuscript notations but not in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and errata list.


"La largeur de l'arche" changed to sa largeur in manuscript notations and errata list.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Sur crossed out in manuscript notations; left unchanged in errata list.


The English passage and its French translation were crossed out by Jefferson.


Changed in manuscript notations but not in errata list.


Changed to read aussi blanc qu'il soit possible d'en trouver à la surface de la terre in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations, but not in errata list. The writer of the manuscript notations seems to have pondered considerably over the translation of these words. He first changed Source chaude and Source brulante to Source tiede and Source chaude, then wrote crossed out tiede and chaude. He began to write bouillante, but did not get farther than bou. Not changed in errata list.


Jefferson evidently wanted to write a environ, and not a d'environ, which is incorrect.


Changed to pouces in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed to territoire du lord Fairfax in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Wrote at the bottom of the page: "les vegetaux suivans qui se trouvent en Virginie y ont eté probablement apportés de climats situés plus au sud." This passage occurs in the English original, but had been overlooked by Morellet. Its translation is not to be found in the errata list.


In the manuscript notations the words "les dents ainsi configurées" are replaced by "de defenses ni la même structure"; in the errata list, the correction reads: "qui n'a point les dents ainsi configurées, lisez qui n'est point de la même structure, qui n'a point de défenses, &c."


The negative ne was dropped both in the manuscript notations and in the errata list.


Changed to comme en convient M. de Buffon in manuscript notation and errata list.


The phrase "quoiqu'elles presentent encore des signes certains." was changed to "quoiqu'elles présentent aucuns signes certains" in manuscript notations, and to "quoiqu'elles ne présentent aucuns signes certains" in errata list.


Changed to on peut croire in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed to peut donc étre in manuscript notations and in errata list. Dont in Jefferson's memorandum should read donc.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed to read si cet animal étoit carnivore in manuscript corrections, but not in errata list.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


The words the flat horned elk are translated as l'elan a bois palmé in manuscript notations; no correction in errata list.


Jefferson may have felt that Morellet's translation of this passage on page 126 of the French text was not close enough to the original. The French context reads: "C'est-là l'animal decrit par Catesby, comme le cervus major americanus, le stag, le cerf de l'Amérique, & qui differe cependant du cerf autant que l'élan à bois palmé differe du daim."


Changed in manuscript notations to read quoiqu'aiant tant de caracteres de l'élan, de quoi le confondre . . ." Not changed in errata list.


Changed to de bonnes femelles in manuscript notations and to de bonnes nourrices in errata list.


Changed to si je puis croire avoir vu in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


Changed to boeufs in manuscript notations and errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list.


qu'au contraire is blurred and illegible.


Changed to lorsqu'on en a pris soin en Europe in manuscript notations and in errata list. Jefferson forgot to copy the word soin.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list.


The bracket was added in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


The bracket was added in manuscript notations, but not in errata list.


In the manuscript notation has been changed to read: "Ces faits sont suffisans pour montrer que si les Américains aborigenes n'ont point des formes de gouvernement, ils connoissent la sociabilité politique . . .;" in errata list: "que si les Américains aborigènes n'ont point de gouvernement, ils connoissent une sorte de sociabilité politique . . ."


In the manuscript notations the text is changed to read: "En passant de Norwege en Islande, de l'Islande au Groenland, du Groenland au Labrador, le 1er trajet est le plus long;" the errata reads: "après le mot Labrador; lisez le premier trajet est le plus long."


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Corrections requested by Jefferson were made in errata list; in manuscript notations, the correction was made on the chart, but not on the page facing it.


The brackets were added in the manuscript notations, but not in the errata list.


Changed to de la même espece de blanc in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notation but not in errata list.


Changed to confreres in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Not changed in manuscript notation or in errata list.


Not changed in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed to deux fois pour les affaires civiles & criminelles, & deux fois pour les affaires criminelles seulement. This correction is found in the manuscript notations and the errata list.


A word coming before the passage is blurred and illegible.


Changed to loix &c, dont il n'étoit pas en leur pouvoir ni dans celui de la couronne de s'écarter. The correction was made in the manuscript notations and in the errata list.


Changed to annullées in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed to l'arpenteur in manuscript notation and in errata list.


The correction was not made either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


Changed to du vendeur in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed to des plus anciens statuts existans in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Not changed either in manuscript notations or in errata list.


The "&" is missing in the manuscript.


Jefferson forgot one of the "t's" in the French word littérature.


Changed to de l'Europe in manuscript notations and in errata list.


The word had is blurred and almost illegible.


The words aussi intolérans qu'en Europe envers leurs freres have been replaced by aussi intolérans que leurs freres in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list.


Changed in manuscript notations and in errata list. The last four words should read: "un acte de charité." Jefferson prefixed the wrong article to acte.