Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe
Monticello Dec. 27. 20.
Your letter recieved more than a twelve month ago. with the two tracts on penal jurisprudence; and the literary institution of Liverpool, ought long since to have called for the thanks I now return, had it been in my power sooner to have tendered them. but a long continuance of ill health has suspended all power of answering the kind attentions with which I have been honored during it: and it is only now that a state of slow and uncertain convalescence enables me to make acknolegements which have been so long and painfully delayed. the treatise on penal jurisprudence I read with great pleasure. Beccaria had demonstrated general principles: but practical applications were difficult. our states are trying them with more or less success: and the great light you have thrown on the subject will, I am sure, be useful to our experiment. for the thing as yet, is but in experiment. your Liverpool institution will also aid us in the organization of our new University, an establishment now in progress in this state, and to which my remaining days and faculties will be devoted. when ready for it's Professors, we shall apply for them chiefly to your island. were we content to remain stationary in science, we should take them from among ourselves; but, desirous of advancing, we must seek them in countries already in advance: and identity of language points to our best resource. to furnish inducements, we provide for the Professors separate buildings in which themselves & their families may be handsomely and comfortably lodged, and to liberal salaries will be added lucrative perquisites. this institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it. We are looking with wonder at what is passing among you. it
Resembles ocean in to tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or drown a fly.
there must be something in these agitations more than meets the eye of a distant spectator. your queen must be used in this, as a rallying point merely, around which are. . .