[JEFFERSON, Thomas]. ROSS, J[ames] A. Graecae Grammaticae Westmonasteriensis Instituto Compendiaria in usum juventutis civitatibus Americanis studiosae. Editio secunda. Philadelphia: William Fry, for the author, 1817.
12mo (7¼ x 4 in.), 100pp. Contemporary speckled calf, unlettered spine with four compartments (light browning, minor foxing, extremities worn, front hinge cracked). Half morocco gilt protective clamshell case.
AN AMERICAN GRAMMAR OF CLASSICAL GREEK, PRESENTED BY ITS AUTHOR TO JEFFERSON, ONE OF THE NATION'S MOST EMINENT CLASSICISTS
PRESENTATION COPY TO THOMAS JEFFERSON: INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR on the blank leaf facing the title. In a bold hand, Ross has written: "The Honble. Tho. Jefferson respectfully from James Ross." THOMAS JEFFERSON'S COPY, confirmed by the presence of his concealed ownership markings: the letter "T" added in ink before the signature mark "I" on page 97 to form the initials "T I" (since "I" traditionally substituted for "J" in printers' usage). The book formed part of Jefferson's second library at Monticello, no doubt welcomed after the first, 6700-volume library, to which he had dedicated 45 years, was sold to Congress in April 1815.
"I cannot live without books," Jefferson famously confessed, and given his life-long interest in ancient Greek language and literature, Ross's gift would certainly have been welcomed at Monticello. In his retirement, Jefferson took increasing pleasure from reading the Greek and Latin classical authors in their original languages. In addition, "he was much interested in the pronunciation of classical Greek," and "never ceased to regard Greek as a notably euphonious language. He quoted it frequently to John Adams..." (D. Malone, Jefferson and His Time: The Sage of Monticello, pp.191-192).
Ross compiled his Greek grammar with explanatory texts in Latin and closely followed the widely used text for England's prestigious Westminster School. Ross's work first appeared in 1813, and the author's prefatory address is dated Philadelphia, June 1813. According to testimonials from eminent American academics prefaced to the work, Ross's grammar had been prescribed for use at Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere. In his prefatory testimonial, Philip Lindsley notes that the first printing of Ross's grammar had been quickly exhausted and notes that it had become the only grammar of greek then employed at Princeton. Sowerby, Library of Thomas Jefferson, 4786.
Provenance: Thomas Jefferson (presentation inscription and initials) -- Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson and executor of the late President, who sold the Monticello library to settle the estate's debts (sale, Poor, 27 February 1829, lot A-840) -- Rapin E. Smith (19th century printed book-label) -- Charles Francis Jenkins (bookplate).