the Polygraph lately invented in our country, & as yet little known …[will] be forwarded to you by some vessel … your turn for mechanics will render pleasing to you those little attentions necessary in the use of the instrument. you are not one of those who will not take time to learn what will save time. I have used one the last 18. months, and can truly say that it is an inestimable invention … I inclose you directions for opening and setting it to work … [emphasis added]
To Edward Preble, July 6, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders invest time now to save time later.
In a recent post, Jefferson had received a valuable gift of wine from Commodore Preble. It set a bad precedent to keep it and might give offense to send it back. He solved his dilemma by sending Preble his favorite new invention, a copying machine known as a polygraph.
The polygraph was a complex instrument with multiple parts connected by joints and hinges. It took time and concentration to set up and calibrate before it would work properly.
I included this letter for the emphasized line. Some people would not invest time now to save time later. Preble was not one of those people. Neither was Jefferson.