Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. XI.]

485

son's Lectures, 3 vols. 8vo.; Reeves' History of the English Law, 4 vols. 8vo. ; Jacob's Law Dictionary, by Ruffhead, fol.; Abridgment of Cases in Equity; Bridgman's Digested Index of Cases in Chancery, 3 vols. 8vo.; Fonblanque's Treatise of Equity, 5th edition, 1819, 2 vols., 8vo.

LETTERS TO HIS GRANDSON.

TO FRANCIS EPPES, MILLBROOK.

MONTICELLO, June 12, 1822.

DEAR FRANCIS:

I received while at Poplar Forest yours of May 13th, and am glad to learn that you find Coke's Littleton not as difficult as you expected. The methodical arrangement of his work, and the new notes and cases, have certainly been a great improvement. According to your information I have retained in my hands enough to import for you this edition of Coke's Littleton and Bacon's Abridgment. The present high exchange, our enormous duties, and other charges bring them very high. Still I observe the Bacon will come at $45 89, which is $4 less than the American price. The Coke's Littleton being a new publication, comes to $10 a volume, of which more than $1 a volume is our own duty. At the close of your reading of the first volume we shall hope to see you. I suppose you have heard that the Trists have lost their mother.

Ever affectionately yours,

[merged small][graphic]

CHAPTER XII.

1823-1825.

An Accident-Correspondence of 1823-On Style-On O'Meara's Voice from St. Helena -Complaint that the Republican side of American History is Unwritten-Declares that the breaking up of hordes of Private Letters will ultimately disclose the truth -Considers J. Q. Adams unfriendly to himself To Monroe, on Interference of Holy Alliance in South America-On the Acquisition of Cuba-On the Proposition of England to join in Resisting Interference of the Holy Alliance-The "Monroe Doctrine" proposed to Monroe six weeks before he announced it—John Adams's Cunningham Correspondence Published-Jefferson to Mr. Adams, on the Strictures it contained on himself Their remaining Correspondence-Jefferson's Expressions in regard to the Presidential Candidates in 1823-Letter to George Ticknor-Their previous Acquaintance-Jefferson's Absorbing Topic in 1824-Selection of Professors of the University-To Dr. Sparks, on Emancipation and Colonization-To Garnett, on Constitutional Amendments-To Englebrecht, on 15th Psalm of David-Reconciliation with Edward Livingston-Correspondence with the old "Heart of Sedition" in England-Displeasure with Cartwright, and its Termination-Correspondence with Henry Lee-Lafayette's Visit to the United States Jefferson proposes a Public Testimonial to him-Lafayette's Visit to Monticello-The Banquet-Jefferson's Speech -Ticknor and Daniel Webster Visit Monticello-Webster's Account of his VisitRemarks ascribed to Jefferson in regard to Wirt's Life of Henry, and to the Character of General Jackson-A Letter from one of Mr. Jefferson's Family on the subject-— Jefferson's Feelings towards Wirt, and his habitual way of speaking of Henry-His Feelings towards General Jackson-Mr. Jefferson Twice in a Rage-His Remarks on the Presidential Candidates in 1824-Arrival of the Professors, and Opening of the University-Jefferson's Estimate of the Professors-Dr. Dunglison's MemorandaExtracts from these Memoranda-The University Buildings-Architecture-All the Professors Foreigners-Jefferson's Illness-His Ideas of Physic-Jefferson at his Table, his Visitors, etc.-His Manners-His Openness in Conversation-Lafayette's Second Visit to Monticello-Levasseur's Statements-The Dinner in the RotundaLafayette's Solicitude for Jefferson's Health-Sends Instruments to him from FranceProposes to send Dr. Cloquet-Laws of the University-Republicanism thought unable to stand against College Burschenschaft-Difficulties in the University—Mr. Jefferson's Attentions to the Students.

A LITTLE before the close of 1822 Mr. Jefferson met with an accident, which caused him a good deal of inconvenience. Descending from one of his terraces, a decayed step gave way under his feet, and he was precipitated at full length to the

CHAP. XII.]

ground, breaking his left arm. The bone became well knitted again in course of a couple of months, but the hand and fingers remained useless for a long period, in consequence of an edematous swelling. Indeed, the use and strength of the arm and hand were never entirely recovered. His right wrist, as before stated, continued to grow stiffer and feebler as the debility of age increased-and therefore he was henceforth partially crippled in both hands. This added intolerably to the weariness and irksomeness of writing.

His correspondence in 1823 opens with a letter to Mr. Edward Everett (February 24th), which contains several historical facts already cited, and some not uninteresting literary criticisms. Here are his comments on style to a celebrated master of style:

ON STYLE-NAPOLEON.

487

"By analyzing too minutely we often reduce our subject to atoms, of which the mind loses its hold. Nor am I a friend to a scrupulous purism of style. I readily sacrifice the niceties of syntax to euphony and strength. It is by boldly neglecting the rigorisms of grammar, that Tacitus has made himself the strongest writer in the world. The hypercritics call him barbarous; but I should be sorry to exchange his barbarisms for their wire-drawn purisms. Some of his sentences are as strong as language can make them. Had he scrupulously filled up the whole of their syntax, they would have been merely common. To explain my meaning by an English example, I will quote the motto of one, I believe, of the regicides of Charles I., "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God."1 Correct its syntax, “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God," it has lost all the strength and beauty of the antithesis.

The publication of O'Meara's Voice from St. Helena, materially changed Mr. Jefferson's estimate of Napoleon's civic qualities, and moved him to commiseration for his personal sufferings:

"I have just finished [he wrote Mr. Adams, February 25th] reading O'Meara's Bonaparte. It places him in a higher scale of understanding than I had allotted him. I had thought him the greatest of all military captains, but an indifferent statesman, and misled by unworthy passions. The flashes, however, which escaped from him in these conversations with O'Meara, prove a mind of great expansion, although not of distinct development and reasoning. He seizes results with rapidity and penetration, but never explains logically the process of reasoning by which he

1 He here quotes from the Epitaph on John Bradshaw, already mentioned as having been found among his papers, with a note attached by him, conjecturing that it was only a supposititious epitaph, and in reality an inspiration of Dr. Franklin. (See vol. i. pp. 231, 232.) If the last conjecture was correct (and Dr. Franklin was certainly fond, on occasion, of playing the part of a literary Puck), still, for aught we know, the motto may have belonged to Bradshaw.

arrives at them. This book, too, makes us forget his atrocities for a moment, in commiseration of his sufferings. I will not say that the authorities of the world, charged with the care of their country and people, had not a right to confine him for life, as a lion or tiger, on the principle of self-preservation. There was no safety to nations while he was permitted to roam at large. But the putting him to death in cold blood, by lingering tortures of mind, by vexations, insults and deprivations, was a degree of inhumanity to which the poisonings and assassinations of the school of Borgia, and the den of Marat never attained. The book proves, also, that nature had denied him the moral sense, the first excellence of well-organized man. If he could seriously and repeatedly affirm that he had raised himself to power without ever having committed a crime, it proves that he wanted totally the sense of right and wrong. If he could consider the millions of human lives which he had destroyed, or caused to be destroyed, the desolations of countries by plunderings, burnings, and famine, the destitutions of lawful rulers of the world without the consent of their constituents, to place his brothers and sisters on their thrones, the cutting up of established societies of men and jumbling them discordantly together again at his caprice, the demolition of the fairest hopes of mankind for the recovery of their rights and amelioration of their condition, and all the numberless train of his other enormities; the man, I say, who could consider all these as no crimes, must have been a moral monster, against whom every hand should have been lifted to slay him."

In two letters to Judge Johnson of South Carolina (March 4th, and June 12th), Mr. Jefferson complains that the Republican side of American history has not yet been written:

"We have been too careless of our future reputation, while our tories will omit nothing to place us in the wrong. Besides the five-volumed libel which represents us as struggling for office, and not at all to prevent our government from being administered into a monarchy, the life of Hamilton is in the hands of a man who, to the bitterness of the priest, adds the rancor of the fiercest Federalism. Mr. Adams' papers too, and his biography, will descend of course to his son, whose pen, you know, is pointed, and his prejudices not in our favor. And doubtless other things are in preparation, unknown to us. On our part we are depending on truth to make itself known, while history is taking a contrary set which may become too inveterate for correction."

He proceeds to say that Mr. Madison will probably leave something historical, but that it will be principally confined to the period "between the dissolution of the old and commencement of the new government." He says that he has not had time to prepare anything himself, but that his letters, "all preserved," will give daily occurrences and views from 1790 till

This word is thus printed in both editions of Mr. Jefferson's Works-but it was probably an error in the first copying, which was followed in the later edition without a reference to the original MSS, or it may have been a slip of Mr. Jefferson's pen. The sense would point to the substitution of the word dethronements.

2 Judge Marshall's Life of Washington is here referred to.
3 This means of course, all possessing political importance.

CHAP. XII.]

he left public life; and that, being written "in the warmth and freshness of fact and feeling, they will carry internal evidence that what they breathe is genuine," and will "command more conviction than anything he could have written after his retirement." He adds:

ANTI-REPUBLICAN HISTORY.

489

"Selections from these, after my death, may come out successively as the maturity of circumstances may render their appearance seasonable. But multiplied testimony, multiplied views will be necessary to give solid establishment to truth. Much is known to one which is not known to another, and no one knows everything. It is the sum of individual knowledge which is to make up the whole truth, and to give its correct current through future time."

And in the second letter:

"History may distort truth, and will distort it for a time, by the superior efforts at justification of those who are conscious of needing it most. Nor will the opening scenes of our present government be seen in their true aspect, until the letters of the day, now held in private hoards, shall be broken up and laid open to public view. What a treasure will be found in General Washington's Cabinet, when it shall pass into the hands of as candid a friend to truth as he was himself? when no longer, like Cæsar's notes and memorandums in the hands of Anthony, it shall be open to the high priests of Federalism only, and garbled to say so much and no more, as suits their views!" 1

The remark in regard to the light to be shed on our political history, on the views of men and the objects of parties, by the breaking up of private hoards of letters, has been most signally verified. The published correspondences of Adams, Hamilton, Ames, Jefferson, etc., leave no materials wanting for a genuine history of the general course and aims of the two great American parties.

One of the preceding extracts implies that Jefferson did not consider John Q. Adams personally friendly to himself. A decisive example of the proof on which he based this conclusion might here be given, but it does not appear to be called for.

In the same letter to Johnson will be found the customary views in regard to the tenor of a class of decisions in the Supreme Court of the United States. It also contains some testimony on the subject of the authorship of Washington's Farewell Address, which distinctly confutes a modern theory that this paper was wholly, or principally, the production of Hamilton.

1 No one will forget that this was written before the publication of General Washington's Writings, by Mr. Sparks.

« AnteriorContinuar »