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While in this feeble condition, Browere, an artist, came from New York to take a cast in plaster of the head of Mr. Jefferson. The latter was exceedingly reluctant to have it done-and his family felt still more opposed to it. But Mr. Jefferson finally consented, saying that he could not find it in his heart to refuse a man so trifling a favor, who had come so far. He was placed on his back on a sofa, one of his hands grasping a chair which stood in front. Not dreaming of any danger, his family could not bear to see him with the plaster over his face, and therefore were not present; and his faithful Burwell was the only person besides the artist in the room. There was some defect in the arrangements made to permit his breathing, and Mr. Jefferson came near suffocation. He was too weak to rise or to relieve himself, and his feeble struggles were unnoticed or unheeded by his Parrhasius. The sufferer finally bethought himself of the chair on which his hand rested. He raised it as far as he was able and struck it on the floor. Burwell became conscious of his situation, and sprang furiously forward. The artist shattered his cast in an instant. The family now reached the room, and Browere looked as if he thought their arrival most opportune, for though Burwell was supporting his master in his arms, the fierce glare of his African eye boded danger. Browere was permitted to pick up his fragments of plaster and carry them off-and whether he ever put them together to represent features emaciated with age and debility, and writhing in suffocation, we are not informed.
Mr. Jefferson's deportment to his family was touching. He evidently made an effort to keep up their spirits. He was as gentle as a child, but conversed with such vigor and animation that they would have often cheated themselves with the belief that months, if not years of life were in store for him, and that he himself was in no expectation of speedy death-had they not witnessed the infant-like debility of his powerful frame, and had they not, occasionally, when they looked suddenly at him, caught resting on themselves that riveted and intensely loving gaze, which showed but too plainly that his thoughts were on a rapidly approaching parting. And as he folded each in his arms, as they separated for the night, there was a fervor in his kiss and gaze that declared as audibly as words, that he felt the farewell might prove a final one.
He declined to allow any member of his family to remain with him during the night, until very near his death. To the last, he declined the attendance of any of its female members, nor was he aware that the library door was left ajar to enable them to steal round silently through the darkness to hover about his bed. He even required the servants that watched with him, to have their pallets in his room, so they could sleep most of the night.
HIS LAST LETTER.
Mr. Jefferson and the other surviving signers of the Declaration of Independence, were invited by the Mayor of Washington, General Weightman, to attend the celebration of the Fiftieth anniversary of American Independence in the federal city. The following was Mr. Jefferson's reply, and it was his last letter:
TO MR. WEIGHTMAN.
MONTICELLO, June 24, 1826.
The kind invitation I received from you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. But acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to control. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow-citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day, forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the city of Washington and its vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. With my regret that ill
health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, be pleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments. TH. JEFFERSON.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were summoned to a greater, and we would fain hope, a still more joyful meeting of ancient friends and comrades on that day. The national anniversary being the first semi-centennial one, seemed in the popular mind, to mark a distinctive epoch, and it was celebrated everywhere with unusual festivity and splendor. At fifty minutes past meridian, on that day, Jefferson died. At the moment, thousands of patriotic orations were being pronounced, in which his name figured second to none. Thousands of popular assemblies had listened that day to the great Declaration drafted by his hand. Bells were ringing, and cannons booming in every town and hamlet of our country. Aged men, clad in their holiday attire, were gathered in knots, discoursing of the sword and pen of America-of Washington and Jefferson. Nor was lion-hearted John Adams, Franklin, and others, forgotten. Young men and maidens were collected in happy parties; some repairing to favorite retreats-some filling boats surmounted by gay streamers, on our lakes and rivers-some visiting stern old Revolutionary battle-fields. Even the little children were celebrating the day by waving miniature flags, firing miniature cannon, and dragging together, with shrill glee, the materials for the evening bonfire. The spirit of the great leader and lover of his kind appropriately ascended amidst the jubilant and noisy commotion of a nation's happiness. Thus would he have chosen to die.
Hundreds and hundreds of miles away, John Adams's last sands were running out. The very sky reëchoed the long exultant shouts as his characteristic toast was read at Quincy"Independence for ever." He lingered behind Jefferson, and his last words, uttered in the failing articulation of the dying, were: "THOMAS JEFFERSON STILL SURVIVES."1 All that was mortal of Jefferson had ceased to live when these words were spoken. Were they the less true?
The following accounts include all the reliable particulars of Mr. Jefferson's death. The first is contained in a letter from his oldest grandson, Colonel T. J. Randolph.
1 Life of John Adams, by his grandson, C. F. Adams, p. 636.
DEATH OF JEFFERSON.
TO HENRY S. RANDALL.
Mr. Jefferson had suffered for several years before his death, from a diarrhoea, which he concealed from his family, lest it might give them uneasiness. Not aware of it, I was surprised, in conversation with him, in March, 1826, to hear him in speaking of an event likely to occur about midsummer, say doubtingly, that he might live to that time. About the middle of June, hearing that he had sent for his physician, Dr. Dunglison, of the University of Virginia, I went immediately to see him, and found him out in his public rooms. Before leaving the house, he sent a servant to me, to come to his room, whereupon he handed me a paper, which he desired me to examine, remarking, "don't delay, there is no time to be lost." He gradually declined, but would only have his servants sleeping near him being disturbed only at nine, twelve, and four o'clock in the night, he needed little nursing." Becoming uneasy about him, I entered his room, unobserved, to pass the night. Coming round inadvertently to assist him, he chided me, saying that being actively employed all day, I needed repose. On my replying that it was more agreeable to me to be with him, he acquiesced, and I did not leave him again. A day or two after, my brother-in-law (Mr. Trist) was admitted. His servants, ourselves, and the Doctor became his sole nurses. My mother sat with him during the day, but he would not permit her to sit up at night. His family had to decline for him numerous tenders of service, from kind and affectionate friends and neighbors, fearing and seeing that it would excite him to conversation injurious to him in his weak condition. He suffered no pain, but gradually sunk from debility. His mind was always clear-it never wandered. He conversed freely, and gave directions as to his private affairs. His manner was that of a person going on a necessary journey-evincing neither satisfaction nor regret. He remarked upon the tendency of his mind to recur back to the scenes of the Revolution. Many incidents he would relate, in his usual cheerful manner, insensibly diverting my mind from his dying condition. He remarked that the curtains of his bed had been purchased from the first cargo that arrived after the peace of 1782. Upon my expressing the opinion, on one occasion, that he was somewhat better, he turned to me, and said, "do not imagine for a moment that I feel the smallest solicitude about the result; I am like an old watch, with a pinion worn out here, and a wheel there, until it can go no longer." On another occasion, when he was unusually ill, he observed to the Doctor, "A few hours more, Doctor, and it will be all over." Upon being suddenly aroused from sleep, by a noise in the room, he asked if he had heard the name of Mr. Hatch mentioned-the minister whose church he attended. On my replying in the negative, he observed, as he turned over, "I have no objection to see him, as a kind and good neighbor." The impression made upon my mind at the moment was, that his religious opinions having been formed upon mature study and reflection, he had no doubts upon his mind, and therefore did not desire the attendance of a clergyman; I have never since doubted the correctness of the impression then taken. His parting interview with the different members of his family, was calm and composed; impressing admonitions upon them, the cardinal points of which
1 Colonel Randolph lived on the estate, but in a separate house, at some distance from Monticello.
were to pursue virtue, be true and truthful. My youngest brother, in his eighth year, seeming not to comprehend the scene, he turned to me with a smile and said, George does not understand what all this means." He would speculate upon the person who would succeed him as Rector of the University of Virginia, and concluded that Mr. Madison would be appointed. With all the deep pathos of exalted friendship he spoke of his purity, his virtues, his wisdom, his learning, and his great abilities. The friendship of these great men was of an extraordinary character-they had been born, lived, and died within twenty-five miles of each other-they visited frequently through their whole lives. At twenty-three years old, Mr. Jefferson had been consulted on Mr. Madison's course of study-he then fifteen. Thus commenced a friendship as remarkable for its duration as it was for the fidelity and warmth of its feelings. The admiration of each for the wisdom, abilities, and purity of the other was unlimited. Their habit of reliance upon mutual counsel, equalled the sincerity of their affection, and the devotion of their esteem.
In speaking of the calumnies which his enemies had uttered against his public and private character, with such unmitigated and untiring bitterness, he said, that he had not considered them as abusing him; they had never known him. They had created an imaginary being clothed with odious attributes, to whom they had given his name; and it was against that creature of their imaginations they had levelled their anathemas.
On Monday, the third of July, his slumbers were evidently those of approaching dissolution; he slept until evening, when upon awaking he seemed to imagine it was morning, and remarked, that he had slept all night without being disturbed"This is the fourth of July." He soon sunk again into sleep, and on being aroused at nine, to take his medicine, he remarked in a clear distinct voice, "No, Doctor, nothing more." The omission of the dose of laudanum administered every night during his illness, caused his slumbers to be disturbed and dreamy; he sat up in his sleep and went through all the forms of writing; spoke of the Committee of Safety, saying it ought to be warned. As twelve o'clock at night approached, we anxiously desired that his death should be hallowed by the Anniversary of Independence. At fifteen minutes before twelve we stood noting the minute hand of the watch, hoping a few minutes of prolonged life. At four A. M. he called the servants in attendance, with a strong and clear voice, perfectly conscious of his wants. He did not speak · again. About ten he fixed his eyes intently upon me, indicating some want, which most painfully, I could not understand, until his attached servant, Burwell, observed that his head was not so much elevated as he usually desired it, for his habit was to lie with it very much elevated. Upon restoring it to its usual position, he seemed satisfied. About eleven, again fixing his eyes upon me, and moving his lips, I applied a wet sponge to his mouth, which he sucked and appeared to relish-this was the last evidence he gave of consciousness. He ceased to breathe, without a struggle, fifty minutes past meridian-July 4th, 1826. I closed his eyes with my own hands. He was at all times, during his illness, perfectly assured of his approaching end, his mind ever clear, and at no moment did he evince the least solicitude about the result; he was as calm and composed as when in health. He died a pure and good man. It is for others to speak of his greatness. He desired that his interment should be private, without parade, and our wish was to comply with his request, and no notice of the hour of interment, or invitations were issued. His body was borne privately from his dwelling, by his family and servants, but his neighbors and friends anxious to pay the last tribute of respect and affection to one whom they had loved and honored, waited for it in crowds at the grave.”