Imágenes de páginas


The day was rainy, or the crowds would have been greater. The burial service of the Episcopal Church was read over Mr. Jefferson's remains by his friend, the Rev. Mr. Hatch, the clergyman of the parish.

In his narrative, Colonel Randolph alludes to three other persons as having been much of the time with Mr. Jefferson, near the period of his decease. These were Mr. Jefferson's daughter Mrs. Randolph, Mr. Trist, and Dr. Dunglison, Mrs. Randolph left no written account of the scene. On the 2d of July, Mr. Jefferson handed her a little casket. On opening it after his death, she found a paper on which he had written the lines of Moore, commencing:


"It is not the tear at this moment shed,

When the cold turf has just been lain o'er him "


On the same was written:

"Heu! quanto minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui meminisse."

There is also a touching tribute to his daughter, declaring that while he "goes to his fathers," "the last pang of life" is in parting from her-that "two seraphs" "long shrouded in death" (meaning doubtless his wife and younger daughter) "await him "-that he will "bear them her love."

Mr. Trist's recollections of the closing scene coincide too closely with Colonel Randolph's in all material particulars, to require their transcription. In a few points he goes into more minute details. He says it was the call of his friend, Mr. Garret, Bursar of the University, and the whispered inquiry of a member of the family at the door, to know whether he should be admitted to the room, that Mr. Jefferson had mistaken for a similar

We have seen all these souvenirs. Copies of them are before us. Mrs. Randolph shrunk from their exposure, except to the eye of the most intimate friendship. A rumor that an accident, or rather a well-intentioned indiscretion, had made them public, gave her much pain. It seemed to her a drawing aside of the veil from domestic scenes, from which delicacy should exclude the observation of all strangers. Mrs. Randolph has long reposed in death. We will not violate her living wishes. Why should we? Is anything wanting to prove Mr. Jefferson's paternal tenderness, or his high and fixed belief in Heaven!

Perhaps we have already said more of these souvenirs than would have accorded with Mrs. Randolph's wishes. If so, on us must rest the sole responsibility. In this, as in all parallel cases, we have acted with no limitation but our own sense of propriety. With confidence, with perhaps too much confidence, have all the possible materials of full biography been placed in our hands. If there shall be error on either side in using them, we have preferred that it be on the side of unreserve.

VOL. III.-35

inquiry in relation to the Rev. Mr. Hatch. Mr. Trist drew the same inference from Mr. Jefferson's remark on that occasion, that Mr. Randolph did.

Mr. Trist thus more fully gives the particulars of what appears to have been an inquiry instead of a remark; and he places the event later in the evening:


During the night of the 3d, as I sat on the sofa, close to his pillow, my eyes were constantly turning from his face to the clock in the corner, the hands of which, it seemed to me, never would reach the point at which I wished to see them.

. . . It wanted yet an hour or more of that moment, when his head turning toward me he whispered inquiringly, "This is the Fourth?" Alas! not yet. But I could not bear to say so, and took no notice of the inquiry. "This is the Fourth?" he repeated. Thus pressed, repugnant as it was to me to deceive him, I nodded assent. "Ah," he murmured, as an expression came over his countenance, which said, "just as I wished."

When the dying man rose in his couch and imagined himself dispatching messages to the Revolutionary Committee of Safety, Mr. Trist remarks that he "used his hands as if writing on a tablet held in the left," and that his words were: "Warn the Committee to be on the alert."

A letter from Mr. Trist to the husband of another of Mr. Jefferson's grand-daughters, dated, "His bedside, July 4th, 1826, 9.15, A.M.," lies before us. Written from the room of death, it possesses interest, though it but repeats what has been already


"There is no longer any doubt, unless one chance to a hundred thousand, or a million, may be ground for doubt. He has been dying since yesterday morning; and until twelve o'clock last night, we were in momentary fear that he would not live, as he desired, to see his own glorious Fourth. It has come at last; and he is still alive, if we can apply the word to one who is all but dead. He has been to the last, the same calm, clear-minded, amiable philosopher.

From the first, he considered his case desperate: he knew the truth that the machine was worn out in some of its essential parts, and therefore could not go on. Yet, for the satisfaction of his family, he determined from the beginning to do everything and anything the Doctor recommended. This determination he adhered to with his wonted inflexibility."

"He has not aroused from his lethargy now for several hours: his pulse is barely perceptible to the nicest touch; and his extremities have the clamminess of death. You will be too late; yet I hope you'll be on your way before this reaches B

[ocr errors]

1 This, an astronomical clock, was purchased at the sale of Mr. Jefferson's effects, by his family, for the purpose of presenting it to Dr. Dunglison; and it is now in the possession of the latter gentleman.


The presence of E- and C

is of inexpressible importance to mother. I need

not say more, nor attempt to depict her situation. They (mother and the girls) are fully aware of his condition, and have been told to consider him as already gone. Yours affectionately,

[ocr errors]


P.S. Thus far (three quarters past eleven, A. M.) he has suffered no pain from beginning to end.


In the parting interview with the female members of his family, Mr. Jefferson, besides general admonitions (the tenor of which coresponded with those contained in his letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith '), addressed them affectionate words of encouragement and practical advice, adapted to their several situations. In this he did not even pass over a young great-grandchild (Ellen Bankhead), but exhorted her to diligently persevere in her studies, "for they would help make life valuable to her." He gently but audibly murmured: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'

We will now take up Dr. Dunglison's Memoranda, at thẻ point where we left them. Perhaps we should first, in justice to this faithful family physician, mention the fact that Mr. Jeffer son was importuned by a Philadelphia friend who called on him, and who was alarmed at his condition, to send for the celebrated Dr. Physic of that city. His reply was, "I have got a Dr. Physic of my own-I have entire confidence in Dr. Dunglison." No other physician was called in.

[ocr errors]


"In the spring of 1826 the health of Mr. Jefferson became more impaired; his nutrition fell off and at the approach of summer he was troubled with diarrhoea, to which he had been liable for some years-ever since, as he believed, he had resorted to the Virginia Springs, especially the White Sulphur, and had freely used the waters externally for an eruption. which did not yield readily to the ordinary remedies. I had prescribed for this affection early in June, and he had improved somewhat; but on the 24th of that month, he wrote me the last note I received from him, begging me to visit him, as he was not so well. This note was perhaps the last he penned. On the same day, however, he wrote an excellent letter to General Weightman, in reply to an invitation to celebrate, in Washington, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which he declined on the ground of indisposition. This, Professor Tucker says was probably his last letter. It had all the striking characteristics of his vigorous and unfaded intellect.

[ocr errors]

1 See ante, p. 524.

* Some describer of Mr. Jefferson's death (we think Mr. Wirt) erroneously mentions that he uttered this prayer of Simeon in Latin.

"The tone of the note I received from him satisfied me of the propriety of visiting him immediately, and having mentioned the circumstance to Mr. Tucker, he proposed to accompany me. I immediately saw that the affection was making a decided impression upon his bodily powers; and, as Mr. Tucker has properly remarked in his life of this distinguished individual, was apprehensive that the attack would prove fatal. Nor did Mr. Jefferson himself indulge any other opinion. From this time his strength gradually diminished and he had to remain in bed. The evacuations became less numerous, but it was manifest that his powers were failing.

"Until the 2d and 3d of July, he spoke freely of his approaching death; made all his arrangments with his grandson, Mr. Randolph, in regard to his private affairs; and expressed his anxiety for the prosperity of the University and his confidence in the exertion in its behalf of Mr. Madison and the other Visitors. He repeatedly, too, mentioned his obligation to me for my attention to him. During the last week of his existence I remained at Monticello; and one of the last remarks he made was to me. In the course of the day and night of the 2d of July, he was affected with stupor, with intervals of wakefulness and consciousness; but on the 3d, the stupor became almost permanent. About seven o'clock of the evening of that day, he awoke, and seeing me staying at his bedside exclaimed, Ah! Doctor, are you still there?' in a voice, however, that was husky and indistinct. He then asked, 'Is it the Fourth?' to which I replied, 'It soon will be.' These were the last words I heard him utter.



"Until towards the middle of the day-the 4th,―he remained in the same state, or nearly so; wholly unconscious to everything that was passing around him. His circulation was gradually, however, becoming more languid; and for some time prior to dissolution, the pulse at the wrist was imperceptible. About one o'clock he ceased to exist.

"The opportunities I had of witnessing the private life of Mr. Jefferson were numerous. It was impossible for any one to be more amiable in his domestic relations; it was delightful to observe the devoted and respectful attention that was paid him by all the family. In the neighborhood too he was greatly revered. Perhaps, however, according to the all-wise remark, that no one is a prophet in his own country, he had more personal detractors there partly owing to difference in political sentiments which are apt to engender so much unworthy acrimony of feeling, but still more, perhaps, owing to the views which he was supposed to possess on the subject of religion; yet it was well known that he did not withhold his aid when a church had to be established in the neighborhood, and that he subscribed largely to the Episcopal church erected in Charlottesville. After his death much sectarian intolerance was exhibited owing to the publication of certain of his letters, in which he animadverted on the Presbyterians more especially; yet there could not have been a more unfounded assertion than that of a Philadelphia Episcopal divine," .. that Mr. Jefferson's memory was detested in Charlottesville and the vicinity. It is due,

Dr. Dunglison, like Mr. Trist, understood this to be a question, and it will be observed they vary as to who answered it. We should remark that the three accounts of the eye and ear witnesses we draw from, were written years apart, and without either having seen the statements of the other.

2 For a letter of Dr. Dunglison, more fully describing his impressions of Mr. Jeffer son's character, see APPENDIX, No. 35.

The reader is requested to suspend his judgment on the divine for further develop


[ocr errors]




also, to that illustrious individual to say, that in all my intercourse with him I never heard an observation that savored, in the slightest degree, of impiety. His religious belief harmonized more closely with that of the Unitarians than of any other denomination, but it was liberal and untrammelled by sectarian feelings and prejudices. It is not easy to find more sound advice, more appropriately expressed, than in the letter which he wrote to Thomas Jefferson Smith, dated February 21st, 1825.

"On the last day of the fatal illness of his grand-daughter who had married Mr. Bankhead Mr. Jefferson was present in the adjoining apartment, and when the announcement was made by me, that but little hope remained, that she was, indeed, past hope, it is impossible to imagine more poignant distress than was exhibited by him. He shed tears; and abandoned himself to every evidence of intense grief.

"It was beautiful, too, to witness the deference that was paid by Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison to each other's opinions. When as Secretary, and as Chairman of the Faculty, I had to consult one of them, it was a common interrogatory, What did the other say of the matter? If possible, Mr. Madison gave indications of a greater intensity of this feeling, and seemed to think that everything emanating from his ancient associate must be correct. In a letter which Mr. Jefferson wrote. to Mr. Madison a few months only before he died (February 17th, 1826) he thus charmingly expresses himself. [Here follows the conclusion of the letter given at p. 582, commencing at the words, "The friendship which has subsisted between us," etc.]

[ocr errors]

"It is somewhat singular, however, that about the very time this letter must have been penned, Mr. Jefferson should have declared at table in my presence, that he had no desire for posthumous reputation, nor could he well understand how any one could be anxious for it. I was surprised at the time to hear the sentiment expressed. The prospect of future rewards and punishments is confessedly one of the greatest incentives to correctness of conduct, and the transmitting of a good name to posterity must enter largely into the consideration of the good as one of those future rewards, and such could scarcely fail to have been the feeling of Mr. Jefferson when he asked Mr. Madison to take care of him when dead. Some paradox may have been involved in the remark which it is not easy to unravel.'

When Jefferson asked Madison to "take care of him when dead" the context shows that he was speaking of a vindication, which he supposed the former was preparing, of the aims and

1 Mr. Jefferson's declaration on this occasion of his comparative estimate of posthumous reputation is distinctly corroborated in a letter to Madison, quoted in Vol. 2, p. 257. of this work; and we do not remember a conflicting assertion or hint in all his writings.

His thirst for contemporaneous reputation has been thought uncommonly strong, on account of a class of remarks which are to be found in his correspondence. He attached a very high value to the approbation, the esteem, and the love of his countrymen, and especially of his neighbors. This would be a natural, if not an inevitable result of his estimate of mankind-of the spirit of all of his political theories. But that he had any craving desire for contemporaneous glory or renown-any stronger feeling in that direction than such men as Washington, Franklin, or Samuel Adams-is not in our judgment deducible either from his writings or the tenor of his life. No democratic statesman ever escapes such imputations if he practises on his own theories-but those readiest to bring the charge, those who affect such a contempt for mankind, are generally found, in practice, quite as anxious to secure the world's plaudits and honors.

« AnteriorContinuar »