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forfeited without crime.' The boldness with which, on his first entrance into manhood, he attacked and overthrew the deep rooted institutions of Primogeniture and Entails, the parent sources of those artificial inequalities in society which have caused so much misery and oppression in the world, is an indestructible commentary upon this attribute of his character. An anecdote is related by Mr. Madison, which is no less apposite and striking. During the infant stages of our separate sovreignty, the wheels of the republican machine moving rather tardily and awkward, forms of government were the uppermost topics every where, more especially at the convivial board. On one of these occasions, at which Mr. Jefferson was present, the question being started as to the best mode of providing the executive chief, it was, among other opinions, gravely advanced that a hereditary designation was preferable to any elective process that could be devised. At the close of an eloquent effusion against the agitations and animosities of a popular choice, and in favor of birth, as on the whole affording a better chance for a suitable head of the government, Mr. Jefferson, with a smile, remarked, that he had heard of a University somewhere in which the Professorship of Mathematics was hereditary 1 The reply, received with acclamation, was a coup de grace to the anti-republican Orator. His father, Peter Jefferson, was born February 29th, 1707–8; and intermarried in 1739, with Jane Randolph, of the age of 19, daughter of Isham Randolph, one of the seven sons of that name and family, settled at Dungeoness, in Goochland county, who trace their pedigree far back in England and Scotland; “to which” says Mr. Jefferson, “let every one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses.” He was a self-educated man; but endowed by nature, with strong intellectual powers, and a constant thirst for information, he rose steadily by his own exertions, and acquired considerable distinction in the Colony. He was commissioned, jointly with Joshua Fry, professor of mathematics in William and Mary College, to designate the boundary line between Virginia and NorthCarolina; and was afterwards employed, with the same gentleman, to construct the first regular map of Virginia. He died August 17, 1757, leaving a widow, with six daughters, and two sons, of whom Thomas was the elder. To both the sons he left large estates; to Thomas the Shadwell lands, where he was born, and which included Monticello; to his brother the estate on James river, called Snowden, after the reputed birth-place of the family. The mother of Mr. Jefferson survived to the fortunate year of 1776, the most memorable epoch, alike in the annals of her country, and the life of her son. At the age of five, Thomas was placed by his father at the English school, where he continued four years; at the expiration of which, he was transferred to the Latin, where he remained five years, under the tuition of Mr. Douglass, a clergyman from Scotland. With the rudiments of the Latin and Greek languages, he acquired, at the same time, a knowledge of the French. At this period his father died, leaving him an orphan, only fourteen years of age, and without a relative or friend competent to direct or advise him. An interesting reminiscence of this critical period of his boyhood, and of the simple moral process by which he subdued, and wrought into instruments of the greatest good, the perilous circumstances of his position, is contained in an affectionate letter, written more than fifty years afterwards, to his grandson, in Philadelphia. It is replete with sound admonition, applicable to every condition of youth, besides affording a choice insight into the juvenile mind and habits of the writer. His tastes were not so etherial, it appears, as to exclude him altogether from the wild and boisterous joys of the chase, and the turf; but the basis of his moral composition must have been strongly intellectual, to have reasoned with such precocity of judgment “in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox;” and to have caught the first impulses of a future ambition so chastened and elevated, amidst the engrossing transports of “the victory of a favorite horse.” “Your situation, thrown at such a distance from us and alone, cannot but give us all great anxieties for you. As much has been secured for you, by your particular position and the acquaintance to which you have been recommended, as could be done towards shielding you from the dangers which surround you. But thrown on a wide world, among entire strangers, without a friend or guardian to advise, so young, too, and with so little experience of mankind, your dangers are great, and still your safety must rest on yourself. A determination never to do what is wrong, prudence, and good humour, will go far towards securing to you the estimation of the world. When I recollect that at fourteen years of age, the whole

care and direction of myself was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the


various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, and become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could ever become what they were. Under temptations and difficulties, I would ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Randolph, do in this situation ? What course in it will ensure me their approbation ? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct, tended more to its correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same object through a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position, I was often thrown into the society of horse-racers, card-players, foxhunters, scientific and professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar, or in the great council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer? . That of a horse-jockey a fox-hunter ? an orator 3 or the honest advocate of my country's rights? Be assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-catechising habit, is not trifling, nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and steady pursuit of what is right.”

On the death of his father, Mr. Jefferson was placed under the instruction of the Rev. Mr. Maury, father of the late Consul at Liverpool, with a view to complete the necessary classical preparation for college. The charms of ancient learning seized with a quick and powerful fascination upon his heart; they were remarkably congenial to his contemplative spirit, and touched the finest and the sweetest susceptibilities of his nature. They were here unfolded to him in all their richness and profusion; and how deeply he drank at the inspiring fountain, may be inferred from those exhaustless streams of classic elegance which afterwards flowed from his pen, and those bright flashes of oriental imagery with which his lighter writings abound. With Mr. Maury he continued two years; and then, (1760) at the age of seventeen, he entered the college of William and Mary, at which he was graduated, two years after, with the highest honors of the institution.

While in college he was more remarked for solidity than sprightliness of intellect. His faculties were so even and well balanced,

that no particular endowment appeared pre-eminent. His course was not marked by any of those eccentricities which often presage the rise of extraordinary genius; but by that constancy of pursuit, that inflexibility of purpose, that bold spirit of inquiry, and thirst for knowledge, which are the surer prognostics of future greatness. His habits were those of patience and severe application, which, aided by a quick and vigorous apprehension, a talent of close and logical combination, and a retentive memory, laid the foundation sufficiently broad and strong for those extensive acquisitions which he subsequently made. Mathematics was his favorite study, and in that science he particularly excelled; he nevertheless distinguished himself in all the branches of education embraced in the established course of his Alma Mater. To his devotion to Philosophy and Science, he united an exquisite taste for the Fine Arts. In those of Architecture, Painting, and Sculpture, he made himself such an adept as to be afterwards accounted one of the best critics of the age. For Music he had an uncommon passion; and his hours of relaxation were passed in exercising his skill upon the Violin, for which he evinced an early and extravagant predilection. His fondness for the Ancient Classics strengthened continually with his strength, insomuch that it is said he scarcely passed a day, in all after life, without reading a portion of them. The same remark is applicable, in a more emphatic sense, to his passion for the Mathematics. He became so well acquainted with both the great languages of antiquity as to read them with ease; and so far perfected himself in the French as to become familiar with it, which was of essential service to him on entering the diplomatic field, subsequently assigned to him. He could also read and speak the Italian language, and had a competent knowledge of the Spanish. Such too, was his early propensity of prying to the bottom of every thing, that he made himself master of the Anglo-Saxon, as a root of the English, and “an element in legal Philology.” But it was the acquaintances which he had the good fortune to form, while in college, which probably determined the particular cast and direction of his ambition. These were the first characters in the society of Williamsburg, and in the whole Province ; among whom he has placed on record, the names of three individuals who were particularly instrumental in fixing his future destinies, distinguishing each according to his appropriate merit in the


work: viz. Dr. Small, one of the professors in college, who made him his daily companion; Gov. Fauquier, “the ablest man who had ever filled that office, to whose acquaintance and familiar table, he was admitted; and George Wythe, “his faithful and beloved Mentor in youth, and his most affectionate friend through life. Of the kindness and beneficial services of these gentlemen, we find him, at the age of seventy-seven, retaining the most grateful recollections, and improving his last moments, as it were, in dedicating a farewell tribute of filial veneration to the memory of each. “It was says he “my great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destines of my life, that Dr. Wm. Small, of Scotland, was then professor of mathematics, a man profound in most of the useful branches of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and gentlemanly manners, and an enlarged and liberal mind. He most happily for me, became soon attached to me, and made me his daily companion when not engaged in the school; and from his conversation I got my first views of the expansion of science, and of the system of things in which we are placed. Fortunately, the philosophical chair became vacant soon after my arrival at college, and he was appointed to fill it per interim; and he was the first

who ever gave, in that college, regular lectures in Ethics, Rhetoric, and Belles Lettres.”

To Governor Fauquier, with whom he was in habits of intimacy, is also ascribed a high character. With the exception of an extravagant passion for gaming, he was every thing that could have been wished for by Virginia, under the royal government. Generous, liberal, elegant in his manners and accomplishments, his example left an impression of refinement and erudition on the colony, which eminently contributed to advance its reputation in the Arts. “With him” continues Mr. Jefferson, “and at his table, Dr. Small and Mr. Wythe, his amici omnium horarum, and myself, formed a partie quarree, and to the habitual conversations on these occasions, I owed much instruction.”

George Wythe, whose name will occur frequently in these Sketches, was emphatically a second father to the young and aspiring Jefferson. He was born about the year 1727, of respectable parentage, on the shores of the Chesapeake. His education had been neglected by his parents; and himself had led an idle and voluptuous life until the age of thirty; but by an extraordinary effort of self-recovery, at that point of time, he overcame both the want and the waste of early advantages, insomuch as to be

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