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come the best Latin and Greek scholar in the State. He was one of the foremost of the Virginia patriots during the stormy season of the Revolution; and successively one of the highest legal, legislative, and judicial characters which that State has furnished. He was early elected to the House of Delegates, then called the House of Burgesses, and continued in it until transferred to Congress, in 1775. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, of which he had, in debate, been an eminent supporter. The same year, he was appointed by the Legislature of Virginia, one of the celebrated committee to Revise the Laws of the State. In 1777, he was chosen Speaker of the House of Delegates; and the same year was appointed Chancellor of the State, an office which he held until his death, in 1806, a period of thirty years. Mr. Jefferson always spoke with enthusiasm of this friend of many years; and declares it was the act of his life most gratifying to his heart, to contribute what he deemed but a compliment to his “just reputation.” “No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity in. flexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country, without the avarice of the Roman; for a more disinterested person never lived. Temperance and legularity in all his habits, gave him general good health, and his unaffected modesty and suavity of manners endeared him to every one. He was of easy elocution, his language chaste, methodical in the arrangement of his matter, learned and logical in the use of it, and of great urbanity in debate; not quick of apprehension, but, with a little time, profound in penetration, and sound in conclusion. In his philosophy he was firm, and neither troubling, nor perhaps trusting, any one with his religious creed, he left the world to the conclusion, that that religion must be good which could produce a life of exemplary virtue. His stature was of the middle size, well formed and proportioned, and the features of his face were manly, comely, and engaging. Such was George Wythe, the honor of his own, and the model of future times.” Immediately on leaving college, Mr. Jefferson engaged in the study of the Law, under the direction of Mr. Wythe. Here, it is said, fired by the example of his master, he performed the whole circuit of the Civil and Common Law; exploring every topic with precision, and fathoming every principle to the bottom. Here, also, he is said to have acquired that unrivaled facility, neatness, and or

der in business, which gave him, in effect, in every office that he filled, “the hundred hands of Briareus.” With such a guide, in a school of such exalted and searching discipline as that of the Law, all the rudiments of intellectual greatness, could not fail of being stirred into action. Aided by the propitious circumstances of the times, they exhibited a rapid and portentous developement in the man who was destined to humble the pride of hoary legitimacy, and prostrate its artificial scaffolding in the dust. The occasion was not long wanting, which was fitted to evoke the master passion of his nature in bold and prominent relief. His faculties were just fledging into manhood; they had begun to assume their distinctive flight, and to indicate a novel and illimitable range. At this decisive moment an incident occurred, which riveted them to their meditated sphere, and kindled the native ardour of his genius into a flame of fire. It was the celebrated speech of Patrick Henry, on the memorable resolutions of 1765, against the Stamp-Act. Young Jefferson was present and listened to the “bold, grand, and overwhelming eloquence” of the orator of nature; the effect of which seems never to have lost its sorcery over his mind. More than fifty years afterwards, he reverts to it with all the vividness of the first impression. “He appeared to me,” says he, “to speak as Homer wrote.” The resistance to the last resolution was “most bloody;” but the genius of Henry rose with the pressure of the occasion, and descended in “one incessant storm of lightning and thunder,” upon his opponents. The effect was indeed tremendous; it struck even that veteran and dignified assembly aghast. The resolutions were moved by Henry, and seconded by Mr. Johnston, a member from the Northern Neck. They were resisted by the whole monarchical body of the House of Burgesses, as a matter of course; and, besides, they were deemed so ill advised in point of time, as to rally in opposition to them all the old members, including such men as Peyton Randolph, Wythe, Pendleton, Nicholas, Bland, &c. honest patriots, whose influence in the House, had till then been unbroken. “But,” says Jefferson, “ torrents of sublime eloquence from Henry, backed by the solid reasoning of Johnston, prevailed. The last, however, and strongest resolution, was carried but by a single vote. The debate on it was most bloody. I was then but a student, and stood at the door of communication between the house and the lobby during the whole debate and vote; and I well remember, that, after the numbers, on - the division were told and declared from the Chair, Peyton Ramdolph, the Attorney-General, came out at the door where I was standing, and said, as he entered the lobby, “by G-d, I would have given 500 guineas for a single vote: for one vote would have dividcd the House, and Robinson was in the chair, who he knew would have negatived the resolution.” It was in the midst of this magnificent appeal, so electrifying to his impassioned auditor, that Henry is said to have exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, “Caesar had his Brutus—Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third–(‘Treason, cried the Speaker– ‘treason, treason, echoed from every part of the House. It was one , of those trying moments which is decisive of character. Henry faultered not an instant; but rising to a loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis,) may profit by their example. If this be treason make the most of it.” “I well remember, says Jefferson, “the cry of treason, the pause of Henry at the name of George the Third, and the presence of mind with which he closed his sentence, and baffled the vociferated charge.” The grandeur of that scene, and the triumphant eclat of Henry, made the heart of young Jefferson ache for the propitious moment which should enrol him among the champions of persecuted humanity. Then was realized that burning vision of his fancy, which, at the age of fourteen, amidst the crowning hilarities of the chase, had pointed his aspirations to the more solid and rational exultation which awaits “the honest advocate of his country's rights.” The feeling which such an exhibition would naturally produce in minds of a common mould, would be temporary, partaking more of the nature of animal excitement, and passing off with the occasion which gave it birth. Not so with Jefferson ; the sensations which it excited in him were purely intellectual; it composed his reflective mind into a deep and settled reverie, which the lapse of half a century had not broken, and in which were elaborated the most momentous theories affecting the freedom and happiness of man. Already his thoughtful spirit sighed over the wronged, the degraded condition of human nature, and panted for the vindication of its long lost rights and liberties. The tone and strength of the master sentiment of his mind, at this early period, are clearly indicated by those emphatic mottoes which he selected for his seals : “Ab eo libertas, a quo spiritus,” and “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” These mottoes attracted great attention among his cotemporaries, and were regarded as prophetic of his destiny. They are well remembered to this day, by the aged inhabitants of Virginia, and associated with the warmest recollections of him, whose presence only is lost from among them. The seals themselves are preserved, as sacred relics, by the family of Mr. Jefferson; and accu. rate impressions of them in wax, have been obtained by his particular friends, in various parts of the country, by whom they are cherished with religious regard. Warious attempts have been made to ascertain the birth of opin ions on the subject of American Independence; and to fix the precise epoch, and the particular individual, when and with whom the stupendocoonception originated. But the enquiry has been attended with no success, except to multiply candidates for the distinction, and is, from the nature of the case, incapable of solution. It is evident that the measure did not result from any deliberate and preconcerted design on the part of one, or any number of individuals; but from a combination of progressive, adventitious causes, generated, for the most part, in the hot-bed of the British Parliament, and fostered and matured by its unyielding obstinacy. It was the slow and legitimate growth of political oppression, assisted, it is true, by the great advance of certain minds beyond the general step of the age. To use the happy phraseology of Mr. Jefferson, “it would be as difficult to say at what moment the Revolution began, and what incident set it in motion, as to fix the moment that the embryo becomes an animal, or the act which gives him a beginning.” Whether James Otis “breathed into this nation the breath of life,” in the capitol of Massachusetts, or Patrick Henry “gave the first impulse to the ball of the Revolution,” in the House of Burgesses of Virginia, as has been alternately claimed, and reclaimed against, in a spirit of laudable and patriotic rivalry, by the two great States which have stood forth as the chief competitors for the honor; or whether Independence “was born” in the breast of a Hancock, a John or Samuel Adams, or a Christopher Gadsden, are questions, which, though they furnish matter for curious and interesting speculation, will probably never be decided to the satisfaction of all the parties. But it is certain that if the subject were examined with reference to its bearing upon a Jefferson, and a similar indulgence were allowed in hyperbolism, it might with equal propriety be advanced, that in those pointed and eloquent inscriptions, which he selected in the fire of youth, as the mottoes of his seals, we discover the germ, not merely of emancipated America, but of revolutionary Europe, and of the general amelioration of associated man throughout the world. The Revolution itself was but an inchoate movement, America alone considered; a fortiori, it was but the first chapter in the history of the great moral and political regeneration which is advancing over the earth, and to which it gave the primary impulse. The mere political disseverence of the Colonies from the mother country, was but the initiatory process in the grand and fundamental metamorphosis through which they had to pass, in orderto derive any essential advantages from the separation; to wit, the entire abrogation of the regal investiture, and the assumption of free, independent, self-government. And unless contemplated in the broad light of a contest of principle, between the advocates of republican and those of kingly government, into which it finally resolved itself, it is of little importance to enquire what incident gave it birth, or who set it in motion. Stopping at the point at which many, who were the boldest at the outset, evidently wished it to stop, and with honest motives, the Revolution would have been nothing more, in effect, than transferring the government to other hands, without putting it into other forms; and no change would have been wrought in the political condition of the world. It would have been merely a spirited and successful rebellion, or rather a struggle for power, like that which long embroiled the royal races of Plantagenets, Tudors, and Stuarts, terminating, at best, in a limited modification of the old system, and most likely, in its entire adoption, substituting George or John the First, in the room of George the Third. Many a firm breasted champion of the Revolution, proved deficient in metal when brought to the bar of principle. The whig of the first crisis, was transformed into the tory of the second, in many cases, and vice Tersa. The solution of the problem, as it is usually stated, therefore, if practicable, would afford no certain criterion of the relative advance of the leading minds of that period. But the question becomes a rational one, and assumes a powerful interest, if presented in its

* Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, page 65.

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