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monarchy of their first aim, and perhaps the surest stepping-stone to it.
I learn with great satisfaction that your school is thriving well, and that you have at its head a truly classical scholar. He is one of three or four whom I can hear of in the State. We were obliged the last year to receive shameful Latinists into the classical
school of the University ; such as we will certainly refuse as soon , as we can get from better schools a sufficiency of those properly
instructed to form a class. We must get rid of this Connecticut Latin, of this barbarous confusion of long and short syllables, which renders doubtful whether we are listening to a reader of Cherokee, Shawnee, Iroquois, or what. Our University has been most fortunate in the five Professors procured from England. A finer selection could not have been made. Besides their being of a grade of science which has left little superior behind, the correctness of their moral character, their accommodating dispositions, and zeal for the prosperity of the institution, leave us nothing more to wish. I verily believe that as high a degree of education can now be obtained here, as in the country they left. And a finer set of youths I never saw assembled for instruction. They committed some irregularities at first, until they learned the lawful length of their tether; since which it has never been transgressed in the smallest degree. A great proportion of them are severely devoted to study, and I fear not to say, that within twelve or fifteen years from this time, a majority of the rulers of our State will have been educated here. They shall carry hence the correct principles of our day, and you may count assuredly that they will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has never known, either in our days, or those of our forefathers. I cannot live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation. But that you may see it in full fruition, is the probable consequence of the twenty years I am ahead of you in time, and is the sincere prayer of your affectionate and constant friend,
TO CLAIBORNE W. GOOCH.
Monticello, January 9, 1826. Dear Sir, I have duly received your favor of December the 31st, and fear, with you, all the evils which the present lowering aspect of our political horizon so ominously portends. That at some future day, which I hoped to be very distant, the free principles of our government might change, with the change of circumstances, was to be expected. But I certainly did not expect that they would not over-live the generation which established them. And what I still less expected was, that my favorite western country was to be made the instrument of change. I had ever and fondly cherished the interests of that country, relying on it as a barrier against the degeneracy of public opinion from our original and free principles. But the bait of local interests, artfully prepared for their palate, has decoyed them from their kindred attachments, to alliances alien to them. Yet, although I have little hope that the torrent of consolidation can be withstood, I should not be for giving up the ship without efforts to save her. She lived well through the first squall, and may weather the present one. But, Dear Sir, I am not the champion called for by our present dangers ; Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis, tempus eget. A waning body, a waning mind, and waning memory, with habitual ill health, warn me to withdraw and relinquish the arena to younger and abler athletes. I am sensible myself, if others are not, that this is my duty. If my distant friends know it not, those around me can inform them that they should not, in friendship, wish to call me into conflicts, exposing only the decays which nature has inscribed among her unalterable laws, and injuring the common cause by a senile and puny defence.
I will, however, say one word on the subject. The South Carolina resolutions, Van Buren's motion, and above all Bailey's propositions, show that other States are coming forward on the subject, and better for any one to take the lead than Virginia, where opposition is considered as common-place, and a mere matter of form and habit. We shall see what our co-States propose, and before the close of the session we may shape our own course more understandingly. Accept the assurance of my great esteem and respect.
Monticello, January 21, 1826. Dear Sir, Your favor of January the 15th is received, and I am entirely sensible of the kindness of the motives which suggested the caution it recommended. But I believe what I have done is the only thing I could have done with honor or conscience. Mr. Giles requested me to state a fact which he knew himself, and of which he knew me to be possessed. What use he intended to make of it I knew not, nor had I a right to inquire, or to indicate any suspicion that he would make an unfair one. That was his concern, not mine, and his character was sufficient to sustain the responsibility for it. I knew, too, that is an uncandid use should be made of it, there would be found those who would so prove it. Independent of the terms of intimate friendship on which Mr. Giles and myself have ever lived together, the world's respect entitled him to the justice of my testimony to any truth he might call for ; and how that testimony should connect me with whatever he may do or write hereafter, and with his whole career, as you apprehend, is not understood by me. With his personal controversies I have nothing to do. I never took any part in them, or in those of any other person. Add to this, that the statement I have given him on the subject of Mr. Adams, is entirely honorable to him in every sentiment and fact it contains. There is not a word in it which I would wish to recall. It is one which Mr. Adams himself might willingly quote, did he need to quote any thing. It was simply, that during the continuance of the embargo, Mr. Adams informed me of a combination (without naming any one concerned in it), which had for its object a severance of the Union, for a time at least. That Mr. Adams and myself not being then in the habit of mutual consultation and confidence, I considered it as the stronger proof of the purity of his patriotism, which was able to lift him above all party passions when the safety of his country was endangered. Nor have I kept this honorable fact to myself. During the late canvass, particularly, I had more than one occasion to quote it to persons who were expressing opinions respecting him, of which this was a direct corrective. I have never entertained for Mr. Adams any but sentiments of esteem and respect; and if we have not thought alike on political subjects, I yet never
[* It does not appear to whom this letter was addressed.] VOL. IV.
doubted the honesty of his opinions, of which the letter in question, if published, will be an additional proof. Still, I recognise your friendship in suggesting a review of it, and am glad of this, as of every other occasion, of repeating to you the assurance of my constant attachment and respect.
TO JAMES MADISON.
Monticello, February 17, 1826.
Immediately on seeing the overwhelming vote of the House of Representatives against giving us another dollar, I rode to the University and desired Mr. Brockenbrough to engage in nothing new, to stop every thing on hand which could be done without, and to employ all his force and funds in finishing the circular room for the books, and the Anatomical theatre. These cannot be done without; and for these and all our debts, we have funds enough. But I think it prudent then to clear the decks thoroughly, to see how we shall stand, and what we may accomplish further. In the mean time, there have arrived for us in different ports of the United States, ten boxes of books from Paris, seven from London, and from Germany I know not how many ; in all, perhaps, about twenty-five boxes. Not one of these can be opened unu] the book-room is completely finished, and all the shelves ready to receive their charge directly from the boxes, as they shall be opened. This cannot be till May. I hear nothing definitive of the three thousand dollars duty of which we are asking the remission from Congress. In the selection of our Law Professor, we must be rigorously attentive to his political principles. You will recollect, that, before the Revolution, Coke Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students, and a sounder whig never wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You remember also that our lawyers were then all whigs. But when his black-letter text, and uncouth but cunning learning got out of fashion, and the honied Mansfieldism of Blackstone became the students' hornbook, from that moment, that profession (the nursery of our Congress) began to slide into toryism, and nearly all the young brood of lawyers now are of that hue. They sup
pose themselves, indeed, to be whigs, because they no longer know what whigism or republicanism means. It is in our seminary that that vestal flame is to be kept alive; it is thence it is to spread anew over our own and the sister States. If we are true and vigilant in our trust, within a dozen or twenty years a majority of our own legislature will be from our school, and many disciples will have carried its doctrines home with them to their several States, and will have leavened thus the whole mass. New York has taken strong ground in vindication of the constitution ; South Carolina had already done the same. Although I was against our leading, I am equally against omitting to follow in the same line, and backing them firmly; and I hope that yourself or some other will mark out the track to be pursued by us.
You will have seen in the newspapers some proceedings in the legislature, which have cost me much mortification. My own debts had become considerable, but not beyond the effect of some lopping of property, which would have been little felt, when our friend- **** gave me the coup de grace. Ever since that I have been paying twelve hundred dollars a year interest on his debt, which, with my own, was absorbing so much of my annual income, as that the maintenance of my family was making deep and rapid inroads on my capital, and had already done it. Still, sales at a fair price would leave me competently provided. Had crops and prices for several years been such as to maintain a steady competition of substantial bidders at market, all would have been safe. But the long succession of years of stunted crops, of reduced prices, the general prostration of the farming business, under levies for the support of manufacturers, &c., with the calamitous fluctuations of value in our paper medium, have kept agriculture in a state of abject depression, which has peopled the western States by silently breaking up those on the Atlantic, and glutted the land-market, while it drew off its bidders. In such a state of things, property has lost its character of being a resource for debts. Highland in Bedford, which, in the days of our plethory, sold readily for from fifty to one hundred dollars the acre (and such sales were many then), would not now sell for more than from ten to twenty dollars, or one quarter or one fifth of its former price. Reflecting on these things, the practice occurred to me, of selling, on fair valuation, and by way of lottery, often resorted to before the Revolution to effect large sales, and still in constant usage in every State for individual as well as corporation purposes. If it is permitted in my case, my lands here alone, with the mills, &c., will pay every thing, and leave me Monticello and a farm free. If refused, I must sell every thing here, perhaps considerably in