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We are now hurried, with instinctive pleasure, from the distressing scenes of war and confusion, to a delightful interval in Mr. Jefferson's life, in which he recurred with eagerness, to the sober and refreshing pursuits of science. During the early part of the turbulent year of '81, while disabled from active employment by the fall from his horse, he found sufficient leisure to compose his celebrated “Notes on Virginia”; than which, no other work in the English language, of the same magnitude, possesses more substantial merits, or has attained a more extensive and abiding reputation. This was the only original publication in which he ever embarked; nor was the present work prepared with any intention, whatever, of committing it to the press. Its history is a little curious. M. de Marbois, of the French legation, in Philadelphia, having been instructed by his government to obtain such statistical accounts of the different States of the Union, as might be useful for their information, addressed a letter to Mr. Jefferson, containing a number of queries relative to the State of Virginia. These queries embraced an extensive range of objects, and were designed to elicit a general view of the geography, natural productions, government, history, and laws of the Commonwealth. Mr. Jefferson had always made it a practice, when travelling, to commit his observations to writing; and to improve every opportunity, by conversations with the inhabitants, and by personal examination, to enlarge his stock of information on the physical and moral condition of the country. These memoranda were on loose pieces of paper, promiscuously intermixed, and difficult of recurrence, when occasion required the use of any particular one. He improved the present opportunity, therefore, to digest and embody the substance of them, in the order of M. de Marbois queries, so as to answer the double purpose of gratifying the wishes of the French government, and of arranging them for his own convenience. Some friends, to whom they were occasionally communicated in manuscript, requested copies; but their volume rendering the business of transcribing too laborious, he proposed to get a few printed, for their private gratification. He was asked such a price, however, as exceeded, in his opinion, the importance of the object, and abandoned the idea. Subsequent3y, on his arrival in Paris o he found the printing could be obtained for one fourth part of what he had been asked in America. He thereupon revised and corrected the work, and had two hundred copies printed, under the modest title which it bears. He gave out a very few copies, to his particular friends in Europe, writing in each one a restraint against its publication; and the remainder he transmitted to his friends in America. An European copy, by the death of the owner, having got into the hands of a Paris bookseller, he engaged a hireling translation, and sent it into the world in the most injurious form possible. “I never had seen,” says the Author, “so wretched an attempt at translation. Interverted, abridged, mutilated, and often reversing the sense of the original, I found it a blotch of errors from beginning to end.” Under these circumstances, he was urged by the principle of self defence, to comply with the request of a London bookseller, to publish the English original; which he accordingly did. By this means, it soon be. came extensively the property of the public, and advanced to a high degree of popularity. The work has since been translated into all the principal tongues of Europe, and run through a large number of editions in England, France,” and America. The principal attractions of this unambitious volume are, the solid mass of science, natural and historical, which it contains; its sound philosophy in matters of government, religion, morals, &c.; its triumphant vindication of the man of America, aboriginal and emigrant, and the other cis-atlantic animals, against the fanciful and contumelious theories of European philosophers; the quantity and variety of general information on useful collateral subjects, which it embraces; and the beauty and unpretending simplicity of its style. The first five chapters, in pursuance of the order of M. de Marbois queries, are occupied with geographical details, comprehending a description of the extent and boundaries of Virginia; a circumstantial account of its rivers, their navigableness, and connections with the Atlantic; a philosophical view of its stupendous mountains. its beautiful cascades, caverns, and other interesting curiosities of nature, with the phenomena attending them. Our limits will not permit us to indulge in quotations, or the reader should be gratified with the Author's description of the passage of the Potowmac through the Blue Ridge, which he calls ‘one of the most stupendous scenes in nature, and worth a voyage across the Atlantic.’ The sixth chapter commences with a minute and scientific notice of the mines, minerals, mineral waters, and other subterraneous treasures of the State, interspersed with interesting specu. lations in geology and cosmogeny; branches thence into the boundless regions of the botanical kingdom, presenting an elaborate synopsis of its trees, plants, fruits, and every variety of vegetable growth, spontaneous and cultivated; and concludes with a luminous and learned dissertation on the brute animals, and on the man of America, exhibiting a comparative view of the size of the former, and the prowess, physical and intellectual, of the latter, with those of their corresponding species in Europe. In treating this part of the subject, the Author indulges a latitude of enquiry, for the purpose of vindicating the character of his rising country, against the ignorant or malevolent aspersions of European physiologists, particularly Mons. de Buffon and the Abbe Raynal. By the former of these celebrated naturalists, the opinion had been gravely advanced, that the animals common to both the old and new world, were smaller in the latter; that those peculiar to the new were on a smaller scale, and exhibited fewer species; that those which have been domesticated in both, have degenerated in America; and that the same inherent inferiority marked the aboriginal man of this continent;-by the latter, this degrading hypothesis had been extended, so as to comprehend the white man, and European emigrant, as well as the native inhabitant. These visionary opinions, built on strained speculation, and not on fact, or the legitimate deductions of science, have been scouted by the increasing intelligence of succeeding times, yet they were generally believed, by the learned and unlearned, until overthrown by the Author of this work. Instead of opposing one hypothesis to another, and relying on grounds merely speculative, he met and refuted the positions of his learned antagonists, by bringing them, at once, to the standard of fact and experiment. He measures and weighs the animal of each species, in the old and new world, and by a tabular comparative statement of the result, reduces the whole question to a mere matter of arithmetical calculation. In illustrating the intellectual equality of the American aborigines, he appeals to the living monuments of their genius, and chal

* The celebrated Abbe Morellet published a translation of his Notes, in 1786

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lenges the annals of European eloquence, to produce a single passage superior to the celebrated speech of Logan, a Mungo chief. In refutatica of the pretended degeneracy of the white man of America, he appeals to examples of moral greatness, whose memories shall flourish and be revered, when the sapient calumniators of America shall have been consigned to oblivion. “In war, we have produced a Washington, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries; whose name will triumph over time, and will in future ages assume its just station among the most celebrated worthies of the world, when that wretch. ed philosophy shall be forgotten, which would have arranged him among the degeneracies of nature. In physics, we have produced a Franklin, than whom no one of the present age has made more important discoveries, or has enriched philosophy with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phenomena of nature. We have supposed Mr. Rittenhouse second to no astronomer living : that ill genius he must be first, because he is self-taught. As an artist he has exhibited as great a proof of mechanical genius as the world has ever produced. He has not indeed made a world; but he has by imitation approached nearer its Maker, than any man who has lived from the creation to this day. As in philosophy and war, so in government, in oratory, in painting, in the plastic art, we might show that America, though but a child of yesterday, has already given hopeful proofs of genius, as well of the nobler kinds, which arouse the best feelings of man, which call him into action, which substantiate his freedom, and conduct him to happiness, as of the subordinate, which serve to amuse him only.” The six succeeding heads of enquiry, proposed by M. de Marbois, opened the way for the ingenious lucubrations of the Author, on the climate of Wirginia, its varieties, changes, and their causes ; the number of inhabitants, of every age, sex, and color, with some valuable observations on the dangers of foreign influence in the affairs of our government, arising from excessive emigration; on the number and condition of the militia and regular troops, with the manner in which they are embodied and recruited; on the number and condition of the Indian tribes established in the State, their manners, customs, and history, with an ingenious solution of the great question respecting the origin of this singular race of people, on philological grounds. A knowledge of their several languages he considered as furnishing the most certain evidence of their derivation. Under this idea, he spent thirty years in endeavoring to procure Indian vocabularies to the same set of words. He had collected about fifty, and digested them in collateral columns. Of the two hundred and fifty words of his vocabularies, and the one hundred and thirty words of the great Russian vocabularies of the languages of the othet quarters of the globe, seventy-three were common to both, and would have furnished materials, from which something satisfactory might have resulted; but, by an “irreparable misfortune,” as he termed it, the whole, both digest and originals, were stolen from a trunk while ascending James river, thrown into the river by the thief, and but a small fragment of them was ever recovered. Under the query relative to the several charters of the State, and its present form of government, Mr. Jefferson presents a compact statistical view of the Colony, from the first settlement under the grant of Queen Elizabeth, in 1584, down to the time at which he wrote; gives the outlines of the existing Constitution, and enumerates what he considers its capital defects. A brief notice of these defects, and the remedies which he proposed, will explain more fully, as was promised, the opinions of Mr. Jefferson on the Constitution of Virginia, being the first republican charter ever known. In the appendix to the volume under review, is inserted a new Constitution, prepared by himself, in 1783, when it was expected the Assembly of Virginia would call a Convention for remodeling the old one,—an event which he long and vainly desired to see. This draught corresponds, in all its main features, with the one prepared by him while in Congress, in 1776, and transmitted to the Convention in Virginia, then sitting for that purpose, though received too late to be adopted. Among the palpable defects of the existing establishment, he enumerates: 1. The want of universal suffrage, or rather such an extension of the elective franchise, as would give a voice in the government to all those who pay and fight for its support. This is the vital principle of a pure democracy; and Mr. Jefferson appears to have been the first politician, of whom we have any information, who ventured forth publicly as its advocate. Possessed of a large estate himself, and gratified with the enjoyment of every honor, no personal ambition could be supposed to enter into his motives, and his opinion was received with great weight. The principle has since been incorporated, with greater or less modifications, into the Constitutions of almost all the States. The predominance of the landed influence, family aristocracy, t; a general repugnance to risk

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