網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

articularly Whim, and it ischt of discussimit

rallied the opinions of mankind to the natural rights of expatriation, and of a common property in the ocean, and raised us to that grade in the scale of nations which the bravery and liberality of our citizen soldiers, by land and by sea, the wisdom of our institutions and their observance of justice, entitled us to in the eyes of the world. All this Mr. McLeod has well proved, and from those sources of argument particularly which belong to his profession. On one question only I differ from him, and it is that which constitutes the subject of his first discourse, the right of discussing public affairs in the pulpit. I add the last words, because I admit the right in general conversation and in writing ; in which last form it has been exercised in the valuable book you have now favored me with.

The mass of human concerns, moral and physical, is so vast, the field of knowledge requisite for man to conduct them to the best advantage is so extensive, that no human being can acquire the whole himself, and much less in that degree necessary for the instruction of others. It has of necessity, then, been distributed into different departments, each of which, singly, may give occupation enough to the whole time and attention of a single individual. Thus we have teachers of Languages, teachers of Mathematics, of Natural Philosophy, of Chemistry, of Medicine, of Law, of History, of Government, &c. Religion, too, is a separate department, and happens to be the only one deemed requisite for all men, however high or low. Collections of men associate together, under the name of congregations, and employ a religious teacher of the particular sect of opinions of which they happen to be, and contribute to make up a stipend as a compensation for the trouble of delivering them, at such periods as they agree on, lessons in the religion they profess. If they want instruction in other sciences or arts, they apply to other instructers; and this is generally the business of early life. But I suppose there is not an instance of a single congregation which has employed their preacher for the mixt purpose of lecturing them from the pulpit, in Chemistry, in Medicine, in Law, in the science and principles of Government, or in any thing but Religion exclusively. Whenever, therefore, preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put them off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their andience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead it, what they did not want, or if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art or science. In choosing our pastor we look to his religious qualifications, without inquiring into his physical or political dogmas, with which we mean to have nothing to do. I am aware that arguments may be found, which may twist a thread of politics into the cord of religious duties. So may they for every other branch of human art or science. Thus, for example, it is a religious duty to obey the laws of our country: the teacher of religion, therefore, must instruct us in those laws, that we may know how to obey them. It is a religious duty to assist our sick neighbors : the preacher must, therefore, teach us medicine, that we may do it understandingly. It is a religious duty to preserve our own health : our religious teacher, then, must tell us what dishes are wholesome, and give us recipes in cookery, that we may learn how to prepare them. And so ingenuity, by generalizing more and more, may amalgamate all the branches of science into any one of them, and the physician who is paid to visit the sick, may give a sermon instead of medicine; and the merchant to whom money is sent for a hat, may send a handkerchief instead of it. But nothwithstanding this possible confusion of all sciences into one, common sense draws lines between them sufficiently distinct for the general purposes of life, and no one is at a loss to understand that a recipe in medicine or cookery, or a demonstration in geometry, is not a lesson in religion. I do not deny that a congregation may, if they please, agree with their preacher that he shall instruct them in Medicine also, or Law, or Politics. Then, lectures in these, from the pulpit, become not only a matter of right, but of duty also. But this must be with the consent of every individual; because the association being voluntary, the mere majority has no right to apply the contributions of the minority to purposes unspecified in the agreement of the congregation. I agree, too, that on all other occasions the preacher has the right, equally with every other citizen, to express his sentiments, in speaking or writing, on the subjects of Medicine, Law, Politics, &c., his leisure time being his own, and his congregation not obliged to listen to his conversation, or to read his writings; and no one would have regretted more than myself, had any scruple as to this right, withheld from us the valuable discourses which have led to the expression of an opinion as to the true limits of the right. I feel my portion of indebtment to the reverend author, for the distinguished learning, the logic, and the eloquence, with which he had proved that religion, as well as reason, confirms the soundness of those principles on which our government has been founded and its rights asserted.

These are my views of this question. They are in opposition to those of the highly respected and able preacher, and are therefore the more doubtingly offered. Difference of opinion leads

to inquiry, and inquiry to truth; and that, I am sure, is the ultimate and sincere object of us both. We both value too much the freedom of opinion sanctioned by our constitution, not to cherish its exercise even where in opposition to ourselves.

Unaccustomed to reserve or mystery in the expression of my opinions, I have opened myself frankly on a question suggested by your letter and present. And although I have not the honor of your acquaintance, this mark of attention, and still more the sentiments of esteem so kindly expressed in your letter, are entitled to a confidence that observations not intended for the public will not be ushered to their notice, as has happened to me sometimes. Tranquillity, at my age, is the balm of life. While I know I am safe in the honor and charity of a McLeod, I do not wish to be cast forth to the Marats, the Dantons, and the Robespierres of the priesthood : I mean the Parishes, the Osgoods, and the Gardiners of Massachusetts. I pray you to accept the assurances of my esteem and respect.

Tu : JEFFERSON,

LETTER CXXIII.

TO CÆSAR A. RODNEY.

Monticello, March 16, 1815. MY DEAR FRIEND AND ANCIENT COLLEAGUE, Your letter of February the 19th has been received with very sincere pleasure. It recalls to memory the sociability, the friendship, and the harmony of action which united personal happiness with public duties, during the portion of our lives in which we acted together. Indeed, the affectionate harmony of our cabinet is among the sweetest of my recollections. I have just received a letter of friendship from General Dearborn. He writes me that he is now retiring from every species of public occupation, to pass the remainder of life as a private citizen ; and he promises me a visit in the course of the summer. As you hold out a hope of the same gratification, if chance or purpose could time your visits together, it would make a real jubilee. But come as you will, or as you can, it will always be joy enough to me. Only you must give me a month's notice; because I go three or four times a year to a possession ninety miles southwestward, and am absent a month at a time, and the mortification would be indelible of losing

:

such a visit by a mistimed absence. You will find me in habitual good health, great contentedness, enfeebled in body, impaired in memory, but without decay in my friendships.

Great, indeed, have been the revolutions in the world, since you and I have had any thing to do with it. To me they have been like the howlings of the winter storm over the battlements, while warm in my bed. The unprincipled tyrant of the land is fallen, his power reduced to its original nothingness, his person only not yet in the mad-house, where it ought always to have been. His equally unprincipled competitor, the tyrant of the ocean, in the mad-house indeed, in person, but his power still stalking over the deep. · Quem deus vult perdere, prius dementat.' The madness is acknowledged; the perdition of course impending. Are we to be the instruments ? A friendly, a just, and a reasonable conduct on their part, might make us the main pillar of their prosperity and existence. But their deep-rooted hatred to us. seems to be the means which Providence permits to lead them to their final catastrophe. Nullam enim in terris gentem esse, nullum infestiorem populum, nomini Romano,' said the General who erased Capua from the list of powers. What nourishment and support would not England receive from an hundred millions of industrious descendants, whom some of her people now born will live to see here. What their energies are, she has lately tried. And what has she not to fear from an hundred millions of such men, if she continues her maniac course of hatred and hostility to them. I hope in God she will change. There is not a nation on the globe with whom I have more earnestly wished a friendly intercourse on equal conditions. On no other would I hold out the hand of friendship to any. I know that their creatures represent me as personally an enemy to England. But fools only can believe this, or those who think me a fool. I am an enemy to her insults and injuries. I am an enemy to the flagitious principles of her administration, and to those which govern her conduct towards other nations. But would she give to morality some place in her political code, and especially would she exercise decency, and at least neutral passions towards us, there is not, I repeat it, a people on earth with whom I would sacrifice so much to be in friendship. They can do us, as enemies, more harm than any other nation; and in peace and in war, they have more means of disturbing us internally. Their merchants established among us, the bonds by which our own are chained to their feet, and the banking combinations interwoven with the whole, have shown the extent of their control, even during a war with her. They are the workers of all the embarrassments our finances have

experienced during the war. Declaring themselves bankrupt, they have been able still to chain the government to a dependence on them; and had the war continued, they would have reduced us to the inability to command a single dollar. They dared to proclaim that they would not pay their own paper obligations, yet our government could not venture to avail themselves of this opportunity of sweeping their paper from the circulation, and substituting their own notes bottomed on specific taxes for redemption, which every one would have eagerly taken and trusted, rather than the baseless trash of bankrupt companies; our government, I say, have still been overawed from a contest with them, and have even countenanced and strengthened their influence, by proposing new establishments, with authority to swindle yet greater sums from our citizens. This is the British influence to which I am an enemy, and which we must subject to our government, or it will subject us to that of Britain.

Come and gratify, by seeing you once more, a friend, who assures you with sincerity of his constant and affectionate attachment and respect.

Th: JEFFERSON.

LETTER CXXIV.

TO GENERAL DEARBORN.

Monticello, March 17, 1815. MY DEAR GENERAL, FRIEND, AND ANCIENT COLLEAGUE, I have received your favor of February the 27th, with very great pleasure, and sincerely reciprocate congratulations on the late events. Peace was indeed desirable ; yet it would not have been as welcome without the successes of New Orleans. These last have established truths too important not to be valued ; that the people of Louisiana are sincerely attached to the Union ; that their city can be defended ; that the western States make its defence their peculiar concern; that the militia are brave; that their deadly aim countervails the manœuvring skill of their enemy; that we have officers of natural genius now starting forward from the mass ; and that, putting together all our conflicts, we can beat the British, by sea and by land, with equal numbers. All this being now proved, I am glad of the pacification of Ghent, and VOL. IV.

33

« 上一頁繼續 »