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disquiet the mind. A single sense may indeed be sometimes deceived, but rarely; and never all our senses together, with their faculty of reasoning. They evidence realities, and there are enough of these for all the purposes of life, without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things wbich are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence. I am sure that I really know many, many things, and none more surely than that I love you with all my heart, and pray for the continuance of your life until you shall be tired of it yourself.
TO JOSEPH C. CABELL.
Poplar Forest, November 28, 1820. DEAR SIR, I sent in due time the Report of the Visitors to the Governor, with a request that he would endeavor to convene the Literary Board in time to lay it before the legislature on the second day of their session. It was enclosed in a letter which will explain itself to you. If delivered before the crowd of other business presses on them, they may act on it immediately, and before there will have been time for unfriendly combinations and maneuvres by the enemies of the institution. I enclose you now a paper presenting some views which may be useful to you in conversations, to rebut exaggerated estimates of what our institution is to cost, and reproaches of deceptive estimates. One hundred and sixty-two thousand three hundred and sixty-four dollars will be about the cost of the whole establishment, when completed. Not an office at Washington has cost less. The single building of the courthouse of Henrico has cost nearly that : and the massive walls of the millions of bricks of William and Mary could not now be built for a less sum.
Surely Governor Clinton's display of the gigantic efforts of New York towards the education of her citizens, will stimulate the pride as well as the patriotism of our legislature, to look to the reputation and safety of their own country, to rescue it from the degradation of becoming the Barbary of the Union, and of falling into the ranks of our own negroes. To that condition it is fast
sinking. We shall be in the hands of the other States, what our indigenous predecessors were when invaded by the science and arts of Europe. The mass of education in Virginia, before the Revolution, placed her with the foremost of her sister colonies. What is her education now? Where is it? The little we have, we import, like beggars, from other States; or import their beggars to bestow on us their miserable crumbs. And what is wanting to restore us to our station among our confederates ? Not more money from the people. Enough has been raised by them, and appropriated to this very object. It is that it should be employed understandingly, and for their greatest good. That good requires, that while they are instructed in general, competently to the common business of life, others should employ their genius with necessary information to the useful arts, to inventions for saving labor and increasing our comforts, to nourishing our health, to civil government, military science, &c.
Would it not have a good effect for the friends of the University to take the lead in proposing and effecting a practical scheme of elementary schools ? to assume the character of the friends, rather than the opponents of that object? The present plan has appropriated to the primary schools forty-five thousand dollars for three years, making one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars. I should be glad to know if this sum has educated one hundred and thirty-five poor children? I doubt it much. And if it has, they have cost us one thousand dollars a piece for what might have been done with thirty dollars. Supposing the literary revenue to be sixty thousand dollars, I think it demonstrable, that this sum, equally divided between the two objects, would amply suffice for both. One hundred counties, divided into about twelve wards each, on an average, and a school in each ward of perhaps ten children, would be one thousand and two hundred schools, distributed proportionably over the surface of the State. The inhabitants of each ward, meeting together (as when they work on the roads), building good log-houses for their school and teacher, and contributing for his provisions, rations of pork, beef, and corn, in the proportion, each of his other taxes, would thus lodge and feed him without feeling it; and those of them who are able, paying for the tuition of their own children, would leave no call on the public fund but for the tuition fee of, here and there, an accidental pauper, who would still be fed and lodged with his parents. Suppose this fee ten dollars, and three hundred dollars apportioned to a county on an average (more or less duly proportioned), would there be thirty such paupers for every county? I think not. The truth is, that the want of common education with us is not from
our poverty, but from want of an orderly system. More money is now paid for the education of a part, than would be paid for that of the whole, if systematically arranged. Six thousand common schools in New York, fisty pupils in each, three hundred thousand in all ; one hundred and sixty thousand dollars annually paid to the masters; forty established academies, with two thousand two hundred and cighteen pupils ; and five colleges, with seven hundred and eighteen students; to which last classes of institutions seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars have been given ; and the whole appropriations for education estimated at two and a half millions of dollars! What a pigmy to this is Virginia become, with a population almost equal to that of New York ! And whence this difference? From the difference their rulers set on the value of knowledge, and the prosperity it produces. But still, if a pigmy, let her do what a pigmy may do. If among fifty children in each of the six thousand schools of New York, there are only paupers enough to employ twenty-five dollars of public money to each school, surely among the ten children of each of our one thousand and two hundred schools, the same sum of twenty-five dollars to each school will teach its paupers (five times as much as to the same number in New York), and will amount for the whole to thirty thousand dollars a year, the one half only of our literary revenue. .
Do then, Dear Sir, think of this, and engage our friends to take in hand the whole subject. It will reconcile the friends of the elementary schools, and none are more warmly so than myself, lighten the difficulties of the University, and promote in every order of men the degree of instruction proportioned to their condition, and to their views in life. It will combine with the mass of our force, a wise direction of it, which will insure to our country its future prosperity and safety. I had formerly thought that visitors of the schools might be chosen by the county, and charged to provide teachers for every ward, and to superintend them. I now think it would be better for every ward to choose its own resident visitor, whose business it would be to keep a teacher in the ward, to superintend the school, and to call meetings of the ward for all purposes relating to it : their accounts to be settled, and wards laid off by the courts. I think ward elections better for many reasons, one of which is sufficient, that it will keep elementary education out of the hands of fanaticizing preachers, who, in county elections, would be universally chosen, and the predominant sect of the county would possess itself of all its schools.
A wrist stiffened by an ancient accident, now more so by the effect of age, renders writing a slow and irksome operation with
me. I cannot, therefore, present these views by separate letters to each of our colleagues in the legislature, but must pray you to communicate them to Mr. Johnson and General Breckenridge, and to request them to consider this as equally meant for them. Mr. Gordon, being the local representative of the University and among its most zealous friends, would be a more useful second to General Breckenridge in the House of Delegates, by a free communication of what concerns the University, with which he has had little opportunity of becoming acquainted. So also, would it be as to Mr. Rives, who would be a friendly advocate.
Accept the assurances of my constant and affectionate esteem and respect.
TO THOMAS RITCHIE.
Monticello, December, 25, 1820. DEAR SIR, On my return home after a long absence, I find here your favor of November the 23rd, with Colonel Taylor's · Construction Construed, which you have been so kind as to send me, in the name of the author as well as yourself. Permit me, if you please, to use the same channel for conveying to him the thanks I render you also for this mark of attention. I shall read it, I know, with edification, as I did his Enquiry, to which I acknowledge myself indebted for many valuable ideas, and for the correction of some errors of early opinion, never seen in a correct light until presented to me in that work. That the present volume is equally orthodox I know before reading it, because I know that Colonel Taylor and myself have rarely, if ever, differed in any political principle of importance. Every act of his life, and every word he ever wrote, satisfies me of this. So, also, as to the two Presidents, late and now in office, I know them both to be of principles as truly republican as any men living. If there be any thing amiss, therefore, in the present state of our affairs, as the formidable deficit lately unfolded to us indicates, I ascribe it to the inattention of Congress to their duties, to their unwise dissipation and waste of the public contributions. They seemed, some little while ago, to be at a loss for objects whereon to throw away the supposed fathomless funds of the treasury. I had feared the result,
because I saw among them some of my old fellow-laborers, of tried and known principles, yet often in their minorities. I am aware that in one of their most ruinous vagaries, the people were themselves betrayed into the same phrenzy with their Representatives. The deficit produced, and a heavy tax to supply it, will, I trust, bring both to their sober senses.
But it is not from this branch of government we have most to fear. Taxes and short elections will keep them right. The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, · Boni judicis est ampliare iurisdictionem.' We shall see if they are bold enough to take the daring stride their five lawyers have lately taken. If they do, then, with the editor of our book in his address to the public, I will say, that against this every man should raise his voice,' and more, should uplift his arm. Who wrote this admirable address ? Sound, luminous, strong, not a word too much, nor one which can be changed but for the worse. That pen should go on, lay bare these wounds of our constitution, expose these decisions seriatim, and arouse, as it is able, the attention of the nation to these bold speculators on its patience. Having found, from experience, that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scare-crow, they consider themselves secure for life; they skulk from responsibility to public opinion, the only remaining hold on them, under a practice first introduced into England by Lord Mansfield. An opinion is huddled up in conclave, perhaps by a majority of one, delivered as if unanimous and with the silent acquiescence of lazy or timid associates, by a crafty chief judge, who sophisticates the law to his mind, by the turn of his own reasoning. A judiciary law was once reported by the Attorney General to Congress, requiring each judge to deliver his opinion seriatim and openly, and then to give it in writing to the clerk to be entered in the record. A judiciary independent of a King or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.
But to return to your letter; you ask for my opinion of the work you send me, and to let it go out to the public. This I have ever made a point of declining (one or two instances only excepted). Complimentary thanks to writers who have sent me their works, have betrayed me sometimes before the public, without VOL. IV.