« AnteriorContinuar »
points. As the Creator has made no two faces alike, so no two minds, and probably no two creeds. We well know that among Unitarians themselves there are strong shades of difference, as between Doctors Price and Priestley, for example. So there may be peculiarities in your creed and in mine. They are honestly formed without doubt. I do not wish to trouble the world with mine, nor to be troubled for them. These accounts are to be settled only with him who made us; and to him we leave it, with charity for all others, of whom, also, he is the only rightful and competent judge. I have little doubt that the whole of our country will soon be rallied to the unity of the Creator, and, I hope, to the pure doctrines of Jesus also.
In saying to you so much, and without reserve, on a subject on which I never permit myself to go before the public, I know that I am safe against the infidelities which have so often betrayed my letters to the strictures of those for whom they were not written, and to whom I never meant to commit my peace. To yourself I wish every happiness, and will conclude, as you have done, in the same simple style of antiquity, da operam ut valeas ; hoc mihi gratius facere nihil potes.
TO JUDGE ROANE.
MONTICELLO, March 9, 1821. DEAR SIR-I am indebted for your favor of February 25th, and especially for your friendly indulgence to my excuses for retiring from the polemical world. I should not shrink from the post of duty, had not the decays of nature withdrawn me from the list of combatants. Great decline in the energies of the body import naturally a corresponding wane of the mind, and a longing after tranquillity as the last and sweetest asylum of age. It is a law of nature that the generations of men should give way, one to another, and I hope that the one now on the stage will preserve for their sons the political blessings delivered into their hands by their fathers. Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them.
But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible. We see already germs of this, as might be expected. But we are not the less bound to press against them. The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning-knife; and I doubt not it will be employed; good principles being as yet prevalent enough for that.
The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, with noiseless foot, and unalarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding what it gains, is ingulphing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which feeds them. The recent recall to first principles, however, by Colonel Taylor, by yourself, and now by Alexander Smith, will, I hope, be heard and obeyed, and that a temporary cheek will be effected. Yet be not weary of well doing. Let the eye of vigilance never be closed.
Last and most portentous of all is the Missouri question. It is smeared over for the present; but its geographical demarcation is indelible. What it is to become, I see not; and leave to those who will live to see it. The University will give employment to my remaining years, and quite enough for my senile faculties. It is the last act of usefulness I can render, and could I see it open I would not ask an hour more of life. To you I hope many will still be given; and, certain they will all be employed for the good of our beloved country, I salute you with sentiments of especial friendship and respect.
TO JUDGE ROANE.
MONTICELLO, June 27, 1821. DEAR SIR, I have received through the hands of the Governor, Colonel Taylor's letter to you. It is with extreme reluctance that I permit myself to usurp the office of an adviser of the public, what books they should read, and what not. I yield, however, on this occasion to your wish and that of Colonel Taylor, and do what (with a single exception only) I never did before, on the many similar applications made to me. On reviewing my letters to Colonel Taylor and to Mr. Thweatt, neither appeared exactly proper. Each contained matter which might give offence to the judges, without adding strength to the opinion. I have, therefore, out of the two, cooked up what may be called can extract of a letter from Th: J. to —;" but without
saying it is published with my consent. That would forever deprive me of the ground of declining the office of a Reviewer of books in future cases. I sincerely wish the attention of the public may be drawn to the doctrines of the book; and if this self-styled extract may contribute to it, I shall be gratified. I salute you with constant friendship and respect.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM TH: JEFFERSON TO
I have read Colonel Taylor's book of “ Constructions Construed,” with great satisfaction, and, I will say, with edification ; for I acknowledge it corrected some errors of opinion into which I had slidden without sufficient examination. It is the most logical retraction of our governments to the original and true principles of the constitution creating them, which has appeared since the adoption of that instrument. I may not perhaps concur in all its opinions, great and small; for no two men ever thought alike on so many points. But on all its important questions, it contains the true political faith, to which every catholic republican should steadfastly hold. It should be put into the hands of all our functionaries, authoritatively, as a standing instruction, and true exposition of our Constitution, as understood at the time we agreed to it. It is a fatal heresy to suppose that either our State governments are superior to the federal, or the federal to the States. The people, to whom all authority belongs, have
. divided the powers of government into two distinct departments, the leading characters of which are foreign and domestic; and they have appointed for each a distinct set of functionaries. These they have made co-ordinate, checking and balancing each other, like the three cardinal departments in the individual States: each equally supreme as to the powers delegated to itself, and neither authorized ultimately to decide what belongs to itself, or to its coparcenor in government. As independent, in fact, as different nations, a spirit of forbearance and compromise, therefore, and not of encroachment and usurpation, is the healing balm of such a constitution ; and each party should prudently shrink from all approach to the line of demarcation, instead of rashly overleaping it, or throwing grapples ahead to haul to hereafter. But, finally, the peculiar happiness of our blessed system is, that in differences of opinion between these different sets of servants, the appeal is to neither, but to their employers peaceably assembled by their representatives in Convention. This is na pre rational than the jus fortioris, or the cannon's mouth, the ultima et sola ratio regum.
TO GENERAL DEARBORNE.
MONTICELLO, August 17, 1821. DEAR SIR,—Your favor of the 8th came to hand yesterday evening. I hope you will never suppose your letters to be among those which are troublesome to me. They are always welcome, and it is among my great comforts to hear from my ancient colleagues, and to know that they are well. The affectionate recollection of Mrs. Dearborne, cherished by our family, will ever render her health and happiness interesting to them. You are so far astern of Mr. Adams and myself, that you must not yet talk of old age. I am happy to hear of his good health. I think he
I will outlive us all, I mean the Declaration-men, although our senior since the death of Colonel Floyd. It is a race in which I have no ambition to win. Man, like the fruit he eats, has his period of ripeness. Like that, too, if he continues longer hang
. ing to the stem, it is but an useless and unsightly appendage. I rejoice with you that the State of Missouri is at length a member of our Union. Whether the question it excited is dead, or only sleepeth, I do not know. I see only that it has given resurrection to the Hartford convention men. They have had the address, by playing on the honest feelings of our former friends, to seduce them from their kindred spirits, and to borrow their weight into the federal scale. Desperate of regaining power under political distinctions, they have adroitly wriggled into its seat under the auspices of morality, and are again in the ascendency from which their sins had hurled them. It is indeed of little consequence who governs us, if they sincerely and zealously cherish the principles of union and republicanism.
I still believe that the Western extension of our confederacy will ensure its duration, by overruling local factions, which might shake a smaller association. But whatever may be the merit or demerit of that acquisition, I divide it with my colleagues, to whose councils I was indebted for a course of administration which, notwithstanding this late coalition of clay and brass, will, I hope, continue to receive the approbation of our country.
The portrait by Stewart was received in due time and good order, and claims, for this difficult acquisition, the thanks of the family, who join me in affectionate souvenirs of Mrs. Dearborne and yourself. My particular salutations to both flow, as ever, from the heart, continual and warm.
TO MR. C. HAMMOND.
Vosricello, August 18, 1821. SIR,—Your favor of the 7th is just now received. The letter to which it refers was written by me with the sole view of recommending to the study of my fellow citizens a book which I considered as containing more genuine doctrines on the subject of our government, and carrying us back more truly to its fundamental principles, than any one which had been written since the adoption of our constitution. As confined to this object, I thought,