Imágenes de páginas

mities as never before could have been imagined. Yet these were men, and we and our descendants will be no more. The present is a case where, if ever, we are to guard against ourselves; not against ourselves as are, but as we may be ; for who can now imagine what we may become under circumstances not now imaginable? The object of this institution, seems to require so hazardous an example as little as any which could be proposed. The government is, at this time, going on with the process of civilizing the Indians, on a plan probably as promising as any one of us is able to devise, and with resources more competent than we could expect to command by voluntary taxation. Is it that the new characters called into association with those of the government, are wiser than these? Is it that a plan originated by a meeting of private individuals is better than that prepared by the concentrated wisdom of the nation, of men not self-chosen, but clothed with the full confidence of the people? Is it that there is no danger that a new authority, marching, independently, along side of the government, in the same line and to the same object, may not produce collision, may not thwart and obstruct the operations of the government, or wrest the object entirely from their hands? Might we not as well appoint a committee for each department of the government, to counsel and direct its head separately, as volunteer ourselves to counsel and direct the whole, in mass? And might we not do it as well for their foreign, their fiscal, and their military, as for their Indian affairs ? And how many societies, auxiliary to the government, may we expect to see spring up, in imitation of this, offering to associate themselves in this and that of its functions? In a word, why not take the government out of its constitutional hands, associate them indeed with us, to preserve a semblance that the acts are theirs, but insuring them to be our own by allowing them a minor vote only. These considerations have impressed my mind with a force so

a irresistible, that (in duty bound to answer your polite letter, without which I should not have obtruded an opinion) I have not been able to withhold the expression of them. Not knowing the individuals who have proposed this plan, I cannot be conceived as entertaining personal disrespect for them. On the contrary, I see in the printed list persons for whom I cherish sentiments of sincere friendship, and others, for whose opinions and purity of purpose I have the highest respect. Yet thinking as I do, that this association is unnecessary; that the government is proceeding to the same object under control of the law ; that they are competent to it in wisdom, in means, and inclination; that this association, this wheel within a wheel, is more likely to produce collision than aid ; and that it is, in its magnitude, of dangerous example; I am bound to say, that, as a dutiful citizen, I cannot in conscience become a member of this society, possessing as it does my entire confidence in the integrity of its views. I feel with awe the weight of opinion to which I may be opposed, and that, for myself, I have need to ask the indulgence of a belief that the opinion I have given is the best result I can deduce from my own reason and experience, and that it is sincerely conscientious. Repeating, therefore, my just acknowledgments for the honor proposed to me, I beg leave to add the assurances to the society and yourself of my highest confidence and consideration.


MONTICELLO, April 9, 1822. DEAR GENERAL,_Your favor of March 28th was received on the 7th instant. We failed in having a quorum on the 1st. Mr. Johnson and General Taylor were laboring for Lithgow in Richmond, and Mr. Madison was unwell. On the score of business it was immaterial, as there was not a single measure to be proposed. The loss was of the gratification of meeting in society with those whom we esteem. This is the valuable effect of our semi-annual meetings, jubilees, in fact, for feasting the mind and fostering the best affections of the heart towards those who merit them.

The four rows of buildings of accommodation are so nearly completed, that they are certain of being entirely so in the course of the summer; and our funds, as you have seen stated in our last Report, are sufficient to meet the expense, except that the delays in collecting the arrears of subscriptions oblige us to borrow temporarily from this year's annuity, which, according to that Report, had another destination. These buildings done, we are to rest on our oars, and passively await the will of the legislature. Our future course is a plain one.

We have proceeded from the beginning on the sound determination to finish the buildings before opening the institution; because, once opened, all its funds will be absorbed by professors' salaries, &c., and nothing remain ever to finish the buildings. And we have thought it better to begin two or three years later, in the full extent proposed, than to open, and go on forever, with a half-way establishment. Of the wisdom of this proceeding, and of its greater good to the public finally, I cannot a moment doubt. Our part then is to pursue with steadiness what is right, turning neither to right nor left for the intrigues or popular delusions of the day, assured that the public approbation will in the end be with us. The councils of the legislature, at their late session, were poisoned unfortunately by the question of the seat of government, and the consequent jealousies of our views in erecting the large building still wanting. This lost us some friends who feel a sincere interest in favor of the University, but a stronger one in the question respecting the seat of government. They seem not to have considered that the seat of the government, and that of the University, are incompatible with one another ; that if the former were to come here, the latter must be removed. Even Oxford and Cambridge placed in the middle of London, they would be deserted as seats of learning, and as proper places for training youth. These groundless jealousies, it is to be hoped, will be dissipated by sober reflection, during the separation of the members; and they will perceive, before their next meeting, that the large building, without which the institution cannot proceed, has nothing to do with the question of the seat of government. If, however, the ensuing session should still refuse their patron


age, a second or a third will think better, and result finally in fulfilling the object of our aim, the securing to our country a full and perpetual institution for all the useful sciences; one which will restore us to our former station in the confederacy. It may be a year or two later indeed; but it will replace us in full grade, and not leave us among the mere subalterns of the league. Patience and steady perseverance on our part will secure the blessed end. If we shrink, it is gone forever. Our autumnal meeting will be interesting. The question will be whether we shall relinquish the scale of a real University, the rallying centre of the South and the West, or let it sink to that of a common academy. I hope you will be with us, and give us the benefit of your firm and enlarged views. I am not at all disheartened with what has passed, nor disposed to give up the ship. We have only to lie still, to do and say nothing, and firmly avoid opening. The public opinion is advancing. It is coming to our aid, and will force the institution on to consummation. The numbers are great, and many from great distances, who visit it daily as an object of curiosity. They become strengthened if friends, converted if enemies, and all loud and zealous advocates, and will shortly give full tone to the public voice. Our motto should be " be not wearied with well-doing.” Accept the assurance of my affectionate friendship and respect.


MONTICELLO, May 13, 1822. Messrs. RITCHIE AND Gooch,—I am thankful to you for the paper you have been so kind as to send me, containing the arraignment of the Presidents of the United States generally, as peculators or accessories to peculation, by an informer who masks himself under the signature of “a Native Virginian." What relates to myself in this paper, (being his No. VI., and the only No. I have seen) I had before read in the “ Federal Republican” of Baltimore, of August 28th, which was sent to me by a friend, with the real name of the author. It was published there during the ferment of a warmly-contested election. I considered it, therefore, as an electioneering maneuvre merely, and did not even think it required the trouble of recollecting, after a lapse of thirty-three years, the circumstances of the case in which he charges me with having purloined from the treasury of the United States the sum of $1,148. But as he has thought it worth repeating in his Roll of informations against your Presidents nominally, I shall give the truths of the case, which he has omitted, perhaps because he did not know them, and ventured too inconsiderately to supply them from his own conjectures.

On the return from my mission to France, and joining the government here, in the spring of 1790, I had a long and heavy account to settle with the United States, of the administration of their pecuniary affairs in Europe, of which the superintendence had been confided to me while there. I gave in «my account early, but the pressure of other business did not permit the accounting officers to attend to it till October 10th, 1792, when we settled, and a balance of $888 67 appearing to be due from me, (but erroneously as will be shown,) I paid the money the same day, delivered up my vouchers, and received a certificate of it. But still the articles of my draughts on the bankers could be only provisionally past ; until their accounts also should be received to be confronted with mine. And it was not till the 24th of June, 1804, that I received a letter from Mr. Richard Harrison the auditor, informing me “ that my accounts, as Minister to France, had been adjusted and closed," adding, “the bill drawn and credited by you under date of the 21st of October, 1789, for banco florins 2,800, having never yet appeared in any account of the Dutch bankers, stand at your debit only as a provisional charge. If it should hereafter turn out, as I incline to think it will, that this bill has never been negotiated or used by Mr. Grand, you will have a just claim on the public for its value.” This was the first intimation to me that I had too hastily charged myself with that draught. I determined, however, as I had allowed it in my account, and paid up the balance

« AnteriorContinuar »