« AnteriorContinuar »
formed a whig by nature. On the eclipse of federalism with us, although not its extinction, its leaders got up the Missouri question, under the false front of lessening the measure of slavery, but with tặe real view of producing a geographical division of parties, which might insure them the next President. The people of the north went blindfold into the snare, followed their leaders for awhile with a zeal truly moral and laudable, until they became sensible that they were injuring instead of aiding the real interests of the slaves, that they had been used merely as tools for electioneering purposes; and that trick of hypocrisy then fell as quickly as it had been got up.
To that is now succeeding a distinction, which, like that of republican and federal, or whig and tory, being equally intermixed through every State, threatens none of those geographical schisms which ately to a separation. The line of division now, is the preservation of State rights as reserved in the constitution, or by strained constructions of that instrument, to merge all into a consolidated government. The tories are for strengthening the executive and general Government; the whigs cherish the representative branch, and the rights reserved by the States, as the bulwark against consolidation, which must immediately generate monarchy. And although this division excites, as yet, no warmth, yet it exists, is well understood, and will be a principle of voting at the ensuing election, with the reflecting men of both parties.
I thank you much for the two books you were so kind as to send me by Mr. Gallatin. Miss Wright had before favored me with the first edition of her American work ; but her “Few days in Athens," was entirely new, and has been a treat to me of the highest order. The matter and manner of the dialogue is strictly ancient; and the principles of the sects are beautifully and candidly explained and contrasted ; and the scenery and portraiture of the interlocutors are of higher finish than anything in that line left us by the ancients; and like Ossian, if not ancient, it is equal to the best morsels of antiquity. I augur, from this instance, that Herculaneum is likely to furnish better specimens
of modern than of ancient genius; and may we not hope more
i from the same pen?
After much sickness, and the accident of a broken and disabled arm, I am again in tolerable health, but extremely debilitated, so as to be scarcely able to walk into my garden.. The hebetude of age, too, and extinguishment of interest in the things around me, are weaning me from them, and dispose me with cheerfulness to resign them to the existing generation, satisfied that the daily advance of science will enable them to administer the commonwealth with increased wisdom. You have still many valuable years to give to your country, and with my prayers that they may be years of health and happiness, and especially that they may see the establishment of the principles of government which you have cherished through life, accept the assurance of my affectionate and constant friendship and respect.
TO MR. PATRICK K. RODGERS.
MONTICELLO, January 29, 1824. SIR, I have duly received your favor of the 14th, with a copy of your mathematical principles of natural philosophy, which I have looked into with all the attention which the rust of age and long continued avocations of a very different character permit me to exercise. I think them entirely worthy of approbation, both as to matter and method, and for their brevity as a text book ; and I remark particularly the clearness and precision with which the propositions are enounced, and, in the demonstrations, the easy form in which ideas are presented to the mind, so as to be almost intuitive and self-evident. Of Cavallo's book, which you say you are enjoined to teach, I have no knowledge, having never seen it; but its character is, I think, that of mere mediocrity; and, from my personal acquaintance with the man, I should expect no more. He was heavy, capable enough of understanding what he read, and with memory to retain it, but without the talent of digestion or improvement. But, indeed, the English
generally have been very stationary in latter times, and the French, on the contrary, so active and successful, particularly in preparing elementary books, in the mathematical and natural sciences, that those who wish for instruction, without caring from what nation they get it, resort universally to the latter language. Besides the earlier and invaluable works of Euler and Bezont, we have latterly that of Lacroix in mathematics, of Legendre in geometry, Lavoisier in chemistry, the elementary works of Haüy in physics, Biot in experimental physics and physical astronomy, Dumeril in natural history, to say nothing of many detached essays of Monge and others, and the transcendent labors of Laplace, and I am informed, by a highly instructed person recently from Cambridge, that the mathmeticians of that institution, sensible of being in the rear of those of the continent, and ascribing the cause much to their too long-continued preference of the geometrical over the analyitcal methods, which the French have so much cultivated and improved, have now adopted the latter; and that they have also given up the fluxionary, for the differential calculus. To confine a school, therefore, to the obsolete work of Cavallo, is to shut out all advances in the physical sciences, which have been so great in latter times. I am glad, however, to learn from your work, and to expect from those it promised in succession, which will doubtless be of equal grade, that so good a course of instruction is pursued in William and Mary. It is very long since I have had any information of the state of education in that seminary, to which, as my alma mater, my attachment has been ever sincere, although not exclusive. When that college was located at the middle plantation in 1693, Charles city was a frontier county, and there were no inhabitants above the falls of the rivers, sixty miles only higher up. It was, therefore, a position, nearly central to the population, as it then was; but when the frontier became extended to the Sandy river, three hundred miles west of Williamsburg, the public convenience called, first for a removal of the seat of government, and latterly, not for a removal of the college, but, for the establishment of a new one, in a more central and healthy situation; not disturbing
the old one in its possessions or functions, but leaving them unimpaired for the benefit of those to whom it is convenient. And indeed, I do not foresee that the number of its students is likely to be much affected; because I presume that, at present, its distance and autumnal climate prevent its receiving many students from above the tide-waters, and especially from above the mountains. This is, therefore, one of the cases where the lawyers say there is damnum absque injuriâ ; and they instance, as in point, the settlement of a new schoolmaster in the neighborhood of an old one.
At any rate it is one of those cases wherein the public interest rightfully prevails, and the justice of which will be yielded to by none, I am sure, with more dutiful and candid acquiescence than the enlightened friends of our ancient and venerable institution. The only rivalship, I hope, between the old and the new, will be in doing the most good possible in their respective sections of country.
As the diagrams of your book have not been engraved, I return you the MS. of them, which must be of value to yourself. They furnish favorable specimens of the graphical talent of your former pupil. Permit me to add, that I shall always be ready and happy to receive with particular wecome the visit of which you flatter me with the hope, and to avail myself of the occasion of assuring you personally of my great respect and esteem.
TO JOSEPH C. CABELL.
MONTICELLO, February 3, 1824. DEAR SIR -I am favored with your two letters of January the 26th and 29th, and I am glad that yourself and the friends of the University are so well satisfied, that the provisos amendatory of the University Act are mere nullities. I had not been able to put out of my head the Algebraical equation, which was among the first of my college lessons, that a—a=0. Yet I cheerfully arrange myself to your opinions. I did not suppose, nor do I now suppose it possible, that both houses of the legislature should ever consent, for an additional fifteen thousand dollars of revenue, to set all the Professors and students of the University adrift ; and if foreigners will have the same confidence which we have in our legislature, no harm will have been done by the provisos.
You reco!lect that we had agreed that the Visitors who are of the legislature should fix on a certain day of meeting, after the rising of the Assembly, to put into immediate motion the measures which this act was expected to call for. You will of course remind the Governor that a re-appointment of Visitors is to be made on the day following Sunday, the 29th of this month; and as he is to appoint the day of their first meeting, it would be well to recommend to him that which our brethren there shall fix on. It may be designated by the Governor as the third, fourth, &c., day after the rising of the legislature, which will give it certainty enough.
You ask what sum would be desirable for the purchase of books and apparatus ? Certainly the largest you can obtain. Forty or fifty thousand dollars would enable us to purchase the most essential books of texts and reference for the schools, and such an apparatus for mathematics, astronomy and chemistry, as may enable us to set out with tolerable competence, if we can, through the banks and otherwise, anticipate the whole sum at once.
I remark what you say on the subject of committing ourselves to any one for the law appointment. Your caution is perfectly just. I hope, and am certain, that this will be the standing law of discretion and duty with every member of our board, in this and all cases. You know we have all, from the beginning, considered the high qualifications of our professors, as the only means by which we could give to our institution splendor and pre-eminence over all its sister seminaries. The only question, therefore, we can ever ask ourselves, as to any candidate, will be, is he the most highly qualified? The college of Philadelphia has lost its character of primacy by indulging motives of favoritism and nepotism, and by conferring the appointments as if the professorships were entrusted to them as provisions for their friends. And even that of Edinburgh, you know, is also