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TO MR. MELLISH.
MONTICELLO, December 31, 1816. SIR, Your favor of November 230, after a very long passage, is received, and with it the map which you have been so kind as to send me, for which I return you many thanks. It is handsomely executed, and on a well-chosen scale ; giving a luminous view of the comparative possessions of different powers in our America. It is on account of the value I set on it, that I will make some suggestions. By the charter of Louis XIV. all the country comprehending the waters which flow into the Mississippi, was made a part of Louisiana. Consequently its northern boundary was the summit of the highlands in which its northern waters rise. But by the Xth Art. of the Treaty of Utrecht, France and England agreed to appoint commissioners to settle the boundary between their possessions in that quarter, and those commissioners settled it at the 49th degree of latitude. See Hutchinson's Topographical Description of Louisiana, p. 7. This it was which induced the British Commissioners, in settling the boundary with us, to follow the northern water line to the Lake of the Woods, at the latitude of 49°, and then go off on that parallel. This, then, is the true northern boundary of Louisiana.
The western boundary of Louisiana is, rightfully, the Rio Bravo, (its main stream,) from its mouth to its source, and thence along the highlands and mountains dividing the waters of the Mississippi from those of the Pacific. The usurpations of Spain on the east side of that river, have induced geographers to suppose the Puerco or Salado to be the boundary. The line along the highlands stands on the charter of Louis XIV. that of the Rio Bravo, on the circumstance that, when La Salle took possession of the Bay of St. Bernard, Panuco was the nearest possession of Spain, and the Rio Bravo the natural half-way boundary between them.
On the waters of the Pacific, we can found no claim in right of Louisiana. If we claim that country at all, it must be on Astor's settlement near the mouth of the Columbia, and the prin
ciple of the jus gentium of America, that when a civilized nation takes possession of the mouth of a river in a new country, that possession is considered as including all its waters.
The line of latitude of the southern source of the multnomat might be claimed as appurtenant to Astoria. For its northern boundary, I believe an understanding has been come to between our government and Russia, which might be known from some of its members. I do not know it.
Although the irksomeness of writing, which you may perceive from the present letter, and its labor, oblige me now to withdraw from letter writing, yet the wish that your map should set to rights the ideas of our own countrymen, as well as foreign nations, as to our correct boundaries, has induced me to make these suggestions, that you may bestow on them whatever inquiry they may merit. I salute you with esteem and respect.
TO MRS. ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, January 11, 1817. I owe you, dear Madam, a thousand thanks for the letters communicated in your favor of December 15th, and now returned. They give me more information than I possessed before, of the family of Mr. Tracy. But what is infinitely interesting, is the scene of the exchange of Louis XVIII. for Bonaparte. What lessons of wisdom Mr. Adams must have read in that short space of time! More than fall to the lot of others in the course of a long life. Man, and the man of Paris, under those circumstances, must have been a subject of profound speculation! It would be a singular addition to that spectacle, to see the same beast in the cage of St. Helena, like a lion in the tower. That is probably the closing verse of the chapter of his crimes. But not so with Louis. He has other vicissitudes to go through.
I communicated the letters, according to your permission, to my grand-daughter, Ellen Randolph, who read them with pleasure and edification. She is justly sensible of, and flattered by
your kind notice of her; and additionally so, by the favorable recollections of our northern visiting friends. If Monticello has
I anything which has merited their remembrance, it gives it a value the more in our estimation; and could I, in the spirit of your wish, count backwards a score of years, it would not be long before Ellen and myself would pay our homage personally to Quincy. But those twenty years! Alas! where are they? With those beyond the flood. Our next meeting must then be in the country to which they have flown,-a country for us not now very distant. For this journey we shall need neither gold nor silver in our purse, nor scrip, nor coats, nor staves. Nor is the provision for it more easy than the preparation has been kind. Nothing proves more than this, that the Being who presides over the world is essentially benevolent. Stealing from us, one by one, the faculties of enjoyment, scaring our sensibilities, leading us, like the horse in his mill, round and round the same beaten circle,
-To see what we have seen,
Until satiated and fatigued with this leaden iteration, we ask our own congé. I heard once a very old friend, who had troubled himself with neither poets nor philosophers, say the same thing in plain prose, that he was tired of pulling off his shoes and stockings at night, and putting them on again in the morning. The wish to stay here is thus gradually extingushed; but not so easily that of returning once, in awhile, to see how things have gone on. Perhaps, however, one of the elements of future felicity is to be a constant and unimpassioned view of what is passing here. If so, this may well supply the wish of occasional visits. Mercier has given us a vision of the year 24-10; but prophecy is one thing, and history another. On the whole, however, perhaps it is wise and well to be contented with the good things which the master of the feast places before us, and to be thankful for what we have, rather than thoughtful about what we have not. You and I, dear Madam, have already had more than an ordinary portion of life, and more, too, of health than the general measure. On this score I owe boundless thankfulness. Your health was, some time ago, not so good as it has been; and I perceive in the letters communicated, some complaints still. I hope it is restored ; and that life and health may be continued to
1 you as many years as yourself shall wish, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate and respectful friend.
TO JOHN ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, January 11, 1817. DEAR SIR,—Forty-three volumes read in one year, and twelve of them quarto! Dear Sir, how I envy you! Half a dozen octavos in that space of time, are as much as I am allowed. I can read by candlelight only, and stealing long hours from my rest; nor would that time be indulged to me, could I by that light see to write. From sunrise to one or two o'clock, and often from dinner to dark, I am drudging at the writing table. And all this to answer letters into which neither interest nor inclination on my part enters; and often from persons whose names I have never before heard. Yet, writing civilly, it is hard to refuse them civil answers. This is the burthen of my life, a very grievous one indeed, and one which I must get rid of. Delaplaine lately requested me to give him a line on the subject of his book; meaning, as I well knew, to publish it. This I constantly refuse; but in this instance yielded, that in saying a word for him, I might say two for myself. I expressed in it freely my sufferings from this source; hoping it would have the effect of an indirect appeal to the discretion of those, strangers and others, who, in the most friendly dispositions, oppress me with their concerns, their pursuits, their projects, inventions and speculations, political, moral, religious, mechanical, mathematical, historical, &c., &c., &c. I hope the appeal will bring me relief, and that I shall be left to exercise and enjoy correspondence with the friends I love, and on subjects which they, or my own inclinations present. In that case, your letters shall not be so long on my files unanswered, as sometimes they have been, to my great mortification.
To advert now to the subjects of those of December the 12th and 16th. Tracy's Commentaries on Montesquieu have never been published in the original. Duane printed a translation from the original manuscript a few years ago. It sold, I believe, readily, and whether a copy can now be had, I doubt. If it can, you will receive it from my bookseller in Philadelphia, to whom I now write for that purpose. Tracy comprehends, under the word " Ideology," all the subjects which the French term Morale, as the elative to Physique. His works on Logic, Government, Political Economy and Morality, he considers as making up the circle of ideological subjects, or of those which are within the scope of the understanding, and not of the senses. His Logic occupies exactly the ground of Locke's work on the Understanding. The translatioh of that on Political Economy is now printing ; but it is no translation of mine. I have only had the correction of it, which was, indeed, very laborious. Le premier jet having been by some one who understood neither French or English, it was impossible to make it more than faithful. But it is a valuable work.
The result of your fifty or sixty years of religious reading, in the four words, “ Be just and good,” is that in which all our inquiries must end; as the riddles of all the priesthoods end in four more, “ubi panis, ibi deus.” What all agree in, is probably right. What no two agree in, most probably wrong. One of our fan-coloring biographers, who paints small men as very great, inquired of me lately, with real affection too, whether he might consider as authentic, the change in my religion much spoken of in some circles. Now this supposed that they knew what had been my religion before, taking for it the word of their priests, whom I certainly never made the confidants of my creed. My answer was, "say nothing of my religion. It is known to my God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to