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cheerfully to the watch and care of those for whom, in my turn, I have watched and cared. When I contemplate the immense advances in science and discoveries in the arts which have been made within the period of my life, I look forward with confidence to equal advances by the present generation, and hav: no doubt they will consequently be as much wiser than we have been as we than our fathers were, and they than the burners of witches. Even the metaphysical contest, which you so pleasantly described to me in a former letter, will probably end in improvement, by clearing the mind of Platonic mysticism and unintelligible jargon. Although age is taking from me the power of communicating by letter with my friends as industriously as heretofore, I shall still claim with them the same place they will ever hold in my affections, and on this ground I, with sincerity and pleasure, assure you of my great esteem and respect.
TO N. BURWELL, ESQ.
MONTICELLO, March 14, 1818. DEAR SIR, Your letter of February 17th found me suffering under an attack of rheumatism, which has but now left me at sufficient ease to attend to the letters I have received. A plan of female education has never been a subject of systematic contemplation with me. It has occupied my attention so far only as the education of my own daughters occasionally required. Considering that they would be placed in a country situation, where little aid could be obtained from abroad, I thought it essential to give them a solid education, which might enable them, when become mothers, to educate their own daughters, and even to direct the course for sons, should their fathers be lost, or incapable, or inattentive. My surviving daughter accordingly, the mother of many daughters as well as sons, has made their education the object of her life, and being a better judge of the practical part than myself, it is with her aid and that of one of her elevés, that I shall subjoin a catalogue of the books for such a course of reading as we have practiced.
A great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels, and the time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed. When this poison infects the mind, it destroys its tone and revolts it against wholesome reading. Reason and fact, plain and unadorned, are rejected. Nothing can engage attention unless dressed in all the figments of fancy, and nothing so bedecked comes amiss. The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust towards all the real businesses of life. This mass of trash, however, is not without some distinction; some few modelling their narratives, although fictitious, on the incidents of real life, have been able to make them interesting and useful vehicles of a sound morality. Sach, I think, are Marmontel's new moral tales, but not his old ones, which are really immoral. Such are the writings of Miss Edgeworth, and some of those of Madame Genlis. For a like reason, too, much poetry should not be indulged. Some is useful for forming style and taste. Pope, Dryden, Thompson, Shakspeare, and of the French, Molière, Racine, the Corneilles, may be read with pleasure and improvement.
The French language, become that of the general intercourse of nations, and from their extraordinary advances, now the depository of all science, is an indispensable part of education for both sexes.
In the subjoined catalogue, therefore, I have placed the books of both languages indifferently, according as the one or the other offers what is best.
The ornaments too, and the amusements of life, are entitled to their portion of attention. These, for a female, are dancing, drawing, and music. The first is a healthy exercise, elegant and very attractive for young people. Every affectionate parent would be pleased to see his daughter qualified to participate with her companions, and without awkwardness at least, in the circles of festivity, of which she occasionally becomes a part. It is a necessary accomplishment, therefore, although of short use ; for the French rule is wise, that no lady dances after marriage. This
is founded in solid physical reasons, gestation and nursing leaving little time to a married lady when this exercise can be either safe or innocent. Drawing is thought less of in this country than in Europe. It is an innocent and engaging amusement, often useful, and a qualification not to be neglected in one who is to become a mother and an instructor. Music is invaluable where a person has an ear. Where they have not, it should not be attempted. It furnishes a delightful recreation for the hours of respite from the cares of the day, and lasts us through life. The taste of this country, too, calls for this accomplishment more strongly than for either of the others.
I need say nothing of household economy, in which the mothers of our country are generally skilled, and generally careful to instruct their daughters. We all know its value, and that diligence and dexterity in all its processes are inestimable treasures. The order and economy of a house are as honorable to the mistress as those of the farm to the master, and if either be neglected, ruin follows, and children destitute of the means of living.
This, Sir, is offered as a summary sketch on a subject on which I have not thought much. It probably contains nothing but what has already occurred to yourself, and claims your acceptance on no other ground than as a testimony of my respect for your wishes, and of my great esteem and respect
TO JOHN ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, May 17, 1818. DEAR SIR,—I was so unfortunate as not to receive from Mr. Holly's own hand your favor of January the 28th, being then at my other home. He dined only with my family, and left them with an impression which has filled me with regret that I did not partake of the pleasure his visit gave them. I am glad he is gone to Kentucky. Rational Christianity will thrive more rapidly there than here. They are freer from prejudices than we are, and bolder in grasping at truth. The time is not distant, though neither you nor I shall see it, when we shall be but a secondary people to them. Our greediness for wealth, and fantastical expense, have degraded, and will degrade, the minds of our maritime citizens. These are the peculiar vices of commerce.
I had been long without hearing from you, but I had heard of you through a letter from Doctor Waterhouse. He wrote to reclaim against an expression of Mr. Wirt's, as to the commencement of motion in the revolutionary ball. The lawyers say that words are always to be expounded secundum subjectam materiem, which, in Mr. Wirt's case, was Virginia. It would, moreover, be as difficult to say at what moment the Revolution began, and what incident set it in motion, as to fix the moment that the embryo becomes an animal, or the act which gives him a beginning. But the most agreeable part of his letter was that which informed me of your health, your activity, and strength of memory; and the most wonderful, that which assured me that you retained your industry and promptness in epistolary correspondence. Here you have entire advantage over me. My repugnance to the writing table becomes daily and hourly more deadly and insurmountable. In place of this has come on a canine appetite for reading. And I indulge it, because I see in it a relief against the tædium senectutis ; a lamp to lighten my path through the dreary wilderness of time before me, whose bourne I see not. Losing daily all interest in the things around us, something else is necessary to fill the void. With me it is reading, which occupies the mind without the labor of producing ideas from my own stock.
I enter into all your doubts as to the event of the revolution of South America. They will succeed against Spain. But the dangerous enemy is within their own breasts. Ignorance and superstition will chain their minds and bodies under religious and military despotism. I do believe it would be better for them to obtain freedom by degrees only; because that would by degrees bring on light and information, and qualify them to take charge of themselves understandingly; with more certainty, if in the meantime, under so much control as may keep them at peace with one another. Surely, it is our duty to wish them independence and self-government, because they wish it themselves, and they have the right, and we none, to choose for themselves; and I wish, moreover, that our ideas may be erroneous, and theirs prove well founded. But these are speculations, my friend, which we may as well deliver over to those who are to see their development. We shall only be lookers on, from the clouds above, as now we look down on the labors, the hurry and bustle of the ants and bees. Perhaps in that super-mundane region, we may be amused with seeing the fallacy of our own guesses, and even the nothingness of those labors which have filled and agitated our own time here.
En attendant, with sincere affections to Mrs. Adams and yourself, I salute you both cordially.
TO M. JULLIEN.
MONTICELLO, July 23, 1818. SIR,-Your favor of March 30th, 1817, came to my hands on the 1st of March, 1818. While the statement it contained of the many instances of your attention in sending to me your different writings was truly flattering, it was equally mortifying to perceive that two only of the eight it enumerates, had ever come to my hands; and that both of my acknowledgments of these had miscarried also. Your first favor of November 5th, 1809, was received by me on the 6th of May, 1810, and was answered on the 15th of July of the same year, with an acknowledgment of the receipt of your " Essai general d'education physique morale, et intellectuelle," and of the high sense I entertained of its utility. I do not recollect through what channel I sent this answer, but have little doubt that it was through the office of our Secretary of State, and our minister then at the court of France.
In a letter from Mr. E. I. Dupont of August 11, 1817, I received the favor of your“ Esquisse d'un ouvrage sur l'educa