« AnteriorContinuar »
yet, is but in experiment. Your Liverpool institution will also aid us in the organization of our new University, an establishment now in progress in this State, and to which my remaining days and faculties will be devoted. When ready for its Professors, we shall apply for them chiefly to your island.
Were we content to remain stationary in science, we should take them from among ourselves; but, desirous of advancing, we must seek them in countries already in advance; and identity of language points to our best resource.
To furnish inducements, we provide for the Professors separate buildings, in which themselves and their families may be handsomely and comfortably lodged, and to liberal salaries will be added lucrative perquisites. This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.
We are looking with wonder at what is passing among you. It
“Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
There must be something in these agitations more than meets the eye of a distant spectator. Your queen must be used in this as a rallying point merely, around which are gathering the discontents of every quarter and character. If these flowed from theories of government only, and if merely from the heads of speculative men, they would admit of parley, of negotiation, of management. But I fear they are the workings of hungry bellies, which nothing but food will fill and quiet. I sincerely wish you safely out of them. Circumstances have nourished between our kindred countries angry dispositions which both ought long since to have banished from their bosoms. I have ever considered a cordial affection as the first interest of both. No nation on earth can hurt us so much as yours, none be more useful to you than ours. The obstacle, we have believed, was in the obstinate and unforgiving temper of your late king, and a con
tinuance of his prejudices kept up from habit, after he was with drawn from power. I hope I now see symptoms of sounder views in your government ; in which I know it will be cordially met by ours, as it would have been by every administration which has existed under our present constitution. None desired it more cordially than myself, whatever different opinions were impressed on your government by a party who wishes to have its weight in their scale as its exclusive friends.
My ancient friend and classmate, James Maury, informs me by letter that he has sent me a bust which I shall receive with great pleasure and thankfulness, and shall arrange in honorable file with those of some cherished characters. Will you permit me to place here my affectionate souvenirs of him, and accept for yourself the assurance of the highest consideration and esteem.
MonticELLO, January 19, 1821. DEAR FRANCIS,—Your letter of the 1st came safely to hand. I am sorry you have lost Mr. Elliot, however the kindness of Dr. Cooper will be able to keep you in the track of what is worthy of your time.
You ask my opinion of Lord Bolingbroke and Thomas Paine. They were alike in making bitter enemies of the priests and pharisees of their day. Both were honest men ; both advocates for human liberty. Paine wrote for a country which permitted him to push his reasoning to whatever length it would go. Lord Bolingbroke in one restrained by a constitution, and by public opinion. He was called indeed a tory; but his writings prove him a stronger advocate for liberty than any of his countrymen, the whigs of the present day. Irritated by his exile, he committed one act unworthy of him, in connecting himself momentarily with a prince rejected by his country. But he redeemed that single act by his establishment of the principles which proved it to be wrong. These two persons differed remarkably in the style of their writing, each leaving a model of what is most perfect in both extremes of the simple and the sublime. No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple and unassuming language. In this he may be compared with Dr. Franklin ; and indeed his Common Sense was, for awhile, believed to have been written by Dr. Franklin, and published under the borrowed name of Paine, who had come over with him from England. Lord Bolingbroke's, on the other hand, is a style of the highest order. The lofty, rythmical, full-flowing eloquence of Cicero. Periods of just measure, their members proportioned, their close full and round. His conceptions, too, are bold and strong, his diction copious, polished and commanding as his subject. His writings are certainly the finest samples in the English language, of the eloquence proper for the Senate. His political tracts are safe reading for the most timid religionist, his philosophical, for those who are not afraid to trust their reason with discussions of right and wrong.
You have asked my opinion of these persons, and, to you, I have given it freely. But, remember, that I am old, that I wish not to make new enemies, nor to give offence to those who would consider a difference of opinion as sufficient ground for unfriendly dispositions. God bless you, and make you what I wish you to be.
MONTICELLO, January 19, 1821. DEAR SIR-I duly received your favor of the 11th, covering Judge Roane's letter, which I now return. Of the kindness of his sentiments expressed towards myself I am highly sensible ; and could I believe that my public services had merited the approbation he so indulgently bestows, the satisfaction I should derive from it would be reward enough to his wish that I would take a part in the transactions of the present day. I am sensible of my incompetence. For first, I know little about them, having long withdrawn my attention from public affairs, and resigned myself with folded arms to the care of those who are to care for us all. And, next, the hand of time pressing heavily on me, in mind as well as body, leaves to neither sufficient energy to engage in public contentions. I am sensible of the inroads daily making by the federal, into the jurisdiction of its co-ordinate associates, the State governments. The legislative and executive branches may sometimes err, but elections and dependence will bring them to rights. The judiciary branch is the instrument which, working like gravity, without intermission, is to press us at last into one consolidated mass. Against this I know no one who, equally with Judge Roane himself, possesses the power and the courage to make resistance; and to him I look, and have long looked, as our strongest bulwark. If Congress fails to shield the States from dangers so palpable and so imminent, the States must shield themselves, and meet the invader foot to foot. This is already half done by Colonel Taylor's book; because a conviction that we are right accomplishes half the difficulty of correcting wrong. This book is the most effectual retraction of our government to its original principles which has ever yet been sent by heaven to our aid. Every State in the Union should give a copy to every member they elect, as a standing instruction, and ours should set the example. Accept with Mrs. Thweat the assurance of my affectionate and respectful attachment.
TO JOHN ADAMS.
MONTICELLO, January 22, 1821. I was quite rejoiced, dear Sir, to see that you had health and spirits enough to take part in the late convention of your State, for revising its constitution, and to bear your share in its debates and labors. The amendments of which we have as yet heard, prove the advance of liberalism in the intervening period; and encourage a hope that the human mind will some day get back to the freedom it enjoyed two thousand years ago. This country, which has given to the world the example of physical liberty, owes to it that of moral emancipation also, for as yet it is but nominal with us. The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice, the freedom asserted by the laws in theory.
Our anxieties in this quarter are all concentrated in the question, what does the Holy Alliance in and out of Congress mean to do with us on the Missouri question ? And this, by-the-bye, is but the name of the case, it is only the John Doe or Richard Roe of the ejectment. The real question, as seen in the States afflicted with this unfortunate population, is, are our slaves to be presented with freedom and a dagger? For if Congress has the power to regulate the conditions of the inhabitants of the States, within the States, it will be but another exercise of that power, to declare that all shall be free. Are we then to see again Athenian and Lacedemonian confederacies? To wage another Peloponnesian war to settle the ascendency between them? Or is this the tocsin of merely a servile war? That remains to be seen ; but not, I hope, by you or me. Surely, they will parley
, awhile, and give us time to get out of the way. What a Bedlamite is man? But let us turn from our own uneasiness to the miseries of our southern friends. Bolivar and Morillo, it seems, have come to the parley, with dispositions at length to stop the useless effusion of human blood in that quarter. I feared from the beginning, that these people were not yet sufficiently enlightened for self-government; and that after wading through blood and slaughter, they would end in military tyrannies, more or less numerous. Yet as they wished to try the experiment, I wished them success in it; they have now tried it, and will possibly find that their safest road will be an accommodation with the mother country, which shall hold them together by the single link of the same chief magistrate, leaving to him power enough to keep them in peace with one another, and to themselves the essential power of self-government and self-improvement, until they shall be sufficiently trained by education and habits of freedom, 10