Imágenes de páginas

Boule de Savon ; pretty, but unsubstantial.) I had rather be extinguished. You may vary these Algebraical equations at pleasure and without end. All this ratiocination, calculation, call it what you will, is founded on the supposition of no future state. Promise me eternal life free from pain, although in all other respects no better than our present terrestrial existence, I know not how many thousand years of Smithfield fevers I would not endure to obtain it. In fine, without the supposition of a future state, mankind and this globe appear to me the most sublime and beautiful bubble, and bauble, that imagination can conceive.

Let us then wish for immortality at all hazards, and trust the Ruler with his skies. I do; and earnestly wish for his commands, which to the utmost of my power shall be implicitly and piously obeyed.

It is worth while to live to read Grimm, whom I have read; and La Harpe and Mademoiselle D'Espinasse the fair friend of D'Alembert, both of whom Grimm characterizes very distinguished, and are, I am told, in print. I have not seen them, but hope soon to have them.

My history of the Jesuits is not elegantly written, but is supported by unquestionable authorities, is very particular and very horrible. Their restoration is indeed a “step towards darkness," cruelty, perfidy, despotism, death and —! I wish we were out of “danger of bigotry and Jesuitism”! May we be "a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism”! “What a colossus shall we be”! But will it not be of brass, iron and clay? Your taste is judicious in liking better the dreams of the future, than the history of the past. Upon this principle I prophecy that you and I shall soon meet, and be better friends than ever. So wishes,

J. A.


MONTICELLO; August 26, 1816. SIR, -In answer to your inquiry as to the merits of Gillies' translation of the Politics of Aristotle, I can only say that it has the reputation of being preferable to Ellis', the only rival translation into English. I have never seen it myself, and therefore do not speak of it from my own knowledge. But so different was the style of society then, and with those people, from what it is now and with us, that I think little edification can be obtained from their writings on the subject of government. They had just ideas of the value of personal liberty, but none at all of the structure of government best calculated to preserve it. They knew no medium between a democracy (the only pure republic, but impracticable beyond the limits of a town) and an abandonment of themselves to an aristocracy, or a tyranny independent of the people. It seems not to have occurred that where the citizens cannot meet to transact their business in person, they alone have the right to choose the agents who shall transact it; and that in this way a republican, or popular government, of the second grade of purity, may be exercised over any extent of country. The full experiment of a government democratical, but representative, was and is still reserved for us. The idea (taken, indeed, from the little specimen formerly existing in the English constitution, but now lost) has been carried by us, more or less, into all our legislative and executive departments; but it has not yet, by any of us, been pushed into all the ramifications of the system, só far as to leave no authority existing not responsible to the people ; whose rights, however, to the exercise and fruits of their own industry, can never be protected against the selfishness of rulers not subject to their control at short periods. The introduction of this new principle of representative democracy has rendered useless almost everything written before on the structure of government; and, in a great measure, relieves our regret, if the political writings of Aristotle, or of any other ancient, have been lost, or are unfaithfully rendered or explained to us. My most earnest wish is to see the republican element of popular control pushed to the maximum of its practicable exercise. I shall then believe that our government may be pure and perpetual. Accept my respectful salutations.


QUINCY, September 3, 1816. DEAR SIR, Dr. James Freeman is a learned, ingenious, honest and benevolent man, who wishes to see President Jefferson, and requests me to introduce him. If you would introduce some of your friends to me, I could, with more confidence, introduce mine to you. He is a Christian, but not a Pythagorian, a Platonic, or a Philonic Christian. You will ken him, and he will ken you ; but you may depend he will never betray, deceive, or injure you.

Without hinting to him anything which had passed between you and me, I asked him your question, "What are the uses of grief?He stared, and said " The question was new to him.” All he could say at present was, that he had known, in his own parish, more than one instance of ladies who had been thoughtless, modish, extravagant in a high degree, who, upon the death of a child, had become thoughtful, modest, humble; as prudent, amiable women as any he had known. Upon this I read to him your letters and mine upon this subject of grief, with which he seemed to be pleased. You see I was not afraid to trust him, , and you need not be.

Since I am, accidentally, invited to write to you, I may add a few words upon pleasures and pains of life. Vassall thought, an hundred years, nay, an eternity of pleasure, was no compensation for one hour of bilious cholic. Read again Molliores Spsyke, act 2d, scene 1st, on the subject of grief. And read in another place, " on est payè de mille maux, par un heureux moment." Thus differently do men speak of pleasures and pains. Now, Sir, I will tease you with another question. What have been the abuses of grief ?

In answer to this question, I doubt not you might write an hundred volumes. A few hints may convince you that the subject is ample.

1st. The death of Socrates excited a general sensibility of grief at Athens, in Attica, and in all Greece. Plato and Xeno



phon, two of his disciples, took advantage of that sentiment, by employing their enchanting style to represent their master to be greater and better than he probably was; and what have been the effects of Socratic, Platonic, which were Pythagorian, which was Indian philosophy, in the world ?

2d. The death of Cæsar, tyrant as he was, spread a general compassion, which always includes grief, among the Romans. The scoundrel Mark Antony availed himself of this momentary grief to destroy the republic, to establish the empire, and to proscribe Cicero.

3d. But to skip over all ages and nations for the present, and descend to our own times. The death of Washington diffused a general grief. The old tories, the hyperfederalists, the speculators, set up a general howl. Orations, prayers, sermons, mock funerals, were all employed, not that they loved Washington, but to keep in countenance the funding and banking system ; and to cast into the background and the shade, all others who had been concerned in the service of their country in the Revolution.

4th. The death of Hamilton, under all its circumstances, produced a general grief. His most determined enemies did not like to get rid of him in that way. They pitied, too, his widow and children. His party seized the moment of public feeling to come forward with funeral orations, and printed panegyrics, reinforced with mock funerals and solemn grimaces, and all this by people who have buried Otis, Sam Adams, Hancock, and Gerry, in comparative obscurity. And why? Merely to disgrace the old Whigs, and keep the funds and banks in countenance.

5th. The death of Mr. Ames excited a general regret. His long consumption, his amiable character, and reputable talents, had attracted a general interest, and his death a general mourning. His party made the most of it, by processions, orations, and a mock funeral. And why? To glorify the Tories, to abash the Whigs, and maintain the reputation of funds, banks, and speculation. And all this was done in honor of that insignificant boy, by people who have let a Dance, a Gerry, and a Dexter, go to their graves without notice.

6th. I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—The Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect which is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill, or might fill, the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

I am with ancient friendly sentiments,


MONTICELLO, September 5, 1816. SIR,—Your letter of August the 16th is just received. That which I wrote to you under the address of H. Tompkinson, was intended for the author of the pamphlet you were so kind as to send me, and therefore, in your hands, found its true destination. But I must beseech you, Sir, not to admit a possibility of its being published. Many good people will revolt from its doctrines, and my wish is to offend nobody; to leave to those who are to live under it, the settlement of their own constitution, and to pass in peace the remainder of my time. If those opinions are sound, they will occur to others, and will prevail by their own weight, without the aid of names, I am glad to see that the Staunton meeting has rejected the idea of a limited convention. The article, however, nearest my heart, is the division of counties into wards. These will be pure and elementary republics, the sum of all which, taken together, composes the State, and will make of the whole a true democracy as to the business of the wards, which is that of nearest and daily concern. The affairs of the larger sections, of counties, of States, and of the Union, not admitting personal transaction by the people, will be delegated to agents elected by themselves; and representation will thus be substituted, where personal action becomes imprac. ticable. Yet, even over these representative organs, should they become corrupt and perverted, the division into wards constitut

« AnteriorContinuar »