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son can any one justify the giving to every citizen of Warwick as much weight in the government as to twenty-two equal citizens in Loudon, and similar inequalities among the other counties? If these fundamental principles are of no importance in actual government, then no principles are important, and it is as well to rely on the dispositions of an administration, good or evil, as on the provisions of a constitution.
I shall not enter into the details of smaller defects, although others there doubtless are, the reformation of some of which might very much lessen the expenses of government, improve its organization, and add to the wisdom and purity of its administration in all its parts ; but these things I leave to others, not permitting myself to take sides in the political questions of the day. I willingly acquiesce in the institutions of my country, perfect or imperfect; and think it a duty to leave their modifications to those who are to live under them, and are to participate of the good or evil they may produce. The present generation has the same right of self-government which the past one has exercised for itself. And those in the full vigor of body and mind are more able to judge for themselves than those who are sinking under the wane of both. If the sense of our citizens on the question of a convention can be fairly and fully taken, its result will, I am sure, be wise and salutary; and far from arrogating the office of advice, no one will more passively acquiesce in it than myself. Retiring, therefore, to the tranquillity called for by increasing years and debility, I wish not to be understood as intermeddling in this question; and to my prayers for the general good, I have only to add assurances to yourself of my great esteem.
TO MR. DAVID HARDING, PRESIDENT OF THE JEFFERSON DEBATING
SOCIETY OF HINGHAM.
MONTICELLO, April 20, 1824. SIR,—I have duly received your favor of the 6th instant, informing me of the institution of a debating society in Hingham, composed of adherents to the republican principles of the revolu
tion; and I am justly sensible of the honor done my name by associating it with the title of the society. The object of the society is laudable, and in a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance. In this line antiquity has left us the finest models for imitation; and he who studies and imitates them most nearly, will nearest approach the perfection of the art. Among these I should consider the speeches of Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus, as pre-eminent specimens of logic, taste, and that sententious brevity which, using not a word to spare, leaves not a moment for inattention to the hearer. Amplification is the vice of modern oratory. It is an insult to an assembly of reasonable men, disgusting and revolting instead of persuading. Speeches measured by the hour, die with the hour. I will not, however, further indulge the disposition of the age to sermonize, and especially to those surrounded by so much better advice. With my apologies, therefore, for hazarding even these observations, and my prayers for the success of your institution, be pleased to accept for the society and yourself the assurances of my high consideration.
TO RICHARD RUSH.
MONTICELLO, April 26, 1824. DEAR SIR,—I have heretofore informed you that our legislature had undertaken the establishment of an University in Virginia ; that it was placed in my neighborhood, and under the direction of a board of seven visitors, of whom I am one, Mr. Madison another, and others equally worthy of confidence. We have been four or five years engaged in erecting our buildings, all of which are now ready to receive their tenants, one excepted, which the present season will put into a state for use. The last session of our legislature had by new donations liberated the revenue of fifteen M. D. a year, with which they had before endowed the institution, and we propose to open it the beginning of the next year. We require the intervening time for seeking out and engaging Professors. As to these we have determined to receive no one who is not of the first order of science in his line; and as such in every branch cannot be obtained with us, we propose to seek some of them at least in the countries ahead of us in science, and preferably in Great Britain, the land of our own language, habits, and manners. But how to find out those who are of the first grade of science, of sober correct habits and morals, harmonizing tempers, talents for communication, is the difficulty. Our first step is to send a special agent to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh, to make the selection for us; and the person appointed for this office is the gentleman who will hand you this letter,-Mr. Francis Walker Gilmer,—the best-educated subject we have raised since the revolution, highly qualified in all the important branches of science, professing particularly that of the law, which he has practised some years at our Supreme Court with good success and flattering prospects. His morals, his amiable temper and discretion, will do justice to any confidence you may be willing to place in him, for I commit him to you as his mentor and guide in the business he goes on. We do not certainly expect to obtain such known characters as were the Cullens, the Robertsons and Porsons of Great Britain, men of the first eminence established there in reputation and office, and with emoluments not to be bettered anywhere. But we know that there is another race treading on their heels, preparing to take their places, and as well and sometimes better qualified to fill them. These while unsettled, surrounded by a crowd of competitors, of equal claims and perhaps superior credit and interest, may prefer a comfortable certainty here for an uncertain hope there, and a lingering delay even of that. From this description we expect we may draw professors equal to those of the highest name. The difficulty is to distinguish them; for we are told that so overcharged are all branches of business in that country, and such the difficulty of getting the means of living, that it is deemed allowable in ethics for even the most honorable minds to give highly exaggerated recommendations and certificates to enable a friend or protege to get into a livelihood; and that the moment our agent should be known to be on such a mission, he would be overwhelmed by applications from numerous pretenders, all of whom, worthy or unworthy, would be supported by such recommendations and such names as would confound all discrimination. On this head our trust and hope is in you. Your knowledge of the state of things, your means of finding out a character or two at each place, truly trustworthy, and into whose hands you can commit our agent with entire safety, for information, caution and co-operation, induces me to request your patronage and aid in our endeavors to obtain such men, and such only as will fulfil our views. An unlucky selection in the outset would forever blast our prospects. From our information of the character of the different Universities, we expect we should go to Oxford for our classical professor, to Cambridge for those of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy and Natural History, and to Edinburgh for a professor of Anatomy, and the elements or outlines only of Medicine. We have still our eye on Mr. Blaetterman for the professorship of modern languages, and Mr. Gilmer is instructed to engage him, if no very material objection to him may have arisen unknown to us. We can place in Mr. Gilmer's hands but a moderate sum at present for merely text books to begin with, and for indispensable articles of apparatus, Mathematical, Astronomical, Physical, Chemical and Anatomical. We are in the hope of a sum of $50,000, as soon as we can get a settlement passed through the public offices. My experience in dealing with the bookseller Lackington, on your recommendation, has induced me to recommend him to Mr. Gilmer, and if we can engage his fidelity, we may put into his hands the larger supply of books when we are ready to call for it, and particularly what we shall propose to seek in England.
Although I have troubled you with many particulars, I yet leave abundance for verbal explanation with Mr. Gilmer, who possesses a full knowledge of everything, and our full confidence in everything. He takes with him plans of our establishment, which we think it may be encouraging to show to the persons to whom he will make propositions, as well to let them see the comforts provided for themselves, as to show by the extensive
ness and expense of the scale, that it is no ephemeral thing to * which they are invited.
With my earnest solicitations that you will give us all your aid in an undertaking on which we rest the hopes and happiness of our country, accept the assurances of my sincere friendship, attachment and respect.
TO JOSEPH C. CABELL.
MONTICELLO, May 16, 1824. DEAR SIR,—Your favor of the 5th, from Williamsburg, has been duly received, and presents to us a case of pregnant character, admitting important issues, and requiring serious consideration and conduct; yet I am more inclined to view it with hope than dismay. It involves two questions. First. Shall the college of William and Mary be removed ? Second. To what place ? As to the first, I never doubted the lawful authority of the legislature over the college, as being a public institution and endowed from the public property, by public agents for that function, and for public purposes. Some have doubted this authority without a relinquishment of what they call a vested right by the body corporate. But as their voluntary relinquishment is a circumstance of the case, it is relieved from that doubt. I certainly never wished that my venerable alma mater should be disturbed. I considered it as an actual possession of that ancient and earliest settlement of our forefathers, and was disposed to see it yielded as a courtesy, rather than taken as a right. They, however, are free to renounce a benefit, and we to receive it. Had we dissolved it on the principle of right, to give a direction to its funds more useful to the public, the professors, although their chartered tenure is during pleasure only, might have reasonably expected a vale of a year or two's salary, as an intermediate