Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

TO MR. ADAMS.

Poplar FOREST, September 8, 1817. DEAR SIR-A month's absence from Monticello has added to the delay of acknowledging your last letters, and indeed for a month before I left it, our projected college gave me constant employment; for, being the only visitor in its immediate neighborhood, all its administrative business falls on me, and that, where building is going on, is not a little. In yours of Judy 15th, you express a wish to see our plan, but the present visitors have sanctioned no plan as yet. Our predecessors, the first trustees, had desired me to propose one to them, and it was on that occasion I asked and received the benefit of your ideas on the subject. Digesting these with such other schemes as I had been able to collect, I made out a prospectus, the looser and less satisfactory from the uncertain amount of the funds to which it was to be adapted. This I addressed, in the form of a letter, to their President, Peter Carr, which, going before the legislature when a change in the constitution of the college was asked, got into the public papers, and, among others, I think you will find it in Niles' Register, in the early part of 1815. This, however, is to be considered but as a premiere ebauche, for the consideration and amendment of the present visitors, and to be accommodated to one of two conditions of things. If the institution is to depend on private donations alone, we shall be forced to accumulate on the shoulders of four professors a mass of sciences which, if the legislature adopts it, should be distributed among ten. We shall be ready for a professor of languages in April next, for two others the following year, and a fourth a year after. How happy should we be if we could have a Ticknor for our first. A critical classic is scarcely to be found in the United States. To this professor, a fixed salary of five hundred dollars, with liberal tuition fees from the pupils, will probably give two thousand dollars a year. We are now on the look-out for a professor, meaning to accept of none but of the very first order.

You ask if I have seen Buchanan's, McAfee's, or Wilkinson's vol. VIL

6

a

books? I have seen none of them, but have lately read, with great pleasure, Reid & Eaton's life of Jackson, if life may be called what is merely a history of his campaign of 1814. Reid's part is well written. Eaton's continuation is better for its matter than style. The whole, however, is valuable.

I have lately received a pamphlet of extreme interest from France. It is De Pradt's Historical Recital of the first return of Louis XVIII. to Paris. It is precious for the minutiæ of the proceedings which it details, and for their authenticity, as from an eye-witness. Being but a pamphlet I enclose it for your perusal, assured, if you have not seen it, that it will give you pleasure. I will ask its return, because I value it as a morsel of genuine history, a thing so rare as to be always valuable. I have received some information from an eye-witness also of what passed on the occasion of the second return of Louis XVIII. The Emperor Alexander, it seems, was solidly opposed to this. In the consultation of the allied sovereigns and their representatives with the executive council at Paris, he insisted that the Bourbons were too incapable and unworthy of being placed at the head of the nation ; declared he would support any other choice they should freely make, and continued to urge most strenuously that some other choice should be made. The debates ran high and warm, and broke off after midnight, every one retaining his own opinion. He lodged, as you know, at Talleyrand's. When they returned into council the next day, his host had overcome his firmness. Louis XVIII. was accepted, and through the management of Talleyrand, accepted without any capitulation, although the sovereigns would have consented that he should be first required to subscribe and swear to the constitution prepared, before permission to enter the kingdom. It would seem as if Talleyrand had been afraid to admit the smallest interval of time, lest a change of mind would bring back Bonaparte on them. But I observe that the friends of a limited monarchy there consider the popular representation as much improved by the late alteration, and confident it will in the end produce a fixed government in

а

а

which an elective body, fairly representative of the people, will be an efficient element.

I congratulate Mrs. Adams and yourself on the return of your excellent and distinguished son, and our country still more on such a minister of their foreign affairs; and I renew to both the assurance of my high and friendly respect and esteem.

TO GEORGE FLOWER.

Porlar Forest, September 12, 1817. DEAR SIR, Your favor of August 12th was yesterday re.ceived at this place, and I learn from it with pleasure that you have found a tract of country which will suit you for settlement. To us your first purchase would have been more gratifying, by adding yourself and your friends to our society ; but the overruling consideration, with us as with you, is your own advantage, and as it would doubtless be a great comfort to you to have your ancient neighbors and friends settled around you. I sincerely wish that your proposition to "purchase a tract of land in the Illinois on favorable terms, for introducing a colony of English farmers," may encounter no difficulties from the established rules of our land department. The general law prescribes an open sale, where all citizens may compete on an equal footing for any lot of land which attracts their choice. To dispense with this in any particular case, requires a special law of Congress, and to special legislation we are generally averse, lest a principle of favoritism should creep in and pervert that of equal rights. It has, however, been done on some occasions where a special national advantage has been expected to overweigh that of adherence to the general rule. The promised introduction of the culture of the vine procured a special law in favor of the Swiss settlement on the Ohio. That of the culture of oil, wine and other southern productions, did the same lately for the French settlement on the Tombigbee. It remains to be tried whether that of an improved system of farming, interesting to so great a proportion of our citizens, may not also be thought worth a dispensation with the general rule. This I suppose is the principal ground on which your proposition will be questioned. For although as to other foreigners it is thought better to discourage their settling together in large masses, wherein, as in our German settlements, they preserve for a long time their own languages, habits, and principles of government, and that they should distribute themselves sparsely among the natives for quicker amalgamation. Yet English emigrants are without this inconvenience. They differ from us little but in their principles of government, and most of those (merchants excepted) who come here, are sufficiently disposed to adopt ours. What the issue, however, of your proposition may probably be, I am less able to advise you than many others; for during the last eight or ten years I have no knowledge of the administration of the land office or the principles of its government. Even the persons on whom it will depend are all changed within that interval, so as to leave me small means of being useful to you. Whatever they may be, however, they shall be freely exercised for your advantage, and that, not on the selfish principle of increasing our own population at the expense of other nations, for the additions to that from emigration are but as a drop in a bucket to those by natural procreation, but to consecrate a sanctuary for those whom the misrule of Europe may compel to seek happiness in other climes. This refuge once known will produce reaction on the happiness even of those who remain there, by warning their task-masters that when the evils of Egyptian oppression become heavier than those of the abandonment of country, another Canaan is open

where their subjects will be received as brothers, and secured against like oppressions by a participation in the right of self-government. If additional motives could be wanting with us to the maintenance of this right, they would be found in the animating consideration that a single good government becomes thus a blessing to the whole earth, its welcome to the oppressed restraining within certain limits the measure of their oppressions. But should even this be counteracted by violence on the right of ex

a

patriation, the other branch of our example then presents itself for imitation, to rise on their rulers and do as we have done. You have set to your own country a good example, by showing them a peaceable mode of reducing their rulers to the necessity of becoming more wise, more moderate, and more honest, and I sincerely pray that the example may work for the benefit of those who cannot follow it, as it will for your own.

With Mr. Burckbeck, the associate of your late explanatory journeying, I have not the happiness of personal acquaintance; but I know him through his narrative of your journeyings together through France. The impressions received from that, give me confidence that a participation with yourself in assurances of the esteem and respect of a stranger will not be unacceptable to him, and the less when given through you and associated with those to yourself.

JOHN ADAMS TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

QCINCY, October 10, 1817. DEAR SIR, I thank you for your kind congratulations on the return of my little family from Europe. To receive them all in fine health and good spirits, after so long an absence, was a greater blessing than at my time of life when they went away, I had any right to hope, or reason to expect.

If the Secretary of State can give satisfaction to his fellowcitizens in his new office, it will be a source of consolation to me while I live; although it is not probable that I shall long be a witness of his good success, or ill success. I shall soon be obliged to say to him, and to you, and to your country and mine, God bless you all! Fare-thee-well! Indeed, I need not wait a moment. I can say all that now, with as good a will, and as clear a conscience, as at any time past, or future.

I thank you, also, for the loan of De Pradt's narration of the intrigues, at the second restoration of the Bourbons. In this, as in many other instances, is seen the influence of a single subtle

« AnteriorContinuar »