Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826. Letters
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library


|
"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." -- Thomas Jefferson

"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
-- Thomas Jefferson

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."
-- Thomas Jefferson

 

About the electronic version

Letters
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826

Creation of machine-readable version:

Conversion to TEI-conformant markup: University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center ca. 1905 kilobytes
This version available from the University of Virginia Library
Charlottesville, Va.

   Publicly accessible

   Available with permission from the Oxford Text Archive


http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/%20http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/modeng/modengJ.browse.html

   copyright 2000, by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia


1993

horizontal rule

 

About the print version

Letters
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
Merrill D. Peterson
Literary Classics of the United States
New York
1984

   Library of America series


Note: In "Writings"

   Spell-check and verification made against printed text using WordPerfect spell checker

   
Published: 1760-1826

Englishnon-fictionprose

horizontal rule

 

Revisions to the electronic version
1993 Electronic Text Center

etext@virginia.edu. Commercial use prohibited; all usage governed by our Conditions of Use: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/conditions.html

horizontal rule

 

horizontal rule


-733-

A YOUTH OF SIXTEENTo John Harvie
Shadwell, Jan. 14, 1760 17600114

   SIR, -- I was at Colo. Peter Randolph's about a Fortnight ago, & my Schooling falling into Discourse, he said he thought it would be to my Advantage to go to the College, & was desirous I should go, as indeed I am myself for several Reasons. In the first place as long as I stay at the Mountains the Loss of one fourth of my Time is inevitable, by Company's coming here & detaining me from School. And likewise my Absence will in a great Measure put a Stop to so much Company, & by that Means lessen the Expences of the Estate in House-Keeping. And on the other Hand by going to the College I shall get a more universal Acquaintance, which may hereafter be serviceable to me; & suppose I can pursue my Studies in the Greek & Latin as well there as here, & likewise learn something of the Mathematics. shall be glad of your opinion.

 

OLD COKE AND YOUNG LADIES
To John Page
Fairfield, December 25, 1762 1762122

   DEAR PAGE, -- This very day, to others the day of greatest mirth and jollity, sees me overwhelmed with more and greater misfortunes than have befallen a descendant of Adam for these thousand years past, I am sure; and perhaps, after excepting Job, since the creation of the world. I think his misfortunes were somewhat greater than mine: for although we may be pretty nearly on a level in other respects, yet, I thank my God, I have the advantage of brother Job in this, that Satan has not as yet put forth his hand to load me with bodily afflictions. You must know, dear Page, that I am now in a house surrounded with enemies, who take counsel together against my soul; and when I lay me down to rest, they say

horizontal rule


-734-

among themselves, come let us destroy him. I am sure if there is such a thing as a Devil in this world, he must have been here last night and have had some hand in contriving what happened to me. Do you think the cursed rats (at his instigation, I suppose) did not eat up my pocket-book, which was in my pocket, within a foot of my head? And not contented with plenty for the present, they carried away my jemmy-worked silk garters, and half a dozen new minuets I had just got, to serve, I suppose, as provision for the winter. But of this I should not have accused the Devil, (because, you know rats will be rats, and hunger, without the addition of his instigations, might have urged them to do this,) if something worse, and from a different quarter, had not happened. You know it rained last night, or if you do not know it, I am sure I do. When I went to bed, I laid my watch in the usual place, and going to take her up after I arose this morning, I found her in the same place, it's true! but Quantum mutatus ab illo! all afloat in water, let in at a leak in the roof of the house, and as silent and still as the rats that had eat my pocket-book. Now, you know, if chance had had anything to do in this matter, there were a thousand other spots where it might have chanced to leak as well as at this one, which was perpendicularly over my watch. But I'll tell you; it's my opinion that the Devil came and bored the hole over it on purpose. Well, as I was saying, my poor watch had lost her speech. I should not have cared much for this, but something worse attended it; the subtle particles of the water with which the case was filled, had, by their penetration, so overcome the cohesion of the particles of the paper, of which my dear picture and watch-paper were composed, that, in attempting to take them out to dry them, good God! Mens horret referre! My cursed fingers gave them such a rent, as I fear I never shall get over. This, cried I, was the last stroke Satan had in reserve for me: he knew I cared not for anything else he could do to me, and was determined to try this last most fatal expedient. "Multis fortunae vulneribus percussus, huic uni me imparem sensi, et penitus succubui!" would have cried bitterly, but I thought it beneath the dignity of a man, and a man too who had read {ton onton, ta men ephemin, ta dok ephemin}. However,

horizontal rule


-735-

whatever misfortunes may attend the picture or lover, my hearty prayers shall be, that all the health and happiness which Heaven can send may be the portion of the original, and that so much goodness may ever meet with what may be most agreeable in this world, as I am sure it must be in the next. And now, although the picture be defaced, there is so lively an image of her imprinted in my mind, that I shall think of her too often, I fear, for my peace of mind; and too often, I am sure, to get through old Coke this winter; for God knows I have not seen him since I packed him up in my trunk in Williamsburg. Well, Page, I do wish the Devil had old Coke, for I am sure I never was so tired of an old dull scoundrel in my life. What! are there so few inquietudes tacked to this momentary life of our's, that we must need be loading ourselves with a thousand more? Or, as brother Job says, (who, by the bye, I think began to whine a little under his afflictions,) "Are not my days few? Cease then, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death." But the old fellows say we must read to gain knowledge, and gain knowledge to make us happy and admired. Mere jargon! Is there any such thing as happiness in this world? No. And as for admiration, I am sure the man who powders most, perfumes most, embroiders most, and talks most nonsense, is most admired. Though to be candid, there are some who have too much good sense to esteem such monkey-like animals as these, in whose formation, as the saying is, the tailors and barbers go halves with God Almighty; and since these are the only persons whose esteem is worth a wish, I do not know but that, upon the whole, the advice of these old fellows may be worth following.

 

   You cannot conceive the satisfaction it would give me to have a letter from you. Write me very circumstantially everything which happened at the wedding. Was she there? because, if she was, I ought to have been at the Devil for not being there too. If there is any news stirring in town or country, such as deaths, courtships, or marriages, in the circle of my acquaintance, let me know it. Remember me affectionately to all the young ladies of my acquaintance, particularly

horizontal rule


-736-

the Miss Burwells, and Miss Potters, and tell them that though that heavy earthly part of me, my body, be absent, the better half of me, my soul, is ever with them; and that my best wishes shall ever attend them. Tell Miss Alice Corbin that I verily believe the rats knew I was to win a pair of garters from her, or they never would have been so cruel as to carry mine away. This very consideration makes me so sure of the bet, that I shall ask everybody I see from that part of the world what pretty gentleman is making his addresses to her. I would fain ask the favour of Miss Becca Burwell to give me another watch-paper of her own cutting, which I should esteem much more, though it were a plain round one, than the nicest in the world cut by other hands -- however, I am afraid she would think this presumption, after my suffering the other to get spoiled. If you think you can excuse me to her for this, I should be glad if you would ask her. Tell Miss Sukey Potter that I heard, just before I came out of town, that she was offended with me about something, what it is I do not know; but this I know, that I never was guilty of the least disrespect to her in my life, either in word or deed; as far from it as it has been possible for one to be. I suppose when we meet next, she will be endeavouring to repay an imaginary affront with a real one: but she may save herself the trouble, for nothing that she can say or do to me shall ever lessen her in my esteem, and I am determined always to look upon her as the same honest-hearted, good-humored, agreeable lady I ever did. Tell -- tell -- in short, tell them all ten thousand things more than either you or I can now or ever shall think of as long as we live.

 

   My mind has been so taken up with thinking of my acquaintances, that, till this moment, I almost imagined myself in Williamsburg, talking to you in our old unreserved way; and never observed, till I turned over the leaf, to what an immoderate size I had swelled my letter -- however, that I may not tire your patience by further additions, I will make but this one more, that I am sincerely and affectionately, Dear Page, your friend and servant.

   P. S. I am now within an easy day's ride of Shadwell, whither I shall proceed in two or three days.

 

horizontal rule


-737-

A VISIT TO ANNAPOLIS
To John Page
Annapolis, May 25, 1766
1766052

   DEAR PAGE -- I received your last by T. Nelson whom luckily met on my road hither. surely never did small hero experience greater misadventures than I did on the first two or three days of my travelling. twice did my horse run away with me and greatly endanger the breaking my neck on the first day. on the second I drove two hours through as copious a rain as ever have seen, without meeting with a single house to which I could repair for shelter. on the third in going through Pamunkey, being unacquainted with the ford, I passed through water so deep as to run over the cushion as I sat on it, and to add to the danger, at that instant one wheel mounted a rock which I am confident was as high as the axle, and rendered it necessary for me to exercise all my skill in the doctrine of gravity, in order to prevent the center of gravity from being left unsupported the consequence of which would according to Bob. Carter's opinion have been the corruition of myself, chair and all into the water. whether that would have been the case or not, let the learned determine: it was not convenient for me to try the experiment at that time, and I therefore threw my whole weight on the mounted wheel and escaped the danger. I confess that on this occasion I was seised with a violent hydrophobia. I had the pleasure of passing two or three days on my way hither at the two Will. Fitzhugh's and Col^o. Harrison's where were S. Potter, P. Stith, and Ben Harrison, since which time I have seen no face known to me before, except Cap^t. Mitchell's who is here. -- but I will now give you some account of what I have seen in this metropolis. the assembly happens to be sitting at this time. their upper and lower house, as they call them, sit in different houses. I went into the lower, sitting in an old courthouse, which, judging from it's form and appearance, was built in the year one. I was surprised on approaching it to hear as great a noise and hubbub as you will usually observe at a publick meeting of the planters in Virginia. the first object which struck me after my entrance was the figure of a

horizontal rule


-738-

little old man dressed but indifferently, with a yellow queüe wig on, and mounted in the judge's chair. this the gentleman who walked with me informed me was the speaker, a man of a very fair character, but who by the bye, has very little the air of a speaker. at one end of the justices' bench stood a man whom in another place I should from his dress and phis have taken for Goodall the lawyer in Williamsburgh, reading a bill then before the house with a schoolboy tone and an abrupt pause at every half dozen words. this I found to be the clerk of the assembly. the mob (for such was their appearance) sat covered on the justices' and lawyers' benches, and were divided into little clubs amusing themselves in the common chit chat way. I was surprised to see them address the speaker without rising from their seats, and three, four, and five at a time without being checked. when a motion was made, the speaker instead of putting the question in the usual form, only asked the gentlemen whether they chose that such or such a thing should be done, and was answered by a yes sir, or no sir: and tho' the voices appeared frequently to be divided, they never would go to the trouble of dividing the house, but the clerk entered the resolutions, I supposed, as he thought proper. in short everything seems to be carried without the house in general's knowing what was proposed. the situation of this place is extremely beautiful, and very commodious for trade having a most secure port capable of receiving the largest vessels, those of 400 hh'ds being able to brush against the sides of the dock. the houses are in general better than those in Williamsburgh, but the gardens more indifferent. the two towns seem much of a size. they have no publick buildings worth mentioning except a governor's house, the hull of which after being nearly finished, they have suffered to go to ruin. I would give you an account of the rejoicings here on the repeal of the stamp act, but this you will probably see in print before my letter can reach you. shall proceed tomorrow to Philadelphia where I shall make the stay necessary for inoculation, thence going on to New-York shall return by water to Williamsburgh, about the middle of July, till which time you have the prayers of

 

   Dear Page
Your affectionate friend

 

horizontal rule


-739-

   P. S. I should be glad if you could in some indirect manner, without discovering that it was my desire, let J. Randolph know when I propose to be in the city of Williamsburgh.

 

THE STUDY OF LAW
To Thomas Turpin
Shadwell, Feb. 5, 1769
1769020

   DEAR SIR, -- I am truly concerned that it is not in my power to undertake the superintendance of your son in his studies; but my situation both present and future renders it utterly impossible. I do not expect to be here more than two months in the whole between this and November next, at which time I propose to remove to another habitation which I am about to erect, and on a plan so contracted as that I shall have but one spare bedchamber for whatever visitants I may have. nor have reason to expect at any future day to pass a greater proportion of my time at home. thus situated it would even have been injustice to Phill to have undertaken to give him an assistance which will not be within my power; a task which I otherwise should with the greatest pleasure have taken on me, and would have desired no higher satisfaction than to see him hold that rank in the profession to which his genius and application must surely advance him. these however encourage me to hope that the presence of an assistant will be little necessary. I always was of opinion that the placing a youth to study with an attorney was rather a prejudice than a help. we are all too apt by shifting on them our business, to incroach on that time which should be devoted to their studies. the only help a youth wants is to be directed what books to read, and in what order to read them. have accordingly recommended strongly to Phill to put himself into apprenticeship with no one, but to employ his time for himself alone. to enable him to do this to advantage I have laid down a plan of study which will afford him all the assistance a tutor could, without subjecting him to the inconvenience of expending his own time for the emolument of another. one difficulty only occurs, that is, the want of books.

horizontal rule


-740-

but this I am in hopes you will think less of remedying when it is considered that had he been placed under the care of another, a proper collection of books must have been provided for him before he engaged in the practice of his profession; for a lawyer without books would be like a workman without tools. the only difference then is that they must now be procured something earlier. should you think it necessary, it would be better to consider the money laid out in books as a part of the provision made for him and to deduct it from what you intended to give him, than that he should be without them. I have given him a catalogue of such as will be necessary, amounting in the whole to about £100 sterling, but divided into four invoices. Should Phill enter on the plan of study recommended, I shall endeavor as often as possible to take your house in on my way to and from Williamsburgh as it will afford me the double satisfaction of observing his progress in science and of seeing yourself, my aunt, and the family. I am Dear Sir with great respect

 

   Your most humble servant

 

A GENTLEMAN'S LIBRARY
To Robert Skipwith with
a List of Books

Monticello, Aug. 3, 1771
1771080

   I sat down with a design of executing your request to form a catalogue of books to the amount of about 50 lib. sterl. But could by no means satisfy myself with any partial choice could make. Thinking therefore it might be as agreeable to you have framed such a general collection as I think you would wish and might in time find convenient to procure. Out of this you will chuse for yourself to the amount you mentioned for the present year and may hereafter as shall be convenient proceed in completing the whole. A view of the second column in this catalogue would I suppose extort a smile from the face of gravity. Peace to its wisdom! Let me

horizontal rule


-741-

not awaken it. A little attention however to the nature of the human mind evinces that the entertainments of fiction are useful as well as pleasant. That they are pleasant when well written every person feels who reads. But wherein is its utility asks the reverend sage, big with the notion that nothing can be useful but the learned lumber of Greek and Roman reading with which his head is stored?

 

   I answer, everything is useful which contributes to fix in the principles and practices of virtue. When any original act of charity or of gratitude, for instance, is presented either to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty and feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable and grateful acts also. On the contrary when we see or read of any atrocious deed, we are disgusted with it's deformity, and conceive an abhorence of vice. Now every emotion of this kind is an exercise of our virtuous dispositions, and dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body acquire strength by exercise. But exercise produces habit, and in the instance of which we speak the exercise being of the moral feelings produces a habit of thinking and acting virtuously. We never reflect whether the story we read be truth or fiction. If the painting be lively, and a tolerable picture of nature, we are thrown into a reverie, from which if we awaken it is the fault of the writer. I appeal to every reader of feeling and sentiment whether the fictitious murther of Duncan by Macbeth in Shakespeare does not excite in him as great a horror of villany, as the real one of Henry IV. by Ravaillac as related by Davila? And whether the fidelity of Nelson and generosity of Blandford in Marmontel do not dilate his breast and elevate his sentiments as much as any similar incident which real history can furnish? Does he not in fact feel himself a better man while reading them, and privately covenant to copy the fair example? We neither know nor care whether Lawrence Sterne really went to France, whether he was there accosted by the Franciscan, at first rebuked him unkindly, and then gave him a peace offering: or whether the whole be not fiction. In either case we equally are sorrowful at the rebuke, and secretly resolve we will never do so: we are pleased with the subsequent atonement, and view with emulation a soul candidly

horizontal rule


-742-

acknowleging it's fault and making a just reparation. Considering history as a moral exercise, her lessons would be too infrequent if confined to real life. Of those recorded by historians few incidents have been attended with such circumstances as to excite in any high degree this sympathetic emotion of virtue. We are therefore wisely framed to be as warmly interested for a fictitious as for a real personage. The field of imagination is thus laid open to our use and lessons may be formed to illustrate and carry home to the heart every moral rule of life. Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effectually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divinity that ever were written. This is my idea of well written Romance, of Tragedy, Comedy and Epic poetry. -- If you are fond of speculation the books under the head of Criticism will afford you much pleasure. Of Politics and Trade I have given you a few only of the best books, as you would probably chuse to be not unacquainted with those commercial principles which bring wealth into our country, and the constitutional security we have for the enjoiment ofthat wealth. In Law I mention a few systematical books, as a knowledge of the minutiae of that science is not neces-sary for a private gentleman. In Religion, History, Natural philosophy, I have followed the same plan in general, -- But whence the necessity of this collection? Come to the new Rowanty, from which you may reach your hand to a library formed on a more extensive plan. Separated from each other but a few paces the possessions of each would be open to the other. A spring centrically situated might be the scene of every evening's joy. There we should talk over the lessons of the day, or lose them in music, chess or the merriments of our family companions. The heart thus lightened our pillows would be soft, and health and long life would attend the happy scene. Come then and bring our dear Tibby with you, the first in your affections, and second in mine. Offer prayers for me too at that shrine to which tho' absent I pray continual devotions. In every scheme of happiness she is placed in the foreground of the picture, as the princi-pal figure. Take that away, and it is no picture for me. Bear my affections to Wintipock clothed in the warmest expressions

horizontal rule


-743-

of sincerity; and to yourself be every human felicity. Adieu.

 

   ENCLOSURE

   FINE ARTS.

   Observations on gardening. Payne.

   5/

   Webb's essay on painting. 12mo 3/

   Pope's Iliad. 18/

    -- -- -- -Odyssey. 15/

   Dryden's Virgil. 12mo. 12/

   Milton's works. 2 v. 8vo. Donaldson.

   Edinburgh 1762. 10/

   Hoole's Tasso. 12mo. 5/

   Ossian with Blair's criticisms. 2 v.

   8vo. 10/

   Telemachus by Dodsley. 6/

   Capell's Shakespear. 12mo. 30/

   Dryden's plays. 6v. 12mo. 18/

   Addison's plays. 12mo. 3/

   Otway's plays. 3 v. 12mo. 9/

   Rowe's works. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Thompson's works. 4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Young's works. 4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Home's plays. 12mo. 3/

   Mallet's works. 3 v. 12mo. 9/

   Mason's poetical works. 5/

   Terence. Eng. 3/

   Moliere. Eng. 15/

   Farquhar's plays. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Vanbrugh's plays. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Steele's plays. 3/

   Congreve's works. 3 v. 12mo. 9/

   Garric's dramatic works. 2 v. 8vo.

   10/

   Foote's dramatic works. 2 v. 8vo. 10/

   Rousseau's Eloisa. Eng. 4 v. 12mo.

   12/

    -- -- -Emilius and Sophia. Eng.

   4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Marmontel's moral tales. Eng. 2 v.

   12mo. 12/

   Gil Blas. by Smollett. 6/

   Don Quixot. by Smollett 4 v. 12mo.

   12/

   David Simple. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Roderic Random.

   }

   2 v. 12mo. 6/ }

   Peregrine Pickle.

   } these are written by

   4 v. 12mo. 12/ } Smollett

   Launcelot

   }

   Graves. 6/ }

   Adventures of a

   }

   guinea. 2 v. }

   12mo. 6/ }

   Pamela. 4 v. 12mo.

   }

   12/ } these are by

   Clarissa. 8 v. 12mo.

   } Richardson.

   24/

   Grandison. 7 v.

   }

   12mo. 9/ }

   Fool of quality. 3 v.

   }

   12mo. 9/ }

   Feilding's works. 12 v. 12mo. £1.16

   Constantia. 2 v.

   }

   12mo. 6/ } by Langhorne.

   Solyman and

   }

   Almena. 12mo. }

   3/ }

   Belle assemblee. 4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Vicar of Wakefeild. 2 v. 12mo. 6/. by

   Dr. Goldsmith

   Sidney Bidulph. 5 v. 12mo. 15/

   Lady Julia Mandeville. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Almoran and Hamet. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Tristam Shandy. 9 v. 12mo. £1.7

   Sentimental journey. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Fragments of antient poetry.

   Edinburgh. 2/

   Percy's Runic poems. 3/

   Percy's reliques of antient English

   poetry. 3 v. 12mo. 9/

   Percy's Han Kiou Chouan. 4 v.

   12mo. 12/

   Percy's Miscellaneous Chinese

   peices. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Chaucer. 10/

   Spencer. 6 v. 12mo. 15/

horizontal rule


-744-

 

   Waller's poems. 12mo. 3/

   Dodsley's collection of poems. 6 v.

   12mo. 18/

   Pearch's collection of poems. 4 v.

   12mo. 12/

   Gray's works. 5/

   Ogilvie's poems. 5/

   Prior's poems. 2 v. 12mo. Foulis. 6/

   Gay's works. 12mo. Foulis. 3/

   Shenstone's works. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Dryden's works. 4 v. 12mo. Foulis.

   12/

   Pope's works. by Warburton. 12mo.

   £1.4

   Churchill's poems. 4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Hudibrass. 3/

   Swift's works. 21 v. small 8vo. £ 3.3

   Swift's literary correspondence. 3 v.

   9/

   Spectator. 9 v. 12mo. £ 1.7

   Tatler. 5 v. 12mo. 15/

   Guardian. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Freeholder. 12mo. 3/

   Ld. Lyttleton's Persian letters. 12mo.

   3/

   CRITICISM ON THE FINE ARTS.

   Ld. Kaim's elements of criticism.

   2 v. 8vo. 10/

   Burke on the sublime and beautiful.

   8vo. 5/

   Hogarth's analysis of beauty. 4to.

   £ 1.1

   Reid on the human mind. 8vo. 5/

   Smith's theory of moral sentiments.

   8vo. 5/

   Johnson's dictionary. 2 v. fol. £ 3

   Capell's prolusions. 12mo. 3/

   POLITICKS, TRADE.

   Montesquieu's spirit of the laws.

   2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Locke on government. 8vo. 5/

   Sidney on government. 4to. 15/

   Marmontel's Belisarius. 12mo. Eng.

   3/

   Ld. Bolingbroke's political works.

   5 v. 8vo. £ 1.5

   Montesquieu's rise & fall of the Roman

   governmt. 12mo. 3/

   Steuart's Political oeconomy. 2 v.

   4to. £ 1.10

   Petty's Political arithmetic. 8vo. 5/

   RELIGION.

   Locke's conduct of the mind in

   search of truth. 12mo. 3/

   Xenophon's memoirs of Socrates. by

   Feilding. 8vo. 5/

   Epictetus. by Mrs. Carter. 2 v.

   12mo. 6/

   Antoninus by Collins. 3/

   Seneca. by L'Estrange. 8vo. 5/

   Cicero's Offices. by Guthrie. 8vo. 5/

   Cicero's Tusculan questions. Eng. 3/

   Ld. Bolingbroke's Philosophical

   works. 5 v. 8vo. £ 1.5

   Hume's essays. 4 v. 12mo. 12/

   Ld. Kaim's Natural religion. 8vo. 6/

   Philosophical survey of Nature. 3/

   Oeconomy of human life. 2/

   Sterne's sermons. 7 v. 12mo. £ 1.1

   Sherlock on death. 8vo. 5/

   Sherlock on a future state. 5/

   LAW.

   Ld. Kaim's Principles of equity. fol.

   £ 1.1

   Blackstone's Commentaries. 4 v.

   4to. £ 4.4

   Cuningham's Law dictionary. 2 v.

   fol. £ 3

horizontal rule


-745-

 

   HISTORY. ANTIENT.

   Bible. 6/

   Rollin's Antient history. Eng. 13 v.

   12mo. £ 1.19

   Stanyan's Graecian history. 2 v. 8vo.

   10/

   Livy. (the late translation). 12/

   Sallust by Gordon. 12mo. 12/

   Tacitus by Gordon. 12mo. 15/

   Caesar by Bladen. 8vo. 5/

   Josephus. Eng. 1.0

   Vertot's Revolutions of Rome. Eng.

   9/

   Plutarch's lives. by Langhorne. 6 v.

   8vo. £ 1.10

   Bayle's Dictionary. 5 v. fol. £ 7.10.

   Jeffery's Historical & Chronological

   chart. 15/

   HISTORY. MODERN.

   Robertson's History of Charles the

   Vth. 3 v. 4to. £ 3.3

   Bossuet's history of France. 4 v.

   12mo. 12/

   Davila. by Farneworth. 2 v. 4to.

   £ 1.10.

   Hume's history of England. 8 v.

   8vo. £ 2.8.

   Clarendon's history of the rebellion.

   6 v. 8vo. £ 1.10.

   Robertson's history of Scotland.

   2 v. 8vo. 12/

   Keith's history of Virginia. 4to. 12/

   Stith's history of Virginia. 6/

   NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.

   NATURAL HISTORY &c.

   Nature displayed. Eng. 7 v. 12mo.

   Franklin on Electricity. 4to. 10/

   Macqueer's elements of Chemistry.

   2 v. 8vo. 10/

   Home's principles of agriculture.

   8vo. 5/

   Tull's horse-hoeing husbandry. 8vo.

   5/

   Duhamel's husbandry. 4to. 15/

   Millar's Gardener's diet. fol. £ 2.10.

   Buffon's natural history. Eng.

   £ 2.10.

   A compendium of Physic & Surgery.

   Nourse. 12mo. 1765. 3/

   Addison's travels. 12mo. 3/

   Anson's voiage. 8vo. 6/

   Thompson's travels. 2 v. 12mo. 6/

   Lady M. W. Montague's letters. 3 v.

   12mo. 9/

   MISCELLANEOUS.

   Ld. Lyttleton's dialogues of the

   dead. 8vo. 5/

   Fenelon's dialogues of the dead.

   Eng. 12mo. 3/

   Voltaire's works. Eng. £ 4.

   Locke on Education. 12mo. 3/

   Owen's Dict. of arts & sciences 4 v.

   8vo. £ 2.

 

THE SUBLIME OSSIAN
To Charles McPherson
Albemarle, in Virga, Feb. 25, 1773
1773022

   DEAR SIR, -- Encouraged by the small acquaintance which I had the pleasure of having contracted with you during your residence in this country, I take the liberty of making the

horizontal rule


-746-

present application to you. I understood you were related to the gentleman of your name (Mr. James McPherson), to whom the world is so much indebted for the elegant collection, arrangement, and translation of Ossian's poems. These pieces have been and will, I think, during my life, continue to be to me the sources of daily pleasures. The tender and the sublime emotions of the mind were never before so wrought up by the human hand. I am not ashamed to own that I think this rude bard of the North the greatest poet that has ever existed. Merely for the pleasure of reading his works, I am become desirous of learning the language in which he sung, and of possessing his songs in their original form. Mr. McPherson, I think, informs us he is possessed of the originals. Indeed, a gentleman has lately told me he had seen them in print; but I am afraid he has mistaken a specimen from Temora, annexed to some of the editions of the translation, for the whole works. If they are printed, it will abridge my request and your trouble, to the sending me a printed copy; but if there be more such, my petition is, that you would be so good as to use your interest with Mr. McPherson to obtain leave to take a manuscript copy of them, and procure it to be done. I would choose it in a fair, round hand, on fine paper, with a good margin, bound in parchments as elegantly as possible, lettered on the back, and marbled or gilt on the edges of the leaves. I would not regard expense in doing this. I would further beg the favor of you to give me a catalogue of the books written in that language, and to send me such of them as may be necessary for learning it. These will, of course, include a grammar and dictionary. The cost of these, as well as the copy of Ossian, will be (for me), on demand, answered by Mr. Alexander McCaul, sometime of Virginia, merchant, but now of Glasgow, or by your friend Mr. Ninian Minzees, of Richmond, in Virginia, to whose care the books may be sent. You can, perhaps, tell me whether we may ever hope to see any more of those Celtic pieces published. Manuscript copies of any which are in print, it would at any time give me the greatest happiness to receive. The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money. I hear with pleasure from your friend that your path through life is likely to be smoothed by success. I wish the business and the pleasures

horizontal rule


-747-

of your situation would admit leisure now and then to scribble a line to one who wishes you every felicity, and would willingly merit the appellation of, dear sir, Your friend and humble servant.

 

 

NEWS FROM BOSTON
To William Small
May 7, 1775
1775050

   DEAR SIR, -- I had the pleasure by a gentleman who saw you at Birmingham to hear of your welfare. By Capt. Aselby of the True-patriot belonging to Messrs. Farrell & Jones of Bristol I send you 3 doz. bottles of Madeira, being the half of a present which I had laid by for you. The capt was afraid to take more on board lest it should draw upon him the officers of the customs. The remaining three doz. therefore I propose to send by Cap;att Drew belonging to the same mercantile house, who is just arrived here. That which goes by Aselby will be delivered by him to your order, the residue by Drew, or by Farrell & Jones, I know not which as yet. I hope you will find it fine as it came to me genuine from the island & has been kept in my own cellar eight years. Within this week we have received the unhappy news of an action of considerable magnitude, between the King's troops and our brethren of Boston, in which it is said five hundred of the former, with the Earl of Percy, are slain. That such an action has occurred, is undoubted, though perhaps the circumstances may not have reached us with truth. This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and a phrensy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people. It is a lamentable circumstance, that the only mediatory power, acknowledged by both parties, instead of leading to a reconciliation of his divided people, should pursue the incendiary purpose of still blowing up the flames, as we find him constantly doing, in every speech and public declaration. This may, perhaps, be intended to intimidate into acquiescence, but the effect has been most unfortunately otherwise. A little knowledge of human nature, and attention to its ordinary workings, might have foreseen that the spirits of the people here were in a state, in which

horizontal rule


-748-

they were more likely to be provoked, than frightened, by haughty deportment. And to fill up the measure of irritation, a proscription of individuals has been substituted in the room of just trial. Can it be believed, that a grateful people will suffer those to be consigned to execution, whose sole crime has been the developing and asserting their rights? Had the Parliament possessed the power of reflection, they would have avoided a measure as impotent, as it was inflammatory. When I saw Lord Chatham's bill, I entertained high hope that a reconciliation could have been brought about. The difference between his terms, and those offered by our Congress, might have been accommodated, if entered on, by both parties, with a dispostion to accommodate. But the dignity of Parliament, it seems, can brook no opposition to its power. Strange, that a set of men, who have made sale of their virtue to the Minister, should yet talk of retaining dignity! But I am getting into politics, though I sat down only to ask your acceptance of the wine, and express my constant wishes for your happiness. This however seems to be ensured by your philosophy & peaceful vocation. I shall still hope that amidst public dissention private friendship may be preserved inviolate and among the warmest you can ever possess is that of your humble servt.

 

 

RECONCILIATION OR INDEPENDENCE
To John Randolph
Monticello, August 25, 1775
1775082

   DEAR SIR, -- I received your message by Mr. Braxton & immediately gave him an order on the Treasurer for the money which the Treasurer assured me should be answered on his return. I now send the bearer for the violin & such music appurtaining to her as may be of no use to the young ladies. I beleive you had no case to her. If so, be so good as to direct Watt Lenox to get from Prentis's some bays or other coarse woollen to wrap her in & then to pack her securely in a wooden box. I am sorry the situation of our country should render it not eligible to you to remain longer in it. I hope the

horizontal rule


-749-

returning wisdom of Great Britain will, ere long, put an end to this unnatural contest. There may be people to whose tempers and dispositions contention is pleasing, and who, therefore, wish a continuance of confusion, but to me it is of all states but one, the most horrid. My first wish is a restoration of our just rights; my second, a return of the happy period, when, consistently with duty, I may withdraw myself totally from the public stage, and pass the rest of my days in domestic ease and tranquillity, banishing every desire of ever hearing what passes in the world. Perhaps (for the latter adds considerably to the warmth of the former wish), looking with fondness towards a reconciliation with Great Britain, I cannot help hoping you may be able to contribute towards expediting this good work. I think it must be evident to yourself, that the Ministry have been deceived by their officers on this side of the water, who (for what purpose I cannot tell) have constantly represented the American opposition as that of a small faction, in which the body of the people took little part. This, you can inform them, of your own knowledge, is untrue. They have taken it into their heads, too, that we are cowards, and shall surrender at discretion to an armed force. The past and future operations of the war must confirm or undeceive them on that head. I wish they were thoroughly and minutely acquainted with every circumstance relative to America, as it exists in truth. I am persuaded, this would go far towards disposing them to reconciliation. Even those in Parliament who are called friends to America, seem to know nothing of our real determinations. I observe, they pronounced in the last Parliament, that the Congress of 1774 did not mean to insist rigorously on the terms they held out, but kept something in reserve, to give up; and, in fact, that they would give up everything but the article of taxation. Now, the truth is far from this, as I can affirm, and put my honor to the assertion. Their continuance in this error may, perhaps, produce very ill consequences. The Congress stated the lowest terms they thought possible to be accepted, in order to convince the world they were not unreasonable. They gave up the monopoly and regulation of trade, and all acts of Parliament prior to 1764, leaving to British generosity to render these, at some future time, as easy to America as the interest

horizontal rule


-750-

of Britain would admit. But this was before blood was spilt. I cannot affirm, but have reason to think, these terms would not now be accepted. I wish no false sense of honor, no ignorance of our real intentions, no vain hope thatpartial concessions of right will be accepted, may induce the Ministry to trifle with accommodation, till it shall be out of their power ever to accommodate. If, indeed, Great Britain, disjointed from her colonies, be a match for the most potent nations of Europe, with the colonies thrown into their scale, they may go on securely. But if they are not assured of this, it would be certainly unwise, by trying the event of another campaign, to risk our accepting a foreign aid, which, perhaps, may not be attainable, but on condition of everlasting avulsion from Great Britain. This would be thought a hard condition, to those who still wish for reunion with their parent country. I am sincerely one of those, and would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on anyother nation on earth, or than on no nation. But I am one of those, too, who, rather than submit to the rights of legislating for us, assumed by the British Parliament, and which late experience has shown they will so cruelly exercise, would lend my hand to sink the whole Island in the ocean.

 

   If undeceiving the Minister, as to matters of fact, may change his disposition, it will, perhaps, be in your power, by assisting to do this, to render service to the whole empire, at the most critical time, certainly, that it has ever seen. Whether Britain shall continue the head of the greatest empire on earth, or shall return to her original station in the political scale of Europe, depends, perhaps, on the resolutions of the succeeding winter. God send they may be wise and salutary for us all. I shall be glad to hear from you as often as you may be disposed to think of things here. You may be at liberty, expect, to communicate some things, consistently with your honor, and the duties you will owe to a protecting nation. Such a communication among individuals, may be mutually beneficial to the contending parties. On this or any future occasion, if affirm to you any facts, your knowledge of me will enable you to decide on their credibility; if I hazard

horizontal rule


-751-

opinions on the dispositions of men or other speculative points, you can only know they are my opinions. My best wishes for your felicity, attend you, wherever you go, and believe me to be assuredly, Your friend and servant.

 

   P. S. My collection of classics, & of books of parliamentary learning particularly is not so complete as I could wish. As you are going to the land of literature & of books you may be willing to dispose of some of yours here & replace them there in better editions. I should be willing to treat on this head with any body you may think proper to empower for that purpose.

 

SAXONS, NORMANS, AND LAND TENURE
To Edmund Pendleton
Philadelphia, Aug. 13, 1776
1776081

   DEAR SIR, -- Your's of Aug. 3. came to hand yesterday; having had no moment to spare since, I am obliged to set down to answer it at a Committee table while the Committee is collecting. My thoughts therefore on the subject you propose will be merely extempore. The opinion that our lands were allodial possessions is one which I have very long held, and had in my eye during a pretty considerable part of my law reading which I found always strengthened it. It was mentioned in a very hasty production, intended to have been put under a course of severe correction, but produced afterwards to the world in a way with which you are acquainted. This opinion I have thought & still think to prove if ever I should have time to look into books again. But this is only meant with respect to the English law as transplanted here. How far our acts of assembly or acceptance of grants may have converted lands which were allodial into feuds I have never considered. This matter is now become a mere speculative point; & we have it in our power to make it what it ought to be for the public good.

horizontal rule


-752-

 

   It may be considered in the two points of view 1st. as bringing a revenue into the public treasury. 2d. as a tenure. have only time to suggest hints on each of these heads. 1. Is it consistent with good policy or free government to establish a perpetual revenue? is it not against the practice of our wise British ancestors? have not the instances in which we have departed from this in Virginia been constantly condemned by the universal voice of our country? is it safe to make the governing power when once seated in office, independent of it's revenue? should we not have in contemplation & prepare for an event (however deprecated) which may happen in the possibility of things; I mean a reacknowledgment of the British tyrant as our king, & previously strip him of every prejudicial possession? Remember how universally the people run into the idea of recalling Charles the 2d after living many years under a republican government. -- As to the second was not the separation of the property from the perpetual use of lands a mere fiction? Is not it's history well known, & the purposes for which it was introduced, to wit, the establishment of a military system of defence?

   Was it not afterwards made an engine of immense oppression? Is it wanting with us for the purpose of military defence? May not it's other legal effects (such as them at least as are valuable) be performed in other more simple ways? Has it not been the practice of all other nations to hold their lands as their personal estate in absolute dominion? Are we not the better for what we have hitherto abolished of the feudal system? Has not every restitution of the antient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest & most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the 8th century.

   The idea of Congress selling out unlocated lands has been sometimes dropped, but we have alwais met the hint with such determined opposition that I believe it will never be proposed. -- I am against selling the lands at all. The people who will migrate to the Westward whether they form part of the old, or of a new colony will be subject to their proportion of the Continental debt then unpaid. They ought not to be subject

horizontal rule


-753-

to more. They will be a people little able to pay taxes. There is no equity in fixing upon them the whole burthen of this war, or any other proportion than we bear ourselves. By selling the lands to them, you will disgust them, and cause an avulsion of them from the common union. They will settle the lands in spite of everybody. -- I am at the same time clear that they should be appropriated in small quantities. It is said that wealthy foreigners will come in great numbers, & they ought to pay for the liberty we shall have provided for them. True, but make them pay in settlers. A foreigner who brings a settler for every 100, or 200 acres of land to be granted him pays a better price than if he had put into the public treasury 5/ or 5£. That settler will be worth to the public 20 times as much every year, as on our old plan he would have paid in one paiment. I have thrown these loose thoughts together only in obedience to your letter, there is not an atom of them which would not have occurred to you on a moment's contemplation of the subject. Charge yourself therefore with the trouble of reading two pages of such undigested stuff.

 

   By Saturday's post the General wrote us that Ld. Howe had got (I think 100) flat bottomed boats alongside, & 30 of them were then loaded with men; by which it was concluded he was preparing to attack, yet this is Tuesday & we hear nothing further. The General has by his last return, 17000 some odd men, of whom near 4000 are sick & near 3000 at out posts in Long Island &c. So you may say he has but 10000 effective men to defend the works of New York. His works however are good & his men in spirits, which I hope will be equal to an addition of many thousands. He had called for 2000 men from the flying camp which were then embarking to him & would certainly be with him in time even if the attack was immediate. The enemy have (since Clinton & his army joined them) 15.000 men of whom not many are sick. Every influence of Congress has been exerted in vain to double the General's force. It was impossible to prevail on the people to leave their harvest. That is now in, & great numbers are in motion, but they have no chance to be there in time. Should however any disaster befall us at New York they will

horizontal rule


-754-

form a great army on the spot to stop the progress of the enemy. I think there cannot be less than 6 or 8000 men in this city & between it & the flying camp. Our council complain of our calling away two of the Virginia battalions. But is this reasonable. They have no British enemy, & if human reason is of any use to conjecture future events, they will not have one. Their Indian enemy is not to be opposed by their regular battalions. Other colonies of not more than half their military strength have 20 battalions in the field. Think of these things & endeavor to reconcile them not only to this, but to yield greater assistance to the common cause if wanted. I wish every battalion we have was now in New York. -- We yesterday received dispatches from the Commissioners at Fort Pitt. I have not read them, but a gentleman who has, tells me they are favorable. The Shawanese & Delewares are disposed to peace. I believe it, for this reason. We had by different advices information from the Shawanese that they should strike us, that this was against their will, but that they must do what the Senecas bid them. At that time we knew the Senecas meditated war. We directed a declaration to be made to the six nations in general that if they did not take the most decisive measures for the preservation of neutrality we would never cease waging war with them while one was to be found on the face of the earth. They immediately changed their conduct and I doubt not have given corresponding information to the Shawanese and Delewares.

 

   I hope the Cherokees will now be driven beyond the Missisipi & that this in future will be declared to the Indians the invariable consequence of their beginning a war. Our contest with Britain is too serious and too great to permit any possibility of avocation from the Indians. This then is the season for driving them off, & our Southern colonies are happily rid of every other enemy & may exert their whole force in that quarter.

   I hope to leave this place some time this month.

   I am Dear Sir, Your affectionate friend

   P. S. Mr. Madison of the college & Mr. Johnson of Fredsb'gh are arrived in New York. They say nothing material had happened in England. The French ministry was changed.

 

horizontal rule


-755-

THE VIRGINIA CONSTITUTION
To Edmund Pendleton
Philadelpha, Aug. 26, 1776
1776082

   DEAR SIR -- Your's of the 10^th. inst. came to hand about three days ago, the post having brought no mail with him the last week. You seem to have misapprehended my proposition for the choice of a Senate. I had two things in view: to get the wisest men chosen, & to make them perfectly independent when chosen. I have ever observed that a choice by the people themselves is not generally distinguished for it's wisdom. This first secretion from them is usually crude & heterogeneous. But give to those so chosen by the people a second choice themselves, & they generally will chuse wise men. For this reason it was that I proposed the representatives (& not the people) should chuse the Senate, & thought I had notwithstanding that made the Senators (when chosen) perfectly independant of their electors. However I should have no objection to the mode of election proposed in the printed plan of your committee, to wit, that the people of each county should chuse twelve electors, who should meet those of the other counties in the same district & chuse a senator. I should prefer this too for another reason, that the upper as well as lower house should have an opportunity of superintending & judging of the situation of the whole state & be not all of one neighborhood as our upper house used to be. So much for the wisdom of the Senate. To make them independent, had proposed that they should hold their places for nine years, & then go out (one third every three years) & be incapable for ever of being re-elected to that house. My idea was that if they might be re-elected, they would be casting their eye forward to the period of election (however distant) & be currying favor with the electors, & consequently dependant on them. My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years rather than for life, was that they might have in idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people & become the governed instead of the governor which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independance to forget. Yet I could submit, tho' not so willingly

horizontal rule


-756-

to an appointment for life, or to any thing rather than a mere creation by & dependance on the people. I think the present mode of election objectionable because the larger county will be able to send & will always send a man (less fit perhaps) of their own county to the exclusion of a fitter who may chance to live in a smaller county. -- I wish experience may contradict my fears. -- That the Senate as well as lower [or shall I speak truth & call it upper] house should hold no office of profit I am clear; but not that they should of necessity possess distinguished property. You have lived longer than I have and perhaps may have formed a different judgment on better grounds; but my observations do not enable me to say think integrity the characteristic of wealth. In general beleive the decisions of the people, in a body, will be more honest & more disinterested than those of wealthy men: & I can never doubt an attachment to his country in any man who has his family & peculium in it: -- Now as to the representative house which ought to be so constructed as to answer that character truly. I was for extending the right of suffrage (or in other words the rights of a citizen) to all who had a permanent intention of living in the country. Take what circumstances you please as evidence of this, either the having resided a certain time, or having a family, or having property, any or all of them. Whoever intends to live in a country must wish that country well, & has a natural right of assisting in the preservation of it. think you cannot distinguish between such a person residing in the country & having no fixed property, & one residing in a township whom you say you would admit to a vote. -- The other point of equal representation I think capital & fundamental. am glad you think an alteration may be attempted in that matter. -- The fantastical idea of virtue & the public good being a sufficient security to the state against the commission of crimes, which you say you have heard insisted on by some, assure you was never mine. It is only the sanguinary hue of our penal laws which I meant to object to. Punishments I know are necessary, & I would provide them, strict & inflexible, but proportioned to the crime. Death might be inflicted for murther & perhaps for treason if you would take out of the description of treason all crimes which are not such in their nature. Rape, buggery &c -- punish by

horizontal rule


-757-

castration. All other crimes by working on high roads, rivers, gallies &c. a certain time proportioned to the offence. But as this would be no punishment or change of condition to slaves (me miserum!) let them be sent to other countries. By these means we should be freed from the wickedness of the latter, & the former would be living monuments of public vengeance. Laws thus proportionate & mild should never be dispensed with. Let mercy be the character of the lawgiver, but let the judge be a mere machine. The mercies of the law will be dispensed equally & impartially to every description of men; those of the judge, or of the executive power, will be the eccentric impulses of whimsical, capricious designing man. -- am indebted to you for a topic to deny to the Pensylvania claim to a line 39 complete degrees from the equator. As an advocate shall certainly insist on it; but I wish they would compromise by an extension of Mason & Dixon's line. -- They do not agree to the temporary line proposed by our assembly.

 

   We have assurance (not newspaper, but Official) that the French governors of the West Indies have received orders not only to furnish us with what we want but to protect our ships. They will convoy our vessels, they say, thro' the line of British cruisers. What you will see in the papers of capt Weeks is indubitably true. The inhabitants of S^t. Pierre's went out in boats to see the promised battle, but the British captain chose not to shew. -- By our last letters from N. York the enemy had landed 8000 men on Long island. On Friday a small party, about 40, of them were out maroding & had got some cattle in a barn. Some riflemen (with whom was our Jamieson) attacked them, took away the cattle, they retired as far as the house of Judge Lifford where were their officer's quarters, they were beaten thence also, & the house burnt by the riflemen. It is alwais supposed you know that good execution was done. One officer was killed & left with 9 guineas in his pocket, which shews they were in a hurry; the swords & fusees of three other officers were found, the owners supposed to be killed or wounded & carried away. On Saturday about 2000 of them attempted to march to Bedford. Colo Hans's battalion of 300 Pennsylvania riflemen having posted themselves in a cornfeild & a wood to advantage attacked them.

horizontal rule


-758-

The enemy had some of their Jagers with the m, who it seems are German riflemen used to the woods. General Sullivan (who commands during the illness of Gen^l. Green) sent some musquetry to support the riflemen. The enemy gave way & were driven half a mile beyond their former station. Among the dead left on the way, were three Jagers. Gen^l. Washington had sent over 6 battal^s. to join Sullivan who had before three thousand, some say & rightly I beleive 6000; & had posted 5 battalions more on the water side ready to join Sullivan if the enemy should make that the field of trial, or to return to N. York if wanted there. A general embarkation was certainly begun. 13. transports crouded with men had fallen down to the narrows & others loading. So that we expect every hour to hear of this great affair. Washington by his last return had 23,000 men of whom however 5000 were sick. Since this, Colo Aylett just returned from there, tells us he has received 16 new England battalions, so that we may certainly hope he has 25,000 effective, which is about the strength of the enemy probably, tho' we have never heard certainly that their last 5000, are come, in which case I should think they have but 20,000. Washington discovers a confidence, which he usually does only on very good grounds. He sais his men are high in spirits. Those ordered to Long island went with the eagerness of young men going to a dance. A few more skirmishes would be an excellent preparative for our people. Provisions on Staten island were become so scarce that a cow sold for ten pounds, a sheep for ten dollars. They were barreling up all the horse flesh they could get. -- Colo Lee being not yet come I am still here, & suppose shall not get away till about this day se'nnight. I shall see you in Williamsburgh the morning of the Assembly. Adieu.

 

 

FIRST LETTER TO ADAMS
To John Adams
Williamsburgh, May 16, 1777
1777051

   DEAR SIR -- Matters in our part of the continent are too much in quiet to send you news from hence. Our battalions for the

horizontal rule


-759-

Continental service were some time ago so far filled as rendered the recommendation of a draught from the militia hardly requisite, and the more so as in this country it ever was the most unpopular and impracticable thing that could be attempted. Our people even under the monarchical government had learnt to consider it as the last of all oppressions. I learn from our delegates that the Confederation is again on the carpet. A great and a necessary work, but I fear almost desperate. The point of representation is what most alarms me, as I fear the great and small colonies are bitterly determined not to cede. Will you be so good as to recollect the proposition I formerly made you in private and try if you can work it into some good to save our union? It was that any proposition might be negatived by the representatives of a majority of the people of America, or of a majority of the colonies of America. The former secures the larger the latter the smaller colonies. I have mentioned it to many here. The good whigs I think will so far cede their opinions for the sake of the Union, and others we care little for. The journals of congress not being printed earlier gives more uneasiness than I would ever wish to see produced by any act of that body, from whom alone I know our salvation can proceed. In our assembly even the best affected think it an indignity to freemen to be voted away life and fortune in the dark. Our house have lately written for a M.S. copy of your journals, not meaning to desire a communication of any thing ordered to be kept secret. I wish the regulation of the post office adopted by Congress last September could be put in practice. It was for the riders to travel night and day, and to go their several stages three times a week. The speedy and frequent communication of intelligence is really of great consequence. So many falshoods have been propagated that nothing now is beleived unless coming from Congress or camp. Our people merely for want of intelligence which they may rely on are become lethargick and insensible of the state they are in. Had you ever a leisure moment I should ask a letter from you sometime directed to the care of Mr. Dick, Fredericksburgh: but having nothing to give in return it would be a tax on your charity as well as your time. The esteem I have for you privately, as well as for your public importance will always

horizontal rule


-760-

render assurances of your health and happiness agreeable. I am Dear Sir Your friend and servt:

 

 

"THE FAVORITE PASSION OF MY SOUL"
To Giovanni Fabbroni
Williamsburg in Virginia, June 8, 1778
1778060

   SIR, -- Your letter of Sep. 15. 1777 from Paris comes safe to hand. We have not however had the pleasure of seeing Mr. De Cenis, the bearer of it in this country, as he joined the army in Pennsylvania as soon as he arrived. I should have taken particular pleasure in serving him on your recommendation. From the kind anxiety expressed in your letter as well as from other sources of information we discover that our enemies have filled Europe with Thrasonic accounts of victories they had never won and conquests they were fated never to make. While these accounts alarmed our friends in Europe they afforded us diversion. We have long been out of all fear for the event of the war. I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence. This is the best history of the war which can be brought within the compass of a letter. I believe the account to be near the truth, tho' it is difficult to get at the numbers lost by an enemy with absolute precision. Many of the articles have been communicated to us from England as taken from the official returns made by their General. I wish it were in my power to send you as just an account of our loss. But this cannot be done without an application to the war office which being in another county is at this time out of my reach. think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. If there could have been a doubt before as to the event of the war it is now totally removed by the interposition of France, & the generous alliance

horizontal rule


-761-

she has entered into with us. Tho' much of my time is employed in the councils of America I have yet a little leisure to indulge my fondness for philosophical studies. I could wish to correspond with you on subjects of that kind. It might not be unacceptable to you to be informed for instance of the true power of our climate as discoverable from the thermometer, from the force & direction of the winds, the quantity of rain, the plants which grow without shelter in winter &c. On the other hand we should be much pleased with contemporary observations on the same particulars in your country, which will give us a comparative view of the two climates. Farenheit's thermometer is the only one in use with us, I make my daily observations as early as possible in the morning & again about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, these generally showing the maxima of cold & heat in the course of 24 hours. I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you. The greatest difficulty will be the means of conveyance during the continuance of the war.

 

   If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, & fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, who may be a proficient in singing, & on the Harpsichord. I should be contented to receive such an one two or three years hence, when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can furnish. The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy which we are obliged to observe. I retain for instance among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore di lino e lin), a cabinet maker (Stipeltaio) and a stone cutter (Scalpellino laborante in piano) to

horizontal rule


-762-

which I would add a vigneron. In a country where like yours music is cultivated and practised by every class of men I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could perform on the French horn, clarinet or hautboy & bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French horns, two clarinets, & hautboys & a bassoon, without enlarging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time to find them if they choose a conveyance to their own country might induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without meaning to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you in [your] ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good nature would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me what will be necessary to be done on my part I will take care that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in France, with which country alone we have safe correspondence. I am Sir with much esteem your humble servant.

 

 

"A TRUE WHIG IN SCIENCE"
To David Rittenhouse
Monticello in Albemarle, Virginia, July 19, 1778
1778071

   DEAR SIR, -- I sincerely congratulate you on the recovery of Philadelphia, and wish it may be found uninjured by the enemy -- how far the interests of literature may have suffered by the injury or removal of the Orrery (as it is miscalled) the publick libraries, your papers & implements, are doubts which still excite anxiety. We were much disappointed in Virginia generally on the day of the great eclipse, which proved to be cloudy. In Williamsburgh, where it was total, I understand only the beginning was seen. At this place which is in Lat. 38x-8' and Longitude West from Williamsburgh about 1x-45' as is conjectured, eleven digits only were supposed to be covered, as it was not seen at all till the moon had advanced nearly one third over the sun's disc. Afterwards it was

horizontal rule


-763-

seen at intervals through the whole. The egress particularly was visible. It proved however of little use to me for want of a time piece that could be depended on; which circumstance, together with the subsequent restoration of Philadelphia to you, has induced me to trouble you with this letter to remind you of your kind promise of making me an accurate clock; which being intended for astronomical purposes only, I would have divested of all apparatus for striking or for any other purpose, which by increasing it's complication might disturb it's accuracy. A companion to it, for keeping seconds, and which might be moved easily, would greatly add to it's value. The theodolite, for which I spoke to you also, I can now dispense with, having since purchased a most excellent one.

 

   Writing to a philosopher, I may hope to be pardoned for intruding some thoughts of my own tho' they relate to him personally. Your time for two years past has, I believe, been principally employed in the civil government of your country. Tho' I have been aware of the authority our cause would acquire with the world from it's being known that yourself & Doc^t. Franklin were zealous friends to it and am myself duly impressed with a sense of the arduousness of government, and the obligation those are under who are able to conduct it, yet I am also satisfied there is an order of geniusses above that obligation, & therefore exempted from it, nobody can conceive that nature ever intended to throw away a Newton upon the occupations of a crown. It would have been a prodigality for which even the conduct of providence might have been arraigned, had he been by birth annexed to what was so far below him. Cooperating with nature in her ordinary economy we should dispose of and employ the geniusses of men according to their several orders and degrees. I doubt not there are in your country many persons equal to the task of conducting government: but you should consider that the world has but one Ryttenhouse, & that it never had one before. The amazing mechanical representation of the solar system which you conceived & executed, has never been surpassed by any but the work of which it is a copy. Are those powers then, which being intended for the erudition of the world are, like air and light, the world's common property, to

horizontal rule


-764-

be taken from their proper pursuit to do the commonplace drudgery of governing a single state, a work which my be executed by men of an ordinary stature, such as are always & everywhere to be found? Without having ascended mount Sinai for inspiration, I can pronounce that the precept, in the decalogue of the vulgar, that they shall not make to themselves "the likeness of anything that is in the heavens above" is reversed for you, and that you will fulfil the highest purposes of your creation by employing yourself in the perpetual breach of that inhibition. For my own country in particular you must remember something like a promise that it should be adorned with one of them. The taking of your city by the enemy has hitherto prevented the proposition from being made & approved by our legislature. The zeal of a true whig in science must excuse the hazarding these free thoughts, which flow from a desire of promoting the diffusion of knowledge & of your fame, and from one who can assure you truly that he is with much sincerity & esteem Your most obed^t. & most humble serv^t.

 

   P. S. If you can spare as much time as to give me notice of the receipt of this, & what hope I may form of my clocks, it will oblige me. If sent to Fredericksburgh it will come safe to hand.

 

WAR AND HUMANITY
To Patrick Henry
Albemarle, March 27, 1779
1779032

   Sir, -- A report prevailing here, that in consequence of some powers from Congress, the Governor and Council have it in contemplation to remove the Convention troops, either wholly or in part, from their present situation, I take the liberty of troubling you with some observations on that subject. The reputation and interest of our country, in general, may be affected by such a measure: it would, therefore, hardly be deemed an indecent liberty in the most private citizen, to offer his thoughts to the consideration of the Executive. The

horizontal rule


-765-

locality of my situation, particularly in the neighborhood of the present barracks, and the public relation in which I stand to the people among whom they are situated, together with a confidence which a personal knowledge of the members of the Executive gives me, that they will be glad of information from any quarter, on a subject interesting to the public, induce me to hope that they will acquit me of impropriety in the present representation.

 

   By an article in the Convention of Saratoga, it is stipulated, on the part of the United States, that the officers shall not be separated from their men. I suppose the term officers, includes general as well as regimental officers. As there are general officers who command all the troops, no part of them can be separated from these officers without a violation of the article: they cannot, of course, be separated from one another, unless the same general officer could be in different places at the same time. It is true, the article adds the words, "as far as circumstances will admit." This was a necessary qualification; because, in no place in America, I suppose, could there have been found quarters for both officers and men together; those for the officers to be according to their rank. So far, then, as the circumstances of the place where they should be quartered, should render a separation necessary, in order to procure quarters for the officers, according to their rank, the article admits that separation. And these are the circumstances which must have been under the contemplation of the parties; both of whom, and all the world beside (who are ultimate judges in the case), would still understand that they were to be as near in the environs of the camp, as convenient quarters could be procured; and not that the qualification of the article destroyed the article itself, and laid it wholly at our discretion. Congress, indeed, have admitted of this separation; but are they so far lords of right and wrong as that our consciences may be quiet with their dispensation? Or is the case amended by saying they leave it optional in the Governor and Council to separate the troops or not? At the same time that it exculpates not them, it is drawing the Governor and Council into a participation in the breach of faith. If indeed it is only proposed, that a separation of the troops shall be referred to the consent of their officers; that is a very different matter. Having

horizontal rule


-766-

carefully avoided conversation with them on public subjects, cannot say, of my own knowledge, how they would relish such a proposition. I have heard from others, that they will choose to undergo anything together, rather than to be separated, and that they will remonstrate against it in the strongest terms. The Executive, therefore, if voluntary agents in this measure, must be drawn into a paper war with them, the more disagreeable, as it seems that faith and reason will be on the other side. As an American, I cannot help feeling a thorough mortification, that our Congress should have permitted an infraction of our public honor; as a citizen of Virginia, I cannot help hoping and confiding, that our Supreme Executive, whose acts will be considered as the acts of the Commonwealth, estimate that honor too highly to make its infraction their own act. I may be permitted to hope, then, that if any removal takes place, it will be a general one; and, as it is said to be left to the Governor and Council to determine on this, I am satisfied that, suppressing every other consideration, and weighing the matter dispassionately, they will determine upon this sole question, Is it for the benefit of those for whom they act, that the Convention troops should be removed from among them? Under the head of interest, these circumstances, viz., the expense of building barracks, said to have been £25,000, and of removing the troops back-wards and forwards, amounting to, I know not how much, are not to be permitted, merely because they are Continental expenses; for we are a part of the Continent; we must pay a shilling of every dollar wasted. But the sums of money which, by these troops, or on their account, are brought into, and expended in this State, are a great and local advantage. This can require no proof. If, at the conclusion of the war, for instance, our share of the Continental debt should be twenty millions of dollars, or say that we are called on to furnish an annual quota of two millions four hundred thousand dollars, to Congress, to be raised by tax, it is obvious that we should raise these given sums with greater or less ease, in proportion to the greater or less quantity of money found in circulation among us. I expect that our circulating money is [increased?], by the presence of these troops, at the rate of $30,000 a week, at the least. I have heard, indeed, that

horizontal rule


-767-

an objection arises to their being kept within this State, from the information of the commissary that they cannot be subsisted here. In attending to the information of that officer, it should be borne in mind that the county of King William and its vicinities are one thing, the territory of Virginia another. If the troops could be fed upon long letters, I believe the gentleman at the head of that department in this country, would be the best commissary upon earth. But till I see him determined to act, not to write; to sacrifice his domestic ease to the duties of his appointment, and apply to the resources of this country, wheresoever they are to be had, I must entertain a different opinion of him. I am mistaken if, for the animal subsistence of the troops hitherto, we are not principally indebted to the genius and exertions of Hawkins, during the very short time he lived after his appointment to that department, by your board. His eye immediately pervaded the whole State, it was reduced at once to a regular machine, to a system, and the whole put into movement and animation by the fiat of a comprehensive mind. If the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot furnish these troops with bread, I would ask of the commissariat, which of the thirteen is now become the grain colony? If we are in danger of famine from the addition of four thousand mouths, what is become of that surplus of bread, the exportation of which used to feed the West Indies and Eastern States, and fill the colony with hard money? When urge the sufficiency of this State, however, to subsist these troops, I beg to be understood, as having in contemplation the quantity of provisions necessary for their real use, and not as calculating what is to be lost by the wanton waste, mismanagement, and carelessness of those employed about it. If magazines of beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, or for want of timely provision and sale; if quantities of flour are exposed, by the commissaries entrusted with the keeping it, to pillage and destruction; and if, when laid up in the Continental stores, it is still to be embezzled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be insufficient for their supply, and their removal would be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to more able and honest commissaries. Perhaps the magnitude of this question, and its relation to the whole State, may render it worth while to

horizontal rule


-768-

await the opinion of the National Council, which is now to meet within a few weeks. There is no danger of distress in the meantime, as the commissaries affirm they have a great sufficiency of provisions for some time to come. Should the measure of removing them into another State be adopted, and carried into execution, before the meeting of Assembly, no disapprobation of theirs will bring them back, because they will then be in the power of others, who will hardly give them up.

 

   Want of information as to what may be the precise measure proposed by the Governor and Council, obliges me to shift my ground, and take up the subject in every possible form. Perhaps, they have not thought to remove the troops out of this State altogether, but to some other part of it. Here, the objections arising from the expenses of removal, and of building new barracks, recur. As to animal food, it may be driven to one part of the country as easily as to another: that circumstance, therefore, may be thrown out of the question. As to bread, suppose they will require about forty or forty-five thousand bushels of grain a year. The place to which it is to be brought to them, is about the centre of the State. Besides, that the country round about is fertile, all the grain made in the counties adjacent to any kind of navigation, may be brought by water to within twelve miles of the spot. For these twelve miles, wagons must be employed; I suppose half a dozen will be a plenty. Perhaps, this part of the expense might have been saved, had the barracks been built on the water; but it is not sufficient to justify their being abandoned now they are built. Wagonage, indeed, seems to the commissariat an article not worth economising. The most wanton and studied circuity of transportation has been practised: to mention only one act, they have bought quantities of flour for these troops in Cumberland, have ordered it to be wagoned down to Manchester, and wagoned thence up to the barracks. This fact happened to fall within my own knowledge. I doubt not there are many more such, in order either to produce their total removal, or to run up the expenses of the present situation, and satisfy Congress that the nearer they are brought to the commissary's own bed, the cheaper they will be subsisted. The grain made in the western counties

horizontal rule


-769-

may be brought partly in wagons, as conveniently to this as to any other place; perhaps more so, on account of its vicinity to one of the best passes through the Blue Ridge; and partly by water, as it is near to James river, to the navigation of which, ten counties are adjacent above the falls. When I said that the grain might be brought hither from all the counties of the State adjacent to navigation, I did not mean to say it would be proper to bring it from all. On the contrary, I think the commissary should be instructed, after the next harvest, not to send one bushel of grain to the barracks from below the falls of the rivers, or from the northern counties. The counties on tide water are accessible to the calls for our own army. Their supplies ought, therefore, to be husbanded for them. The counties in the northwestern parts of the State are not only within reach for our own grand army, but peculiarly necessary for the support of Macintosh's army; or for the support of any other northwestern expedition, which the uncertain conduct of the Indians should render necessary; insomuch, that if the supplies of that quarter should be misapplied to any other purpose, it would destroy, in embryo, every exertion, either for particular or general safety there. The counties above tide water, in the middle and southern and western parts of the country, are not accessible to calls for either of those purposes, but at such an expense of transportation as the article would not bear. Here, then, is a great field, whose supplies of bread cannot be carried to our army, or rather, which will raise no supplies of bread, because there is nobody to eat them. Was it not, then, wise in Congress to remove to that field four thousand idle mouths, who must otherwise have interfered with the pasture of our own troops? And, if they are removed to any other part of the country, will it not defeat this wise purpose? The mills on the waters of James river, above the falls, open to canoe navigation, are very many. Some of them are of great note, as manufacturers. The barracks are surrounded by mills. There are five or six round about Charlottesville. Any two or three of the whole might, in the course of the winter, manufacture flour sufficient for the year. To say the worst, then, of this situation, it is but twelve miles wrong. The safe custody of these troops is another circumstance worthy consideration. Equally removed

horizontal rule


-770-

from the access of an eastern or western enemy; central to the whole State, so that should they attempt an irruption in any direction, they must pass through a great extent of hostile country; in a neighborhood thickly inhabited by a robust and hardy people zealous in the American cause, acquainted with the use of arms, and the defiles and passes by which they must issue: it would seem, that in this point of view, no place could have been better chosen.

 

   Their health is also of importance. I would not endeavor to show that their lives are valuable to us, because it would suppose a possibility, that humanity was kicked out of doors in America, and interest only attended to. The barracks occupy the top and brow of a very high hill, (you have been untruly told they were in a bottom.) They are free from bog, have four springs which seem to be plentiful, one within twenty yards of the piquet, two within fifty yards, and another within two hundred and fifty, and they propose to sink wells within the piquet. Of four thousand people, it should be expected, according to the ordinary calculations, that one should die every day. Yet, in the space of near three months, there have been but four deaths among them; two infants under three weeks old, and two others by apoplexy. The officers tell me, the troops were never before so healthy since they were embodied.

   But is an enemy so execrable, that, though in captivity, his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and even crossed? I think not. It is for the benefit of mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as possible. The practice, therefore, of modern nations, of treating captive enemies with politeness and generosity, is not only delightful in contemplation, but really interesting to all the world, friends, foes, and neutrals. Let us apply this: the officers, after considerable hardships, have all procured quarters, comfortable and satisfactory to them. In order to do this, they were obliged, in many instances, to hire houses for a year certain, and at such exorbitant rents, as were sufficient to tempt independent owners to go out of them, and shift as they could. These houses, in most cases, were much out of repair. They have repaired them at a considerable expense. One of the general officers has taken a place for two years, advanced the rent for the whole time, and

horizontal rule


-771-

been obliged, moreover, to erect additional buildings for the accommodation of part of his family, for which there was not room in the house rented. Independent of the brick work, for the carpentry of these additional buildings, I know he is to pay fifteen hundred dollars. The same gentleman, to my knowledge, has paid to one person three thousand six hundred and seventy dollars for different articles to fix himself commodiously. They have generally laid in their stocks of grain and other provisions, for it is well known that officers do not live on their rations. They have purchased cows, sheep, &c., set in to farming, prepared their gardens, and have a prospect of comfort and quiet before them. To turn to the soldiers: the environs of the barracks are delightful, the ground cleared, laid off in hundreds of gardens, each enclosed in its separate paling; these well prepared, and exhibiting a fine appearance. General Riedezel alone laid out upwards of two hundred pounds in garden seeds for the German troops only. Judge what an extent of ground these seeds would cover. There is little doubt that their own gardens will furnish them a great abundance of vegetables through the year. Their poultry, pigeons and other preparations of that kind, present to the mind the idea of a company of farmers, rather than a camp of soldiers. In addition to the barracks built for them by the public, and now very comfortable, they have built great numbers for themselves, in such messes as fancied each other; and the whole corps, both officers and men, seem now happy and satisfied with their situation. Having thus found the art of rendering captivity itself comfortable, and carried it into execution, at their own great expense and labor, their spirits sustained by the prospect of gratifications rising before their eyes, does not every sentiment of humanity revolt against the proposition of stripping them of all this, and removing them into new situations, where, from the advanced season of the year, no preparations can be made for carrying themselves comfortably through the heats of summer; and when it is known that the necessary advances for the conveniences already provided, have exhausted their funds and left them unable to make the like exertions anew. Again, review this matter, as it may regard appearances. A body of troops, after staying a twelvemonth at Boston, are ordered to take a

horizontal rule


-772-

march of seven hundred miles to Virginia, where, it is said, they may be plentifully subsisted. As soon as they are there, they are ordered on some other march, because, in Virginia, it is said, they cannot be subsisted. Indifferent nations will charge this either to ignorance, or to whim and caprice; the parties interested, to cruelty. They now view the proposition in that light, and it is said, there is a general and firm persuasion among them, that they were marched from Boston with no other purpose than to harass and destroy them with eternal marches. Perseverance in object, though not by the most direct way, is often more laudable than perpetual changes, as often as the object shifts light. A character of steadiness in our councils, is worth more than the subsistence of four thousand people.

 

   There could not have been a more unlucky concurrence of circumstances than when these troops first came. The barracks were unfinished for want of laborers, the spell of weather the worst ever known within the memory of man, no stores of bread laid in, the roads, by the weather and number of wagons, soon rendered impassable: not only the troops themselves were greatly disappointed, but the people in the neighborhood were alarmed at the consequences which a total failure of provisions might produce. In this worst state of things, their situation was seen by many and disseminated through the country, so as to occasion a general dissatisfaction, which even seized the minds of reasonable men, who, if not affected by the contagion, must have foreseen that the prospect must brighten, and that great advantages to the people must necessarily arise. It has, accordingly, so happened. The planters, being more generally sellers than buyers, have felt the benefit of their presence in the most vital part about them, their purses, and are now sensible of its source. I have too good an opinion of their love of order to believe that a removal of these troops would produce any irregular proofs of their disapprobation, but I am well assured it would be extremely odious to them.

   To conclude. The separation of these troops would be a breach of public faith, therefore I suppose it is impossible; if they are removed to another State,

horizontal rule


-773-

it is the fault of the commissaries; if they are removed to any other part of the State, it is the fault of the commissaries; and in both cases, the public interest and public security suffer, the comfortable and plentiful subsistence of our own army is lessened, the health of the troops neglected, their wishes crossed, and their comforts torn from them, the character of whim and caprice, or, what is worse, of cruelty, fixed on us as a nation, and, to crown the whole, our own people disgusted with such a proceeding.

 

   I have thus taken the liberty of representing to you the facts and the reasons, which seem to militate against the separation or removal of these troops. I am sensible, however, that the same subject may appear to different persons, in very different lights. What I have urged as reasons, may, to sounder minds, be apparent fallacies. I hope they will appear, at least, so plausible, as to excuse the interposition of

   Your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant.

 

THE TRAITOR ARNOLD
To J. P. G. Muhlenberg
Richmond, Jan. 31, 1781
1781013

   SIR, -- Acquainted as you are with the treasons of Arnold, I need say nothing for your information, or to give you a proper sentiment of them. You will readily suppose that it is above all things desirable to drag him from those under whose wing he is now sheltered. On his march to and from this place am certain it might have been done with facility by men of enterprise & firmness. I think it may still be done though perhaps not quite so easily. Having peculiar confidence in the men from the Western side of the Mountains, I meant as soon as they should come down to get the enterprise proposed to a chosen number of them, such whose courage & whose fidelity would be above all doubt. Your perfect knowlege of those men personally, and my confidence in your discretion, induce me to ask you to pick from among them proper characters, in such number as you think best, to reveal to them our desire, & engage them to undertake to seize and bring off this greatest of all traitors. Whether this may be best

horizontal rule


-774-

effected by their going in as friends & awaiting their opportunity, or otherwise is left to themselves. The smaller the number the better; so that they be sufficient to manage him. Every necessary caution must be used on their part, to prevent a discovery of their design by the enemy, as should they be taken, the laws of war will justify against them the most rigorous sentence. I will undertake if they are successful in bringing him off alive, that they shall receive five thousand guineas reward among them. And to men formed for such an enterprise it must be a great incitement to know that their names will be recorded with glory in history with those of Vanwert, Paulding & Williams. The enclosed order from Baron Steuben will authorize you to call for & dispose of any force you may think necessary, to place in readiness for covering the enterprise & securing the retreat of the party. Mr. Newton the bearer of this, & to whom its contents are communicated in confidence, will provide men of trust to go as guides. These may be associated in the enterprise or not, as you please; but let that point be previously settled that no difficulties may arise as to the parties entitled to participate of the reward. You know how necessary profound secrecy is in this business, even if it be not undertaken.

 

 

WELCOME TO THE MARGUIS
To Lafayette
Richmond, March 10th, 1781
1781031

   SIR, -- Intending that this shall await your arrival in this State I with great joy welcome you on that event. I am induced to from the very great esteem your personal character and the Hopes I entertain of your relieving us from our enemy within this State. Could any circumstances have rendered your presence more desirable or more necessary it is the unfortunate one which obliges me to enclose you the enclosed papers.

   I trust that your future Acquaintance with the Executive of the State will evince to you that among their faults is not to be counted a want of dispostion to second the views of the Commander against our common Enemy. We are too much

horizontal rule


-775-

interested in the present scene & have too much at stake to leave a doubt on that Head. Mild Laws, a People not used to prompt obedience, a want of provisions of War & means of procuring them render our orders often ineffectual, oblige us to temporise & when we cannot accomplish an object in one way to attempt it in another. Your knowledge of these circumstances with a temper to accommodate them ensure me your coöperation in the best way we can, when we shall be able to pursue the way we would wish.

 

   I still hope you will find our preparations not far short of the Information I took the Liberty of giving you in my letter of the 8th instant. I shall be very happy to receive your first Applications for whatever may be necessary for the public service and to convince you of our disposition to promote it as far as the Abilities of the State and Powers of the Executive will enable us.

 

APPEAL TO THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
To George Washington
Charlottesville, May 28th, 1781
1781052

   SIR, -- I make no doubt you will have heard, before this shall have the honour of being presented to your Excellency, of the junction of Ld Cornwallis with the force at Petersburg under Arnold, who had succeeded to the command on the death of Majr. Genl Phillips. I am now advised that they have evacuated Petersburg, joined at Westover a reinforcement of 2000 men just arrived from New york, crossed James River, and on the 26th instant, were three miles advanced on their way towards Richmond; at which place Majr Genl the Marquis Fayette, lay with three thousand men Regulars and militia: these being the whole number we could arm, until the arrival of the 1100 arms from Rhode Island, which are about this time at the place where our Public stores are deposited. The whole force of the Enemy within this State, from the best intelligence I have been able to get, is think about 7000 men, infantry and cavalry, including, also, the small garrison left at Portsmouth: a number of privateers, which are constantly ravaging

horizontal rule


-776-

the Shores of our rivers, prevent us from receiving any aid from the Counties lying on navigable waters; and powerful operations meditated against our Western frontier, by a joint force of British, and Indian Savages, have as your Excellency before knew, obliged us to embody, between two and three thousand men in that quarter. Your Excellency will judge from this State of things, and from what you know of our country, what it may probably suffer during the present campaign. Should the Enemy be able to produce no opportunity of annihilating the Marquis's army a small proportion of their force may yet restrain his movements effectually while the greater part employed in detachment to waste an unarmed country and lead the minds of the people to acquiesce under those events which they see no human power prepared to ward off. We are too far removed from the other scenes of war to say whether the main force of the Enemy be within this State. But I suppose they cannot anywhere spare so great an army for the operations of the field. Were it possible for this circumstance to justify in your Excellency a determination to lend us your personal aid, it is evident from the universal voice, that the presence of their beloved Countryman, whose talents have so long been successfully employed, in establishing the freedom of kindred States, to whose person they have still flattered themselves they retained some right and have ever looked up as their dernier resort in distress. That your appearance among them I say would restore full confidence of salvation, and would render them equal to whatever is not impossible. I cannot undertake to foresee and obviate the difficulties which lie in the way of such a resolution: The whole subject is before you of which I see only detached parts; and your judgment will be formed on a view of the whole. Should the danger of this State and its consequence to the Union be such as to render it best for the whole that you should repair to its assistance the difficulty would be how to keep men out of the field. I have undertaken to hint this matter to your Excellency not only on my own sense of its importance to us but at the solicitations of many members of weight in our Legislature which has not yet Assembled to speak their own desires.

 

   A few days will bring to me that relief which the constitution

horizontal rule


-777-

has prepared for those oppressed with the labours of my office and a long declared resolution of relinquishing it to abler hands has prepared my way for retirement to a private station: still as an individual I should feel the comfortable effects of your presence, and have (what thought could not have been) an additional motive for that gratitude, esteem, & respect with which I have the honour to be, your Excellency's most obedient humble servant.

 

 

LIMITS OF PUBLIC DUTY
To James Monroe
Monticello, May 20, 1782
1782052

   DEAR SIR, -- I have been gratified with the receipt of your two favours of the 6th & 11th inst. It gives me pleasure that your county has been wise enough to enlist your talents into their service. I am much obliged by the kind wishes you express of seeing me also in Richmond, and am always mortified when anything is expected from me which I cannot fulfill, & more especially if it relate to the public service. Before I ventured to declare to my countrymen my determination to retire from public employment, I examined well my heart to know whether it were thoroughly cured of every principle of political ambition, whether no lurking particle remained which might leave me uneasy when reduced within the limits of mere private life. I became satisfied that every fibre of that passion was thoroughly eradicated. I examined also in other views my right to withdraw. I considered that I had been thirteen years engaged in public service, that during that time I had so totally abandoned all attention to my private affairs as to permit them to run into great disorder and ruin, that I had now a family advanced to years which require my attention & instruction, that to these were added the hopeful offspring of a deceased friend whose memory must be forever dear to me who have no other reliance for being rendered useful to themselves & their country, that by a constant sacrifice of time, labour, loss, parental & family duties, I had been so far from gaining the affection of my countrymen,

horizontal rule


-778-

which was the only reward I ever asked or could have felt, that I had even lost the small estimation before possessed. That however I might have comforted myself under the disapprobation of the well-meaning but uninformed people yet that of their representatives was a shock on which had not calculated: that this indeed had been followed by an exculpatory declaration. But in the meantime I had been suspected & suspended in the eyes of the world without the least hint then or afterwards made public which might restrain them from supposing that I stood arraigned for treason of the heart and not merely weakness of the head; and I felt that these injuries, for such they have been since acknowledged had inflicted a wound on my spirit which will only be cured by the all-healing grave. If reason & inclination unite in justifying my retirement, the laws of my country are equally in favor of it. Whether the state may command the political services of all it's members to an indefinite extent, or if these be among the rights never wholly ceded to the public power, is a question which I do not find expressly decided in England. Obiter dictums on the subject I have indeed met with, but the complexion of the times in which these have dropped would generally answer them, besides that this species of authority is not acknowledged in our profession. In this country however since the present government has been established the point has been settled by uniform, pointed & multiplied precedents. Offices of every kind, and given by every power, have been daily & hourly declined & resigned from the declaration of independance to this moment. The genl assembly has accepted these without discrimination of office, and without ever questioning them in point of right. If a difference between the office of a delegate & any other could ever have been supposed, yet in the case of Mr. Thompson Mason who declined the office of delegate & was permitted so to do by the house that supposition has been proved to be groundless. But indeed no such distinction of offices can be admitted. Reason and the opinions of the lawyers putting all on a footing as to this question and so giving to the delegate the aid of all the precedents of the refusal of other offices. The law then does not warrant the assumption of such a power by the state over it's members. For if it does where is that law? nor

horizontal rule


-779-

yet does reason, for tho' I will admit that this does subject every individual if called on to an equal tour of political duty yet it can never go so far as to submit to it his whole existence. If we are made in some degree for others, yet in a greater are we made for ourselves. It were contrary to feeling & indeed ridiculous to suppose that a man had less right in himself than one of his neighbors or indeed all of them put together. This would be slavery & not that liberty which the bill of rights has made inviolable and for the preservation of which our government has been charged. Nothing could so completely divest us of that liberty as the establishment of the opinion that the state has a perpetual right to the services of all it's members. This to men of certain ways of thinking would be to annihilate the blessing of existence; to contradict the giver of life who gave it for happiness & not for wretchedness; and certainly to such it were better that they had never been born. However with these may think public service & private misery inseparably linked together, I have not the vanity to count myself among those whom the state would think worth oppressing with perpetual service. have received a sufficient memento to the contrary. I am persuaded that having hitherto dedicated to them the whole of the active & useful part of my life I shall be permitted to pass the rest in mental quiet. I hope too that I did not mistake the modes any more than the matter of right when I preferred a simple act of renunciation to the taking sanctuary under those disqualifications provided by the law for other purposes indeed, but which afford asylum also for rest to the wearied. I dare say you did not expect by the few words you dropped on the right of renunciation to expose yourself to the fatigue of so long a letter, but I wished you to see that if I had done wrong I had been betrayed by a semblance of right at least.

 

   I take the liberty of inclosing to you a letter for Genl Chastellux for which you will readily find means of conveyance. But I meant to give you more trouble with the one to Pelham who lives in the neighborhood of Manchester & to ask the favor of you to send it by your servant express which I am in hopes may be done without absenting him from your person but during those hours in which you will be engaged in the house. I am anxious that it should be received immediately.

horizontal rule


-780-

Mrs Jefferson has added another daughter to our family. She has been ever since & still continues very dangerously ill. It will give me great pleasure to see you here whenever you can favor us with your company. You will find me still busy but in lighter occupations. But in these & all others you will find me to retain a due sense of your friendship & to be with sincere esteem, Dr Sir

 

   Your mo ob & mo hble servt.

   P. S. did you ever receive a copy of the Parl. debates & Histor. Register with a letter left for you with Mr Jas. Buchanan?

 

"A SINGLE EVENT. . ."
To Chastellux
Ampthill, Nov. 26, 1782
1782112

   DEAR SIR, -- I received your friendly letters of -- -- -and June 30 but the latter not till the 17th of Oct. It found me a little emerging from the stupor of mind which had rendered me as dead to the world as she was whose loss occasioned it. Your letter recalled to my memory that there were persons still living of much value to me. If you should have thought me remiss in not testifying to you sooner how deeply I had been impressed with your worth in the little time I had the happiness of being with you you will I am sure ascribe it to it's true cause the state of dreadful suspense in which I had been kept all the summer & the catastrophe which closed it. Before that event my scheme of life had been determined. I had folded myself in the arms of retirement, and rested all prospects of future happiness on domestic & literary objects. A single event wiped away all my plans and left me a blank which I had not the spirits to fill up. In this state of mind an appointment from Congress found me, requiring me to cross the Atlantic. And that temptation might be added to duty I was informed at the same time from his Excy the Chevalier de Luzerne that a vessel of force would be sailing about the middle of Dec. in which you would be passing to France. I accepted the appointment and my only object now is so to

horizontal rule


-781-

hasten over those obstacles which would retard my departure as to be ready to join you in your voyage, fondly measuring your affections by my own & presuming your consent. It is not certain that by any exertion I can be in Philadelphia by the middle of December. The contrary is most probable. But hoping it will not be much later and counting on those procrastinations which usually attend the departure of vessels of size I have hopes of being with you in time. This will give me full leisure to learn the result of your observations on the natural bridge, to communicate to you my answers to the queries of Monsr de Marbois, to receive edification from you on these and on other subjects of science, considering chess too as a matter of science. Should I be able to get out in tolerable time and any extraordinary delays attend the sailing of the vessel I shall certainly do myself the honor of waiting on his Excy Count Rochambeau at his Head quarters and assuring him in person of my high respect and esteem for him -- an object of which I have never lost sight. To yourself I am unable to express the warmth of those sentiments of friendship & attachment with which I have the honour to be, Dr Sir,

 

   Your most obedt & mo hble servt.

 

ADVICE TO A YOUNG DAUGHTER
To Martha Jefferson
Annapolis, Nov. 28, 1783
1783112

   MY DEAR PATSY -- After four days journey I arrived here without any accident and in as good health as when I left Philadelphia. The conviction that you would be more improved in the situation I have placed you than if still with me, has solaced me on my parting with you, which my love for you has rendered a difficult thing. The acquirements which I hope you will make under the tutors I have provided for you will render you more worthy of my love, and if they cannot increase it they will prevent it's diminution. Consider the good lady who has taken you under her roof, who has undertaken to see that you perform all your exercises, and to admonish

horizontal rule


-782-

you in all those wanderings from what is right or what is clever to which your inexperience would expose you, consider her I say as your mother, as the only person to whom, since the loss with which heaven has been pleased to afflict you, you can now look up; and that her displeasure or disapprobation on any occasion will be an immense misfortune which should you be so unhappy as to incur by any unguarded act, think no concession too much to regain her good will. With respect to the distribution of your time the following is what I should approve.

 

   from 8. to 10 o'clock practise music.

   from 10. to 1. dance one day and draw another

   from 1. to 2. draw on the day you dance, and write a letter the next day.

   from 3. to 4. read French.

   from 4. to 5. exercise yourself in music.

   from 5. till bedtime read English, write &c.

   Communicate this plan to Mrs. Hopkinson and if she approves of it pursue it. As long as Mrs. Trist remains in Philadelphia cultivate her affections. She has been a valuable friend to you and her good sense and good heart make her valued by all who know her and by nobody on earth more than by me. expect you will write to me by every post. Inform me what books you read, what tunes you learn, and inclose me your best copy of every lesson in drawing. Write also one letter every week either to your aunt Eppes, your aunt Skipwith, your aunt Carr, or the little lady from whom I now inclose a letter, and always put the letter you so write under cover to me. Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word consider how it is spelt, and if you do not remember it, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well. I have placed my happiness on seeing you good and accomplished, and no distress which this world can now bring on me could equal that of your disappointing my hopes. If you love me then, strive to be good under every situation and to all living creatures, and to acquire those accomplishments which I have put in your power, and which will go far towards ensuring you the warmest love of your affectionate father,

horizontal rule


-783-

 

   P. S. Keep my letters and read them at times that you may always have present in your mind those things which will endear you to me.

 

THE MAMMOTH AND WESTERN EXPLORATION
To George Rogers Clark
Annapolis, Dec. 4, 1783
1783120

   DEAR SIR -- I received here about a week ago your obliging letter of Oct. 12. 1783. with the shells and seeds for which I return you many thanks. You are also so kind as to keep alive the hope of getting for me as many of the different species of bones, teeth and tusks of the Mammoth as can now be found. This will be most acceptable. Pittsburg and Philadelphia or Winchester will be the surest channel of conveyance. I find they have subscribed a very large sum of money in England for exploring the country from the Missisipi to California. They pretend it is only to promote knolege. I am afraid they have thoughts of colonising into that quarter. Some of us have been talking here in a feeble way of making the attempt to search that country. But I doubt whether we have enough of that kind of spirit to raise the money. How would you like to lead such a party? Tho I am afraid our prospect is not worth asking the question. The definitive treaty of peace is at length arrived. It is not altered from the preliminaries. The cession of the territory West of Ohio to the United states has been at length accepted by Congress with some small alterations of the conditions. We are in daily expectation of receiving it with the final approbation of Virginia. Congress have been lately agitated by questions where they should fix their residence. They first resolved on Trentown. The Southern states however contrived to get a vote that they would give half their time to Georgetown at the Falls of Patowmac. Still we consider the matter as undecided between the Delaware and Patowmac. We urge the latter as the only point of union which can cement us to our Western friends when they shall be formed into separate states. I shall always be happy to hear

horizontal rule


-784-

from you and am with very particular esteem Dr. Sir Your friend & humble servt.

 

 

MORE ADVICE
To Martha Jefferson
Annapolis, Dec. 11, 1783
1783121

   MY DEAR PATSY -- I wrote you by the post this day fortnight, since which I h received two letters from you. I am afraid that you may not have sent to the post office and therefore that my letter may be still lying there. Tho' my business here may not let me write to you every week yet it will not be amiss for you to enquire at the office every week. wrote to Mr. House by the last post. Perhaps his letter may still be in the office. I hope you will have good sense enough to disregard those foolish predictions that the world is to be at an end soon. The almighty has never made known to any body at what time he created it, nor will he tell any body when he means to put an end to it, if ever he means to do it. As to preparations for that event, the best way is for you to be always prepared for it. The only way to be so is never to do nor say a bad thing. If ever you are about to say any thing amiss or to do any thing wrong, consider before hand. You will feel something within you which will tell you it is wrong and ought not to be said or done: this is your conscience, and be sure to obey it. Our maker has given us all, this faithful internal Monitor, and if you always obey it, you will always be prepared for the end of the world: or for a much more certain event which is death. This must happen to all: it puts an end to the world as to us, and the way to be ready for it is never to do a wrong act. I am glad you are proceeding regularly under your tutors. You must not let the sickness of your French master interrupt your reading French, because you are able to do that with the help of your dictionary. Remember I desired you to send me the best copy you should make of every lesson Mr. Cimitiere should set you. In this I hope you will be punctual because it will let me see how you are going on. Always let me know too what tunes you play.

horizontal rule


-785-

Present my compliments to Mrs. Hopkinson, Mrs. House and Mrs. Trist. I had a letter from your uncle Eppes last week informing me that Polly is very well, and Lucy recovered from an indispostion. I am my dear Patsy your affectionate father,

 

 

AMERICAN "POLITICS & POVERTY"
To Chastellux
Annapolis, Jan. 16, 1784
1784011

   DEAR SIR -- L^t. Colo Franks being appointed to carry to Paris one of the copies of our ratifn of the Def. treaty, & being to depart in the instant of his appointm^t. furnishes me a hasty oppy of obtruding myself on your recollection. Should this prove troublesome you must take the blame as having exposed yourself to my esteem by letting me become acquainted with your merit. Our transactions on this side the water must now have become uninteresting to the rest of the world. We are busy however among ourselves endeavoring to get our new governments into regular and concerted motion. For this purpose I beleive we shall find some additions requisite to our Confederation. As yet every thing has gone smoothly since the war. We are diverted with the European acc^ts. of the anarchy & opposition to govmt in America. Nothing can be more untrue than these relations. There was indeed some disatisfaction in the army at not being paid off before they were disbanded, and a very trifling mutiny of 200 souldiers in Philadelphia, on the latter occasion Congress left that place disgusted with the pusillanimity of the govmt and not from any want of security to their own persons. The indignation which the other states felt at this insult to their delegates has enlisted them more warmly in support of Congress & the people, the legislature, & the Exec. themselves of Pennsvta have made the most satisfactory atonements. Some people also of warm blood undertook to resolve as commees for proscribing the refugees. But they were few, scattered here & there through the several states, were absolutely unnoticed by those both in & out of power, and never expressed an idea of not acquiescing ultimately under the decisions of their governments. The

horizontal rule


-786-

greatest difficulty we find is to get money from them. The reason is not founded in their unwillingness, but in their real inability. You were a witness to the total destruction of our commerce, devastation of our country, and absence of the precious metals. It cannot be expected that these should flow in but through the channels of commerce, or that these channels can be opened in the first instant of peace. Time is requisite to avail ourselves of the productions of the earth, and the first of these will be applied to renew our stock of those necessaries of which we had been totally exhausted. But enough of America it's politics & poverty. -- Science I suppose is going on with you rapidly as usual. I am in daily hopes of seeing something from your pen which may portray us to ourselves. Aware of the bias of self love & prejudice in myself and that your pictures will be faithful I am determined to annihilate my own opinions and give full credit to yours. I must caution you to distrust information from my answers to Monsr. de Marbois' queries. I have lately had a little leisure to revise them. I found some things should be omitted, many corrected, and more supplied & enlarged. They are swelled to treble bulk. Being now too much for M.S. copies think the ensuing spring to print a dozen or 20 copies to be given to my friends, not suffering another to go out. As I have presumed to place you in that number I shall take the liberty of sending you a copy as a testimony of the sincere esteem and affection with which I have the honor to be D^r Sir Your mo. ob. & mo. hbl serv^t

 

 

WESTERN COMMERCE
To George Washington
Annapolis, Mar. 15, 1784
1784031

   D^r. SIR, -- Since my last nothing new has occurred, suppose the crippled state of Congress is not new to you. We have only 9 states present, 8. of whom are represented by two members each, and of course, on all great questions not only an unanimity of States but of members is necessary. An unanimity

horizontal rule


-787-

which never can be obtained on a matter of any importance. The consequence is that we are wasting our time & labour in vain efforts to do business. -- Nothing less than the presence of 13. States, represented by an odd number of delegates will enable us to get forward a single capital point. The deed for the cession of Western territory by Virginia was executed & accepted on the 1^st instant. I hope our country will of herself determine to cede still further to the meridian of the mouth of the great Kanhaway. Further she cannot govern; so far is necessary for her own well being. The reasons which call for this boundary (which will retain all the waters of the Kanhaway) are 1. That within that are our lead mines. 2. This river rising in N. Carola traverses our whole latitude and offers to every part of it a channel for navigation & commerce to the Western Country, but 3. It is a channel which can not be opened but at immense expense and with every facility which an absolute power over both shores will give. 4. This river & it's waters forms a band of good land passing along our whole frontier, and forming on it a barrier which will be strongly seated. 5. For 180 miles beyond these waters is a mountainous barren which can never be inhabited & will of course form a safe separation between us & any other State. 6. This tract of country lies more convenient to receive it's government from Virginia than from any other State. 7. It will preserve to us all the upper parts of Yohogany & Cheat rivers within which much will be done to open these which are the true doors to the Western commerce. The union of this navigation with that of the Patowmac is a subject on which I mentioned that I would take the liberty of writing to you. I am sure it's value and practicability are both well known to you. This is the moment however for seizing it if ever we mean to have it. All the world is becoming commercial. Was it practicable to keep our new empire separated from them we might indulge ourselves in speculating whether commerce contributes to the happiness of mankind. But we cannot separate ourselves from them. Our citizens have had too full a taste of the comforts furnished by the arts & manufactures to be debarred the use of them. We must then in our defence endeavour to share as large a portion as we can

horizontal rule


-788-

of this modern source of wealth & power. That offered to us from the Western Country is under a competition between the Hudson, the Patowmac & the Missisipi itself. Down the last will pass all heavy commodities. But the navigation through the gulf of Mexico is so dangerous, & that up the Missisipi so difficult & tedious, that it is not probable that European merchandize will return through that channel. It is most likely that flour, lumber & other heavy articles will be floated on rafts which will be themselves an article of sale as well as their loading, the navigators returning by land or in light batteaux. There will therefore be a rivalship between the Hudson & Patowmac for the residue of the commerce of all the country Westward of L. Erie, on the waters of the lakes, of the Ohio & upper parts of the Missisipi. To go to N. York, that part of the trade which comes from the lakes or their waters must first be brought into L. Erie. So also must that which comes from the waters of the Missisipi, and of course must cross at some portage into the waters of the lakes. When it shall have entered L. Erie it must coast along it's Southern Shore on account of the number & excellence of it's harbours, the Northern, tho' shortest, having few harbours & these unsafe. Having reached Cuyahoga, to proceed on to N. York will be 970 miles from thence & five portages, whereas it is but 430 miles to Alexandria, if it turns into the Cuyahoga & passes through that, Big beaver, Ohio, Yohogany (or Monongahela & Cheat) & Patowmac, & there are but two portages. For the trade of the Ohio or that which shall come into it from it's own waters or the Missisipi, it is nearer to Alexandria than to New York by 730 miles, and is interrupted by one portage only. Nature then has declared in favour of the Patowmac, and through that channel offers to pour into our lap the whole commerce of the Western world. But unfortunately the channel by the Hudson is already open & known in practice; ours is still to be opened. This is the moment in which the trade of the West will begin to get into motion and to take it's direction. It behoves us then to open our doors to it. I have lately pressed this subject on my friends in the General assembly, proposing to them to endeavor to have a tax laid which shall bring into a separate

horizontal rule


-789-

chest from five to ten thousand pounds a year, to be employed first in opening the upper waters of the Ohio & Patowmac, where a little money & time will do a great deal, leaving the great falls for the last part of the work. To remove the idea of partiality I have suggested the propriety & justice of continuing this fund till all the rivers shall be cleared successively. But a most powerful objection always arises to propositions of this kind. It is that public undertakings are carelessly managed and much money spent to little purpose. To obviate this objection is the purpose of my giving you the trouble of this discussion. You have retired from public life. You have weighed this determination & it would be impertinence in me to touch it. But would the superintendence of this work break in too much on the sweets of retirement & repose? If they would I stop here. Your future time & wishes are sacred in my eye. If it would be only a dignified amusement to you, what a monument of your retirement would it be! It is one which would follow that of your public life and bespeak it the work of the same great hand. I am confident that would you either alone or jointly with any persons you think proper be willing to direct this business, it would remove the only objection the weight of which I apprehend. Tho' the tax should not come in till the fall, it's proceeds should be anticipated by borrowing from some other fund to enable the work to be begun this summer. When you view me as not owning, nor ever having a prospect of owning one inch of land on any water either of the Patowmac or Ohio, it will tend to apologize for the trouble I have given you of this long letter, by showing that my zeal in this business is public & pure. The best atonement for the time I have occupied you will be not to add to it longer than while I assure you of the sincerity & esteem with which I have the honour to be D^r. Sir Your most obedient & most humble servt.

 

   P. S. The hurry of time in my former letter prevented my thanking you for your polite & friendly invitation to Mount Vernon. I shall certainly pay my respects there to Mrs Washington & yourself with great pleasure whenever it shall be in my power.

horizontal rule


-790-

 

 

THE SOCIETY OF THE CINCINNAT
To George Washington
Annapolis, Apr. 16, 1784
1784041

   DEAR SIR -- I received your favor of Apr. 8. by Colo. Harrison. The subject of it is interesting, and, so far as you have stood connected with it, has been matter of anxiety to me; because whatever may be the ultimate fate of the institution of the Cincinnati, as in it's course it draws to it some degree of disapprobation, I have wished to see you standing on ground separated from it, and that the character which will be handed to future ages at the head of our revolution may in no instance be compromitted in subordinate altercations. The subject has been at the point of my pen in every letter I have written to you, but has been still restrained by the reflection that you had among your friends more able counsellors, and, in yourself, one abler than them all. Your letter has now rendered a duty what was before a desire, and I cannot better merit your confidence than by a full and free communication of facts & sentiments, as far as they have come within my observation. When the army was about to be disbanded, & the officers to take final leave, perhaps never again to meet, it was natural for men who had accompanied each other thro' so many scenes of hardship, of difficulty and danger, who in a variety of instances must have been rendered mutually dear by those aids & good offices to which their situations had given occasion; it was natural I say for these to seize with fondness any proposition which promised to bring them together again at certain & regular periods. And this I take for granted was the origin & object of this institution; & I have no suspicion that they foresaw, much less intended, those mischiefs, which exist perhaps in the forebodings of politicians only. doubt however whether, in it's execution, it would be found to answer the wishes of those who framed it, and to foster those friendships it was intended to preserve. The members would be brought together at their annual assemblies no longer to encounter a common enemy, but to encounter one another in debate & sentiment. For something I suppose is to be done at these meetings, & however unimportant, it will suffice to produce difference of opinion, contradiction

horizontal rule


-791-

& irritation. The way to make friends quarrel is to put them in disputation under the public eye. An experience of near twenty years has taught me that few friendships stand this test, & that public assemblies, where every one is free to act & speak, are the most powerful looseners of the bands of private friendship. I think therefore that this institution would fail in it's principal object, the perpetuation of the personal friendships contracted thro' the war.

 

   The objections of those who are opposed to the institution shall be briefly sketched. You will readily fill them up. They urge that it is against the confederation -- against the letter of some of our constitutions; -- against the spirit of all of them -- that the foundation on which all these are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, & particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth; that however, in their present dispositions, citizens might decline accepting honorary instalments into the order, a time may come when a change of dispositions would render these flattering, when a well directed distribution of them might draw into the order all the men of talents, of office & wealth, and in this case would probably procure an ingraftment into the government; that in this they will be supported by their foreign members, & the wishes & influence of foreign courts; that experience has shewn that the hereditary branches of modern governments are the patrons of privilege & prerogative, & not of the natural rights of the people whose oppressors they generally are: that besides these evils, which are remote, others may take place more immediately; that a distinction is kept up between the civil & military, which it is for the happiness of both to obliterate; that when the members assemble they will be proposing to do something, & what that something may be will depend on actual circumstances; that being an organized body under habits of subordination, the first obstructions to enterprize will be already surmounted; that the moderation & virtue of a single character has probably prevented this revolution from being closed as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish; that he is not immortal, & his successor, or some of his successors, may be led by false calculation into a less certain road to glory:

horizontal rule


-792-

 

   What are the sentiments of Congress on this subject, & what line they will pursue, can only be stated conjecturally. Congress, as a body, if left to themselves, will in my opinion say nothing on the subject. They may however be forced into a declaration by instructions from some of the states, or by other incidents. Their sentiments, if forced from them, will be unfriendly to the institution. If permitted to pursue their own path, they will check it by side blows whenever it comes in their way, & -- -, in competitions for office, on equal or nearly equal ground, will give silent preferences to those who are not of the fraternity. My reasons for thinking this are 1. The grounds on which they lately declined the foreign order proposed to be conferred on some of our citizens. 2. The fourth of the fundamental articles of constitution for the new states. inclose you the report. It has been considered by Congress, recommitted & reformed by a committee according to sentiments expressed on other parts of it, but the principle referred to, having not been controverted at all, stands in this as in the original report. It is not yet confirmed by Congress. 3. Private conversations on this subject with the members. Since the receipt of your letter I have taken occasion to extend these; not indeed to the military members, because, being of the order, delicacy forbade it; but to the others pretty generally; and among these I have as yet found but one who is not opposed to the institution, & that with an anguish of mind, tho' covered under a guarded silence, which I have not seen produced by any circumstance before. I arrived at Philadelphia before the separation of the last Congress, & saw there & at Princetown some of its members not now in delegation. Burke's piece happened to come out at that time, which occasioned this institution to be the subject of conversation. I found the same impressions made on them which their successors have received. I hear from other quarters that it is disagreeable generally to such citizens as have attended to it, & therefore will probably be so to all when any circumstance shall present it to the notice of all.

   This, Sir, is as faithful an account of sentiments & facts as I am able to give you. You know the extent of the circle

horizontal rule


-793-

within which my observations are at present circumscribed, & can estimate how far, as forming a part of the general opinion, it may merit notice, or ought to influence your particular conduct.

 

   It remains now to pay obedience to that part of your letter which requests sentiments on the most eligible measures to be pursued by the society at their next meeting. I must be far from pretending to be a judge of what would in fact be the most eligible measures for the society. I can only give you the opinions of those with whom I have conversed, & who, as I have before observed, are unfriendly to it. They lead to these conclusions. 1. If the society proceeds according to it's institution, it will be better to make no applications to Congress on that subject or any other in their associated character. 2. If they should propose to modify it, so as to render it unobjectionable, I think this would not be effected without such a modification as would amount almost to annihilation; for such would it be to part with it's inheritability, it's organization, & it's assemblies. 3. If they shall be disposed to discontinue the whole, it would remain with them to determine whether they would chuse it to be done by their own act only, or by a reference of the matter to Congress which would infallibly produce a recommendation of total discontinuance.

   You will be sensible, Sir, that these communications are without all reserve. I supposed such to be your wish, & mean them but as materials with such others as you may collect, for your better judgment to work on. I consider the whole matter as between ourselves alone, having determined to take no active part in this or anything else, which may lead to altercation, or disturb that quiet & tranquillity of mind to which I consign the remaining portion of my life. I have been thrown back by events on a stage where I had never more thought to appear. It is but for a time however, & as a day labourer, free to withdraw, or be withdrawn at will. While I remain I shall pursue in silence the path of right, but in every situation, public or private, I shall be gratified by all occasions of rendering you service, & of convincing you there is no one to whom your reputation & happiness are dearer.

horizontal rule


-794-

 

 

HOT-AIR BALLOONS
To Dr. Philip Turpin
Annapolis, Apr. 28, 1784
1784042

   DEAR SIR -- Supposing you may not have received intelligence to be relied on as to the reality & extent of the late discovery of traversing the air in ballons, & having lately perused a book in which everything is brought together on that subject as low down as Decemb. last, I will give you a detail of it. I will state the several experiments, with the most interesting circumstances attending them, by way of table, which will give you a clearer view & in less compass.

   They suppose the minimum of these ballons to be of 6 inches diameter: these are constructed of gold-beaters' skin & filled with inflammeable air. this air produced from iron-filings, the vitriolic acid & distilled water is, in weight, to Atmospheric air as 7. to 43. on an average of the trials: & when produced from the filings of Zinc, the Marine acid & distilled water, is to the Atmospheric air as 5. to 53. or 1. to 10 1/2. but Montgolfier's air is half the weight of Atmospheric. this is produced by burning straw & wool. the straw must be dry & open, & the wool shred very fine, so that they may make a clear flame, with as little smoke as possible. 50 lb. of straw & 5 lb. of wool filled the ballons of Oct. 19. & Nov. 21. in five minutes. these ballons contained 60,000 cubic feet. no analysis of this air is given us. Mons'r de Saintford the author of the book, gives us a very great & useless display of Mathematical learning, which certainly has as yet had very little to do with this discovery: & when he comes to the chemical investigations, which are interesting, he sais little. the ballons sometimes were torn by the pressure of the internal air being insufficiently counteracted in the higher regions of the Atmosphere. these rents were of 6. or 7. f. length, yet the machine descended with a gentle equable motion & not with an accelerated one. by the trials at Versailles & Champ de Mars it appears that they will go with a moderate wind 150. leagues in 24 hours. there are yet two principal desiderata. 1. the cheapest & easiest process of making the lightest inflammable air. 2. an envelopment which will be light, strong, impervious to the air & proof against rain. supplies of gas are desireable

horizontal rule


-795-

 

   (Chart ommited)

horizontal rule


-796-

 

   too, without being oblirry fire with the machine: for in those in which men ascended there was a store of straw & wool laid in the gallery which surrounded the bottom of the ballon & in which the men stood, & a chaffing dish of 3. feet cube in which they burnt the materials to supply air. it is conjectured that these machines may be guided by oars & raised & depressed by having vessels wherein, by the aid of pumps, they can produce a vacuum or condensation of atmospheric air at will. they are, from some new circumstances, strengthened in the opinion that there are generally opposite or different currents in the atmosphere: & that if the current next the earth is not in the direction which suits you, by ascending higher you may find one that does. between these there is probably a region of eddy where you may be stationary if philosophical experiments be your object. the uses of this discovery are suggested to be 1. transportation of commodities under some circumstances. 2. traversing deserts, countries possessed by an enemy, or ravaged by infectious disorders, pathless & inaccessible mountains. 3. conveying intelligence into a beseiged place, or perhaps enterprising on it, reconnoitring an army &c. 4. throwing new lights on the thermometer, barometer, hygrometer, rain, snow, hail, wind & other phenomena of which the Atmosphere is the theatre. 5. the discovery of the pole which is but one day's journey in a baloon. from where the ice has hitherto stopped adventurers. 6. raising weights; lightening ships over bars. 7. housebreaking, smuggling &c. some of these objects are ludicrous, others serious, important & probable. I will give you the figures of the baloons on the last page.

   Congress has determined to adjourn on the 3d of June to meet in November at Trenton. a vessel arrived here yesterday which left London the 25th of March. she brings papers to the 20th of that month. mr. Pitt was still in place, supported by the city of London, the nation in general, & the House of Lords. still however the majority in the H. of commons was against him, tho reduced to 12. it was thought the parliament would be dissolved.

horizontal rule


-797-

 

   Be so good as to present my dutiful respects to my uncle & aunt & to be assured of the esteem with which I am Dr. Sir

   your friend & serv't

   (Illustration omitted)

horizontal rule


-798-

 

 

"NIL DESPERANDUM"
To Richard Price Paris, Feb. 1, 1785
1785020

   SIR, -- The copy of your Observations on the American Revolution which you were so kind as to direct to me came duly to hand, and I should sooner have acknowledged the receipt of it but that I awaited a private conveiance for my letter, having experienced much delay and uncertainty in the posts between this place and London. I have read it with very great pleasure, as have done many others to whom I have communicated it. The spirit which it breathes is as affectionate as the observations themselves are wise and just. I have no doubt it will be reprinted in America and produce much good there. The want of power in the federal head was early perceived, and foreseen to be the flaw in our constitution which might endanger its destruction. I have the pleasure to inform you that when I left America in July the people were becoming universally sensible of this, and a spirit to enlarge the powers of Congress was becoming general. Letters and other information recently received shew that this has continued to increase, and that they are likely to remedy this evil effectually. The happiness of governments like ours, wherein the people are truly the mainspring, is that they are never to be despaired of. When an evil becomes so glaring as to strike them generally, they arrouse themselves, and it is redressed. He only is then the popular man and can get into office who shews the best dispositions to reform the evil. This truth was obvious on several occasions during the late war, and this character in our governments saved us. Calamity was our best physician. Since the peace it was observed that some nations of Europe, counting on the weakness of Congress and the little probability of a union in measure among the States, were proposing to grasp at unequal advantages in our commerce. The people are become sensible of this, and you may be assured that this evil will be immediately redressed, and redressed radically. I doubt still whether in this moment they will enlarge those powers in Congress which are necessary to keep the peace among the States. I think it possible that this may be suffered to lie till some two States commit hostilities on each other,

horizontal rule


-799-

but in that moment the hand of the union will be lifted up and interposed, and the people will themselves demand a general concession to Congress of means to prevent similar mischeifs. Our motto is truly "nil desperandum." The apprehensions you express of danger from the want of powers in Congress, led me to note to you this character in our governments, which, since the retreat behind the Delaware, and the capture of Charlestown, has kept my mind in perfect quiet as to the ultimate fate of our union; and I am sure, from the spirit which breathes thro your book, that whatever promises permanence to that will be a comfort to your mind. I have the honour to be, with very sincere esteem and respect, Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble serv^t.

 

 

ON AMERICAN DEGENERACY
To Chastellux Paris, June 7, 1785
1785060

   DEAR SIR, -- I have been honored with the receipt of your letter of the 2nd instant, and am to thank you, as I do sincerely, for the partiality with which you receive the copy of the Notes on my country. As I can answer for the facts therein reported on my own observation, and have admitted none on the report of others, which were not supported by evidence sufficient to command my own assent, I am not afraid that you should make any extracts you please for the Journal de Physique, which come within their plan of publication. The strictures on slavery and on the constitution of Virginia, are not of that kind, and they are the parts which I do not wish to have made public, at least, till I know whether their publication would do most harm or good. It is possible, that in my own country, these strictures might produce an irritation, which would indispose the people towards the two great objects I have in view; that is, the emancipation of their slaves, and the settlement of their constitution on a firmer and more permanent basis. If I learn from thence, that they will not produce that effect, I have printed and reserved just copies enough to be able to give one to every young man at the

horizontal rule


-800-

College. It is to them I look, to the rising generation, and not to the one now in power, for these great reformations. The other copy, delivered at your hotel, was for Monsieur de Buffon. I meant to ask the favor of you to have it sent to him, as I was ignorant how to do it. I have one also for Monsieur Daubenton, but being utterly unknown to him, I cannot take the liberty of presenting it, till I can do it through some common acquaintance.

 

   I will beg leave to say here a few words on the general question of the degeneracy of animals in America. 1. As to the degeneracy of the man of Europe transplanted to America, it is no part of Monsieur de Buffon's system. He goes, indeed, within one step of it, but he stops there. The Abbé Raynal alone has taken that step. Your knowledge of America enables you to judge this question, to say, whether the lower class of people in America, are less informed and less susceptible of information, than the lower class in Europe: and whether those in America, who have received such an education as that country can give, are less improved by it than Europeans of the same degree of education. 2. As to the aboriginal man of America, I know of no respectable evidence on which the opinion of his inferiority of genius has been founded, but that of Don Ulloa. As to Robertson, he never was in America, he relates nothing on his own knowledge, he is a compiler only of the relations of others, and a mere translator of the opinions of Monsieur de Buffon. I should as soon, therefore, add the translators of Robertson to the witnesses of this fact, as himself. Paw, the beginner of this charge, was a compiler from the works of others; and of the most unlucky description; for he seems to have read the writings of travellers, only to collect and republish their lies. It is really remarkable, that in three volumes 12mo, of small print, it is scarcely possible to find one truth, and yet, that the author should be able to produce authority for every fact he states, as he says he can. Don Ulloa's testimony is of the most respectable. He wrote of what he saw, but he saw the Indian of South America only, and that, after he had passed through ten generations of slavery. It is very unfair, from this sample, to judge of the natural genius of this race of men; and after supposing that Don Ulloa had not sufficiently calculated the allowance which should

horizontal rule


-801-

be made for this circumstance, we do him no injury in considering the picture he draws of the present Indians of South America, as no picture of what their ancestors were, three hundred years ago. It is in North America we are to seek their original character. And I am safe in affirming, that the proofs of genius given by the Indians of North America, place them on a level with whites in the same uncultivated state. The North of Europe furnishes subjects enough for comparison with them, and for a proof of their equality. I have seen some thousands myself, and conversed much with them, and have found in them a masculine, sound understanding. I have had much information from men who had lived among them, and whose veracity and good sense were so far known to me, as to establish a reliance on their information. They have all agreed in bearing witness in favor of the genius of this people. As to their bodily strength, their manners rendering it disgraceful to labor, those muscles employed in labor will be weaker with them, than with the European laborer; but those which are exerted in the chase, and those faculties which are employed in the tracing an enemy or a wild beast, in contriving ambuscades for him, and in carrying them through their execution, are much stronger than with us, because they are more exercised. I believe the Indian, then, to be, in body and mind, equal to the white man. I have supposed the black man, in his present state, might not be so; but it would be hazardous to affirm, that, equally cultivated for a few generations, he would not become so. 3. As to the inferiority of the other animals of America, without more facts, I can add nothing to what I have said in my Notes.

 

   As to the theory of Monsieur de Buffon, that heat is friendly, and moisture adverse to the production of large animals, I am lately furnished with a fact by Dr. Franklin, which proves the air of London and of Paris to be more humid than that of Philadelphia, and so creates a suspicion that the opinion of the superior humidity of America may, perhaps, have been too hastily adopted. And supposing that fact admitted, I think the physical reasonings urged to show, that in a moist country animals must be small, and that in a hot one they must be large, are not built on the basis of experiment. These questions, however, cannot be decided, ultimately, at this day.

horizontal rule


-802-

More facts must be collected, and more time flow off, before the world will be ripe for decision. In the mean time, doubt is wisdom.

 

   I have been fully sensible of the anxieties of your situation, and that your attentions were wholly consecrated, where alone they were wholly due, to the succour of friendship and worth. However much I prize your society, I wait with patience the moment when I can have it without taking what is due to another. In the mean time, I am solaced with the hope of possessing your friendship, and that it is not ungrateful to you to receive assurances of that with which I have the honor to be, Dear Sir,

   your most obedient,
and most humble servant,

 

SOME THOUGHTS ON TREATIES
To James Monroe Paris, June 17, 1785
1785061

   DEAR SIR, -- I received three days ago your favor of Apr. 12. You therein speak of a former letter to me, but it has not come to hand, nor any other of later date than the 14th of December. My last letter to you was of the 11th of May by Mr. Adams who went in the packet of that month. These conveiances are now becoming deranged. We have had expectations of their coming to Havre which would infinitely facilitate the communication between Paris & Congress: but their deliberations on the subject seem to be taking another turn. They complain of the expence, and that their commerce with us is too small to justify it. They therefore talk of sending a packet every six weeks only. The present one therefore, which should have sailed about this time, will not sail until the 1st of July. However the whole matter is as yet undecided. I have hoped that when Mr. St. John arrives from N. York he will get them replaced on their monthly system. By the bye what is the meaning of a very angry resolution of Congress on this subject? I have it not by me and therefore cannot cite it by date, but you will remember it, and will oblige me by explaining

horizontal rule


-803-

it's foundation. This will be handed you by Mr. Otto who comes to America as Chargé des Affaires in the room of Mr. Marbois promoted to the Intendancy of Hispaniola, which office is next to that of Governor. He becomes the head of the civil as the Governor is of the military department. I am much pleased with Otto's appointment. He is good humored, affectionate to America, will see things in a friendly light when they admit of it, in a rational one always, and will not pique himself on writing every trifling circumstance of irritation to his court. I wish you to be acquainted with him, as a friendly intercourse between individuals who do business together produces a mutual spirit of accommodation useful to both parties. It is very much our interest to keep up the affection of this country for us, which is considerable. A court has no affections, but those of the people whom they govern influence their decisions even in the most arbitrary governments. -- The negociations between the Emperor & Dutch are spun out to an amazing length. At present there is no apprehension but that they will terminate in peace. This court seems to press it with ardour and the Dutch are averse considering the terms cruel & unjust as they evidently are. The present delays therefore are imputed to their coldness & to their forms. In the mean time the Turk is delaying the demarcation of limits between him and the emperor, is making the most vigorous preparations for war, and has composed his ministry of war-like characters deemed personally hostile to the emperor. Thus time seems to be spinning outboth by the Dutch & Turks, & time is wanting for France. Every year's delay is a great thing to her. It is not impossible therefore but that she may secretly encourage the delays of the Dutch & hasten the preparations of the Porte while she is recovering vigour herself and, in order to be able to present such a combination to the emperor as may dictate to him to be quiet. But the designs of these courts are inscrutable. It is our interest to pray that this country may have no continental war till our peace with England is perfectly settled. The merchants of this country continue as loud & furious as ever against the Arret of August 1784, permitting our commerce with their islands to a certain degree. Many of them have actually abandoned their trade. The Ministry are disposed to

horizontal rule


-804-

be firm, but there is a point at which they will give way, that is if the clamours should become such as to endanger their places. It is evident that nothing can be done by us, at this time, if we may hope it hereafter. I like your removal to N. York, and hope Congress will continue there and never execute the idea of building their federal town. Before it could be finished a change of Members in Congress or the admission of new states would remove them somewhere else. It is evident that when a sufficient number of the Western states come in they will remove it to George town. In the mean time it is our interest that it should remain where it is, and give no new pretensions to any other place. I am also much pleased with the proposition to the states to invest Congress with the regulation of their trade, reserving it's revenue to the states. I think it a happy idea, removing the only objection which could have been justly made to the proposition. The time too is the present, before the admission of the Western states. I am very differently affected towards the new plan of opening our land office by dividing the lands among the states and selling them at vendue. It separates still more the interests of the states which ought to be made joint in every possible instance in order to cultivate the idea of our being one nation, and to multiply the instances in which the people shall look up to Congress as their head. And when the states get their portions they will either fool them away, or make a job of it to serve individuals. Proofs of both these practices have been furnished, and by either of them that invaluable fund is lost which ought to pay our public debt. To sell them at vendue, is to give them to the bidders of the day be they many or few. It is ripping up the hen which lays golden eggs. If sold in lots at a fixed price as first proposed, the best lots will be sold first. As these become occupied it gives a value to the interjacent ones, and raises them, tho' of inferior quality, to the price of the first. I send you by Mr. Otto a copy of my book. Be so good as to apologize to Mr. Thomson for my not sending him one by this conveiance. I could not burthen Mr. Otto with more on so long a road as that from here to l'Orient. I will send him one by a Mr. Williams who will go ere long. I have taken measures to prevent it's publication. My reason is that I fear the terms in which I speak of slavery

horizontal rule


-805-

and of our constitution may produce an irritation which will revolt the minds of our countrymen against reformation in these two articles, and thus do more harm than good. I have asked of Mr. Madison to sound this matter as far as he can, and if he thinks it will not produce that effect, I have then copies enough printed to give one to each of the young men at the college, and to my friends in the country.

 

   I am sorry to see a possibility of A. L.'s being put into the Treasury. He has no talents for the office, and what he has will be employed in rummaging old accounts to involve you in eternal war with R. M. and he will in a short time introduce such dissensions into the Commission as to break it up. If he goes on the other appointment to Kaskaskia he will produce a revolt of that settlement from the U. S. I thank you for your attention to my outfit. For the articles of household furniture, clothes, and a carriage, I have already paid 28,000 livres and have still more to pay. For the greatest part of this I have been obliged to anticipate my salary from which however I shall never be able to repay it. I find that by a rigid economy, bordering however on meanness I can save perhaps $500 a month, at least in the summer. The residue goes for expences so much of course & of necessity that I cannot avoid them without abandoning all respect to my public character. Yet I will pray you to touch this string, which I know to be a tender one with Congress with the utmost delicacy. I had rather be ruined in my fortune, than in their esteem. If they allow me half a year's salary as an outfit I can get through my debts in time. If they raise the salary to what it was, or even pay our house rent & taxes, I can live with more decency. I trust that Mr. A.'s house at the Hague & Dr. F.'s at Passy the rent of which had been always allowed him will give just expectations of the same allowance to me. Mr. Jay however did not charge it. But he lived oeconomically and laid up money. I will take the liberty of hazarding to you some thoughts on the policy of entering into treaties with the European nations, and the nature of them. I am not wedded to these ideas, and therefore shall relinquish them chearfully when Congress shall adopt others, and zealously endeavor to carry theirs into effect. First as to the policy of making treaties. Congress, by the Confederation have no original and inherent power over the commerce of the states. But by the 9^th. article they are

horizontal rule


-806-

authorized to enter into treaties of commerce. The moment these treaties are concluded the jurisdiction of Congress over the commerce of the states springs into existence, and that of the particular states is superseded so far as the articles of the treaty may have taken up the subject. There are two restrictions only on the exercise of the power of treaty by Congress. 1^st. that they shall not by such treaty restrain the legislatures of the states from imposing such duties on foreigners as their own people are subject to. 2^dly. nor from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any particular species of goods. Leaving these two points free, Congress may by treaty establish any system of commerce they please. But, as I before observed, it is by treaty alone they can do it. Though they may exercise their other powers by resolution or ordinance, those over commerce can only be exercised by forming a treaty, and this probably by an accidental wording of our Confederation. If therefore it is better for the states that Congress should regulate their commerce, it is proper that they should form treaties with all nations with whom we may possibly trade. You see that my primary object in the formation of treaties is to take the commerce of the states out of the hands of the states, and to place it under the superintendence of Congress, so far as the imperfect provisions of our constitution will admit, and until the states shall by new compact make them more perfect. I would say then to every nation on earth, by treaty, your people shall trade freely with us, & ours with you, paying no more than the most favoured nation, in order to put an end to the right of individual states acting by fits and starts to interrupt our commerce or to embroil us with any nation. As to the terms of these treaties, the question becomes more difficult. I will mention three different plans. 1. that no duties shall be laid by either party on the productions of the other. 2. that each may be permitted to equalize their duties to those laid by the other. 3. that each shall pay in the ports of the other such duties only as the most favoured nations pay. 1. Were the nations of Europe as free and unembarrassed of established system as we are, I do verily believe they would concur with us in the first plan. But it is impossible. These establishments are fixed upon them, they are interwoven with the body of their laws & the organization of their government

horizontal rule


-807-

& they make a great part of their revenue; they cannot then get rid of them. 2. The plan of equal imposts presents difficulties insurmountable. For how are the equal imposts to be effected? Is it by laying in the ports of A. an equal percent on the goods of B. with that which B. has laid in his ports on the goods of A.? But how are we to find what is that percent? For this is not the usual form of imposts. They generally pay by the ton, by the measure, by the weight, & not by the value. Besides if A. sends a million's worth of goods to B. & takes back but the half of that, and each pays the same percent, it is evident that A. pays the double of what he recovers in the same way with B. This would be our case with Spain. Shall we endeavour to effect equality then by saying A. may levy so much on the sum of B.'s importations into his ports, as B. does on the sum of A's importations into the ports of B.? But how find out that sum? Will either party lay open their custom house books candidly to evince this sum? Does either keep their books so exactly as to be able to do it? This proposition was started in Congress when our institutions were formed, as you may remember, and the impossibility of executing it occasioned it to be disapproved. Besides who should have a right of deciding when the imposts were equal. A. would say to B. my imposts do not raise so much as yours; I raise them therefore. B. would then say you have made them greater than mine, I will raise mine, and thus a kind of auction would be carried on between them, and a mutual imitation, which would end in anything sooner than equality, and right. 3. I confess then to you that I see no alternative left but that which Congress adopted, of each party placing the other on the footing of the most favoured nation. If the nations of Europe from their actual establishments are not at liberty to say to America that she shall trade in their ports duty free they may say she may trade there paying no higher duties than the most favoured nation. And this is valuable in many of these countries where a very great difference is made between different nations. There is no difficulty in the execution of this contract, because there is not a merchant who does not know, or may not know, the duty paid by every nation on every article. This stipulation leaves each party at liberty to regulate their own commerce by general

horizontal rule


-808-

rules; while it secures the other from partial and oppressive discriminations. The difficulty which arises in our case is, with the nations having American territory. Access to the West Indies is indispensably necessary to us. Yet how to gain it, when it is the established system of these nations to exclude all foreigners from their colonies. The only chance seems to be this, our commerce to the mother countries is valuable to them. We must endeavor then to make this the price of an admission into their West Indies, and to those who refuse the admission we must refuse our commerce or load theirs by odious discriminations in our ports. We have this circumstance in our favour too, that what one grants us in their islands, the others will not find it worth their while to refuse. The misfortune is that with this country we gave this price for their aid in the war, and we have now nothing more to offer. She being withdrawn from the competition leaves Gr. Britain much more at liberty to hold out against us. This is the difficult part of the business of treaty, and I own it does not hold out the most flattering prospect. -- I wish you would consider this subject and write me your thoughts on it. Mr. Gherry wrote me on the same subject. Will you give me leave to impose on you the trouble of communicating this to him? It is long, and will save me much labour in copying. I hope he will be so indulgent as to consider it as an answer to that part of his letter, and will give me his further thoughts on it.

 

   Shall I send you so much of the Encyclopedia as is already published or reserve it here till you come? It is about 40 vols. which probably is about half the work. Give yourself no uneasiness about the money. Perhaps I may find it convenient to ask you to pay trifles occasionally for me in America. sincerely wish you may find it convenient to come here. The pleasure of the trip will be less than you expect but the utility greater. It will make you adore your own country, it's soil, it's climate, it's equality, liberty, laws, people & manners. My God! how little do my country men know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself. While we shall see multiplied instances of Europeans going to live in America, will venture to say no man now living will ever

horizontal rule


-809-

see an instance of an American removing to settle in Europe & continuing there. Come then & see the proofs of this, and on your return add your testimony to that of every thinking American, in order to satisfy our countrymen how much it is their interest to preserve uninfected by contagion those peculiarities in their government & manners to which they are indebted for these blessings. Adieu, my dear friend. Present me affectionately to your collegues. If any of them think me worth writing to, they may be assured that in the epistolary account I will keep the debit side against them. Once more adieu.

 

   June 19. Since writing the above we receive the following account. Mons. Pilatre de Rosiere, who has been waiting some months at Boulogne for a fair wind to cross the channel, at length took his ascent with a companion. The wind changed after a while and brought him back on the French coast. Being at a height of about 6000 f. some accident happened to his baloon of inflammable air. It burst, they fell from that height & were crushed to atoms. There was a Montgolfier combined with the baloon of inflammable air. It is suspected the heat of the Montgolfier rarified too much the inflammable air of the other & occasioned it to burst. The Montgolfier came down in good order.

 

ROYAL SCANDAL AND THIRD-RANK BIRDS
To Abigail Adams Paris, June 21, 1785
1785062

   DEAR MADAM -- I have received duly the honor of your letter, and am now to return you thanks for your condescension in having taken the first step for settling a correspondence which so much desired; for I now consider it as settled and proceed accordingly. I have always found it best to remove obstacles first. I will do so therefore in the present case by telling you that I consider your boasts of the splendour of your city and of it's superb hackney coaches as a flout, and declaring that would not give the polite, self-denying, feeling, hospitable, goodhumoured people of this country and their amability in

horizontal rule


-810-

every point of view, (tho' it must be confessed our streets are somewhat dirty, and our fiacres rather indifferent) for ten such races of rich, proud, hectoring, swearing, squibbing, carnivorous animals as those among whom you are; and that I do love this people with all my heart, and think that with a better religion and a better form of government and their present governors their condition and country would be most enviable. I pray you to observe that I have used the term people and that this is a noun of the masculine as well as feminine gender. I must add too that we are about reforming our fiacres, and that I expect soon an Ordonance that all their drivers shall wear breeches unless any difficulty should arise whether this is a subject for the police or for the general legislation of the country, to take care of. We have lately had an incident of some consequence, as it shews a spirit of treason, and audaciousness which was hardly thought to exist in this country. Some eight or ten years ago a Chevalier -- -was sent on a message of state to the princess of -- -of -- -of (before proceed an inch further I must confess my profound stupidity; for tho' I have heard this story told fifty times in all it's circumstances, I declare I am unable to recollect the name of the ambassador, the name of the princess, and the nation he was sent to; I must therefore proceed to tell you the naked story, shorn of all those precious circumstances) some chevalier or other was sent on some business or other to some princess or other. Not succeeding in his negociation, he wrote on his return the following song.

 

   Ennivré du brillant poste

   Que j'occupe récemment,

   Dans une chaise de poste

   Je me campe fierement:

   Et je vais en ambassade

   Au nom de mon souverain

   Dire que je suis malade,

   Et que lui se porte bien.

   Avec une joue enflée

   Je debarque tout honteux:

   La princesse boursoufflée,

   Au lieu d'une, en avoit deux;

   Et son altesse sauvage

   Sans doute a trouvé mauvais

   Que j'eusse sur mon visage

   La moitié de ses attraits.

   Princesse, le roi mon maitre

   M'a pris pour Ambassadeur;

   Je viens vous faire connoitre

   Quelle est pour vous son ardeur.

   Quand vous seriez sous le chaume,

   Il donneroit, m'a-t-il dit,

   La moitié de son royaume

   Pour celle de votre lit.

 

horizontal rule


-811-

   La princess à son pupitre

   Compose un remerciment:

   Elle me donne une epitre

   Que j'emporte lestement,

   Et je m'en vais dans la rue

   Fort satisfait d'ajouter

   A l'honneur de l'avoir vue

   Le plaisir de la quitter.

   This song run through all companies and was known to every body. A book was afterwards printed, with a regular license, called `Les quatres saisons litteraires' which being a collection of little things, contained this also and all the world bought it or might buy it if they would, the government taking no notice of it. It being the office of the Journal de Paris to give an account and criticism of new publications, this book came in turn to be criticised by the redacteur, and he happened to select and print in his journal this song as a specimen of what the collection contained. He was seised in his bed that night and has been never since heard of. Our excellent journal de Paris then is suppressed and this bold traitor has been in jail now three weeks, and for ought any body knows will end his days there. Thus you see, madam, the value of energy in government; our feeble republic would in such a case have probably been wrapt in the flames of war and desolation for want of a power lodged in a single hand to punish summarily those who write songs. The fate of poor Pilatre de Rosiere will have reached you before this does, and with more certainty than we yet know it. This will damp for a while the ardor of the Phaetons of our race who are endeavoring to learn us the way to heaven on wings of our own. I took a trip yesterday to Sannois and commenced an acquaintance with the old Countess d'Hocquetout. received much pleasure from it and hope it has opened a door of admission for me to the circle of literati with which she is environed. I heard there the Nightingale in all it's perfection: and I do not hesitate to pronounce that in America it would be deemed a bird of the third rank only, our mockingbird, and fox-coloured thrush being unquestionably superior to it. The squibs against Mr. Adams are such as I expected from the polished, mild tempered, truth speaking people he is sent to. It would be ill policy to attempt to answer or refute them. But counter-squibs think would be good policy. Be pleased to tell him that as I had before ordered his Madeira and Frontignac to be forwarded, and had asked his orders to Mr. Garvey as to

horizontal rule


-812-

the residue, which I doubt not he has given, I was afraid to send another order about the Bourdeaux lest it should produce confusion. In stating my accounts with the United states, I am at a loss whether to charge house rent or not. It has always been allowed to Dr. Franklin. Does Mr. Adams mean to charge this for Auteuil and London? Because if he does, I certainly will, being convinced by experience that my expences here will otherwise exceed my allowance. I ask this information of you, Madam, because I think you know better than Mr. Adams what may be necessary and right for him to do in occasions of this class. I will beg the favor of you to present my respects to Miss Adams. I have no secrets to communicate to her in cypher at this moment, what I write to Mr. Adams being mere commonplace stuff, not meriting a communication to the Secretary. I have the honour to be with the most perfect esteem Dr. Madam Your most obedient and most humble servt.,

 

 

A STATUE OF WASHINGTON
To the Virginia Delegates in Congress Paris, July 12, 1785
1785071

   GENTLEMEN, -- In consequence of the orders of the Legislative & Executive bodies of Virginia, I have engaged Monsr. Houdon to make the Statue of Genl. Washington. For this purpose it is necessary for him to see the General. He therefore goes with Doctr. Franklin, & will have the honor of delivering you this himself. As his journey is at the expence of the State according to our contract, I will pray you to favor him with your patronage & counsels, and to protect him as much as possible from those impositions to which strangers are but too much exposed. have advised him to proceed in the stages to the General's. have also agreed, if he can see General Greene & Gates, whose busts he has a desire to make, that he may make a moderate deviation for this purpose, after he is done with General Washington.

   But the most important object with him is to be employed to make General Washington's equestrian statue for Congress.

horizontal rule


-813-

Nothing but the expectation of this could have engaged him to have undertaken this voyage. The pedestrian statue for Virginia will not make it worth the business he loses by absenting himself. I was therefore obliged to assure him of my recommendations for this greater work. Having acted in this for the state, you will I hope think yourselves in some measure bound to patronize & urge his being employed by Congress. I would not have done this myself, nor asked you to do it, did I not see that it would be better for Congress to put this business into his hands, than those of any other person living, for these reasons: 1. he is without rivalship the first statuary of this age; as a proof of which he receives orders from every other country for things intended to be capital: 2. he will have seen General Washington, have taken his measures in every part, and of course whatever he does of him will have the merit of being original, from which other workmen can only furnish copies. 3. He is in possession of the house, the furnaces, & all the apparatus provided for making the statue of Louis XV. If any other workman is employed, this will all be to be provided anew and of course to be added to the price of the statue, for no man can ever expect to make two equestrian statues. The addition which this would be to the price will much exceed the expectation of any person who has not seen that apparatus. In truth it is immense. As to the price of the work it will be much greater than Congress is aware of, probably. I have enquired somewhat into this circumstance, and find the prices of those made for two centuries past have been from 120.000 guineas down to 16.000 guineas, according to the size. And as far as I have seen, the smaller they are, the more agreeable. The smallest yet made is infinitely above the size of the life, and they all appear outrée and monstrous. That of Louis XV. is probably the best in the world, and it is the smallest here. Yet it is impossible to find a point of view from which it does not appear a monster, unless you go so far as to lose sight of the features and finer lineaments of the face and body. A statue is not made, like a mountain, to be seen at a great distance. To perceive those minuter circumstances which constitute its beauty you must be near it, and, in that case, it should be so little above the size of the life, as to appear actually of that size from your

horizontal rule


-814-

point of view. I should not therefore fear to propose that the one intended by Congress should be considerably smaller than any of those to be seen here; as I think it will be more beautiful, and also cheaper. I have troubled you with these observations as they have been suggested to me from an actual sight of works in this kind, & supposed they might assist you in making up your minds on this subject. In making a contract with Monsr. Houdon it would not be proper to advance money, but as his disbursements and labour advance. As it is a work of many years, this will render the expence insensible. The pedestrian statue of marble is to take three years. The equestrian of course much more. Therefore the sooner it is begun the better.

 

 

"AN HONEST HEART. . . A KNOWING HEAD"
To Peter Carr
Paris, August 19, 1785
1785081

   DEAR PETER, -- I received, by Mr. Mazzei, your letter of April the 20th. I am much mortified to hear that you have lost so much time; and that when you arrived in Williamsburg, you were not at all advanced from what you were when you left Monticello. Time now begins to be precious to you. Every day you lose, will retard a day your entrance on that public stage whereon you may begin to be useful to yourself. However, the way to repair the loss is to improve the future time. I trust, that with your dispositions, even the acquisition of science is a pleasing employment. I can assure you, that the possession of it is, what (next to an honest heart) will above all things render you dear to your friends, and give you fame and promotion in your own country. When your mind shall be well improved with science, nothing will be necessary to place you in the highest points of view, but to pursue the interests of your country, the interests of your friends, and your own interests also, with the purest integrity, the most chaste honor. The defect of these virtues can never be made up by all the other acquirements of body and mind. Make these then your first object. Give up money, give up fame,

horizontal rule


-815-

give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose, that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may appear to you. Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly. Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual. From the practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive the most sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment of death. If ever you find yourself environed with difficulties and perplexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. Though you cannot see, when you take one step, what will be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth, in the easiest manner possible. The knot which you thought a Gordian one, will untie itself before you. Nothing is so mistaken as the supposition, that a person is to extricate himself from a difficulty, by intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by trimming, by an untruth, by an injustice. This increases the difficulties ten fold; and those who pursue these methods, get themselves so involved at length, that they can turn no way but their infamy becomes more exposed. It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.

 

   An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head is the second. It is time for you now to begin to be choice in your reading; to begin to pursue a regular course in it; and not to suffer yourself to be turned to the right or left by reading

horizontal rule


-816-

any thing out of that course. I have long ago digested a plan for you, suited to the circumstances in which you will be placed. This I will detail to you, from time to time, as you advance. For the present, I advise you to begin a course of antient history, reading every thing in the original and not in translations. First read Goldsmith's history of Greece. This will give you a digested view of that field. Then take up antient history in the detail, reading the following books, in the following order: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Hellenica, Xenophontis Anabasis, Arrian, Quintus Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form the first stage of your historical reading, and is all I need mention to you now. The next, will be of Roman history. Livy, Sullust, Caesar, Cicero's epistles, Suetonius, Tacitus, Gibbon. From that, we will come down to modern history.In Greek and Latin poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, Sophocles. Read also Milton's Paradise Lost, Shakspeare, Ossian, Pope's and Swift's works, in order to form your style in your own language. In morality, read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato's Socratic dialogues, Cicero's philosophies, Antoninus, and Seneca. In order to assure a certain progress in this reading, consider what hours you have free from the school and the exercises of the school. Give about two of them, every day, to exercise; for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained, by the use of this

horizontal rule


-817-

animal. No one has occasioned so much, the degeneracy of the human body. An Indian goes on foot nearly as far in a day, for a long journey, as an enfeebled white does on his horse; and he will tire the best horses. There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue. would advise you to take your exercise in the afternoon: not because it is the best time for exercise, for certainly it is not; but because it is the best time to spare from your studies; and habit will soon reconcile it to health, and render it nearly as useful as if you gave to that the more precious hours of the day. A little walk of half an hour, in the morning, when you first rise, is advisable also. It shakes off sleep, and produces other good effects in the animal economy. Rise at a fixed and an early hour, and go to bed at a fixed and early hour also. Sitting up late at night is injurious to the health, and not useful to the mind. Having ascribed proper hours to exercise, divide what remain, (I mean of your vacant hours) into three portions. Give the principal to History, the other two, which should be shorter, to Philosophy and Poetry. Write to me once every month or two, and let me know the progress you make. Tell me in what manner you employ every hour in the day. The plan have proposed for you is adapted to your present situation only. When that is changed, I shall propose a corresponding change of plan. I have ordered the following books to be sent to you from London, to the care of Mr. Madison. Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon's Hellenics, Anabasis and Memorabilia, Cicero's works, Baretti's Spanish and English Dictionary, Martin's Philosophical Grammar, and Martin's Philosophia Britannica. I will send you the following from hence. Bezout's Mathematics, De la Lande's Astronomy, Muschenbrock's Physics, Quintus Curtius, Justin, a Spanish Grammar, and some Spanish books. You will observe that Martin, Bezout, De la Lande, and Muschenbrock are not in the preceding plan. They are not to be opened till you go to the University. You are now, I expect, learning French. You must push this; because the books which will be put into your hands when you advance into Mathematics, Natural philosophy, Natural history, &c. will be mostly French, these sciences being better treated by the French than the English writers. Our future connection with Spain renders that the

horizontal rule


-818-

most necessary of the modern languages, after the French. When you become a public man, you may have occasion for it, and the circumstance of your possessing that language, may give you a preference over other candidates. I have nothing further to add for the present, but husband well your time, cherish your instructors, strive to make every body your friend; and be assured that nothing will be so pleasing, as your success, to, Dear Peter,

 

   Your's affectionately,

 

COMMERCE AND SEA POWER
To John Jay
Paris, Aug. 23, 1785
1785082

   DEAR SIR, -- I shall sometimes ask your permission to write you letters, not official but private. The present is of this kind, and is occasioned by the question proposed in yours of June 14. "whether it would be useful to us to carry all our own productions, or none?" Were we perfectly free to decide this question, I should reason as follows. We have now lands enough to employ an infinite number of people in their cultivation. Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country & wedded to it's liberty & interests by the most lasting bonds. As long therefore as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans or anything else. But our citizens will find employment in this line till their numbers, & of course their productions, become too great for the demand both internal & foreign. This is not the case as yet, & probably will not be for a considerable time. As soon as it is, the surplus of hands must be turned to something else. I should then perhaps wish to turn them to the sea in preference to manufactures, because comparing the characters of the two classes I find the former the most valuable citizens. I consider the class of artificers as the panders of vice & the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned. However we are not free to decide this question

horizontal rule


-819-

on principles of theory only. Our people are decided in the opinion that it is necessary for us to take a share in the occupation of the ocean, & their established habits induce them to require that the sea be kept open to them, and that that line of policy be pursued which will render the use of that element as great as possible to them. I think it a duty in those entrusted with the administration of their affairs to conform themselves to the decided choice of their constituents: and that therefore we should in every instance preserve an equality of right to them in the transportation of commodities, in the right of fishing, & in the other uses of the sea. But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars without a doubt. Their property will be violated on the sea, & in foreign ports, their persons will be insulted, imprisoned &c. for pretended debts, contracts, crimes, contraband, &c., &c. These insults must be resented, even if we had no feelings, yet to prevent their eternal repetition, or in other words, our commerce on the ocean & in other countries must be paid for by frequent war. The justest dispositions possible in ourselves will not secure us against it. It would be necessary that all other nations were just also. Justice indeed on our part will save us from those wars which would have been produced by a contrary disposition. But to prevent those produced by the wrongs of other nations? By putting ourselves in a condition to punish them. Weakness provokes insult & injury, while a condition to punish it often prevents it. This reasoning leads to the necessity of some naval force, that being the only weapon with which we can reach an enemy. I think it to our interest to punish the first insult; because an insult unpunished is the parent of many others. We are not at this moment in a condition to do it, but we should put ourselves into it as soon as possible. If a war with England should take place, it seems to me that the first thing necessary would be a resolution to abandon the carrying trade because we cannot protect it. Foreign nations must in that case be invited to bring us what we want & to take our productions in their own bottoms. This alone could prevent the loss of those productions to us & the acquisition of them to our enemy. Our seamen might be employed in depredations on their trade. But how dreadfully we shall suffer on our coasts, if we have no force on the water, former

horizontal rule


-820-

experience has taught us. Indeed I look forward with horror to the very possible case of war with an European power, & think there is no protection against them but from the possession of some force on the sea. Our vicinity to their West India possessions & to the fisheries is a bridle which a small naval force on our part would hold in the mouths of the most powerful of these countries. I hope our land office will rid us of our debts, & that our first attention then will be to the beginning a naval force of some sort. This alone can countenance our people as carriers on the water, & I suppose them to be determined to continue such.

 

   I wrote you two public letters on the 14th inst., since which I have received yours of July 13. I shall always be pleased to receive from you in a private way such communications as you might not chuse to put into a public letter.

 

BOOKS FOR A STATESMAN
To James Madison
Paris, September 1, 1785
1785090

   DEAR SIR, -- My last to you by Monsieur de Doradour, was dated May the 11th. Since that, I have received yours of January the 22nd, with six copies of the revisal, and that of April the 27th, by Mr. Mazzei.

   All is quiet here. The Emperor and Dutch have certainly agreed, though they have not published their agreement. Most of his schemes in Germany must be postponed, if they are not prevented, by the confederacy of many of the Germanic body, at the head of which is the King of Prussia, and to which the Elector of Hanover is supposed to have acceded. The object of the league is to preserve the members of the empire in their present state. I doubt whether the jealousy entertained of this prince, and which is so fully evidenced by this league, may not defeat the election of his nephew to be King of the Romans, and thus produce an instance of breaking the lineal succession. Nothing is as yet done between him and the Turks. If any thing is produced in that quarter, it will not be for this year. The court of Madrid has obtained the

horizontal rule


-821-

delivery of the crew of the brig Betsey, taken by the Emperor of Morocco. The Emperor had treated them kindly, new clothed them, and delivered them to the Spanish minister, who sent them to Cadiz. This is the only American vessel ever taken by the Barbary States. The Emperor continues to give proofs of his desire to be in friendship with us, or, in other words, of receiving us into the number of his tributaries. Nothing further need be feared from him. I wish the Algerines may be as easily dealt with. I fancy the peace expected between them and Spain, is not likely to take place. am well informed that the late proceedings in America, have produced a wonderful sensation in England in our favor. I mean the disposition which seems to be becoming general, to invest Congress with the regulation of our commerce, and, in the mean time, the measures taken to defeat the avidity of the British government, grasping at our carrying business. I can add with truth, that it was not till these symptoms appeared in America, that I have been able to discover the smallest token of respect towards the United States, in any part of Europe. There was an enthusiasm towards us, all over Europe, at the moment of the peace. The torrent of lies published unremittingly, in every day's London paper, first made an impression, and produced a coolness. The republication of these lies in most of the papers of Europe, (done probably by authority of the governments, to discourage emigrations) carried them home to the belief of every mind. They supposed every thing in America was anarchy, tumult, and civil war. The reception of the Marquis Fayette gave a check to these ideas. The late proceedings seem to be producing a decisive vibration in our favor. I think it possible that England may ply before them. It is a nation which nothing but views of interest can govern. If they produce us good there, they will here also. The defeat of the Irish propositions is also in our favor.

 

   I have at length made up the purchase of books for you, as far as it can be done at present. The objects which I have not yet been able to get, I shall continue to seek for. Those purchased, are packed this morning in two trunks, and you have the catalogue and prices herein enclosed. The future charges of transportation shall be carried into the next bill. The

horizontal rule


-822-

amount of the present is 1154 livres 13 sous, which, reckoning the French crown of six livres at six shillings and eight pence, Virginia money, is £64, 3s. which sum you will be so good as to keep in your hands, to be used occasionally in the education of my nephews, when the regular resources disappoint you. To the same use I would pray you to apply twenty-five guineas, which have lent the two Mr. Fitzhughs of Marmion, and which I have desired them to repay into your hands. You will of course deduct the price of the revisals, and of any other articles you may have been so kind as to pay for me. Greek and Roman authors are dearer here, than, I believe, any where in the world. Nobody here reads them; wherefore they are not reprinted. Don Ulloa, in the original, is not to be found. The collection of tracts on the economies of different nations, we cannot find; nor Amelot's travels into China. I shall send these two trunks of books to Havre, there to wait a conveyance to America; for as to the fixing the packets there, it is as uncertain as ever. The other articles you mention, shall be procured as far as they can be. Knowing that some of them would be better got in London, commissioned Mr. Short, who was going there, to get them. He has not yet returned. They will be of such a nature, as that I can get some gentleman who may be going to America, to take them in his portmanteau. Le Maire being now able to stand on his own legs, there will be no necessity for your advancing him the money I desired, if it is not already done. I am anxious to hear from you on the subject of my Notes on Virginia. I have been obliged to give so many of them here, that I fear their getting published. I have received an application from the Directors of the public buildings, to procure them a plan for their capitol. I shall send them one taken from the best morsel of antient architecture now remaining. It has obtained the approbation of fifteen or sixteen centuries, and is, therefore, preferable to any design which might be newly contrived. It will give more room, be more convenient, and cost less, than the plan they sent me. Pray encourage them to wait for it, and to execute it. It will be superior in beauty to any thing in America, and not inferior to any thing in the world. It is very simple. Have you a copying press? If you

horizontal rule


-823-

have not, you should get one. Mine (exclusive of paper which costs a guinea a ream) has cost me about fourteen guineas. I would give ten times that sum, to have had it from the date of the stamp act. I hope you will be so good as to continue your communications, both of the great and small kind, which are equally useful to me. Be assured of the sincerity with which I am, Dear Sir,

 

   your friend and servant,

   ENCLOSURE livres sous den

   Dictionnaire de Trevoux. 5 vol. fol. , 5f12 . . . 28- 0 - 0

   La Conquista di Mexico. De Solis. fol. 7f10.

   relieure 7f . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14- 10

   Traité de morale et de bonheur. 12mo. 2 v. in 1. 2- 8

   Wicquefort de l'Ambassadeur. 2. v. 4to. . . . . . 7- 4

   Burlamaqui. Principes du droit Politique 4to.

   3f12 relieure 2f5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5- 17

   Conquista de la China por el Tartaro por Palafox.

   12mo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-

   Code de l'humanité de Felice. 13. v. 4to. . . . . 104- 0

   13. first livrasons of the Encyclopedie 47. vols.

   4to. (being 48f less than subscription) . . . . 348- 0

   14th. livraison of do. 4. v. 4to. . . . . . . . . 24- 0

   Peyssonel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2- 0

   Bibliotheque physico-oeconomique. 4. v. 12mo.

   10f4. rel. 3f . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13- 4

   Cultivateur Americain. 2. v. 8vo. 7f17. rel. 2f10. 10- 7

   Mirabeau sur l'ordre des Cincinnati. 10f10. rel. 1f5

   (prohibited). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11- 15

   Coutumes Amglo-Normads de Houard. 4. v.

   4to. 40f rel. 10f . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50- 0

   Memories sur l'Amerique 4 v. 4to. . . . . . . . . 24- 0

   Tott sur les Turcs. 4. v. in 2. 8vo. 10f. rel. 2f10 12- 10

   Neckar sur l'Administration des Finances de

   France. 3. v. 12mo. 7f10 rel. 2f5 . . . . . . . 9- 15

   le bon-sens. 12mo. 6f rel. 15s (prohibited). . . 6- 15

horizontal rule


-824-

 

    livres sous den

   Mably. Princess de morale.

   1. V. 12mo. . . . . 3 12 }

   etude de l'histoire 1. . 2 10 }

   maniere d'ecrire

   l'histoire 1. . . . 2 8 }

   constitution

   d'Amerique 1. . . . 1 16 } relieure de

   sur l'histoire de II vols. ,

   France. 2. v. . . . 6 } 15s. 8f5 41- 1

   droit de l'Europe

   3.v. . . . . . . 7 10 }

   ordres des societies . . . 2 }

   principes des

   negotiations. . . . 2 10 }

   entretiens de Phocion . . 2 }

   des Romains . . . . . 2 10 }

    -- -- -- -

   32 16

   Wanting to complete Mably's works which I have

   not been able to procure

   les principes de legislation

   sur les Grecs

   sur la Pologne.

   Chronologie des empires anciennes

   de la Combe. 5- 0 - 0

   de l'histoire universelle

   de Hornot. . 1. v. 8vo.4f 4- 0 - 0

   de l'histoire universelle

   de Berlié. . 1.v. 8vo. 2f10 rel. 1f5 3-15

   des empereurs Romains

   par Richer. . 2. v. 8vo. 8f rel. 2f10 10-10

   des Juifs . . . 1. v. 8vo. 3f10 rel. 1f5 4-15

   de l'histoire universelle

   par Du Fresnoy. 2. v. 8vo. 13f rel. 2f10 15-10

   de l'histoire du Nord.

   par La Combe .2. v. 8vo. 10f. rel. 2f10 12-10

   de France. par

   Henault. . . 3. v. 8vo. 12f. rel. 5f 15 -15

horizontal rule


-825-

 

    livres sous den

   Memories de Voltaire. 2. v. in 1. 2f10 rel. 15s. . 3- 5 - 0

   Linnaei Philosophia Botanica. 1. v. 8vo. 7f rel. 1f5 8- 5

   Genera plantarum 1. v. 8vo. 8f rel. 1f5 . . . . . 9- 5

   Species plantarum. 4. v. 8vo. 32f rel. 5f . . . . 37- 0

   Systema naturae 4. v. 8vo. 26f rel. 5f . . . . . . 31- 0

   Clayton. Flora Virginica. 4to. 12f. rel. 2f10. . . . 14-10

   D'Albon sur l'interet de plusieurs nations. 4. v.

   12mo. 12f. rel. 3f.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15- 0

   Systeme de la nature de Diderot. 3. v. 8vo. 21f

   (prohibited) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21- 0

   Coussin histoire Romaine.

   2.v.in 1. 12mo. }

   de Constantinople 8. v. in 10. } 16. vols.

   de l'empire de l'Occident 2. v. } 12mo. 36- 0 - 0

   de l'eglise. 5. v. in 3. }

   Droit de la Nature. por Wolff. 6. v. 12mo. 15f rel.

   4f10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19-10

   Voyage de Pagét 8vo. 3. v. in 1. . . . . . . . . . . 9

   Mirabeau. Ami des hommes 5. v. 12mo. }

   Theorie de l'import 2. v. in 1. 12mo.} 12

   BUFFON. SUPPLEMENT II. 12. Oiseaux 17. 18.

   Mineraux 1. 2. 3. 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24.

   Lettres de Pascal. 12mo. 2f. rel. 15s. . . . . . . . 2-15

   Le sage à la cour et le roi voiageur (prohibited). . 10-15

   Principles de legislation universelle 2. v. 8vo. . . 12- 0

   Ordonnances de la Marine par Valin. 2. v. 4to. . . . 22

   Diderot sur les sourds and muets }

   12mo. 3f12. sur les } 4. v. 12mo. 13- 7

   aveugles 3f. sur la nature 3f. }

   sur la morale 3f15 }

   Mariana's history of Spain II. v. 12mo.. . . . . . . 21

   2 trunks & packing paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43- 0

    -- -- -- -- --

   1154-13

horizontal rule


-826-

 

 

CLIMATE AND AMERICAN CHARACTER
To Chastellux Paris, Sep. 2, 1785
1785090

   DEAR SIR, -- You were so kind as to allow me a fortnight to read your journey through Virginia. but you should have thought of this indulgence while you were writing it, and have rendered it less interesting if you meant that your readers should have been longer engaged with it. in fact I devoured it at a single meal, and a second reading scarce allowed me sang-froid enough to mark a few errors in the names of persons and places which I note on a paper herein inclosed, with an inconsiderable error or two in facts which I have also noted because I supposed you wished to state them correctly. from this general approbation however you must allow me to except about a dozen pages in the earlier part of the book which I read with a continued blush from beginning to end, as it presented me a lively picture of what wish to be, but am not. no, my dear Sir, the thousand millionth part of what you there say, is more than I deserve. it might perhaps have passed in Europe at the time you wrote it, and the exaggeration might not have been detected. but consider that the animal is now brought there, and that every one will take his dimensions for himself. the friendly complexion of your mind has betrayed you into a partiality of which the European spectator will be divested. respect to yourself therefore will require indispensably that you expunge the whole of those pages except your own judicious observations interspersed among them on animal and physical subjects. with respect to my countrymen there is surely nothing which can render them uneasy, in the observations made on them. they know that they are not perfect, and will be sensible that you have viewed them with a philanthropic eye. you say much good of them, and less ill than they are conscious may be said with truth. I have studied their character with attention. I have thought them, as you found them, aristocratical, pompous, clannish, indolent, hospitable, and should have added, disinterested, but you say attached to their interest. this is the only trait in their character wherein our observations differ. I have always thought them so careless of their interests, so

horizontal rule


-827-

thoughtless in their expences and in all their transactions of business that I had placed it among the vices of their character, as indeed most virtues when carried beyond certain bounds degenerate into vices. I had even ascribed this to it's cause, to that warmth of their climate which unnerves and unmans both body and mind. while on this subject will give you my idea of the characters of the several states.

 

   In the north they are

   In the south they are

   cool

   fiery

   sober

   voluptuary

   laborious

   indolent

   persevering

   unsteady

   independant

   independant

   jealous of their own liberties, zealous for their own liberties,

   and just to those of others

   but trampling on those of

   others.

   interested

   generous

   chicaning

   candid

   superstitious and hypocritical in without attachment or pretensions

   their religion

   to any religon but that

   of the heart.

   these characteristics grow weaker and weaker by gradation from North to South and South to North, insomuch that an observing traveller, without the aid of the quadrant may always know his latitude by the character of the people among whom he finds himself. it is in Pennsylvania that the two characters seem to meet and blend, and form a people free from the extremes both of vice and virtue. peculiar circumstances have given to New York the character which climate would have given had she been placed on the South instead of the north side of Pennsylvania. perhaps too other circumstances may have occasioned in Virginia a transplantation of a particular vice foreign to it's climate. you could judge of this with more impartiality than I could, and the probability is that your estimate of them is the most just. I think it for their good that the vices of their character should be pointed out to them that they may amend them; for a malady of either body or mind once known is half cured. wish you would add to this piece your letter to mr. Madison on the expediency of introducing the arts into America. I found in

horizontal rule


-828-

p1 that a great deal of matter, very many observations, which would be useful to the legislators of America, and to the general mass of citizens. I read it with great pleasure and analysed it's contents that I might fix them in my own mind.

 

   I have the honor to be with very sincere esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servt.

 

"THIS BEAUTIFUL ART"
To James Madison
Paris, September 20, 1785
1785092

   DEAR SIR, -- By Mr. Fitzhugh, you will receive my letter of the first instant. He is still here, and gives me an opportunity of again addressing you much sooner than I should have done, but for the discovery of a great piece of inattention. In that letter I send you a detail of the cost of your books, and desire you to keep the amount in your hands, as if I had forgot that a part of it was in fact your own, as being a balance of what I had remained in your debt. I really did not attend to it in the moment of writing, and when it occurred to me, I revised my memorandum book from the time of our being in Philadelphia together, and stated our account from the beginning, lest should forget or mistake any part of it. I enclose you this statement. You will always be so good as to let me know, from time to time, your advances for me. Correct with freedom all my proceedings for you, as, in what I do, I have no other desire than that of doing exactly what will be most pleasing to you.

   I received this summer a letter from Messrs. Buchanan and Hay, as Directors of the public buildings, desiring I would have drawn for them, plans of sundry buildings, and, in the first place, of a capitol. They fixed, for their receiving this plan, a day which was within about six weeks of that on which their letter came to my hand. I engaged an architect of capital abilities in this business. Much time was requsite, after the external form was agreed on, to make the internal distribution convenient for the three branches of government. This time was much lengthened by my avocations to other objects,

horizontal rule


-829-

which I had no right to neglect. The plan however was settled. The gentlemen had sent me one which they had thought of. The one agreed on here, is more convenient, more beautiful, gives more room, and will not cost more than two thirds of what that would. We took for our model what is called the Maison quarrée of Nismes, one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful and precious morsel of architecture left us by antiquity. It was built by Caius and Lucius Caesar, and repaired by Louis XIV., and has the suffrage of all the judges of architecture, who have seen it, as yielding to no one of the beautiful monuments of Greece, Rome, Palmyra, and Balbec, which late travellers have communicated to us. It is very simple, but it is noble beyond expression, and would have done honor to our country, as presenting to travellers a specimen of taste in our infancy, promising much for our maturer age. I have been much mortified with information, which I received two days ago from Virginia, that the first brick of the capitol would be laid within a few days. But surely, the delay of this piece of a summer would have been repaired by the savings in the plan preparing here, were we to value its other superiorities as nothing. But how is a taste in this beautiful art to be formed in our countrymen, unless we avail ourselves of every occasion when public buildings are to be erected, of presenting to them models for their study and imitation? Pray try if you can effect the stopping of this work. I have written also to E. R. on the subject. The loss will be only of the laying the bricks already laid, or a part of them. The bricks themselves will do again for the interior walls, and one side wall and one end wall may remain, as they will answer equally well for our plan. This loss is not to be weighed against the saving of money which will arise, against the comfort of laying out the public money for something honorable, the satisfaction of seeing an object and proof of national good taste, and the regret and mortification of erecting a monument of our barbarism, which will be loaded with execrations as long as it shall endure. The plans are in good forwardness, and I hope will be ready within three or four weeks. They could not be stopped now, but on paying their whole price, which will be considerable. If the undertakers are afraid to undo what they have done, encourage them to it by

horizontal rule


-830-

a recommendation from the Assembly. You see I am an enthusiast on the subject of the arts. But it is an enthusiasm of which I am not ashamed, as its object is to improve the taste of my countrymen, to increase their reputation, to reconcile to them the respect of the world, and procure them its praise.

 

   I shall send off your books, in two trunks, to Havre, within two or three days, to the care of Mr. Limozin, American agent there. I will advise you, as soon as I know by what vessel he forwards them. Adieu.

   Your's affectionately,

 

MARS AND MINERVA
To Abigail Adams
Paris, Sep. 25, 1785
1785092

   DEAR MADAM -- Mr. Short's return the night before last availed me of your favour of Aug. 12. I immediately ordered the shoes you desired which will be ready tomorrow. I am not certain whether this will be in time for the departure of Mr. Barclay or of Colo. Franks, for it is not yet decided which of them goes to London. I have also procured for you three plateaux de dessert with a silvered ballustrade round them, and four figures of Biscuit. The former cost 192^t, the latter 12^t each, making together 240 livres or 10. Louis. The merchant undertakes to send them by the way of Rouen through the hands of Mr. Garvey and to have them delivered in London. There will be some additional expences of packing, transportation and duties here. Those in England I imagine you can save. When I know the amount I will inform you of it, but there will be no occasion to remit it here. With respect to the figures I could only find three of those you named, matched in size. These were Minerva, Diana, and Apollo. I was obliged to add a fourth, unguided by your choice. They offered me a fine Venus; but I thought it out of taste to have two at table at the same time. Paris and Helen were presented. I conceived it would be cruel to remove them from their peculiar shrine. When they shall pass the Atlantic, it will be to sing a requiem over our freedom and happiness. At

horizontal rule


-831-

length a fine Mars was offered, calm, bold, his faulchion not drawn, but ready to be drawn. This will do, thinks I, for the table of the American Minister in London, where those whom it may concern may look and learn that though Wisdom is our guide, and the Song and Chase our supreme delight, yet we offer adoration to that tutelar god also who rocked the cradle of our birth, who has accepted our infant offerings, and has shewn himself the patron of our rights and avenger of our wrongs. The groupe then was closed, and your party formed. Envy and malice will never be quiet. I hear it already whispered to you that in admitting Minerva to your table I have departed from the principle which made me reject Venus: in plain English that I have paid a just respect to the daughter but failed to the mother. No Madam, my respect to both is sincere. Wisdom, I know, is social. She seeks her fellows. But Beauty is jealous, and illy bears the presence of a rival -- but, Allons, let us turn over another leaf, and begin the next chapter. receive by Mr. Short a budget of London papers. They teem with every horror of which human nature is capable. Assassinations, suicides, thefts, robberies, and, what is worse than assassination, theft, suicide or robbery, the blackest slanders! Indeed the man must be of rock, who can stand all this; to Mr. Adams it will be but one victory the more. It would have illy suited me. I do not love difficulties. I am fond of quiet, willing to do my duty, but irritable by slander and apt to be forced by it to abandon my post. These are weaknesses from which reason and your counsels will preserve Mr. Adams. I fancy it must be the quantity of animal food eaten by the English which renders their character insusceptible of civilisation. I suspect it is in their kitchens and not in their churches that their reformation must be worked, and that Missionaries of that description from hence would avail more than those who should endeavor to tame them by precepts of religion or philosophy. But what do the foolish printers of America mean by retailing all this stuff in our papers? As if it was not enough to be slandered by one's enemies without circulating the slanders among his friends also.

 

   To shew you how willingly I shall ever receive and execute your commissions, I venture to impose one on you. From what I recollect of the diaper and damask we used to import

horizontal rule


-832-

from England I think they were better and cheaper than here. You are well acquainted with those of both countries. If you are of the same opinion I would trouble you to send me two sets of table cloths and napkins for 20 covers each, by Colo. Franks or Mr. Barclay who will bring them to me. But if you think they can be better got here I would rather avoid the trouble this commission will give. I inclose you a specimen of what is offered me at 100. livres for the table cloth and 12 napkins. I suppose that, of the same quality, a table cloth 2. aunes wide and 4. aunes long, and 20 napkins of 1. aune each, would cost 7. guineas. -- I shall certainly charge the publick my house rent and court taxes. I shall do more. I shall charge my outfit. Without this I can never get out of debt. I think it will be allowed. Congress is too reasonable to expect, where no imprudent expences are incurred, none but those which are required by a decent respect to the mantle with which they cover the public servants, that such expences should be left as a burthen on our private fortunes. But when writing to you, fancy myself at Auteuil, and chatter on till the last page of my paper awakes me from my reverie, and tells me it is time to assure you of the sincere respect and esteem with which I have the honour to be Dear Madam your most obedient and most humble servt.,

 

   P.S. The cask of wine at Auteuil, I take chearfully. suppose the seller will apply to me for the price. Otherwise, as I do not know who he is, I shall not be able to find him out.

 

THE VAUNTED SCENE
To Charles Bellini
Paris, September 30, 1785
1785093

   DEAR SIR, -- Your estimable favor, covering a letter to Mr. Mazzei, came to hand on the 26th instant. The letter to Mr. Mazzei was put into his hands in the same moment, as he happened to be present. I leave to him to convey to you all his complaints, as it will be more agreeable to me to express to you the satisfaction I received, on being informed of your

horizontal rule


-833-

perfect health. Though I could not receive the same pleasing news of Mrs. Bellini, yet the philosophy with which I am told she bears the loss of health, is a testimony the more, how much she deserved the esteem I bear her. Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe! It is not necessary for your information, that I should enter into details concerning it. But you are, perhaps, curious to know how this new scene has struck a savage of the mountains of America. Not advantageously, I assure you. I find the general fate of humanity here, most deplorable. The truth of Voltaire's observation, offers itself perpetually, that every man here must be either the hammer or the anvil. It is a true picture of that country to which they say we shall pass hereafter, and where we are to see God and his angels in splendor, and crowds of the damned trampled under their feet. While the great mass of the people are thus suffering under physical and moral oppression, I have endeavored to examine more nearly the condition of the great, to appreciate the true value of the circumstances in their situation, which dazzle the bulk of spectators, and, especially, to compare it with that degree of happiness which is enjoyed in America, by every class of people. Intrigues of love occupy the younger, and those of ambition, the elder part of the great. Conjugal love having no existence among them, domestic happiness, of which that is the basis, is utterly unknown. In lieu of this, are substituted pursuits which nourish and invigorate all our bad passions, and which offer only moments of ecstacy, amidst days and months of restlessness and torment. Much, very much inferior, this, to the tranquil, permanent felicity with which domestic society in America, blesses most of its inhabitants; leaving them to follow steadily those pursuits which health and reason approve, and rendering truly delicious the intervals of those pursuits.

 

   In science, the mass of the people is two centuries behind ours; their literati, half a dozen years before us. Books, really good, acquire just reputation in that time, and so become known to us, and communicate to us all their advances in knowledge. Is not this delay compensated, by our being placed out of the reach of that swarm of nonsensical publications, which issues daily from a thousand presses, and perishes

horizontal rule


-834-

almost in issuing? With respect to what are termed polite manners, without sacrificing too much the sincerity of language, I would wish my countrymen to adopt just so much of European politeness, as to be ready to make all those little sacrifices of self, which really render European manners amiable, and relieve society from the disagreeable scenes to which rudeness often subjects it. Here, it seems that a man might pass a life without encountering a single rudeness. In the pleasures of the table they are far before us, because, with good taste they unite temperance. They do not terminate the most sociable meals by transforming themselves into brutes. I have never yet seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of the people. Were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy their architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should want words. It is in these arts they shine. The last of them, particularly, is an enjoyment, the deprivation of which with us, cannot be calculated. I am almost ready to say, it is the only thing which from my heart I envy them, and which, in spite of all the authority of the Decalogue, I do covet. But I am running on in an estimate of things infinitely better known to you than to me, and which will only serve to convince you, that I have brought with me all the prejudices of country, habit and age. But whatever I may allow to be charged to me as prejudice, in every other instance, I have one sentiment at least, founded in reality: it is that of the perfect esteem which your merit and that of Mrs. Bellini have produced, and which will for ever enable me to assure you of the sincere regard, with which I am, Dear Sir,

 

   your friend and servant,

 

BRITISH HOSTILITY, AMERICAN COMMERCE
To G. K. van Hogendorp
Paris, Oct. 13, 1785
1785101

   DEAR SIR, -- Having been much engaged lately, I have been unable sooner to acknolege the receipt of your favor of Sep. 8. What you are pleased to say on the subject of my Notes is more than they deserve. The condition in which you first saw

horizontal rule


-835-

them would prove to you how hastily they had been originally written; as you may remember the numerous insertions had made in them from time to time, when I could find a moment for turning to them from other occupations. I have never yet seen Monsr. de Buffon. He has been in the country all the summer. I sent him a copy of the book, & have only heard his sentiments on one particular of it, that of the identity of the Mammoth & Elephant. As to this he retains his opinion that they are the same. If you had formed any considerable expectations from our Revised code of laws you will be much disappointed. It contains not more than three or four laws which could strike the attention of the foreigner. Had it been a digest of all our laws, it would not have been comprehensible or instructive but to a native. But it is still less so, as it digests only the British statutes & our own acts of assembly, which are but a supplementary part of our law. The great basis of it is anterior to the date of the Magna charta, which is the oldest statute extant. The only merit of this work is that it may remove from our book shelves about twenty folio volumes of our statutes, retaining all the parts of them which either their own merit or the established system of laws required.

 

   You ask me what are those operations of the British nation which are likely to befriend us, and how they will produce this effect? The British government as you may naturally suppose have it much at heart to reconcile their nation to the loss of America. This is essential to the repose, perhaps even to the safety of the King & his ministers. The most effectual engines for this purpose are the public papers. You know well that that government always kept a kind of standing army of news writers who without any regard to truth, or to what should be like truth, invented & put into the papers whatever might serve the minister. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper. When forced to acknolege our independance they were forced to redouble their efforts to keep the nation quiet. Instead of a few of the papers formerly engaged, they now engaged every one. No paper therefore comes out without a dose of paragraphs against America. These are calculated for a secondary purpose also,

horizontal rule


-836-

that of preventing the emigrations of their people to America. They dwell very much on American bankruptcies. To explain these would require a long detail, but would shew you that nine tenths of these bankruptcies are truly English bankruptcies in no wise chargeable on America. However they have produced effects the most desirable of all others for us. They have destroyed our credit & thus checked our disposition to luxury; & forcing our merchants to buy no more than they have ready money to pay for, they force them to go to those markets where that ready money will buy most. Thus you see they check our luxury, they force us to connect ourselves with all the world, & they prevent foreign emigrations to our country all of which I consider as advantageous to us. They are doing us another good turn. They attempt without disguise to possess themselves of the carriage of our produce, & to prohibit our own vessels from participating of it. This has raised a general indignation in America. The states see however that their constitutions have provided no means of counteracting it. They are therefore beginning to invest Congress with the absolute power of regulating their commerce, only reserving all revenue arising from it to the state in which it is levied. This will consolidate our federal building very much, and for this we shall be indebted to the British.

 

   You ask what I think on the expediency of encouraging our states to be commercial? Were I to indulge my own theory, should wish them to practise neither commerce nor navigation, but to stand with respect to Europe precisely on the footing of China. We should thus avoid wars, and all our citizens would be husbandmen. Whenever indeed our numbers should so increase as that our produce would overstock the markets of those nations who should come to seek it, the farmers must either employ the surplus of their time in manufactures, or the surplus of our hands must be employed in manufactures, or in navigation. But that day would, I think be distant, and we should long keep our workmen in Europe, while Europe should be drawing rough materials & even subsistence from America. But this is theory only, & a theory which the servants of America are not at liberty to follow. Our people have a decided taste for navigation & commerce. They take this from their mother country: & their servants

horizontal rule


-837-

are in duty bound to calculate all their measures on this datum: we wish to do it by throwing open all the doors of commerce & knocking off its shackles. But as this cannot be done for others, unless they will do it for us, & there is no great probability that Europe will do this, I suppose we shall be obliged to adopt a system which may shackle them in our ports as they do us in theirs.

 

   With respect to the sale of our lands, that cannot begin till a considerable portion shall have been surveyed. They cannot begin to survey till the fall of the leaf of this year, nor to sell probably till the ensuing spring. So that it will be yet a twelve-month before we shall be able to judge of the efficacy of our land office to sink our national debt. It is made a fundamental that the proceeds shall be solely & sacredly applied as a sinking fund to discharge the capital only of the debt. It is true that the tobaccos of Virginia go almost entirely to England. The reason is that they owe a great debt there which they are paying as fast as they can. -- I think have now answered your several queries, & shall be happy to receive your reflections on the same subjects, & at all times to hear of your welfare & to give you assurances of the esteem with which I have the honor to be Dear Sir your most obedient & most humble servant.

 

ON EUROPEAN EDUCATION
To John Banister, Jr.
Paris, October 15, 1785
1785101

   DEAR SIR, -- I should sooner have answered the paragraph in your letter, of September the 19th, respecting the best seminary for the education of youth, in Europe, but that it was necessary for me to make inquiries on the subject. The result of these has been, to consider the competition as resting between Geneva and Rome. They are equally cheap, and probably are equal in the course of education pursued. The advantage of Geneva, is, that students acquire there the habit of speaking French. The advantages of Rome, are, the acquiring a local knowledge of a spot so classical and so celebrated;

horizontal rule


-838-

the acquiring the true pronunciation of the Latin language; a just taste in the fine arts, more particularly those of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music; a familiarity with those objects and processes of agriculture, which experience has shewn best adapted to a climate like ours; and lastly, the advantage of a fine climate for health. It is probable, too, that by being boarded in a French family, the habit of speaking that language may be obtained. I do not count on any advantage to be derived in Geneva, from a familiar acquaintance with the principles of that government. The late revolution has rendered it a tyrannical aristocracy, more likely to give ill, than good ideas to an American. I think the balance in favor of Rome. Pisa is sometimes spoken of, as a place of education. But it does not offer the first and third of the advantages of Rome. But why send an American youth to Europe for education? What are the objects of an useful American education? Classical knowledge, modern languages, chiefly French, Spanish and Italian; Mathematics, Natural philosophy, Natural history, Civil history, and Ethics. In Natural philosophy, I mean to include Chemistry and Agriculture, and in Natural history, to include Botany, as well as the other branches of those departments. It is true that the habit of speaking the modern languages, cannot be so well acquired in America; but every other article can be as well acquired at William and Mary college, as at any place in Europe. When college education is done with, and a young man is to prepare himself for public life, he must cast his eyes (for America) either on Law or Physic. For the former, where can he apply so advantageously as to Mr. Wythe? For the latter, he must come to Europe: the medical class of students, therefore, is the only one which need come to Europe. Let us view the disadvantages of sending a youth to Europe. To enumerate them all, would require a volume. I will select a few. If he goes to England, he learns drinking, horse racing and boxing. These are the peculiarities of English education. The following circumstances are common to education in that, and the other countries of Europe. He acquires a fondness for European luxury and dissipation, and a contempt for the simplicity of his own country; he is fascinated with the privileges of the European aristocrats, and sees, with abhorrence, the lovely

horizontal rule


-839-

equality which the poor enjoy with the rich, in his own country; he contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy; he forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to him, and loses the season of life for forming in his own country, those friendships, which, of all others, are the most faithful and permanent; he is led by the strongest of all the human passions, into a spirit for female intrigue, destructive of his own and others' happiness, or a passion for whores, destructive of his health, and, in both cases, learns to consider fidelity to the marriage bed as an ungentlemanly practice, and inconsistent with happiness; he recollects the voluptuary dress and arts of the European women, and pities and despises the chaste affections and simplicity of those of his own country; he retains, through life, a fond recollection, and a hankering after those places, which were the scenes of his first pleasures and of his first connections; he returns to his own country, a foreigner, unacquainted with the practices of domestic economy, necessary to preserve him from ruin, speaking and writing his native tongue as a foreigner, and therefore unqualified to obtain those distinctions, which eloquence of the pen and tongue ensures in a free country; for I would observe to you, that what is called style in writing or speaking, is formed very early in life, while the imagination is warm, and impressions are permament. I am of opinion, that there never was an instance of a man's writing or speaking his native tongue with elegance, who passed from fifteen to twenty years of age, out of the country where it was spoken. Thus, no instance exists of a person's writing two languages perfectly. That will always appear to be his native language, which was most familiar to him in his youth. It appears to me then, that an American coming to Europe for education, loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in his health, in his habits, and in his happiness. I had entertained only doubts on this head, before I came to Europe: what I see and hear, since I came here, proves more than I had even suspected. Cast your eye over America: who are the men of most learning, of most eloquence, most beloved by their countrymen, and most trusted and promoted by them? They are those who have been educated among them, and whose manners, morals and habits, are perfectly homogeneous with those of the country.

horizontal rule


-840-

 

   Did you expect by so short a question, to draw such a sermon on yourself? I dare say you did not. But the consequences of foreign education are alarming to me, as an American. I sin, therefore, through zeal, whenever I enter on the subject. You are sufficiently American to pardon me for it. Let me hear of your health, and be assured of the esteem with which I am, Dear Sir,

   your friend and servant,

 

PROPERTY AND NATURAL RIGHT
To James Madison
Fontainebleau, Oct. 28, 1785
1785102

   DEAR SIR, -- Seven o'clock, and retired to my fireside, I have determined to enter into conversation with you. This is a village of about 15,000 inhabitants when the court is not here, and 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley through which runs a brook and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains, most of which are naked rock. The King comes here, in the fall always, to hunt. His court attend him, as do also the foreign diplomatic corps; but as this is not indispensably required and my finances do not admit the expense of a continued residence here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the King's levees, returning again to Paris, distant forty miles. This being the first trip, I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about a league.

   As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she

horizontal rule


-841-

could no employment and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude which could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.

 

   The property of this country is absolutely concentred in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all there comes the most numerous of all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be labored. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property

horizontal rule


-842-

have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.

 

   The next object which struck my attention in my walk was the deer with which the wood abounded. They were of the kind called "Cerfs," and not exactly of the same species with ours. They are blackish indeed under the belly, and not white as ours, and they are more of the chestnut red; but these are such small differences as would be sure to happen in two races from the same stock breeding separately a number of ages. Their hares are totally different from the animals we call by that name; but their rabbit is almost exactly like him. The only difference is in their manners; the land on which I walked for some time being absolutely reduced to a honeycomb by their burrowing. I think there is no instance of ours burrowing. After descending the hill again I saw a man cutting fern. I went to him under pretence of asking the shortest road to town, and afterwards asked for what use he was cutting fern. He told me that this part of the country furnished a great deal of fruit to Paris. That when packed in straw it acquired an ill taste, but that dry fern preserved it perfectly without communicating any taste at all.

   I treasured this observation for the preservation of my apples on my return to my own country. They have no apples here to compare with our Redtown pippin. They have nothing which deserves the name of a peach; there being not sun enough to ripen the plum-peach and the best of their soft peaches being like our autumn peaches. Their cherries and strawberries are fair, but think lack flavor. Their plums I think are better; so also their gooseberries, and the pears infinitely

horizontal rule


-843-

beyond anything we possess. They have nothing better than our sweet-water; but they have a succession of as good from early in the summer till frost. I am to-morrow to get [to] M. Malsherbes (an uncle of the Chevalier Luzerne's) about seven leagues from hence, who is the most curious man in France as to his trees. He is making for me a collection of the vines from which the Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, Frontignac, and other of the most valuable wines of this country are made. Another gentleman is collecting for me the best eating grapes, including what we call the raisin. propose also to endeavor to colonize their hare, rabbit, red and grey partridge, pheasants of different kinds, and some other birds. But I find that I am wandering beyond the limits of my walk and will therefore bid you adieu. Yours affectionately.

 

 

"OUR CONFEDERACY . . . THE NEST"
To Archibald Stuart Paris, Jan. 25, 1786
1786012

   DEAR SIR, -- I have received your favor of the 17th of October, which though you mention as the third you have written me, is the first which has come to hand. I sincerely thank you for the communications it contains. Nothing is so grateful to me at this distance as details both great & small of what is passing in my own country. Of the latter we receive little here, because they either escape my correspondents or are thought unworthy notice. This however is a very mistaken opinion, as every one may observe by recollecting that when he has been long absent from his neighborhood the small news of that is the most pleasing and occupies his first attention either when he meets with a person from thence, or returns thither himself. I shall hope therefore that the letter in which you have been so good as to give me the minute occurrences in the neighborhood of Monticello may yet come to hand. And I venture to rely on the many proofs of friendship I have received from you, for a continuance of your favors. This will be the most meritorious as I have nothing to

horizontal rule


-844-

give you in exchange. The quiet of Europe at this moment furnishes little which can attract your notice. Nor will that quiet be soon disturbed, at least for the current year. Perhaps it hangs on the life of the K. of Prussia, and that hangs by a very slender thread. American reputation in Europe is not such as to be flattering to its citizens. Two circumstances are particularly objected to us, the nonpaiment of our debts, and the want of energy in our government. These discourage a connection with us. I own it to be my opinion that good will arise from the destruction of our credit. I see nothing else which can restrain our disposition to luxury, and the loss of those manners which alone can preserve republican government. As it is impossible to prevent credit, the best way would be to cure it's ill effects by giving an instantaneous recovery to the creditor; this would be reducing purchases on credit to purchases for ready money. A man would then see a poison painted on everything he wished but had not ready money to pay for. I fear from an expression in your letter that the people of Kentucké think of separating not only from Virginia (in which they are right) but also from the confederacy. I own I should think this a most calametous event, and such an one as every good citizen on both sides should set himself against. Our present federal limits are not too large for good government, nor will the increase of votes in Congress produce any ill effect. On the contrary it will drown the little divisions at present existing there. Our confederacy must be viewed as the nest from which all America, North & South is to be peopled. We should take care too, not to think it for the interest of that great continent to press too soon on the Spaniards. Those countries cannot be in better hands. My fear is that they are too feeble to hold them till our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them piece by piece. The navigation of the Mississippi we must have. This is all we are as yet ready to receive. I have made acquaintance with a very sensible candid gentleman here who was in South America during the revolt which took place there while our revolution was working. He says that those disturbances (of which we scarcely heard anything) cost on both sides an hundred thousand lives. -- I have made a particular acquaintance here with Monsieur de Buffon, and have a great desire

horizontal rule


-845-

to give him the best idea I can of our elk. Perhaps your situation may enable you to aid me in this. Were it possible, you could not oblige me more than by sending me the horns, skeleton, & skin of an elk. The most desireable form of receiving them would be to have the skin slit from the under paw along the belly to the tail, & down the thighs to the knee, to take the animal out, leaving the legs and hoofs, the bones of the head, & the horns attached to the skin by sewing up the belly & shipping the skin it would present the form of the animal. However as an opportunity of doing this is scarcely expected I shall be glad to receive them detached, packed in a box, & sent to Richmond to the care of Doctor Currie. Every thing of this kind is precious here, and to prevent my adding to your trouble I must close my letter with assurances of the esteem & attachment with which I am Dr Sir Your friend & servt.

 

   P. S. I must add a prayer for some Peccan nuts, 100, if possible, to be packed in a box of sand and sent me. They might come either directly or via N. York.

 

A ROMAN TEMPLE FOR VIRGINA
To William Buchanan and James Hay
Paris, January 26, 1786
1786012

   GENTLEMEN, -- I had the honor of writing to you, on the receipt of your orders to procure draughts for the public buildings, and again, on the 13th of August. In the execution of these orders, two methods of proceeding presented themselves to my mind. The one was, to leave to some architect to draw an external according to his fancy, in which way, experience shews, that, about once in a thousand times, a pleasing form is hit upon; the other was, to take some model already devised, and approved by the general suffrage of the world. I had no hesitation in deciding that the latter was best, nor after the decision, was there any doubt what model to take. There is at Nismes, in the south of France, a building called the Maison quarrée, erected in the time of the Caesars, and

horizontal rule


-846-

which is allowed, without contradiction, to be the most perfect and precious remain of antiquity in existence. Its superiority over any thing at Rome, in Greece, at Balbec or Palmyra, is allowed on all hands; and this single object has placed Nismes in the general tour of travellers. Having not yet had leisure to visit it, I could only judge of it from drawings, and from the relation of numbers who had been to see it. I determined, therefore, to adopt this model, and to have all its proportions justly observed. As it was impossible for a foreign artist to know, what number and sizes of apartments would suit the different corps of our government, nor how they should be connected with one another, I undertook to form that arrangement, and this being done, I committed them to an architect (Monsieur Clerissault) who had studied this art twenty years in Rome, who had particularly studied and measured the Maison quarrée of Nismes, and had published a book containing most excellent plans, descriptions, and observations on it. He was too well acquainted with the merit of that building, to find himself restrained by my injunctions not to depart from his model. In one instance, only, he persuaded me to admit of this. That was, to make the portico two columns deep only, instead of three, as the original is. His reason was, that this latter depth would too much darken the apartments. Economy might be added, as a second reason. consented to it, to satisfy him, and the plans are so drawn. knew that it would still be easy to execute the building with a depth of three columns, and it is what I would certainly recommend. We know that the Maison quarrée has pleased, universally, for near two thousand years. By leaving out a column, the proportions will be changed, and perhaps the effect may be injured more than is expected. What is good, is often spoiled by trying to making it better.

 

   The present is the first opportunity which has occurred of sending the plans. You will, accordingly, receive herewith the ground plan, the elevation of the front, and the elevation of the side. The architect having been much busied, and knowing that this was all which would be necessary in the beginning, has not yet finished the sections of the building. They must go by some future occasion, as well as the models of the front and side, which are making in plaister of Paris. These

horizontal rule


-847-

were absolutely necessary for the guide of workmen, not very expert in their art. It will add considerably to the expense, and I would not have incurred it, but that I was sensible of its necessity. The price of the model will be fifteen guineas. I shall know in a few days, the cost of the drawings, which probably will be the triple of the model: however, this is but conjecture. I will make it as small as possible, pay it, and render you an account in my next letter. You will find, on examination, that the body of this building covers an area, but two fifths of that which is proposed and begun; of course, it will take but about one half the bricks; and, of course, this circumstance will enlist all the workmen, and people of the art against the plan. Again, the building begun, is to have four porticoes; this but one. It is true that this will be deeper than those were probably proposed, but even if it be made three columns deep, it will not take half the number of columns. The beauty of this is insured by experience, and by the suffrage of the whole world: the beauty of that is problematical, as is every drawing, however well it looks on paper, till it be actually executed: and though I suppose there is more room in the plan begun, than in that now sent, yet there is enough in this for all the three branches of government, and more than enough is not wanted. This contains sixteen rooms; to wit, four on the first floor, for the General Court, Delegates, lobby, and conference. Eight on the second floor, for the Executive, the Senate, and six rooms for committees and juries: and over four of these smaller rooms of the second floor, are four mezzininos or entresols, serving as offices for the clerks of the Executive, the Senate, the Delegates, and the Court in actual session. It will be an objection, that the work is begun on the other plan. But the whole of this need not be taken to pieces, and of what shall be taken to pieces, the bricks will do for inner work. Mortar never becomes so hard and adhesive to the bricks, in a few months, but that it may be easily chipped off. And upon the whole, the plan now sent will save a great proportion of the expense.

 

   Hitherto, I have spoken of the capitol only. The plans for the prison, also, accompany this. They will explain themselves. I send, also, the plan of the prison proposed at Lyons, which was sent me by the architect, and to which we are indebted

horizontal rule


-848-

for the fundamental idea of ours. You will see, that of a great thing a very small one is made. Perhaps you may find it convenient to build, at first, only two sides, forming an L; but of this, you are the best judges. It has been suggested to me, that fine gravel, mixed in the mortar, prevents the prisoners from cutting themselves out, as that will destroy their tools. In my letter of August the 13th, I mentioned that could send workmen from hence. As I am in hopes of receiving your orders precisely, in answer to that letter, I shall defer actually engaging any, till I receive them. In like manner, shall defer having plans drawn for a Governor's house, &c., till further orders; only assuring you, that the receiving and executing these orders, will always give me a very great pleasure, and the more, should I find that what I have done meets your approbation.

 

   I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect esteem, gentlemen,

   your most obedient and
most humble servant,

 

THE NOTES, HOUDON, AND THE ENCYCLOPÆDIE
To James Madison Paris, Feb. 8, 1786
1786020

   DEAR SIR, -- My last letters have been of the 1st & 20th of Sep. and the 28th of Oct. Yours unacknowledged are of Aug. 20, Oct. 3, & Nov. 15. I take this the first safe opportunity of enclosing to you the bills of lading for your books, & two others for your namesake of Williamsburgh & for the attorney which will pray you to forward. I thank you for the communication of the remonstrance against the assessment. Mazzei who is now in Holland promised me to have it published in the Leyden gazette. It will do us great honour. I wish it may be as much approved by our assembly as by the wisest part of Europe. I have heard with great pleasure that our assembly have come to the resolution of giving the regulation of their commerce to the federal head. will venture to assert that there is not one of it's opposers who, placed on

horizontal rule


-849-

this ground, would not see the wisdom of this measure. The politics of Europe render it indispensably necessary that with respect to everything external we be one nation only, firmly hooped together. Interior government is what each state should keep to itself. If it could be seen in Europe that all our states could be brought to concur in what the Virginia assembly has done, it would produce a total revolution in their opinion of us, and respect for us. And it should ever be held in mind that insult & war are the consequences of a want of respectability in the national character. As long as the states exercise separately those acts of power which respect foreign nations, so long will there continue to be irregularities committing by some one or other of them which will constantly keep us on an ill footing with foreign nations.

 

   I thank you for your information as to my Notes. The copies I have remaining shall be sent over to be given to some of my friends and to select subjects in the college. I have been unfortunate here with this trifle. I gave out a few copies only, & to confidential persons, writing in every copy a restraint against it's publication. Among others I gave a copy to a Mr. Williamos. He died. I immediately took every precaution I could to recover this copy. But by some means or other a bookseller had got hold of it. He employed a hireling translator and was about publishing it in the most injurious form possible. An Abbé Morellet, a man of letters here to whom I had given a copy, got notice of this. He had translated some passages for a particular purpose: and he compounded with the bookseller to translate & give him the whole, on his declining the first publication. found it necessary to confirm this, and it will be published in French, still mutilated however in it's freest parts. I am now at a loss what to do as to England. Everything, good or bad, is thought worth publishing there; and I apprehend a translation back from the French, and a publication there. I rather believe it will be most eligible to let the original come out in that country; but am not yet decided.

   I have purchased little for you in the book way, since sent the catalogue of my former purchases. I wish first to have your answer to that, and your information what parts of those purchases went out of your plan. You can easily say buy

horizontal rule


-850-

more of this kind, less of that &c. My wish is to conform myself to yours. I can get for you the original Paris edition in folio of the Encyclopedie for 620 livres, 35. vols.; a good edn in 39 vols, 4to, for 380#; and a good one in 39 vols 8vo, for 280#. The new one will be superior in far the greater number of articles: but not in all. And the possession of the ancient one has moreover the advantage of supplying present use. I have bought one for myself, but wait your orders as to you. remember your purchase of a watch in Philadelphia. If it should not have proved good, you can probably sell her. In that case can get for you here, one made as perfect as human art can make it for about 24 louis. I have had such a one made by the best & most faithful hand in Paris. It has a second hand, but no repeating, no day of the month, nor other useless thing to impede and injure the movements which are necessary. For 12 louis more you can have in the same cover, but on the back side & absolutely unconnected with the movements of the watch, a pedometer which shall render you an exact account of the distances you walk. Your pleasure hereon shall be awaited.

 

   Houdon is returned. He called on me the other day to remonstrate against the inscription proposed for Genl W.'s statue. He says it is too long to be put on the pedestal. told him I was not at liberty to permit any alteration, but would represent his objection to a friend who could judge of it's validity, and whether a change could be authorized. This has been the subject of conversations here, and various devices & inscriptions have been suggested. The one which has appeared best to me may be translated as follows: "Behold, Reader, the form of George Washington. For his worth, ask History: that will tell it, when this stone shall have yielded to the decays of time. His country erects this monument: Houdon makes it." This for one side. On the 2d represent the evacuation of Boston with the motto "Hostibus primum fugatis." On the 3d the capture of the Hessians with "Hostibus iterum devictis." On the 4th the surrender of York, with "Hostibus ultimum debellatis." This is seizing the three most brilliant actions of his military life. By giving out here a wish of receiving mottos for this statue, we might have thousands offered, of which still better might be chosen. The artist made

horizontal rule


-851-

the same objection of length to the inscription for the bust of the M. de la Fayette. An alteration of that might come in time still, if an alteration was wished. However I am not certain that it is desirable in either case. The state of Georgia has given 20.000 acres of land to the Count d' Estaing. This gift is considered here as very honourable to him, and it has gratified him much. I am persuaded that a gift of lands by the state of Virginia to the Marquis de la Fayette would give a good opinion here of our character, and would reflect honour on the Marquis. Nor am I sure that the day will not come when it might be an useful asylum to him. The time of life at which he visited America was too well adapted to receive good & lasting impressions to permit him ever to accommodate himself to the principles of monarchical government; and it will need all his own prudence & that of his friends to make this country a safe residence for him. How glorious, how comfortable in reflection will it be to have prepared a refuge for him in case of a reverse. In the meantime he could settle it with tenants from the freest part of this country, Bretagny. have never suggested the smallest idea of this kind to him: because the execution of it should convey the first notice. If the state has not a right to give him lands with their own officers, they could buy up at cheap prices the shares of others. I am not certain however whether in the public or private opinion, a similar gift to Count Rochambeau could be dispensed with. If the state could give to both, it would be better: but in any event, I think they should to the Marquis. C. Rochambeau too has really deserved more attention than he has received. Why not set up his bust, that of Gates, Greene, Franklin in your new capitol? A propos of the Capitol. Do my dear friend exert yourself to get the plan begun on set aside, & that adopted which was drawn here. It was taken from a model which has been the admiration of 16. centuries, which has been the object of as many pilgrimages as the tomb of Mahomet: which will give unrivalled honour to our state, and furnish a model whereon to form the taste of our young men. It will cost much less too than the one begun, because it does not cover one half the Area. Ask, if you please, a sight of my letter of Jan. 26 to Messrs. Buchanan & Hay, which will spare me the repeating its substance here.

horizontal rule


-852-

 

   Everything is quiet in Europe. I recollect but one new invention in the arts which is worth mentioning. It is a mixture of the arts of engraving & printing, rendering both cheaper. Write or draw anything on a plate of brass with the ink of the inventor, and in half an hour he gives you engraved copies of it so perfectly like the original that they could not be suspected to be copies. His types for printing a whole page are all in one solid piece. An author therefore only prints a few copies of his work from time to time as they are called for. This saves the loss of printing more copies than may possibly be sold, and prevents an edition from being ever exhausted.

   I am with a lively esteem Dear Sir, your sincere friend & servant.

   P. S. Could you procure & send me an hundred or two nuts of the peccan? they would enable me to oblige some characters here whom I should be much gratified to oblige. They should come packed in sand. The seeds of the sugar maple too would be a great present.

 

BRITISH ARTS AND BRITISH HATRED
To John Page
Paris, May 4, 1786
1786050

   DEAR SIR, -- Your two favours of Mar 15 and Aug 23, 1785, by Monsieur de la Croix came to hand on the 15th of November. His return gives me an opportunity of sending you a copy of the nautical almanacs for 1786, 7, 8, 9. There is no late and interesting publication here, or I would send it by the same conveiance. With these almanacs I pack a copy of some Notes I wrote for Monsr de Marbois in the year 1781, of which I had a few printed here. They were written in haste & for his private inspection. A few friends having asked copies I found it cheaper to print than to write them. One of these got into the hands of a bookseller who getting a bad translation of them made, obliged me to consent that they should appear on condition of their being translated by a better hand. I apprehend

horizontal rule


-853-

therefore they will get further than I intended: tho' as yet they are in few hands. They will offer nothing new to you, not even as an oblation of my friendship for you which is as old almost as we are ourselves. Mazzei brought me your favor of Apr 28. I thank you much for your communications. Nothing can be more grateful at such a distance. It is unfortunate that most people think the occurrences passing daily under their eyes, are either known to all the world, or not worth being known. They therefore do not give them place in their letters. I hope you will be so good as to continue your friendly information. The proceedings of our public bodies, the progress of the public mind on interesting questions, the casualties which happen among our private friends, and whatever is interesting to yourself and family will always be anxiously received by me. There is one circumstance in the work you were concerned in which has not yet come to my knowledge, to wit how far Westward from Fort Pitt does the Western boundary of Pennsylvania pass, and where does it strike the Ohio? The proposition you mention from Mr. Anderson on the purchase of tobacco, I would have made use of, but that I have engaged the abuses of the tobacco trade on a more general scale. I confess their redress does not appear with any certainty: but till I see all hope of removing the evil by the roots, I cannot propose to prune it's branches.

 

   I returned but three or four days ago from a two months trip to England. I traversed that country much, and own both town & country fell short of my expectations. Comparing it with this, I found a much greater proportion of barrens, a soil in other parts not naturally so good as this, not better cultivated, but better manured, & therefore more productive. This proceeds from the practice of long leases there, and short ones here. The labouring people here are poorer than in England. They pay about one half their produce in rent, the English in general about a third. The gardening in that country is the article in which it surpasses all the earth. I mean their pleasure gardening. This indeed went far beyond my ideas. The city of London, tho' handsomer than Paris, is not so handsome as Philadelphia. Their architecture is in the most wretched stile I ever saw, not meaning to except America where it is bad, nor even Virginia where it is worse than in

horizontal rule


-854-

any other part of America, which I have seen. The mechanical arts in London are carried to a wonderful perfection. But of these I need not speak, because of them my countrymen have unfortunately too many samples before their eyes. I consider the extravagance which has seized them as a more baneful evil than toryism was during the war. It is the more so as the example is set by the best and most amiable characters among us. Would that a missionary appear who would make frugality the basis of his religious system, and go thro the land preaching it up as the only road to salvation, I would join his school tho' not generally disposed to seek my religion out of the dictates of my own reason & feelings of my own heart. These things have been more deeply impressed on my mind by what I have heard & seen in England. That nation hates us, their ministers hate us, and their King more than all other men. They have the impudence to avow this, tho' they acknolege our trade important to them. But they say we cannot prevent our countrymen from bringing that into their laps. A conviction of this determines them to make no terms of commerce with us. They say they will pocket our carrying trade as well as their own. Our overtures of commercial arrangement have been treated with a derision which shows their firm persuasion that we shall never unite to suppress their commerce or even to impede it. I think their hostility towards us is much more deeply rooted at present than during the war. In the arts the most striking thing I saw there, new, was the application of the principle of the steam-engine to grist mills. I saw 8 pr. of stones which are worked by steam, and they are to set up 30 pair in the same house. A hundred bushels of coal a day are consumed at present. I do not know in what proportion the consumption will be increased by the additional geer.

 

   Be so good as to present my respects to Mrs. Page & your family, to W. Lewis, F. Willis & their families and to accept yourself assurances of the sincere regard with which I am Dr Sir your affectionate friend & servt.

   P. S. Mazzei is still here and will publish soon a book on the subject of America.

horizontal rule


-855-

 

 

WAR ON BARBARY
To John Adams Paris, July 11, 1786
1786071

   DEAR SIR -- Our instructions relative to the Barbary states having required us to proceed by way of negotiation to obtain their peace, it became our duty to do this to the best of our power. Whatever might be our private opinions, they were to be suppressed, and the line marked out to us, was to be followed. It has been so honestly, and zealously. It was therefore never material for us to consult together on the best plan of conduct towards these states. I acknolege I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro' the medium of war. Tho' it is a question with which we have nothing to do, yet as you propose some discussion of it I shall trouble you with my reasons. Of the 4. positions laid down in your letter of the 3d. instant, agree to the three first, which are in substance that the good offices of our friends cannot procure us a peace without paying it's price, that they cannot materially lessen that price, and that paying it, we can have the peace in spight of the intrigues of our enemies. As to the 4th. that the longer the negotiation is delayed the larger will be the demand, this will depend on the intermediate captures: if they are many and rich the price may be raised; if few and poor it will be lessened. However if it is decided that we shall buy a peace, I know no reason for delaying the operation, but should rather think it ought to be hastened. But I should prefer the obtaining it by war. 1. Justice is in favor of this opinion. 2. Honor favors it. 3. It will procure us respect in Europe, and respect is a safe-guard to interest. 4. It will arm the federal head with the safest of all the instruments of coercion over their delinquent members and prevent them from using what would be less safe. I think that so far you go with me. But in the next steps we shall differ. 5. I think it least expensive. 6. Equally effectual. I ask a fleet of 150. guns, the one half of which shall be in constant cruise. This fleet built, manned and victualled for 6. months will cost 450,000 £ sterling. It's annual expence is 300 £ sterl. a gun, including every thing: this will be 45,000 £ sterl. a year. take British experience

horizontal rule


-856-

for the basis of my calculations, tho' we know, from our own experience, that we can do, in this way, for pounds lawful, what costs them pounds sterling. Were we to charge all this to the Algerine war it would amount to little more than we must pay if we buy peace. But as it is proper and necessary that we should establish a small marine force (even were we to buy a peace from the Algerines,) and as that force laid up in our dockyards would cost us half as much annually as if kept in order for service, we have a right to say that only 22,500 £ sterl. per ann. should be charged to the Algerine war. 6. It will be as effectual. To all the mismanagements of Spain and Portugal urged to shew that war against those people is ineffectual, I urge a single fact to prove the contrary where there is any management. About 40. year ago, the Algerines having broke their treaty with France, this court sent Monsr. de Massac with one large and two small frigates, he blockaded the harbour of Algiers three months, and they subscribed to the terms he dictated. If it be admitted however that war, on the fairest prospects, is still exposed to incertainties, I weigh against this the greater incertainty of the duration of a peace bought with money, from such a people, from a Dey 80. years old, and by a nation who, on the hypothesis of buying peace, is to have no power on the sea to enforce an observance of it.

 

   So far I have gone on the supposition that the whole weight of this war would rest on us. But 1. Naples will join us. The character of their naval minister (Acton), his known sentiments with respect to the peace Spain is officiously trying to make for them, and his dispositions against the Algerines give the greatest reason to believe it. 2. Every principle of reason tells us Portugal will join us. I state this as taking for granted, what all seem to believe, that they will not be at peace with Algiers. I suppose then that a Convention might be formed between Portugal, Naples and the U.S. by which the burthen of the war might be quotaed on them according to their respective wealth, and the term of it should be when Algiers should subscribe to a peace with all three on equal terms. This might be left open for other nations to accede to, and many, if not most of the powers of Europe (except France, England, Holland and Spain if her peace be made)

horizontal rule


-857-

would sooner or later enter into the confederacy, for the sake of having their peace with the Pyratical states guarantied by the whole. I suppose that in this case our proportion of force would not be the half of what first calculated on.

 

   These are the reasons which have influenced my judgment on this question. I give them to you to shew you that I am imposed on by a semblance of reason at least, and not with an expectation of their changing your opinion. You have viewed the subject, I am sure in all it's bearings. You have weighed both questions with all their circumstances. You make the result different from what I do. The same facts impress us differently. This is enough to make me suspect an error in my process of reasoning tho' I am not able to detect it. It is of no consequence; as I have nothing to say in the decision, and am ready to proceed heartily on any other plan which may be adopted, if my agency should be thought useful. With respect to the dispositions of the states I am utterly uninformed. I cannot help thinking however that on a view of all circumstances, they might be united in either of the plans.

   Having written this on the receipt of your letter, without knowing of any opportunity of sending it, I know not when it will go: I add nothing therefore on any other subject but assurances of the sincere esteem and respect with which I am Dear Sir your friend and servant,

 

"A CRUSADE AGAINST IGNORANCE"
To George Wythe
Paris, August 13, 1786
1786081

   DEAR SIR, -- Your favors of Jan. 10 & Feb. 10, came to hand on the 20th & 2d of May. I availed myself of the first opportunity which occurred, by a gentleman going to England, of sending to Mr. Joddrel a copy of the Notes on our country, with a line informing him that it was you who had emboldened me to take that liberty. Madison, no doubt, informed you of the reason why I had sent only a single copy to Virginia. Being assured by him that they will not do the harm I

horizontal rule


-858-

had apprehended, but on the contrary may do some good, I propose to send thither the copies remaining on hand, which are fewer than I had intended. But of the numerous corrections they need, there are one or two so essential that I must have them made, by printing a few new leaves & substituting them for the old. This will be done while they are engraving a map which I have constructed of the country from Albemarle sound to Lake Erie, & which will be inserted in the book. A bad French translation which is getting out here, will probably oblige me to publish the original more freely, which it neither deserved nor was ever intended. Your wishes, which are laws to me, will justify my destining a copy for you, otherwise I should as soon have thought of sending you a hornbook; for there is no truth there that which is not familiar to you, and it's errors I should hardly have proposed to treat you with.

 

   Immediately on the receipt of your letter, I wrote to a correspondent at Florence to inquire after the family of Tagliaferro as you desired. I received his answer two days ago, a copy of which I now inclose. The original shall be sent by some other occasion. I will have the copper-plate immediately engraved. This may be ready within a few days, but the probability is that I shall be long getting an opportunity of sending it to you, as these rarely occur. You do not mention the size of the plate but, presuming it is intended for labels for the inside of books, I shall have it made of a proper size for that. I shall omit the word agisos, according to the license you allow me, because I think the beauty of a motto is to condense much matter in as few words as possible. The word omitted will be supplied by every reader. The European papers have announced that the assembly of Virginia were occupied on the revisal of their code of laws. This, with some other similar intelligence, has contributed much to convince the people of Europe, that what the English papers are constantly publishing of our anarchy, is false; as they are sensible that such a work is that of a people only who are in perfect tranquillity. Our act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The ambassadors & ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this court have asked of me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is inserted at full length in

horizontal rule


-859-

several books now in the press; among others, in the new Encyclopedie. I think it will produce considerable good even in these countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty, & oppression of body & mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of the people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped. If the Almighty had begotten a thousand sons, instead of one, they would not have sufficed for this task. If all the sovereigns of Europe were to set themselves to work to emancipate the minds of their subjects from their present ignorance & prejudices, & that as zealously as they now endeavor the contrary, a thousand years would not place them on that high ground on which our common people are now setting out. Ours could not have been so fairly put into the hands of their own common sense had they not been separated from their parent stock & kept from contamination, either from them, or the other people of the old world, by the intervention of so wide an ocean. To know the worth of this, one must see the want of it here. I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowlege among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness. If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators of the public happiness send them here. It is the best school in the universe to cure them of that folly. They will see here with their own eyes that these descriptions of men are an abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of the people. The omnipotence of their effect cannot be better proved than in this country particularly, where notwithstanding the finest soil upon earth, the finest climate under heaven, and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable character of which the human form is susceptible, where such a people I say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, are yet loaded with misery by kings, nobles and priests, and by them alone. Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils, and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests & nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in

horizontal rule


-860-

ignorance. The people of England, I think, are less oppressed than here. But it needs but half an eye to see, when among them, that the foundation is laid in their dispositions for the establishment of a despotism. Nobility, wealth & pomp are the objects of their adoration. They are by no means the free-minded people we suppose them in America. Their learned men too are few in number, and are less learned and infinitely less emancipated from prejudice than those of this country. An event too seems to be preparing, in the order of things, which will probably decide the fate of that country. It is no longer doubtful that the harbour of Cherburg will be complete, that it will be a most excellent one, & capacious enough to hold the whole navy of France. Nothing has ever been wanting to enable this country to invade that, but a naval force conveniently stationed to protect the transports. This change of situation must oblige the English to keep up a great standing army, and there is no King, who, with sufficient force, is not always ready to make himself absolute. My paper warns me it is time to recommend myself to the friendly recollection of Mrs. Wythe, of Colo. Tagliaferro & his family & particularly of Mr. R. T.; and to assure you of the affectionate esteem with which I am Dear Sir your friend and servt.

 

 

EDUACTION OF A FUTURE SON-IN-LAW
To Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr.
Paris, Aug. 27, 1786
1786082

   DEAR SIR, -- I am honoured with your favour of the 16th instant, and desirous, without delay, of manifesting my wishes to be useful to you I shall venture to you some thoughts on the course of your studies, which must be submitted to the better choice with which you are surrounded. A longer race through life may have entitled me to seize some truths which have not yet been presented to your observation & more intimate knowledge of the country in which you are to live & of the circumstances in which you will be placed, may enable me to point your attention to the branches of science which will administer the most to your happiness there. The foundations

horizontal rule


-861-

which you have laid in languages and mathematics are proper for every superstructure. The former exercises our memory while that and no other faculty is yet matured & prevents our acquiring habits of idleness. The latter gives exercise to our reason, as soon as that has acquired a certain degree of strength, and stores the mind with truths which are useful in other branches of science. At this moment then a second order of preparation is to commence. I shall propose to you that it be extensive, comprehending Astronomy, Natural Philosophy (or Physics), Natural History, Anatomy, Botany & Chemistry. No inquisitive mind will be content to be ignorant of any of these branches. But I would advise you to be contented with a course of lectures in most of them, without attempting to make yourself master of the whole. This is more than any genius joined to any length of life is equal to. You will find among them some one study to which your mind will more particularly attach itself. This then I would pursue & propose to attain eminence in. Your own country furnishes the most aliment for Natural History, Botany & Physics & as you express a fondness for the former you might make it your principal object, endeavoring however to make yourself more acquainted with the two latter than with other branches likely to be less useful. In fact you will find botany offering it's charms to you at every step -- during summer & Physics in every season. All these branches of science will be better attained by attending courses of lectures in them. You are now in a place where the best courses upon earth are within your reach and being delivered in your native language -- you lose no part of their benefit. Such an opportunity you will never again have. I would therefore strongly press on you to fix no other limit to your stay in Edinborough than your having got thro this whole course. The omission of any one part of it will be an affliction & loss to you as long as you live. Beside the comfort of knowledge, every science is auxiliary to every other. While you are attending these courses you can proceed by yourself in a regular series of historical reading. It would be a waste of time to attend a professor of this. It is to be acquired from books and if you pursue it by yourself you can accommodate it to your other reading so as to fill up those chasms of time not otherwise appropriated.

horizontal rule


-862-

There are portions of the day too when the mind should be eased, particularly after dinner it should be applied to lighter occupation: history is of this kind. It exercises principally the memory. Reflection also indeed is necessary but not generally in a laborious degree. To conduct yourself in this branch of science you have only to consider what aeras of it merit a grasp & what a particular attention, & in each aera also to distinguish between the countries the knowledge of whose history will be useful & those where it suffices only to be not altogether ignorant. Having laid down your plan as to the branches of history you would pursue, the order of time will be your sufficient guide. After what you have read in antient history I should suppose Millot's digest would be useful & sufficient. The histories of Greece and Rome are worthy a good degree of attention, they should be read in the original authors. The transition from antient to modern history will be best effected by reading Gibbon's. Then a general history of the principal states of Europe, but particular ones of England. Here too the original writers are to be preferred. Kennet published a considerable collection of these in 3 vols. folio, but there are some others not in his collection well worth being read. After the history of England that of America will claim your attention. Here too original authors & not compilers are best. An author who writes of his own times or of times near his own presents in his own ideas & manner the best picture of the moment of which he writes. History need not be hurried but may give way to the other sciences because history can be pursued after you shall have left your present situation as well as while you remain in it. When you shall have got thro this second order of preparation the study of the law is to be begun. This like history is to be acquired from books. All the aid you will want will be a catalogue of the books to be read & the order in which they are to be read. It being absolutely indifferent in what place you carry on this reading I should propose your doing it in France. The advantages of this will be that you will at the same time acquire the habit of speaking French which is the object of a year or two. You may be giving attention to such of the fine arts as your turn may lead you to & you will be forming an acquaintance with the individuals & characters of a nation

horizontal rule


-863-

with whom we must long remain in the closest intimacy & to whom we are bound by the strong ties of gratitude and policy. A nation in short of the most amiable dispositions on earth, the whole mass of which is penetrated with an affection for us. You might before you return to your own country make a visit to Italy also.

 

   I should have performed the office of but half a friend were I to confine myself to the improvement of the mind only. Knowledge indeed is a desirable, a lovely possession, but I do not scruple to say that health is more so. It is of little consequence to store the mind with science if the body be permitted to become debilitated. If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong -- the sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all exercises walking is best. A horse gives but a kind of half exercise, and a carriage is no better than a cradle. No one knows, till he tries, how easily a habit of walking is acquired. A person who never walked three miles will in the course of a month become able to walk 15 or 20 without fatigue. I have known some great walkers & had particular accounts of many more: and I never knew or heard of one who was not healthy & long lived. This species of exercise therefore is much to be advised. Should you be disposed to try it, as your health has been feeble, it will be necessary for you to begin with a little, & to increase it by degrees. For the same reason you must probably at first ascribe to it the hours most precious for study, I mean those about the middle of the day. But when you shall find yourself strong you may venture to take your walks in the evening after the digestion of the dinner is pretty well over. This is making a compromise between health & study. The latter would be too much interrupted were you to take from it the early hours of the day and habit will soon render the evening's exercise as salutary as that of the morning. I speak this from my own experience having, from an attachment to study, very early in life, made this arrangement of my time, having ever observed it, & still observing it, & always with perfect success. Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be little regarded. A person not sick will not be injured by getting wet. It is but taking a cold bath which never gives a cold to any one. Brute animals are the most healthy,

horizontal rule


-864-

& they are exposed to all weather and, of men, those are healthiest who are the most exposed. The recipe of those two descriptions of beings is simple diet, exercise and the open air, be it's state what it will; and we may venture to say that this recipe will give health & vigor to every other description. -- By this time I am sure you will think I have sermonized enough. I have given you indeed a lengthy lecture. I have been led through it by my zeal to serve you; if in the whole you find one useful counsel, that will be my reward, & a sufficient one. Few persons in your own country have started from as advantageous ground as that whereon you will be placed. Nature and fortune have been liberal to you. Every thing honourable or profitable there is placed within your own reach, and will depend on your own efforts. If these are exerted with assiduity, and guided by unswerving honesty, your success is infallible: and that it may be as great as you wish is the sincere desire of Dear Sir, your most affectionate humble servant.

 

   P.S. Be so good as to present me affectionately to your brother & cousin.

 

ARCHAEOLOGY, LEDYARD, A NEW INVENTION
To Ezra Stiles
Paris, Sep. 1, 1786
1786090

   SIR, -- I am honoured with your letter of May 8. That which you mention to have written in the winter preceding never came to hand. I return you my thanks for the communications relative to the Western country. When we reflect how long we have inhabited those parts of America which lie between the Alleghaney & the ocean, that no monument has ever been found in them which indicated the use of iron among its' aboriginal inhabitants, that they were as far advanced in arts, at least, as the inhabitants on the other side the Alleghaney, a good degree of infidelity may be excused as to the new discoveries which suppose regular fortifications of brickwork to have been in use among the Indians on the waters

horizontal rule


-865-

of the Ohio. Intrenchments of earth they might indeed make: but brick is more difficult. The art of making it may have preceded the use of iron, but it would suppose a greater degree of industry than men in the hunter state usually possess. I should like to know whether General Parsons himself saw actual bricks among the remains of fortification. I suppose the settlement of our continent is of the most remote antiquity. The similitude between its' inhabitants & those of Eastern parts of Asia renders it probable that ours are descended from them or they from ours. The latter is my opinion, founded on this single fact. Among the red inhabitants of Asia there are but a few languages radically different, but among our Indians the number of languages is infinite which are so radically different as to exhibit at present no appearance of their having been derived from a common source. The time necessary for the generation of so many languages must be immense. A countryman of yours, a Mr. Lediard, who was with Capt. Cook on his last voiage, proposes either to go to Kamschatka, cross from thence to the Western side of America, and penetrate through the Continent to our side of it, or to go to Kentucke, & thence penetrate Westwardly to the South sea, the vent from hence lately to London, where if he finds a passage to Kamschatka or the Western coast of America he would avail himself of it: otherwise he proposes to return to our side of America to attempt that route. I think him well calculated for such an enterprise, & wish he may undertake it. Another countryman of yours Mr. Trumbul has paid us a visit here & brought with him two pictures which are the admiration of the Connoisseurs. His natural talents for this art seem almost unparalleled. I send you the 5th & 6th vols. of the Bibliotheque physico ecconomie erroneously lettered as the 7th & 8th, which are not yet come out. I inclose with them the article "Etats Unis" of the new Encyclopedie. This article is recently published, & a few copies have been printed separate. For this twelvemonth past little new & excellent has appeared either in literature or the arts. An Abbé Rochon has applied the metal called platina to the telescope instead of the mixed metal of which the specula were formerly composed. It is insusceptible of rust, as gold is, and he thinks it's reflective power equal to that of the mixed metal. He has observed a

horizontal rule


-866-

very curious effect of the natural chrystals, & especially of those of Iceland; which is that lenses made of them have two distinct focuses, and present you the object distinctly at two different distances. This I have seen myself. A new method of copying has been invented here. I called on the inventor, & he presented me a plate of copper, a pen & ink. wrote a note on the plate, and in about three quarters of an hour he brought me an hundred copies, as perfect as the imagination can conceive. Had I written my name, he could have put it to so many bonds, so that I should have acknoleged the Signature to be my own. The copying of paintings in England is very conceivable. Any number may be taken, which shall give you the true lineaments & colouring of the original without injuring that. This is so like creation, that had I not seen it, I should have doubted it. -- The death of the K. of Prussia, which happened on the 17th inst. will probably employ the pens, if not the swords of politicians. We had exchanged the ratifications of our treaty with him. The articles of this which were intended to prevent or miticate wars, by lessening their aliment are so much applauded in Europe that I think the example will be followed. I have the honour to be with very sincere esteem, Dear Sir, your most obedt. humble servant.

 

 

"DIALOGUE BETWEEN MY HEAD & MY HEART"
To Maria Cosway
Paris, October 12, 1786
1786101

   MY DEAR MADAM, -- Having performed the last sad office of handing you into your carriage at the pavillon de St. Denis, and seen the wheels get actually into motion, I turned on my heel & walked, more dead than alive, to the opposite door, where my own was awaiting me. Mr. Danquerville was missing. He was sought for, found, & dragged down stairs. We were crammed into the carriage, like recruits for the Bastille, & not having soul enough to give orders to the coachman, he presumed Paris our destination, & drove off. After a considerable interval, silence was broke with a "Je suis vraiment afflige du depart de ces bons gens." This was a signal for a mutual

horizontal rule


-867-

confession of distress. We began immediately to talk of Mr. & Mrs. Cosway, of their goodness, their talents, their amiability; & tho we spoke of nothing else, we seemed hardly to have entered into matter when the coachman announced the rue St. Denis, & that we were opposite Mr. Danquerville's. He insisted on descending there & traversing a short passage to his lodgings. I was carried home. Seated by my fireside, solitary & sad, the following dialogue took place between my Head & my Heart:

 

   Head. Well, friend, you seem to be in a pretty trim.

   Heart. I am indeed the most wretched of all earthly beings. Overwhelmed with grief, every fibre of my frame distended beyond its natural powers to bear, I would willingly meet whatever catastrophe should leave me no more to feel or to fear.

   Head. These are the eternal consequences of your warmth & precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you are ever leading us. You confess your follies indeed; but still you hug & cherish them; & no reformation can be hoped, where there is no repentance.

   Heart. Oh, my friend! this is no moment to upbraid my foibles. I am rent into fragments by the force of my grief! If you have any balm, pour it into my wounds; if none, do not harrow them by new torments. Spare me in this awful moment! At any other I will attend with patience to your admonitions.

   Head. On the contrary I never found that the moment of triumph with you was the moment of attention to my admonitions. While suffering under your follies, you may perhaps be made sensible of them, but, the paroxysm over, you fancy it can never return. Harsh therefore as the medicine may be, it is my office to administer it. You will be pleased to remember that when our friend Trumbull used to be telling us of the merits & talents of these good people, I never ceased whispering to you that we had no occasion for new acquaintance; that the greater their merits & talents, the more dangerous their friendship to our tranquillity, because the regret at parting would be greater.

   Heart. Accordingly, Sir, this acquaintance was not the

horizontal rule


-868-

consequence of my doings. It was one of your projects which threw us in the way of it. It was you, remember, & not I, who desired the meeting at Legrand & Molinos. I never trouble myself with domes nor arches. The Halle aux bleds might have rotted down before I should have gone to see it. But you, forsooth, who are eternally getting us to sleep with your diagrams & crotchets, must go & examine this wonderful piece of architecture. And when you had seen it, oh! it was the most superb thing on earth! What you had seen there was worth all you had yet seen in Paris! I thought so too. But I meant it of the lady & gentleman to whom we had been presented; & not of a parcel of sticks & chips put together in pens. You then, Sir, & not I, have been the cause of the present distress.

 

   Head. It would have been happy for you if my diagrams & crotchets had gotten you to sleep on that day, as you are pleased to say they eternally do. My visit to Legrand & Molinos had public utility for it's object. A market is to be built in Richmond. What a commodious plan is that of Legrand & Molinos; especially if we put on it the noble dome of the Halle aux bleds. If such a bridge as they shewed us can be thrown across the Schuylkill at Philadelphia, the floating bridges taken up & the navigation of that river opened, what a copious resource will be added, of wood & provisions, to warm & feed the poor of that city? While I was occupied with these objects, you were dilating with your new acquaintances, & contriving how to prevent a separation from them. Every soul of you had an engagement for the day. Yet all these were to be sacrificed, that you might dine together. Lying messengers were to be despatched into every quarter of the city, with apologies for your breach of engagement. You particularly had the effrontery to send word to the Dutchess Danville that, on the moment we were setting out to dine with her, despatches came to hand which required immediate attention. You wanted me to invent a more ingenious excuse; but I knew you were getting into a scrape, & I would have nothing to do with it. Well, after dinner to St. Cloud, from St. Cloud to Ruggieri's, from Ruggieri to Krumfoltz, & if the day had been as long as a Lapland summer day, you would still have contrived means among you to have filled it.

horizontal rule


-869-

 

   Heart. Oh! my dear friend, how you have revived me by recalling to my mind the transactions of that day! How well remember them all, & that when I came home at night & looked back to the morning, it seemed to have been a month agone. Go on then, like a kind comforter & paint to me the day we went to St. Germains. How beautiful was every object! the Port de Reuilly, the hills along the Seine, the rainbows of the machine of Marly, the terrace of St. Germains, the chateaux, the gardens, the statues of Marly, the pavillon of Lucienne. Recollect too Madrid, Bagatelle, the King's garden, the Dessert. How grand the idea excited by the remains of such a column! The spiral staircase too was beautiful. Every moment was filled with something agreeable. The wheels of time moved on with a rapidity of which those of our carriage gave but a faint idea. And yet in the evening when one took a retrospect of the day, what a mass of happiness had we travelled over! Retrace all those scenes to me, my good companion, & I will forgive the unkindness with which you were chiding me. The day we went to St. Germains was a little too warm, I think; was it not?

   Head. Thou art the most incorrigible of all the beings that ever sinned! I reminded you of the follies of the first day, intending to deduce from thence some useful lessons for you, but instead of listening to these, you kindle at the recollection, you retrace the whole series with a fondness which shews you want nothing but the opportunity to act it over again. I often told you during its course that you were imprudently engaging your affections under circumstances that must have cost you a great deal of pain: that the persons indeed were of the greatest merit, possessing good sense, good humour, honest hearts, honest manners, & eminence in a lovely art; that the lady had moreover qualities & accomplishments, belonging to her sex, which might form a chapter apart for her: such as music, modesty, beauty, & that softness of disposition which is the ornament of her sex & charm of ours, but that all these considerations would increase the pang of separation: that their stay here was to be short: that you rack our whole system when you are parted from those you love, complaining that such a separation is worse than death, inasmuch as this ends our sufferings, whereas that only begins

horizontal rule


-870-

them: & that the separation would in this instance be the more severe as you would probably never see them again.

 

   Heart. But they told me they would come back again the next year.

   Head. But in the meantime see what you suffer: & their return too depends on so many circumstances that if you had a grain of prudence you would not count upon it. Upon the whole it is improbable & therefore you should abandon the idea of ever seeing them again.

   Heart. May heaven abandon me if I do!

   Head. Very well. Suppose then they come back. They are to stay two months, & when these are expired, what is to follow? Perhaps you flatter yourself they may come to America?

   Heart. God only knows what is to happen. I see nothing impossible in that supposition. And I see things wonderfully contrived sometimes to make us happy. Where could they find such objects as in America for the exercise of their enchanting art? especially the lady, who paints landscapes so inimitably. She wants only subjects worthy of immortality to render her pencil immortal. The Falling Spring, the Cascade of Niagara, the Passage of the Potowmac through the Blue Mountains, the Natural bridge. It is worth a voyage across the Atlantic to see these objects; much more to paint, and make them, & thereby ourselves, known to all ages. And our own dear Monticello, where has nature spread so rich a mantle under the eye? mountains, forests, rocks, rivers. With what majesty do we there ride above the storms! How sublime to look down into the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain, thunder, all fabricated at our feet! and the glorious sun when rising as if out of a distant water, just gilding the tops of the mountains, & giving life to all nature! I hope in God no circumstance may ever make either seek an asylum from grief! With what sincere sympathy I would open every cell of my composition to receive the effusion of their woes! I would pour my tears into their wounds: & if a drop of balm could be found on the top of the Cordilleras, or at the remotest sources of the Missouri, I would go thither myself to seek & to bring it. Deeply practised in the school of affliction, the human heart knows no joy which I have not

horizontal rule


-871-

lost, no sorrow of which I have not drunk! Fortune can present no grief of unknown form to me! Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself? But Heaven forbid they should ever know a sorrow! Let us turn over another leaf, for this has distracted me.

 

   Head. Well. Let us put this possibility to trial then on another point. When you consider the character which is given of our country by the lying newspapers of London, & their credulous copyers in other countries; when you reflect that all Europe is made to believe we are a lawless banditti, in a state of absolute anarchy, cutting one another's throats, & plundering without distinction, how can you expect that any reasonable creature would venture among us?

   Heart. But you & I know that all this is false: that there is not a country on earth where there is greater tranquillity, where the laws are milder, or better obeyed: where every one is more attentive to his own business, or meddles less with that of others: where strangers are better received, more hospitably treated, & with a more sacred respect.

   Head. True, you & I know this, but your friends do not know it.

   Heart. But they are sensible people who think for themselves. They will ask of impartial foreigners who have been among us, whether they saw or heard on the spot any instances of anarchy. They will judge too that a people occupied as we are in opening rivers, digging navigable canals, making roads, building public schools, establishing academies, erecting busts & statues to our great men, protecting religious freedom, abolishing sanguinary punishments, reforming & improving our laws in general, they will judge I say for themselves whether these are not the occupations of a people at their ease, whether this is not better evidence of our true state than a London newspaper, hired to lie, & from which no truth can ever be extracted but by reversing everything it says.

   Head. I did not begin this lecture my friend with a view to learn from you what America is doing. Let us return then to our point. I wished to make you sensible how imprudent it is to place your affections, without reserve, on objects you must so soon lose, & whose loss when it comes must cost

horizontal rule


-872-

you such severe pangs. Remember the last night. You knew your friends were to leave Paris to-day. This was enough to throw you into agonies. All night you tossed us from one side of the bed to the other. No sleep, no rest. The poor crippled wrist too, never left one moment in the same position, now up, now down, now here, now there; was it to be wondered at if it's pains returned? The Surgeon then was to be called, & to be rated as an ignoramus because he could not divine the cause of this extraordinary change. In fine, my friend, you must mend your manners. This is not a world to live at random in as you do. To avoid those eternal distresses, to which you are forever exposing us, you must learn to look forward before you take a step which may interest our peace. Everything in this world is a matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, & see which preponderates. The making an acquaintance is not a matter of indifference. When a new one is proposed to you, view it all round. Consider what advantages it presents, & to what inconveniences it may expose you. Do not bite at the bait of pleasure till you know there is no hook beneath it. The art of life is the art of avoiding pain: & he is the best pilot who steers clearest of the rocks & shoals with which he is beset. Pleasure is always before us; but misfortune is at our side: while running after that, this arrests us. The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, & to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. Ever in our power, always leading us to something new, never cloying, we ride serene & sublime above the concerns of this mortal world, contemplating truth & nature, matter & motion, the laws which bind up their existence, & that eternal being who made & bound them up by those laws. Let this be our employ. Leave the bustle & tumult of society to those who have not talents to occupy themselves without them. Friendship is but another name for an alliance with the follies & the misfortunes of others. Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why

horizontal rule


-873-

enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup that we must needs help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, & participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked; ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.

 

   Heart. And what more sublime delight than to mingle tears with one whom the hand of heaven hath smitten! to watch over the bed of sickness, & to beguile it's tedious & it's painful moments! to share our bread with one to whom misfortune has left none! This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten it's burthen we must divide it with one another. But let us now try the virtues of your mathematical balance, & as you have put into one scale the burthen of friendship, let me put it's comforts into the other. When languishing then under disease, how grateful is the solace of our friends! how are we penetrated with their assiduities & attentions! how much are we supported by their encouragements & kind offices! When heaven has taken from us some object of our love, how sweet is it to have a bosom whereon to recline our heads, & into which we may pour the torrent of our tears! Grief, with such a comfort, is almost a luxury! In a life where we are perpetually exposed to want & accident, yours is a wonderful proposition, to insulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, & to wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-sufficiency! For assuredly nobody will care for him who cares for nobody. But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; & thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine. I will recur for proof to the days we have lately passed. On these indeed the sun shone brightly. How gay did the face of nature appear! Hills, valleys, chateaux, gardens, rivers, every object wore it's liveliest hue! Whence did they borrow it? From the presence of our charming companion. They were pleasing, because she seemed pleased. Alone, the scene would have been dull & insipid: the participation of it with her gave it relish. Let the gloomy monk, sequestered from the world, seek unsocial pleasures in the bottom of his cell! Let the sublimated philosopher grasp visionary happiness while pursuing

horizontal rule


-874-

phantoms dressed in the garb of truth! Their supreme wisdom is supreme folly; & they mistake for happiness the mere absence of pain. Had they ever felt the solid pleasure of one generous spasm of the heart, they would exchange for it all the frigid speculations of their lives, which you have been vaunting in such elevated terms. Believe me then my friend, that that is a miserable arithmetic which could estimate friendship at nothing, or at less than nothing. Respect for you has induced me to enter into this discussion, & to hear principles uttered which I detest & abjure. Respect for myself now obliges me to recall you into the proper limits of your office. When nature assigned us the same habitation, she gave us over it a divided empire. To you she allotted the field of science; to me that of morals. When the circle is to be squared, or the orbit of a comet to be traced; when the arch of greatest strength, or the solid of least resistance is to be investigated, take up the problem; it is yours; nature has given me no cognizance of it. In like manner, in denying to you the feelings of sympathy, of benevolence, of gratitude, of justice, of love, of friendship, she has excluded you from their controul. To these she has adapted the mechanism of the heart. Morals were too essential to the happiness of man to be risked on the incertain combinations of the head. She laid their foundation therefore in sentiment, not in science. That she gave to all, as necessary to all: this to a few only, as sufficing with a few. I know indeed that you pretend authority to the sovereign controul of our conduct in all its parts: & a respect for your grave saws & maxims, a desire to do what is right, has sometimes induced me to conform to your counsels. A few facts however which I can readily recall to your memory, will suffice to prove to you that nature has not organized you for our moral direction. When the poor wearied souldier whom we overtook at Chickahomony with his pack on his back, begged us to let him get up behind our chariot, you began to calculate that the road was full of souldiers, & that if all should be taken up our horses would fail in their journey. We drove on therefore. But soon becoming sensible you had made me do wrong, that tho we cannot relieve all the distressed we should relieve as many as we can, I turned about to take up the souldier; but he had entered a

horizontal rule


-875-

bye path, & was no more to be found; & from that moment to this I could never find him out to ask his forgiveness. Again, when the poor woman came to ask a charity in Philadelphia, you whispered that she looked like a drunkard, & that half a dollar was enough to give her for the ale-house. Those who want the dispositions to give, easily find reasons why they ought not to give. When I sought her out afterwards, & did what I should have done at first, you know that she employed the money immediately towards placing her child at school. If our country, when pressed with wrongs at the point of the bayonet, had been governed by it's heads instead of it's hearts, where should we have been now? Hanging on a gallows as high as Haman's. You began to calculate & to compare wealth and numbers: we threw up a few pulsations of our warmest blood; we supplied enthusiasm against wealth and numbers; we put our existence to the hazard when the hazard seemed against us, and we saved our country: justifying at the same time the ways of Providence, whose precept is to do always what is right, and leave the issue to him. In short, my friend, as far as my recollection serves me, I do not know that I ever did a good thing on your suggestion, or a dirty one without it. I do forever then disclaim your interference in my province. Fill papers as you please with triangles & squares: try how many ways you can hang & combine them together. I shall never envy nor controul your sublime delights. But leave me to decide when & where friendships are to be contracted. You say contract them at random. So you said the woman at Philadelphia was a drunkard. I receive no one into my esteem till I know they are worthy of it. Wealth, title, office, are no recommendations to my friendship. On the contrary great good qualities are requisite to make amends for their having wealth, title, & office. You confess that in the present case I could not have made a worthier choice. You only object that I was so soon to lose them. We are not immortal ourselves, my friend; how can we expect our enjoyments to be so? We have no rose without it's thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is the law of our existence; & we must acquiesce. It is the condition annexed to all our pleasures, not by us who receive, but by him who gives them. True, this condition is pressing cruelly on me at this moment.

horizontal rule


-876-

I feel more fit for death than life. But when I look back on the pleasures of which it is the consequence, I am conscious they were worth the price I am paying. Notwithstanding your endeavours too to damp my hopes, I comfort myself with expectations of their promised return. Hope is sweeter than despair, & they were too good to mean to deceive me. In the summer, said the gentleman; but in the spring, said the lady: & should love her forever, were it only for that! Know then, my friend, that I have taken these good people into my bosom; that have lodged them in the warmest cell I could find: that I love them, & will continue to love them through life: that if fortune should dispose them on one side the globe, & me on the other, my affections shall pervade it's whole mass to reach them. Knowing then my determination, attempt not to disturb it. If you can at any time furnish matter for their amusement, it will be the office of a good neighbor to do it. I will in like manner seize any occasion which may offer to do the like good turn for you with Condorcet, Rittenhouse, Madison, La Cretelle, or any other of those worthy sons of science whom you so justly prize.

 

   I thought this a favorable proposition whereon to rest the issue of the dialogue. So I put an end to it by calling for my night-cap. Methinks I hear you wish to heaven I had called a little sooner, & so spared you the ennui of such a sermon. I did not interrupt them sooner because I was in a mood for hearing sermons. You too were the subject; & on such a thesis I never think the theme long; not even if I am to write it, and that slowly & awkwardly, as now, with the left hand. But that you may not be discouraged from a correspondence which begins so formidably, I will promise you on my honour that my future letters shall be of a reasonable length. I will even agree to express but half my esteem for you, for fear of cloying you with too full a dose. But, on your part, no curtailing. If your letters are as long as the bible, they will appear short to me. Only let them be brimful of affection. I shall read them with the dispositions with which Arlequin, in Les deux billets spelt the words "je t'aime," and wished that the whole alphabet had entered into their composition.

   We have had incessant rains since your departure. These

horizontal rule


-877-

make me fear for your health, as well as that you had an uncomfortable journey. The same cause has prevented me from being able to give you any account of your friends here. This voyage to Fontainebleau will probably send the Count de Moustier & the Marquise de Brehan to America. Danquerville promised to visit me, but has not done it as yet. De la Tude comes sometimes to take family soup with me, & entertains me with anecdotes of his five & thirty years imprisonment. How fertile is the mind of man which can make the Bastile & Dungeon of Vincennes yield interesting anecdotes! You know this was for making four verses on Mme de Pompadour. But I think you told me you did not know the verses. They were these: "Sans esprit, sans sentiment, Sans etre belle, ni neuve, En France on peut avoir le premier amant: Pompadour en est l' epreuve." I have read the memoir of his three escapes. As to myself my health is good, except my wrist which mends slowly, & my mind which mends not at all, but broods constantly over your departure. The lateness of the season obliges me to decline my journey into the south of France. Present me in the most friendly terms to Mr. Cosway, & receive me into your own recollection with a partiality & a warmth, proportioned, not to my own poor merit, but to the sentiments of sincere affection & esteem with which I have the honour to be, my dear Madam, your most obedient humble servant.

 

 

HOMER, NEW JERSEY FARMERS, AND THE WHEEL
To St. John de Crèvecoeur
Paris, January 15, 1787
1787011

   DEAR SIR, -- I see by the Journal of this morning, that they are robbing us of another of our inventions to give it to the English. The writer, indeed, only admits them to have revived what he thinks was known to the Greeks, that is, the making the circumference of a wheel of one single piece. The farmers in New Jersey were the first who practised it, and they practised it commonly. Dr. Franklin, in one of his trips to London, mentioned this practice to the man now in London, who has the patent for making those wheels. The idea struck

horizontal rule


-878-

him. The Doctor promised to go to his shop, and assist him in trying to make the wheel of one piece. The Jersey farmers do it by cutting a young sapling, and bending it, while green and juicy, into a circle; and leaving it so until it becomes perfectly seasoned. But in London there are no saplings. The difficulty was, then, to give to old wood the pliancy of young. The Doctor and the workman labored together some weeks, and succeeded; and the man obtained a patent for it, which has made his fortune. I was in his shop in London, he told me the whole story himself, and acknowledged, not only the origin of the idea, but how much the assistance of Dr. Franklin had contributed to perform the operation on dry wood. He spoke of him with love and gratitude. I think I have had a similar account from Dr. Franklin, but cannot be quite certain. I know, that being in Philadelphia when the first set of patent wheels arrived from London, and were spoken of by the gentleman (an Englishman) who brought them, as a wonderful discovery, the idea of its being a new discovery was laughed at by the Philadelphians, who, in their Sunday parties across the Delaware, had seen every farmer's cart mounted on such wheels. The writer in the paper, supposes the English workman got his idea from Homer. But it is more likely the Jersey farmer got his idea from thence, because ours are the only farmers who can read Homer; because, too, the Jersey practice is precisely that stated by Homer: the English practice very different. Homer's words are (comparing a young hero killed by Ajax to a poplar felled by a workman) literally thus: `He fell on the ground, like a poplar, which has grown smooth, in the west part of a great meadow; with its branches shooting from its summit. But the chariot maker, with his sharp axe, has felled it, that he may bend a wheel for a beautiful chariot. It lies drying on the banks of the river.' Observe the circumstances which coincide with the Jersey practice. 1. It is a tree growing in a moist place, full of juices and easily bent. 2. It is cut while green. 3. It is bent into the circumference of a wheel. 4. It is left to dry in that form. You, who write French well and readily, should write a line for the Journal, to reclaim the honor of our farmers. Adieu. Yours affectionately,

 

 

horizontal rule


-879-

"THE PEOPLE ARE THE ONLY CENSORS . . ."
To Edward Carrington
Paris, Jan. 16, 1787
1787011

   DEAR SIR, -- Uncertain whether you might be at New York at the moment of Colo. Franks's arrival, I have inclosed my private letters for Virginia under cover to our delegation in general, which otherwise I would have taken the liberty to inclose particularly to you, as best acquainted with the situation of the persons to whom they are addressed. Should this find you at New York, I will still ask your attention to them. The two large packages addressed to Colo. N. Lewis contain seeds, not valuable enough to pay passage, but which I would wish to be sent by the stage, or any similar quick conveyance. The letters to Colo. Lewis & Mr. Eppes (who take care of my affairs) are particularly interesting to me. The package for Colo. Richd. Cary our judge of Admiralty near Hampton, contains seeds & roots, not to be sent by Post. Whether they had better go by the stage, or by water, you will be the best judge. I beg your pardon for giving you this trouble. But my situation & your goodness will hope excuse it. In my letter to Mr. Jay, I have mentioned the meeting of the Notables appointed for the 29th inst. It is now put off to the 7th or 8th of next month. This event, which will hardly excite any attention in America, is deemed here the most important one which has taken place in their civil line during the present century. Some promise their country great things from it, some nothing. Our friend de La Fayette was placed on the list originally. Afterwards his name disappeared; but finally was reinstated. This shews that his character here is not considered as an indifferent one; and that it excites agitation. His education in our school has drawn on him a very jealous eye from a court whose principles are the most absolute despotism. But I hope he has nearly passed his crisis. The King, who is a good man, is favorably disposed towards him: & he is supported by powerful family connections, & by the public good will. He is the youngest man of the Notables except one whose office placed him on the list.

   The Count de Vergennes has within these ten days had a

horizontal rule


-880-

very severe attack of what is deemed an unfixed gout. He has been well enough however to do business to-day. But anxieties for him are not yet quieted. He is a great & good minister, and an accident to him might endanger the peace of Europe.

 

   The tumults in America, I expected would have produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of these tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro' the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them. I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European governments. Among the former, public opinion is in the place of law, & restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did anywhere. Among the latter, under pretence of governing they have divided their nations into two classes, wolves & sheep. I do not exaggerate. This is a true picture of Europe. Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you & I, & Congress

horizontal rule


-881-

& Assemblies, judges & governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor. The want of news has led me into disquisition instead of narration, forgetting you have every day enough of that. I shall be happy to hear from you sometimes, only observing that whatever passes thro' the post is read, & that when you write what should be read by myself only, you must be so good as to confide your letter to some passenger or officer of the packet. I will ask your permission to write to you sometimes, and to assure you of the esteem & respect with which I have honour to be Dear Sir your most obedient & most humble servt.

 

 

REBELLION, SECESSION, AND DIPLOMACY
To James Madison
Paris, Jan. 30, 1787
1787013

   DEAR SIR, -- My last to you was of the 16th of Dec, since which I have received yours of Nov 25, & Dec 4, which afforded me, as your letters always do, a treat on matters public, individual & oeconomical. I am impatient to learn your sentiments on the late troubles in the Eastern states. So far as I have yet seen, they do not appear to threaten serious consequences. Those states have suffered by the stoppage of the channels of their commerce, which have not yet found other issues. This must render money scarce, and make the people uneasy. This uneasiness has produced acts absolutely unjustifiable; but I hope they will provoke no severities from their governments. A consciousness of those in power that their administration of the public affairs has been honest, may perhaps produce too great a degree of indignation: and those characters wherein fear predominates over hope may apprehend too much from these instances of irregularity. They may conclude too hastily that nature has formed man insusceptible of any other government but that of force, a conclusion not