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extent, merely show that eight days before the resolution of independence was adopted by the body, Henry had in private conversation with Lee urged some arguments against an immediate declaration, “before the pulse of France and Spain was felt.” Henry well knew the ability of Lee and his familiarity with foreign topics, and, following his old and familiar habit of gathering intelligence, might very naturally urge objections derived from the temper of foreign powers in order to elicit the views and opinions of Lee. Strictly speaking, then, this letter of the 7th of May, referring wholly to a conversation held on the sixth, can prove nothing conclusively concerning what one of the parties actually said or did eight days later in a public body.
But, fortunately, we are not left to mere inferences from the letter of Gen. Lee on this subject. We have direct and positive testimony to prove that Henry, so far from being neutral or silent when the resolution instructing the delegates of Virginia in Congress to propose independence was discussed and decided in the Convention, he was its boldest and most eloquent advocate on the floor. We know from the express declaration of a member of the committee which drafted the Declaration of Rights and the first constitution of Virginia, and who was, at one time certainly, a mortal enemy of Henry, that the resolution of independence was drawn by Pendleton, was offered in committee by Gen. Nelson, and was “sustained against all opposition by Henry with that abounding energy and eloquence of which he was a master,” and to which no writer has done more ample justice than yourself. Such was the testimony of Edmund Randolph, uttered four years after the death of Henry, in the hall of the House of Delegates in Richmond, over the corpse of Pendleton. (Virginia Gazette, Nov. 2d, 1803, in the library of Virginia.)
I cannot blame you for not knowing the contents of an old newspaper published more than half a century ago, of which but a single copy is in existence; and when I saw the error into which you had been led by the letter of Lee, I knew that no man living would more cordially desire to exonerate the memory of Henry than yourself. With great respect,
I am very truly yours,
Some of the old painters were fond of introducing a homely or even a grotesque minor accessory into their stateliest pictures. Here is something of the kind without borrowing from imagination. The following is from a letter to us from a familiar visitor at Monticello, General J. Spear Smith, of Maryland:*
“Whilst the question of Independence was before Congress, it had its meetings near a livery stable. The members wore short breeches and silk stockings, and with handkerchief in hand, they were diligently employed in lashing the flies from their legs. So very vexatious was this annoyance, and to so great an impatience did it arouse the sufferers, that it hastened, if it did not aid, in inducing them to promptly affix their signatures to the great document, which gave birth to an empire republic.
“This anecdote I had from Mr. Jefferson, at Monticello, who seemed to enjoy it
1 Son of Mr. Jefferson's life-long friend, General Samuel Smith, of Maryland.
very much, as well as to give great credit to the influence of the flies. He told it with much glee, and seemed to retain a vivid recollection of the severity of an attack, from which the only relief was signing the paper, and flying from the scene.”
Jefferson's letters to Thomas Mann Randolph as N. R.
In vol. ii. p. 523, an extract is given from a letter from Mr. Jefferson to N. R., and it is mentioned in a note that “these initials occur here and again, where it would seem that the letters must have been addressed to his son-in-law, Colonel T. M. Randolph.” Their second occurrence is in same volume, p. 601, and it is here suggested or intimated in a note that the “fictitious direction ” may have een intended to guard against the suspected infidelities of the post.
We since learn that the letters were, as we supposed, written to Randolph, but hat the direction was not “fictitious,” as would appear in the Congress edition, where the letters only appear. Mr. Jefferson, in writing his son-in-law's initials, abitually combined them into an abbreviated character, which was mistaken or N. R.
or used duplicity, and he contemned it in others—no end, with him, could sanctify falsehood. In his contemplative moments, his mind turned to religion, which he studied thoroughly. He had seen and read much of the abuses and perversions of Christianity; he abhorred those abuses and their authors, and denounced them without reserve. He was regular in his attendance on church, taking his prayerbook with him. He drew the plan of the Episcopal Church in Charlottesville—was one of the largest contributors to its erection, and contributed regularly to the support of its minister. I paid, after his death, his subscription of $200 to the erection of the Presbyterian church in the same village. A gentleman of some distinction calling on him, and expressing his disbelief in the truths of the Bible, his reply was, “Then, sir, you have studied it to little purpose.” He was guilty of no profanity himself, and did not tolerate it in others—he detested impiety, and his favorite quotation for his young friends as a basis for their morals, was the xv. psalm of David. He did not permit cards in his house—he knew no game with them. Of his peculiar religious opinions, his family know no more than the world. If asked by one of them, his opinion on any religious subjeet, his uniform reply was, that it was a subject each was bound to study assiduously for himself, unbiased by the opinions of others—it was a matter solely of conscience; after thorough investigation, they were responsible for the righteousness, but not the rightfulness of their opinions; that the expression of his opinion might influence theirs, and he would not give it! He held it to be an invasion of the freedom of religious opinion, to attempt to subject the opinions of any man to the ordeal of public judgment; he would not submit to it in his own case, nor sanction it in another—he considered that religious opinions should be judged by the fruits they produced—if they produced good men, they must be good. My mother was educated in a convent—the best school of the day—in Paris; she took up a girlish desire to join the Catholic church, and wrote to her father to ask his permission. He called for her, took her home, and placed her in the gay society of the court of Louis XVI., where all such thoughts quickly vanished. His calling for her was the only intimation she ever had of the receipt of her letter, the subject was never alluded to by him. His codification of the Morals of Jesus was not known to his family before his death, and they learnt from a letter addressed to a friend, that he was in the habit of reading nightly from it, before going to bed. His report as Rector of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia, to the Legislature, places in its proper view, his sense of the importance of religious instruction. [Here follows this report as given in this volume, commencing at page 468.] His family, by whom he was surrounded, and who saw him in all the unguarded privacy of private life, believed him to be the purest of men. His precepts were those of truth and virtue. “Be just, be true, love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself,” were among his favorite maxims, and they recognized in him a truthful exemplar of the precepts he taught. He said he had left the government of his country “with hands as clean as they were empty.” His family circle knew that with calm serenity he had left the theatre of life, with a conscience as unsullied as his life had been just and upright. The beauty of his character was exhibited in the bosom of his family, where he delighted to indulge in all the fervor and delicacy of feminine feeling. Upon his death, there were found carefully preserved in a little sanctum sanctorum, locks of hair and other memorials of his wife and the children he had lost, with words of fond endearment written in his own hand upon the envelopes of the little mementoes. Before he lost his taste for the violin, winter evenings, he would play on it, having his grandchildren dancing around im. In summer he would station them for their little races on the lawn—give the gnal for the start—be the arbiter of the contest, and award the prizes. His manner was dignified, reserved with strangers, but frank and cordial with s friends; his conversation cheerful, often sportive, and illustrated by anecdotes. e spoke only of the good qualities of men, which induced the belief that he knew tle of them, but no one knew them better. I had formed this opinion, and on aring him speak very favorably of men with defects known to myself, stated them him, when he asked if I supposed he had not observed them, adding others not ted by me, and evincing much more accurate knowledge of the individual characthan I possessed, observing, “My habit is to speak only of men's good lities.” When he believed that either men or measures were adverse to Repubn institutions, he spoke of them with open and unqualified condemnation. Standing himself on an elevated position, from his talents, education, fortune political station, he was emphatically the friend of the working-man. On sing the home of a neighbor (Mr. Jesse Lewis), a blacksmith, remarkable for his bity, his integrity and his industry, and too wise, when past the meridian of life, e ashamed to work at the trade that had made his fortune, he often remarked him, “it is such men as that who constitute the wealth of a nation, not ionaires.” He never indulged in controversial conversation, because it often excited unsant feeling, and illustrated its inutility by the anecdote of two men who sat n candidly to discuss a subject, and each converted the other. His maxim was, every man had a right to his own opinion on all subjects, and others were bound spect that right; hence, in conversation, if any one expressed a decided opinion ring from his own, he made no reply, but changed the subject; he believed could always find subjects enough to converse on, in which they agreed in on, omitting those upon which they differed; unreserved and candid himself, as a listener, encouraging others to converse. His tact in the management of was great; he inquiringly followed out adverse opinions to their results, |g it to their friends to note the error into which it led them, taking up their s as important suggestions, never permitting a person to place himself upon efensive, or if he did, changing the subject, so as not to fix him in a wrong n by controverting it. With men of fertile and ingenious minds, fond of sugg objections to propositions stated, he would sometimes suggest the opposite conclusion to which he desired them to come, then assent to the force of their ions, and thus lead them to convert themselves. If information was sought, ve it freely; if doubts were suggested, he explained them without reserve, objecting to the scrutiny or canvass of his own opinions. As a public man, ends complained that he spoke too freely, communicating more than they it prudent. His powers of conversation were great, yet he always turned it jects most familiar to those with whom he conversed, whether laborer, nic or other; and if they displayed sound judgment and a knowledge of the , entered the information they gave, under appropriate heads, for reference, ‘ing thus a mass of facts upon the practical details of every-day life. His y to acquire knowledge was of the highest order; his application intense iring—his system and arrangement for the preservation of, and reference to rces of his acquirements, most methodical and exact. The Hon. Littleton Tazewell told me, that when a young man, his father being in the Senate, Jefferson Vice-President, some case of impeachment coming on, he was sent III.-43
with a note to Mr. Jefferson, asking some references to authorities on the subject. On the delivery of the note, he took a note-book from a drawer and instantly copied the references. On delivering them to his father, the latter observed he believed he had sent him chapter and verse for everything written on the subject. Of his voluminous correspondence, embracing upwards of forty thousand letters, written and received, and the private and public accounts of his whole life, he could in a moment lay his hand on any letter or receipt. Shortly after his death, Mr. Madison expressed to me the opinion, that Mr. Jefferson would be found to be the most learned man that had ever devoted so much time to public life. He was economical, exact, and methodical in his expenses and accounts. The account books, now in my possession, of his Maitre d'Hotel, at Paris and Washington, show the minutest details of household expenditure, and notes and figures in his own hand-writing, exhibit the closest personal inspection by himself, and a monthly analysis in a tabularized form of the expenditures in each item. His own numerous account books show the entry at the time, in his own hand, of each expenditure, however minute. His manners were of that polished school of the Colonial Government, so remarkable in its day—under no circumstances violating any of those minor conventional observances which constitute the well-bred gentleman, courteous and considerate to all persons. On riding out with him, when a lad, we met a negro who bowed to us; he returned his bow, I did not; turning to me he asked, “do you permit a negro to be more of a gentleman than yourself?” There was a little emulation endeavored to be excited among the older gentlemen of the neighborhood, in their gardening; and he who had peas first, announced his success by an invitation to the others to dine with him. A wealthy neighbor, without children, and fond of horticulture, generally triumphed. Mr. Jefferson, on one occasion had them first, and when his family reminded him that it was his right to invite the company, he replied “No, say nothing about it, it will be more agreeable to our friend to think that he never fails.” In his person he was neat in the extreme. In early life, his dress, equipage, and appointments were fastidiously appropriate to his rank. As he grew old, although preserving his extreme neatness, his dress was plainer, and he was more indifferent to the appearance of his equipage. When at Paris, Philadelphia, and Washington, his furniture, table, servants, equipage and the tout ensemble of his establishment, were deemed highly appropriate to the position he held. He was a gentleman everywhere. On entering the Presidency, he determined not to have weekly levees, like his predecessors, and so announced. His political opponents determined that he should continue the custom. On the first levee day, he rode out at his usual hour of one o'clock, returning at three, and on entering the President's house, booted, whip in hand, soiled with his ride, found himself in a crowd of ladies and gentlemen, fashionably dressed for the occasion. He greeted them with all the ease and courtesy of expected guests that he had been prepared to receive, exhibiting not the slightest indication of annoyance. They never again tried the experiment. At home, he desired to live like his neighbors, in the plain hospitality of a Virginia gentleman. It was a source of continued and deep regret to him, that the number of strangers who visited him, kept his neighbors from him; he said, “he had to exchange the society of his friends and neighbors for those whom he had never seen before, and never expected to see again.” Mr. Jefferson's hair, when young, was of a reddish cast, sandy as he advanced in years—his eye, hazel—dying in his 84th year, he had not lost a tooth, or had one defective; his skin, thin, peeling from his face on exposure to the sun, and giving it a tettered appearance; the superficial veins so weak, as upon the slightest blow,