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contrived a leather top for a carriage, which could be readily arranged to exclude rain, or leave the vehicle entirely uncovered—and which worked essentially on the plan of the modern extension-top carriage. He invented a machine for breaking hemp, which he first had moved by the gate of his saw-mill, and afterwards by a horse. It answered its purpose completely, and produced a material saving in expense. His fertile ingenuity also gave birth to many minor contrivances. He measured the heights of Monticello and various contiguous hills—and of the peaks of Otter when he made his autumn visit to Poplar Forest. Altogether he spent an active and agreeable year. In one of his earliest letters in 1816, addressed to his Revolutionary compatriot, the venerable Charles Thomson, he thus described his bodily condition and habits:
“I retain good health, am rather feeble to walk much, but ride with ease, passing two or three hours a day on horseback," and every three or four months taking in a carriage a journey of ninety miles to a distant possession, where I pass a good deal of my time. My eyes need the aid of glasses by night, and with small print, in the day also ; my hearing is not quite so sensible as it used to be ; no tooth shaking yet; but shivering and shrinking in body from the cold are now experienced, my thermometer having been as low as 122 this morning. My greatest oppression is a correspondence afflictingly laborious, the extent of which I have long been endeavoring to curtail. This keeps me at the drudgery of the writingtable all the prime hours of the day, leaving for the gratification of my appetite for reading, only what I can steal from the hours of sleep. Could I reduce this epistolary corvée within the limits of my friends and affairs, and give the time redeemed from it to reading and reflection, to history, ethics, mathematics, my life would be as happy as the infirmities of age would admit, and I should look on its consummation with the composure of one “qui summum nec metuit diem nec optat.’”
In a letter written to John Adams, about three months afterwards, he shows how well he preserved the elasticity of his early feelings and his characteristic view of human life:
“You ask, if I would agree to live my seventy or rather seventy-three years over again To which I say, yea. I think with you, that it is a good world on
1 i He alluded to a bodily habit, not mentioned here, in a letter to Mr. Maury, June 6th, 1815 :
“Your practice of the cold bath thrice a week during the winter, and at the age of seventy, is a bold one, which I should not, a priori, have pronounced salutary. . But all theory must yield to experience, and every constitution has its own laws. I have for fifty years bathed my feet in cold water every morning (as you mention), and having been remarkably exempted from colds (not having had one in every seven years of my life on an average), I have supposed it might be ascribed to that practice. When we see two facts accompanying one another for a locg time, we are apt to suppose them related as cause and eflect.”
the whole; that it has been framed on a principle of benevolence, and more pleasure than pain dealt out to us. There are, indeed (who might say nay), gloomy and hypochondriac minds, inhabitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, and despairing of the future; always counting that the worst will happen, because it may happen. To these I say, how much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened My temperament is sanguine. I steer my bark with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern. My hopes, indeed, sometimes fail; but not oftener than the forebodings of the gloomy. There are, I acknowledge, even in the happiest life, some terrible convulsions, heavy set-offs against the opposite page of the account. I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of grief could be intended. All our other passions, within proper bounds, have a useful object. And the perfection of the moral character is, not in a stoical apathy, so hypocritically vaunted, and so untruly too, because impossible, but in a just equilibrium of all the passions. I wish the pathologists then would tell us what is the use of grief
in the economy, and of what good it is the cause, proximate or remote.”
“There is a ripeness of time for death, regarding others as well as ourselves, when it is reasonable we should drop off, and make room for another growth. When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another. I enjoy good health ; I am happy in what is around me, yet I assure you I am ripe for leaving all, this year, this day, this hour.”
Should we suppose that every word in this off-hand correspondence implied settled opinions or ideas—that he wrote nothing in it merely as speculation, to embody the passing doubt of the moment, or to draw out another's opinions and experiences— that his language never partook of the exaggeration of expression customary in epistolary writing—we should much wonder to hear Mr. Jefferson, in the above extract, asking what were the uses of grief in the moral economy. But that wonder ceases when we remember that in the same paragraph he declared his belief that the world was framed on a principle of benevolence, and when we know that none more uniformly than he felt or expressed complete resignation to the Divine will, under the infliction of the most agonizing griefs which he ever encountered."
Some of Mr. Jefferson's earliest letters in 1816, were directed against the prevailing bank-mania. He wrote Colonel Yancey, January 6th :
“Like a dropsical man calling out for water, water, our deluded citizens are clamoring for more banks, more banks. The American mind is now in that state
1 Let the reader turn back for an example to his letter to Governor Page, on the death of Mrs. Eppes. After receiving Mr. Adams's answer to his question above, he wrote back, August 1st, 1816: “To the question, indeed, on the utility of grief, no answer remains to be given. You have exhausted the subject. I see that with the other evils of life, it is destined to temper the cup we are to drink.”
of fever which the world has so often seen in the history of other nations. We are under the bank bubble, as England was under the South Sea bubble, France under the Mississippi bubble, and as every nation is liable to be, under whatever bubble, design, or delusion may puff up in moments when off their guard. We are now taught to believe that ledgerdemain tricks upon paper can produce as solid wealth as hard labor in the earth. It is vain for common sense to urge that nothing can produce but nothing ; that it is an idle dream to believe in a philosopher's stone which is to turn everything into gold, and to redeem man from the original sentence of his Maker, “in the sweat of his brow shall he eat his bread.’”
The whole of this letter will be read with interest in his published Works. Taught, as they imagined, by the events of the war, many of the ablest and most conscientious Republican opponents of a National Bank, yielded at this period to the supposed necessity of such an institution. A bill passed Congress chartering the bank of the United States, with a capital of $35,000,000;' and it was approved by President Madison, April 10th, 1816. Mr. Jefferson, as usual, uttered no complaints at the proceedings of his friends—but his own opinions remained unchanged, as clearly appears by several letters of the period.”
In a letter to Benjamin Austin, January 9th, he avowed that he had changed the opinions expressed in the Notes on Virginia against home manufactures. Having explained the circumstances that existed when that work was written, and the completely changed ones produced by the subsequent maritime and commercial regulations of the European powers, he said that he who continued against domestic manufactures, must be for reducing us to dependence on foreign nations—that manufactures, to the extent of our own supply, were as necessary to our independence as to our comfort. It has been inferred from this and one or two other letters, and from a passage in one of his Presidential Messages, that Mr. Jefferson favored a protective tariff sufficient to build up domestic manufactures—and this by a second inference has been assumed to be a high protective tariff. At a later period, he declared himself in favor of a revenue tariff, with such incidental protection as could be properly afforded within its limits,'—and this, it is believed, is as far as he ever advocated protection.
1 The capital of the first bank had been but $10,000,000.
* See a letter to John Taylor of Caroline, May 28th : to William H. Crawford, June 20th, 1816, etc.
* See his letter to Mr. Pinckney, September 30th, 1820.
Mr. Jefferson's attention was drawn, in 1816, by the Governor of Virginia (his friend Wilson C. Nicholas, then in the third year of his office), to a general system of improvements for the defence, education, and development of the material resources of the State. His replies, dated April 2d, and 19th, will be found to contain many broad and valuable views, but they cannot be given here. Passing over several political letters of interest, we come to one which demands notice. The first Constitution of Virginia, established in 1776, had, from the period of the publication of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, constantly encountered the objections against it raised in that work; and these, instead of diminishing by the lapse of time, had acquired force in the public mind. Several attempts had been made to procure a revision of the instrument, but it had been prevented by the eastern counties. The western counties, smarting under a recent defeat of this kind, in 1816, invited a meeting of delegates to promote the object. Samuel Kercheval, a western gentleman, published some letters in favor of a revision, and inclosed them to Jefferson, soliciting his views. The reply was long, and exhibits all the power and daring of its author's earlier political disquisitions. He “besought” Kercheval, however, in a second letter, not “to admit of the possibility” of that reply being published, saying that “many good people would revolt from its doctrines,” and that he wished “to leave to those who were to live under it, the settlement of their own Constitution, and to pass in peace the remainder of his time”—that if his “opinions were sound, they would occur to others, and would prevail by their own weight without the aid of names.” The letters will be given in the Appendix.’
Professor Tucker, generally correct, and always candid authority, mentions the following facts in regard to Jefferson's first communication to Kercheval:
“As his letter had an extensive circulation notwithstanding his caution, and eventually found its way into the newspapers, the fear that some of them [his views] deemed most exceptionable, would be adopted, under the known influence of his name, and his presumed efforts in their favor, induced many who would otherwise have desired a revision of the Constitution to postpone it during his life.”
Another able and candid Virginia writer, critically versed
*See APPENDIx, No. 29. * Tucker's Life of Jefferson, vol. ii., p. 390.
in both the written and unwritten history of his State, Dr. Grigsby, says in his discourse on the Virginia Convention of 1776 :
The first Constitution of Virginia withstood, for near fifty years, his [Jefferson's] attacks in the Notes; but when he threw his thoughts into the shape of a letter to Kercheval, the fate of that instrument was sealed. The phrases of that letter were at once stereotyped in the public voice; and it was amusing to observe on the court green, and in debate, how those phrases passed current with men who had never seen or heard of the letter, and who believed that they were clothing their own thoughts in their own words.”
Professor Tucker further says, that “when the revision did take place in 1829, several of "Mr. Jefferson’s “principles were deliberately rejected in the Convention—one or two by large majorities.” He might, had he written late enough, have added, that at a succeeding Convention, in 1851, some of the rejected “principles” were adopted. But irrespective of the fate of his propositions, or of their intrinsic soundness, few more striking tributes have ever been paid to the influence of an aged and retired statesman than are to be found in the fact, that many friends of a revision dared not have it take place during his life, for fear that his bare opinions—for nobody expected his appearance there—would bear down all opposition in the Constitutional Convention of a State which swarmed with able public men.
Mr. Jefferson wrote a letter to Sir John Sinclair, July 31st, in which, after reciprocating the congratulations of the latter on the termination of the war between their respective nations, and saying that amicable dispositions towards England had been strong on the part of every American Administration, “from the first to the present one,” he made the following important declaration:
“During the first year of my own administration, I thought I discovered in the conduct of Mr. Addington some marks of comity towards us, and a willingness to extend to us the decencies and duties observed towards other nations. My desire to catch at this, and to improve it for the benefit of my own country, induced me, in addition to the official declarations from the Secretary of State, to write with my own hand to Mr. King, then our Minister Plenipotentiary at London, in the following words: [here follows the extract from a letter to Mr. King, of July 13th, 1802, given at page 15 of this volume, except that the first sentence is slightly altered to leave out the irrelevant matter in respect to the occasion of writing.” And then Mr. Jefferson proceeds to say..] “My expectation was that Mr. King would show
1 And there are two wholly unimportant verbal deviations produced, probably by the copier or printer.