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rightful heir to the throne of heaven; and that "this beautiful and hopeful institution," fostered and supported by the liberality of the State, would carry out these principles, would persevere in these noble "endeavors to enlighten the general mind, to improve the reason of the people, and encourage them in the use of it," in other words, would lend its powerful aid to the maintenance of a refined and civilized heathenism. This was the bantling which was forty years in coming to the birth, this was the "beautiful and hopeful" offspring which was to reflect deathless honor on its paternity; and the doating parent only wished to see this interesting child of his affections able to stand upon its legs, when he would be ready to sing his nunc dimittas, and lie down in the grave comforted by the sweet consciousness, that he had sowed the seed which would yield a plentiful harvest of posthumous mischief! Verily "the hierophants" of the "particular superstition" are here thrown into the distance; never in the exercise of their most artful cunning did they devise a machine as mighty for the work of proselyting. This was indeed a plan for poisoning the stream at the fountain. Ardent, generous, gifted and unsuspecting youth, was here made the victim of a deliberate, cold-blooded, calculating design for its corruption. An attempt was here systematically made to undermine that which, whether true or false, was giving comfort to thousands, affording stability to virtue, and the existence of which wrought no practical injury to Mr. Jefferson; for he was in the full enjoyment of every right, natural and civil, and no human power could molest him.
The University was opened, and as is well known, all religious instruction was excluded: the experiment failed; and the professors and students themselves resorted to the plan which is now pursued of employing a chaplain. Professor Tucker informs us too that while Mr. Jefferson was yet alive, and before a chaplain was provided, he was in the habit of having some of the students as invited guests at his table on every Sunday; and we happen to know that on such occasions, Christianity was frequently made the subject of his conversation and his sneers. The truth is, whether Mr. Jefferson was aware of it or not, that he entertained a hatred of Christianity, as commonly understood and received, more intensely virulent than all the hostility which he represents as being so abundant and merciless between the different denominations of Christians; and in the indulgence of that hatred he was ready enough to make proselytes to his opinions.
With such views of the all-important subject of Christianity, it is not surprising that there should have been some mistake as
to the standard by which to try the moral propriety of ac
"The sense of justice," says he, "is instinct and innate, and the moral sense is as much a part of our constitution as that of feeling, seeing, or hearing, as a wise Creator must have seen to be necessary in an animal destined to live in society; that every mind feels pleasure in doing good to another; that the nonexistence of justice is not to be inferred from the fact that the same act is deemed virtuous and right in one society, which is held vicious and wrong in another; because, as the circumstances and opinions of different societies vary, so the acts which may do them right or wrong must vary also; for virtue does not consist in the act we do, but in the end it is to effect. If it is to effect the happiness of him to whom it is directed, it is virtuous, while, in a society under different circumstances and opinions, the same act might produce pain, and would be vicious. The essence of virtue is in doing good to others, while what is good may be one thing in one society, and its contrary in another." Vol. ii. pp. 395-396.
Now we consider Mr. Jefferson entirely correct, when he asserts that, by our moral constitution, there is an ultimate judgment of the difference between right and wrong; and correct also in his answer to the common objection drawn from the various and contradictory applications of this judgment to particular actions. But as to what follows in the above passage, concerning the criterion of virtuous actions, there is confusion and error, fraught with the worst consequences. The truth is, that, while acting from an honest sense of duty is of the essence of virtue, as regards the agent, yet that the view of duty in any particular case, may be mistaken, and the action, in its outward form may be wrong, that is, not such as an infallible criterion or rule would enjoin; and this criterion is not necessarily found in the consequences of the action-the pain or pleasure which, in different states of society, it may produce, and according to which the form of the action may be now virtuous and now wrong. The dictates of the Supreme Reason of the Universe, as well as the enlightened reason of creatures, might, it is quite supposeable, prescribe a certain course of action as virtuous, even "in a society under" "circumstances and opinions" where the act "might produce pain" and therefore, according to Mr. Jefferson's standard, "would be vicious."
The next trait of character in Mr. Jefferson to which we shall advert, is the extreme sensitiveness which he manifested to public opinion. He lived for effect, and found in the world's admiration (whether conscious of deserving it or not) his "exceeding great reward." His self-love and confidence were excessive. No public man ever betrayed more writhing agony under the
newspaper assaults of his political opponents. These "paper squibs and pellets of the brain" wounded him sorely instances of their irritating effect are to be found frequently in his correspondence. Often when writing to a friend on subjects far removed from these personal attacks, he suddenly digresses to dwell upon them, and thus shows how keenly they could sting him. Some of them were utterly unworthy of his notice, the profligate and palpable lies of some unknown scribbling partizan; but so covetous was he of the world's unqualified admiration, that even these contemptible fabrications could annoy him. It was this that betrayed him into a course of conduct which the most candid of his friends and admirers have been heard to lament. To this weakness was it owing, that the unsuspecting and therefore unrestrained freedom of common conversation was abused by him, in the preservation by writing of what had been expressed in the familiarity of ordinary intercourse. He charged Lafayette with having "a canine thirst for popularity,"using canine in the novel sense of excessive: he had it himself, and deemed the feeling to be one bordering "so nearly on what he considered a sentiment of justice and truth," that his biographer tells us the charge "scarcely seemed a censure:" vol. 2, p. 473. So tremblingly alive was he to what the world had said or might say concerning him, that, of all his compatriots, he surpassed all in providing secretly the materials which at a future day were to rear a monument to his own fame and to deepen the infamy of contemporaries who opposed him. To say nothing now of his sweeping denunciations of the whole federal party; of his statement so often repeated, that distinguished men of that party were actually plotting the subversion of that government, for the establishment and support of which they had done and suffered as much at least as he had; some proof of the faithful industry with which he chronicled his own merits and the delinquencies of others may be gathered from the fact, that, in his Ana, consisting of but seventy pages, he has insinuated charges against no less than thirty-one individuals by name, and these are to be found in sixty-eight different instances. The charges are of a nature to make the subjects of them appear at least ridiculous and contemptible, but most commonly worse than this: some of them, professing to detail past conversations, are accompanied with solemn appeals to God for their truth, and are registered, not when the alleged conversations occurred, but at some subsequent period, when circumstances indicated a probable future necessity for the testimony. In by far the larger number of instances the charge is introduced under cover of the name of some informant; the common phrase with which
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an attack on character commences in the Ana is-somebody "tells me. Often too the testimony comes through two or even three individuals before it reaches the ready penman who thus records it in perpetuam rei memoriam. Another remarkable fact connected with these assaults on character, is this: they are revised calmly and dispassionately after a lapse of twentyfive years; and when presented to the world, not more than two of those assailed in them it is believed were in the land of the living, and very few if any of the witnesses to these memorable on dits remained on earth to be cross questioned. And here we cannot but advert in passing to the gratuitous and solemn appeals to his maker, of which the author of the Ana is so lavish. There are two classes of voluntary witnesses of whom thoughtful men are disposed to be suspicious: the first consists of those who having volunteered testimony, tender without solicitation, their oaths in confirmation of it: and the second, of those, who having told their story unasked, have yet conscience enough left to shrink from adding perjury to falsehood, when required to confirm their tale, by an appeal to Heaven for its truth. The world draws its own conclusions concerning such willing witnesses; because as to the first class the world cannot help seeing, that honest men around them do not commonly think of swearing to the truth of what they say, even though their story may be of an unusual character; and as to the second, as a desire for the confirmation of an oath implies incredulity, a man perfectly honest in his narrative, is willing to afford to a respectful request the attestation of his oath. Hence the world has reached the conviction that he who too readily swears unbidden, and he who refuses to swear at all when properly required, are alike to be heard with caution.
But we have not yet quite done with the subject of Mr. Jefferson's sensitiveness to the world's opinion. His excessive self-love, led him, as it has done many others, into the conceit that the world had no right to think ill of him. He looked upon himself as one of the most extraordinary of men, and as having purchased from the country by long continued and important services, that measure of respectful consideration and deference which is honorable alike to the giver and receiver, when gratuitously bestowed, but which no public servant can gracefully demand. The high esteem he had of himself naturally engendered the exquisite sensitiveness to which we have alluded. Some men, not altogether ignoble, can bear the undeserved neglect of their fellows, and even their censure. Throwing themselves with calm dignity upon the lofty consciousness that they sought only their country's welfare, they can dwell
with silent satisfaction upon their past labors, and feel too proud ever to remind that country of them: and if censure come, as they know that the best do not always escape it, they can endure with patience even unmerited reproach, and, with the noble confidence of great minds, refer themselves to God, and the more impartial verdict of posterity. There is in the patriotism of such men, a purity which scorns the contamination of even a seeming alliance with a mercenary or selfish motive. They cannot become chapmen to traffick away the glorious feeling that what they may have done, was an offering laid, in the devotion of a true and loyal heart, upon the altar of their country. They cannot stoop to bring their past actions, the inheritance of their children, as common wares into a market overt, and call upon a forgetful nation to buy from them the honor which, through all time, thickens around illustrious deeds and generous sacrifices made for our country, in her hour of need. They become not the heralds of their own services, now forgotten by an unthankful country; no querulous murmur from them buzzes abroad their over-estimate of their neglected merits, and their sense of a nation's ingratitude.
We confess we cannot read without some feelings of humiliation the letter of Mr. Jefferson in which he details the important services he had rendered to the country. We may disguise it as we will, but it is pervaded by a vain-glorious spirit of boasting, which finds but a flimsy covering in the declaration that to the question of what he had done, "the answer must be left to others;" for that answer is not left to others. The letter immediately proceeds to the enumeration of past services, upon the ground that the writer may more readily than others suggest the offices in which he had served. Beginning then with his appointment as a justice of the peace! it carries us with much particularity through successive gradations of honor, and ends with leaving him a Visiter and Rector of the University. Now, every one of these offices it was matter of public record had been held by Mr. Jefferson. But this is not all, we are furnished with a specification of other and particular services, the chief of which, he seems to think, was that he was the head of the opposition to the administration of the elder Adams; and that to his firmness it was owing that the republican party had not ceased to exist. He says that he saved the country from monarchy! No doubt Mr. Jefferson did possess the talents which fitted him to engage in the stratagems of party warfare; no doubt he did oppose the adminis
*Correspondence, Vol. iv, p. 426.