Page images
PDF
EPUB

pottom of it, which no author does more radically than this. The reflections into which it leads us are not very flattering to the human species. In the whole animal kingdom I recollect no family but man, steadily and systematically employed in the destruction of itself. Nor does what is called civilization produce any other effect, than to teach him to pursue the principle of the bellum omnium in omnia on a greater scale, and instead of the little contest between tribe and tribe, to comprehend all the quarters of the earth in the same work of destruction. If to this we add, that as to other animals, the lions and tigers are mere lambs compared with man as a destroyer, we must conclude that nature has been able to find in man alone a sufficient barrier against the too great multiplication of other animals and of man himself, an equilibrating power against the fecundity of generation. While in making these observations, my situation points my attention to the warfare of man in the physical world, yours may perhaps present him as equally warring in the moral one. Adieu. Yours affectionately.

a

TO MR. VOLNEY.

MONTICELLO, January 8, 1797. DEAR SIR,—I received yesterday your two favors of December the 26th and 29th. Your impatience to receive your valise and its key was natural ; and it is we who have been to blame ; Mr. Randolph, for not taking information of the vessel and address to which your valise was committed, and myself for having waited till I heard of your being again immerged into the land of newspapers before I forwarded your key. However, as you have at length got them safe, I claim absolution under the proverb, that "all is well which ends well."

About the end of 1793, I received from Mr. Dombey (then at Lyons) a letter announcing his intention to come here. And in May, 1794, I received one from a M. L'Epine, dated from New

York, and stating himself to be master of the brig de Boon, Captain Brown, which had sailed from Havre with Mr. Dombey on board, who had sealed up his baggage and wrote my address on them, to save them in case of capture; and that when they were taken, the address did in fact protect them. He mentioned then he death of Mr. Dombey, and that he had delivered his baggage to the Custom House at New York. I immediately wrote to M. L'Epine, disclaiming any right or interest in the packages under my address, and authorizing, as far as depended on me, the consul at New York, or any person the representative of Mr. Dombey, to open the packages and dispose of them according to right. I enclosed this tter open to Mr. Randolph, then Secretary of State, to get hs interference for the liberation of the effects. It may have happened that he failed to forward the letter, or that M. L'Eine may have gone before it reached New York. In any event, I can do no more than repeat my disclaimer of any right to Mr. Dombey's effects, and add all the authority which I can give to yourself, or the consul of France at New York, to do with those effects whatever I might do. Certainly, it would be a great gratification to me to receive the Metre and Grave committed to Mr. Dombey for me, and that you would be so goed as to be the channel of my acknowledgments to Bishop Gregoire, or any one else to whom I should owe this favor.

You wish to know the state of the air here during the late cold spell, or rather the present one, for it is at this momont so cold that the ink freezes in my pen, so that my letter will scarcely be legible.

The following is copied from my diary.

[merged small][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed]

8 12

In the winter of 1779–80, the mercury in Fahrenheits thermometer fell at Williamsburg once to six degrees above zero. I 1783–84, I was at Annapolis without a thermometer, and I do no know that there was one in that State; I heard from Virginia, that the mercury was again down to six degrees. In 1789–90, I was at Paris. The mercury here was as low as eighteen degrees below zero, of Fahrenheit. These have been the most remarkably cold winters ever known in America. We are told, however, that in 1762, at Philadelphia, it was twenty-two degrees below zero; in December, 1793, it was three degrees below zero there by my thermometer. On the 31st of January, 1796, it was one and three-fourth degrees above zero at Monticello. I shall therefore have to change the maximum of our cold, if ever I revise the Notes on Virginia; as six degrees above zero was the greatest which had ever been observed.

It scems possible, from what we hear of the votes at the late election, that you may see me in Philadelphia about the begin ning of March, exactly in that character which, if I were to re appear at Philadelphia, I would prefer to all others; for I change the sentiment of Clorinda to “L'Alte temo, l'humile non sdegno.' I have no inclination to govern men. I should have no views of my own in doing it; and as to those of the governed, I had rather that their disappointment (which must always happen) should be pointed to any other cause, real or supposed, than to myself. I value the late vote highly ; but it is only as the index of the place I hold in the esteem of my fellow citizens. In this point of view, the difference between sixty-eight and seventyone votes is little sensible, and still less that between the real vote, which was sixty-nine and seventy ; because one real elector in Pennsylvania was excluded from voting by the miscarriage of the votes, and one who was not an elector was admitted to vote. My farm, my family, my books and my building, give me much more pleasure than any public office would, and, especially, one which would keep me constantly from them. I had hoped, when you were here, to have finished the walls of my house in the autumn, and to have covered it early in winter.

But we did not finish them at all. I have to resume the work, therefore, in the spring, and to take off the roof of the old part during the summer, to cover the whole. This will render it necessary for me to make a very short stay in Philadelphia, should the late vote have given me any public duty there. My visit there will be merely out of respect to the public, and to the new President.

I am sorry you have received so little information on the subject of our winds. I had once (before our revolution war) a project on the same subject. As I had then an extensive acquaintance over this State, I meant to have engaged some person in every county of it, giving them each a thermometer, to observe that and the winds twice a day, for one year, to wit, at sun-rise and at four P. M., (the coldest and the warmest point of the twenty-four hours,) and to communicate their observations to me at the end of the year. I should then have selected the days in which it appeared that the winds blew to a centre within the State, and have made a map of them, and seen how far they had analogy with the temperature of the air. I meant this to be merely a specimen to be communicated to the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia, in order to engage them, by means of their correspondents, to have the same thing done in every State, and through a series of years. By seizing the days when the winds centred in any part of the United States, we might, in time, have come to some of the causes which determine the direction of the winds, which I suspect to be very various. But this long-winded project was prevented by the war which came upon us, and since that I have been far otherwise engaged. I am sure you will have viewed the subject from much higher ground, and I shall be happy to learn your views in some of the hours of delassement, which I hope we are yet to pass together. To this must be added your observations on the new character of man, which you have seen in your journey, as he is in all his shapes a curious animal, on whom no one is better qualified to judge than yourself ; and no one will be more pleased to participate of your views of him than one, who has the pleasure of offering you his sentiments of sincere respect and esteem.

terms, yet it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and acted on by every friend to free government.

I sincerely deplore the situation of our affairs with France. War with them, and consequent alliance with Great Britain, will completely compass the object of the executive council, from the commencement of the war between France and England ; taken up by some of them from that moment, by others, more latterly. I still, however, hope it will be avoided. I do not believe Mr. Adams wishes war with France; nor do I believe he will truckle to England as servilely as has been done. If he assumes this front at once, and shows that he means to attend to self-respect and national dignity with both the nations, perhaps the depredations of both on our commerce may be amicably arrested. I think we should begin first with those who first began with us, and, by an example on them, acquire a right to re-demand the respect from which the other party has departed.

I suppose you are informed of the proceeding commenced by the legislature of Maryland, to claim the south branch of the Potomac as their boundary, and thus of Albemarle, now the central county of the State, to make a frontier. As it is impossible, upon any consistent principles, and after such a length of undisturbed possession, that they can expect to establish their claim, it can be ascribed to no other than an intention to irritate and divide; and there can be no doubt from what bow the shaft is shot. However, let us cultivate Pennsylvania, and we need not fear the universe. The Assembly have named me among those who are to manage this controversy. But I am so averse to motion and contest, and the other members are so fully equal to the business, that I cannot undertake to act in it. I wish you were added to them. Indeed, I wish and hope you may consent to be added to our Assembly itself. There is no post where you can render greater services, without going out of your State. Let but this block stand firm on its basis, and Pennsylvania do the same, our Union will be perpetual, and our General Government kept within the bounds and form of the Constitution. Adieu affectionately.

« PreviousContinue »