Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

complishing this end, have quoted largely from his own writings, from his Anas, his Memoirs, and his Correspondence. It is true that these are represented by his opponents as containing many partial and discolored statements; but this objection will not apply to any of the quotations made in the

present work.

censure,

This book is neither a eulogy nor a tirade of

It bas been the aim of the writer to present both the merits and the defects of Mr. Jeffer

son in their true light. The chief fault of this illustrious man was a pusillanimous and morbid terror of popular censure, and an insatiable thirsting after popular praise. He indeed saw very clearly, what every man of intelligence and observation must perceive, that a large proportion of mankind are in reality knaves and hypocrites; that vanity, selfishness, and perfidy, in various forms and under innumerable disguises, have always been the predominating qualities of human nature in every land and age; that even the divine principles and institutions of religion have been so perverted and distorted by human passions as to have become, in many 112stances, only the convenient tools for the aggrandizement of a more sanctimonious and aspiring form of selfishness; that were it not for a desire to preserve the “dignity of vice," resulting from the innate pride of human nature, even the empty boast of seeming virtue would rarely be heard, and the reality of it would scarcely ever be seen, on the face of the earth; in a word, that while the intel

lectual attributes of mankind assimilate them in

many instances with angels, their propensities and their passions, in the majority of cases, leave an almost imperceptible interval between themselves and the brute creation.

Mr. Jefferson clearly perceived all this, and in his confidential letters to his most intimate friends one of which I have inserted in this work he has

given utterance to his convictions on the subject. And yet he has made himself justly liable to the charge of insincerity and inconsistency by publicly proclaiming, during his whole lifetime, different and opposite sentiments; by upholding the dignity, grandeur, and majesty of human nature; by asserting the immaculate virtue of the multitude; by defending the infallibility of their judgments and the perfection of their decrees; and by making himself the great apostle and champion of those popular prerogatives which, in his inmost soul, he held in unutterable contempt.

After having set forth this defect in the character of Mr. Jefferson, together with the related weaknesses which naturally flowed from it, the residue of the description of him should be commendation of no ordinary character; it should be, that rare praise which belongs to great talents devoted to the accomplishment of momentous results, and that too in the midst of imminent perils; persisted in through many long, vexatious years; opposed by tremendous obstacles; yet crowned at last with complete and overwhelming success.

PHILADELPHIA, June, 1857.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER II.

Burning of Jefferson's Residence-His Marriage-Events of

1773–Proceedings in Rhode Island-Measures of the

Virginia House of Burgesses-Committees of Correspond-

ence-British Aggressions-Steps of Resistance taken in

Virginia-Activity of Mr. Jefferson- The Convention-

Resolutions adopted by that Body--The “Summary View

of the Rights of British America”-Delegates to the first

Continental Congress“Jefferson's Resolutions in the Vir

ginia Legislature-His Answer to Lord North’s Proposi.

tion.

CHAPTER III.

Mr. Jefferson Elected a Member of Congress—His Appoint-

ment on important Committees---His Reports---Mr. Dick-
inson of Pennsylvania---Mr. Jeffersoni prepares a Consti-
tution and Declaration of Rights for VirginiaThe Legis.

PAQ.

CHAPTER VI.

Mr. Jefferson elected Governor of Virginia-His Measures

of Rete liation upon the British-Arrest of Henry Hamil-

« AnteriorContinuar »