Page images

innovation, would cease to bite, are here gravely making provision that this Constitution, which we should consider as a remedy for all the ills of the body politic, may itself be amended or modified at any future time. Sir, I am against any such provision. I should as soon think of introducing into a marriage contract a provision for divorce, and thus poisoning the greatest blessing of mankind at its very source, at its fountain-head. He has seen little, and has reflected less, who does not know that "necessity" is the great, powerful, governing principle of affairs here. Sir, I am not going into that question which puzzled Pandemonium, the question of liberty and necessity,

“Free will, fixed fate, foreknowledge absolute;"

but I do contend that necessity is one principal instrument of all the good that man enjoys. The happiness of the connubial union itself depends greatly on necessity, and when you touch this you touch the arch, the keystone of the arch, on which the happiness and well-being of society is founded. Look at the relation of master and slave (that opprobium, in the opinion of some gentlemen, to all civilized society and all free government). Sir, there are few situations in life where friendships so strong and so lasting are formed as in that very relation. The slave knows that he is bound indissolubly to his master, and must, from necessity, remain always under his control. The master knows he is bound to maintain and provide always for his slave so long as he retains him in his possession. And each party accommodates himself to the situation. I have seen the dissolution of many friendships, such, at least, as they were called; but I have seen that of master and slave endure so long as there remained a drop of blood of the master to which the slave could cleave. Where is the necessity of this provision in the Constitution? Where is the use of it? Sir, what are we about?

Have we not been undoing what the wiser heads-I must be permitted to say so-yes, Sir, what the wiser heads of our ancestors did more than half a century ago? Can any one believe that we, by any amendment of ours, by any of our scribbling on that parchment, by any amulet, by any legerdemain charm—Abracadabra—of ours can prevent our sons from doing the same thing,—that is, from doing what they please, just as we are doing as we please? It is impossible. Who can bind posterity? When I hear gentlemen talk of making a Constitution for "all time," and introducing provisions into it for "all time," and yet see men here who are older than the Constitution we are about to destroy (I am older myself than the present Constitution : it was established when I was a boy), it reminds me of the truces and the peaces of Europe. They always begin, "In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity," and go on to declare "there shall be perfect and perpetual peace and unity between the subjects of such and such potentates for all time to come;" and in less than seven years they are at war again.



GEORGE TUCKER, a relative of St. George Tucker, was, like him, born in the Bermudas, and came to Virginia in 1787. He was reared and educated by St. George Tucker, and practiced law in Lynchburg. He served in the State Legislature and in Congress, and in 1825 he was elected professor of Moral Philosophy and Political Economy in the University of Virginia, a position which he filled for twenty years. His novel, " Valley of the Shenandoah," was reprinted in England and translated into German.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]


Essays in "
Old Bachelor" Series.
Letters on the Conspiracy of Slaves.
Letters on the Roanoke Navigation.
Recollections of Eleanor Rosalie Tucker.
Essays on Taste, Morals, and Policy.
Valley of the Shenandoah.
A Voyage to the Moon.

Principles of Rent, Wages, &c.
Literature of the United States.
Life of Thomas Jefferson.

Theory of Money and Banks.
Essay on Cause and Effect,
Association of Ideas.

Dangers Threatening the United States.
Progress of the United States.
Life of Dr. John P. Emmet.
History of the United States.
Banks or No Banks.

Essays Moral and Philosophical.
Political Economy.

Prof. Tucker was a voluminous writer and treated many subjects. One or two early works of imagination and fancy gave place later to philosophy and political economy, and his style is eminently that of a thinker.

JEFFERSON'S preference for country life.

(From Life of Jefferson.)

He tells the Baron that he is savage enough to prefer the woods, the wilds, and the independence of Monticello, to all the brilliant pleasures of the gay metropolis of France. "I shall therefore," he says, "rejoin myself to my native country, with new attachments, and with exaggerated esteem for its advantages; for though there is less wealth there, there is more freedom, more ease, and less misery."

Declarations of this kind often originate in insincerity and affectation; sometimes from the wish to appear superior to those sensual indulgences and light amusements which are to be obtained only in cities, and sometimes from the pride of seeming to despise what is beyond our reach. But the sentiment here expressed by Mr. Jefferson is truly felt by many an American, and we have no reason to doubt it was felt also by him. There is a charm in the life which one has been accustomed to in his youth, no matter what the modes of that life may have been, which always retains its hold on the heart. The Indian who has passed his first

[ocr errors]

years with his tribe, is never reconciled to the habits and restraints of civilized life. And although in more artificial and advanced stages of society, individuals, whether they have been brought up in the town or the country, are not equally irreconcilable to a change from one to the other, it commonly takes some time to overcome their preference for the life they have been accustomed to; and in many instances it is never overcome, but continues to haunt the imagination with pleasing pictures of the past or imaginations of the future, when hope gives assurance that those scenes of former enjoyment may be renewed. That most of our country gentlemen, past the heyday of youth, would soon tire of Paris, and pant after the simple pleasures and exemption from restraint which their own country affords, is little to be wondered at; but it is the more remarkable in Mr. Jefferson, and more clearly illustrates the force of early habit, when it is recollected that he found in the French metropolis that society of men of letters and science which he must often have in vain coveted in his own country, and that here he met with those specimens of music, painting, and architecture, for which he had so lively a relish. But in these comparisons between the life we are leading and that which we have left, or are looking forward to, we must always allow much to the force of the imagination, and there are few men who felt its influence more than Mr. Jefferson. In one of his letters to Mr. Carmichael, he says, "I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural Bridge, (for it is my property), and of passing there a part of the year at least."

(From the Same.)

We have seen that the subject of education had long been a favourite object with Mr. Jefferson, partly from his own.

« PreviousContinue »