« PreviousContinue »
Essays in “ Old Bachelor" Series.
Theory of Money and Banks. Letters on the Conspiracy of Slaves. Essay on Cause and Effect. Letters on the Roanoke Navigation. Association of Ideas. Recollections of Eleanor Rosalie Tucker. Dangers Threatening the United States. Essays on Taste, Morals, and Policy. Progress of the United States. Valley of the Shenandoah.
Life of Dr. John P. Emmet. A Voyage to the Moon.
History of the United States. Principles of Rent, Wages, &c.
Banks or No Banks. Literature of the United States.
Essays Moral and Philosophical. Life of Thomas Jefferson.
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 inany 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
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.”
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.
(From the Same.) We have seen that the subject of education had long been a favourite object with Mr. Jefferson, partly from his own
lively relish for literature and science, and partly because he deemed the diffusion of knowledge among the people essential to the wise administration of a popular government, and even to its stability. He had not long retired from public life, before the subject again engaged his serious attention, and, besides endeavouring to enlist men of influence in behalf of his favourite scheme of dividing the counties of the State into wards, and giving the charge of its elementary schools to these little commonwealths, he also aimed to establish a college, in the neighbourhood of Charlottesville, for teaching the higher branches of knowledge, and which, from its central and healthy situation, might be improved into a university.
He lived to see this object accomplished, and it owed its success principally to his efforts. It engrossed his attention for more than eleven years, in which time he exhibited his wonted judgment and address, in overcoming the numerous obstacles he encountered, and a diligence and perseverance which would have been creditable to the most vigorous period of life.
In getting the university into operation, he seemed to have regained the activity and assiduity of his youth. Everything was looked into, everything was ordered by him. He suggested the remedy for every difficulty, and made the selection in every choice of expedients. Two or three times a week he rode down to the establishment to give orders to the proctor, and to watch the progress of the work still unfinished. Nor were his old habits of hospitality forgotten. His invitations to the professors and their families were frequent, and every Sunday some four or five of the students dined with him. At these times he generally ate by himself in a small recess connected with the dining-room ; but, saving at meals, sat and conversed with the
company as usual. The number of visiters also to the Uni. versity was very great, and they seldom failed to call at Monticello, where they often passed the day, and sometimes several days. He was so fully occupied with his duties, as rector of the university, and he found so much pleasure in the occupation, that for a time every cause of care and anxiety, of which he now began to have an increased share, was entirely forgotten; and the sun of his life seemed to be setting with a soft but unclouded radiance.