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Fortunately, however, good sense and patriotism finally prevailed. The genius of discord was once more subdued by their benign influence; and this question, and the agitating fears it produced for the permanency of the Union, were soon forgotten, or remembered only as the scenes of a troubled dream.
In a letter to Mr. Adams, in August, on miscellaneous subjects, he thus formally defends the introduction of new words:
"But if dictionaries are to be the arbiters of language, in which of them sball we find neologism? No matter. It is a good word, well sounding, obvious, and expresses an idea which would otherwise require circumlocution. The reviewer was justifiable, therefore, in using it; although he noted at the same time as unauthoritative, centrality, grade, sparse, all of which have been long used in common speech and writing. I am a friend to neology. It is the only way to give to a language copiousness and euphony. Without it we should still be held to the vocabulary of Alfred or of Ulphilas; and held to their state of science also: for I am sure they had no words which coulò have conveyed the ideas of oxygen, cotylidons, zoophytes, magnetism, electricity, hyaline, and thousands of others expressing ideas not then existing, nor of possible communication in the state of their language."
He says it should be the law of every language, like the Greek, that whenever it has adopted a new word, as “a root," all its branches, in every part of speech, should be legitimated, by giving them their appropriate terminations. “Thus, having adopt. ed the adjective fraternal, it is a root which should legitimate fraternal, fraternation, fraternization, fraternism, to fraternate, fraternize, fraternally. And give the word neologism to our language, as a root, and it should give as its fellow substantives, neology, neologist, neologization; its adjectives, neologous, neological, neologistical; its verb, neologize; and adverb, neologically. Dictionaries are but the depositories of words already legitimated by usage. Society is the work-shop in which new ones are elaborated. When an individual uses a new word, if illformed, it is rejected in society, if well formed, adopted, and after due time, laid up in the depository of dictionaries. And
if, in this process of sound neologization, our trans-Atlantic brethren shall not choose to accompany us, we may furnish, after the Ionians, a second example of a colonial dialect improving in its primitive.”
This defence of neologisms is ingenious, and in part well founded, so far as, in the progress of discovery and improvement, new objects call for new names, but in all other cases, innovations in language seem to deserve toleration rather than encouragement. Language at best is sufficiently prone to change, partly from the ever changing characters of human concerns and modes of thinking, and partly from an unceasing desire of novelty, for the sake of stimulating attention and of acquiring the praise of originality; and these tendencies would be yet greater, but for the salutary prejudice against innovation. Without this check, the writers of one age would be unintelligible to the mass of readers in another, the beauties of that numerous class of works whose excellence is in their language, would be annihilated to posterity, and that production of genius which delighted its contemporaries, would, to after ages, be obscure, uncouth, and obsolete. Shakspeare, and Milton, and Pope, and Byron would thus be shorn of some of their brightest beams, and appear to us through the mist of an antiquated dialect, if they were not consigned to neglect. In a word, the sources of innovation are so copious, from our fatigue of sameness and a perpetual thirst for novelty, as to need all the checks we can find.
In this same letter he enters on the unfathomable subject of matter and spirit, in consequence of these subjects having been treated of by his correspondent in a recent letter. He professes himself a materialist, and considers immaterialism as masked atheism. His views are not likely to shake the faith of those who either believe that there are two separate existences, mind and matter, and that we have as good evidence of the one as of the other, or even of those who maintain that we have no proof of but one principle, which is mind; as his argument every where assumes that our senses, that is our minds, furnish satisfactory proofs of the existence of matter, without furnishing any
of their own. It must be confessed that this question has received no additional light from Mr. Jefferson, and that he seems not to have been thoroughly aware of the inherent difficulty of the question, or rather of the improbability of reaching any certain or inevitable conclusion concerning it; as it lies beyond the first foundations of human knowledge, and there can be no reasoning on it, in support of either side, which does not assume the very point in dispute. That ready sagacity which saw truth in the most complicated concerns of life, and in those which were most remote from ordinary apprehension; and that firmness which fearlessly expressed what it confidently believed, were out of place here, where sagacity is left to wander in random conjecture, and decision of mind can produce nothing better than dogmatism. He seems to suppose that his opinion is sanctioned by the authority of Locke and Dugald Stewart, but in this he was clearly mistaken, as they both expressly recognise mind as distinct from matter, and think the evidence of the former at least as strong as that of the latter. He is not, however, the first who has mistaken Locke's opinions on this subject, by way of inference from his argument that we have no innate ideas, but that the mind is first put into activity by sensation; without adverting to the fact that this inference of the materiality of mind is precluded by his positive assertion of a contrary opinion.
The University of Virginia. Massachusetts Constitution. Political
views of Spanish America. His applications to the legislature in behalf of the University. Letters to Mr. Nicholas. Resolutions of Kentucky. Nullification. His fears of the Judiciary-Eramined. Letter to Mr. Morse-against extensive voluntary associations. Arguments considered. His extensire correspondence. Letter to Mr. Barry on the judiciary power. To Mr. Adams-On the nary of the United States. Dry docks. Letter to Mr. Adams. Napoleon at St. Helena. Natural Theology. Letter to President Monroe. On the Foreign Policy of the United States.
From the spring of the year 1819, Mr. Jefferson was closely and personally engaged in superintending the buildings of the new university until they were finished. On him had devolved the duty of procuring the different workmen required, bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, and stone-cutters, most of whom were procured from Philadelphia. He not only formed the general plan of the buildings, but draughts of every subordinate part were made by him; and he superintended the execution by almost daily visits to the workmen; though the ride from Monticello to the university and back is at least ten miles, over a rough and mountainous road. Next to seeing the work advancing to its completion, his greatest pleasure consisted in showing the edifice to such respectable strangers as visited it.
This plan has indeed been the subject of frequent criticism; yet it is probable that any other plan which could have been devised would have incurred as much censure, since architecture is a branch of art in which all-docti indoctique—think themselves equally competent to judge. It is certainly remarkably showy to the eye, and the view of its exterior is always very imposing to him who beholds it for the first time. Though expensive for the accommodation it affords, in consequence of its spreading over so large a surface, it is on that account more favourable to order and quiet than if the students had been congregated into one or two large buildings. It is also more secure from destruction by fire, by reason of the ease with which every part can be approached, and subjected to the action of the fire engine, and because but a small part can be consumed at one time.
Though every essential part of the establishment required the sanction of the Board of Visiters, yet on almost all occasions they yielded to his views, partly from the unaffected deference which most of the board had for his judgment and experience, and partly for the reason often urged by Mr. Madison, that as the scheme was originally Mr. Jefferson's, and the chief responsibility for its success or failure would fall on him, it was but fair to let him execute it in his own way.
There was no employment whatever in which he could have found such agreeable occupation, as in thus carrying into execution the long cherished schemes of his patriotism in providing for the education of the youth of the country, and at the same time gratifying his taste, or rather his passion for architecture; especially for Grecian architecture. The pavilions provided for the professors were each adorned with a portico, where he exhibited to his admiring countrymen models of all the orders, rigidly copied to the smallest minutiæ; and to furnish these models, probably more money was spent in the ornamental parts of the edifice than in those which were indispensable.
According to ordinary experience in building, unforeseen contingencies and occasional enlargements of the original plan swelled the cost of this establishment greatly beyond the first estimates, and certain menagemens were necessary with the legislature, (always sufficiently sensitive on the subject of money,)