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Mr. Jefferson, with the friendly feelings which he had ever entertained for La Fayette, wisely took advantage of this overflow of gratitude, to suggest that Congress should add some more substantial and lasting proof of its sense of former services, by a liberal provision for their benefactor, whose fortune, though it had been large, had never equalled his munificence. This proposal,* too, like seed sown at a right time on a good soil, was generally adopted, and notwithstanding the rooted prejudice against pensions, was adopted by Congress unanimously, with the exception of the delegation of a single state, who either could not conquer their own scruples, or doubted whether they could overcome those of their constituents.
La Fayette passed some days at Monticello, was fêted as usual, in Charlottesville, and having completed his tour through the states, revisited Mr. Jefferson in the following year, before he returned to France.
In one of the letters of Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison, published in his correspondence, he speaks of La Fayette as having a "canine thirst for popularity," and censure has been cast on him for using this term towards one to whom he professed friendship, and on the editor, for having published it. In defence of the latter, it may be remarked, that if the cxpression was unwarranted, and inconsistent, yet the public ought to know it, this being one of the numerous facts which make up the sum total of character, and on which the present public and yet more those that are to come after us, have paramount claims. He considered that the public, and posterity especially, had claims to know the opinions of Mr. Jefferson concerning the eminent men of his day, whether those opinions were controvertible or not; that in the discharge of the duty of giving his letters to the world, he was not justified in altering or suppressing a single offensive expression, not only because, if known, it would lessen the credit and
* It may be fairly questioned whether if this proposal had not been made by Mr. Jefferson, it would not have occurred to others. I heard the same thing mentioned in New York by a lady. As in an epidemic the disease is ascribed to him with whom it first appears, though it had been certain to have exhibited itself in some other quarter.
authenticity of the rest; and because, moreover, the sentiments of one man towards another are to be inferred from the general tenor of his conduct, and not from any isolated word, written in the carelessness of haste, and in the security of confidential intercourse.
In defence of Mr. Jefferson himself, it may be remarked, besides the unreasonableness of subjecting every word in a letter to his most intimate friend to the ordeal of criticism, that he did not attach to the word "canine"an odious or contemptuous sense, but merely meant to express what was excessive, as he has often applied the word to himself; and speaks of his own canine thirst, desire, &c. It amounts, then, to no more than that he thought that La Fayette had an undue love for popularity; a censure which has often been urged against himself, and which bordered so nearly on what he considered a sentiment of justice and truth as scarcely to seem a censure.
The University goes into operation. Mr. Jefferson's exertions for its success. Fails in procuring farther grants from the legislature. His marims of practical Morality. Receives a second visit from La Fayette. His system of Laws for the University. Disorders-and Proceedings thereon. The power of the Federal Government to make Roads and Canals. Letter to Mr. Madison. Proposed Protest of the Virginia Legislature. Letters to Mr. Giles concerning president Adams. Letter to Mr. Madison. His pecuniary difficulties. His heavy expenses. Applies to the Legislature for leave to dispose of his Property by a Lottery. His hopes of the University. Letter to the President. Liberal principles of National Law. Plan of his Lottery. Public Sympathy. Other schemes of relief attempted. Letters to the Mayor of Washington. His last illness and death. Honours to his memory.
The time now approached when Mr. Jefferson was to have the satisfaction to see his long cherished scheme of the university carried into execution. The buildings were so far completed as to be fit to open the institution by the latter end of the year 1824. He had long before turned his attention to the subject of obtaining professors, and had come to the conclusion that it would be advisable to procure them from Europe, it being better, as he said, to get competent foreigners, than second rate natives, since those of the first order of talents were likely to be already engaged in other institutions, which they could not leave, and because, moreover, it would be invidious to seduce them. His colleagues having concurred in his views, the board had sent a special agent, Mr. F. W. Gilmer, to England, for the purpose of engaging suitable professors, except those of moral philosophy and law, which it was deemed more advisable to procure at home.
Mr. Jetferson has been censured for this course, as reflecting on the science and literature of his own country. But surely nothing can be more defensible. The institution, which had been reared by his efforts, and for whose success he had every motive, personal and patriotic, aspired to give a course of education equal to any other in the United States. As the most capable prosessors were presumed to be already occupied, that description of talent being not yet redundant in the country, and scarcely equalling the demand, to have confined himself to such professors as could have been obtained here would have subjected the visiters to the alternative of either taking inferior men, such as had not found employment elsewhere, or of enticing them from some other institution. The first course would have been unfaithful to themselves, their own promises, and the public expectations. The last would have been invidious, would have subjected them to a still severer censure, and their own injustice might have been retorted on them.
The professors finally arrived at the end of 1824, or beginning of 1825, and with the addition of the professor of chemistry and of moral philosophy, obtained in the country, the university opened in April, 1825. The main building, the rotunda, was still unfinished, and the legislature began to be deaf to the appeals made to it for more money. It happened, however, fortunately, that there was still an unsettled claim of Virginia against the general government for interest due upon the advances made by the state for the public defence; it being a general practice in that government not to páy interest on its debts, because it assumes that the public treasury has always been able to discharge all just claims against it, and that the delay of payment has been owing either to a delay of application, or a want of evidence, or authority. These suppositions, however, do not always square with the fact, and did not in the present instance, since Virginia had been a creditor, because the United
States were not in a condition to make the requisite advances, and Virginia had, in fact, been paying interest on the money thus expended. The claim for interest, therefore, seemed to be as well founded as that of the principal. The visiters applied to the legislature for a grant of a part of this fund, on account of the university, and succeeded in obtaining one to the amount of fifty thousand dollars, but they were not able to obtain any further advances out of the public treasury. The claim being thus appropriated, it was earnestly pressed by the delegation from the state, and by dint of the many personal friends which Mr. Jefferson had in Congress, the favour shown by the liberal minded members of the legislature towards its object, and the influence of the president, Mr. Monroe, the claim was allowed, at the session of 1824-5. Even this, however, was not sufficient to complete the buildings, as well as furnish the requisite books and apparatus; and at the succeeding session of the legislature, he attempted to get a further grant from the same fund, while
a yet its issue was uncertain, and he urged to Mr. Cabell, “That the legislature will certainly owe to us the recovery of this money; for had they not given it, in some measure, the reverenced character of a donation for the promotion of learning, it would never have been paid. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the displeasure incurred by wringing it from them at the last session, will now give way to a contrary feeling, and even place us on a ground of some merit.”
Mr. Cabell had given him encouraging hopes of success, and tells him that his handwriting and letters had great effect among the members of the legislature, and urges him to write to some of the members on the subject. He seems to question the fact, and remarks, “When I retired from the administration of public affairs, I thought I saw some evidence that I retired with a good degree of public favour, and that my conduct in office had been considered, by the one party, at least, with approbation, and with acquiescence by the other. But the attempt in which I have embarked so earnestly, to procure an improvement in the moral condition of my native state, although, perhaps, in other states it may have strengthened