« PředchozíPokračovat »
winds round it to Monticello. It has a slight inclosure, and is surrounded by the native wood. In it lie the remains of other members of the family, some two or three of whom have tablets of marble. On his own grave his executor has erected a granite obelisk, eight feet high, and on a piece of marble inserted on its southern face are inscribed the three acts for which he thought he best deserved to be remembered by posterity. This inscription was found among his papers after his death, in his own hand-writing, and is in these words:
HERE LIES BURIED
AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE,
OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM,
AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.
Failure of the Lottery. Liberality of South Carolina and Louisiana.
Mr. Jefferson's will--property and debts. His descendants. His character.
The subscription, which had been begun with so much liberality in New York, cheered the last moments of Mr. Jefferson's existence, not merely as promising relief for his difficulties without compelling him to part with his home, which he had been sixty years in improving and embellishing, but as indicating the kindly sentiments felt for him by his fellow citizens, even in distant parts of the Union. He happily did not live to see, as he certainly would have seen, that this gleam of sunshine was as transient as it was cheering. Even before his death there were strong symptoms that this mode of relieving his estate would not prove effectual, and after his death the fountain seemed to be dried up altogether. The lottery was then relied on, and the executor, not able to make sale of the whole scheme to some who would at first have purchased it, in consequence of certain prohibitory laws passed in the interval, attempted himself to dispose of the tickets through agents. But as the scheme held out smaller chances of profit than other lotteries, its prizes being land valued at a high price instead of money, no tickets were purchased except by those who felt anxious to befriend the family. A small proportion of the whole number being thus sold, this plan of relief was also abandoned, and the executor was fain to resort to his only reliance, the lands, slaves, and other property of his testator. The whole was accordingly offered for sale in the succeeding January. All his personal estate, both at Monticello and Poplar Forest, except the slaves who
were set free by his will, was accordingly sold at auction, and all his real estate,* except a part of the lands of Poplar Forest. But it is understood that the property sold and unsold will be not more than sufficient to pay his debts.
In his willt he devised all his property to bis daughter, Mrs. Randolph, after the payment of his debts, saving two or three specific legacies. The slaves, who had attended on him in person, or had extraordinary merit, he emancipated. He left to his grandson and executor all his papers, and to the University all his books and maps, except those of which it already had copies, and his marble bust by Ceracchi. The books, thus excepted, he directed to be divided between Joseph Coolidge, Jr. of Boston, and Nicholas P. Trist, now consulat Cuba. These gentlemen had married two of his granddaughters. The last bequests never took effect. His books, amounting to about one thousand volumes, were sold at auction in Washington, and his marble bust was purchased by Congress.
One cause of the lukewarmness or indifference, first shewn by the public to aid in relieving the family, was its incredulity as to the amount of his debts, and its belief that his property, which was known to be large, would, after their discharge, afford an ample provision for his daughter. As soon, however, as it was ascertained, that his whole estate would be absorbed in the payment of his debts, strong symptoms of public sympathy were manifested throughout the Union; but in two states, to their lasting honour, it alone produced solid fruits. The legislatures of South Carolina and Louisiana, unwilling, that the only daughter of one who had been so signal a public benefactor, should be consigned to indigence, generously bestowed on that daughter 10,000 dollars each, in six per cent stocks, created for the purpose; and, as they were redeemable at distant days, they were sold for a price considerably above par, and thus secured her against want, by the sum of about 24,000 dollars.
The descendants of Mr. Jefferson, living at his death, were: * Monticello, which is inseparably connected with the name of Thomas Jefferson, has twice changed hands since his death. The mansion and two hundred acres of the original tract are now the property of Lieutenant Levy of the navy.
† See Appendix, F.
I. One daughter—Martha Wayles Randolph, widow of the late Governor Randolph. II. Eleven grandchildren, to wit:
1. Thomas Jefferson Randolph.
The children of Thomas Jefferson Randolph—six.
daughter of Mrs. Randolph-four.
A daughter of Mrs. Trist. Since Mr. Jefferson's death time has made its usual changes, both by deaths and births, and the number of his descendants now exceeds forty, among whom are several of the fifth generation.
It is from the acts and opinions recorded in the preceding pages that Mr. Jefferson's moral and intellectual character must be drawn; and while they furnish a stock of materials as ample and authentic as a biographer ever possessed, the author is aware that he views them from too near a point to see them all in their proper lights and just proportions. It is, therefore, not without some misgivings of his competency that he presents the following portrait
Of Mr. Jefferson's moral qualities, the most distinguished were suavity of temper, and a warmth of benevolence, which, beginning in the domestic affections, exhibited itself in a fervent
love of country, and a wide spread philanthropy. Few men ever devoted so much of their time, and thoughts, and money to the concerns of others. A disposition thus generous and affectionate was sure to meet with its appropriate reward; and it would be difficult to name one who was more beloved as a parent, relative, friend, or master.
Whilst his character was so conspicuously adorned by these amiable qualities, it was also strengthened and supported by the severer virtues. He was just and honourable in his private dealings, of scrupulous veracity, and inflexibly firm, whenever he was called upon to perform a painful duty. However impelled by his feelings to grant favours to an applicant, he could frankly and firmly say po, whenever principle clearly required it. He was often charged with being deficient in personal courage, on no other ground than that he left Richmond during Arnold's incursion, and Monticello during Tarleton's. Yet, unprovided, as he was, with all means of defence, the charge is preposterous. It is testified by persons yet living, that on these occasions, he showed cool self-possession, and thus gave all the proof of courage that circumstances permitted. The ordinary occasions of danger he met with the firmness of a constant mind; and he once affordeda proof which men in general consider as yet more satisfactory. Among his political assailants in Albemarle, was one whom he thought to have so far transcended the just limits of party warfare, that he had determined to challenge him, and would have done so, if the friend he consulted had seconded his purpose.
But more conclusive evidence of his fortitude may be found in the general tenor of his conduct through life—in his being among the foremost to resist the authority of Great Britain, when resistance might incur the penalties of treason; in the manner in which he met his accusers in the legislature; in his unyielding adherence to the principles of his party, and his open avowal of them, notwithstanding a course of malicious defamation that has rarely found a parallel; in his retaining Freneau, whose services he thought important to the cause of republicanism, although he had reason to know that his dismissal was wished by General Washington; in his unflinching opposition to the leading measures of Washington's