« FöregåendeFortsätt »
subject. With Mr. Jefferson this was a sacred law, and as he always wrote at a polygraphic desk, copies have been preserved of every letter. His correspondence travelled far beyond his own country, and embraced within its circle many of the most distinguished men of his age in Europe. What a feast for the mind may we not expect from the published letters of these excellent men! They were both masters in this way, though somewhat contrasted. Mr. Adams, plain, nervous, and emphatic, the thought couched in the fewest and strongest words, and striking with a kind of epigrammatic force. Mr. Jefferson, flowing with easy and careless melody, the language at the same time pruned of every redundant word, and giving the thought with the happiest precision, the aptest words dropping unbidden and unsought into their places, as if they had fallen from the skies; and so beautiful, so felicitous, as to fill the mind with a succession of delightful surprises, while the judgment is, at the same time, made captive by the closely compacted energy of the argument. Mr. Jefferson's style is so easy and harmonious, as to have led superficial readers to remark, that he was deficient in strength; as if ruggedness and abruptness were essential to strength. Mr. Jefferson's strength was inherent in the thoughts and conceptions, though hidden by the light and graceful vestments which he threw over them. The internal divinity existed and was felt, though concealed under the finely harmonized form of a man; and if he did not exhibit himself in his compositions with the insignia of Hercules, the shaggy lion's skin and the knotted club; he bore the full quiver and the sil. ver bow of Apollo; and every polished shaft that he loosened from the string, told with unerring and fatal precision :
Δεινη δε κλαγγη γενετ' αργυρεοιο βιοιο. These two great men, so eminently distinguished among the patriots of the Revolution, and so illustrious by their subsequent services, became still more so, by having so long survived all that were most highly
hearts.ed with alory still of deat
conspicuous among their coevals. All the stars of first magnitude, in the equatorial and tropical regions, had long since gone down, and still they remained. Still, they stood full in view, like those two resplendent constellations near the opposite poles, which never set to the inhabitants of the neighboring zones.
But, they too were doomed at length to set: and such was their setting as no American bosom can ever forget!
In the midst of their fast decaying strength, and when it was seen that the approach of death was certain, their country and its glory still occupied their thoughts, and circulated with the last blood that was ebbing to their hearts. Those who surrounded the death-bed of Mr. Jefferson report, that in the few short intervals of delirium that occurred, his mind manifestly relapsed to the age of the Revolution. He talked, in broken sentences, of the Committees of Safety, and the rest of that great machinery, which he imagined to be still in action. One of his exclamations was 6 Warn the Committee to be on their guard;" and he instantly rose in his bed, with the help of his attendants, and went through the act of writing a hurried note. But, these intervals were few and short. His reason was almost constantly upon her throne, and the only aspiration he was heard to breathe, was the prayer, that he might live to see the fourth of July. When that day came, all that he was heard to whisper, was the repeated ejaculation—“ Nunc Domine dimittas”-Now, Lord, let thy servant depart in peace! And the prayer of the patriot was heard and answered.
The Patriarch of Quincy, too, with the same certainty of death before him, prayed only for the protraction of his life to the same day. His prayer was also heard: and when a messenger from the neighboring festivities, unapprized of his danger, was de. puted to ask him for the honor of a toast, he showed the object on which his dying eyes were fixed, and exclaimed with energy, “ Independence forever!" His country first, his country last, his country always! VOL. V.
- O save my country-Heaven ! he said—and died !"
Hitherto, fellow-citizens, the Fourth of July had been celebrated among us, only as the anniversary of our independence, and its votaries had been merely human beings. But at its last recurrence—the great Jubilee of the nation the anniversary, it may well be termed, of the liberty of man-Heaven, itself, mingled visibly in the celebration, and hallowed the day anew by a double apotheosis. Is there one among us to whom this language seems too strong ? Let him recall his own feelings, and the objection will vanish. When the report first reached us, of the death of the great man whose residence was nearest, who among us was not struck with the circumstance that he should have been removed on the day of his own highest glory? And who, after the first shock of the intelligence had passed, did not feel a thrill of mournful delight at the characteristic beauty of the close of such a life. But while our bosoms were yet swelling with admiration at this singularly beautiful coincidence, when the second report immediately followed, of the death of the great sage of Quincy, on the same day-I appeal to yourselves—is there a voice that was not hushed, is there a heart that did not quail, at this close manifestation of the hand of Heaven in our affairs ! Philosophy, recovered of her surprise, may affect to treat the coincidence as fortuitous. But Philosophy herself was mute, at the moment, under the pressure of the feeling that these illustrious men had rather been translated, than had died. It is in vain to tell us that men die by thousands every day in the year, all over the world. The wonder is not that two men have died on the same day, but that two such men, after having performed so many and such splendid services in the cause of liberty_after the multitude of other coincidences which seem to have linked their destinies together-after having lived so long together, the objects of their country's joint veneration-after having been spared to witness the great triumph of their toils at home and looked together from Pisgah's top, on the sublime effect of that grand impulse which they had given to the same glorious cause throughout the world, should, on this fiftieth anniversary of the day on which they had ushered that cause into light, be both caught up to Heaven, together, in the midst of their raptures! Is there a being, of heart so obdurate and sceptical, as not to feel the hand and hear the voice of Heaven in this wonderful dispensation! And may we not, with reverence, interpret its language? Is it not this ? « These are my beloved servants, in whom I am well pleased. They have finished the work for which I sent them into the world : and are now called to their reward. Go ye, and do likewise !"
One circumstance, alone, remains to be noticed. In a private memorandum found among some other obi. tuary papers and relics of Mr. Jefferson, is a suggestion, in case a memorial over him should ever be thought of, that a granite obelisk, of small dimensions, should be erected, with the following inscription :
HERE LIES BURIED
And Father of the University of Virginia.
All the long catalogue of his great, and splendid, and glorious services, reduced to this brief and modest summary!
Thus lived and thus died our sainted Patriots! May their spirits still continue to hover over their countrymen, inspire all their counsels, and guide them in the same virtuous and noble path! And may that God, in whose hands are the issues of all things, confirm and perpetuate, to us, the inestimable boon which, through their agency, he has bestowed; and make our Columbia, the bright exemplar for all the struggling sons of liberty around the globe!
AT SCIENECTADY, JULY 22, A. D. 1823, BEFORE THE
NEW YORK ALPHA OF THE PHI BETA KAPPA,
BY DE WITT CLINTON.
AND GENTLEMEN OF THE SOCIETY : In accepting the honor of your renewed invitations to appear at this place, I have not been insensible of your kind preference; and when you were pleased to intimate that the deep interest of science, in exhibitions of this nature, might be promoted by my co-operation, I considered it my imperative duty to yield a cheerful compliance. When I endeavor to enforce those considerations which ought to operate upon us generally as men, and particularly as Americans, to attend to the cultivation of knowledge, you will not, I am persuaded, expect that I shall act the holiday orator, or attempt an ambitious parade, an ostentatious display, or a gaudy exhibition, which would neither suit the character of the society, the disposition of the speaker, the solemnity of the place, or the importance of the occasion. What I say shall come strictly within the purview of the institution, shall be comprised in the language of unvarnished truth, and shall be directed with an exclusive view to advance the interests of literature. I shall not step aside to embellish or to dazzle, to cull a flower or to collect a gem. Truth, like beauty, needs not the aid of ornament, and the cause of knowledge requires no factitious assistance, for it stands on its own merits, supporting and supported by the primary interests of society, and deriving its effulgent light from the radiations of heaven.
Man without cultivation differs but little from the animals which resemble him in form. His ideas would