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class (third year) at William and Mary College. Here it was his good fortune to come into intimate relations with Dr. Small, the Professor of Mathematics, and for the time discharging the duties of the Professor of Philosophy. He was a Scotchman of elegant manners, general culture, and of a peculiarly liberal and comprehensive mind. As an instructor, he had the happy, if not rare, art of making the road to knowledge both easy and profitable. Attracted by the correct and modest deportment of young Jefferson, struck with his singular proficiency and his energy of thought, he not only instructed him with peculiar zest from the professorial chair, but he made him the friend and companion of his leisure honrs; and he did much to create, or rather to encourage in him, that thirst for a general culture—those enlarged views of the expansion of science and of the system of things in which we are placed'—for which his pupil, sixty years afterward, covered with honor and renown, poured out his fervid acknowledgments. Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, with some, we can not but think, of that exaggeration with which generous minds are prone to regard the services of early benefactors, declared in his Memoir that it was Doctor Small's instruction and intercourse that probably fixed the destinies of his life.' Under the influence of Doctor Small's teachings and conversation, the young student was withdrawn from the temptations of fast horses and faster young men, to which he was at first cxposed, and to which he alludes in a letter to his grandson at college, written when occupying the Presidential Mansion at Washington, Nov. 24, 1808 :
Your situation, thrown on a wide world, among entire strangers, without a friend or guardian to advise, so young, too, and with so little experience of man. kind, your dangers are great, and still your safety must rest on yourself. A determination never to do what is wrong, prudence, and good humor, will go far toward securing to you the estimation of the world. When I recollect that at fourteen years of age, the whole care and direction of myself was thrown on myself entirely, without a relation or friend, qualified to advise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad company with which I associated from time to time, I am astonished I did not turn off with some of them, and become as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fortune to become acquainted very early with some characters of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I could ever become what they were. Under temptations and diffi. culties, I would ask myself—what would Dr. Small, Mr. Wythe, Peyton Ran. dolph do in this situation? What course in it will insure me their approbation ? I am certain that this mode of deciding on my conduct, tended more to correct. ness than any reasoning powers I possessed. Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same objeet through a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaundiced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the circumstances of my position, I was often thrown into the society of horse racers, card players, fox hunters, scientific and professional men, and of dignified men; and many a time have I asked myself, in the en. thusiastic moment of the death of a fox, the victory of a favorite borse, the issue of a question eloquently argued at the bar, or in the great council of tho pátion, Well, which of these kinds of reputation should I prefer ? That of a horse jockey ? a fox hunter ? an orator? or the honest advocate of my country's rights? Be assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little returns into ourselves, this self-catechizing habit, is not trifling nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and steady pursuit of what is right
His second year in college was more diligently employed than the first. Company, the riding-horse, and even the favorite violin, were nearly discarded. He habitually studied, as he often afterward declared, fifteen hours a day. The only time he took for exercise, was to run sharply a mile out of the city and back at twilight. He left college at the end of his second year, a profound and accomplished scholar for one so young. Few probably have been better educated at the same age ; and he had a good and broad foundation laid for that superstructure of learning which he continued to erect on it throughout his life. He united, what is not common among students, a decided taste for both mathematics and the classics, The first was perhaps at this period of life rather the favorite, and intricate must be that process in it which he could not read off with the facility of common discourse.'* He maintained his familiarity with this science, kept up with its advances, and made a practical use of it in all the concerns where it is applicable, through life. In later years, we shall find him giving the most attention to the classics. He was a fine and even a critical Latin and Greek scholar. The most difficult authors in those languages were read by him with ease—were habitually read by him as recreations, snatched from official and other labors, and they became the most prized solaces of his old age. Of French, as a written language, he had a thorough knowledge. His acquaintance with Anglo Saxon, Italian, and Spanish, have been assigned to his college period; but this is a mistake, unless so far as mere rudiments are concerned. He studied the Anglo Saxon during his law studies, to enable him to dip for himself into the ancient fountains of the English Common Law. The Italian was taken up immediately after. The impressions of his family were, that he did not study Spanish until he went to France in 1784 ; and confirmatory of this, we find an entry in one of his account books of the purchase of a Spanish dictionary as he was on the point of embarking. He probably found it necessary to improve his knowledge of Spanish at that period.
There was no grand department, and scarcely a branch of liberal
• He wrote Colonel William Duane, October 1, 1812: When I was young, mathematics was the passion of my life. The same passion has returned upon me, but with unequal power. Processes which I then read off with the facility of common discourse, Qow cost me labor and time and slow investigation.'
learning then taught, in which he was not comparatively well versed; and he seems to have relished them all with two exceptions—ethics and metaphysics. He greatly approved of reading works calcnlated to foster the moral sense, and strongly recommended a favorite nephew to read Epictetus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato's Socratic Dialogues, Cicero's Philosophies, Antoninus and Seneca. He repeatedly expresses his unbounded admiration of the teachings of Christ, putting them above all other written moral systems. But it must be confessed that, as a science, he derided ethics. His theory on the subject is contained in a letter to a nephew :
I think it is lost time to attend lectures on Moral Philosophy. He who made us would have been a pitiful bungler, if he had made the rules of our moral conduct a matter of science. For one man of science, there are thousands who are not What would have become of them? Man was destined for society. His morality, therefore, was to be formed to this object. He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling; it is the true founda. tion of morality, and not the TO KAAON, truth, etc., as fanciful writers have imagined. The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man, as his leg or arm. It is given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree. It may be strength. ened by exercise, as may any particular limb of the body. This sense is sub. mitted, indeed, in some degree, to the guidance of reason; but it is a small stock which is required for this: even a less one than what we call common
State a moral case to a plowman and a professor. The former will de. cido it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules. In this branch, therefore, read good books, because they will encourage, as well as direct your feelings. The writings of Sterne, particularly, form the best course of morality that ever was written. Besides these, read the books mentioned in the inclosed paper; and above all things, lose no occasion of exercising your dispositions to be grateful, to be generous, to be charitable, to be humane, to be true, just, firm, orderly, courageous, etc. Consider every act of this kind, as an exercise which will strengthen your moral faculties, and increase your worth.
Mr. Jefferson had little relish for metaphysics. His mind was rather objective than subjective in its tendencies. He was eminently perceptive. He studied the actual, and his philosophy had in it a strong dash of utilitarianism. Recondite speculation, having no connection with practical questions, and especially with practical in. terests, could not long interest his attention. Though not destitute of imagination, and even fond of its higher objective creations, as for ex. ample, in the Greek poets, he could not tolerate its intrusion in systems designed to influence the sober realities of life, or the solemn questions of the hereafter. His early reading was wide and various, including, in chosen departments, most of the standards of the Greek, Latin, and English tongues, and, to a considerable extent, of the French and Italian. He was more partial to the Greek than the Roman literature; and among the Greeks, the Athenians were, in all respects, his chosen people. In the dense logic' and burning de
clamation of oratory, he placed Demosthenes immcasurably above Cicero; but he ranked the philosophies of the latter with those of Socrates, and above those of Epictetus. Among the ancient historians he gave a decided preference to Thucydides and Tacitus. Plutarch was first disliked, but afterward liked by him. Among the moderns, he admired Hume's style, but from his very first perusal of him detested his political sentiments, and therefore preferred the older and less elegant historians of England. For fiction he had little relish, and disapproved of much novel reading for the young. In poetry he was a pretty general reader, and was the owner of all the old and new authors in all the languages he could read. •The glow of one warm thought is worth more than money.'
Soon after leaving college, Mr. Jefferson entered upon the study of the law with Wythe. He says in his Memoir:
He [Dr. Small] returned to Europe in 1762, having proviously filled up the measure of his goodness to me, by procuring for me, from his most intimate friend, George Wythe, a reception as a student of law, under his direction, and introduced me to the acquaintance and familiar table of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who had ever filled that office. With him, and at his table, Dr. Small and Mr. Wythe, his amici omnium horarum, and myself, formed a partie quarrée, and to the habitual conversations on these occasions I owed much instruction.
During his law course of five years, he usually spent the summer months at home, at Shadwell, where the rest of the family continued to reside. The systematic industry of his college life continued. Notwithstanding the time given to company, he contrived to pass nearly twice the usual number of hours of law students in his studies. He placed a clock in his bedroom, and as soon as he could distinguish its hands in the gray of the summer morning, he rose and commenced his labors. In winter, he rose punctually at five. His hour of retiring in the summer, in the country, was nine—in the winter, at ten. At Shadwell, bis studies were very little interrupted by company. He usually took a gallop on horseback during the day, and at twilight walked to the top of Monticello. An hour or two given to the society of his family, and the favorite violin, completed the list of interruptions, and still left fourteen or fifteen hours for study and reading.
Before his admission to the bar as practitioner, in 1766, Mr. Jefferson had been amply instructed in the political questions which were then agitating the public mind. In his Memoir he says:
When the famous Resolutions of 1765, against the Stamp Act, were proposed, I was yet a student of law in Williamsburg. I attended the debate, however, at the door of the lobby of the House of Burgesses, and heard the splendid display of Mr. Henry's talents as a popular orator. They were great indeed; such as I have never heard from any other man. He appeared to me to speak as Homer wrote. Mr. Johnson, a lawyer, and member from the Northern neck, seconded the resolutions, and by him the learning and the logic of the case were chiefly maintained.
In narrating the same scene to Mr. Wirt he adds these details :
Mr. Henry moved, and Mr. Johnson seconded these resolutions successively. They were opposed by Messrs. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, Wythe, and all the old members, whose influence in the house had, till then, been unbroken. They did it, not from any question of our rights, bat on the ground that the same sentiments had been, at their preceding session, expressed in a more conciliatory form, to which the answers were not yet received.
He then mentions that the last resolution was carried but by a single vote-that the debate on it was most bloody'--that Peyton Randolph, the Attorney-General, coming to the door where he was standing, said as he entered the lobby, ‘By God! I would have given five hundred guineas for a single vote,' (for that would have made a tie, and the Speaker, Robinson, would have negatived the resolution)—that Mr. Henry left town that evening—that Colonel Peter Randolph, then of the Council, came to the House next morning, and looked over the journals to find a precedent for expunging a resolution-tbat as soon as the House met a motion was made and carried to expunge it. In another letter to Wirt, he said, in addition to the preceding enumeration, that the resolutions were opposed by Robinson and all the cipbers of the aristocracy.' It was on this occasion that occurred the incident thus narrated by Wirt :
It was in the midst of this magnificent debate, while he [Henry) was descant ing on the tyranny of this obnoxious act, that he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, 'Cæsar had bis Brutus-Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third '—(* Treason l' cried the Speaker-treason! treason l' echoed from every part of the House. It was one of those trying moments wbich is decisive of character. Henry faltered not an instant; but rising to a loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determived fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it.'
When Mr. Henry sat down, the real leadership of the opposition had passed away from the Pendletons, the Wythes, the Blands, the Randolphs, and the Nicholases ;' and the forest-born Demosthenes' was the idol of the people—the head of that class of Whigs who (whether they had yet formed resolutions on the subject or not) were sure to make their opposition to tyranny commensurate with the necessity. Of the old leaders, Mr. Jefferson afterward said - :
These were honest and able men, had begun the opposition on the same grounds, but with a moderation more adapted to their age and experience. Subsequent events favored the bolder spirits of Henry, the Lees, Pages, Mason, &c., with whom I went in all points. Sensible, however, of the importance of unanimity among our constituents, although we often wished to have gone faster, we slackened our pace, that our less ardent colleagues might keep up with us; and they, on their part, differing nothing from us in principle, quickened their gait somewhat beyond that which their prudence might of itself have advised, and thus consolidated the phalanx which breasted the power of Britain.: