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abhorrence "-in the language of the Review, "have one defender for fifty personal assailants"-in the language of Dr. Randall, "have more detractors in Charlottesville than anywhere else;"—when, according to Dr. Dunglison, "his scrupulousness of demeanor down to trifles was absolutely perfect." The reputation involved in these statements could not have been fixed in the most bitter days of party strife upon some men as obnoxious to their political opponents as Jefferson was to his-upon John Jay, or Charles Pinckney. A stranger visiting Oak-hill, once the residence of Judge Marshall, or inquiring of some of his old neighbors in Richmond, a few of whom still survive, would not hear of vagrant amours of the Chief Justice. If merited reproach has been cast upon the name of Alexander Hamilton for like offenses, it is by no means equal to that of the greatest of his political antagonists. Aaron Burr is, of course, to be left out of the comparison as more infamous than all others for systematic profligacy. It is fair to judge of the character of any individual by his standing among the greatest number of his acquaintances-those who have had the best means of knowing his conduct. This common judgment is supposed to be based upon facts, though it may be impossible to prove by the direct testimony of living witnesses a single disreputable act. Men are righteously condemned every day in open court and at the bar of public opinion upon their reputation or general character-the reproach of that character they must bear so long as they are remembered. Our knowledge of infamous names in history comes in the same way. It would have been difficult in their time, and it is impossible now, to prove directly the principal facts that make up the common estimate of a Villiers, a Wharton, a Chesterfield, a D'Orsay, or a Beau Nash-but we are not at liberty to doubt the truth of the historical portraitures.
To form a correct opinion of Jefferson's moral character, however, we are not entirely dependent upon published accounts, or public rumor prolonged with echoes to our times, since there are living witnesses competent to prove the facts. preferred against him by his cotemporaries. We are prevented by the space at our command, as well as by the nature of the
subject, from specifying these charges any further than to say, that we have at hand statements of an occurrence which excited much attention at the time, and which, by the recital, would have relieved Mr. Randall of the "serious misfortune" which he so much laments as a writer of Jefferson's Life. Our information comes from one greatly distinguished in a past age, who had personal knowledge of the affair.
In order to meet the reproach of similar facts, and the abundance of rumors which are rife, it was intended, probably, by the defenders of Mr. Jefferson, in the absence of other testimony, to offer such general answers of his descendants and other interested witnesses, as the following:-From Dr. Dunglison: “I would say, in your language, that he was always in my observation peculiarly decorous, modest, and decent in all things." "I know nothing of any private vice of any kind." From T. J. Randolph: "His moral character was of the highest order, softened, chastened, and developed by the influence of the allpervading benevolence of the doctrines of Christ." From the same: "I had access to his private apartments at all hours." From: "I repeat again my firm belief that such a character as my dear grandfather's could have been formed under no other influences than those of the Gospel." Some of these answers have a negative and others a general meaning. And as all come from those who had occasion to regard the object of their praise with favor on personal grounds, some allowance should be made for the partiality of the witnesses.
Dependents, from a tender age, upon the bounty of a grandparent, acknowleged to have been indulgent in his family, are not presumed to cherish towards him unfavorable opinions, or to publish them if they do. But their recollections could embrace only a small portion of his history. He was nearly seventy years of age when his eldest grandson, the chief assistant of Dr. Randall in the compilation of the personal part of his narrative, had reached his majority! How could he speak, from his own observations, of the life-long habits of a man who was so much older than himself? How could he say with certainty, that "Mr. Jefferson never uttered an untruth in his life, nor practiced deception?" Col. Thomas
Jefferson Randolph is, of course, to be believed when he says, "I never heard my grandfather use a profane expression," but it does not follow that he never used a profane expression. If our informant should turn to the "voluminous collection" of letters, of which he was editor, he would discover, although his grandfather may have been distinguished for propriety of speech in old age, that the taking of God's name in vain was one of the sins of his youth. We are not disposed to dwell upon these "faults, foibles, and even serious errors," topics which are distasteful to ourselves and to our readers, but they have been forced upon our attention by the attempt to throw an extraordinary sanctity around the private character of Mr. Jefferson.
If, in our personal estimate, nothing has been said of any of his accomplishments of mind or manners, it is because they have been unduly praised in recent biographies, and our business is to exhibit other qualities. Our ethical theory, too, is a little different from the prevailing one that modifies opinions of persons known to be wanting in good principles, on account of redeeming traits, or a "counterpoise of good works"-by reducing the generic type of our race to a bundle of qualities or a series of actions, one-half of which may be set off against the other half according to the following formula :
"It were wise, nay, just,
To strike with men a balance, to forgive
If not forget the evil for the good's sake."
We cherish some old fashioned notions about motives and intentions-about a human heart or controlling purpose which fixes guilt or worth to all our conduct. We have faith in Holy Writ, which illustrates humanity by a tree that bears either good or bad fruit, or a fountain that sends forth either sweet or bitter waters. By which comparisons it is to be inferred that any detected impurity in a man indicates the taint of the whole life and the corruptions of its source, and that (if we may change the figure) an Egyptian pyramid of "good works" can never "counterpoise" the dead weight of a single sin. If Christian principles and practical morality were wanting in Mr. Jefferson, his "home virtues," his parental
affections, courtesy to his neighbors, kindness to his servants, sympathy for his friends, affability, hospitality, "philanthropy," joined to love of free-thought and free-speech, can never cancel his social offenses. And when his friends exhibit him for unmixed admiration with a showy exterior, they would impose upon our credulity, beguile our reserved judgments by false pretences, and give us the apples of Sodom for the promised fruit of that "good" tree-" the only one in this world capable of bearing such fruit." Such misrepresentations have become patent to biography, in remodeling other historic personages. For example-in the face of their crimes against society, Lord Byron is praised as a "moderate Presbyterian," with a "vein of latent piety" in him-Lord Chesterfield as "the best bred man of the age"-George the Fourth, as "the first gentleman in Europe "-and Charles the Second, as an affable and a good natured monarch, the indulgent father of his people, in a double sense.
For our pains in telling the truth, we may be accused of making a malicious assault upon one who was honored in public and esteemed in social life of going about to pick up scandal from love of the thing and indifference to the memory of the dead and the feelings of the living. But flourishing no offensive weapons, we stand in defense of private judgment, popular opinion, traditions, history, good morals, and to save the writers of the New Testament from the unhallowed embrace of "their friends." With such ends in view, if to express reasonable doubts as to the holy living of Thomas Jefferson, if to refer to transactions, that everybody believed fifty or sixty years ago, without "complying with times," or flattering his relatives, is reproachful, we patiently submit to partisan abuse, attended as it usually is by the misapplication of Gray's hackneyed couplet, with the last verse in italics: No longer seek his merits to disclose,
Or drag his frailties from their dread abode.”
But the odium of such a practice belongs to those "resurrectionists" who visit these burial places and uncoffin the moldering remnants of ordinary mortals for honor or profitto rewrite and reembellish their epitaphs, or to collect their
bones for exhibition or sale as the veritable relics of real Saints, fit to be enshrined and worshiped. In the exposure of "pious frauds," we take the same satisfaction, out of regard to the memory of the dead and the welfare of the living, as in the detection and punishment of a crime-and with the same end in view, which is understood to be not suffering but admonition. For this salutary discipline state criminals should be preferred. The tower of London is necessary to secure the peace of the realm, as well at Newgate or Blackfriars. And after the condemnation of notable offenders, memorials of their inglorious deeds should be set up in all public places, that vice like virtue may have monuments. How are the representatives of our race to be known, and profitable lessons taught, by their wisdom or their wickedness, if all their peculiarities are not brought to light, however repulsive they may be? When the chroniclers of ancient Mexico show together the palaces of the Montezumas, and piles of skulls, ghastly relics of human sacrifices, we learn in connection with the royal magnificence of the Aztec sovereigns their horrible cruelty. When by the side of the column Vendôme, there rises in the historian's eye the pyramid of bones which remained for twenty years to mark the massacre of Jaffa, we learn both the glory of Napoleon's arms and his devouring ambition. Now and then a scarred veteran of the "grand army" comes amongst us, who very properly relates-as an English soldier might the private vices of Nelson or Wellington-in connection with the exploits of the "Great Captain," his meanness and barbarity. The recollections of our grandsires, like our biographies, extend to the infancy of the great republic, and to the Revolution which gave it birth. When they recount the achievements of Morgan, of Gates, and of Lee in the field, of Hamilton, Jefferson, and Franklin in council, diplomacy, and debate-and speak also of social offenses that have impaired their memory, shall we stifle the report with the suggestion, "The characters of her great men are a part of the nation's wealth," or hear it to the end, and record it all to serve the voyager upon the uncertain current of events, as a beacon light, for warning and for encouragement?