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OF THE LIFE OF
THOMAS JEFFERSON, Esq.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAN Enriched with a capital Portrait, taken from Life.
Here union'd choice shall form a rule divine,
DWIGHT'S CONQUEST OF CANAAN,
AVING in the former numbers of our Miscellany presented the reader with the heroes, the statesmen, and the divines which Europe hath produced, we turn our eyes to the western Continent, and we mean to contemplate a character who will, we doubt not, make a distinguished figure in the annals of the world. In America his name has been long known and highly celebrated. Be it our present task to detail those particulars relative to his history, which cannot fail of administering to our gratification.
THOMAS JEFFERSON was born in the state of Virginia, about the year 1750, of parents who possessed a more than ordinary share of property. His father acted in conjunction with Colonel Fry, in settling the line by which Virginia and North Carolina are divided from each other. His employ in such a business forms an indisputable proof of his
Vol. 14. No. 57.
DONATED BY THE MERCANTILE LIBRARY ASSOCIATI
respectability. His son was bred up a lawyer, and made an astonishing progress in every species of knowledge connected with his profession. Naturally acute, and perseveringly studious, he soon attracted the attention of those around him. His relations and friends marked those indications of eminence to which he afterwards attained. Previous
to the American revolution, few of the characters who then became so conspicuous were known. Even the great WASHINGTON lay hid in obscurity. We are not therefore to wonder that of the early history of most of the Transatlantic heroes, scarcely any particulars are known. It is to be presumed that the talents of Jefferson did not during this period remain unemployed. Born to an affluent fortune, he probably was at no time a slave to his profession of the law. But on the other hand we may safely declare, that his inquisitive mind was employed in the acquisition of that knowledge which would render him a valuable member of the community.
At the revolution, such were his accomplishments and influence, that he was chosen member of Congress, and exerted himself with unceasing energy for the salvation of his country. In that ever to be deplored contest, he took a most active part. Apprehending that the measures of the British court were hostile to the prosperity of America, he could not remain a silent spectator on such an occasion. He quitted that retirement where he enjoyed every thing which could make him happy. He laid aside that dignified ease which his affluence ensured to him. He came forward with a bold and independent mind, and turned his whole attention to that great work by which the passions of his countrymen were deeply agitated. Hazarding not only his property but even his life, he hesitated not to join that noble band of patriots, who for seven long years re
pelled the foe, and at last gave liberty to their country! Such was JEFFERSON-always activealways persevering; he pursued his course till the efforts of his native land were crowned with victory! To mention the various measures in which he engaged during the revolution, cannot be expected. But, it may be proper to observe, that in the year 1780, he was governor of Virginia; this was a most critical period of the war: the state over which he presided, was at that very time, invaded by Philips and the traitor Arnold. He, however, acquitted himself with peculiar ability.
In 1781, he published his Notes on Virginia, which have passed through various editions, and conferred on his name great celebrity. It forms a kind of history of the state, together with many excellent reflections. As a specimen of the work, we shall transcribe a passage relative to his beloved America: the Abbe Raynal had asserted, that "America has not yet produced one goo poet, one able mathematician, one man of genius, in a single art or a single science." The following is Mr. Jefferson's animated reply.
"When we shall have existed as a people as long as the Greeks did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Virgil, the French a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shakespeare and Milton, should this reproach be still true, we will enquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, that the other countries of Europe, and quarters of the earth, shall not have inscribed any name in the roll of poets. In war we have produced a WASHINGTON, whose memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries, whose name will triumph over time, and will in future ages assume its just station among the most celebrated worthies of the world, when that wretched philosophy shall be forgotten
taste, that in his own possessions he should find a spot, where he might best study and enjoy her. He calls his house Monticello, (in Italian Little Mountain) a very modest title, for it is situated upon a very lofty one, but which announces the owner's attachment to the language of Italy; and above all to the fine arts, of which that country was the cradle, and is still the asylum. As I had no farther occasion for a guide, I separated from the Irishman; and after ascending by a tolerable commodious road, for more than half an hour, we arrived at Monticello. This house, of which Mr. Jefferson was the architect, and often one of the workmen, is rather elegant, and in the Italian taste, though not without fault; it consists of one large square pavilion, the entrance of which is by two porticos ornamented with pillars. The ground floor consists chiefly of a very large lofty saloon, which is to be decorated entirely in the antique style above it is a library of the same form, two small wings, with only a ground floor, and attic story, are joined to this pavilion, and communicate with the kitchen, offices, &c. which will form a kind of basement story over which runs a terrace. My object in this short description is only to shew the difference between this, and the other houses of the country for we may safely saver, that Mr. Jefferson is the first American who has consulted the fine arts to know how he should shelter himself from the weather. But it is on himself alone I ought to bestow my time. Let me describe to you a man, not yet forty,, tall, and with a mild and pleasing countenance, but whose mind and understanding are ample substitutes for every exterior grace. An American, who without ever having quitted his own country, is at once a musician, skilled in drawing, a geometrician, an astronomer,