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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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2767. EUROPE, Estimate of.—
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2767. EUROPE, Estimate of.—

me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe!
* * * You are curious perhaps to know
how this new scene has struck a savage of
the mountains of America. Not advantageously,
I assure you. I find the general fate
of humanity here most deplorable. The
truth of Voltaire's observation offers itself
perpetually, that every man here must be
either the hammer or the anvil. It is a true
picture of that country to which they say we
shall pass hereafter, and where we are to see
God and his angels in splendor, and crowds
of the damned trampled under their feet.
While the great mass of the people are thus
suffering under physical and moral oppression,
I have endeavored to examine more
nearly the condition of the great, to appreciate
the true value of the circumstances in
their situation, which dazzle the bulk of
spectators, and, especially, to compare it with
that degree of happiness which is enjoyed in
America by every class of people. Intrigues
of love occupy the younger, and those of
ambition, the elder part of the great. Conjugal
love having no existence among them,
domestic happiness, of which that is the basis,
is utterly unknown. In lieu of this, are substituted
pursuits which nourish and invigorate
all our bad passions, and which offer
only moments of ecstacy amidst days and
months of restlessness and torment. Much,
very much inferior, this, to the tranquil,
permanent felicity with which domestic society
in America blesses most of its inhabitants;
leaving them to follow steadily those
pursuits which health and reason approve,
and rendering truly delicious the intervals of
those pursuits. In Science, the mass of the
people are two centuries behind ours; their
literati, half a dozen years before us. Books,
really good, acquire just reputation in that
time, and so become known to us, and communicate
to us all their advances in knowledge.
Is not this delay compensated by our
being placed out of the reach of that swarm
of nonsensical publications which issue daily
from a thousand presses, and perish almost
in issuing? With respect to what are termed
polite manners, without sacrificing too much
the sincerity of language, I would wish my
countrymen to adopt just so much of European
politeness, as to be ready to make
all those little sacrifices of self, which really
render European manners amiable, and relieve
society from the disagreeable scenes to
which rudeness often subjects it. Here, it
seems that a man might pass a life without
encountering a single rudeness. In the
pleasures of the table, they are far before us,
because, with good taste they unite temperance.
They do not terminate the most sociable
meals by transforming themselves into
brutes. I have never yet seen a man drunk
in France, even among the lowest of the people.
Were I to proceed to tell you how
much I enjoy their architecture, sculpture,
painting, music, I should want words. It is
in these arts they shine. The last of them,
particularly, is an enjoyment, the deprivation
of which with us, cannot be calculated.—
To Mr. Bellini. Washington ed. i, 444.
(P. 1785)