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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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4750. LIFE, Jefferson's habits of.—[further continued].
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4750. LIFE, Jefferson's habits of.—[further continued].

The request of the history
of my physical habits would have puzzled
me not a little, had it not been for the model
with which you accompanied it, of Doctor
Rush's answer to a similar inquiry. I live so
much like other people, that I might refer to
ordinary life as the history of my own. * * * I have lived temperately, eating little animal
food, and that not as an aliment, so much as a
condiment for the vegetables which constitute
my principal diet. I double, however, the Doctor's
glass and a half of wine, and even treble
it with a friend; but halve its effects by drinking
the weak wines only. The ardent wines I
cannot drink, nor do I use ardent spirits in
any form. Malt liquors and cider are my table
drinks, and my breakfast is of tea and coffee.
I have been blest with organs of digestion
which accept and concoct, without ever murmuring,
whatever the palate chooses to consign
to them, and I have not yet lost a tooth by
age. I was a hard student until I entered on
the business of life, the duties of which leave
no idle time to those disposed to fulfil them;
and now, retired, and at the age of seventy-six,
I am again a hard student. Indeed, my
fondness for reading and study revolts me from
the drudgery of letter writing. And a stiff
wrist, the consequence of an early dislocation,
makes writing both slow and painful. I am
not so regular in my sleep as the Doctor says
he was, devoting to it from five to eight hours,
according as my company or the book I am
reading interests me; and I never go to bed
without an hour, or half hour's previous reading
of something moral, whereon to ruminate
in the intervals of sleep. But whether I retire
to bed early or late, I rise with the sun.
I use spectacles at night, but not necessarily in
the day, unless in reading small print. My
hearing is distinct in particular conversation,
but confused when several voices cross each
other, which unfits me for the society of the
table. I have been more fortunate than my
friend in the article of health. So free from
catarrhs that I have not had one (in the breast,
I mean) on an average of eight or ten years
through life. I ascribe this exemption partly
to the habit of bathing my feet in cold water
every morning, for sixty years past. A fever
of more than twenty-four hours I have not had
above two or three times in my life. A periodical
headache has afflicted me occasionally, once,
perhaps, in six or eight years, for two or three
weeks at a time, which now seems to have left
me; and except on a late occasion of indisposition,
I enjoy good health; too feeble, indeed,
to walk much, but riding without fatigue
six or eight miles a day, and sometimes thirty or
forty. I may end these egotisms, therefore, as
I began, by saying that my life has been so
much like that of other people, that I might say
with Horace, to every one “nomine mutato,
de te fabula narratur”.

To Doctor Vine Utley. Washington ed. vii, 116. Ford ed., x, 125.
(M. 1819)