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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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7517. REVOLUTION (French), Jefferson's relations to.—[continued].
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7517. REVOLUTION (French), Jefferson's relations to.—[continued].

Possibly you may remember,
at the date of the jeu de paume, how
earnestly I urged yourself and the patriots of
my acquaintance, to enter then into a compact
with the King, securing freedom of religion,
freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas
and a national legislature, all of which
it was known he would then yield, to go home,
and let these work on the amelioration of the
condition of the people, until they should have
rendered them capable of more, when occasions
would not fail to arise for communicating to
them more. This was as much as I then
thought them able to bear soberly and usefully
for themselves. You thought otherwise, and
that the dose might still be larger. And I
found you were right; for subsequent events
proved they were equal to the constitution of
1791. Unfortunately, some of the most honest
and enlightened of our patriotic friends (but
closet politicians merely, unpracticed in the
knowledge of man), thought more could still
be obtained and borne. They did not weigh
the hazards of a transition from one form of
government to another, the value of what they
had already rescued from those hazards, and
might hold in security if they pleased, nor the
imprudence of giving up the certainty of such
a degree of liberty, under a limited monarchy,
for the uncertainty of a little more under the
form of a republic. You differed from them.
You were for stopping there and for securing
the constitution which the National Assembly
had obtained. Here, too, you were right; and
from this fatal error of the republicans, from
their separation from yourself and the constitutionalists,
in their councils, flowed all the
subsequent sufferings and crimes of the French
nation. The hazards of a second change fell
upon them by the way. The foreigner gained
time to anarchise by gold the government he
could not overthrow by arms, to crush in their
own councils the genuine republicans, by the
fraternal embraces of exaggerated and hired
pretenders, and to turn the machine of Jacobinism
from the change to the destruction of
order; and, in the end, the limited monarchy
they had secured was exchanged for the unprincipled
and bloody tyranny of Robespierre,
and the equally unprincipled and maniac tyranny
of Bonaparte. You are now rid of him,
and I sincerely wish you may continue so.
But this may depend on the wisdom and moderation
of the restored dynasty. It is for them
now to read a lesson in the fatal errors of the
republicans; to be contented with a certain portion
of power, secured by a formal compact with
the nation, rather than, grasping at more,
hazard all upon uncertainty, and risk meeting
the fate of their predecessor, or a renewal of
their own exile.—
To Marquis Lafayette. Washington ed. vi, 421. Ford ed., ix, 505.
(M. Feb. 1815)