The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

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Europe has been a second time turned topsy-turvy since we were together; and so many things have happened there that I have lost my compass. As far as we can judge from appearances, Bonaparte, from being mere military usurper, seems to have become the choice of his nation; and the allies in their turn, the usurpers and spoliators of the European world. The right of nations to self-government being my polar star, my partialities are steered by it, without asking whether it is a Bonaparte or an Alexander towards whom the helm is directed. Believing that England has enough on her hands without us, and therefore has by this time settled the question of impressment with Mr. Adams, I look on this new conflict of the European gladiators, as from the higher forms of the amphitheatre, wondering that man, like the wild beasts of the forest, should permit himself to be led by his keeper into the arena, the spectacle and sport of the lookers on. Nor do I see the issue of this tragedy with the sanguine hopes of our friend M. Dupont. I fear, from the experience of the last twenty-five years that morals do not of necessity advance hand in hand with the sciences.

to Correa de Serra, 28 June 1815