The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


I received, through Mr. Warden, the copy of your valuable work on the French Revolution, for which I pray you to accept my thanks. That its sale should have been suppressed is no matter of wonder with me. The friend of liberty is too feelingly manifested, not to give umbrage to its enemies. We read in it, and weep over, the fatal errors which have lost to nations the present hope of liberty, and to reason for fairest prospect of its final triumph over all imposture, civil and religious. The testimony of one who himself was an actor in the scenes he notes, and who knew the true mean between rational liberty and the frenzies of demagogy, are a tribute to truth of inestimable value. The perusal of this work has given me new views of the causes of failure in a revolution of which I was a witness in its early part, and then augured well of it. I had no means, afterwards, of observing its progress but the public papers, and their information came through channels too hostile to claim confidence. An acquaintance with many of the principal characters, and with their fate, furnished me grounds for conjectures, some of which you have confirmed, and some corrected. Shall we ever see as free and faithful a tableau of subsequent acts of this deplorable tragedy? Is reason to be forever amused with the bochets of physical sciences, in which she is indulged merely to divert her from solid speculations on the rights of man, and wrongs of his oppressors? It is impossible. The day of deliverance will come, although I shall not live to see it. The art of printing secures us against the retrogradation of reason and information, the examples of its safe and wholesome guidance in government, which will be exhibited through the wide-spread regions of the American continent, will obliterate, in time, the impressions left by the abortive experiment of France.

Monsieur Paganel, 15 April 1811