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TO THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 12.
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LA FAYETTE
Monticello, December 26, 1820
It is long, indeed, my very dear friend, since I have been able to address a letter to you. For more than two years my health has been so entirely prostrate, that I have, of necessity, intermitted all correspondence. The dislocated wrist, too, which perhaps you may recollect, has now become so stiff from the effects of age, that writing is become a slow and painful operation, and scarcely ever undertaken but under the goad of imperious business. In the meantime your country has been going on less well than I had hoped. But it will go on. The light which has been shed on the mind of man through the civilized world, has given it a new direction, from which no human power can divert it. The sovereigns of Europe who are wise, or have wise counsellors, see this, and bend to the breese which blows; the unwise alone stiffen and meet its inevitable crush. The volcanic rumblings in the bowels of Europe, from north to south, seem to threaten a general explosion, and the march of armies into Italy cannot end in a simple march. The disease of liberty is catching; those armies will take it in the south, carry it thence to their own country, spread there the infection of revolution and representative government, and raise its people from the prone condition of brutes to the erect altitude of man. Some fear our envelopment in the wars engendering from the unsettled state of our affairs with Spain, and therefore are anxious for a ratification of our treaty with her. I fear no such thing, and hope that if ratified by Spain it will be rejected here. We may justly say to Spain, “when this negotiation commenced, twenty years ago, your authority was acknowledged by those you are selling to us. That authority is now renounced, and their right of self-disposal asserted. In buying them from you, then, we buy but a war-title, a right to subdue them, which you can neither convey nor we acquire. This is a family quarrel in which we have no right to meddle. Settle it between yourselves, and we will then treat with the party whose right is acknowledged.” With whom that will be, no doubt can be entertained. And why should we revolt them by purchasing them as cattle, rather than receiving them as fellow-men? Spain has held off until she sees they are lost to her, and now thinks it better to get something than nothing for them. When she shall see South America equally desperate, she will be wise to sell that also.
With us things are going on well. The boisterous sea of liberty indeed is never without a wave, and that from Missouri is now rolling towards us, but we shall ride over it as we have over all others. It is not a moral question, but one merely of power. Its object is to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a president, and the noise will be kept up till that is effected. All know that permitting the slaves of the south to spread into the west will not add one being to that unfortunate condition, that it will increase the happiness of those existing, and by spreading them over a larger surface, will dilute the evil everywhere, and facilitate the means of getting finally rid of it, an event more anxiously wished by those on whom it presses than by the noisy pretenders to exclusive humanity. In the meantime, it is a ladder for rivals climbing to power.
TO JAMES MADISON
Monticello, Jan. 13, 21
—I return you Mr. Coxe’s letter without saying I have read it. I made out enough to see that it was about the Missouri question, and the printed papers told me on which side he was. Could I have devoted a day to it, by interlining the words as I could pick them out, I might have got at more. The lost books of Livy or Tacitus might be worth this. Our friend would do well to write less and write plainer.
I am sorry to hear of the situation of your family, and the more so as that species of fever is dangerous in the hands of our medical boys. I am not a physician & still less a quack but I may relate a fact. While I was at Paris, both my daughters were taken with what we formerly called a nervous fever, now a typhus, distinguished very certainly by a thread-like pulse, low, quick and every now and then fluttering. Dr. Gem, an English physician, old, & of great experience, & certainly the ablest I ever met with, attended them. The one was about 5. or 6. weeks ill, the other 10. years old was 8. or ten weeks. He never gave them a single dose of physic. He told me it was a disease which tended with certainty to wear itself off, but so slowly that the strength of the patient might first fail if not kept up. That this alone was the object to be attended to by nourishment and stimulus. He forced them to eat a cup of rice, or panada, or gruel, or of some of the farinaceous substances of easy digestion every 2. hours and to drink a glass of Madeira. The youngest took a pint of Madeira a day without feeling it, and that for many weeks. For costiveness, injections were used; and he observed that a single dose of medicine taken into the stomach and consuming any of the strength of the patient was often fatal. He was attending a grandson of Mme. Helvetius, of 10 years old, at the same time, & under the same disease. The boy got so low that the old lady became alarmed and wished to call in another physician for consultation. Gem consented, that physician gave a gentle purgative, but it exhausted what remained of strength, and the patient expired in a few hours.
I have had this fever in my family 3. or 4. times since I have lived at home, and have carried between 20. & 30. patients thro’ it without losing a single one, by a rigorous observance of Dr. Gem’s plan and principle. Instead of Madeira I have used toddy of French brandy about as strong as Madeira. Brown preferred this stimulus to Madeira. I rarely had a case, if taken in hand early, to last above 1. 2. or 3. weeks, except a single one of 7. weeks, in whom when I thought him near his last, I discovered a change in his pulse to regularity, and in 12. hours he was out of danger. I vouch for these facts only, not for their theory. You may on their authority, think it expedient to try a single case before it has shewn signs of danger.