Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: St. George Tucker’s Ode to Thomas Jefferson, 20 October 1809


St. George Tucker’s Ode to Thomas Jefferson

Ad Thomam Jefferson.

Inclyte Civis! primus inter pares;
patriae Sortis impigerque Custos,
Dudum, et Salutis nostræ præsidium,
 Et dulce decus:

Dum Iovis Ira Terruit Europam,
Fulmina dum jam diruerunt urbes;
Dumque Bellona populos extinxit,1
 pax nobis risit:

Te nec Ambitio (semper et iniqua,
Semperque fallax) maxima promittens,
Nec clamittantum Civium Caterva
 Movit ad Bella:2

Te3 neque ferox Gentium Tyrannus,
Nutu qui Reges tollitque, dimovet,
Nec qui Neptuni Regnum usurpavit,
 pollet4 tecum:5

Socium Belli sibi dum uterque
Iungere exoptat Minisque Insidiis,
Spectans utrumque, vultu non iniquo,
 Abnegas Cædes.6

Te duce, nobis quicquid est Telluris
Fructus abundat, Laribus dilectis;
Iani bifrontis foribus occlusis,
 Dexterâ tuâ.

Tu Libertatis dulcia Munera, et
Gaudia, nunquam peritura, monstras;
Commoda pacis, Fideique puræ,
 premia doces.7

Patriae carae stes consulentibus8
Semper Exemplar, resonentque Laudes,
Inter faventis Libertatis plausus,
 Dum volat Ætas.9

Editors’ Translation

To Thomas Jefferson.

Renowned Citizen! First among equals;
Energetic guardian of the country’s destiny,
Long since, and the protector of our welfare,
 And sweet glory:

While Jupiter’s anger terrified Europe,
While lightning bolts have now destroyed cities;
And while Bellona extinguished peoples,
 Peace has smiled upon us:

Neither ambition promising the greatest things,
(Always dangerous and always deceptive)
Nor a crowd of clamoring citizens
 Moved you to war:

The warlike tyrant of nations,
Who with a nod deposes kings, does not influence you,
Nor does he who has possession of the kingdom of Neptune,
 Have influence over you:

While each longs to join to himself a companion in war
Amid threats and treachery,
You, observing each with an unprejudiced look,
 Reject bloodshed.

With you as our leader, fruits abound
In whatever land we own; the Lares are beloved;
The doors of two-faced Janus have been closed,
 By your hand.

You reveal the sweet gifts of Liberty and the
Joys of freedom, which will never perish;
You teach the advantages of peace
 And the rewards of true loyalty.

May you always stand as an example for those looking after
Our dear country, and may praises of you resound,
Amid the applause of Liberty showing her favor,
 While time flies.

MS (DLC); entirely in Tucker’s hand. 2d Dft (ViW: TC); dated 11 Oct. 1809. 1st Dft (ViW: TC); undated. FC (ViW: TC); in Tucker’s hand; dated 20 Oct. 1809; endorsed by Tucker: “Ode.” FC (ViW: TC, St. George Tucker Poetry Notebook, 1810–23); in Tucker’s hand, with his notation at foot of text: “written at Cary’s brook, Fluvanna County, on seeing a fine print of Mr Jefferson in the Room in which I slept. Octo: 20th 1809.” Translation by Dr. John F. Miller.

1In both Dfts this line reads, with slight variations: “Sæva et Bellona Gentes extinxit” (“And savage Bellona has extinguished the peoples”).

2Tucker reworked this stanza in 1st Dft, including deletion in second line of “neq Gloria Falsa” (“nor false glory”), before rewriting the stanza in margin.

3Manuscript: “Ter.”

4Manuscript: “pollicit.”

5 Tucker’s footnotes to notebook FC indicate that Napoleon and George III are the persons successively alluded to in this stanza.

6In both Dfts, the final line of this stanza originally read: “Neutrum adjuvas” (“You encourage neither”).

7Tucker reworked this stanza in 1st Dft, changing ending to “Curia præclara” (“good government”) before rewriting the stanza in margin. Preceding two words interlined in place of “Curia præclara” in 2d Dft.

81st Dft gives two variations of this line: “Sis Reipublicæ consulentibus/Semper Exemplar” (“May you always be an example to those looking after the Republic”) and “pro Republicâ Consulentibus” (“those watching over the Republic”). 2d Dft reads: “publico Bono sis consulentibus/Semper Exemplar” (“May you always be an example for those looking after the public good”).

9In 1st Dft Tucker deleted: “Nobis in mente” (“With us in mind”) and otherwise reworked the stanza, then rewrote the revised stanza below it.

Index Entries

  • George III, king of Great Britain; in S. G. Tucker’s poem search
  • Latin; documents in, from; S. G. Tucker search
  • Napoleon I, emperor of France; in S. G. Tucker’s poem search
  • poetry; sent to TJ search
  • Tucker, St. George; “Ode to Thomas Jefferson,” search
  • “Ode to Thomas Jefferson” (Tucker) search