Thomas Jefferson Papers

Caesar A. Rodney to Thomas Jefferson, 19 February 1815

From Caesar A. Rodney

Wilmington Feby 19. 1815.

Honored & Dear Sir,

It has been so long since I had the pleasure of hearing from you, that I feel anxious to know whether in the tranquil scenes of retirement you continue to enjoy your usual good health, for I know you must enjoy, unclouded, except by sickness, that serenity of mind, which is the constant companion of a pure conscience: The diadem of a man, who can repeat with truth, the sentiment of the Latin Lyric bard

Integer vitæ, scelerisque purus.

And who can say with justice, to an enemy,

Hic murus ahæneus esto Nil conscire sibi, nulla palescere culpa.

Tho’ you can not have been, since you left Washington, without solicitude for the welfare of the Republic, you have been releived from that burthen of cares, necessarily incident, to the high office you, filled with so much dignity, & executed with such exalted integrity, directed by the most enlightened understanding, that you gained the affections of the people at large, & the warm attachment of every individual, capable of attachment, who had the honor of being more intimately connected with you, by the ties of friendship, or the relations of office. Fidelity & frankness to your friends was the unerring & undeviating maxim of your public life. And I shall never forget, your last advice, your parental legacy & injunction, to those you left behind, on going out of office, “To love one another as you had loved them.” But I have often regretted, that I did not adhere rigidly, to the resolution I had formed, of retiring with you, from the post you had spontaniously bestowed, unsought, unsolicited & unexpected, on me, & which I accepted with a heart over flowing with gratitude. Your successor, however, intreated, and persuaded me to continue, & I remained until a just sense of honor & of character, compelled me to resign.

Since that time I have devoted myself to my profession, to improve my fortune, too much neglected & empaired by public life. For in the wreck, alone, of my furniture library &c on their passage to Washington in 1810 I sustained a loss of more than $5,000 besides being deprived of many book & articles not to be replaced. And you will recollect1 the sacrifice I made, when at your solicitation, I was drawn from my practice, my only dependence, at an important period of life, to deprive of his seat in congress, one of our present ministers in Europe, who had been very violent & virulent against the Republican Chief magistrate & the Republican cause. My situation was the more delicate, because, tho we had been always opposed in public, we have been uniformly on the most intimate terms, in private life.

The war which I am happy to add, tho’ a sincere advocate for it, is now ended, initiated me into the elements of the military science, of which I blush to own I was before ignorant, by inducing me to raise a company of artillery for the protection of our country against a cruel & vindictive enemy. My ambition prompted me, to qualify myself for the task of disciplining & commanding them.

The contest with England also dragged me into the Senate of this State with the veiw of urging the legislature to provide the means of defence within thier proper sphere, & this object was partially accomplished.

With these exceptions I have confined myself exclusively to the practice of the law.

Since we last parted what wonderful revolutions & changes have taken place at home & abroad. “Tempora mutantur,” & some men have changed with the times. But I will not descant on this subject, when it shall be in my power to visit you I may. This pleasure & satisfaction, I anticipate before a very2 long time. I have a great desire to spend a few days with the best of men, in his retreat of whom some future historian will say with more propriety, than it was said of Scipio in ancient or, Scarborough in modern times

Nil non laudændum, aut fecit, aut dixit, aut sensit

With every sentiment of esteem, of gratitude & affection I remain Dr Sir, Your Most Sincerely & Truly

C A. Rodney

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 3 Mar. 1815 and so recorded in SJL.

integer vitæ, scelerisque purus: “The man of unblemished life who is unstained by crime” (Horace, Odes, 1.22.1, in Horace: Odes and Epodes, trans. Niall Rudd, Loeb Classical Library [2004], 66–7). hic murus ahæneus … culpa (“hic murus aeneus esto, nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa”): “Be this our wall of bronze, to have no guilt at heart, no wrongdoing to turn us pale,” from Horace, Epistles, 1.1.60–1 (Fairclough, Horace: Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica description begins H. Rushton Fairclough, trans., Horace: Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, Loeb Classical Library, 1926, repr. 2005 description ends , 254–5). to love one another as you had loved them is a reworking of Jesus’s admonition in the Bible to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13.34). In 1802 Rodney won his seat in the United States House of Representatives by defeating James A. Bayard, one of our present ministers in europe. tempora mutantur: “times change.”

nil non laudændum … sensit (“nisi laudandum aut fectit aut dixit ac sensit”): “guilty of no act, word, or thought that was not praiseworthy” (Velleius Paterculus, Historiae Romanae, 1.12.3, in Velleius Paterculus: Compendium of Roman History Res Gestae Divi Augusti, trans. Frederick W. Shipley, Loeb Classical Library [1924; repr. 1961], 30–1). Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, included this quote in his 1759 sketch of Richard Lumley, 2d Earl of Scarborough (Characters by Lord Chesterfield contrasted with Characters of the same Great Personages by other respectable Writers [London, 1778], 41–4, quote on p. 42).

1Manuscript: “rcollect.”

2Manuscript: “very a very.”

Index Entries

  • Bayard, James Asheton; as U.S. representative from Del. search
  • Bible; John referenced search
  • Congress, U.S.; elections to search
  • Delaware; legislature of search
  • Horace; quoted by C. A. Rodney search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; friendship with C. A. Rodney search
  • Paterculus, Velleius; quoted search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; and War of1812 search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; as attorney general search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; as legislator search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; compliments TJ search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; furniture wrecked search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; legal career of search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; letters from search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; plans to visit TJ search
  • Scarborough, Richard Lumley, 2d Earl of search
  • Scipio Africanus, Publius Cornelius search