Being at large in Virginia, along in the latter part of last season, I visited Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, also his grave. Monticello is about an hour’s ride from Charlottesville, by diligence. One rides over a road constructed of rip-raps and broken stone. It is called a macadamized road, and twenty miles of it will make the pelvis of a long-waisted man chafe against his ears. I have decided that the site for my grave shall be at the end of a trunk line somewhere, and I will endow a droska to carry passengers to and from said grave.
Whatever my life may have been, and however short I may have fallen in my great struggle for a generous recognition by the American people, I propose to place my grave within reach of all.
Monticello is reached by a circuitous route to the top of a beautiful hill, on the crest of which rests the brick house where Mr. Jefferson lived. You enter a lodge gate in charge of a venerable negro, to whom you pay two bits apiece for admission. This sum goes towards repairing the roads, according to the ticket which you get. It just goes toward it, however; it don’t quite get there, I judge, for the roads are still appealing for aid. Perhaps the negro can tell how far it gets. Up through a neglected thicket of Virginia shrubs and ill-kempt trees you drive to the house. It is a house that would readily command $750, with queer porches to it, and large, airy windows. The top of the whole hill was graded level, or terraced, and an enormous quantity of work must have been required to do it, but Jefferson did not care. He did not care for fatigue. With two hundred slaves of his own, and a dowry of three hundred more which was poured into his coffers by his marriage, Jeff did not care how much toil it took to polish off the top of a bluff or how much the sweat stood out on the brow of a hill.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. He sent it to one of the magazines, but it was returned as not available, so he used it in Congress and afterward got it printed in the Record.
I saw the chair he wrote it in. It is a plain, old-fashioned wooden chair, with a kind of bosom-board on the right arm, upon which Jefferson used to rest his Declaration of Independence whenever he wanted to write it.
There is also an old gig stored in the house. In this gig Jefferson used to ride from Monticello to Washington in a day. This is untrue, but it goes with the place. It takes from 8:30 A. M. until noon to ride this distance on a fast train, and in a much more direct line than the old wagon road ran.
Mr. Jefferson was the father of the University of Virginia, one of the most historic piles I have ever clapped eyes on. It is now under the management of a classical janitor, who has a tinge of negro blood in his veins, mixed with the rich Castilian blood of somebody else.
He has been at the head of the University of Virginia for over forty years, bringing in the coals and exercising a general oversight over the curriculum and other furniture. He is a modest man, with a tendency toward the classical in his researches. He took us up on the roof, showed us the outlying country, and jarred our ear-drums with the big bell. Mr. Estes, who has general charge of Monticello–called Montechello–said that Mr. Jefferson used to sit on his front porch with a powerful glass, and watch the progress of the work on the University, and if the workmen undertook to smuggle in a soft brick, Mr. Jefferson, five or six miles away, detected it, and bounding lightly into his saddle, he rode down there to Charlottesville, and clubbed the bricklayers until they were glad to pull down the wall to that brick and take it out again.