The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 470
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
collected and collated a great number of statements from Jeffer-
son's writings-principally from his letters-about painting, sculp.
ture, architecture, "gardening as a fine art," music, rhetoric, and
literature; and she attempts to relate Jefferson's ideas to the prin-
cipal intellectual movements of the eighteenth century. A chap-
ter is devoted to each of the arts listed above; and there is an
introductory chapter, entitled "Jefferson and the Arts," a con-
cluding chapter, and three chapters devoted to the movements in
art and thought which influenced him, one of the three being
taken up with an examination of "Rococo and the Pre-Romantic:
The Hogarthian Influence."
A principal defect of this book is its failure to give an account
of Jefferson's actual achievements in various arts or to appraise
his actual achievements in them as reflecting his level of per-
formance and taste. This defect may be inseparable from the
attempt to discuss Jefferson's place among all the arts, but makes
it impossible that the book furnish any significant insight into
Jefferson's thought and feeling. Jefferson's ideas are not defined
with any precision or fullness. We are assured that he is a "util-
itarian," and we are told that he had no "philosophy, in the
professional sense." The quality of his utilitarianism never
emerges. In view of the notorious stairways of Monticello and of
what Dr. Dunglison has to say about lack of closets in the pa-
vilions of the University of Virginia, no one would dare claim
that Jefferson's interest in architecture was dominated by prac-
tical considerations. He does use the word "useful" again and
again in connection with what he has to say of the arts; but since
he was not a utilitarian in the sense in which the term is used of
members of a particular school of philosophy, and since the term
"useful" is popularly used loosely, it is important to define Jef-
ferson's position with respect to value with precision.
There are serious defects in the interpretation of Jefferson's
position on various matters. Two examples will illustrate. On
page 235 the author speaks of Jefferson's "passionate interest" in
fiction, an interest which he lost with advancing years. This is
far too strong a statement. On page 267 it is said that Jefferson's
"faith in the . . . ultimate perfectibility of man never wavered."
In a letter to Dupont de Nemours, of April 24, 1816, and again
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/479/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.