about one-fourth of the matter, while Franklin
tried to comfort the writhing author with his cheerful story about the sign of John Thompson
Forty-seven years afterwards, in reply to the charge of lack of originality brought against the Declaration by Timothy Pickering
and John Adams
— charges which have been repeated at intervals ever since — Jefferson
replied philosophically: “Whether I gathered my ideas from reading or reflection I do not know.
I know only that I turned neither to book nor pamphlet while writing it. I did not consider it as any part of my charge to invent new ideas altogether and to offer no sentiment which had ever been expressed before.”
O wise young man, and fundamentally Anglo-Saxon
young man, to turn his back, in that crisis, to the devil of mere cleverness, and stick to recognized facts and accepted sentiments!
But his pen retains its cunning in spite of him; and the drop of hot Welsh
blood tells; and the cosmopolitan reading and thinking tell; and they transform what Pickering
called a “commonplace compilation, its sentiments hackneyed in Congress for two years before,” into an immortal manifesto to mankind.
Its method is the simplest.
The preamble is