Search Results for: "william small"
He [William Small] returned to Europe in 1762, having previously filled up the measure of his goodness to me, by procuring for me, from his most intimate friend G. Wythe, a reception as a student of law, under his direction, and introduced me to the acquaintance and familiar table of Governor Fauquier, the ablest man who had ever filled that office. With him, and at his table, Dr. Small & Mr. Wythe, his amici omnium horarum [Latin: friends all hours], & myself, formed a partie quarree, & to the habitual conversations on these occasions I owed much instruction. Mr. Wythe continued to be my faithful and beloved Mentor in youth, and my most affectionate friend through life.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise mentors bring in more mentors.
The previous post listed the qualities Jefferson attributed to his revered college professor, Dr. William Small. His instructor didn’t keep his student to himself but introduced him to others who could guide him, as well.
First among those was lawyer George Wythe, who directed Jefferson’s five-year study of the law. Wythe moved from mentor to “my most affectionate friend through life.” Next was Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, the King’s representative in colonial Virginia.
Together, Small, Wythe and Fauquier, ages 36, 44 and 56, took the 17-year-old Jefferson into their company. The impressionable teenager learned much by observing these men, listening to and participating in their conversations.
Fauquier died in 1768 at age 65, Small in 1775 at age 41. Wythe lived until age 80, believed to be poisoned by a mulatto grandnephew in 1806. The relative was charged with the crime but not convicted. Courts did not accept the testimony of blacks, the only witnesses to the crime.
*This link is to the entire autography. To find this passage, open the link, type Ctrl F (for find) and type several words from the text into the box. Those words will be highlighted wherever they appear within the work.
“Your topic selection and program were extraordinary.”
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[I] then went to Wm. and Mary college, to wit in the spring of 1760, where I continued 2. years. It was my great good fortune, and what probably fixed the destinies of my life that Dr. Wm. Small of Scotland was then professor of Mathematics, a man profound in most of the useful branches of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and gentlemanly manners, & an enlarged & liberal mind. He, most happily for me, became soon attached to me & made me his daily companion when not engaged in the school; and from his conversation I got my first views of the expansion of science & of the system of things in which we are placed.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders-to-be need skilled mentors.
Jefferson was almost 17 when he continued his education in college at Williamsburg. He came into the orbit of Dr. William Small, the only faculty member who was not an Anglican clergyman. Because of upheaval within the school, Small became Jefferson’s only professor, teaching all of his classes.
Sixty years later, Jefferson would cite the qualities that made Small extraordinary:
- “Profound,” which Webster’s 7th New Collegiate defines as “intellectual depth and insight”
- Devoted to the “useful branches of science,” wisdom relevant to everyday life
- “a happy talent for communication,” an engaging and effective classroom teacher
- “correct and gentlemanly manners,” proper and polite
- “an enlarged and liberal mind,” willing to consider all the possibilities
- “made me his daily companion,” taking young Jefferson under his wing
- “from his conversation,” verbal interaction with a high purpose
I’ve begun re-reading Jefferson’s Autobiography. I may take posts from it for some time.
*This link is to the entire autobiography. To find this passage, open the link, type Ctrl F (for find) and type several words from the text into the box. Those words will be highlighted wherever they appear within the work.
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… I send you 3 doz. bottles of Madeira, being the half of a present which I had laid by for you. The capt was afraid to take more on board lest it should draw upon him the officers of the customs. The remaining three doz. therefore I propose to send by Cap;att Drew …. I hope you will find it fine as it came to me genuine from the island & has been kept in my own cellar eight years. Within this week we have received the unhappy news of an action of considerable magnitude, between the King’s troops and our brethren of Boston … But I am getting into politics, though I sat down only to ask your acceptance of the wine, and express my constant wishes for your happiness. This however seems to be ensured by your philosophy & peaceful vocation. I shall still hope that amidst public dissention private friendship may be preserved inviolate and among the warmest you can ever possess is that of
your humble servt.
To William Small, May 7, 1775
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
A thoughtful leader is appreciative of others and shows it in word and deed.
In 1760, a 16 year old Thomas Jefferson became the student of the Scotsman William Small at the College of William and Mary. Small had a profound influence on the young scholar, as professor, mentor and friend, before returning to Great Britain in 1764. Now, 15 years later, Jefferson was sending his former teacher six dozen bottles of wine. (He broke it into two shipments to avoid the tax man!)
After this brief introduction, Jefferson referenced the battles of Lexington and Concord a few days before and went into a lengthy tirade against the British government. Then he caught himself. “But I am getting into politics …” he wrote, reminding himself his purpose was to introduce a nice gift to a valued friend.
Within that conclusion, he expressed to his Scottish friend a desire that he’d repeat to others throughout his very public life. “I shall still hope that amidst public dissention private friendship may be preserved inviolate …” He did not want public conflict with England to harm their personal friendship in any way.
Jefferson could not have known that his mentor and friend had died in England several months before, probably from malaria contracted in Virginia.