Henry H. Worthington to Reuben B. Hicks

Dear Sir

Your favour of the 31st of May last should have been acknowledged before this but for the presure of my studies. I have had more to do here of late than during any other part of the session. Most of the proffessors intending to go to the springs this summer & wishing to make up the time which they would loose gave two lectures during the last month in the place of one and we had of course to increase our studies in proportion.—This, I am in hopes will excuse my not attending to your letter sooner.—

Your request that I would write to Mr. Jackson relative to the land on which Thacker resides was immediately attended to, I did not how ever forward him a Deed for reasons which I stated in my letter to him; if it should appear hereafter, necessary that I should do so, I will with pleasure. I have written to Bro. Saml requesting him to get some information from Bro. Wm. respecting his bargain with Thacker about the land. When I hear from him on this subject I shall know what to do. I should be sorry for such a man as you have described Thacker to be, to settle in the neighbourhood; had Bro. Wm. have been acquainted with his character, I am confident he would never have sold the land to him.1—. The marriages you inform me of is somewhat better news than I have been accustomed to hear from Brunswick; I have received but few letters that did not give me some account of deaths or sickness. From all that I can learn Brunswick must have more unhealthy this last spring than usual. How great is the difference between the health of that section of the country! and this! Here we seldom ever hear of sickness. The University particularly has been very healthy, there have been but one or two instances of sickness here this session & they were slight. Among the many advantages which this Univ institution possesses2 I know of none greater than the extreme healthiness of its situation.

I do not know that I could satisfy you as to your request “of giving you a description of the University.” A visit to the place can alone give you an adequate idea of it. The plan of the buildings is different from that of any other institution in this country & has in the opinion of good judges decidedly the advantage of any other. The buildings are arranged in four rows running nearly N. & S. The two middle rows or ranges at the distance of two hundred feet apart are composed each of five Pavilions and twenty six dormitories. The intervening space is a beautiful level covered with grass—it is called the Lawn. The pavilons are elegant buildings, all in different style after the different orders of Architecture—they are for the professors. The dormitories are neat rooms sufficiently large for two students each & very convenient both as studying and sleeping rooms; they connect the pavilions and by their flat tops affoard a pleasant communication between the families of the professors. In front of the dormitories is a Colonade of about ten feet in width, which is very agreeable to sit under in the warmth of the day. At the northern part of the Lawn and at an equal distance from each range of buildings is The Rotunda—a spacious and splendid edifice after the model of the Pantheon at Rome This building is intended for a library, a museum, public examinations &C It is connected with the range of buildings on each side by a Gymnasium, where the students may amuse themselves with all kinds of athletic exercises. The two ranges east & West of those on the lawn are on a similar plan, only instead of3 Pavilions there are three Hotels on each range. The space between the two two ranges of buildings E. & W. of the Lawn is 200 feet, the same as the width of the Lawn,—this serves as back-yards, gardens &C. for the professors & Hotel Keepers.

—The course of Lectures also is different from that of any other institution.—There is no prescribed course which all who wish to graduate must go thro’. Every young man who comes here may take what tickets he chooses & pursue the course of study those studies which will best suit the course of life he has in view.

—That the hotels are profitable to the present proprietors, I cannot say positively, but I expect they are, & they certainly will be very much so in a short4 time.

—As to the female academy in Charlottesville I can say but little, there is however one there of some respectability & I have been informed by a young man (who has had the means to know) that the precreptress was highly accomplished. There is, at but a very short distance from the University (not a quarter of a mile) a preparatory school for such young persons of the neighbourhood as wish to become students of the University.—The teacher is an Englishman and is said to be well qualified.

I would here willingly close this letter but for an event which took place yesterday—an event which has filled us all here with gloom & which will excite the grief of a whole nation. The illustrious Jefferson is no more! He departed this life on the Fourth of July at one O’clock P.M. I am thus particular in the day and hour, because it is a most remarkable coincidence. On that very day, perhaps on that very hour, fifty years ago he signed his name to that glorious instrument which pronounced a great nation free and independent—an instrument of which he was the author, & which, were it the only act of his life would be sufficient to render him immortal. I am told that he was taken with the disentary eight or ten days ago & that a mortification of the bowels was the immediate5 cause of his death. Immediately upon hearing of his death (which was but a few hours after it took place) the students had a meeting in the Rotunda to testify their esteem & affection for him. I never saw young men so deeply affected by any circumstance in my life—Most of us had been personally acquainted with Mr. Jefferson & had experienced in his house that hospitality which he so liberally extended to every one who visited him, our grief for him therefore was not of that vague kind which we feel for great men who have been beneficial to their country but with whom we had no acquaintance—we felt for him as for a friend, as for the Father of this institution over which he had ever watched with parental solicitude.—As a testimony of our grief we have determined to wear crape on our left arm during the rest of this session. All of us intend to walk down to Monticello this evening to pay our last respects to his remains. He will be intered at 5 O’clock. I must conclude as I am in great haste

I am very respectfully your’s &C.
H. H Washington.

7 o’clock P.M.

P.S. I have just returned from Monticello. Tho’ the weather was very inclement all of the students, and a great many of the citizens of Charlottsville were present. As the deceased requested there was nothing like pomp or ceremony in the funeral. I must here correct a mistake which I made above. Instead of the disentary, I have since understood, that it was his old disease, the Gravel which carried him off.


N.B. Excuse bad writing—I always write in a hurry & therefore always write very bad.


Tell Bro. Saml. when you see him again, that he must write to me. I do not believe that I have received a letter from a relation in two months.

RC (ViU: Acc. #1368); addressed: “Mr Reuben B. Hicks. Lewisville P.O. Brunswick. Va.” by “Mail”; stamped; postmarked University of Virginia, 6 July 1826.
1Unmatched closing parenthesis is here editorially omitted.
2Here and elsewhere, Worthington puts words that he is interlining in parentheses.
3Manuscript: “of of.”
4Manuscript: “sort.”
5Manuscript: “immedi=,” at the end of a line.
Henry Horace Worthington
Reuben B. Hicks
Date Range
July 5, 1826