32 I CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnJefferson, New and Improved by Clyde Wilsonn”I tremble for my country when I reffect that Godnis just.”n— Thomas JeffersonnIn Pursuit of Reason: The Life ofnThomas Jefferson by Noble E.nCunningham Jr., Baton Rougenand London: Louisiana StatenUniversity Press; $24.95.nWith the exception of the drivennand depressed Lincoln, nonmajor figure in American history is, innthe final analysis, more enigmatic thannClyde Wilson is professor of historynat the University of South Carolinanand a contributing editor tonChronicles.nJefl^erson. Without any exception,nnone is more complex. There is morento the enigma and complexity than anmultitude of facets — political leader,nbotanist, architect, linguist, ethnographer,nmusician, man of letters, andnmuch else. (If he had never held anpublic office, Jefferson’s correspondencenwould still be one of the mostnvaluable treasures of his era.) But behindnthese varied roles was a mind of anvery high order, with deep and complicatednreserves, yet covered by an impenetrablenmask of everyday balancenand harmony that was more than sufficientnfor the highest worldly successnnnwithout beginning to exhaust its capacitynor reveal its real nature. In manynrespects, the enigma of Jefferson, delightfullynhinted at in Albert Jay Nock’snearly-20th-century biography, is similarnto that of his contemporary, Goethe,nand likewise will remain foreverninaccessible to those of us who do notnenjoy the mental and moral gifts ofnnature in such abundance.nBut we do not really need to understandnthe whole personality to graspnthe significance of Jefferson’s career asna public man in the founding years ofnthe American republic, and this newnbiography is concerned chiefly withnthe career of the public man. Therenwas no mystery at all in what Jeffersonnstood for in the American politicalnscene. This was clearly understood innhis time and for a generation or twon