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LIFE OF JOHI RUDOLPH. 

VOL. II. 



the new yorkI 
PUBLICUBRARY 



A8T0*, LENOX AND 
TILOEN FOUNDATIONS. 




I 



THE LIFE 



OF 



JOHN RANDOLPH 



OF ROANOKE. 



BY 

HUGH A. GAKLAND. 



VOL. II. 



KEW-YOEK: 
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 200 BROADWAY. 

PHILADELPHIA : 
GEO. S. APPLETON, 164 CHESNUT-STREET. 

M.DCCC.L. / 



>V 



THENEWYORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 



- / UOJUK 

A8TOR, LfNOX anO 

TILDE N FOU*QATION8. 

1*00. 

^> " ' i ii ■ 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850, by 

D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New-York. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. II. 



PAGE, 

CHAPTER I. 
Roanoake — Retirement ....... 9 

CHAPTER II. 
Ancestral pride— St. George— Madness .... 36 

CHAPTER III. 
Military Campaign ....... 44 

CHAPTER IV. 
New England ........ 49 

CHAPTER V. 
Religion— 1815 62 

CHAPTER VI. 
Political Reflections— Congress — Bank Charter ... 70 

CHAPTER VII. 
Religion— Home— Solitude ...... 85 

CHAPTER VIII. 
"Dying, Sir— Dying" ...... 89 

CHAPTER IX. 
Conversion ........ 94 



6 CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



CHAPTER X. 
Idiosyncracies ........ 104 

CHAPTER XI. 
Congress— Political Parties ...... 112 

CHAPTER XII. 

Missouri Question . . . . . , . H8 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Compromise Bill smuggled through the House .... 127 

CHAPTER XIV. 
" I now go for blood "—Madness ...... 136 

CHAPTER XV. 
Missouri Question— Act the Second ..... 139 

CHAPTER XVI. 
" Be not solitary ; he not idle"— His Will— Slaves . . .145 

CHAPTER XVII. 
Log-book and Letters ...... 152 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
The Apportionment Bill ....... 161 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Pinckney, Marshall, Tazewell— Departure for Europe . . 169 

CHAPTER XX. 
The Voyage . 172 

CHAPTER XXI. 
Incidents in England ...... 185 

CHAPTER XXII. 

Eighteenth Congress— Consolidation is the order of the day—" Speak a 
cheering word to the Greeks " ..... 193 



CONTENTS. 



7 

PAGE 



CHAPTER XXIII. 
Internal Improvements ...... 201 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
Supreme Court— Dull dinner— Huddlesford's Oak . . . 209 

CHAPTER XXV. 
Tariff— Prophecy — Lewis McLean ..... 214 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
Second Voyage to Europe ...... 219 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
Presidential Election ....... 227 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
"Such constituents as man never had before, and never will have again " 233 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

The Adams Administration . . . . . . . 241 

CHAPTER XXX. 

The Panama Mission— Blifil and Black George . . . 249 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
Duel with Henry Clay . . . . . . . 254 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
Negro Slavery ....... 261 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
Letters from Abroad ....... 269 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
Ejection from the Senate ...... 275 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
Election to the House of Representatives .... 289 



8 CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Leader of the Opposition— A wise and masterly inactivity . . 298 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 
Letters from Roanoke ....... 307 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 
Presidential Election— Retirement from Congress . . . 311 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 
Elected to the Convention ...... 321 

CHAPTER XL. 

The Virginia Convention — Every change is not reform . . 324 

CHAPTER XLI. 
Mission to Russia ....... 332 

CHAPTER XLII. 
Opium Eater . . ..... 343 

CHAPTER XLIII. 
The Consummation ....... 350 

CHAPTER XLIV. 
" I have been sick all my life "—Death .... 364 



CHAPTEK I. 



ROANOKE — RETIREMENT. 



We have now to view Mr. Randolph in a new aspect. After an ac- 
tive, uninterrupted, and eventful career of fourteen years in the pub- 
lic service, in one of the most remarkable epochs of human history, 
we have now to follow him into retirement. The triumph of his en- 
emies at the recent election had no power to shake the firmness of 
his purpose, or to disturb the serenity of his mind. " It relieves me 
from an odious thraldom," says he, " and, I assure you, my dear sir, 
I have thought and yet think, much more of the charming Mrs. Gr. 
than of the election. The low and base arts to which my adversa- 
ries have resorted, have not raised them or sunk me in my own esti- 
mation." 

At home he lived in the utmost seclusion and solitude. Up to 
1810 he made Bizarre his principal place of residence. Here he 
eDJoyed the best of female society, for which no man had a higher 
relish — found employment in the education of his young nephews, 
the future heirs of his name and fortune, and on whom he doted 
with the fondness of a father ; and solace for his leisure hours in a 
large miscellaneous library, and the society and conversation of old 
neighbors and well-tried friends. In 1810 he removed to Roanoke, 
his estate in Charlotte county, on the Roanoke river, some thirty- 
five or forty miles south of Bizarre ; " a savage solitude" says he, 
" into which I have been driven to seek shelter." Shortly before the 
recent election, on Sunday, March 21, 1813, the house at Bizarre 
took fire — the family were at church — very little saved. " I lost," says 
he, " a valuable collection of books. In it was a whole body of infi- 
delity, the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D'Alembert, Voltaire's works, 

VOL. II. 1* 



10 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

seventy volumes, Rousseau, thirteen quartos, Hume, &c, &c." By 
this calamity, if calamity it may be called (some of his friends con- 
gratulated him on the event), he was deprived of the chief source of 
pleasure and amusement in his comfortless home. The only com- 
panion of his solitude was Theodore Bland Dudley, a young relation 
he had taken to live with him in 1800. He educated this young 
man with much care and at great expense. He manifested towards 
him the solicitude and affection of a fond father — his letters are 
models of parental instruction. Dudley had recently graduated in 
medicine at Philadelphia, and returned to console the solitary 
hours of his best and most constant friend. " Consider yourself," 
said Randolph to him, " as not less entitled to command here, than 
if you were the child of my loins, as you are the son of my affec- 
tions." Apart from the society of this young man, which he valued 
above all price, his only real enjoyment was in the correspondence of 
some two or three of his most intimate friends, to whom he un- 
bosomed himself with a fulness and a freedom that showed in a 
remarkable degree the strength and constancy of his attachment, 
and the unbounded confidence he had in the fidelity and integrity of 
those men. To none did he speak or write more unreservedly than 
to Dr. John Brockenbrough, the President of the Bank of Virginia. 
No wonder, for his siqoerior is not to be found — a man of rare tal- 
ents, varied learning, large experience in the business of life, refined 
manners, delicate sensibility, a perfect gentleman and a faithful 
friend. " Cherish the acquaintance of that man," he exhorts Dudley ; 
" he is not as other men are." In writing to this gentleman he says : 
" Your two letters, the last of which I received this evening by my 
servant, have given me a degree of satisfaction that I find it diffi- 
cult to express. Let me beg a continuance of these marks of your 
remembrance and friendship. At all times they would be highly ac- 
ceptable ; but in my present isolated state — a state of almost total 
dereliction — they are beyond price. I should have thanked you for 
your letter by the post, through the same channel, but I was induced 
from its contents to suppose that you would have left Richmond be- 
fore my answer could reach it ; and I wish that you had, because I 
may be debarred the pleasure of seeing you and Mrs. B. at my lonely 
and (as it will probably appear to you both) savage habitation. It is 
therefore that this letter is written. You will not wonder, when you 



RETIREMENT. H 

see how I live, at my reluctance to leave you, and I was going to say 
my other friends in Richmond. It is indeed a life of seclusion that 
I live here, unchequered by a single ray of enjoyment. I try to for- 
get myself in books ; but that ' pliability of man's spirit' which 
yields him up to the illusions of the ideal world, is gone from me for 
ever. The mind stiffened by age and habit refuses to change its ca- 
reer. It spurns the speculative notions which hard experience has 
exploded ; it looks with contempt or pity, in sorrow or in anger, 
upon the visionary plans of the youthful and sanguine. My dear 
sir, ' there is another and a better world,' and to it alone can we 
look without a certainty of disappointment, for consolation, for mer- 
cy, for justice." On another occasion he says : " I passed but an in- 
different night, occasioned, in a great measure, by the regret I feel at 
leaving such friends as yourself and Mrs. Brockenbrough, and at the 
prospect of passing my time in that utter solitude of my comfortless 
habitation, where I have prepared for myself, by my own folly, many 
causes of uneasiness. If I had followed old Polonius's advice, and 
been ' to mine own self true,' I might have escaped the lot which 
seems to be in reserve for me." 

To another friend, Francis S. Key, of Washington City, he writes 
more cheerfully. His letters to that gentleman about this time were 
very frequent and copious ; they show more fully the workings of 
his mind. We shall draw largely on the correspondence for the in- 
struction of the reader. 

In one of his letters he gives a description of his habitation, the 
log cabins, and the boundless primeval forest by which they were 
surrounded. In reply, Key says, " I could not help smiling at the 
painting you have given me of Roanoke — laudat diversa sequentes. 
To me it seemed just such a shelter as I should wish to creep under, 

" A boundless contiguity of shade, 
Where rumor of oppression and deceit 
Might never reach me more." 

In reference to the recent election he thus writes ■ 

Roanoke, May 10. 1813. 
Dear Frank : — For so, without ceremony, permit me to call yon. 
Among the few causes that I find for regret at my dismissal from 
public life, there is none in comparison with the reflection that it has 



12 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

separated me — perhaps for ever — from some who have a stroDg hold 
on my esteem and on my affections. It would indeed have been 
gratifying to me to see once more yourself, Mr. Meade, Ridgely, and 
some few others ; and the thought that this may never be, is the only 
one that infuses any thing of bitterness into what may be termed 
my disappointment, if a man can be said to be disappointed when 
things happen according to his expectations ; on every other account, 
I have cause of self-congratulation at being disenthralled from a 
servitude at once irksome and degrading. The grapes are not sour 
— you know the manner in which you always combated my wish to 
retire. Although I have not, like you, the spirit of a martyr, yet I 
could not but allow great force to your representations. To say the 
truth, a mere sense of duty alone might have been insufficient to 
restrain me from indulging the very strong inclination which I have 
felt for many years to return to private life. It is now gratified in 
a way that takes from me every shadow of blame. No man can 
reproach me with the desertion of my friends, or the abandonment 
of my post in a time of danger and of trial. « I have fought the 
good fight, I have kept the faith." I owe the public nothing ; my 
friends, indeed, are entitled to every thing at my hands ; but I have 
received my discharge, not indeed honestam dimissionem, but passa- 
ble enough, as times go, when delicacy is not over fastidious. I am 
again free, asit respects the public at least, and have but one more 
victory to achieve, to be so in the true sense of the word. Like yourself 
and Mr. Meade, I cannot be contented with endeavoring to do good for 
goodness' sake, or rather for the sake of the Author of all goodness. 
In spite of me, I cannot help feeling something very like contempt 
for my poor foolish fellow-mortals, and would often consign them to 
Bonaparte in this world, and the devil, his master, in the next ; but 
these are but temporary fits of misanthropy, which soon give way to 
better and juster feelings. 

When I came away I left at Crawford's a number of books, let- 
ters, papers, &c. in (and out of) an open trunk ; also a gun, flask, 
shot-belt, &c. Pray take them in charge for me, for although one- 
half of them are of no consequence, the rest are ; and you may justly 
ask why I have been so careless respecting them ? — because I am 
the most lazy and careless man on earth (La Bruyere'sabsent man is 
nothing to me), and because I am in love. Pray give the letters 
special protection. 

To the same. 

Roanoke, May 22, 1813. 
My dear Friend : — Your letter being addressed to Farmville, 
did not reach me until yesterday, when my nephew brought it up. 
Charlotte Court House is my post-office. By my last you will per- 



RETIREMENT. 13 

ccive that I have anticipated your kind office in regard to my books 
and papers at Crawford's : pray give them protection - until the 
Chesapeake shall be fit for service." It is, I think, nearly eight years 
since I ventured to play upon those words in a report of the Secre- 
tary of the Navy. I have read your letter again and again, and 
cannot express to you how much pleasure the perusal has given me. 

I had taken so strong a disgust against public business, con- 
ducted as it has been for years past, that I doubt my fitness for the 
situation from which I have been dismissed. The House of R was 
as odious to me as ever school-room was to a truant boy. To be 
under the dominion of such wretches as (with a few exceptions) 
composed the majority, was intolerably irksome to my feelings ; and 
although my present situation is far from enviable, I feel the value 
of the exchange. To-day, for the first time, we have warm weather : 
and as I enjoy the breeze in my cool cabin, where there is scarce a 
fly to be seen, I think with loathing of that " compound of villanous 
smells" which at all times inhale through the H. of R., but which in 
a summer session are absolutely pestilential. Many of those, too. 
whose society lessened the labors of our vocation are gone ; Bleecker, 
Elliott, Quincy, Baker, and (since) Bayard ; so that I should find 
myself in Congress among enemies or strangers. Breckenridge. 
Stanford, and Ridgely, and Lloyd in the Senate, are left ; and I am 
glad that they are not in a minority so forlorn as the last. They 
have my best wishes — all the aid that I shall ever give to the public- 
cause. The great master of political philosophy has said that 
' : mankind has no title to demand that we should serve them in spite 
of themselves." It is not upon this plea, however, that I shall stand 
aloof from the bedside of my delirious country. My course is run. 
I acquiesce in the decision that has been passed against me, and seek 
neither for appeal nor new trial. 

I shall not go northward until towards the autumn, when I must 
visit Philadelphia. My late friend Clay's youngest son will return 
with me ; and that journey over, I shall probably never cross James 
River again. 

You are mistaken in supposing that ' : we Virginians like the war 
better the nearer it approaches us ;" so far from it, there is a great 
change in the temper of this State, and even in this district, para- 
doxical as it may seem, against the war. More than half of those 
who voted against me, were persuaded that I was the cause of the 
war ; that the Government wished for peace (e. g. the Russian Em- 
bassy), but that I thwarted them in every thing, and that without 
unanimity amongst ourselves, peace could not be obtained. If you 
are accmainted with Daschoff, tell him that the Russian mediation 
was (strange as it may appear) made the instrument of my ejection 
It gave a temporary popularity to the ministry — the people believing 



14 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

that peace was their object. Its effoct on the elections generally 
has boen very great. Some were made to believe that the British 
fleet in the Chesapoake was to aid my election. 

My kinsman, Dudley — now M. D. — is with me, and his society 
serves to cheer the solitude in which I am plunged. He desires to 
be remembered to you. Present my best love to Mrs. Key and the 
little folks. When you see the family at Blenheim, present me to 
them — also to Mr. Stone — and believe me, always, dear sir, and most 
affectionately, 

Yours 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

To tJie Same. 

May 23d, 1813. 

Your letter of the 14th was received to-day — many thanks for it. 
By the same mail, Mr. Quincy sent me a copy of his speech of the 
30th of last month. It is a composition of much ability and depth 
of thought ; but it indicates a spirit and a temper to the North which 
is more a subject of regret than of surprise. The grievances of Lord 
North's administration were but as a feather in the scale, when com- 
pared with those inflicted by Jefferson and Madison. 

I fervently hope that we may meet again. I do not wish you so 
ill as to see you banished to this Sinope ; and yet to see you here 
would give me exceeding great pleasure. Every blessing attend 
you. 

Francis Scott Key, Esq. 



John Randolph to Dr. John Brockenbrovgh. 

Roanoke, June 2d, 1813. 

I did not receive your letter of the 26th until last evening, and 
then I was obliged for it to my good old neighbor, Colonel Morton, 
who never omits an occasion of doing a favor, however small. The 
gentleman by whom you wrote is very shy of me ; nor can I blame 
him for it. No man likes to feel the embarrassment which a con- 
sciousness of having done wrong to another is sure to inspire, and 
which the sight of the object towards whom the wrong has been done 
never fails to excite, in the most lively and painful degree. 

My neighbor, Colonel C k, who goes down to Petersburg and 

Richmond to-morrow, enables me (after a fashion) to answer your 
question, " How and where I shall pass the summer months ?" To 
which I can only reply — as it pleases God ! If I go to any watering- 
place, it will be to our hot springs, for the purpose of stewing the 
rheumatism out of my carcase, if it be practicable. 



RETIREMENT. 15 

It would have been peculiarly gratifying to me to have been with 

you when Leigh, Garnett, W. Meade, and, I must add. 31 . were 

in Richmond. If we exclude every " party-man, and man of am- 
bition," from our church, I fear we shall have as thin a congregation 
as Dean Swift had, when he addressed his clerk, ' ; Dearly beloved 
Roger !" What I like M for, is neither his courtesy, nor his in- 
telligence, but a certain warm-heartedness, which is now-a-days the 
rarest of human qualities. His manner I think peculiarly un- 
fortunate. There is an ostentation of ornament (which school-boys lay 
aside when they reach the senior class), and a labored infelicity of 
expression, that is hateful to one's feelings. We are in terror for the 
speaker. But this fault he has already in some degree corrected j 
and by the time he is as old as you or I, it will have worn off. I was 
greatly revolted by it on our first acquaintance, and even now, am 
occasionally offended ; but the zeal with which he devotes himself to 
the service of his friends and of his country, makes amends for all. 
It is sometimes a bustling activity, of little import to its object, but 
which is to be valued in reference to its motive. 

I am not surprised at what you tell me of our friend. We live 
in fearful times, and it is a perilous adventure that he is about to un- 
dertake. In a few years more, those of us who are alive will have to 
move off to Kaintuck, or the Massissipjri, where corn can be had for 
sixpence a bushel, and pork for a penny a pound. I do not wonder 
at the rage for emigration. What do the bulk of the people get 
here, that they cannot have for one-fifth of the labor in the western 
country ? Surely that must be the Yahoo's paradise, where he can 
get dead drunk for the hundredth part of a dollar. 

What you tell me of Milnor is quite unexpected. He was one of 
the last men whom I should have expected to take orders ; not so 
much on account of his quitting a lucrative profession, as from his 
fondness for gay life. I am not sure that it is the safest path. The 
responsibility is awful — it is tremendous. 

Thanks for your intelligence respecting my poor sister. If hu- 
man skill could save her, Dr. Robinson would do it ; but there is 
nothing left, except to smooth her path to that dwelling whither we 
must all soon follow her. I can give Mrs. B. no comfort on the sub- 
ject of her son. For my part, it requires an effort to take an inte- 
rest in any thing ; and it seems to me strange that there should be 
found inducements strong enough to carry on the business of the 
world. I believe you have given the true solution of this problem, by 
way of corollary from another, when you pronounce that free-will and 
necessity are much the same. I used formerly to puzzle myself, as 
abler men have puzzled others, by speculations on this opprobrium 
of philosophy. If you have not untied the Gordian knot, you have 
cut it, which is the approved methodus medendi of this disease. 



16 



LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 



Write to me when you can do no better. Worse you cannot do 
for yourself, nor better for me. You can't imagine what an epoch 
in my present life a letter from you constitutes. If I did not know 
that you could find nothing here beyond the satisfaction of mere 
animal necessity ; I should entreat Mrs. B. and yourself to visit my 
solitary habitation. May every blessing attend you both. 

Yours, unchangeably, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

John Randolph to Francis S. Key. 

Roanoke, July 17th, 1813 

Dear Frank, — I rode twenty miles this morning, in the hope of 
receiving letters from some of those few persons who honor me with 
their regard. Nor have I been disappointed. Your letter, and one 
from Dr. B., had arrived a few moments before me. I received the 
pamphlets through friend Stanford, who has too much on his hands 
to think of me every post ; and I am not at all obliged to the gentle- 
man who detained them on their passage, and who annotated one of 
them, I suppose for my edification. It is certainly not all emenda- 
tion, for this critical labor. 

I heartily wish that I were qualified in any shape to advise you 
on the subject of a new calling in life. Were I Premier, I should 
certainly translate you to the see of Canterbury ; and if I were not 
too conscious of my utter incompetency, I should like to take a pro- 
fessorship in some college where you were principal ; for, like you, 
" my occupation (tobacco-making) is also gone." Some sort of em- 
ployment is absolutely necessary to keep me from expiring with 
ennui. I " see no reviews," nor any thing else of that description. 
My time passes in uniform monotony. For weeks together I never 
see a new face ; and, to tell you the truth, I am so much of Captain 
Gulliver's way of thinking respecting my fellow-Yahoos, (a few ex- 
cepted, whose souls must have transmigrated from the generous 
Houyhnhnms,) that I have as much of their company as is agreeable 
to me, and I suspect that they are pretty much of my opinion ; that I 
am not only ennuye myself, but the cause of ennui in others. In 
fact, this business of living is, like Mr. Barlow's reclamations on the 
French Government, dull work ; and I possess so little of pagan 
philosophy, or of Christian patience, as frequently to be driven to 
the brink of despair. " The uses of this world have long seemed to 
me stale, flat, and unprofitable ;" but I have worried along, like a 
worn-out horse in a mail coach, by dint of habit and whipcord, and 
shall at last die in the traces, running the same dull stage, day 
after day. 



RETIREMENT. 



17 



When you see Kidgely, commend me to him and his amiable 
wife. I am really glad to hear that he is quietly at home, instead of 
scampering along the bay shore, or inditing dispatches. Our upper 
country has slid down upon the lower. Nearly half our people are 
below the falls. Both my brothers are gone ; but I must refer you 
to a late letter to Stanford, for the state of affairs hereabouts. 
Henry Tucker is in Richmond ; Beverly at Norfolk ; whence, if he 
return, he will win his life with the odds against him. 

I am much pleased with Mr. Gaston's speech on Webster's mo- 
tion. Chief Justice Marshall had taught me to think highly of his 
abilities ; and my expectations, although raised, have not been dis- 
appointed. 

I have seen the scotched tail of Mr. Secretary M 's report to 

his master, which drags its wounded length along most awkwardly. 
I should like to hear what Mons. Serrurier would say. Mr. Rus- 
sell and the Duke of Bassano are, it seems, confronted across the 
Atlantic. I should be glad to have his Imperial and Royal Majes- 
ty's Envoy called into court, and examined touching Mr. M 's 

declaration. * * * 

Nicholson has luckily shifted his quarters, from an exposed to a 
very safe position, where he may reflect undisturbed on the train of 
measures which have issued in the present unparalleled state of 
things. With me, he condemned them at the beginning, but gradu- 
ally coincided with the views of the administration. He may live to 
see the time when he will wish that he had steadily opposed himself to 
them. I would not give the reflection that, under every circumstance 
of discouragement, I never faltered or wavered in my opposition to 
them, to be president for life. Nearly eight years ago the real views 
and true character of the Executive were disclosed to me, and I made 
up my mind as to the course which my duty called upon me to fol- 
low. I predicted the result which has ensued. The length of time 
and vast efforts which were required to hunt me down, convince me 
that the cordial co-operation of a few friends would have saved the 
Republic. Sallust, I think, says, speaking of the exploits of Rome, 
' Egregiam virtutem paucorum civium cuncta patiavisse ;' and if those 
who ought to have put their shoulders to the work, had not made a 
vain parade of disinterestedness in returning to private life, all might 
have been saved. But the delicacy and timidity of some, and the 
versatility of others, insured the triumph of the court and the ruin 
of the country. I know not how I got upon this subject. It is a 
most unprofitable one. 

Farewell, my good friend, and believe me, in truth 

Yours, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 



IS LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Have you met with a queer book,* by a Mr. James Fishback, 
of Lexington. Kentucky ? He very politely sent me a copy, and ac- 
companied it with a letter, in which, like the rest of his brethren, he 
flatters himself that his book will be generally read, and (of course) 
productive of great benefit. It is a most curious work for a lawyer 
(a Kentucky lawyer I mean), for such it seems he is, and brother-in- 
law to Mr. Pope, late of the Senate. I have dipped into it here and 
there, and whatever may be the skill displayed in its execution, the 
object I think is a good one. The man has thought much — but I 
doubt if clearly. Like many other writers in the same walk of com- 
position, he appears not always to affix a precise meaning to his 
terms. 

Sunday. Post in — not a line or newspaper from Washington. 



Francis S. Key to J. Randolph. 

Georgetown, August 30, 1813. 
My Dear Friend — * * * As you appeared to be tired of the 
country, I thought it likely you would have begun before now your 
journey to Cambridge, and hoped to have seen you as you passed. I 
have less regard for those Eastern people now than I used to have, 
and should care less about seeing them or their country. I cannot 
help suspecting them of selfish views, and that, if they can collect 
strength enough, they will separate. Their policy has certainly been 
a crooked one. The Quarterly Reviewers say well that the expedi- 
ent of driving the administration into the war for the purpose of 
making them unpopular was " dangerous and doubtful." They might 
have added that it was dishonest. Certainly, the sort of opposition 
they are making now is one from which nothing good can be expected. 
There was old , the other day, while I was at Fredericks- 
town, travelling out of his road, and giving up his passage in the 
stage, and then travelling post to overtake it, and all to eat a dinner 

given by some of Mr. 's tools, apparently to him, but in fact to 

give eclat to his " distinguished young friend," and help on his 
intrigues. I believe this old man is honest, but can he be so vain as 
to run panting after praise in this way ? or is he told and does he 
believe that people are to be driven from their opinions and made to 

fall into the ranks behind him and Mr. and his Boston party, 

whenever he chooses to show himself? 

I suppose Stanford told you that I was half inclined to turn poli- 
tician. I did feel something like it— but the fit is over. _ I shall, I 
hope, stay quietly here, and mind my business as long as it lasts I 

* The title of the work is " The Philosophy of the Human Mind in respect to 
Religion." 



RETIREMENT 19 

have troubled myself enough with thinking what I should do — so I 
shall try to prepare myself for whatever may appear plainly to be my 
duty. That I must make some change, if the war lasts much longer 
(as I think it will), is very probable ; but whether it shall be for a 
station civil, military, or clerical, I will not yet determine. To be 
serious, I believe that a man who does not follow his own inclina 
tions, and choose his own ways, but is willing to do whatever may be 
appointed for him, will have his path of life chosen for him and 
shown to him, and I trust this is not enthusiasm. 

Our friend Ridgely has really turned politician. He is a candi- 
date for the Maryland Legislature, and it is thought will be elected. 
I hardly know whether to wish he may succeed or not. He has some 
good, and, indeed, most excellent equalities for such a place, but he 
wants others, and will have few, if any, worthy of his confidence, to 
join him in a stand against the folly and wickedness of both parties. 
His situation will be peculiarly difficult and disagreeable, requiring 
great prudence and self-command. I know some of the men he will 
have to deal with, who are as cunning as he is unsuspicious. 

Lloyd was here the other day. I was sorry I was out of town, as 
I should have liked to have seen him. He told Mrs. Key he believed 
you had given him up. and complained that you never wrote to him. 
She told him you almost always inquired of him in your letters to 
me, and mentioned what you said in your last about your observation 
in Congress, at which he laughed. I make great allowances for 
Lloyd's wrongheadedness. The federalists flattered and supported 
hi m — he was moderating in his opinions, but did not abandon his 
p ar ty — h e still called himself a democrat — this affronted them, and 
at the next session they all voted against him. This conduct was 
calculated to convince him that their former support was an artifice, 
that they wished to dupe him, and expected their favors had bought 
him off from his party. At the same time the federal newspapers 
opened their abuse upon him, which was gross, false, and abominable. 

Now, when all this is considered, I think he cannot yet be thought 
incorrigible. He has had no chance of judging coolly and dispassion- 
ately. I am convinced, though (N.'s) influence with him is great, it 
would never (but for these things) have been sufficient to keep him 
among the supporters of such a party. A man could not long be so 
blind to his own interest, and that of the country, but by his passions 
and prejudices being continually excited. 



Randolph to Key. 

Roanoke, Sept. 12, 1813 
Dear Frank — I had almost begun to fear that you had forgotten 
me, but this morning's mail brought me yours of the 30th of August. 



20 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Our post-office establishment is under shameful mismanagement. 
To-day I received a letter from Boston, post-marked Aug. 22d, and 
last week I got one from the same place marked Aug. 23d. I still 
keep up an intercourse, you see, with the head-quarters of good prin- 
ciples — for although I do not dabble in politics, " I have more regard 
for these Eastern people now than I used to have " Of the policy 
of driving the administration into war, I have the same opinion that 
you emote from the Quarterly Review. It was a crooked scheme, 
and has met its merited fate. But, my dear friend, great allowance 
is to be made for men under the regime of Clay, Grundy & Co. ; and 
besides a few individuals only are answerable for the consequences of 
this tortuous policy. The great bulk of the Eastern States are guilt- 
less of the sin. When I consider how much more these people have 
borne from the pettifoggers of the West, than they would submit to 
from Lord North : and reflect that there is no common tie of inter- 
est or of feeling between them and their upstart oppressors, I cannot 
pronounce them (in this instance at least) to be selfish. Indeed, I 
should not like them less if they were so — I am becoming selfish my- 
self (when too late), and bitterly regret that I did not practise upon 
this principle many years ago. On this scheme I have abandoned 
politics for ever — and for the same reason should be sorry to see you, 
or our noble, spirited friend, Sterritt Ridgely, engaged in their pur- 
suit. I have more faith in free will than you seem to express — for I 
believe we have it all in our power to choose wisely if we would. As 
to Ridgely, he is utterly unfit for public life. Do you ask why 1 
You have partly answered the question. He is too honest, too un- 
suspicious, too deficient in cunning. I would as soon recommend 
such a man to a hazard-table and a gang of sharpers, as to a seat in 
any deliberative assembly in America. 

Our quondam friend Lloyd — for " quondam friends are no rarity 
with me" — I made this answer at the ordinary at our court, to a gen- 
tleman who had returned from Rappahannock, and told me that he 
had seen some of my quondam friends. It was casually uttered, but 
I soon saw how deep it was felt by a person at table, whom I had not 
before observed. To return to Lloyd. He cannot, with any show 
of justice, complain of "my giving him up. ;> The saddle is on the 
other horse. He is a spoiled child of fortune, and testy old bachelors 
make a poor hand of humoring spoiled children. Lloyd required to 
be flattered, and I would not perform the service. I would hold no 
man's regard by a base tenure. I see that Ridgely stands commit- 
ted to abide the issue of an election. I am sorry for it for his own 
sake, and yet more on account of Mrs. R. Electioneering is upon 
no very pleasant footing any where ; but with you, when the " base 
proletarian rout" are admitted to vote, it must be peculiarly irksome 
and repugnant to the feelings of a gentleman. 



RETIREMENT. 



21 



I am highly pleased with the XlVth number of the Quarterly 
Review, particularly the article on the subject of the poor laws ; aud 
that on the literature of France during the past century. Alas ! for 
Walter Scott ! These learned reviewers cannot prevail upon me to 
' ; revive the opinion" which the first reading (or attempt at reading) 
Rokeby produced. It is beneath criticism. 

My will, but not my poverty, consents to my eastern tour. Our 
blessed rulers have nearly ruined me, and should the war be protracted 
much longer, I must go into some business, if there be any for which 
I am fit. My body is wholly worn out, and the intellectual part 
much shattered. Were I to follow the dictates of prudence, I should 
convert my estate into money, and move northwardly. Whether I 
shall have firmness and vigor enough to execute such a scheme, re- 
mains to be seen. My bodily infirmities are great and rapidly in- 
creasing, so that it will be impossible for me to sustain existence here 
when deprived of field exercises. I write now under the pressure of 
severe headache. You are not my physician, yet I cannot omit telling 
you that I am afflicted with a strange anomalous disease. It is of 
the heart ; the most violent palpitations, succeeded by a total suspen- 
sion of its functions for some seconds : and then, after several sud- 
den spasmodic actions, the pulse becomes very slow, languid, and 
weak. When the fit, is on, it may be seen through my dress across 
the room. It was this demon that put it out of my head to suggest 
to you the practical wisdom of damping the opposition to the govern- 
ment at this time. Of the print in question, I think nearly as you 
do; but it has done a deal of.good with some mischief, and perhaps in 
the attempt to do more. How was the last administration over- 
thrown, do you suppose 1 By rejecting proffered service from any 
quarter ? Had the Aurora no agency, think you, in the work ? " Ho- 
mo sum :" man must work with mortal means. Not choosing to use 
such, I am idle. When administration call to their aid the refuse 

of New England in the persons of the _ 

and opposition reject the aid, or stand aloof from such high-minded, 

honorable men as S , K , G , Q , L , 

■ — -, L , P , what can be expected but defeat ? It 

is as if in the Southern States the assistance of the whites should be 
rejected against an adversary that embodied the negroes on his side. 
Be assured that nothing can be done with effect, without union among 
the parts, however heterogeneous, that compose the opposition. They 
have time enough to differ among themselves after they shall have put 
down the common foe ; and if they must quarrel, I would advise them 
to adjourn the debate to that distant day. 

I wish I could say something of my future movements. I look 
forward without hope. Clouds and darkness hang upon my pros- 
pects ; and should my feeble frame hang together a few years longer. 



22 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

the time may arrive when my best friends, as well as myself, may 
pray that a close be put to the same. 

My best respects and regards to Mrs. Key, and love to the young 
folks. I fear I shall live to see you a grandfather. Farewell. 

J. R. of Roanoke. 



To the same. 

Roanoke, Sept. 26, 1813. 

Dear Frank. — You owe the trouble of this letter to another 
which I threw upon your shoulders some time ago. As the shooting 
season approaches. I am reminded of my favorite gun, &c, in George- 
town. 'Tis true I have a couple of very capital pieces here, but 
neither of them as light and handy as that I left at Cranford's, and I 
fear it may be injured or destroyed by rust — verbum sat. 

We have to-day the account of Perry's success on Lake Erie, 
which will add another year to the life of the war. Have you seen 
"Woodfall's Junius 2 The private correspondence has rsised the cha- 
racter of this mysterious being very much in my estimation. If you 
will pardon the apparent vanity of the declaration, it has reminded 
me frequently of myself. I hope he will never be discovered. I 
feel persuaded that he was an honest man and a sincere patriot, which 
heretofore I was inclined to doubt. We have been flooded. This 
river has not been so high since August, 1795. A vast deal of corn 
is destroyed. I fear I have lost 500 barrels, and eighty odd stacks 
of oats. 

In tenderness to you, I have said nothing of Rokeby. Alas ! 
" good Earl Walter dead and gone /" God bless you ! 

J. R. 

Best love to Mrs. Key, and Ridgley, when you see him. 



John Randolph to Dr. John Brockenbrough 

Roanoke, Oct. 4, 1813 
My dear Friend : — By this time I trust you have returned to 
Richmond for the winter. It has been a grievous separation from 
you that I have endured for the last two months. In this period I 
have experienced some heavy afflictions, of which no doubt common 
fame has apprised you, and others that she knows not of. Let us 
not talk, and, if possible, not think of them. I hope that Mrs. B. 
has derived every possible advantage from her late excursion. As- 
sure her from me, that she has no friend who is more sincerely inter- 
ested in her temporal and eternal happiness than myself. Absorbed 
as I may be supposed to be with my own misfortunes, I live only for 



RETIREMENT. 23 

my friends. They are few, but they are precious beyond all human 
estimation. Write to me I beg of you ; the very sight of your hand- 
writing gives a new impulse to my jaded spirits. I would write, but 
I cannot. I sometimes selfishly wish that you could conceive of my 
feelings. It is not the least painful of my thoughts that I am per- 
petually destined to be away from the sympathy of my friends, whilst 
I am deprived of every thing but affection towards them. 

Yours truly, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 



Mr. Randolph filed away his letters with great care. He in- 
dorsed on them the name of the author, the date, the time it was 
received and answered ; and if the letter contained any subject of 
special interest, it was in like manner noted. On the following let- 
ter was indorsed " Party Spirit ;" the words were underscored, and 
in addition was the figure of a hand, with the index finger pointing 
to them. 

F. S. Key to John Randolph. 

Georgetown, Oct. 5, 1813. 

My dear Sir : — I was thinking of your gun a few days before I 
received your letter, and determined to rub off some of your rust, 
and try if I could kill Mrs. Key a bird or two. She has just given 
me another son, and of course deserves this piece of courtesy. As 
to amusement in shooting, I have lost it all, though once as ardent a 
sportsman as yourself. I am pleased to find that you are anticipat- 
ing such pleasures, as I therefore hope that the complaint you men- 
tioned in your former letter has left you. Exercise will no doubt 
tend to relieve you. 

I have never read the private correspondence of Junius. I have 
a late edition, and will see if it contains it. I was always against 
Junius, having sided with Dr. Johnson and his opponents. There 
was, I know, great prejudice, and perhaps nothing else in this, but 
since the prejudice has worn away I have had no time to read so 
long a book. The article you speak of in the Quarterly Review (on 
the Poor Laws) I admire, and assent to more cordially than any 
thing on the subject I ever saw. It excited my interest greatly. 
"What sound and able men are engaged in that work ! I know none 
who are offering so much good to their country and the world, and I 
will not suffer myself to believe that it is thrown away. As to their 
rivals, the Edinburgh Reviews, I believe we should differ in opinion. 
I consider them as masked infidels and Jacobins : and if I had time, 



24 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

and it was worth while, I think I could prove it upon them. I would 
refer to the review of the life of Dr. Beatty, and of Coclebs, and a few 
others, to prove that either knowingly, or ignorantly (I have hardly 
charity enough to believe the latter), they have misrepresented and 
attacked Christianity. Were you not pleased with the spirited 
defence against them which the Quarterly reviewers have made for 
Montgomery 1 As to Walter Scott, I have always thought he was 
sinking in every successive work. He is sometimes himself again in 
'• Marmion" and the " Lady of the Lake ;" but when I read these, 
and thought of the " Lay of the Last Minstrel," it always seemed to 
me that " hushed was the harp — the minstrel gone." I believe I 
am singular in this preference, and it may be that I was so " spell- 
bound" by " the witch notes" of the first, that I could never listen to 
the others. But does it not appear that to produce one transcend- 
ently fine epic poem is as much as has ever fallen to the life of one 
man 1 There seems to be a law of the Muses for it. I was always 
provoked with him for writing more than his first. The top of Par- 
nassus is a point, and there he was, and should have been content. 
There was no room to saunter about on it; if he moved, he must 
descend ; and so it has turned out, and he is now (as the Edinburgh 
reviewers say of poor Montgomery) " wandering about on the lower 
slopes" of it. 

I have not seen nor heard of Ridgley since his political campaign 
commenced. It closed yesterday, and we have not yet heard how he 
has fared. There is a report in town of the federalists having suc- 
ceeded in Frederick, which I expected would be the case from 

P 's having had the folly and meanness to go all over the county 

making speeches. Ridgley's election is more doubtful, as the ad- 
ministration are very strong in his county. If he is elected, you 
will write to him, but don't discourage him too much. If he can 
command his temper, and be tolerably prudent, I think he may do 
some good. If cunning is necessary, he is indeed in a desperate 
case. I cannot think that the duty of an honest man when he con- 
sents to become a politician, is so difficult and hopeless as you seem 
to consider it. He will often, it is true, be wrong, but this may 
enable him to correct his errors. He will often have to submit to 
disappointments, but they may make him better and wiser. If he 
pursues his course conscientiously, guarding against his own am- 
bition, and exercising patience and forbearance towards others, he 
will generally succeed better than the most artful intriguer ; and the 
worst that can happen is, that in bad and distempered times he may 
be released from his obligations. [Meant to be a picture of Ran- 
dolph himself. — Editor.'] Nor even then is there an end of his use- 
fulness ; for, besides many things that he may yet do for the common 
good, the public disorder may pass away, and when the people are 



RETIREMENT. 25 

sobered by suffering, they will remember who would have saved them 
from it ; aud his consequence and ability to serve them will be incal- 
culably increased, and their confidence in him unbounded. " Egre- 
gia virtus paucorum." I have forgotten your quotation from Sallust 
— you can supply it. It struck me forcibly, and I believe it admira- 
bly suited to these times ; and that if this " egregia virtus" can be 
found among even a few of our politicians, who can be pressed and 
kept in the public service, we may be safe. 

The opposition making to the administration may succeed (though 
I do not think it can) ; but if it did I should hope but little from it ; 
and that, because it is the opposition of a party. If it is the honest- 
est party, it would be beaten again immediately ; for of two contend- 
ing factions, the worst must be, generally, successful. This is just 
as plain to me as that of two gamesters ; he who cheats most will 
commonly win the game. We should therefore, I think, burn the 
cards, or give up the game of party, and then, I believe, the knaves might 
be made the losers. " Keep up party and party spirit" should be 
(if they have any sense) the first and great commandment of the 

administration to its followers. Let P & Co. keep up a constant 

volley of the most irritating provocations against every one who does 
not belong to their party, and the weakest friend of the administra- 
tion will fall into the ranks against them, and follow wherever they 
are ordered. 

Suppose some ruinous and abominable measure, such as a French 
alliance, is proposed by the government ; will the scolding of the 
federalists in Congress gain any of the well-meaning but mistaken 
and prejudiced friends of the administration, and induce them to 
oppose it? Will not such persons, on the contrary, be driven to con- 
sider it a party question, and the clamor and opposition of these 
persons, as a matter of course ? Will men listen to reasonings against 
it, judge of it impartially, and see its enormity, who are blinded by 
party spirit % But let such men as Cheves or Lowndes, men who are 
not party men, or who will leave their party when they think them 
wrong ; let them try if conciliation, and a plain and temperate 
exposure of the measure will not be effectual ; and it is certainly rea- 
sonable to expect it would. I am. besides, inclined to think that the 
worst men of a party will be uppermost in it ; and if so, there would, 
perhaps, be no great gain from a change. If every man would set 
himself to work to abate, as far as possible, this party spirit ; if 
the people could be once brought to require from every candidate 
a solemn declaration, that he would act constitutionally according to 
his own judgment, upon every measure proposed, without considering 
what party advocated or opposed it (and I cannot think that such a 
ground would be unpopular), its effects would be, at least, greatly 
diminished. This course might not, it is possible, succeed in ordi- 



VOL. II. 



26 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

nary times, and when this spirit is so universally diffused and 
inflamed ; but we are approaching to extraordinary times, when se- 
rious national affliction will appease this spirit, and give the people 
leisure and temper to reflect. Something too might then be done 
towards promoting a reformation of habits and morals, without which 
nothing of any lasting advantage can be expected. Could such an 
administration as this preserve its power, if party spirit was even con- 
siderably lessened 1 And is this too much to expect ? If so, there 
is nothing, I think, to be done but to submit to the punishment that 
Providence will bring upon us, and to hope that that will cure us. 
I am, you will think, full of this subject. 

Farewell. Yours, 

F. S. Key. 

Randolph to Key. 

Roanoke, October 17, 1813. 

Dear Frank — Never was letter more welcome than that which I 
just now received from you, and which I must thank you for on the 
day set apart for letter-writing in the city of 0., or defer it for ano- 
ther week. Alas ! so far from taking the field against the poor par- 
tridges, I can hardly hobble about my own cabin. It pleased Grod 
on Tuesday last to deprive me of the use of my limbs. This visita- 
tion was attended with acute pain, reminding me most forcibly of my 
situation at your uncle's nearly six years ago. 

By the papers, I see that our friend Ridgely has not succeeded in 
his election. I am gratified, however, to find that he was at the head 
of the ticket on which his name stood. Lloyd, I perceive, has car- 
ried his point in Talbot. I have a great mind to publish your letter. 
If any thing could do good, that, I am certain, would open the eyes of 
many, as many, at least, as would read it. But I have no faith, and 
cannot be saved. I look to the sands of Brandenburgh and the 
mountains of Bohemia with a faint hope of deliverance. You can 
expect nothing but groans and sighs from a poor devil, racked by 
rheumatism and tortured by a thousand plagues. I can barely sum- 
mon heart enough to congratulate you and Mrs. K. (to whom give my 
best love) on the late happy event in your family. I shall be proud 
if my gun can furnish a piece of game for her. When I get better 
you shall hear from me at full. When you see Ridgely present me 
most affectionately to him and his truly excellent wife. I cannot be 
glad of his defeat, since it seems that the complexion of your legis- 
lature depended upon success there or in some county on the eastern 
shore ; but I am convinced that it is best for him and his ; and I am 
inclined to think no worse for the country. How can a foolish spend- 
thrift young man be prevented from ruining himself? How can you 
appoint a guardian to a people bent on self-destruction ? The state 



RETIREMENT. 27 

of society is radically vicious. It is there, if at all, that the remedy 
should be applied. 

I will give you an instance. One of my overseers had acted in 
the most scandalous and indeed dishonest manner. Of course he had 
to decamp. Two gentlemen, in the most friendly manner, cautioned me 
against a contest at law with an overseer. No matter what the merit3 
of the case, the employer must be cast. If I had been in Turkey, 
and this fellow a Janizary, they could not have thought the case 
more desperate, and I know that they, were right. 

We agree entirely in opinion respecting the Review, and nearly 
so on the subject of the rival journal. I wish I could get them 
more regularly, for in my condition any thing of that kind is 
a treasure. Under any other circumstances I should be ashamed of 
returning you this meagre epistle, in reply to your rich and copious 
letter. 

Yours entirely, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 



Key to Randolyh. 

Georgetown, November 27, 1813. 

My dear Friend — * * * I have heard indirectly that your are 
still sick. I hope this attack will not be such an one as you had at 
my uncle's. Pain and sickness are sad companions any where, but 
particularly in the country. It is hard to feel them and think them 
the trifles that (compared to other things) they certainly are. He 
alone who sends them can give us strength and faith to bear them 
as we ought. I wish you every relief, but above all, this. Let me 
hear from you as often as you can. Your letters may be short, but 
I shall not find them " meagre." * * * Maryland is in great agita- 
tion 'about the Alleghany election. The returned members will 
take their seats, and when they have elected the Governor and Coun- 
cil, then their right to their seats will be tried. This piece of jockeyship 
will degrade and ruin the party for ever. Perhaps it is well it should 
be so ; the more each party disgraces itself the better. 

I agree exactly with you, that " the state of society is radically 
vicious," and that it is there that the remedy is to be applied. Put 
down party spirit ; stop the corruption of party elections ; legislate 
not for the next election, but for the next century ; build Lancaster 
schools in every hundred, and repair our ruined churches ; let every 
country gentleman of worth become a justice of the peace, and show 
his neighbors what a blessing a benevolent, religious man is ; and let 
the retired patriot, who can do nothing else, give his country his 
prayers, and often in his meditations " think on her who thinks not 



28 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

for herself" — " egregia virtus paucorum," &c. I often think of your 
apt quotation. I believe, nay, I am sure, that such a course, if hon- 
estly attempted, would succeed and save us. God bless you. 

Your friend, 

F. S. Key. 

'Randolph to Key. 

Richmond, Dec. 15, 1813. 

Dear. Frank : — I thank you very sincerely for your kind letter, 
which has been forwarded to me at this place (where I have been up- 
wards of a month), and also for your remembrance of my request 
about the pamphlets, which I received yesterday. I wish, if any op- 
portunity offers (I mean a good one), you would send me " War in 
Disguise ;" it is bound up with the " Dangers of the Country," and 
some other pamphlets ; and I pray you take care of my favorite fowl- 
ing-piece. My fears are not from the use of it, but from rust. 

You see what great objects fill my mind when the dajr " is big 
with the fate" of the whole race of man. For my part, my fears of 
the power and arts of France, almost overpower the exercise of my 
judgment. I can see no cause why the world should not be punished 
now as in the days of Caesar or Nebuchadnezzar ; nor why Bonaparte 
may not be as good an instrument as either of those tyrants. En- 
deavoring to turn away my mind from such contemplations, I try to 
submit myself to him whose chastisement is love. 

" Put down party spirit !" Put a little fresh salt on the sparrow's 
tail, and you will infallibly catch him. You will put down party 
spirit when you put down whisky-drinking, and that will be when the 
Greek calends come. I agree with you perfectly on the subject of 
the poor, unoffending Canadians. To us they are innocent ; and in 
the eye of Heaven we must appear like so many descendants of Cain, 
seeking to imbrue our hands in our brothers' blood ! Suppose Eng- 
land to lose Canada, she gets in exchange for it our whole navigation. 
We were her great and only commercial rival. We possessed a ton- 
nage, six years ago, greater than that of Great Britain at the acces- 
sion of the present king. Greater than any other nation, except our 
parent state, ever owned. Our ships are short-lived, our seamen 
must have employment ; all the foreign seamen, and many of the na- 
tive, will seek the Russian, or some other neutral service. We may 
establish manufactures ; but what of that % Those of England want 
no vent here. Moreover, she well knows that although peace may be 
restored, it will be a peace of double duties and restrictions, a " war 
in disguise." In short, I can see no motive in a wise English admin- 
istration for putting an end to the war. My only trust is in their 
folly. Lord Castlereagh is not much better than his countryman, 
with the last syllable of his name, whom you met in the street. 



RETIREMENT. 29 

Peace or war, the ruin of this country is inevitable ; ive cannot 
have manufactures on a great scale. Already our specie is drawn off 
to pay for domestic manufactures from the middle and eastern States. 
All the loans. &c, are spent in New- York ; and whilst she and Penn- 
sylvania and New England are thriving in the most wonderful man- 
ner, with us the straw (near market) of a crop of wheat is worth 
more than the grain ; and we are feeding our horses and oxen with 
superfine flour, although the crop of Indian corn is superabundant — 
the flour being the cheaper of the two. 

I heard of our friend, Sterrett Ridgley, by a gentleman who saw 
him at the races. I cannot regret that he is not compelled to mingle 
in the throng at Annapolis. Sallust, in that quotation of mine to 
which you so frequently refer, speaking of the exploits of the Roman 
people (surpassed by the Greeks in eloquence and learning, and by 
the Gauls in military prowess), declares it to be his opinion, after long 
and attentive study and observations, that " Egregiam virtutem 
paucorum civium cuncta patiavisse." He goes on to add (I wish I 
had the book before me), u Sed post quam luxu atque desidio civitas 
corrupta est, rursus Respublica magnitudine sua, vitia sustentabat." 
In like manner, we have seen modern France, by the very force of 
magnitude and number, support the unutterable vices of her rulers, 
and bear down all before her. As we cannot be saved by the 
extraordinary virtue of a few, so neither can we rely upon the height 
of our power to sustain the incapacity and corruption of our rulers, 
and of the great mass of our people. 

As to Lancaster schools, I am for the thing, the substance, 
but not the name. It is stolen by a fellow whom I detest. I hope 
you have abolished his cruel and stupid punishments in your George- 
town Institution. An article in the Quarterly Review (I think No. 
XI). satisfied me that Lancaster was an impostor, and a hard-hearted 
wretch. There is a late review on " National Education " (in No. 
XV. I believe), which pleased me very much My best wishes attend 
all who are dear to you. I hear that your poor protegee, Miss A. B., 
has sealed her final ruin. 

Adieu, and believe me, always, most cordially, yours, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 
Tuesday, Dec. 15, 1813. Wednesday. 



P. S. Have you read Lord Byron's Giaour? I have been delighted 
with it. He is a poet, as was emphatically said of our P. Henry, 
" He is an orator !" I have also been much pleased with Horace in 
London, and the Intercepted Twopenny Post. 



30 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 



Key to Randolph. 

Georgetown, January 20, 1814. 

My dear Friend, — * * * I have no news that I think would 
interest you. Cheves is said to have been made Speaker, against the 
wishes of the administration party, who were very active for Grundy. 
I cannot help thinking his election a favorable circumstance. 

I can hear nothing of the book you mention (English) from any 
one but Swift, who says he heard it spoken of in New- York as an 
ingenious performance. I would read it, and give you my opinion 
of it, if I came across it, provided it was not too long. I don't be- 
lieve there are any new objections to be discovered to the truth of 
Christianity, though there may be some art in presenting old ones in 
a new dress. My faith has been greatly confirmed by the infidel 
writers I have read ; and I think such would be the effect upon any one 
who has examined the evidences. Our Church recommends their perusal 
to students of divinity, which shows she is not afraid of them. Men 
may argue ingeniously against our faith — as indeed they may against 
any thing — but what can they say in defence of their own ? I would 
carry the war into their own territories. I would ask them what they 
believed. If they said they believed any thing, I think that thing 
might be shown to be more full of difficulties, and liable to infinitely 
greater objections than the system they opposed, and they more 
credulous and unreasonable for believing it. If they said they be- 
lieved nothing, you could not, to be sure, have any thing further to 
say to them. In that case they would be insane, or, at best, illy 
qualified to teach others what they ought to believe or disbelieve. 

I can never doubt (for we have the word of God for it, and it is so 
plainly a consequence of his goodness) that all who inquire, with that 
sincerity and earnestness which so awful a subject requires, will find 
the truth — " Seek, and ye shall find." Did you ever read " Grotius 
de Veritate ?" I should like to see an infidel attempt an answer to 
that book. * * *. 



Randolph to Key. 

Richmond, February 17, 1814. 
Dear. Frank : — You plead want of time, and I may, with equal 
truth declare, that I have nothing worth twelve and half cents — 
which, I believe, is the postage from here to the city of 0. Indeed 
I have been living myself in " a world without souls," until my heart 
is " as dry as a chip," and as cold as a dog's nose." Do not suppose, 
however, that the Jew book has made any impression upon me ; as I 
cannot see how the human mind, unassisted by the light of Christi- 



RETIREMENT. g\ 

anity, can stop half-way at deism, instead of travelling the whole 
length to which fair deduction would lead it, to frozen, cheerless athe- 
ism ; so it appears to me most wonderful, that any man, believing in 
the Old Testament, can reject the New ; and it is perhaps not the 
least conclusive of the proofs of the authenticity of the latter, that 
the Jews, admitting as it were the premises, should blindly reject the 
inevitable conclusion. 

Have you read the work of Paley, reviewed in a late Edinburgh ? 
" The Lord deliver me from Archdeacon Paley !" I am persuaded 
that, with the best intentions, this man has done infinite — rather 
great mischief to the cause he espouses. You are rich in hav- 
ing Swift and Meade with you. I am glad that the Colonel 
(what is his Christian name?) has escaped the recoil of our own 

measures. Bid him and W accept my best wishes. Poor 

W ! what a situation his imprudence has reduced him to ! I 

have thought a hundred times of the meeting and parting, when he 
returns to his prison-house, between him and his family ; and I bless 
God that I have been the probable means of saving Charles and Mrs. 
Ptidgely from a like pang. Why do you say nothing of Charles 
Sterrett Ridgely? It is the more necessary, since he has given up 
writing to me. My warmest wishes attend him and all at Oakland ! 
Remember me, also, to Blenheim and the Woodyard. 

We are all in a bustle here with the news from Europe. For my 
part, I hope that Blunderbuss Castlereagh may succeed in prevent- 
ing a peace " which shall confirm to the French Empire an extent of 
territory France under her kings never knew " If they permit him 
to retain the low countries and Piedmont, they will act like the 
sapient commissioner appointed to examine the vaults of the Par- 
liament House, on the alarm of the gunpowder-plot, who reported, 
" that he had discovered seventy-five barrels of gunpowder concealed 
under faggots ; that he had caused fifty to be removed, and hoped tlte 
otlier twenty -five would do no harm" 

I see the Federal Republican, on the authority of the Evening 
Post, has accused me of being ; ' an obvious imitator of" Lord Chatham." 
Let them bepraise their favorites as much as they please, and at my 
expense, too, provided they do not class me with the servile herd of 
imitators whom I despise and shun. No man is more sensible than 
I am of the distance between myself and Lord Chatham ; but I would 
scorn to imitate even him. My powers, such as they are, have not 
been improved by culture. The first time that I ever dreamed of 
speaking in public, was on the eve of my election in March, 1799, 
when I opposed myself (fearful odds !) to Patrick Henry. My man- 
ner is spontaneous, flowing, like my matter, from the impulse of the 
moment ; and when I do not feel strongly, I cannot speak to any 
purpose. These fits are independent of my volition. The best 



32 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

speech that I ever made, was about the third or fourth, on the subject 
of the Connecticut Reserve, 1800. During the last four or five years, 
I have perceived a sensible decline in niy powers — which I estimate 
with as much impartiality as you would ; in a word, as if they had 
belonged to another. I am not better persuaded of the loss of my 
grinders, or of the wrinkles in my face — and care as much for the one 
as the other. Any other man but yourself (or perhaps Meade) would 
take this long paragraph as proof that I am insincere, or self-deceived. 
To tell you the truth, I am sensible of the gross injustice that has 
been done me in the paragraph in question. I had as lief be accused 
of any crime, not forbidden by the decalogue, as of imitation. If 
these critics choose to say that I have neglected, or thrown away, or 
buried my talent, I will acquiesce in the censure ; but amongst the 
herd of imitators I will not be ranked, because I feel that I could 
not descend to imitate any human being. But I have long ago 
learned — 

Malignum spurnere vulgus. 

Best wishes to Mrs. Key and the little ones. If Meade be with 
you, I salute him. 

Yours, truly, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 
Francis Scott Key, Esq. 

I have been delighted with the Posthumus Works of Burke — 
the father of political wisdom — and have revelled in literary sweets : 
Horace in London ; Rejected Adresses ; Twopenny-post Bag ; The 
Giaour, and the critique upon it in the Edinburgh Review. Many 
articles in that journal, and in the Quarterly, have amused and in- 
structed me. I know you do not like the Scotch fraternity of critics ; 
neither do I ; but fas est ab hoste docere. What a picture of French 
society does the review of Grimm unfold ! There are some deep re- 
flections in that article, which I suppose comes from the pen of Du- 
gald Stewart. It is eminently favorable to the cause of morality. 

Our great folks at Cr. treat us little folks in Virginia very much 
as great folks are wont to treat little ones, viz., with sovereign 
neglect. 

Randolph to Key. 

Richmond, March 2, 1814. 

Dear Sir, — Your letter found me in bed, harassed and afflicted 
with gouty affection of the alimentary canal. It was, I believe, the 
best medicine that could have been administered to me, but, aided by 
an anniversary discourse, which Joe Lewis was considerate enough 
to send me, and which came also in the nick of time, the effect was 
wonderful. I am half disposed to be angry with you for passing 



RETIREMENT. 



33 



over the said discourse as if it never had existed, and especially for 
leaving me to the charity of Joe Lewis, but for whose contribution I 
might have been deprived of the pleasure of seeing it at all ; for you 
need not flatter yourself that the newspapers generally will republish 
it, Now, by way of penance for this misplaced modesty, I do enjoin 
upon you to thank the aforesaid Joe in my name for his most oblig- 
ing attention ; one that has given me a pleasure that I shall not of- 
fend you in attempting to express. 

You are right, my friend, but who will follow you ? Who will 
abandon the expedient to adopt the counsels of self-denial, of mortifi- 
cation, of duty? For my part, much as I abhor the factious motive 
and manner of the opposition prints, and many of its leaders, if I 
could find as many men of my way of thinking as drubbed the 
French at Agincourt, I would throw off the yoke, or perish in the 
attempt. 

Louisiana is not my country. I respect as much the opinions of 
the people of London as of the Western States. After these avowals 
you will not '• be glad" I fear " to see my nil acbnirariP My father 
left, for some reason of his own, this old family adage, and adopted 
fori qus, gentiat for his motto. But although I have returned to 
the old family maxim, I cannot shake off the habit which I acquired 
during thirty years' practice of speaking my mind sometimes. Nev- 
ertheless, I am persuaded that if we could all read your discourse, 
it would produce a most happy and beneficial effect on all ranks of 
the people. But the people will not hear, cannot read, and if they 
could, cannot understand, until the paroxysm of drunkenness is over. 
Wanting your faith I cannot repress my forebodings. They weigh 
me down and immerse body and soul. I never stood more in need 
of your society. In this world without souls every body is taken up 
with " the one thing needful" — what that is you must not consult St. 
Paul but the Jewish doctors, to discover. 

I was struck with the review of Grimm, and with the hypothesis 
of the reviewer, on the tendency of a certain state of society to 
deaden the feelings, ossify the heart, and sharpen the sense of ridi- 
cule. Yes. in spite of its being French verse, I was pleased with the 
tribute of Voltaire to the power of that God, whom he never knew. 
I have been looking over the four first numbers of the Edinburgh 
Beview, and was struck with the change of principle. 

In answer to the foregoing letter Mr. Key writes : 

' : I have not yet seen the Giaour, but have looked over the Bride 
of Abydos. It has some fine passages in it, but it is too full of 
those crooked-named out-of-the-way East Indian things. I have 
long ago, however, resolved that there shall be no such poet as Wal- 

vol. n. 2* 



34 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ter Scott as long as he lives, and I can admire nobody that pretends 
to rival him. 

'• I should like to have the first numbers of the Edinburgh Review. 
I remember very well the great and shameful change of principle it 
has undergone. It is to be regretted that it is so popular a work in 
this country. How came the re-publishers by their recommendations of 
it 1 I see you are among them — with some good company, and some 
rather bad. Is it not desirable that there should be a good Ameri- 
can Literary Review ? One inculcating the sound principles of the 
quarterly reviewers, and exposing our book-makers, would perhaps 
improve both our taste and habits. Have you seen an article in 
Bronson's select reviews on American song-writing 1 I do not know 
who the author is, but I think he could conduct such a work with 
much spirit. I have seldom, I think, seen a better piece of criti- 



cism." 



In reply, Randolph says : 

" I do think a review on the plan you mention would be highly 
beneficial, and if I was fit for any thing I should like to engage in a 
work of the sort. But fourteen years of congressional life have 
rendered me good for nothing. It may be an excuse for idleness, 
for this devil attacks me in every shape. But it seems to me, to 
work any material change in the state of things, we must begin (as 
some logicians lay their premises) a great way off. I mean with 
the children ; the old folks have taken their ^/y, and will neither 
bend nor break. 

" ' How came the Edinburgh Review by my recommendation V 
Because the re-publishers applied for it by letter ; and when I gave 
it I had not gotten sight of the cloven foot ; I had seen, however, some 
puerile abuse of myself in that journal ; but this and much more 
would have been amply atoned for by very many masterly articles, 
if they had not betrayed a want of reverence for religion, and a 
hankering after France. Nevertheless, some of the late numbers in 
a great measure redeem their former sins. The truth is that men of 
diffrent principles, political as well as religious, write for that journal, 
and it may be always quoted against itself. There are some noble 
specimens of the art of criticism in the two last numbers that I 
have seen. 

" I cannot yield the precedence of Lord Byron to Walter Scott. I 
admit your objection to the ' crooked-named out-of-the-way Turkish 
things.' But this must be pardoned in a traveller, who has explored 
the woods that wave o'er Delphi's steep, and swam across the Helles- 
pont. No poet in our language (the exception is unnecessary), 
Shakspeare and Milton apart, has the same power over my feelings 
as Byron. He is, like Scott, careless, and indulges himself in great 



RETIREMENT. 35 

license ; but he does not, like your favorite, write by the piece. I 
am persuaded that his fragments are thrown out by the true spirit 
of inspiration, and that he never goads his pen to work. When you 
have read the Giaour, the first, I think, of his poems. I am persua- 
ded that you will change your opinion of this singular author, and 
yet more singular man. His feelings are too strong to endure the 
privation of religious sentimeut. His time is not yet come, but he 
cannot continue to exist in the chill and gloom of skepticism. 

'• Meade is daily expected here. There is a general wish that ho 
should preach the first sermon in the Monumental Church. 

'• What an occasion for a man who would not sink under it ! He 
might do a great deal of good were he to yield to the desire of the 
congregation, and establish himself amongst them ; but where is the 
field in which he would not do good ? 

" I have not seen the article you mention in Bronson's Select Re- 
view. In its new form I think that a respectable and useful publi- 
cation. To be sure, it is made of scissors ; but it is so far beyond 
the Port-Folio as to be comparatively good. The last is the most con- 
temptible thing that ever imposed on the public in the shape of a 
magazine — and that is going very far. When your letter and 

W 's P. S. arrived, I was in all the horrors of what is vulgarly 

called Blue Devils ; nor am I yet wholly recovered. I could not, 
however, resist the inclination to make my acknowledgments for your 
kindness." 

Randolph to Key. 

Richmond, May 7th, 1814. 

My Dear Friend — Mr. Meade tells me that he expects to see 
you in a few days. I cannot let him depart without some token of 
my remembrance. He goes away early on Monday morning, so that, 
to guard against failure, I write to-day. He has made an engage- 
ment to preach in Hanover, thirty-five miles off, on Monday evening. 
No man can respect or admire his zeal in the sacred cause to which 
he has devoted himself, more than I do — but I fear he will wear 
himself out, and that the sum of his usefulness will, on the whole, be 
diminished, unless he will consent to spare himself. His health and 
strength are evidently impaired since I saw him last. I fear for his 
breast. I must refer you to him for what occurs here, except the 
eagerness of all classes and ranks of people to hear him. No man 
can be more generally revered than he is. 

As to the review, I am out of the question on that and every 
other subject requiring any species of exertion. I said truly when 
I told you that congressional life had destroyed me—fruges con- 
sumere — this is all that I am fit for ; and such is my infirmity of 



36 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

body that I make a very poor hand even at that — notwithstanding I 
am one of those who (as the French say) sum ne pour la digestion. 

Since the hot weather set in, I have been in a state of collapse, 
and am as feeble as an infant— with all this I am tortured with 
rheumatism, or gout, a wretched cripple, and my mind is yet_ more 
weak and diseased than my body. I hardly know myself, so irreso- 
lute and timid have I become. In short, I hope that there is not an- 
other creature in the world as unhappy as myself. This I can say to 
you. To the world I endeavor to put on a different countenance, and 
hold a bolder language ; but it is sheer hypocrisy, assumed to guard 
against the pity of mankind. 

Mr. Meade will preach to-morrow in the new church. He is 
anxious on account of a silly piece, which that prince of coxcombs 
has stuck into his paper. He has had no time for prepara- 
tion on so useful a subject, and is uneasy that the public expectation 
has been led to it. Indeed who could treat it as it deserves 1 cer- 
tainly no man whom I ever heard. Remember me kindly to Mrs. 
Key and all friends, amongst whom I must particularly mention 
West and Sterrett Ridgely. 

Most sincerely yours, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

I left the letter open that I might say a word about my friend's 
discourse. He explained in a few satisfactory and appropriate words 
why he should not touch upon a subject which many of his hearers 
had been led to expect he would treat (the burning of the theatre on 
whose site the new church was erected), and then gave us a most ex- 
cellent sermon on the pleasure of the true Christian's life. A prayer 
which he introduced into this discourse, that the heart, even if it were 
but one, of the unconverted might be touched, was most affecting. 

He preaches this afternoon at the Capitol, on the subject of the 
Bible Societies. 

Sunday, 2 o'clock, P. M. 



CHAPTER II. 

ANCESTRAL PEIDE — ST. GEORGE — MADNESS. 

John Randolph had a morbid sensibility on the subject of his family 
and his property. He belonged to one of the oldest, most numerous, 
and wealthy families in Virginia — he cherished his family pride, and 



ANCESTRAL PRIDE. 37 

valued hereditary fortune far beyond its pecuniary worth. A money- 
loving, or a money-making spirit constituted no part of his character. 
His feelings and opinions on these subjects were purely English ; the 
proud, yet munificent and accomplished Baron of some time-honored 
castle with its thousand acres, and its villages of grateful and happy 
tenants, handed down from sire to son. with all the associations of 
pride and affection clustering around its walls and its forests, consti- 
tuted his beau ideal (not without reason) of the perfect gentleman. 
Such, in no small degree, were the characters that composed the old 
Virginia aristocracy. Randolph loved their memory — formed him- 
self on their model — despised the law that sapped the foundation of 
their greatness — and still hoped to preserve, in his own name and 
family, some specimen that might be worthy of a comparison with 
those noble men of the olden time. 

He cherished the memory of his father with an increasing fond- 
ness to the day of his death. He always kept his father's miniature 
hung up before him in his chamber, or about his person, when long 
abroad from home. Last November, when on his way to Richmond, 
where he expected to be detained a few weeks only, he wrote back to 
Dudley, " be so good as to send me my father's picture and three 
lockets — they are in my writing-table drawer." He was now the only 
son, St. George and Tudor the sons of Richard, the only other de- 
scendants of that father whose memory he dwelt on so fondly. His 
had been an " unprosperous life," and was now, as he thought, rapidly 
drawing to a close. St. George was deaf and dumb — " the most 
pitiable of the step-sons of nature." Tudor was all that was left, the 
pride and hope of the family. These subjects caused him unceasing 
anxiety. The intensity of his feelings cannot be understood, nor 
justly appreciated by the novi homines of modern times. They 
amounted almost to a monomania — they furnish a solution of many 
of the apparent inconsistencies of his after life, and was the imme- 
diate cause of a rupture between himself and his step-father, whom, 
up to a very recent period, he had loved and venerated with the affec- 
tion and pride of a son. The efforts of mutual friends to heal this 
unfortunate breach between father and son, was the principal cause 
of his long delay in Richmond during the past winter and spring. 
"Writing to Dudley in January, he says, " I have been detained here 
by a very unpleasant piece of business" — and again in February, " I 



38 



LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 



have been, indeed, very much disturbed of late, by an occurrence as 
unexpected as it is distressing ; and, perhaps, I tinge other objects 
with the hue of the medium through which I observe them." 

The first cause of this misunderstanding with his step-father is 
very characteristic of the man, and illustrates the feeling of family 
pride that burned so intensely in his breast. The subject of con- 
versation was the passing of the Banister estate from an infant of 
that family, to a brother of the half blood of the Shippen family. 
Mr. Randolph said that occurrence gave rise to the alteration 
of the law of descents, and placed it on its present footing : he also 
expressed in strong terms his disapprobation of the justice or 
policy of such a law. Judge Tucker replied: "Why, Jack, you 
ought not to be against that law, for you know if you were to die 
without issue, you would wish your half brothers to have your estate." 
" I'll be damned, sir, if I do know it," said Randolph, in great excite- 
uieut ; and from that day ceased with his good and venerable step- 
father all friendly intercourse. This occasion gave rise to many 
cruel and unjust suspicions. Once brought to suspect a selfish mo- 
tive in him he had so much venerated, he began to look back with a 
jealous eye on all his past transactions, and " trifles light as air" 
became " confirmations strong as holy writ." 

In 1810-1 1 he called in an attorney and proposed instituting suit. 
He stated that Judge Tucker had never, in fact, settled his accounts 
as his guardian — that he had taken the accounts stated upon trust — 
that Judge Tucker had contrived, fraudulently he thought, to appro- 
priate to himself certain slaves, which had been given to his mother 
by her father, Colonel Bland, upon her marriage with his father, 
John Randolph the elder, which his father had held thenceforth till 
the day of his death, and which were mentioned as a part of his 
estate. He stated all the circumstances of the case ; and admitted 
that the question of his father's right to the slaves depended on the 
construction and effect of the statute of Virginia of 1758, making 
parole gifts of slaves void. He stated the facts and the law on which 
he rested his claim to the slaves with as much precision as coun- 
sel could have stated them in a bill in Chancery ; he was perfectly 
acquainted with the statute on the subject, and the decisions of the 
Court of Appeals upon it. His counsel dissuaded him from his pur- 
pose of bringing suit ; but he often afterwards recurred to the subject, 



ANCESTRAL PRIDE. 39 

and never seems to have been wholly reconciled. The old man, how- 
ever, was unconscious of having given him any cause of offence. He 
sent a mutual friend to see Mr. Randolph soon after his arrival in 
Richmond : " Do me the favor," says he, " to go and see Mr. Ran- 
dolph, and ask him if he ever received a letter from me on the sub- 
ject of the misunderstanding between himself and his brother Bev- 
erly, and whether he ever answered it? Then ask him what has 
alienated him from one, whom for more than thirty years he has 
known as a father ?" 

Randolph replied to the messenger, after a frown, that he had 
received the letter alluded to, and had not answered it ; and after a 
long pause said he had imposed it as a law on himself on this subject, 
not to converse about it. 

The cause of this alienation of mind we have seen. His morbid 
sensibility on these subjects was now in a new and unexpected form 
to be sorely tried ; his family pride to be deeply mortified, and his 
fond hopes of its future continuance and of its future distinction to 
be blasted forever. 

He thus writes to Mr. Key : 

Roanoke, June 3. 1814. 

Dear Frank — My departure from Richmond was as sudden as 
the occasion was mournful and distressing. My eldest nephew, 
St. George, in consequence of an unsuccessful attachment to Miss 

, the daughter of a worthy neighbor of his mother, had become 

unsettled in his intellects, and on my arrival at Farmville I found him 
a frantic maniac. I have brought ' him up here, and Dr. Dudley, a 
friend and treasure to me above all price, assists me in the manage- 
ment of him. We have no hopes of his restoration. 

I would congratulate you on the late most important occurrences 
in Europe ; but I cannot write. Let me hear from you, I pray. 
Commend me to Mrs. Key, and "West, and Ridgely, and all who care 
to inquire after me. 

Yours ever, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

Randolph to Key. 

Roanoke, July 14, 1814. 
Dear Frank — I have but half a sheet of paper left, and it is too 
late to send to the Court House (thirteen miles) for more. But with 
this half sheet and half a drop of ink diluted to a penful, I hope to 
make out something like a letter. 



40 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

It is not the young man you saw in Georgetown, just before the 
declaration of war, whose unhappy condition I described ; ke is yet 
at Cambridge : the patient is his elder brother, just entering his 
twenty-third year, and has been deaf and dumb from his cradle. 

This is the principal cause of his present situation : He has made 
several attempts to marry, and brooding over the cause of his failure 
has reduced him to his present state. He has become manageable 
with little trouble. His memory for words, persons, and events is 
unimpaired, but he cannot combine. He has dwelt a great deal on 
the terrors of future punishment also, and often mentioned the devil, 
but that was subsequent to his total derangement. His mind runs on 
it only as on other subjects of primary interest. 

I saw some account of your campaigns in the newspapers. "Wads- 
worth's letter is a curiosity — an honest account from a military com- 
mander. Your labors, my good friend, are drawing to a close. Rely 
upon it, we have peace forthwith. The points in " contestation," our 
rulers say, are removed by the peace in Europe, and will not be 
: ' touched" (another favorite phrase) in the treaty of peace. They 
might as well say they were removed by our declaration of war, if 
they were neutral rights, for that they contended for. Poor devils, 
what a figure they do cut ! Yet they will look as consequential as 
ever, and even carry the people with them. 

Have you read the Corsair ? or have you lost all relish for such pro- 
ductions ? I think his lordship is falling into the errors ascribed by 
him to Walter Scott. There is, however, some exquisite poetry. I have 
been trying to forget my wretched situation in the perusal of Burke. 
I have read his matchless diatribe on the attack of D. of B. and 
L. of L. — his letters on the regicide peace, and indeed the whole 
of the fifth volume, New- York edition. How much it is to be re- 
gretted that he did not live to publish his abridgment of English 
History. I have also run over the Reflections, and the Appeal from 
the New to the Old Whigs. that he could have seen this day ! 
You say nothing of Bonaparte. How I long for half an hour's chat with 
you on the subject of these late surprising and providential events. 

Present me affectionately to Mrs. Key and your little one, and 
remember me kindly to West and Ridgely, when you see them. If Lord 
Byron's Ode to Bonaparte is in Georgetown, pray send me a copy 
by post. Dudley returns your greeting. He is to me a treasure 
above all price. Exclusive of his excellent temper, alacrity, and in- 
telligence, he is a most skilful physician. I should sink without his 
support. I thank God that he has raised up to me such an help. 
Adieu, my dear sir. I am in truth, yours, 

John Randolph op Roanoke. 

I came down here yesterday with my poor nephew, who seems 
incurably alienated from his mother. I shall return in a few days. 



ANCESTRAL PRIDE. 41 



Randolph to Brockcnbrough. 

Roanoke, July 15, 1814. 

I had begun to fear that my long visitation of last winter and 
spring, had put you so much out of the habit of writing to me. that 
you would never resume it. But your letter of the 6th (just re- 
ceived) encourages me to hope that I shall hear from you as formerly. 
It was a sensible relief to me. But I will say nothing about my 
situation. 

Poor St. George continues quite irrational. He is however very 
little mischievous, and governed pretty easily. His memory of per- 
sons, things, words, and events, is not at all impaired ; but he has no 
power of combination, and is entirely incoherent. His going to the 
Springs is out of the question, and mine, I fear, equally so, although 
my rheumatism requires the warm bath. By this time you are on 
your way thither. Except that it is too cold, the weather could not 
have been finer. 

AVhat a climate we live under ! 

As to peace, I have not a doubt that we shall have it forthwith. 
Our folks are prepared to say that the pacification of Europe has 

swept away the matters in contestation, as M , the Secretary of 

State, has it. All that we see in the Government prints is to recon- 
cile us the better to the terms which they must receive from the 
enemy. From the time of his flight from Egypt, my opinion of the 
character of Bonaparte has never changed, except for the worse. I 
have considered him from that date a coward, and ascribed his suc- 
cess to the deity he worships. Fortune. His insolence and rashness 
have met their just reward. Had he found an efficient government 
in France, on his abandonment of his brave companions in arms in 
Egypt, and returned to Paris, he would have been cashiered for ruin- 
ing the best appointed armament that ever left an European port. 
But all was confusion and anarchy at Paris, and instead of a coup de 
fusil, he was rewarded with a sceptre. He succeeded in throwing 
the blame of Aboukir on poor Brueys. He could safely talk of 
" his orders to the Admiral," after L' Orient had blown up. His 
Russian and German campaign is another such commentary on his 
character ; it is all of a piece. 

If the allies adhere to their treaty of Chaumont, the peace of Eu- 
rope will be preserved ; but in France, I think, the seeds of disorder 
must abound. Instead of the triple aristocracy of the Noblesse, the 
Church, and the Parliaments, I see nothing but janissaries, and a 
divan of ruffians — Algiers on a great scale. Moral causes I see 
none ; and I am well persuaded that these are not created in a day. 
Matters of inveterate opinion, when once rooted up, are dead, never 
to revive ; other opinions must succeed them. But I am prosing — 



42 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

uttering a string of common-place that every one can write, and no 
one can deny. But you brought it on yourself. You expected 
that I would say something, and I resolved to try. I can bear wit- 
ness to the fact of Mrs. Brockenbrough's prediction respecting Bona- 
parte's retirement. I wish I were permitted to name five ladies who 
should constitute the Cabinet of this country ; our affairs would be 
conducted in another guess manner. This reminds me of Mrs. G-., of 
whom I have at last heard. Mr. G. wrote me late in February, from 
London. They were going to Bath, and " if circumstances on the 
continent would permit, meant to take a tour through France." 
How well-timed their trip to Europe has been. 

I am here completely hors du rnonde. My neighbor, , with 

whom I have made a violent effort to establish an intercourse, has 
been here twice, by invitation — W. Leigh, as often, on his way to 
court ; and on Saturday, I was agreeably surprised, by stumbling on 
Frank Gilmer, who was wandering to and fro in the woods, seeking 
my cabin. He left on Tuesday for his brother's in Henry. Except 
my standing dish, you have my whole society for nine ivceks. On the 
terms by which I hold it, life is a curse, from which I would will- 
ingly escape, if I knew where to fly. I have lost my relish for read- 
ing ; indeed, I could not devour even the Corsair with the zest that 
Lord Byron's pen generally inspires. It is very inferior to the 
Giaour, or the Bride. The character of Conrad is unnatural. Blessed 
with his mistress, he had no motive for desperation. 

My plantation affairs, always irksome, are now revolting. I have 
lost three-fourths of the finest and largest crop I ever had. 

My best respects and regard to Mrs. B. 

I am, as ever, yours, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

Dr. Dudley is (as you may suppose) a treasure to me above all 
price. Without him, what should I do 1 He desires his respects to 
you both. 

As to an English Constitution for France, they will have one 
when they all speak the English language, and not before. Have 
you read Morris's oration on the 29th of June ? His description of 
Bonaparte, "taking money for his crown," is very fine. It is a pic- 
ture. I see him. There are some cuts in the same page that our 
fulminating statesmen will not like. 

Sunday the \Hh. — I am compelled to be at Prince Edward 
Court to-morrow, and the weather is so intolerably hot, that I shall 
go a part of the way this afternoon, and put my letter in the Farm- 
ville post-office, whence it will go direct to Richmond, instead of 
waiting five days on the road. Our crops, lately drowned, are now 
burning up. I begin to feel the effects of the fresh in my health as 
well as my purse. Dudley and myself both have experienced the ill 



ANCESTRAL PRIDE. 43 

consequences of our daily visits to the low grounds. The negroes, 
however, continue healthy. Out of more than two hundred, not a 
patient since I came home. 

Who is it that says '• il-y-a tant de plaisir a havarder avec un 
ami !" Perhaps you will reply that the pleasure is not so great ctre 
bavardi. 

Randolph to Key. 

Roanoke, July 31, 1814. 
Affliction has assailed me in a new shape. My younger nephew 
whom you saw in G-. Town two years ago has fallen, I fear, into a con- 
firmed pulmonary consumption. He was the pride, the sole hope of 
our family. How shall I announce to his wretched mother that the 
last stay of her widowed life is falling ? Give me some comfort, my 
good friend, I beseech you. He is now travelling by slow journeys 
home. What a scene awaits him there ! His birth-place in ashes, 
his mother worn to a skeleton with disease and grief, his brother cut 
off from all that distinguishes man to his advantage from the brute 
beast. I do assure you that my own reason has staggered under this 
cruel blow. I know, or rather have a confused conception of what 
I ought to do, and sometimes strive, not altogether ineffectually I 
hope, to do it ; but again all is chaos and misery. My faculties are 
benumbed ; I feel suffocated ; let me hear from you. I pray. 



Yours, in truth, 



J. R. 



St. George, my elder nephew, is calm and governable, but entirely 
irrational. Commend me to Mrs. Key, and to Ridgely and West. 
Since writing the above my whole crop (tobacco and corn) is destroyed 
by a fresh, the greatest that has been known within twenty years. I 
fear a famine next summer ; for this country, if we had the means of 
buying, is out of the way of a supply, except by distant land-carriage, 
and the harvests of Rappahannock, &c, cannot be brought up to 
Richmond by water. The poor slaves I fear will suffer dreadfully. 



Randolph to Brockenbrovgli. 

Roanoke, Aug. 1, 1814. 
You find in me, I fear, not merely an unprofitable but a trouble- 
some correspondent ; all my conversation is on paper. I have no one 
to converse with, for I have hardly seen Dudley since my return from 
Farmville. and I try to forget myself, or to obtain some relief from my 
own thoughts, by pouring them out on one who has heretofore lent to 
me perhaps too partial an ear. I have lived to feel that there are " many 



44 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

things worse than poverty or death," those bugbears that terrify tho 
great children of the world, and sometimes drive them to eternal ruin. 
It requires, however, firmer nerves than mine to contemplate, without 
shrinking, even in prospect, the calamities which await this unhappy 
district of country — famine and all its concomitant horrors of dis- 
ease and misery. To add to the picture, a late requisition of militia 
for Norfolk carries dismay and grief into the bosoms of many fami- 
lies in this country ; and to have a just conception of the scene, it is 
necessary to be on the spot. This is our court day, when the con- 
scripts are to report themselves, and I purposely abstain from the 
sight of wretchednes that I cannot relieve. I have indeed enough of 
it at home. The river did not abate in its rise until last night at 
sunset. • It has, after twenty -four hours, just retired within its banks. 
The ruin is tremendous. The granary of this part of the State is 
rifled of its stores. Where then are the former furnishers of the 
great support of life to look for a supply ? With a family of more 
than two hundred mouths looking up to me for food, I feel an awful 
charge on my hands. It is easy to rid myself of the burthen if I could 
shut my heart to the cry of humanity and the voice of duty. But in 
these poor slaves I have found my best and most faithful friends ; 
and I feel that it would be more difficult to abandon them to the cruel 
fate to which our laws would consign them, than to suffer with them. 

Among other of his tracts, I have been reading to-day Burke on 
the Policy of the Allies. If the book is within your reach, pray give 
it a perusal. It has a strong bearing on the present circumstances 
of France. A thousand conceptions have arisen in my mind on that 
subject and on the actual condition of our country, which I regret 
it has not been in my power to commit to paper ; but these bubbles of 
the imagination have vanished : I could not embody them in the 
happy moment of projection. You see that I speak the language of 
an adept, although hardly out of my noviciate. 



CHAPTEE III. 



MILITARY CAMPAIGN. 



Some time in the month of July, 1814, Cochrane made his appear- 
ance in the Chesapeake. This appearance of a formidable enemy 
within their own borders, spread consternation among the unprotected 
people along the shores. Many depredations and outrages were 



MILITARY CAMPAIGN 45 

committed at Hampton, Havre de Grace, and other exposed places. 
Finally an army was landed and marched across the country towards 
Washington City. They were met by a body of raw militia and a few 
marines, at Bladensburg, where was fought, or rather was run, the 
celebrated races of Bladensburg. Washington fell into the hands of 
the enemy, and the archives and public buildings were destroyed. On 
the news of this disaster, Randolph hastened to the scene of action, 
prepared, if occasion required, to lend his aid in defending the shores 
of Virginia. 

The following letter, addressed to Dr. Dudley, will show how the 
military spirit had come over him : 

Camp Fairfield, September 2, 1814. 
My dear Theodore — You may be surprised at not hearing 
from me. But, first, I lost my horses ; secondly, I got a violent 
bilious complaint, not cholera, but cousin-german to it ; thirdly, I 
heard the news of Washington, and, without delay, proceeded hither. 
I am now under orders to proceed to the brick house, forty-two miles 
on York road, just below the confluence of Pamunkey and Mattapony. 
Should you come down, report yourself to the surgeon-general, Dr. 
Jones, of Nottoway. But first come to camp, and see Watkins 
Leigh, the governor's aid. 

But his military career was very brief. Finding that the enemy 
meditated an attack on Baltimore, and that all danger of an imme- 
diate invasion of the shores of Virginia had passed by, he hastened 
back to Richmond. On the 8th of September, he writes to Mr. Key 
from that city : 

" I have been here ten days, including four spent in reconnoiter- 
ing the lower country between York and James River, from the con- 
fluence of Mattapony and Pamunkey to the mouth of Chickahomany. 
You will readily conceive my anxiety on the subject of my friends 
at Blenheim, the Woodyard, and Alexandria. Thank God ! George- 
town is safe. 1 was in terror for you and yours. Pray, let me hear 
from you. Tell me something of Sterrett Ridgely, and remember 
me to him and all who care to remember me. I have witnessed a sad 
spectacle in my late ride ; but I do not wish to depress your spirits. 
Dudley is at home with St. George. Poor Tudor is ill, very ill, at 
Mr. Morris's, near New- York. 

Mr. Randolph remained in Richmond about a month. Hearing 
still more unfavorable tidings of his nephew, he set out about the 
9th of October on a journey to Morrisania, the family residence of 



46 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Governeur Morris. Esq., near the city of New-York. On the 13th, he 
writes from Baltimore to Dudley : 

" I have been detained here since Monday, by the consequences of 
an accident that befel me at Port Conway (opposite Port Royal), on 
Monday morning. At three o'clock, I was roused to set out in the 
stage. Mistaking, in the dark, a very steep staircase for a passage, 
at the end of which I expected to find the descent, — walking boldly 
on, I fell from the top to the bottom, and was taken up senseless. 
My left shoulder and elbow were severely hurt ; also the right ankle. 
My hat saved my head, which was bruised, but not cut. Neverthe- 
less, I persevered, got to Georgetown, and the next day came to this 
place, where I have been compelled to remain in great pain. 1 ' 

October 23d, 1814, he writes from Morrisania: 

" After various accidents, one of which had nearly put an end to 
my unprosperous life, and confined me nearly a week on the road, I 
reached this place yesterday. Tudor is better ; I have hopes of him, 
if we can get him to Virginia in his present plight." 

November 17th, he again writes to Dr. Dudley : 

" On returning from Morrisania, on Sunday, the 24th of October, 
the driver overturned me in Cortlandt-street, by driving over a pile 
of stones, &c, before a new house, unfinished, which nuisance extended 
more than half way across a narrow street. I am very seriously in- 
jured. The patella is, in itself, unhurt ; but the ligaments are very 
much wrenched, so that a tight bandage alone enables me to hobble from 
one room to another with the help of a stick. I hope to be able to 
bear the motion of a carriage by the last of this week. I shall then 
go to Philadelphia, and hope to see you by the first of next month ; 
assuredly (God willing) before Christmas. I am a poor miserable 
cripple, and you are my only support." 

He arrived in Philadelphia about the first of December, and re- 
mained in that city the greater part of the winter, the weather being 
too inclement for him to travel. His time was most agreeably spent 
in the society of some of his old and most valued friends. Mrs. Clay, 
the widow of his late much lamented friend, Joseph Clay ; Dr. Chap- 
man, Mr. Parish., and others. The son of Mr. Clay, who bore his 
name, John Randolph Clay, he took to Virginia with him, defrayed 
the expenses of his education for a number of years, and watched 
over him with the care and anxiety of a father. 

On his arrival in Richmond, he thus writes to Mr. Key : 

Richmond. March 9. 1815. 
Dear Frank : — I have lately got out of the habit of writing to 
my friends, even to you — you to whom I am so much indebted. 



MILITARY CAMPAIGN. 47 

Such is the consequence of that state of mind under which I have 
unhappily labored for a long, long time past — the victim of ennui, 
indolence, and despair. I am not even as thankful as I ought to be 
for the great blessing lately vouchsafed us, at the moment when the 
wits of our rulers had become inextricably puzzled, and all their ex- 
pedients to raise men or money had failed. Well, here is a peace at 
last ; and a peace, if I may judge of the stagnation here, very like 
a war : but this topic has become stale and threadbare. 

I found my poor boy here worse than I left him four months 
before, and daily declining. I must try to send him to the Mediter- 
ranean coast of Europe, although with little hope. Sometimes I 
think he had better give up his innocent life in the arms of his poor 
mother, instead of perishing (as I fear will be his lot should he cross 
the Atlantic) among strangers in a foreign land ! Yet, again, what 
boots it where we die. 

What are you going to do — have you given up the editorial 
scheme 1 Do you really think that the mere restoration of peace 
has anticipated all your schemes to be of service to this poor country? 
Are the present men and measures riveted upon the nation, at least 
for our lifetime ? I think so, and therefore I wish to keep out of 
the vortex " betwixt vexed Scvlla and the hoarse Calabrian shore ;" 
not to tread that " huge Serbonian bog, where armies whole (of 
politicians) have sunk." 

Do not think this a nolo episcopari, because of a certain letter 
that you may have seen. Times have changed since that letter was 
written, and nos mutamus in illis. If I can compass it, I will go 
with my poor sick boy, and sit by him and comfort him as well as 
I can. 

On his return home. Mr. Randolph was urged by his old friends 
to become a candidate for Congress in the approaching elections ; 
they assailed him on all hands, entreated him, followed him with 
solicitations that brooked no denial. Many who had deserted him 
on a former occasion wished for an opportunity to retrieve them- 
selves, and to show their high appreciation of a man whom, in the 
hour of excitement and party blindness, they had been induced to 
abandon. The communication of the determination of his friends to 
support him at the ensuing election brought out a swarm of detract- 
ors, whom he was urged to answer. He steadily refused. " It is too 
late," says he, " in the day to vindicate my public character before a 
people whom I represented fourteen years, and whom, if they do not 
now know me, never will. I therefore abstain from all places of public 
resort, as well from inclination as principle." He entered the field 



48 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

with his old competitor, Mr. Epps, and was triumphantly elected. 
"Writing to Mr. Key on the 25th of April, he says : " You will have 
heard of my re-election ; an event which has given me no pleasure, 
except so far as it has been gratifying to my friends. It is a station 
as unfit for me as I am for it. For a long time my mind has refused 
to travel in that track. I cannot force myself to think on the sub- 
ject of my public affairs. I am engrossed by reflections of a very 
different, and far more important nature. I am ' a stricken deer,' 
and feel disposed to ' leave the hind.' The hand of calamity has 
pressed sorely upon me ; I do not repine at it. On the contrary, I 
return thanks for the (apparent) evil as well as good, which He who 
knows what is best for me has appointed for my portion in this life. 
May it have the effect of drawing me close unto Him, without whose 
gracious mercy I feel that I am a lost, undone creature." 

Mr. Key expressed himself sincerely gratified at the triumph of 
his friend : " Such an one," says he, " has not to my knowledge ever 
fallen to the lot of any man. It does equal honor to the electors 
and the elected." Mr. Key delicately suggested to him that there is 
a virtue, the most difficult, but the most noble, which he was now 
called upon to practise ; it was to show the meekness and moderation 
of true magnanimity after so signal a victory. " Excuse me," says 
he, " for thinking of reminding you of this. It springs from a 
heart, among whose warmest wishes it is, that you should exhibit 
every grace and dignity of which this poor frail nature of ours is 
capable." 

Randolph, in reply, says : " You will have perceived I hope, my good 

friend, from my letter by Dr. , that I have felt no disposition to 

indulge in an unbecoming triumph on the event of the late election 
in this district. I do assure you with the utmost sincerity, that, so 
far as I am personally concerned, I cannot but regret the partiality 
of my friends, who insisted on holding me up on this occasion. I 
am engrossed by sentiments of a far different character, and I look 
forward to the future in this world, to say nothing of the next, with 
anticipations that forbid any idle expression of exultation. On the 
contrary, my sensations are such as become a dependent creature, 
whose only hope for salvation rests upon the free grace of Him to 
whom we must look for peace in this world, as well as in the world 
to come. I cannot give expression to the feelings which fill my 



NEW ENGLAND. 49 

mind, and by which it is overcome ; I struggle even with the diffi- 
culty of repressing them on occasions, and before persons, where the 
only effect would be to cover me with ridicule." 



• • •- 



CHAPTEE IV. 

NEW ENGLAND. 

The subjects of difficulty between the United States and Great Britain 
affected the interests of the New England States more than any other 
section of the Union. It was their seamen that were captured, their 
carrying trade tnat was interdicted by maritime adjudications, their 
shipping and commerce that were crippled and destroyed by the or- 
ders in council. The Southern States, being wholly given to plant- 
ing and other agricultural pursuits, were only affected by the tempo- 
rary suspension of a market for the sale of their products. Both, 
however, united in their petitions and remonstrances to Congress, 
and in demands for a redress of their grievances. But when the 
measures adopted for this purpose began to operate, it was found by 
the New England States that the remedy was more burthensome 
and destructive than the evils complained of. An American seaman 
was occasionally captured, but as a compensation hundreds of British 
sailors fled to our more lucrative and agreeable service. Much too 
frequently, it is true, an American vessel and her cargo were con- 
demned by a British court of admiralty, yet many escaped and pur- 
sued a successful and profitable voyage ; but the embargo drove ev- 
ery seaman from the service, and by one fell blow put an end to all 
commerce. Before this fatal expedient there was hazard in every 
enterprise, but there was hope to cheer on the adventurers ; now 
even hope was extinguished, and the means of winning a precarious 
subsistence from the perilous deep were wrested from them. These 
were the feelings and opinions in New England. Massachusetts in- 
terposed her authority ; pronounced the law unconstitutional and op- 
pressive, and declared, that unless some speedy remedy were applied, 
necessity, the law of self-preservation that rises above all other law, 
would impel her to some ulterior and more decisive course. To the 
vol. 11. 4 



50 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

honor of Mr. Jeft'erson be it said, he yielded to the necessity of the 
case, and consented to a repeal of the embargo laws. Up to this 
period there was nothing but what was highly creditable to both par- 
ties. But Mr. Jefferson had gone into retirement, and other coun- 
cils ruled the destiny of the nation. Measure after measure was 
adopted, embarrassing and ruinous to the interests of New England, 
until finally the whole nation was plunged in war. All its armies 
and military resources were transported to the frontiers of Canada, 
and pledged to a war of aggression and conquest, while the Atlantic 
borders were left exposed to the ravages of the enemy. Napoleon 
had been conquered by the frosts of Russia, and was an exile on the 
shores of Elba. England had redoubled her energies and made the 
war a vindictive punishment of the people for the sins of their gov- 
ernment — rapine, brutality, and murder followed in the train of her 
armies, and their approach was more to be dreaded by the helpless 
and the innocent, than the invasion of the traitorous Arnold. In 
this state of affairs Massachusetts again interposed ; but times had 
changed ; the country was involved in war, and whether right or 
wrong, she required all good citizens to help to bring it to a success- 
ful end. New England at this crisis was charged — at least Massa- 
chusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut were charged — with the de- 
sign of seeking a separate peace with Great Britain, and placing 
themselves in a position of neutrality during the further progress of 
the war, if indeed they did not cherish the ulterior purpose of a 
complete and final separation from the other States of the Union. 

Whether this accusation be true or not, forms no part of our in- 
quiry. We would fain hope — indeed we have good reason to believe 
that it was untrue — and that it formed a part of those party tactics 
which are too often resorted to to bring odium on political opponents, 
by misrepresenting their designs and their motives. The accusation, 
however, was made at the time by the minority of the Massachusetts 
Legislature that opposed the election of delegates to the Hartford 
Convention. 

At this dark and melancholy period, when a vindictive foreign 
war was ravaging our coasts, and disrupture and civil war were 
threatened within, Mr. Randolph was called upon to interpose his 
good offices in behalf of his country. He was told that his voice 
would be heard in New England, and that his admonitions would 



NEW ENGLAND. 51 

receive their just consideration. He did not hesitate to give them — 
in the midst of pain, disease, domestic affliction, and mental suffering, 
he addressed to the people of New England, through one of her dis- 
tinguished Senators, the following letter. Let it be read with atten- 
tion ; it does honor to the head and to the heart of the man that 
penned it. The reader cannot fail to be animated by the patriotism 
that glowed in his bosom, and to be cheered by the high appreciation 
he placed on the value of the Union, not as an end to be maintained 
at all hazards, but as a means to secure the peace and the happiness 
of the whole country. Let it not be said, after a perusal of this let- 
ter, that Mr. Randolph entertained unfounded and unreasonable pre- 
judices against the people of New England. He cherished no such 
feelings. When New England became the advocate of a system of 
protection that proved to be as ruinous to the interests of his people 
as the embargo had been to them, he did not complain and declare 
in his peculiar and emphatic way, that nothing manufactured north 
of Mason and Dixon's line should ever enter into his house ; but he 
never ceased to cherish towards the people of New England the pro- 
foundest sentiments of respect and regard. 

Philadelphia, Dec. 15, 1814. 

Dear Sir, — You will doubtless be surprised, but (I trust) not 
offended at the receipt of this letter. Of the motives which dictate 
it I shall forbear to speak : let them be gathered from its context. 
But should you ascribe my selection of you as the object of its ad- 
dress to any other cause than respect for your character and confi- 
dence in your love of country, you will have done much injustice to 
me ; but more to yourself. 

At Washington, I learned the result of the dispatches brought 
by the John Adams (a name of evil omen), and there rumors were 
afloat, which have since gathered strength, of a disposition in Massa- 
chusetts, and indeed throughout New England, to follow the example 
of Nantucket, and declare for a neutrality in the present contest 
with Great Britain. I will not believe it. What ! Boston, the cra- 
dle of American independence, to whose aid Virginia stept forth un- 
solicited, when the whole vengeance of the British ministry was 
wreaked on that devoted town. Boston ! now to desert us, in our 
utmost need, to give up her old ally to ravage, at the price of her 
own impunity from the common enemy ? — I cannot, will not believe 
it. The men, if any such there be among you, who venture to insin- 
uate such an intent by the darkest inuendo, do they claim to be the 
disciples of Washington ? They are of the school of Arnold. I 



52 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

am not insensible to the vexations and oppressions, with which you 
have been harassed, with little intermission, since the memorable 
embargo of 1807. These I am disposed, as you well know, neither 
to excuse, nor to extenuate. Perhaps I may be reminded of an au- 
thority, to which I always delight to refer, " Segnius irritant amnios, 
SfC." but let me tell such gentlemen, that our sufferings under politi- 
cal quacks of our own calling in, are not matter of hearsay. It is 
true they are considered by the unhappy, misguided patient, as evi- 
dence of the potency and consequently (according to his system of 
logic) of the efficacy of the medicine, as well as the inveteracy of the 
disease. It is not less true that this last has become, from prepos- 
terous treatment, in the highest degree alarming. The patient him- 
self begins to suspect something of the sort, and the doctors trem- 
bling, each for his own character, are quarrelling and calling hard 
names among themselves. But they have reduced us to such a con- 
dition, that nothing short of the knife will now do. "We must 
fight, Mr. Speaker !" said Patrick Henry in 1775, when his sagacious 
mind saw there was nothing else left for us but manly resistance or 
slavish submission ; and his tongue dared to utter what his heart 
suggested. How much greater the necessity now, when our country 
is regarded not as a property to be recovered, and therefore spared, 
so far as is compatible with the end in view ; but as an object of 
vengeance, of desolation. 

You know my sentiments of the men at the head of our affairs, 
and of the general course of administration during the last eight 
years. You know also that the relation, in which I stand towards 
them, is one of my own deliberate choice ; sanctioned not more by 
my judgment than by my feelings. You, who have seen men (in the 
ranks, when I commanded in chief in the House of Representatives, 
and others, at that time too green to be on the political muster roll 
— whose names had never been pronounced out of their own parish) 
raised to the highest offices ; you who are thoroughly acquainted with 
the whole progress of my separation from the party with which I 
was once connected in conduct, do not require to be told, that " there 
was a time in which I stood in such favor in the closet, that there 
must have been something extravagantly unreasonable in my wishes, 
if they might not all have been gratified." But I must acknow- 
ledge that you have seen instances of apostasy among your quondam 
political associates, as well as my own, that might almost justify a 
suspicion, that I too, tired of holding out, may wish to make my 
peace with the administration, by adding one more item " to the long 
catalogue of venality from Esau to the present day." Should such 
a shade of suspicion pass across your mind, I can readily excuse it, 
in consideration of the common frailty of our nature, from which I 
claim no peculiar exemption, and the transcendent wickedness of the 



NEW ENGLAND. 53 

times we live in ; but you will have given me credit for a talent 
which I do not possess. I am master of no such ambidexterity ; 
and were I to attempt this game, which it is only for adepts (not 
novices) to play ! I am thoroughly conscious, that like other bung- 
ling rogues, I should at once expose my knavery and miss my object 
— not that our political church refuses to open her arms to the vilest 
of heretics and sinners who can seal their abjuration of their old 
faith by the prosecution of the brethren with whom they held and 
professed it : but I know that my nerves are of too weak a fibre to 
hear the question ordinary and extraordinary from our political in- 
quisitors. I can sustain with composure and even with indifference 
the rancorous hatred of the numerous enemies, whom it has been my 
lot to make in the course of my unprosperous life — but I have not 
yet steeled myself to endure the contemptuous pity of those noble 
and high-minded men, whom I glory to call my friends, and I am on 
too bad terms with the world, to encounter my own self-disrespect. 

You may however very naturally ask, why I have chosen you for 
the object of this address? Why I have not rather selected some 
one of those political friends, whom I have yet found " faithful among 
the faithless," as the vehicle of my opinions? It is because the ave- 
nue to the public ear is shut against me in Virginia, and I have been 
flattered to believe that the sound of my voice may reach New Eng- 
land. Nay. that it would be heard there, not without attention and 
respect. With us the press is under a virtual imprimatur, and it 
would be more easy, at this time, to force into circulation the treasu- 
ry notes, than opinions militating against the administration, through 
the press in Virginia. We were indeed beginning to open our eyes 
in spite of the opiate with which we were drugged by the newspa- 
pers, and the busy hum of the insects that bask in the sunshine of 
court patronage, when certain events occurred, the most favorable 
that could have happened for our rulers ; whose " luck," verifying 
the proverb, is in the inverse ratio of their wisdom ; or, perhaps I 
ought to say, who have the cunning to take advantage of glaring acts 
of indiscretion, in their adversaries at home and abroad, as these 
may affect the public mind ; and such have never failed to come to 
their relief, when otherwise their case would have been hopeless. I 
give you the most serious assurance, that nothing less than the 
shameful conduct of the enemy and the complexion of certain occur- 
rences to the eastward could have sustained Mr. Madison after the 
disgraceful affair at Washington. The public indignation would 
have overwhelmed, in one common ruin, himself and his hireling 
newspapers. The artillery of the press, so long the instrument of 
our subjugation, would, as at Paris, have been turned against the de- 
stroyer of his country : when we are told that old England says he 
••shall," and New England that he "must," retire from office, as the 



54 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

price of peace with the one, and of union with the other, we have 
too much English blood in our veins to submit to this dictation, or to 
any thing in the form of a threat. Neither of these people know 
any thing of us. The ignorance of her foreign agents, not only of 
the country to which they are sent, but even of their own, has ex- 
posed England to general derision. She will learn, when it is too 
late, that we are a high-minded people, attached to our liberty and 
our country, because it is free, in a degree inferior to no people un- 
der the sun. She will discover that " our trade would have been 
worth more than our spoil," and that she has made deadly enemies 
of a whole people, who, in spite of her and of the world, of the sneers 
of her sophists, or of the force of her arms, are destined to become, 
within the present session, a mighty nation. It belongs to New 
England to say, whether she will constitute a portion, an important 
and highly respectable portion of this nation, or whether she will 
dwindle into that state of insignificant, nominal independence, which 
is the precarious curse of the minor kingdoms of Europe. A sepa- 
ration made in the fulness of time, the effect of amicable arrange- 
ments, may prove mutually beneficial to both parties : such would 
have been the effect of American independence, if the British min- 
istry could have listened to any suggestion but that of their own im- 
potent rage : but a settled hostility embittered by the keenest recol- 
lections, must be the result of a disunion between you and us, under 
the present circumstances. I have sometimes wished that Mr. Madi- 
son (who endeavored to thwart the wise and benevolent policy of 
General Washington " to regard the English like other nations, as 
enemies in war, in peace friends,") had succeeded in embroiling us 
with the Court of St. James, twenty years sooner. We should in 
that case, have had the father of his country to conduct the war and 
to make the peace ; and that peace would have endured beyond the life- 
time of the authors of their country's calamity and disgrace. But I 
must leave past recollections. The present and the immediate future 
claim our attention. 

It may be said, that in time of peace, the people of every portion 
of our confederacy find themselves too happy to think of division : 
that the sufferings of a war, like this, are recmisite, to rouse them to 
the necessary exertion : war is incident to all governments ; and 
wars I very much fear will be wickedly declared, and weakly waged, 
even by the New England confederacy, as they have been by every 
government (not even excepting the Roman republic), of which we 
have any knowledge ; and it does appear to me no slight presump- 
tion that the evil has not yet reached the point of amputation, when 
peace alone will render us the happiest (as we are the freest) people 
under the sun ; at least too happy to think of dissolving the Union, 
which, as it carried us through the war of our revolution, will, I 



NEW ENGLAND. 55 

trust, bear us triumphant through that in which we have been 
plunged, by the incapacity and corruption of men, neither willing to 
maintain the relations of peace, nor able to conduct the operations of 
war. Should I, unhappily, be mistaken in this expectation, let us see 
what are to be the consequences of the separation, not to us, but to 
yourselves. An exclusion of your tonnage and manufactures from 
our ports and harbors. It will be our policy to encourage our own, 
or even those of Europe in preference to yours ; a policy more ob- 
vious than that which induced us of the South, to consent to dis- 
criminating duties in favor of American tonnage, in the infancy of 
this government. It is unnecessary to say, to you, that I embrace 
the duties on imports, as well as the tonnage duty, when I allude to 
the encouragement of American shipping. It will always be our 
policy to prevent your obtaining a naval superiority, and conse- 
quently to cut you off entirely from our carrying trade. The same 
plain interest will cause us to prefer any manufactures to your own. 
The intercourse with the rest of the world, that exchanges our sur- 
plus for theirs, will be the nursery of our seamen. In the middle 
States you will find rivals, not very heartily indisposed to shut out 
the competition of your shipping. In the same section of country 
and in the boundless West, you will find jealous competitors of your 
mechanics — you will be left to settle, as you can, with England, the 
question of boundary on the side of New Brunswick, and unless you 
can bring New-York to a state of utter blindness, as to her own in- 
terests, that great, thriving, and most populous member of the south- 
ern confederacy will present a hostile frontier to the only States of 
the union of Hartford, that can be estimated as of any efficiency. 
Should that respectable city be chosen as the seat of the Eastern 
Congress, that body will sit within two days' march of the most pop- 
ulous county of New- York (Duchess), of itself almost equal to some 
of the New England States. I speak not in derision, but in sober- 
ness and sadness of heart. Rather let me say, that like a thorough- 
bred diplomatist, I try to suppress every thing like feeling, and treat 
this question as a dry matter of calculation ; well knowing, at the 
same time, that in this, as in every question of vital interest, " our 
passions instruct our reason." The same high authority has told us 
that jacobinism is of no country, that it is a sect found in all. Now, 
as our jacobins in Virginia would be very glad to hear of the bom- 
bardment of Boston, so, I very much fear, your jacobins would not 
be very sorry to hear of a servile insurrection in Virginia. But such 
I trust is the general feeling in neither country, otherwise I should 
at once agree that union, like the marriages of Mezentius, was the 
worst that could befall us. For, with every other man of common 
sense, I have always regarded union as the means of liberty and 
safety ; in other words of happiness, and not as an end, to which 



56 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

these are to be sacrificed. Neither, at the same time, are means so 
precious, so efficient (in proper hands) of these desirable objects, to 
be thrown, rashly aside, because, in the hands of bad men, they have 
been made the instrument almost of our undoing. 

You in New England (it is unnecessary I hope to specify when I 
do not address myself personally to yourself) are very wide of the 
mark, if you suppose we to the south do not suffer at least as much 
as yourselves, from the incapacity of our rulers to conduct the de- 
fence of the country. Do you ask why we do not change those ru- 
lers ? I reply, because we are a people, like your own Connecticut, 
of steady habits. Our confidence once given is not hastily with- 
drawn. Let those who will, abuse the fickleness of the people ; I 
shall say such is not the character of the people of Virginia. They 
may be deceived, but they are honest. Taking advantage of their 
honest prejudices, the growth of our revolution, fostered not more 
by Mr. Jefferson than by the injuries and (what is harder to be 
borne) the insults of the British ministry since the peace of 1783, a 
combination of artful men. has, with the aid of the press, and the 
possession of the machinery of government (a powerful engine in any 
hands) led them to the brink of ruin. I can never bring myself to 
believe, that the whole mass of the landed proprietors in any coun- 
try, but especially such a country as Virginia, can seriously plot its 
ruin. Our government is in the hands of the landed proprietors 
only. The very men of whom you complain, have left nothing un- 
done that they dared to do, in order to destroy it. Foreign influence 
is unknown among us. What we feel of it is through the medium of 
the General Government, which acted on, itself, by foreign renega- 
does, serves as a conductor, between them and us, of this pernicious 
influence. I know of no foreigner who has been, or is, in any re- 
spectable office in the gift of the people, or in the government of 
Virginia, No member of either House of Congress, no leading 
member of our Assembly, no judge of our Supreme Courts : of the 
newspapers printed in the State, as far as my knowledge extends, 
without discrimination of party, they are conducted by native Vir- 
ginians. Like yourselves, we are an unmixed people. I know the 
prejudice that exists against us, nor do I wonder at it, considering 
the gross ignorance on the subject that prevails north of Maryland, 
and even in many parts of that neighboring State. 

What member of the confederacy has sacrificed more on the altar 
of public good than Virginia? Whence did the General Govern- 
ment derive its lands beyond the Ohio, then and now almost the only 
source of revenue? From our grant, — a grant so curiously worded, 
and,by our present Palinurus too, as to except ourselves, by its lim- 
itations, from the common benefit. 

By its conditions it was forbidden ground to us, and thereby the 



NEW ENGLAND. 57 

foundation was laid of incurable animosity and division between the 
States on each side of that great natural boundary, the river Ohio. 
Not only their masters, but the very slaves themselves, for whose 
benefit this regulation was made, were sacrificed by it. Dispersion is 
to them a bettering of their present condition, and of their chance 
for emancipation. It is only when this can be done without danger 
and without ruinous individual loss that it will be done at all. But 
what is common sense to a political Quixote 1 

That country was ours by a double title, by charter and by con- 
quest. George Rogers Clark, the American Hannibal, at the head 
of the State troops, by the reduction of Post Vincennes, obtained 
the lakes for our northern boundary at the peace of Paris. The 
march of that great man and his brave companions in arms across 
the drowned lands of the "Wabash, does not shrink from a compari- 
son with the passage of the Thrasimene marsh. Without meaning 
any thing like an invidious distinction, I have not heard of any ces- 
sion from Massachusetts of her vast wilds ; and Connecticut has had 
the address, out of our grant to the firm, to obtain, on her own pri- 
vate account, some millions of acres : whilst we, yes we, I blush to 
say it, have descended to beg for a pittance, out of the property once 
our own, for the brave men by whose valor it had been won, and 
whom heedless profusion had disabled us to recompense. We met 
the just fate of the prodigal. We were spurned from the door, 
where once we were master, with derision and scorn ; and yet we 
hear of undue Virginian influence. This fund yielded the Gov- 
ernment, when I had connection with it. from half a million to eight 
hundred thousand dollars, annually. It would have preserved us 
from the imposition of State taxes, founded schools, built bridges 
and made roads and canals throughout Virginia. It was squandered 
away in a single donative at the instance of Mr. Madison. For the 
sake of concord with our neighbors, by the same generous but mis- 
guided policy, we ceded to Pennsylvania Fort Pitt, a most important 
commercial and military position, and a vast domain around it, as 
much Virginia as the city of Richmond and the county of Henrico. 
To Kentucky, the eldest daughter of the Union, the Virginia of the 
west, we have yielded on a question of boundary, from a similar con- 
sideration. Actuated by the same magnanimous spirit at the in- 
stance of other States (with the exception of New-York, North Ca- 
rolina, and Rhode Island), we accepted, in 1783, the present Consti- 
tution. It was repugnant to our judgment, and fraught, as we feared, 
with danger to our liberties. The awful voice of our ablest and 
soundest statesmen, of Patrick Henry, and of George Mason, never 
before or since disregarded, warned us of the consequences. Neither 
was their counsel entirely unheeded, for it led to important subse- 
quent amendments of that instrument. I have always believed this 

vol. 11. 3* 



58 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

disinterested spirit, so often manifested by us, to be one of tbe chief 
causes of tbe influence which we have exercised over the other States. 
Eight States having made that Constitution their own, we submitted 
to the yoke for the sake of union. Our attachment to the Union is 
not an empty profession. It is demonstrated by our practice at home. 
No sooner was the Convention of 1788 dissolved, than the feuds of 
federalism and anti-federalism disappeared. I speak of their effects 
on our councils. For the sake of union, we submitted to the low- 
est state of degradation ; the administration of John Adams. The 
name of this man calls up contempt and derision, wheresoever it is 
pronounced. To the fantastic vanity of this political Malvolio may 
be distinctly traced our present unhappy condition. I will not be so 
ungenerous as to remind you that this personage (of whom and his 
addresses, and his answers. I defy 3-ou to think without a bitter 
smile) was not a Virginian, but I must in justice to ourselves, insist 
in making him a set-off against Mr. Madison. They are of such equal 
weight, that the trembling balance reminds us of that passage of 
Pope, where Jove " weighs the beau's wits agains the lady's hair. 

'■The doubtful beam long nods from side to side, 
At length the wits mount up. the hairs subside." 

Intoxicated not more by the fulsome adulation with which he was 
plied, than by the fumes of his own vanity, this poor old gentle- 
man saw a visionary coronet suspended over his brow, and an air- 
drawn sceptre '• the handle towards his hand," which attempting to 
clutch, he lost his balance, and disappeared never to rise again. He 
it was. who " enacting" Nat. Lee's Alexander, raved about the peo- 
ple of Virginia as ' : a faction to be humbled in dust and ashes," 
when the sackcloth already was prepared for his own back. 

But I am spinning out this letter to too great a length. What is 
your object — Peace? Can this be attained on any terms, whilst 
England sees a prospect of disuniting that confederacy, which has 
already given so deep a blow to her maritime pride, and threatens at 
no very distant day to dispute with her the empire of the ocean % 
The wound which our gallant tars have inflicted on her tenderest 
point, has maddened her to rage. Cursed as we are with a weak and 
wicked administration, she can no longer despise us. Already she 
begins to hate us : and she seeks to glut a revenge as impotent as it 
is rancorous, by inroads that would have disgraced the buccaneers, 
and bulletins that would only not disgrace the sovereign of Elba. 
She already is compelled to confess in her heart, what her lips deny, 
that if English bull-dogs and game-cocks degenerate on our soil, Eng- 
lish men do not : — and should (which God forbid) our brethren of the 
East desert us in this contest for all that is precious to man, we will 
maintain it. so long as our proud and insulting foe shall refuse to ac- 
cede to equitable terms of peace. The G-overnment will then pass 



NEW ENGLAND. 59 

into proper hands — the talents of the country will be called forth, and 
the schemes of moon-struck philosophers and their disciples pass away 
and " leave not a rack behind." 

You know how steady and persevering I endeavored, for eight 
years, to counteract the artful and insidious plans of our rulers to 
embroil us with the country of our ancestors, and the odium which I 
have thereby drawn upon myself. Believing it to be my duty to 
soften, as much as possible, the asperities which subsisted between the 
two countries, and which were leading to a ruinous war, I put to ha- 
zard, nay, exposed to almost certain destruction, an influence such as 
no man, perhaps, in this country, at the same age, had ever before at- 
tained. (The popularity that dreads exposure is too delicate for pub- 
lic service. It is a bastard species : the true sort will stand the hard- 
est frosts. Is it my fault (as Mr. Burke complained of the crowned 
heads of Europe) that England will no longer suffer me to find pal- 
liatives for her conduct 1 No man admired more than I did her 
magnanimous stand against the tyrant, before whom all the rest of 
Christendom at one time bowed : No man, not even her own Wttber- 
force and Perceval, put up more sincere prayers for her deliverance. 
In the remotest isle of Australasia, my sympathy would have been 
enlisted, in such a contest, for the descendants of Alfred and Bacon, 
and Shakspeare, and Milton, and Locke, on whom I love to look 
back as my illustrious countrymen — in any contest I should have 
taken side with liberty ; but on this depended (as I believed and do 
still believe) all that made my own country dear in my sight. It is 
past — and unmindful of the mercy of that protecting Providence 
which has carried her through the valley of the shadow of death, 
England " feels power and forgets right." I am not one of the whin- 
ing set of people who cry out against mine adversary for the force of 
his blow. England has, unquestionably, as good a right to conquer 
us, as we have to conquer Canada ; the same right that we have to 
conquer England, and with about as good prospect of success. But 
let not her orators declaim against the enormity of French prin- 
ciples, when she permits herself to arm and discipline our slaves, and 
to lead them into the field against their masters, in the hope of excit- 
ing by the example a general insurrection, and thus render Virginia 
another St. Domingo. And does she talk of jacobinism ! What is 
this but jacobinism ? and of the vilest stamp 1 Is this the country 
that has abolished the slave trade 1 that has made that infamous, in- 
human traffic a felony? that feeds with the bread of life all who hun- 
ger after it, and even those who, but for her, would never have known 
their perishing condition ? Drunk with the cup of the abominations 
of Moloch, they have been roused from the sleep of death, like some 
benighted traveller perishing in the snows, and warmed into life by 
the beams of the only true religion. Is this the country of Wilber- 



60 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

force and Howard ? It is ; — but, like my own, my native land, it 
has fallen into the hands of evil men, who pour out its treasure and 
its blood at the shrine of their own guilty ambition. And this im- 
pious sacrifice they celebrate amidst the applauses of the deluded 
people, and even of the victims themselves. 

There is a proneness in mankind to throw the blame of their 
sufferings on any one but themselves. In this manner, Virginia is 
regarded by some of her sister States ; not adverting to the fact, that 
all (Connecticut and Delaware excepted) are responsible for the 
measures that have involved us in our present difficulties. Did we 
partition your State into those unequal and monstrous districts which 
have given birth to a new word in your language, of uncouth sound, 
calling up the most odious associations. Did we elect the jacobins 
whom you sent to both Houses of Congress — the Bidwells, and G-an- 
netts, and Skinners. — to spur on the more moderate men from Vir- 
ginia to excesses which they reluctantly gave into at the time, and 
have since been ashamed of? Who hurried the bill suspending the 
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus through a trembling servile 
Senate, in consequence, as he did not blush to state, of a verbal com- 
munication from the President? A Senator from Massachusetts, 
and professor in her venerable university. In short, have not your 
first statesmen (such I believe was the reputation of the gentleman in 
question at the time), your richest merchants, and the majority of 
your delegation in Congress vied in support of the men and the mea- 
sures that have led to our present suffering and humiliated condition ? 

If you wished to separate yourselves from us, you had ample pro- 
vocation in time of peace, in an embargo the most unconstitutional 
and oppressive ; an engine of tyranny, fraud, and favoritism. Then 
was the time to resist (we did not desert England in a time of war), 
but you were then under the dominion of a faction among yourselves, 
yet a formidable minority, exhibiting no signs of diminution ; and it 
is not the least of my apprehensions, from certain proceedings to the 
eastward, that they may be made the means of consigning you again, 
and for ever, to the same low, insolent domination. The reaction of 
your jacobins upon us (for although we have some in Virginia, they 
are few and insignificant) through the men at Washington, (" who 
must conciliate good republicans,") is dreadful. Pause, I beseech 
you, pause ! You tread on the brink of destruction. Of all the At- 
lantic States you have the least cause to complain. Your manufac- 
tures, and the trade which the enemy has allowed you, have drained 
us of our last dollar. How then can we carry on the war ? With 
men and steel — stout hearts, and willing hands — and these from the 
days of Darius and Xerxes, in defence of the household gods of free 
dom, have proved a match for gold. Can they not now encounter 
paper ? We shall suffer much from this contest, it will cut deep ; 



NEW ENGLAND. 61 

but dismissing its authors from our confidence and councils for ever, 
(I s.peak of a few leaders and their immediate tools, not of the delud- 
ed, as well in as out of authority.) we shall pass, if it be the good 
pleasure of Him whose curses are tempered with mercies, through an 
agony and a bloody sweat, to peace and salvation ; to that peace 
which is only to be found in a reconciliation with Him. " Atheists 
and madmen have been our lawgivers," and when I think on our past 
conduct I shudder at the chastisement that may await us. How has 
not Europe suffered for her sins ! Will England not consider, that, 
like the man who but yesterday bestrode the narrow world, she is 
but an instrument in his hands, who breaketh the weapons of his 
chastisement, when the measure of his people's punishment is full ? 

When I exhort to further patience — to resort to constitutional 
means of redress only, I know that there is such a thing as tyranny 
as well as oppression ; and that there is no government, however re- 
stricted in its power, that may not, by abuse, under pretext of exer- 
cise of its constitutional authority, drive its unhappy subjects to des- 
peration. Our situation is indeed awful. The members of the Union 
in juxtaposition — held together by no common authority to which 
men can look up with confidence and respect. Smitten by the charms 
of Upper Canada, our President has abandoned the several States to 
shift for themselves as they can. — Congress is felo de se. In practice 
there is found little difference between a government of requisitions 
on the States, which these disregard, or a government of requisitions 
on the people, which the governors are afraid to make until the pub- 
lic faith is irretrievably ruined. Congress seemed barred by their 
own favorite act of limitations, from raising supplies ; prescription 
runs against them. But let us not despair of the commonwealth. 
Some master-spirit may be kindled by the collision of the times, who 
will breathe his own soul into the councils and armies of the repub- 
lic ; and here indeed is our chiefest danger. The man who is credu- 
lous enough to believe that a constitution, with the skeleton of an es- 
tablishment of 10,000 men, not 2,000 strong, (such was our army 
three years ago.) is the same as with an army of 60,000 men, may be 
a very amiable neighbor, but is utterly unfit for a statesman. Al- 
ready our government is in fact changed. We are become a mili- 
tary people, of whom more than of any other it might have been said 
fortunatos sua si bona norint. If under such circumstances you ask 
me what you are to do, should a conscription of the model of Bona- 
parte be attempted? I will refer you to its reputed projector, Co- 
lonel Monroe. Ask him what he would have done, whilst governor 
of Virginia, and preparing to resist Federal usurpation, had such an 
attempt been made by Mr. Adams and his ministers ; especially in 
1 800 He can give the answer. 

But when you complain of the representation of three-fifths of 



62 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

our slaves, I reply that it is one of the articles of that compact, 
which you submitted to us for acceptance, and to which we reluc- 
tantly acceded. Our Constitution is an affair of compromise between 
the States, and this is the master-key which unlocks all its difficul- 
ties. If any of the parties to the compact are dissatisfied with their 
share of influence, it is an affair of amicable discussion, in the mode 
pointed out by the constitution itself, but no cause for dissolving the 
confederacy. And when I read and hear the vile stuff against my 
country printed and uttered on this subject, by fire-brands, who 
ought to be quenched for ever, I would remind, not these editors 
of journals and declaimers at clubs, but their deluded followers, 
that every word of these libels on the planters of Virginia, is as ap- 
plicable to the father of his country as to any one among us ; that in 
the same sense we are "slaveholders," and "negro drivers," and 
" dealers in human flesh," (I must be pardoned for culling a few 
of their rhetorical flowers,) so was he y aud whilst they upbraid Vir- 
ginia with her Jeffersons and her Madisons, they will not always re- 
member to forget that to Virginia they were indebted for a Wash- 
ington. 

I am, with the highest respect and regard, dear sir, your obe- 
dient servant, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 



CHAPTER V. 

• RELIGION. 

The reader is already aware, from many expressions let fall from the 
pen of Mr. Randolph, that he is deeply engaged in the great subject 
of religion ; his necessary duties give way, and are postponed to this 
all-engrossing question. 

In childhood and early youth, he was trained by a devoted and 
pious mother, in the doctrines and the practices of the Christian 
church. The impressions of those early lessons, though a long time 
disregarded, were never entirely effaced from his memory ; and the 
hallowed associations that clustered around the name of his adored 
and sainted mother, the fond remembrances of childhood and inno- 
cence, never failed to awaken the deepest emotions in his affectionate 
and sympathetic heart. Yet he lived for many years in open derision 



RELIGION. 63 

and mockery of that religion whose holy and divine precepts he could 
not efface from his mind. Coming into life at an epoch when French 
philosophy had not only overturned the monarchies of Europe, but 
had undermined and destroyed the foundation of all morals and reli- 
gion, his ardent soul, like thousands of the best spirits of the age, 
caught the contagion of its influence, threw off all religious restraint, 
as the highest proof of freedom, and became, if not a mocker, at 
least a cold despiser of the religion of humility and self-sacrifice. 
But the despotism under which France had been made to groan, in 
consequence of her atheistic madness ; the desolation that had swept 
over Europe ; the deep calamities brought on his own country by war 
and restrictions ; the many misfortunes and afflictions that in thick 
succession had befallen himself and his ill-fated family ; his entira 
separation from all political associations and party excitements, and 
the profound solitude, for the most part, in which he lived, all con- 
spired to bring back his mind to its early associations. As " the 
stricken deer," to which he likened himself, faint, and panting in the 
hot chase, seeks the fresh fountains and cooling shades of its native 
valley, so he, faint and heart-stricken at the desolations of an irre- 
ligious age. and athirst for the pure waters of life, sought consolation 
in that religion which his mother, on bended knee, with his little 
hands in hers uplifted to heaven, had taught him in his infancy. 

He read the Old and New Testament, with the aid of good com- 
mentators, with care and diligence. The best authors were at his 
command — " old standard authors" constituted his daily food, though 
sometimes, in humility, he would complain that they were " too solid 
for his weak stomach." It is a great mistake to take Mr. Randolph 
at his word, and suppose him to be an ignorant man. " I am an ig- 
norant man. I am an ignorant man," is the mortifying yet too deeply 
conscious sentiment of every man of an all-grasping genius like his ; 
but no man was more thoroughly imbued than he with the rich lore 
of old English learning, or more deeply penetrated with the manly 
and martyr-like spirit of that religion which triumphed over the fag- 
got and the dungeon. Being a man of the highest order of poetic 
genius himself, he sought only the society o* kindred spirits. Milton 
and Cowper, and the old English divines, now obsolete and forgotten, 
were his daily and nightly companions. He was also most fortunate 
in his living associates. No man had better or more faithful friends. 



64 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

His country or age can furnish no nobler specimens of a high Chris- 
tian virtue than the three friends with whom Mr. Randolph alone 
conversed on " free-will, fate and philosophy," and to whose opinions 
he bowed with the profoundest respect and reverence. The first to 
whom we allude is the present Bishop Meade, of Virginia, a gentle- 
man, a scholar, and a Christian. The reader is already aware of the 
high regard Mr. Randolph had for that pious and venerable man. 
The second person was the late Dr. Moses Hogue, president of 
Hampden Sydney College. Mr. Randolph, for many years, lived 
in the immediate neighborhood of the college ; and the society of 
its venerable head, the chief ornament of the institution, was 
always sought by him with avidity. " I consider Dr. Hogue," says 
he, " as the ablest and most interesting speaker that I ever heard, 
in the pulpit or out of it ; and the most perfect pattern of a Christian 
teacher that I ever saw. His life affords an example of the great 
truths of the doctrine that he dispenses to his flock ; and if he has a 
fault (which, being mortal, I suppose he cannot be free from) I have 
never heard it pointed out." Nothing can be added to this picture. 
Francis Scott Key, Esq., late of Washington City, is the other per- 
son to whom we have made allusion. The reader has already per- 
ceived the great intimacy existing between these two friends. They 
were kindred spirits. " Frank Key," though an eminent and suc- 
cessful advocate, was a poet of a high order of genius. " The Star- 
spangled Banner," written while he was detained' on board the Brit- 
ish fleet, an anxious spectator of the bombardment of Fort M'Henry 
and the assault on Baltimore, thrills the heart of every American 
who hears its patriotic strains, and has become one of our most popu- 
lar national songs. He was a pure spirit ; the friend that knew him 
best and valued him most, thus speaks of him : " He perseveres in 
pressing on toward the goal, and his whole life is spent in endeavors 
to do good for his unhappy fellow-men. The result is that he enjoys 
a tranquillity of mind, a sunshine of the soul, that all the Alexanders 
of the earth can neither confer nor take away." 

Dr. Brockenbrough had hitherto, for the most part, been in the 
same category with himself, somewhat skeptical ; hence, in their re- 
lations, Randolph rather assumed the province of a teacher than 
scholar, on the subject of morals and religion. Writing to that gen- 
tleman from Buckingham Court House, the 29th May, 1815, he says : 



RELIGION. 55 

" I got here to-day. To-morrow we are to begin our inquisition. 
[A contested election.] This business does not suit me at all. My 
thoughts are running in a far different channel. I never feel so free 
from uneasiness as when I am reading the Testament, or hearing 
some able preacher. This great concern presses me by day and by 
night, almost to the engrossing of my thoughts. It is first in my 
mind when I wake, and the last when I go to sleep. I think it be- 
comes daily more clear to me. All other things are as nothing when 
put in comparison with it. You have had a great comfort in the 
presence of Mr. Meade. I. too, am not without some consolation : 
for I have received a letter from Frank Key, that I would not ex- 
change for the largest bundle of bank notes that you ever signed. 
Hear him. ' I cannot describe to you the gratification your letter 
has given me. The sentiments they express, I thank God I am no 
stranger to ; and they have been made to lead me, through much 
anxiety and distress, to a state of peace and happiness — as far above 
what I have deserved, as below what I yet hope, even in this life, to 
attain. May you soon, my friend, experience the most delightful 
of all sensations, that springs from a well grounded hope of recon- 
ciliation with God ! You are in the right track. [God grant it 
may be so !] God is leading you. Your sentiments show the divinity 
that stirs within you. That we have ruined ourselves — that an ever- 
lasting life is before us — that we are about (how soon we know 
not) to enter upon it, under the sentence of Almighty condemnation 
— and that we can do nothing to save ourselves from this misery ; 
these convictions are the genuine work of the Spirit ; other founda- 
tion can no man lay ! They lead us to a Saviour who gives us all we 
want — pardon, peace, and holiness. They do not bid us first to be- 
come righteous, and then come to him ; but they bring us to him as 
we are — as sinners to be pardoned for our sins, and cleansed from 
all our iniquities. This is the true doctrine of our Church, and the 
plain meaning of the Gospel ; and indeed it seems to me, notwith- 
standing some peculiarities (about which there has been much 
useless disputation), that in these essential points almost all sects 
agree.' " 

Writing to Mr. Key himself, from the same place, two days after 
the above, he says : 

" I cannot refrain from unburthening some of my thoughts to you. 
I carry your last letter (of the 11th) constantly in my pocket, read- 
ing it frequently, and praying God that your charitable anticipations 
respecting me may be realized. After all, is there not selfishness at 
the bottom of that yearning of my heart to believe 1 Can that faith, 
setting aside its imperfection, be acceptable in the sight of God, to 



QQ LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

which the unhappy sinner is first moved by the sense of self-preser- 
vation ? 

" I am brought on here by this contested election ; but my mind 
is not at all in the thing. 

" Indeed I must tell you what gives me great uneasiness ; that, 
instead of being stimulated to the discharge of my duties, I am daily 
becoming more indifferent to them, and, consequently, more negli- 
gent. I see many whose minds are apparently little occupied on the 
subject that employs me, with whom I think I should be glad to ex- 
change conditions ; for surely, when they discharge conscientiously 
their part in life, without the same high motive that I feel, how cul- 
pable am I, being negligent ! For a long time the thoughts that now 
occupy me, came and went out of my mind. Sometimes they were 
banished by business ; at others, by pleasure. But heavy afflic- 
tions fell upon me. They came more frequently, and staid longer — 
pressing upon me, until, at last, I never went asleep nor awoke but 
they were last and first in my recollection. Oftentimes have they 
awakened me, until, at length, I cannot, if I would, detach myself from 
them. Mixing in the business of the world I find highly injurious 
to me. I cannot repress the feelings which the conduct of our fel- 
low-men too often excites ; yet I hate nobody, and I have endeavored 
to forgive all who have done me an injury, as I have asked forgiveness 
of those whom I may have wronged, in thought or deed. If I could 
have my way, I would retire to some retreat, far from the strife of the 
world, and pass the remnant of my days in meditation and prayer ; 
and yet this would be a life of ignoble security. But, my good friend, 
I am not qualified (as yet, at least,) to bear the heat of the battle. 
I seek for rest — for peace. I have read much of the New Testament 
lately. Some of the texts are full of consolation ; others inspire 
dread. The Epistles of Paul I cannot, for the most part, compre- 
hend ; with the assistance of Mr. Locke's paraphrase, I hope to ac- 
complish it. My good friend, you will bear with this egotism ; for 
I seek from you instruction on a subject, in comparison with which 
all others sink into insignificance. I have had a strong desire to go 
to the Lord's Supper; but I was deterred by a sense of my un- 
worthiness ; and, only yesterday, reading the denunciation against 
those who received unworthily, I thought it would never be in my 
power to present myself at the altar. I was present when Mr. 
Hogue invited to the table, and I would have given all I was worth 
to have been able to approach it. There is no minister of our church 
in these parts. I therefore go to the Presbyterians, who are the most 
learned and regular ; but having been born in the Church of Eng- 
land, I do not mean to renounce it. On the contrary, I feel a com- 
fort in repeating the Liturgy, that I would not be deprived of for 
worlds. Is it not for the want of some such service that Socinian- 



RELIGION. 57 

ism has crept into the eastern congregations ? How could any So- 
cinian repeat the Apostle's Creed, or read the Liturgy ? I begin to 
think, with you, about those people. You remember the opinions 
you expressed to me last winter concerning them. Among the causes 
of uneasiness which have laid hold upon me lately, is a strong anxiety 
for the welfare of those whom I love, and whom I see walking in 
darkness. But there is one source of affliction, the last and deepest, 
which I must reserve till we meet, if I can prevail upon myself to 
communicate it even then. It was laid open by one of those wonder- 
ful coincidences, which men call chance, but which manifest the hand 
of God. It has lacerated my heart, and taken from it its last hope 
in this world. Ought I not to bless God for the evil (as it seems in my 
sight) as well as the good ? Is it not the greatest of blessings, if it be 
made the means of drawing me unto him ? Do I know what to ask 
at his hands? Is he not the judge of what is good for me? If it 
be his pleasure that I perish, am I not conscious that the sentence is 
just? 

" Implicitly, then, will I throw myself uponhis mercy ; ' Not my 
will, but thine be done :' ' Lord be merciful to me a sinner ;' • Help, 
Lord, or I perish.' And now, my friend, if, after these glimpses of 
the light, I should shut mine eyes and harden my heart, which now 
is as melted wax ; if I should be enticed back to the ' herd,' and lose 
all recollection of my wounds, how much deeper my guilt than his 
whose heart has never been touched by the sense of his perishing, un- 
done condition. This has rushed upon my mind when I have thought 
of partaking of the Lord's supper. After binding myself by that sa- 
cred rite, should passion overcome me, should I be induced to forget 
in some unhappy hour that holy obligation, I shudder to think of it. 
There are two ways only which I am of opinion that I may be ser- 
viceable to mankind. One of these is teaching children ; and I have 
some thoughts of establishing a school. Then, again, it comes into 
my head that I am borne away by a transient enthusiasm ; or that I 
may be reduced to the condition of some unhappy fanatics who mis- 
take the perversion of their intellects for the conversion of their 
hearts. Pray for me." 

On another occasion, writing to Mr. Key, he says : 
" 1 took up yesterday a work, which I never met with before, the 
' Christian Observer.' In a critique of Scott, vol. XII., upon the 
Bishop of Lincoln's ' Refutation of Calvinism,' it is stated that no man 
is converted to the truth of Christianity without the self-experience of a 
miracle. Such is the substance. He must be sensible of the working 
of a miracle in his own person. Now, my good friend, I have never 
experienced any thing like this. I have been sensible, and am 
always, of the proneness to sin in my nature. I have grieved un- 
feignediy for my manifold transgressions. I have thrown myself 



(38 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

upon the mercy of my Redeemer, conscious of my own utter ina- 
bility to conceive one good thought, or do one good act without his 
gracious aid. But I have felt nothing like what Scott requires. 
Indeed, my good friend, I sometimes dread that I am in a far worse 
condition than those who never heard the Word of God, or, who 
having heard, reject it — if any condition can be worse than the last. 
When I am with Mr. Hogue I am at ease. He makes every thing 
plain to me. But when I hear others I am disturbed. Indeed, my 
doubts and misgivings do not desert me always in his presence. I 
wisli I could see you, and converse with you. To you I have no 
scruple in writing in this style ; but to any other I feel repugnant 
to communicate. I fear that I mistake a sense of my sins for true 
repentance, and that I sometimes presume upon the mercy of God. 
Again, it appears incredible that one so contrite as I sometimes 
know myself to be, should be rejected entirely by infinite mercy. 
Write to me upon this topic — not my own state — but give me your 
ideas generally on salvation ; or direct me to some publication that 
puts it in the clearest light. I have carefully read the gospels, but 
cannot always comprehend." 

Writing to Dr. Brockenbrough, from Roanoke, the 4th of July, 
1815, he says: 

" It was to me a subject of deep regret that I was obliged to 
leave town before Mr. Meade's arrival. I promised myself much 
comfort and improvement from his conversation. My dear sir, there 
is, or there is not, another and a better world. If there is, as we 
all believe, what is it but madness to be absorbed in the cares of 
a clay-built hovel, held at will, unmindful of the rich inheritance 
of an imperishable palace, of which we are immortal heirs 1 We ac- 
knowledge these things with our lips, but not with our hearts ; we 
lack faith. 

" We would serve God provided we may serve mammon at the 
same time. For my part, could I be brought to believe that this 
life must be the end of my being, I should be disposed to get rid of 
it as an incumbrance. If what is to come be any thing like what is 
passed, it would be wise to abandon the hulk to the underwriters, the 
worms. I am more and more convinced that, with a few exceptions, 
this world of ours is a vast mad-house. The only men I ever knew 
well, ever approached closely, whom I did not discover to be unhappy, 
are sincere believers of the Gospel, and conform their lives, as far as 
the nature of man can permit, to its precepts. There are only three 
of them." [Meade, Hogue, Key ?] " And yet, ambition, and ava- 
rice, and pleasure, as it is called, have their temples crowded with 
votaries, whose own experience has proved to them the insufficiency 
and emptiness of their pursuits, and who obstinately turn away from 



RELIGION. 



69 



the only waters that can slake their dying thirst and heal their dis- 
eases. 

" One word on the subject of your own state of mind. I am well 
acquainted with it — too well. Like you, I have not reached that 
lively faith which some more favored persons enjoy. But I am per- 
suaded that it can and will be attained by all who are conscious of 
the depravity of our nature, of their own manifold departures from the 
laws of God, and sins against their own conscience ; and who are sin- 
cerely desirous to accept of pardon on the terms held out in the 
Gospel. Without puzzling ourselves, therefore, with subtle disqui- 
sitions, let us ask, are we conscious of the necessity of pardon ? are 
we willing to submit to the terms offered to us — to consider ' Chris- 
tianity as a scheme imperfectly understood, planned by Infinite 
Wisdom, and canvassed by finite comprehensions' — to ask of our 
Heavenly Father that faith and that strength which by our own 
unassisted efforts we can never attain? To me it would be a stronger 
objection to Christianity did it contain nothing which baffled my 
comprehension, than its most difficult doctrines. What professor 
ever delivered a lecture that his scholars were not at a loss to com- 
prehend some parts of it? But that is no objection to the doctrine. 
But the teacher here is God! I may deceive myself, but I hope 
that I have made some progress, so small indeed that I may be 
ashamed of it, in this necessary work, even since I saw you. I am 
no disciple of Calvin or Wesley, but I feel the necessity of a changed 
nature ; of a new life ; of an altered heart. I feel my stubborn and 
rebellious nature to be softened, and that it is essential to my com- 
fort here, as well as to my future welfare, to cultivate and cherish 
feelings of good will towards all mankind ; to strive against envy, 
malice, and all uncharitableness. I think I have succeeded in for- 
giving all my enemies. There is not a human being that I would 
hurt if it were in my power ; not even Bonaparte." 

Mr. Randolph was now destined to receive the severest stroke of 
misfortune that had befallen him since the death of his brother 
Bichard. It seems that his ill-fated family were destined to fall one 
by one, and to leave him the sole and forlorn wreck of an ancient 
house, whose name and fortunes he had so fondly cherished. Tudor, 
the last hope, had been sent abroad this spring (1815) in search of 
health. He had scarcely reached Cheltenham, England, when he 
fell into the arms of death. In a letter from Dr. Brockenbrough, 
Mr. Randolph received the first tidings of this melancholy event. 
He was dumb — he opened not his mouth. " Your kind and conside- 
rate letter," says he, " contained the first intelligence of an event 



70 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

which I have long expected, yet dreaded to hear. I can make no 
comment upon it. To attempt to describe the situation of my mind 
would be vain, even if it were practicable. May God bless you : to 
him alone I look for comfort on this side the grave ; there alone, if 
at all, I shall find it." 

Many said his mind was unsettled ; that this dark destiny drove 
reason from her throne, and made him mad. In the vulgar estima- 
tion of a cold and selfish world he was surely mad. The cries of a 
deep and earnest soul are a mockery to the vain and unfeeling multi- 
tude. David had many sons : Randolph this only hope, the child of 
his affections. Yet when Absalom was slain, " the king was much 
moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept ; and as 
he wept, thus he said, ' my son Absalom — my son, my son Absa- 
lom ! would God I had died for thee, Absalom, my son, my son !' " 



CHAPTEK YI. 

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS — CONGRESS — BANK CHARTER. 

I\ the midst of all his domestic afflictions, bodily ailments, and 
mental anxiety, Mr. Randolph never lost sight of public affairs. 
:i As to politics," says he, " I am sick of them, and have resolved to 
wash my hands of them as soon as possible." The thought of min- 
gling again in the strife of party politics was loathing to him ; but 
he could not banish from his mind the intimate knowledge of politi- 
cal events, their causes and consequences, which he possessed in so 
eminent a degree ; nor could he prevent the natural affinity for those 
great moral and political principles and agencies, which are for ever 
moving and moulding the social and political institutions of mankind. 
He was a statesman by nature — nascitur non fit — a born statesman. 
His observations, however trivial or brief, have a pith and meaning 
beyond the sagest reflections of most other men. 

Many of his reflections rise to the dignity of political aphorisms, 
and are worthy to be ranked with the profound maxims of the great 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 71 

master of political philosophy. Last May. after Bonaparte had es- 
caped from Elba, marched in triumph to Paris, and .driven the fright- 
ed Bourbon once more from his throne, Mr. Randolph thus discourses 
on the affairs of Europe : 

" On the late events in Europe, which baffle all calculation. I have 
looked with an eye not very different from yours." [Addressed to Mr. 
Key.] •• The Bourbons refused to abolish the slave trade. Bona- 
parte, from temporal views, no doubt, has made it the first act after 
his restoration ! Here is food for solemn meditation. The situation 
of England is, according to my conception of things, more awful than 
ever. A sated libertine at the head of the government ; a profligate 
debauchee her prime minister. "When I think on Wilberforce and his 
worthy compeers, I cannot despair. Ten such would have saved So- 
dom. But what a frightful mass of wickedness does that country, as 
well as our own, present ! Both rescued, by the most providential in- 
terference of Heaven, from ruin. But what do we see ? Humble 
and hearty thanks for unmerited mercy ? Self-abasement, penitence 
for past offences, and earnest resolutions for future amendment, 
through divine assistance 1 I can recognize none of these. Even 
in myself how faint are these feelings, compared with my conscious- 
ness of their necessity ! England, I sometimes think, stands on the 
verge of some mighty convulsion. The corruption of her government 
and her principal men, the discontents of her needy and profligate 
lower orders, the acts of her Cobbetts and Burdetts. all seem to threaten 
the overthrow of her establishment, in Church and State. Jacobinism 
has, I believe, a stronger hold in that country than in any other in Eu- 
rope. But the foolishness of human wisdom, nothing daunted by re- 
peated overthrows of all its speculations and the confusion of its plans, 
yet aspires to grasp and to control the designs of the Almighty." 

But the period had come for John Randolph to appear again 
on the public stage. The times had been truly eventful. The cycle 
of five and twenty years, in which the spirit of human liberty fought 
for her existence, had rolled round and come to a close. Born of the 
divine love shed forth in the gospel of Jesus Christ, bursting up in 
radiant majesty from the crumbling ruins of an effete feudalism, the 
cheerful voice of the Spirit of Liberty was first heard in the National 
Assembly of France, speaking in the accents of hope and of joy to 
the down-trodden millions of the earth. But, alas ! in the wanton 
excess of an untried freedom, she quickly ran into a wild fanati- 
cism, and swept the good as well as the evil into one common 
ruin. Seeking to break the oppressor's rod, and to tear down his tow- 



72 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ers and his dungeons of cruelty, she condemned time-honored virtue to 
the same indiscriminate death with hoary-headed vice, and pointed 
her finger of contempt and mockery at venerated wisdom no less 
than at cant and hypocrisy. This mad Spirit, lovely even in her 
madness, though mangled by the guillotine, and suffocated in the 
dungeons of the Conciergerie, rose triumphant, swept like an angel of 
destruction over the hills of Ardenne, the plains of Lombardy, and 
called down from the Pyramids of Egypt the witness of ages on the 
heroic deeds of her sons amid the desert sands of Africa. But 
wearied with excess, and hunted down, like Acteon, by the blood- 
hounds that had been nurtured in her own bosom, she at length fell 
beneath the iron heel of an imperial despotism, and was finally crushed 
and stifled in the blood of Waterloo. In the death agonies of Wa- 
terloo, freedom expired ; a leaden peace was restored to Europe, and 
a new lease of thirty years for their dominions and their thrones, was 
vouchsafed to monarchs. Peace also, about the same time, was re- 
stored to our own borders, and with it came temptations to seduce 
the watchful guardian from his vigilant protection of the Constitu- 
tion, and dangers more threatening than war to the liberties of the 
country. Pressed by a common necessity, bearing a heavy burthen 
of taxes, and confronting on every hand the external foes of their 
country, the mass of the people had but one object, were impelled by 
one sentiment — a speedy and successful termination of hostilities. 
That accomplished, each individual plunged into his own chosen field 
of enterprise, eagerly bent on his own aggrandizement, while the 
government was left, unrestrained and unobserved, to pursue its 
course in repairing the damages brought on the country by that most 
unprofitable of all work, the struggle to see how much harm each 
can do to the other. The obstructions of embargo and non- 
intercourse, followed by the destructive operations of a maritime 
war, had brought in their train a series of evil consecpiences. The 
republican party, as we already know, advocated those measures. 
Without stopping to inquire whether right or wrong, the task 
devolved on them, being still in the ascendent, to remedy the evils 
they must have foreseen and anticipated. " The embargo." said Mr. 
Randolph long ago, " was the Iliad of all our woes." The repub- 
licans were placed in a most difficult and critical position. 

Those young and ardent spirits who urged on the war, and conducted 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 73 

it to a successful termination, were well suited for a time of 
excitement and destruction ; but when the period arrived for heal- 
ing and building up, graver counsel would have been more desirable. 
It required the utmost prudence and delicacy to restore the Consti- 
tution to its normal state, and to adjust the various and conflicting 
interests of the country in the well-poised scale of a wise abstinence 
and justice. Unfortunately, the republican party adopted those mea- 
sures of relief which were most fatal to their principles. They who 
had come into power on the overthrow of the doctrines of Hamilton, 
were now, under the plea of necessity, about to outstrip the great fede- 
ral leader himself in the adoption and advocacy of those temporizing 
and unconstitutional expedients they had so loudly condemned. 
" Until the present session," says Mr. Randolph, " I had not a concep- 
tion of the extent of the change wrought in the sentiments of the 
people of this country by the war. I now see men trained in the 
school of the opposition to the administration of John Adams, who, 
down to June, 1812, were stanch sticklers for the Constitution, ab- 
jure all their former principles, and declare for expediency against 
right." "We have been told, sir," said Mr. Randolph at a later 
period, " that the framers of the Constitution foresaw the rising sun 
of some new sects, which were to construe the powers of the govern- 
ment differently from their intention ; and therefore the clause grant- 
ing a general power to make all laws that might be necessary and 
proper to carry the granted powers into effect, was inserted in the 
Constitution. Yes, such a sect did arise some twenty years ago ; 
and, unfortunately, I had the honor to be a member of that church. 
From the commencement of the government to this day, differences 
have arisen between the two great parties in this nation ; one con- 
sisting of the disciples of Mr. Hamilton, the Secretary of the Trea- 
sury : and another party, who believed that in their construction of 
the Constitution, those to whom they opposed themselves exceeded 
the just limits of its legitimate authority; and I pray gentlemen to 
take into their most serious consideration the fact, that on this very 
question of construction, this sect, which the framers of the Constitu- 
tion foresaw might arise, did arise in their might, and put down the 
construction of the Constitution according to the Hamiltonian ver- 
sion. But, did we at that day dream that a new sect would arise after 
them, which would as far transcend Alexander Hamilton and his dis- 

VOL. II. 4 



74 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ciples as they outwent Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John 
Taylor, of Caroline ? This is the deplorable fact. Such is now the 
actual state of things in this land ; and it is not a subject so much 
of demonstration as it is self-evident ; it speaks to the senses, so that 
every one may understand it." 

The first of that series of measures which gave birth to this new sect 
of politicians, and brought about the state of things so much deplored 
by Mr. Randolph, was the Bank Charter, passed at this session of 
Congress. 

The first incorporation of a bank, in 1791, was opposed by Tho- 
mas Jefferson and the republican party, as being an unwarranted 
assumption of power, nowhere granted in the Constitution. Conse- 
quently, when the charter of the old bank expired in 1811, they 
refused to renew it on the same ground. Henry Clay, then a sena- 
tor from Kentucky, argued the question at great length : " This 
vagrant power," says he, " to erect a bank, after having wandered 
throughout the whole Constitution in quest of some congenial spot 
whereon to fasten, has been at length located, by the gentleman from 
Georgia, on that provision which authorizes Congress to lay and col- 
lect taxes. In 1791 the power is referred to one part of the instru- 
ment; in 1811, to another. Sometimes it is alleged to be deducible 
from the power to regulate commerce. Hard pressed here, it dis- 
appears, and shows itself under the grant to coin money. The saga- 
cious Secretary of the Treasury, in 1791, pursued the wisest course. 
He has taken shelter behind general high-sounding and imposing 
terms. He has declared in the preamble to the act establishing the 
bank that it will be very conducive to the successful conducting of 
the national finances ; will tend to give facility to the obtaining of 
loans ; and will be productive of considerable advantage to trade and 
industry in general. No allusion is made to the collection of taxes. 
What is the nature of this government? It is emphatically fede- 
ral, vested with an aggregate of specified powers for general pur- 
poses, conceded by existing sovereignties, who have themselves 
retained what is not so conceded. It is said that there are cases 
in which it must act on implied powers. This is not controverted ; 
but the implication must be necessary, and obviously flow from the 
enumerated power with which it is allied. The power to charter 
companies is not specified in the grant, and, I contend, is of a nature 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 75 

not transferable by mere implication. It is one of the most exalted 
attributes of sovereignty. In the exercise of this gigantic power, we 
have seen an East India Company created, which has carried dismay, 
desolation and death, thoughout one of the largest portions of the habit- 
able globe ; a company which is. in itself, a sovereignty, which has 
subverted empires, and set up new dynasties, and has not only made 
war, but war against its legitimate sovereign ! Under the influence 
of this power, we have seen arise a South Sea Company and a Missis- 
sippi Company, that distracted and convulsed all Europe, and 
menaced a total overthrow of all credit and confidence, and universal 
bankruptcy. Is it to be imagined that a power so vast would have 
been left by the wisdom of the Constitution to doubtful inference ?" 
Such was the forcible reasoning that induced the republicans in 
1811 to refuse to recharter the bank or to incorporate another simi- 
lar institution. They stood by the Constitution. But now, in 1816, 
every thing. was changed ; and what seemed unconstitutional before 
had become clearly necessary and proper, and therefore constitu- 
tional. Mr. Clay, who had become their leader and exponent, under- 
takes to justify his change of position : " The consideration," says he, 
"upon which I acted in 1811 was, that as the power to create a cor- 
poration, such as was proposed to be continued, was not specifically 
granted in the Constitution, and did not then appear to me to be 
necessary to carry into effect any of the powers which were specifi- 
cally granted, Congress was not authorized to continue the bank. 
The Constitution contains powers delegated and prohibitory ; powers 
expressed and constructive. It vests in Congress all powers neces- 
sary to give effect to the enumerated powers ; all that may be neces- 
sary to put in motion and activity the machine of government which 
it constructs. The powers that may be so necessary are deducible 
by construction ; they are not defined in the Constitution ; they are, 
from their nature, undefinable. When the question is in relation to 
one of these powers, the point of inquiry should be, is its exertion 
necessary to carry into effect any of the enumerated powers and ob- 
jects of the General Government? With regard to the degree of ne- 
cessity, various rules have been at different times laid down ; but, 
perhaps, at last, there is no other than a sound and honest judgment 
exercised, under the checks and control which belong to the Consti- 
tution and the people. 



76 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

" The constructive powers being auxiliary to the specifically 
granted powers, and depending for their sanction and existence upon 
a necessity to give effect to the latter — which necessity is to be 
sought for and ascertained by a sound and honest discretion — it is 
manifest that this necessity may not be perceived, at one time, under 
one state of things, when it is perceived, at another time, under a 
different state of things. The Constitution, it is true, never changes ; 
it is always the same ; but the force of circumstances and the lights 
of experience may evolve, to the fallible persons charged with its ad- 
ministration, the fitness and necessity of a particular exercise of con- 
structive power to-day, which they did not see at a former period." 
Mr. Clay then goes on to state facts which, in his judgment, rendered 
a bank in 1811 unnecessary. There were other means of conducting 
the fiscal affairs of the Government ; " They," says he, " superseded 
the necessity of a national institution." But how stood the case in 
1816, when he was called upon again to examine the power of the 
General Government to incorporate a national bank? A total change 
of circumstances was presented ; events of the utmost magnitude 
had intervened. These events made a bank, in the opinion of Mr. 
Clay, necessary and proper, as an implied power, and therefore con- 
stitutional. But Mr. Clay does not do full justice to his position in 
1811. He then declared that the poiver to charter companies is not 
specified in the grant, and is of a nature not transferable by mere 
implication. It is one of the most exalted attributes of sovereignty. It 
is inconceivable how a man, holding these opinions, could suffer any 
possible circumstances that might arise, to influence and change his 
position. 

Yet Mr. Clay did shift his ground entirely, and contend, that 
although the power to charter companies was not specified in the 
grant, and was one of the most exalted attributes of sovereignty, still 
it was a constructive power necessary and proper to carry into effect 
those specifically granted, and therefore to be implied as a consequent 
and appendage to them. The force of circumstances may evolve to 
the fallible persons, charged with the administration of the govern- 
ment, the fitness and necessity of a particular exercise of constructive 
poiver to-day, which they did not see at a former period. And the 
degree of necessity which renders such constructive poxoer constitu- 
tional is made to depend on the sound and honest judgment of those 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 77 

in authority. Men who wish to exercise a doubtful power, not spe- 
cified in the grant, may themselves create the circumstances that shall 
render its exercise, in their estimation, necessary and proper. In- 
stead of looking to the charter to see whether the power is granted, 
they have only to consider the force of circumstances urging on them, 
and to consult their own judgments (fallible persons) as to the degree 
of necessity which justifies the assumption of an undelegated author- 
ity. This is a virtual surrender of the Constitution. By such a law 
of interpretation, the jurisdiction of the Federal Government is made 
unlimited, and, instead of possessing delegated, specifically defined, 
and limited powers, it becomes a magnificent, all-absorbing, all-gov- 
erning empire, with unrestrained and unlimited authority. 

But Mr. Clay did not stand alone in this abandonment of the Con- 
stitution. He was followed by a decided majority of the republican 
party in Congress, and by all the executive authorities, with the Pre- 
sident at their head. At first, there were some constitutional scru- 
ples manifested by the members of the House of Representatives. 
Men could not be brought to believe the difficulties in question, if 
they existed at all, were such as to require the House to sacrifice 
principle at the shrine of necessity. On the 10th of January, 1814, 
Mr. Eppes, from the Committee of Ways and Means, reported that 
the power to create corporations within the territorial limits of the 
States, without the consent of the States, is neither one of the pow- 
ers delegated by the Constitution of the United States, or essentially 
necessary for carrying into effect any delegated power. 

Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina, moved that the Committee of the 
Whole be discharged from the consideration of this report, which was 
agreed to, and offered, as a substitute, a resolution that the Commit- 
tee of Ways and Means be instructed to inquire into the expediency 
of establishing a national bank, to be located in the District of Co- 
lumbia. In this way they thought to get around the constitutional 
question. But men soon came to see the alarming consequences of 
an interpretation which permitted Congress, in the District, to do the 
most unconstitutional acts, merely because they possessed exclusive 
jurisdiction. 

At length, all these subterfuges were abandoned ; and on the 8th 
of January, 1816, an ominous day for the bank, Mr. Calhoun re- 
ported " A bill to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the 



78 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

United States." In his opening argument, he undertook to show the 
necessity that urged to the adoption of the measure now proposed. 
" We have," says he, " in lieu of gold and silver, a paper medium, un- 
equally but generally depreciated, which affects the trade and indus- 
try of the nation : which paralyzes the national arm ; which sullies 
the faith, both public and private, of the United States — a paper no 
longer resting on gold and silver as its basis. We have, indeed, 
laws regulating the currency of foreign coin, but they are, under pre- 
sent circumstances, a mockery of legislation, because there is no coin 
in circulation. The right of making money — an attribute of sove- 
reign power, a sacred and important right — was exercised by two 
hundred and sixty banks, scattered over every part of the United 
States ; not responsible to any power whatever for their issues of 
paper. The next and great inquiry was," he said, " how this evil 
was to be remedied 1 Restore," said he, " these institutions to their 
original use ; cause them to give up this usurped power ; cause them 
to return to their legitimate office of places of discount and deposit; 
let them be no longer mere paper machines ; restore the state of 
things which existed anterior to 1813, which was consistent with 
the just policy and interests of the country ; cause them to fulfil 
their contracts ; to respect their broken faith ; resolve that every 
where there shall be an uniform value to the national currency ; 
your constitutional control will then prevail." A National Bank, he 
argued, was the specific to cure all these evils. 

Mr. Randolph, who made his appearance in the House for the first 
time about the period that Mr. Calhoun introduced his bill, took 
occasion to say, that he had listened to the honorable gentleman with 
pleasure. He was glad to see a cause so important in hands so able. 
He promised the honorable gentleman, though he might not agree 
with his mode of remedying the evil, he would go with him in the 
application of any adequate remedy to an evil which he regarded as 
most enormous. 

Mr. Randolph said he rose to ask two questions — one of the gen- 
tleman from South Carolina, aud the other of the gentleman from 
Maryland : — first, how the paper to be created by this bank will cor- 
rect the vitiated state of our currency? and, secondly, how bank 
notes can answer the purpose of a circulating medium better than 
treasury notes ? Though no stickler for treasury notes, Mr. Ran- 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 79 

dolph intimated his opinion that they were, in time of peace, a better 
substitute for gold and silver than any paper he had yet heard sub- 
mitted. He added some incidental observations, and concluded by 
saying, that he was sorry to see the apathy, the listlessness on this 
subject : on a question, which, if it passed, would, perhaps, be the 
most important decided since the establishment of the Constitution ; 
and that though he agreed fully as to the extent of the existing evil, 
the remedy had been totally mistaken. 

During the progress of the bill through the House, a motion was 
made to strike out that part which authorizes the Government to 
subscribe a certain portion of the stock. Mr. Randolph said he 
should vote for this motion, because one of his chief objections (one 
of them, he repeated) was the concern which it was proposed to give 
to the United States in the bank. He referred to the sale, by the 
Secretary of the Treasury, some years ago. of the shares belonging to 
the Bank of the United States, and stated the reasons of his approv- 
ing that step ; but, he added, that it was a strong argument against 
the feature of the bank bill now under consideration, that whenever 
there should be in this country a necessitous and profligate adminis- 
tration of the G-overnment, that bank stock would be laid hold of by 
the first Squanderfield at the head of the Treasury, as the means of 
filling its empty coffers. But, if there was no objection to this fea- 
ture stronger than that it would afford provision for the first rainy 
day, it might not be considered so very important. He argued, how- 
ever, that it was eternally true, that nothing but the precious metals, 
or paper bottomed on them, could answer as the currency of any 
nation or age, notwithstanding the fanciful theories that great pay- 
ments could only be made by credits and paper. How, he asked on 
this point, were the mighty armies of the ancient world paid off"? 
Certainly not in paper or bank credits. He expressed his fears, lest 
gentlemen had got some of their ideas on these subjects from the 
wretched pamphlets under which the British and American press had 
groaned, on the subject of a circulating medium. He said he had 
once himself turned projector, and sketched the plan of a bank, of 
which it was a feature, that the Government should have a concern 
in it : but he became convinced of the iauacy of his views — he found 
his project would not answer. His objections to the agency of the 
Government in a bank was, therefore, he said, of no recent date, but 



30 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

one long formed — the objection was vital ; that it would be an engine 
of irresistible power in the hands of any administration ; that it 
would be in politics and finance, what the celebrated proposition of 
Archimedes was in physics — a place, the fulcrum ; from which, at 
the will of the Executive, the whole nation could be hurled to de- 
struction, or managed in any way, at his will and pleasure. 

This bill, in the view of Mr. Randolph, presented two distinct 
questions : the one frigidly and rigorously a mere matter of calcula- 
lation ; the other, involving some very important political conside- 
rations. . 

In regard to the present depreciation of paper, he did not agree 
with those who thought the establishment of a National Bank would 
aid in the reformation of it. If he were to go into the causes which 
produced the present state of things, he said, he should never end. 
As to the share the banks themselves had in producing it, he re- 
garded the dividends they had made since its commencement as con- 
clusive proof. 

" The present time, sir," continued Mr. Randolph, " is, in my view, 
one of the most diastrous ever witnessed in the republic, and this bill 
proves it. The proposal to establish this great bank is but resorting 
to a crutch, and, so far as I understand it, it is a broken one ; it will 
tend, instead of remedying the evil, to aggravate it. The evil of the 
times is a spirit engendered in this republic, fatal to republican prin- 
ciples — fatal to republican virtue : a spirit to live by any means but 
those of honest industry ; a spirit of profusion : in other words, the 
spirit of Catiline himself — cdieni avidus sui jjrofusus — a spirit of ex- 
pediency, not only in public but in private life : the system of Didler 
in the farce — living any way and well ; wearing an expensive coat, 
and drinking the finest wines, at any body's expense. This bank, I 
imagine, sir, (I am far from ascribing to the gentleman from South 
Carolina any such views,) is, to a certain extent, a modification of the 
same system. Connected, as it is to be, with the Government, when- 
ever it goes into operation, a scene will be exhibited on the great 
theatre of the United States, at which I shudder. If we mean to trans- 
mit our institutions unimpaired to posterity ; if some, now living, wish 
to continue to live under the same institutions by which they are now 
ruled — and with all its evils, real or imaginary, I presume no man 
will question that we live under the easiest government on the globe 
— we must put bounds to the spirit which seeks wealth by every path 
but the plain and regular path of honest industry and honest fame. 

Let us not disguise the fact, sir, we think we are living in the bet- 
ter times of the Republic. We deceive ourselves ; we are almost in 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 81 

the days of Sylla and Marius : yes, we have almost got down to the 
time of Jugurtha. It is unpleasant to put one's self in array against a 
great leading interest in a community, be they a knot of land specula- 
tors, paper jobbers, or what not : but, sir, every man you meet in this 
House or out of it, with some rare exceptions, which only serve to 
prove the rule, is either a stockholder, president, cashier, clerk, or 
doorkeeper, runner, engraver, paper-maker, or mechanic, in some way 
or other, to a bank. The gentleman from Pennsylvania ma}^ dismiss 
his fears for the banks, with their one hundred and seventy millions 
of paper, on eighty-two millions of capital. However great the evil 
of their conduct may be, who is to bell the cat ? who is to take the 
bull by the horns ? You might as well attack Gibraltar with a pocket 
pistol as to attempt to punish them. There are very few who dare 
speak truth to this mammoth. The banks are so linked together with 
the business of the world, that there are very few men exempt from 
their influence. The true secret is, the banks are creditors as well as 
debtors ; and if they were merely debtors to us for the paper in our 
pockets, they would soon, like Morris and Nicholson, go to jail (figu- 
ratively speaking) for having issued more paper than they were able 
to pay when presented to them. A man has their note for fifty dol- 
lars, perhaps, in his pocket, for which he wants fifty Spanish milled 
dollars ; but they have his note for five thousand in their possession, 
and laugh at his demand. We are tied hand and foot, sir, and bound 
to conciliate this great mammoth, which is set up to worship in this 
Christian land : we are bound to propitiate it. Thus whilst our govern- 
ment denounces hierarchy ; will permit no privileged order for con- 
ducting the services of the only true God; whilst it denounces nobi- 
lity — has a privileged order of new men grown up, the pressure of 
whose foot, sir, I feel at this moment on my neck. If any thing 
could reconcile me to this monstrous alliance between the bank and 
the government, if the object could be attained of compelling the 
banks to fulfil their engagements, I could almost find it in my heart 
to go with the gentleman in voting for it. 

'• The stuff uttered on all hands, and absolutely got by rote by the 
haberdashers' boys behind the counters in the shops, that the paper 
now in circulation will buy any thing you want as well as gold and 
silver, is answered by saying that you want to buy silver with it. 
The present mode of' banking, sir, goes to demoralize society : it is as 
much swindling to issue notes with the intent not to pay, as it is bur- 
glary to break open a house. If they are unable to pay, the banks 
are bankrupts ; if able to pay and will not, they are fraudulent bank- 
rupts. But a man might as well go to Constantinople to preach 
Christianity, as to get up here and preach against the banks. To 
pass this bill would be like getting rid of the rats by setting fire to 
the house. Whether any other remedy can be devised, I will not 

vol. n. 4* 



g2 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

now undertake to pronounce. The banks have lost all shame, and 
exemplify a beautiful and very just observation of one of the finest 
writers, that men banded together in a common cause, will collectively 
do that at which every individual of the combination would spurn. 
This observation has been applied to the enormities committed and 
connived at by the British East India Company ; and will equally 
appply to the modern system of banking, and still more to the spirit 
of party. 

'• As to establishing this bank to prevent a variation in the rate of 
exchange of bank paper, you might as well expect it to prevent the 
variations of the wind ; you might as well pass an act of Congress 
(for which, if it would be of any good, I should certainly vote) to 
prevent the northwest wind from blowing in our teeth as we go from 
the House to our lodgings. 

'• But, sir, I will conclude by pledging myself to agree to any ade- 
quate means to cure the great evil, that are consistent with the ad- 
ministration of the government, in such a manner as to conduce to 
the happiness of the people and the reformation of the public morals." 

Mr. Randolph combated the bill in all its stages, moved amend- 
ments with a view of abridging and restraining the powers of the 
corporation, and, finally, on the 5th of April, 1816, when the bill was 
sent back from the Senate with sundry amendments for the concur- 
rence of the House, he moved, for the purpose of destroying the bill, 
that the whole subject be indefinitely postponed ; and supported his 
motion by adverting to the small number of members present, and 
the impropriety of passing, by a screwed up, strained, and costive 
majority, so important a measure, at the end of a session, when the 
members were worn down and exhausted by a daily and long atten- 
tion to business ; a measure which, in time of war, and of great pub- 
lic emergency, could not be forced through the House ; a measure so 
deeply involving the future welfare, and which was to give a color 
and character to the future destiny of this country ; a measure which, 
if it and another (the tariff) should pass into laws, the present ses- 
sion would be looked back to as the most disastrous since the com- 
mencement of the republic ; and which, much as he deprecated war, 
he would prefer war itself to either of them. Mr. Randolph then 
proceeded to argue against the bill as unconstitutional, inexpedient, 
and dangerous. His constitutional objections, he said, were borne 
out by the decision of Congress in refusing to renew the charter of 
the old bank, which decision was grounded on the want of constitu- 



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS. 33 

tional power. He adverted, also, in support of his opinion, to the 
instructions from the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky to their 
senators to vote against the old bank ; which instructions were given 
on the ground of that institution being unconstitutional. " I declare 
to you, sir," said Mr. Randolph, " that I am the holder of no stock 
whatever, except live stock, and had determined never to own any 
— but, if this bill passes, I will not only be a stockholder to the 
utmost of my power, but will advise every man, over whom I have 
any influence, to do the same, because it is the creation of a great 
privileged order of the most hateful kind to my feelings, and because 
I would rather be the master than the slave. If I must have a 
master, let him be one with epaulettes — something that I can fear 
and respect, something that I can look up to — but not a master with 
a quill behind his ear." 

After finally passing through both Houses, the bank bill was pre- 
sented to Mr. Madison ; he signed it, and it became a law. Mr. 
Madison, it is well known, was hitherto opposed to the incorporation 
of a National Bank on constitutional grounds. His Report in 1799- 
1800, to the Virginia legislature on the general powers of the Fed- 
eral Government, is conclusive and unanswerable on that subject. 
But on the present occasion he waived the question of the constitu- 
tional authority of the legislature to establish an incorporated bank, 
as being precluded, in his judgment, by repeated recognitions, under 
varied circumstances, of the validity of such an institution in acts of 
the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government, 
accompanied by indications, in different modes, of a concurrence of 
the general will of the nation. 

Mr. Clay and his compeers surrendered the Constitution on the 
plea of necessity — tlie force of circumstances — Mr. Madison on the 
score of precedent — repeated recognitions of the validity of such an 
institution ! "Well might the patriot weep over this last, fatal act of 
a great and a good man ! Well might he bemoan the imbecility of 
human nature, when he beheld the same hand that constructed the 
immortal argument by which the Constitution is made to rest on its 
true and lasting basis, in old age destroy the glorious work of its 
meridian power. 

Randolph did not scruple to charge this act to the weakness of 



84 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

old age. Some years after this event, and when the bank was in full 
career, fulfilling all his predictions, hear what he says : — 

' ; I am sorry to say, because I should be the last man in the world 
to disturb the repose of a venerable man, to whom I wish a quiet end 
of his honorable life, that all the difficulties under which we have 
labored, and now labor, on this subject (Tariff and Internal Improve- 
ment by the General Government), have grown out of a fatal admis- 
sion, by one of the late Presidents of the United States, an admission 
which runs counter to the tenor of his whole political life, and is ex- 
pressly contradicted by one of the most luminous and able state pa- 
pers that ever was written, the offspring of his pen — an admission 
which gave a sanction to the principle, that this government had the 
power to charter the present colossal Bank of the United States. 
Sir," said Mr. Randolph, " that act, and one other, which I will not 
name, bring forcibly home to my mind a train of melancholy reflec- 
tions on the miserable state of our mortal being. 

' In life's last scenes, what prodigies arise ! 
Fears of the hrave and follies of the wise. 
From Marlborough's eyes the streams of dotage flow ; 
And Swift expires a driv'ler and a show.' 

" Such is the state of the case, sir. It is miserable to think of it 
— and we have nothing left to us but to weep over it." 

And again, on the same occasion, in 1824 — 

" But the gentleman from New-York, and some others who have 
spoken on this occasion, say, What ! shall we be startled by a shadow? 
Shall we recoil from taking a power clearly within (what ?) our reach ? 
Shall we not clutch the sceptre — the air-drawn sceptre that invites 
our hand, because of the fears and alarms of the gentleman from 
Virginia? 

" Sir, if I cannot give reason to the committee, they shall at least 
have authority. Thomas Jefferson, then in the vigor of his intellect, 
was one of the persons who denied the existence of such powers — 
James Madison was another. He, in that masterly and unrivalled 
report in the legislature of Virginia, which is worthy to be the text- 
book of every American statesman, has settled this question. For 
me to attempt to add any thing to the arguments of that paper, would 
be to attempt to gild refined gold — to paint the lily — to throw a per- 
fume on the violet — to smooth the ice — or add another hue unto the 
rainbqw — in every aspect of it, wasteful and ridiculous excess. Nei- 
ther will I hold up my farthing rush-light to the blaze of that me- 
ridian sun. But, sir, I cannot but deplore — my heart aches when I 
think of it — that the hand which erected that monument of political 
wisdom, should have signed the act to incorporate the present Bank 
of the United States." 



HOME— SOLITUDE. 85 



CHAPTER VII. 

HOME — SOLITUDE. 

Mr. Randolph was not less strenuous in his opposition to the " revenue 
bill," or tariff measure, of this eventful session ; but we pass that, for 
the present, until it conies up again in a more aggravated form. Death, 
it seems, had made his friends the chosen mark for his fatal weapons. 
Mrs. Judith Randolph died in March, at the house of her friend — a 
great and a good man — Dr. John H. Rice, of Richmond. She doubt- 
less died of a broken heart. Bereft of every comfort, life had no 
charms for her, and she sought death as a blessing. Her friends 
and Mr. Randolph's friends followed her mortal remains in sad pro- 
cession to Tuckahoe — the family seat of her ancestors — some miles 
above Richmond, on James River, where they rest in peace beneath 
the shadow of those venerable oaks that witnessed the sweet gambols 
of her joyous and innocent childhood. 

No sooner was this sad bereavement communicated to Mr. Ran- 
dolph, than he was called to the bedside of a dying friend — an old 
and tried friend — a companion who had stood by him through evil as 
well as good report, as he fought like a bold champion for the Con- 
stitution and the rights of the people. ' : Yesterday (April 11th) we 
buried poor Stanford. I staid by his bedside the night before he 
died. Jupiter was worn down by nursing him, and is still feeling the 
effects of it. He returned home on Sunday morning, and has been 
sick ever since. My own health is not much better, and my spirits 
worse. Poor Stanford ! he is not the least regretted of those who 
have been taken from me within the past year." 

In addition to his present family — Dr. Dudley and young Clay — 
Mr. Randolph took upon himself the charge and the responsibility of two 
other orphan boys. " I have just returned from Baltimore, where I 
went to meet the sons of my deceased friend Bryan, consigned to my 
care. They are fine boys, but have been much neglected. I propose 
to place them at Prince Edward College, under the care of Dr. 
Hogue, after they shall have undergone some preparatory tuition at 
Mr. Lacy's school." 



36 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

These acts speak for themselves. By these, and such as these, 
that crowd his whole life, let him be judged. Here is one the 
world have agreed to condemn as a misanthrope — a hater of his 
fellow-man. It is certain he did not seek to be known of men. 
Few could understand (" My mother — she understood me !"), few 
could appreciate him. 

While apparently absorbed in the business of legislation, the great 
question was still uppermost in his thoughts. Before leaving "Wash- 
ington for his solitary home, he sought an interview with his trusty 
friend, "Frank Key," and rode over to Georgetown (May 7th, 1816,) 
for that purpose. But failing to meet with him, he went into Semmes's 
Hotel, and wrote him the following letter : 

" Hearing, at Davis's, yesterday, that you were seen in George- 
town the evening before, I came here in the expectation of the pleas- 
ure of seeing you ; but my intelligence proved to be like the greater 
part that happens under that name in this poor, foolish world of 
ours. I had also another motive. I wished to give Wood an oppor- 
tunity to finish the picture. I called last evening, but he was gone to 
Mt. Vernon. I shall drive by his apartment, and give him the last 
sitting this morning. It is a soothing reflection to me, that your 
children, long after I am dead and gone, may look upon their some- 
time father's friend, of whose features they will have perhaps retained 
some faint recollection. Let me remind you that, although I am 
childless, I cannot forego my claim to the return picture, on which I 
set a very high value. 

" Your absence from home is a sore disappointment to me. I 
wanted to have talked with you, unreservedly, on subjects of the high- 
est interest. I wanted your advice as a friend, on the course of my 
future life. Hitherto it has been almost' without plan or system — 
the sport of what we call chance. 

" About a year ago, I got a scheme into my head, which I have 
more than once hinted to you ; but I fear my capacity to carry it 
into execution. 

" There is, however, another cause of uneasiness, about which I 
could have wished to confer freely with you. It has cost me many a 
pang, within a few months past especially. In the most important 
of human concerns I have made no advancement ; on the contrary 
(as is always the case when we do not advance), I have fallen back. 
My mind is filled with misgivings and doubts and perplexities that 
leave me no repose. Of the necessity for forgiveness I have the 
strongest conviction ; but I cannot receive any assurance that it has 
been accorded to me. In short, I am in the worst conceivable situ- 



HOME— SOLITUDE. 37 

ation as its respects my internal peace and future welfare. I want 
aid ; and the company and conversation of such a friend as yourself 
might assist in dispelling, for a time, at least, the gloom that de- 
presses me. I have humbly sought comfort where alone it is effectu- 
ally to be obtained, but without success. To you and Mr. Meade I 
can venture to write in this style, without disguising the secret work- 
ings of my heart. I wish I could always be in reach of you. The 
solitude of my own dwelling is appalling to me. Write to me, and 
direct to Richmond." 

To this Mr. Key replied : 

" As we could not confer upon the subjects you mention, we must 
postpone them till we meet again, or manage them in writing ; just 
as you please. In either way you will have much to excuse in me ; 
but I trust you will find within yourself a counsellor and comforter 
who will guide you 'into all peace.' Desperate indeed would be 
our case, if we had nothing better to lead us than our own wisdom 
and strength or the experience of our friends. If, notwithstanding 
all your doubts and misgivings, you are sincerely and earnestly desi- 
rous to know the truth, and resolved to obey it, cost what it may, you 
have the promise of God that it shall be revealed to you. If you are 
convinced you are a sinner, that Christ alone can save you from 
the sentence of condemnation incurred by your sins, and from the 
dominion of them ; if you make an entire and unconditional surren- 
der of yourself to his service, renouncing that of the world and of 
yourself; if you thus humbly and faithfully come to him, 'he will in 
no wise cast you out.' 

" You can do much for the cause of religion, whatever plan of life 
you may adopt ; you can resolutely and thoroughly bear your testi- 
mony in its favor. You can adorn its doctrines, and so preach them 
most powerfully by a good life. You can be seen resisting and over- 
coming, in the strength of God, the powerful and uncommon tempta- 
tions that oppose you ; and your light can, and, I trust, will shine 
far and brightly around you. Do not be disheartened by the diffi- 
culties you may feel ; they are experienced by all, and grace and 
strength to overcome them are offered to all. The change from dark- 
ness to light, from death to life, is the result of no single effort, but 
of constant and persevering, and, often, painful striving. How can 
it be otherwise when we think of what that change is ? It finds us 
' dead in trespasses and sins,' ' having our conversation in the flesh,' 
' fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,' ' children of 
wrath,' ' without Christ.' ' strangers to the covenant of promise,' 
' having no hope, and without God in the world :' and it makes us 
' nigh by the blood of Christ ;' ' no more foreigners and strangers, but 
fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God;' 'justi- 
fied by faith, and having peace with God, through our Lord Jesus 



88 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Christ.' May you experience this change, my dear friend, in all its 
blessedness." 

r Randolph thus replied : 

'■ Roanoke, June 16, 1816. 

" Owing to the incorrigible negligence of the postmaster at Rich- 
mond, I did not get your letter of the 22d of last month until this 
morning. I had felt some surprise at not hearing from you, and the 
delay of your letter served but to enhance its value. I read it this 
morning in bed, and derived great consolation from the frame of mind 
to which it disposed me. My time has been a wretched one since I saw 
you — dreary and desponding. I heard Mr. Hogue yesterday ; and dur- 
ing a short conversation, riding from church, he told me that he believed 
that there were times and seasons when all of us were overcome by 
such feelings in spite of our best efforts against them ; efforts which, 
however, we ought by no means to relax, since they tended both to miti- 
gate the degree and shorten the period of our sufferings. My own 
case (every body, no doubt, thinks the same) appears to be peculiarly 
miserable. To me the world is a vast desert, and there is no merit 
in renouncing it, since there is no difficulty. There never was a time 
when it was so utterly destitute of allurement for me. The difficulty 
with me is to find some motive to action — something to break the 
sluggish tenor of my life. I look back upon the havoc of the past 
year asupon a bloody field of battle, where my friends have perished. 
I look out towards the world, and find a wilderness, peopled indeed, 
but not with flesh and blood — with monsters tearing one another to 
pieces for money or power, or some other vile lust. Among them 
will be found, with here and there an exception, the professors of the 
religion of meekness and love, itself too often made the bone of con- 
tention and faction. Is it not strange that a being so situated should 
find difficulty in renouncing himself, the dominion of his own bad pas- 
sions? To such an one another and a better world is a necessary 
refuge, and yet he cannot embrace it. 

" My dear friend, it is very unreasonable that I should throw the 
burthen of my black and dismal thoughts upon you ; but they so 
weigh me down that I cannot escape from them ; and when I can 
speak without restraint, they will have vent." 

Mr. Randolph spent the summer at home entirely alone. Dr. 
Dudley's health required a visit to the Virginia Springs, where he 
remained during the season. The boys were at school. With 
the exception of a short visit to Richmond, he did not leave his 
own plantation. His time was consumed in silence and in solitude. 
There can be no question that this entire abstinence from human 
society — the cheerful face of man and woman — the morning saluta- 



DYING, SIR— DYING. 89 

tion and the evening converse with friends loving and beloved — had a 
pernicious influence on his health, his mind, and his temper. 

No man enjoyed with a higher relish the intellectual and polished 
society of those friends, men and women, whom he had endeared to 
him by the strongest ties of affection, no man felt more keenly its ab- 
sence. Yet it seems to have been his lot to live in solitude ; so few 
understood him ! 

On the 25th of October he thus writes to Mr. Key : 

" If your life is so unsatisfactory to you, what must that of others 
be to them 1 For my part, if there breathes a creature more empty 
of enjoyment than myself, I sincerely pity him. My opinions seem 
daily to become more unsettled, and the awful mystery which shrouds 
the future alone renders the present tolerable. The darkness of my 
hours, so far from having passed away, has thickened into the deepest 
gloom. I try not to think, by moulding my mind upon the thoughts 
of others ; but to little purpose. Have you ever read Zimmerman 
on Solitude % I do not mean the popular cheap book under that 
title, but another, in which solitude is considered with respect to its 
dangerous influence upon the mind and the heart. I have been 
greatly pleased with it for a few hours. It is a mirror that reflects 
the deformity of the human mind to whomsoever will look into it. 

" Dudley is with me. He returned about a month ago from our 
Springs, and I think he has benefited by the waters. He returns 
your salutation most cordially. We have been lounging a la Virgini- 
anne, at the house of a friend, about a day and a half's ride off. In 
a few days I shall return to the same neighborhood, not in pussuit of 
pleasure, but pursued by ennui." 



CHAPTEE VIII. 



DYING, SIR — DYING. 



The session of Congress which terminated the 4th of March, 1817, 
presents nothing of much public interest. The most remarkable act 
of the session is the compensation law, as it was called, by which 
members voted themselves a fixed salary for their services, instead of 
the usual per diem allowance. 

Mr. Randolph's half brother, Henry St. George Tucker, was a 



90 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

member of this Congress. On his way to Washington he was upset 
in the stage — had his shoulder dislocated, and in other respects was 
much injured. So soon as the news of this accident reached him, 
Mr. Randolph hastened to the bedside of his brother, and on his 
return to Washington wrote the following letter : 

" I have been very unwell since I left you, but not in consequence 
of my journey to your bedside. On the contrary I believe I am the 
better for it in every respect. A wide gulf has divided us, of time 
and place and circumstance. Our lot has been different, very differ- 
ent indeed. I am ' the last of the family ' — of my family at least — 
and I am content that in my person it should become extinct. In 
the rapid progress of time and of events, it will quickly disappear 
from the eye of observation, and whatsoever of applause or disgrace 
it may have acquired in the eyes of man, will weigh but little in the 
estimation of Him by whose doom the everlasting misery or happi- 
ness of our condition is to be irrevocably fixed. ' We are indeed 
clay in the potter's hands.' " 

Mr. Randolph's health during this winter was wretched in the 
extreme ; more especially towards the close. The reader is already 
aware of his determination " to wash his hands of politics " — he had 
announced to his friends that he would not be a candidate again for 
Congress. On Saturday night, February 8th, he wrote to Dr. 
Dudley — 

" Your letter of the 2d was put into my hands this morning, just 
as I was about to make my last dying speech." The next Tuesday 
he says — " I scribbled a few lines to you on Saturday evening last, 
at which time I was laboring under the effects of fresh cold, taken 
in going to and coming from the House, where I delivered my valedic- 
tory. It was nearer being, than I then imagined, a valedictory to this 
world. That night, and the next day and night, I hung suspended 
between two worlds, and had a much nearer glimpse than I have ever 
yet taken of the other. 

" That I have written this letter with effort will be apparent from 
the face of it. I am not ashamed to confess that it has cost me some 
bitter tears — but they are not the tears of remorse. They flow from 
the workings of a heart known only to Him unto whom the prayers 
and the groans of the miserable ascend. I feel that in this world I 
am alone — that all my efforts (ill-judged and misdirected I am wil- 
ling to allow they must have been) have proved abortive. What 
remains of my life must be spent in a cold and heartless intercourse 
with mankind, compared with which the solitude of Robinson Crusoe 
was bliss. I have no longer a friend. Do not take this unkindly, for 
it is not meant so. On this subject, as well as on some others, per- 



DYING, SIR— DYING. 91 

haps, I have been an enthusiast — but I know neither how to concili- 
ate the love nor to command the esteem of mankind ; and like the 
officious ass in the fable, must bear the blows inflicted on my pre- 
sumption. May God bless you, my brother. You have found the 
peace of this world. May you find that of the world to come, which 
passeth all understanding. If it be his good pleasure, we may meet 
again ; if not in this life, in life everlasting, where all misunderstand- 
ing and misinterpretation shall be at an end ; and the present delu- 
sions of self appear in their proper and vile deformity, and the busy 
cares and sorrows which now agitate and distress us seem more trivial 
than the tears of infancy — succeeded, not by transient, but everlast- 
ing sunshine of the heart. Amen, and so let it be. 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

Jan. 21, 1817. Tuesday. 

Sunday morning. — I have been reading Lear these two days, and 
incline to prefer it to all Shakspeare's plays. In that and Timon only, 
it has been said, the bard was in earnest. Read both — the first espe- 
cially. 

Tuesday, Feb. 18th. — "I had hardly finished my last letter (Sun- 
day the 16th) to you, when I was seized by spasms that threatened 
soon to terminate all my earthly cares ; although the two nights since 
have been passed almost entirely without sleep, I am much better." 

Sunday, February 23d. — " The worst night that I have had since 
my indisposition commenced. It was, I believe, a case of croup, com- 
bined with the affection of the liver and the lungs. Nor was it un- 
like tetanus, since the muscles of the neck and back were rigid, and 
the jaw locked. I never expected, when the clock struck two, to 
hear the bell again ; fortunately, as I found myself going, I dispatched 
a servant (about one) to the apothecary for an ounce of laudanum. 
Some of this poured down my throat, through my teeth, restored me 
to something like life. I was cpuite delirious, but had method in my 
madness : for they tell me I ordered Juba to load my gun and to 
shoot the first "doctor" that should enter the room; adding, they are 
only mustard seed, and will serve just to sting him. Last night I 
was again very sick ; but the anodyne relieved me. I am now per- 
suaded that I might have saved myself a great deal of suffering by 
the moderate use of opium. This day week, when racked with cramps 
and spasms, my " doctors" (I had two) prescribed (or rather, admin- 
istered) half a glass of Madeira. Half a drop of rain water would 
have been as efficient. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I 
attended the House ; brought out the first day by the explosion of 
the motion to repeal the internal taxes ; and the following days by 
some other circumstances that I will not now relate. Knocked up 
completely by the exertion, instead of recalling my physicians, I took 
my own case boldly in hand ; took one and a half grains of calomel ; 



92 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

on Tuesday night and yesterday using mercurial friction. The liver 
is again performing its functions, and I am, this evening, decidedly 
better than I have been since the first attack, which I may date from 
my fall at Mr. T.'s, on Tuesday, the 21st of January. From that pe- 
riod, the operations of the liver have been irregular and disturbed. 
I conceive the lungs to be affected by sympathy, with the other viscus. 
I have taken from five to ten grains of the hypercarbonated natron 
every day, most generally five grains, in a tablespoonful of new milk, 
sometimes repeating the dose at night. My drink has been slippery 
elm tea and lemonade. Appetite for acids very strong. Severe 
pains in the fasciae of the legs and the tendons, just above the outer 
ankle bone ; also, knees, &c. I have taken, from the first, a pill of 
one and a half grains of calomel about two, sometimes three times a 
week ; and several doses of Cheltenham salts. I have used the vola- 
tile liniment for my throat and limbs ; also, gargles of sage tea, bo- 
rax, &c. 

Mrs. John M., Mrs. B., and Mrs. F. K., have been very kind in 
sending me jellies, lemons, &c., &c. Thomas M. N. has been ex- 
tremely attentive and obliging. Mr. K. of New York, Mr. Chief 
Justice, Mr. H. of Maryland, Mr. M. of South Carolina, Mr. B. of 
Georgetown, (I need not name Frank Key.) M. (no longer Abbe) C. 
de S., and D, have been very kind in their attentions. Mr. M. sent 
me some old, choice Madeira, and his man cook to dress my rice (a 
mystery not understood any where on this side of Cape Fear river), 
sending also the rice to be dressed ; and Mr. Chief Justice came to 
assist me in drawing up my will — which I had strangely and crimi- 
nally neglected for some time past, and of which neglect I was more 
strangely admonished in a dream." 

About this time, says Mr. Win. H. Boane, who was a member of 
Congress from Virginia during the session of 1816-17, "I remem- 
ber that one morning Mr. Lewis came into the House of Bepre- 
sentatives and addressed Mr. Tyler and myself, who were the youngest 
members from Virginia, and said we must go to Georgetown to Mr. 
Bandolph. We asked for what ; he said that Mr. Bandolph had told 
him that he was determined not to be buried as beau Dawson had 
been, at the public expense, and he had selected us young bloods to 
come to him and take charge of his funeral. We went over imme- 
diately. When we entered Mr. Bandolplrs apartments he was in 
his morning gown. He rose and shook us by the hand. On our in- 
quiries after his health, he said, ' Dying ! dying ! dying ! in a dread- 
ful state.' He inquired what was going on in Congress. We told 
him that the galleries were filling with people of the District, and 



DYING, SIR— DYING. 93 

that there was considerable excitement on the re-chartering of the 
batch of banks in the District. He then broke off and commenced 
upon another subject, and pronounced a glowing eulogium upon the 
character and talents of Patrick Henry. After sitting for some time, 
and nothing being said on the business on which we had been sent to 
him, we rose and took our leave. When we got to the door, I said, 
'I wish, Mr. Randolph, you could be in the House to-day.' He shook 
his head — ' Dying, sir, dying !' When we had got back to the House 
of Representatives, Mr. Lewis came in and asked how we had found 
Mr. Randolph. We laughed and said as well as usual — that we had 
spent a very pleasant morning with him, and been much amused by 
his conversation. Scarcely a moment after, Mr. Lewis exclaimed, 
' There he is !' and there to be sure he was. He had entered by 
another door, having arrived at the Capitol almost as soon as we did. 
In a few moments he rose and commenced a speech, the first sentence 
of which I can repeat verbatim. — ' Mr. Speaker,' said he, ' this is 
Shrove Tuesday. Many a gallant cock has died in the pit on this 
day, and I have come to die in the pit also.' He then went on with 
his speech, and after a short time turned and addressed the crowd of 
' hungry expectants,' as he called them — tellers, clerks, and porters in 
the gallery." 

Mr. Randolph left Washington the day after Mr. Monroe's inau- 
guration. " No mitigation of my cruel symptoms took place until 
the third day of my journey, when I threw physic to the dogs, and 
instead of opium, tincture of columbo, hypercarbonate of soda, &c, 
&c, I drank, in defiance of my physician's prescription, copiously of 
cold spring water, and ate plentifully of ice. Since that change of re- 
gimen my strength has increased astonishingly, and I have even 
gained some flesh, or rather, skin. The first day, Wednesday the 5th, 
I could travel no farther than Alexandria. At Dumfries, where I 
lay, but slept not, on Thursday night, I had nearly given up the ghost. 
At a spring, five miles on this side, after crossing Chappawamsick, I 
took, upon an empty and sick stomach, upwards of a pint of living 
water, unmixed with Madeira, which I have not tasted since. It was 
the first thing that I had taken into my stomach since the first of Feb- 
ruary that did not produce nausea. It acted like a charm, and enabled 
me to get on to B.'s that night, where I procured ice. I also devoured 
with impunity a large pippin (forbidden fruit to me). Next day I 



94 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

got to the Oaks, forty-two miles. Here I was more unwell than the 
night before. On Sunday morning I reached my friends, Messrs. A. 
& Co., to breakfast, at half past eight." 

On the road between the Boiling Green and Fredericksburg, 
he came up with the stage with Mr. Roane and other members of 
Congress on their homeward journey. As he drew up his phaeton 
along side the stage, Mr. Roane called out, " How are you, Mr. Ran- 
dolph ?" " Dying, sir, dying !" and then dashed off and out travelled 
the stage. 

He was, indeed, much nearer dying than his friends imagined. 
Shortly after his arrival in Richmond he was taken very ill, and lay 
for many weeks utterly prostrate and helpless at the house of Mr. 
Cunningham, in that city. In after years he often recurred to this 
period as the time of his greatest prostration. March 3d, 1824, he 
says, " You have no idea how very feeble I am. I crawled yesterday 
to P. Thompson's bookseller's shop, butcould not get back afoot. 
The vis vitas has not been lower with me since the spring of 1817. 
How well I recollect this very day of that year !" 



CHAPTEE IX. 

CONVERSION. 

For a long time the state of Mr. Randolph's health was such that he 

confined himself entirely at home, and even ceased correspondence 

with his friends, which at all times constituted his principal source of 

enjoyment. His first attempt was the following letter addressed to 

his friend Key : 

Roanoke, Feb. 9, 1818. 

Dear Frank : A long while ago I wrote to you in reply to the 
only letter that I have received for many, many months. I know 
that you have something better to do than to be scribbling to me ; 
but I beg you to take my case into your special consideration. I am 
as much out of the world as if I were in Kamtschatka or Juan Fer- 
nandez — without a single neighbor, confined by my infirmities often 
to the house, and disabled by them from attendiag to my affairs, 
which might give me amusement and employment at the same time. 



CONVERSION. 95 

The state of manners around me cannot be paralleled, I believe, on 
the face of the earth — all engaged with unremitting devotion in the 
worship of 

" The least erected spirit 
That fell from heaven." 

This pursuit I know to be general throughout the land, and, indeed, 
I fear throughout the world ; but elsewhere it is tempered by the 
spirit of society, and even by a love of ostentation or of pleasure. 
Here it reigns undivided. There is no intercourse but of business ; 
and a man who will ride more miles for a shilling than a post-boy, 
will hardly go one to visit a sick neighbor. * * * * I am afraid you 
will consider the foregoing as no proof of what I am about to add ; 
but let me assure you that there is nothing personal between these 
" poor rich men" and me ; on the contrary, I feel toward them only 
pity and good will, and let no occasion pass without manifesting the 
latter disposition. 

I think that the state of solitude and dereliction in which I am 
placed, has not been without some good effect in giving me better 
views than I have had of the most important of all subjects ; and I 
would not exchange it, comfortless as it is, for the heartless inter- 
course of the world. I know that " if a man says he loves God, and 
hates his brother, he is a liar;" but I do not hate my brethren of the 
human family. I fear, however, that I cannot love them as I ought. 
But God. I hope and trust, will in his good time put better disposi- 
tions into my heart. There are few of them, I am persuaded, more 
undeserving of love than I am. 

March 2. Every day brings with it new evidences of my weak- 
ness and utter inability, of myself, to do any good thing, or even to 
conceive a single good thought. With the unhappy father in the 
Gospel, I cry out, " Lord ! I believe, help thou mine unbelief." 
When I think of the goodness, and wisdom, and power of God, I seem, 
in my own eyes, a devil in all but strength. I say this to you, who 
will not ascribe it to affected humility. Sometimes I have better 
views, but again I am weighed down to the very earth, or lost in a 
labyrinth of doubts and perplexities. The hardness of my own 
heart grieves and astonishes me. Then, again, I settle down in a 
state of coldness and indifference, which is worse than all. But the 
quivering of our frail flesh, often the effect of physical causes, cannot 
detract from the mercy of our Creator, and to him I commit myself. 
" Thy will be done !" " 

M does not "give me all the news," nor, indeed, any for a 

long time past. At the commencement of the session of Congress, he 
wrote pretty frequently, and through him I heard of you. It would 
delight me very much to spend a few weeks with you. I would even 
try to be an usher in your school. [Mr. Key was teaching his own 



96 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

children.] At least, I could teach the younger children to read. 
Give my love to them all, and to their mother. 1 had a sister once, 
and I never think of her without being reminded of Mrs. Key. 

I have not read Cunningham's poem. Is it the author of " The 
Velvet Cushion ?" I have lately met with an entertaining work from 
the pen of an English Jacobin, Hazlitt's Character of Shakspeare ; 
and have tried to read Coleridge's Literary Life. There are fine pas- 
sages, but his mysticism is too deep for me. I have seen, too, a ro- 
mance, called the Life of Patrick Henry — a wretched piece of fus- 
tian. 

I have not turned entirely a savage, although a man of the 
woods, and almost wild. Bodily motion seems to be some relief to 
mental uneasiness, and I was delighted yesterday morning to hear 
that the snipes are come. On this subject of mental malady, it ap- 
pears that madness is almost epidemic among us. Many cases have 
appeared in Petersburg and elsewhere. In this county we had a 
preacher of the Methodist sect (not itinerant), a man of excellent 
character and very good sense. He was generally esteemed, and al- 
though quite poor, by the aid of a notable wife lived neatly and com- 
fortably. Last winter the clerk of our county died, and this preacher, 
by diligent canvass, got the place by one vote, in a court of more than 
twenty magistrates. From the time that he commenced his canvass 
his manners changed. A still further change was perceptible after 
he got the office ; and -a few weeks ago he got quite insane. His 
friends set off with him on a journey to Georgia. But the first night 
he gave them the slip, and is supposed to have drowned himself. I 
heard yesterday that a party were out seeking for him. He had taken 
laudanum for the purpose of suicide, but his stomach would not re- 
tain it. Some ascribe his malady to remorse, others to the effects of 
sudden prosperity. This county seems to labor under a judgment. 
It has been conspicuous for the order and morality of the inhabit- 
ants ; and such is the general character, I hope, yet. But within 
two or three years past it has been the theatre of crimes of the 
deepest atrocity. Within a few months there have occurred two in- 
stances of depravity, the most shocking that can be conceived. But 
I am giving you a county history, instead of a letter. Farewell, my 
dear friend ; while I have life I am yours. 

Richmond, April 29, 1818. 

Dear Frank — On my arrival here the day before yesterday, I 
found the picture and the picture-frame which poor L. left for me. 

Wood has again failed, but not so entirely as at first. It is you 
in some of your humors, but neither your serious nor more cheerful 
face. It shall hang, however, near my bed, and I hope will prove a 
benefit as well as a pleasure to me. My love to Mrs. Key. I hope 



CONVERSION. 97 

she has presented you with a better likeness of yourself than any 
painter can draw. If I could envy you, I should covet one of your 
boys, and. perhaps, one of your girls too, if I were not so old. . 

I have " read Manfred," and was overpowered by the intense 
misery of the writer. Unless he shall seek refuge above, where alone it 
is to be found, it is to be feared madness, perhaps suicide, is his portion. 
It created in me the strongest interest for the unhappy author, and I 
actually projected writing him a letter, such a one as could have dis- 
pleased no man, and might, perhaps, have done good. The air of pre- 
sumption which such a step might carry with it made me drop the 
" notion." 

I have long been satisfied in my own mind respecting the princi- 
ples, political, moral, and religious, of the journal you mention. I 
suspect Franklin's were not very different. I am gratified, however, 
at this castigation of that caricature of a caricature, Phillips. He 
" out-Currans" Curran. 

I do not take, but shall order the Christian Observer. I have 

seen many of the numbers, and found them admirable. 

" Fare thee well, and if for ever, 
Still for ever fare thee well." 

I regret the stifling of your poetical bantling. Can't you send me 
some of the " disjecta membra ?" There is no need of a bottle of spirits 
of wine to preserve them in apothecary fashion. On reaching this 
place, I found my poor nephew, who has been a tenant of the man- 
sion that inspired your muse. Sir P. Francis is not Junius, the 
reviewer to the contrary notwithstanding. 

On his return from Richmond, Mr. Randolph sank down into the 
deepest melancholy ; some even allege that it amounted to an aberra- 
tion of mind — to positive delirium. The reader is aware that for years 
previous to this time, the deepest gloom, lasting many days in succes- 
sion, overshadowed his mind, evincing the existence of some corroding 
care, for which he neither sought, nor would receive, any' sympathy. 

The subject of religion had become the all-absorbing theme 
of his meditations. God, freedom, and immortality ; sin, death, and 
the grave ; Christ, redemption, and free grace, are " high matters," 
well calculated, at any time, to disturb the strongest intellect. 

But when we come to consider the solitude in which he lived, 
the emaciated condition of his delicate frame, worn down by long and 
torturing disease, the irritable state of his nervous system — " he was 
almost like a man without a skin" — the constant and sleepless excite- 
ment of his mental faculties and of his brilliant imagination induced 
by this morbid irritability ; when we throw ourselves into his condi- 

VOL. II. 5 



98 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tion, and conceive of the crowd of burning thoughts that pressed upon 
his mind, pass in melancholy review the many friends that had been 
torn from him by the hand of death, the many who had forgotten him 
and forsaken him as a fallen man, no longer serviceable to them ; call to 
remembrance that his own father's house was desolate, St. George in 
the mad-house, himself, like Logan, alone in his cabin, without a drop 
of his father's blood save that which coursed in his own well-nigh ex- 
hausted veins ; and, above all, when we call to remembrance his first, 
his youthful, and his only love, which is said to have greatly revived 
in his mind at this time with the painful yet hallowed associations 
that clustered around its cherished memory, who can wonder that a 
man, with the temperament of John Randolph, under these circum- 
stances should fling away all restraint, and should cry aloud in the 
anguish of his soul, and should so act and speak as to excite the 
astonishment of those around, and induce them to believe that he 
was a madman ! In a similar situation David was a madman ; Byron 
was a madman ; Rousseau — all high-souled, deep-feeling men of 
genius, in the eye of the world were madmen. 

Dr. Dudley says, that for many weeks his conduct towards him- 
self, who was the only inmate of his household, had been marked by 
contumelious indignities, which required almost heroic patience to 
endure, even when aided by a warm and affectionate devotion, and an 
anxious wish to alleviate the agonies of such a mind. All hope of 
attaining this end, he says, finally failed, and he announced to Mr. 
Randolph his determination no longer to remain with him. Mr. 
Randolph then addressed him the following letter, so full of affec- 
tion and tenderness, that it shows his best friends did not understand 
him, and that in his dark days of horror, when caprice and petulance 
marked his conduct, they did him a cimel injustice by supposing that 
the harsh expression or extravagant conduct, forced out by the an- 
guish of his soul, was really intended as a premeditated injury to 
their feelings. 

"August, 1818. 

" I consider myself under obligations to you that I can never re- 
pay. I have considered you as a blessing sent to me by Providence, 
in my old age, to repay the desertion of my other friends and nearer 
connections. It is in your power (if you please) to repay me all the 
debt of gratitude that you insist upon being due to me ; although I 
consider myself, in a pecuniary point of view, largely a gainer by 



CONVERSION. 99 

our connection. But if you are unwilling to do so, I must be content 
to give up my last stay upon earth ; for I shall, in that case, send the 
boys to their parents. Without you, I cannot live here at all, and 
will not. What it is that has changed your manner towards me, I 
cannot discover. I have ascribed it to the disease (hypochondriasis) 
by which you are afflicted, and which affects the mind and temper, as 
well as the animal faculties. In your principles, I have as unbounded 
confidence as I have in those of any man on earth. Your disinterest- 
edness, integrity, and truth, would extort my esteem and respect, even 
if I were disposed to withhold them. I love you as my own son — would 
to God you were ! I see, I think, into your heart — mine is open 
before you, if you will look into it. Nothing could ever eradicate 
this affection, which surpasses that of any other person (as I believe) 
on earth. Your parents have other children — I have only you. 
But I see you wearing out your time and wasting away in this desert, 
where you have no society such as your time of life, habits, and taste 
require. I have looked at you often engaged in contributing to my 
advantage and comfort, with tears in my eyes, and thought I was self- 
ish and cruel in sacrificing you to my interest. I am going from 
home ; will you take care of my affairs until I return ? I ask it as a 
favor. It is possible that we may not meet again ; but, if I get more 
seriously sick at the springs than I am now, I will send for you, un- 
less you will go with me to the White Sulphur Springs. Wherever 
I am, my heart will love you as long as it beats. From your boy- 
hood I have not been lavish of reproof upon you. Recollect my 
past life." 

Mr. Randolph set out on his journey to the Springs — spent some 
days in Lynchburg — went as far as Bottetourt County — ascended 
the Peaks of Otter, the highest point of the Blue Ridge Mountains 
in Virginia — and then returned home to Roanoke. There seems to 
have been a total change in his mind about this time. From the 
deepest gloom and despondency, he seems to have attained clearness 
and satisfaction on the subject of religion. He said they wanted him 
to go to the Springs, but he had found a spring here, on this hill (Roa- 
noke), more efficacious — a well — a fountain of living waters. He 
thus writes to Mr. Key : 

Roanoke, Sept, 7, 1818. 
Congratulate me, dear Frank — wish me joy you need not ; give 
it you cannot — I am at last reconciled to my God, and have assur- 
ance of his pardon, through faith in Christ, against which the very 
gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect 
love. I now know that you know how I feel ; and within a month, 



100 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

for the first time, I understand your feelings and character, and that 
of every real Christian. Love to Mrs. Key and your brood. 

I am not now afraid of being " righteous overmuch," or of 
" Methodistical notions." 

Thine, in Truth, 

J. R. of R. 

Let Meade know the glad tidings, and let him, if he has kept it, 
read and preserve my letter to him from Richmond years ago. 

He thus writes to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

September 25. 

My good Friend, — I am sorry that Quashee should intrude 
upon you unreasonably. The old man, I suppose, knows the pleasure 
I take in your letters, and therefore feels anxious to procure his mas- 
ter the gratification. I cannot, however, express sorrow — for I do 
not feel it — at the impression which you tell me my last letter made 
upon you. May it lead to the same happy consequences that I have 
experienced — which I now feel — in that sunshine of the heart, 
which the peace of God, that passeth all understanding, alone can 
bestow ! 

Your imputing such sentiments to a heated imagination does not 
surprise me, who have been bred in the school of Hobbs and Bayle, 
and Shaftesbury and Bolingbroke, and Hume and Voltaire and Gib- 
bon ; who have cultivated the skeptical philosophy from my vain- 
glorious boyhood — I might almost say childhood — and who have felt 
all that unutterable disgust which hypocrisy and cant and fanaticism 
never fail to excite in men of education and refinement, superadded 
to our natural repugnance to Christianity. I am not, even now, in- 
sensible to this impression ; but as the excesses of her friends (real 
or pretended) can never alienate the votary of liberty from a free 
form of government, and enlist him under the banners of despot- 
ism, so neither can the cant of fanaticism, or hypocrisy, or of both 
(for so far from being incompatible, they are generally found united 
in the same character — may God in his mercy preserve and defend 
us from both) disgust the pious with true religion. 

Mine has been no sudden change of opinion. I can refer to a 
record, showing, on my part, a desire of more than nine years' standing, 
to partake of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ; although, for two- 
and-twenty years preceding, my feet had never crossed the threshold 
of the house of prayer. This desire I was restrained from indulging, 
by the fear of eating and drinking unrighteously. And although 
that fear hath been cast out by perfect love, I have never yet gone to 
the altar, neither have I been present at the performance of divine ser- 
vice, unless indeed I may so call my reading the liturgy of our church, 



CONVERSION. 101 

and some chapters of the Bible to my poor negroes on Sundays. Such 
passages as I think require it, and which I feel competent to explain, 
I comment upon — enforcing as far as possible, and dwelling upon, 
those texts especially that enjoin the indispensable accompaniment 
of a good life as the touchstone of the true faith. The Sermon from 
the Mount, and the Evangelists generally ; the Epistle of Paul to the 
Ephesians, chap. vi. ; the General Epistle of James, and the First 
Epistle of John ; these are my chief texts. 

The consummation of my conversion — I use the word in its 
strictest sense — is owing to a variety of causes, but chiefly to the con- 
viction, unwillingly forced upon me, that the very few friends which 
an unprosperous life (the fruit of an ungovernable temper) had left 
me were daily losing their hold upon me, in a firmer grasp of am- 
bition, avarice, or sensuality. I am not sure that, to complete the 
anti-climax, avarice should not have been last ; for although, in some 
of its effects, debauchery be more disgusting than avarice, yet, as it 
regards the unhappy victim, this last is more to be dreaded. Dissi- 
pation, as well as power or prosperity, hardens the heart ; but avarice 
deadens it to every feeling but the thirst for riches. Avarice alone 
could have produced the slave-trade ; avarice alone can drive, as it 
does drive, this infernal traffic, and the wretched victims of it, like so 
many post-horses, whipped to death in a mail-coach. Ambition has 
its reward in the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war ; but 
where are the trophies of avarice ? — the handcuff, the manacle, and 
the blood-stained cowhide 1 What man is worse received in society 

for being a hard master ? Every day brings to light some H e 

or H ns in our own boasted land of liberty ! Who denies the 

hand of a sister or daughter to such monsters 1 Nay, they have even 
appeared in " the abused shape of the vilest of women." I say 
nothing of India, or Amboyna, of Cortez or Pizarro. 

When I was last in your town I was inexpressibly shocked (and 
perhaps I am partly indebted to the circumstance for accelerating my 
emancipation) to hear, on the threshold of the temple of the least 
erect of all the spirits that fell from heaven, these words spoken, by 
a man second to none in this nation in learning or abilities ; one, too, 
whom I had, not long before, seen at the table of our Lord and 
Saviour : '• I do not want the Holy Ghost (I shudder while I write), 
or any other spirit in me. If these doctrines are true (St. Paul's), 
there was no need for Wesley and Whitfield to have separated from 
the church. The Methodists are right, and the church wrong. I 
want to see the old church," &c. &c. : that is, such as this diocese was 
under Bishop Terrick, when wine-bibbing and buck-parsons were sent 
out to preach ' : a dry clatter of morality," and not the word of God, 
for 16,000 lbs. of tobacco. When I speak of morality it is not as 
condemning it ; religion includes it, but much more. Day is now 



102 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

breaking and I shall extinguish my candles, which are better than no 
light ; or if I do not. in the presence of the powerful king of day 
they will be noticed only by the dirt and ill savor that betray all 
human contrivances, the taint of humanity. Morality is to the Gospel 
not even as a farthing rushlight to the blessed sun. 

By the way, this term Methodist in religion is of vast compass 
and effect, like tory in politics, or aristocrate in Paris, " with the 
lamp-post for its second," some five or six-and-twenty years ago. 

Dr. Hoge? " a Methodist parson." Frank Key? " a fanatic," (I 
heard him called so not ten days ago,) "a Methodistical, whining, &c, 
&c." Wilberforce? "a Methodist." Mrs. Hannah More? "ditto." 
It ought never to be forgotten, that real converts to Christianity on 
opposite sides of the globe agree at the same moment to the same 
facts. Thus Dr. Hoge and Mr. Key, although strangers, understand 
perfectly what each other feels and believes. 

If I were to show a MS. in some unknown tongue to half a dozen 
persons, strangers to each other and natives of different countries, 
and they should all give me the same translation, could I doubt their 
acquaintance with the strange language? On the contrary, can I, 
who am but a sinatterer in Greek, believe an interpreter who pretends 
to a knowledge of that tongue, and yet cannot tell the meaning of 

TVTTTCO 1 

I now read with relish and understand St. Paul's epistles, which 
not long since I could not comprehend, even with the help of Mr. 
Locke's paraphrase. Taking up, a few days ago, at an " ordinary," 
the life of John Bunyan, which I had never before read, I find an 
exact coincidence in our feelings and opinions on this head, as well 
as others. 

Very early in life I imbibed an absurd prejudice in favor of 
Mahomedanism and its votaries. The crescent had a talismanic 
effect on my imagination, and I rejoiced in all its triumphs over the 
cross (which I despised) as I mourned over its defeats ; and Mahomet 
II. himself did not more exult than I did, when the crescent was 
planted on the dome of St. Sophia, and the cathedral of the Con- 
stantines was converted into a Turkish mosque. To this very day I 
feel the effects of Peter Randolph's Zanga on a temper naturally im- 
patient of injury, but insatiably vindictive under insult. 

On the night that I wrote last to you I scribbled a pack of non- 
sense to Bootes, which serves only to show the lightness of my heart. 
About the same time, in reply to a question from a friend. I made the 
following remarks, which, as I was weak from long vigilance, I re- 
quested him to write down, that I might, when at leisure, copy it into 
my diary. From it you will gather pretty accurately the state of my 
mind. 

I have been up long before day, and write with pain, from a sense 



CONVERSION. 103 

of duty to you and Mrs. B., in whose welfare I take the most earnest 
concern. You have my prayers : give me yours, I pray you. 

Adieu ! 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 

I was on the top of the pinnacle of Otter this day fortnight : a 
little above the earth, but how far beneath heaven ! 

" Note. — It is my business to avoid giving offence to the world, 
especially in all matters merely indifferent. I shall therefore stick 
to my old uniform, blue and buff, unless God sees fit to change it for 
black. I must be as attentive to my dress, and to household affairs, 
as far as cleanliness and comfort are concerned, as ever, and indeed 
more so. Let us take care to drive none away from God by dress- 
ing religion in the garb of fanaticism. Let us exhibit her as she is, 
equally removed from superstition and lukewarmness. But we must 
take care, that while we avoid one extreme we fall not into the other ; 
no matter which. I was born and baptized in the Church of Eng- 
land. If I attend the Convention at Charlottesville, which I rather 
doubt, I shall oppose myself then and always to every attempt at 
encroachment on the part of the church, the clergy especially, on the 
rights of conscience. I attribute, in a very great degree, my long 
estrangement from God to my abhorrence of prelatical pride and 
puritanical preciseness ; to ecclesiastical tyranny, whether Roman 
Catholic or Protestant; whether of Henry V. or Henry VIII ; of 
Mary or Elizabeth ; of John Knox or Archbishop Laud : of the 
Cameronians of Scotland, the Jacobins of France, or the Protestants 
of Ireland. Should I fail to attend, it will arise from a repugnance 
to submit the religion, or church, any more than the liberty of my 
country, to foreign influence. "When I speak of my country, I mean 
the Commonwealth of Virginia. I was born in allegiance to George 
III. ; the Bishop of London ( Terrick !) was my diocesan. My an- 
cestors threw off the oppressive yoke of the mother country, but they 
never made me subject to New England in matters spiritual or tem- 
poral ; neither do I mean to become so, voluntarily." 

Mr. Key, on getting the news of his friend's conversion, responded 
in this wise : — 

" I do. indeed, my dear friend, rejoice with you — I have long 
wished, and often believed with confidence, that you would experience 
what God has now blessed you with. I need not tell you (if I could) 
of its value, for I trust you feel it to be 'unspeakable.' May the 
grace that has brought you from ' darkness to light,' from ' death to 
life,' keep you forever ! 

" Nor do I rejoice merely on your own account or mine. The 



104 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

wonders that God is every where doing show us that these are no or- 
dinary times, and justify us in hoping and expecting for greater mani- 
festations of his power and goodness. You stand on an eminence — 
' let your light shine' brightly, that all may see it — steadily, that they 
may know whence it comes, and ' glorify your Father which is in 
heaven.' 

" Write to me often and particularly ; ' out of the abundance of the 
heart the mouth speaketh :' and may I always hear that you are fol- 
lowing the guidance of that blessed Spirit that will ' lead you into all 
truth,' leaning on that Almighty arm that has been extended to deliver 
you, trusting only in the only Saviour, and ' going on' in your way to 
him ' rejoicing.' 



CHAPTEK X. 

IDIOSYNCRACIES. 

A quick, intuitive understanding, a vivid imagination, an irritable 
temper, superadded to an extremely delicate and diseased constitu- 
tion, produced a complicated character in John Randolph, that ren- 
dered him remarkably sensitive to outward influences. He was, 
indeed, a creature of impulse, influenced for the time being by the cir- 
cumstances by which he was surrounded. Things that could produce 
no impression on men of less delicate sensibility, would affect him 
most seriously. An east wind, that could produce no impression on 
the cold, phlegmatic temperament of Dr. Johnson, operated on the 
nerves of John Randolph like a sirocco of the desert. He was gen- 
erally disposed to look on the dark side of the picture, to imagine the 
worst, and suffer intensely from an anticipation of what might never 
happen. 

So long as he lived in solitude, unaffected by the influences of the 
busy world, his mind dwelt for the most part on religious subjects ; 
but when again thrown into the excited arena of political strife, he per- 
ceived so clearly, by a sort of intuition as it were, the lowest intrigues 
of party politicians, felt so intensely the meanness and baseness of 
their trafficking purposes, that he was often betrayed into a harshness 
of expression and an extravagance of behavior, that might lead one 
unacquainted with his peculiar temperament to suppose that he was 



IDIOSYNCRACIES. 1Q5 

a man of a vindictive and unfeeling temper that delighted in the tor- 
ture of others, while he was himself uninfluenced by a moral or reli- 
gious restraint of any kind. No man was more conscious than he 
of this peculiarity of his nature, or more deeply deplored its conse- 
quences. The reader will perceive, through all his correspondence, 
that he did not conceal from his friends these deformities of charac- 
ter, and that he never relaxed in earnest efforts — however useless 
they may have proved — to overcome and to correct the unfortunate 
deficiencies of his nature. 

During the present year (1819) there was a general pecuniary em- 
barrassment and distress in the country. Mr. Randolph lost a large 
sum of money deposited in the hands of a mercantile firm in Rich- 
mond. He is said to have been deeply affected by this occurrence, 
and, as might have been expected, spoke in harsh terms of the delin- 
quent merchants 

Frequent allusion is made to the subject in the following corres- 
pondence, though religion is the principal theme. 

Richmond, May 3, 1819.— Sunday. 

Dear Frank : — It is so long since I heard from you that I almost 
begin to think that you have struck me out of your books. I had, 
however, the gratification to hear of you through Mr. Meade, whom 
I had not the good fortune to see as he passed through this town, 
having left it on the day of his arrival. You have no conception 
of the gloom and distress that pervade this place. There has been 
nothing like it since 1 785, when, from the same causes (paper money 
and a general peace) there was a general depression of every thing. 
It seems to me, my dear friend, that in the present instance we are 
punished in the offending member, if I may so express myself. We 
have been the devoted worshippers of mammon, and in our darling 
wealth we are made to suffer. May it be the means of opening our 
eyes to the folly and sinfulness of our past conduct, and of inducing 
us to lay up treasure where moth corrupteth not and thieves do not 
break in and steal. 

Very contrary to my judgment, and yet more against my feelings, 
I am again a public man. The application was made in a way that I 
could not with propriety resist. I was called upon (among other con- 
siderations) to Li redeem a pledge" and to prevent a contest for the 
Representation of the District. My views upon the subject of pub- 
lic affairs, as well as other matters, are far other than they have been. 
I now see in its full deformity the wickedness of Party Spirit, of 

VOL. II. 5* 



106 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

which I was so long a votary, and I look forward to the next winter 
with no other pleasant anticipation but that of seeing you. 

Poor H n ! He is gone, I see, to his account. I heard with 

much gratification that he had been long engaged in serious prepara- 
tion for this awful change. How poor and pitiful now seem all the 
angry and malevolent feelings of which he was the author or the 
object ! My dear Frank, what is there in this world to satisfy the 
cravings of an immortal nature % I declare to you that the business 
and pleasures of it seem to me as of no more consequence than the 
game of push-pin that occupies the little negroes at the corner of the 
street. 

Do not misunderstand me, my dear friend. My life (I am 
ashamed to confess it) does not correspond with my belief. I have 
made a vile return for the goodness which has been manifested to- 
wards me — but I still cling to the cross of my Redeemer, and with 
God's aid firmly resolve to lead a life less unworthy of one who calls 
himself the humble follower of Jesus Christ. I am here on a busi- 
ness of much consequence to me. It is to draw, if I can, a sum of 
money from the hands of a merchant which has been appropriated to 
an object which I have long had at heart. I have some fears of 
losing it ; but if I do, I have the fullest confidence that I ought ; and 
must devise some other provision against the daily nightmare that 
has so long oppressed me. You will be at no loss to conjecture the 
subject. 

Since I saw you, I have become more infirm and more indolent 
than ever. This last is my besetting sin. My spirits often desert 
me, and indeed it is no matter of wonder ; for a more forlorn and des- 
titute creature can hardly be found. I have outlived my relations 
and friends, except a few who are far away. 

On the subject of his return to Congress, Key replies : — 

" You know my opinion about public life — that a man has no more 
right to decline it than to seek it. I do not know, perhaps, all its dangers, 
but I have no doubt they are great. But whatever they be, the grace 
of God is sufficient for them, and he who enters upon them with a 
sole view to his glory, and depends entirely on his grace, will find 
' crooked things made straight,' and the mountains made plains be- 
fore him. Certainly in such a state, a man who lives ' by faith and 
not by sight' can evidently serve the cause of religion, and I trust 
and pray that thus your light may shine. 

"You will indeed be set ' on a hill.' Innumerable eyes will be 
fastened on you. The men of the world will look for something with 
which they may reproach you, and your faith ; while ' the blessed com- 
pany of all faithful people : will look to see if they may ' take know- 
ledge of you. that you have been with Christ ' — may they have to 
i thank God always for you !' 



IDIOSYNCRACIES. 107 

" You have no idea what an interest is excited in your behalf among 
religious persons I believe that many a fervent prayer is offered 
up for you by people who never saw your face." 

To whom thus Randolph : — 

" Your letter has produced a strange and indescribable feeling. 
That I, who have long been an object of malevolence or indifference to 
most of them that know me, should receive the prayers of strangers ! 
May God bless all such charitable souls. Perhaps if we were to- 
gether I could explain the state of my feelings — on paper I find it 
out of my power to do so. When I think on Mr. Hoge, our friend 
Meade and some others, I am almost driven to despair. To divest 
ourselves of our human feelings, is, I know, impossible — neither have 
I ever supposed it otherwise. But there are times when they quite 
overcome me, and when the chaos of my mind can be compared with 
nothing but the state that poor Cowper was in before he found peace, 
or rather after the death of Mrs. Erwin. But at my gloomiest mo- 
ments,when I think how much less I suffer than I have deserved — when 
I remember that ' he who bore in heaven the second name had not 
on earth whereon to lay his head,' and that he died the death of the 
Cross — when I think how far my ingratitude to God transcends all 
other human ingratitude — the treachery and unthankfulness of man- 
kind vanish before these considerations, and I cry out, ' not my will 
but thy will be done.' But although I can suffer, I cannot do ; and 
my life is running off in indolent speculations upon my duty, instead 
of being devoted to its performance. Amidst all these lamentable 
failures, however, I hold fast my resolution, with his gracious assist- 
ance, to put my whole trust in God, to pour out my whole soul in 
fervent prayer ; and in his good time he may increase my strength 
to wrestle with the temptations that beset me. By the late bank- 
ruptcies I am reduced from ease and independence to debt and 
straitened circumstances. I have endavored in vain to sell a part of 
my property at a reduced price, to meet my engagements. 

" I had not heard of M 's death. May our latter end be like 

his. Indeed I am here entirely removed from the converse of my 
species. I know not what is doing in the world ; but even in this 
retreat the groans of the children of mammon sometimes break upon 
my ear. If I cannot arrange my affairs I fear I must resign my seat. 
I say " I fear," because I would avoid all appearance of fickleness and 
caprice. What you tell me ought to nerve my resolution. Alas ! it 
is in the persons of her friends and from their hands that religion 
receives her deadliest wounds. God grant that I may always bear 
this in mind, and that this consideration may deter me from much 
evil, and spur me on to do good." 

August 8th, 1819. — " You have formed too favorable an opinion of 



108 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

my state, which too often reminds me of the seed that ' fell upon stony 
places.' This is not said out of any affected humility, far worse than 
the highest presumption, hut from a comparison of the fruit with what 
the tree ought to bear. 

" Can there he faith even as a grain of mustard seed when such is 
the life ? It has pleased God to visit us with the most destructive 
drought in the memory of any living man. Great apprehensions are 
entertained of famine, hut I trust that he who feedeth the young 
ravens will not suffer us to starve. Indeed, so far from being over- 
careful and troubled about the things of this world, I am culpably 
remiss respecting them, and this indolent supineness had led to more 
than one evil consequence. I am worn out, body and mind, and the 
least exertion, corporeal or intellectual, exhausts me entirely. Even 
the writing of this letter will be sensibly felt. Whilst you and others 
of my friends are bearing the heat and burthen of the day, I am 
languishing in inglorious indolence. 

" I am more than satiated with the world. It is to me a fearful 
prison-house of guilt and misery. I fear that my feelings towards it 
are not always sufficiently charitable ; but an eternity here would be 
punishment enough for the worst offenders. Towards the meeting of 
Congress I look forward with no agreeable anticipations. lam sen- 
sible of a great decline of my faculties, not the less injurious from 
being premature. In short, I have lost all hope of public service, 
and whithersoever I direct my eyes a dark cloud seems to impend. 
This gloom is not constitutional. It is the result of sad experience 
of myself as well as others. I would not have you think that it is 
accompanied by a spirit of repining ; far from it. I adore the good- 
ness and the wisdom of God, and submit myself to his mercy most 
implicitly, acknowledging that if he were to deal with me according 
to my deserts ' I couhi not abide it.' My own short-comings are the 
sources of my regrets, ' and why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not 
the things that I say V This, my dear friend, troubles me by day 
and by night. 'Tis not what others do, but what I do, or omit, that 
annoys me. 

" Cases of insanity and suicide (although not so numerous as might 
have been expected, judging from the effects of the South Sea and 
Mississippi bubbles) have not been unfrequent in this quarter. As 
many as three ministers of the gospel, and several other devout 
professors, have ended their lives by their own hands. I wish you 
had been a little more explicit on the Baltimore matters. There are 
many individuals there that I personally wish well to, and would 
be glad to hear that they had escaped the general contamination." 

" I am sorry," says Key in response, " to observe your despond- 
ing feelings ; you must fight your way through them. ' Heaviness 
may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' The Chris- 



IDIOSYNCRACIES. 109 

tian must always lament his remaining corruptions, and that the 
fruits of his faith correspond so little with what he intends and de- 
sires. But that he brings forth any fruit is matter of rejoicing, for 
it is the work of grace ; and he has cause to be thankful for this very 
desire to do better — and he has the consolation of a clear promise 
from God that he will not leave his work undone, but that this grace 
shall make him ' abound more and more in every good word and 
work.' 

" In the seasons of despondency which I have felt, great relief has 
been afforded to my mind by the Psalms. I often come to passages 
that seem to be spoken right at me, and joy and peace were ' shed 
abroad in my heart.' I think they would be blessed in the same way 
to you. Have you read Miss Taylor's Poems 1 You may see them 
reviewed in the Christian Observer. I send you a Magazine that is 
published here, which I hope will be faithfully conducted. 

" I would tell you more of these Baltimore troubles and abomi- 
nations, but I really know very little about them. I understand the 
grand jury, at their late court, have found indictments against many 
of them." 

To which Randolph replied, August 22d : 

" Your letter of the 16th has just arrived to cheer my solitude. 
Acceptable as it is, it would not have been so promptly acknowledged 
but for what you say about the Psalms. Once, of all the books of 
Holy Writ, they were my especial aversion ; but, thanks be to God ! 
they have long constituted a favorite portion of that treasure of wis- 
dom. As you say, many passages seem written ' right at me.' It 
is there that I find my sin and sorrows depicted by a fellow-sinner 
and fellow-sufferer ; and there too I find consolation. I chiefly read 
the version in the Book of Common Prayer, and mine is scored and 
marked from one end to the other. ' Why art thou so heavy, my 
soul 1 and why art thou so disquieted within me ? put thy trust 
in God, for I will yet give him thanks, which is the help of my coun- 
tenance and my God.' " 

After making inquiries about many of his old friends, some of 
whom, he feared, had gone by the board in the general wreck, he thus 
continues : 

" I do assure you that I sometimes look back upon old times until 
it seems a dream ; but it is a dream that often draws tears in my 
eyes. 

" Miss Key (your uncle Philip's daughter) is, I presume, unmar- 
ried ; for there was nobody in the district deserving of her, when I 
knew it, and she has too much good sense to throw herself away on 
flimsy members of Congress or diplomatic adventurers. I often think 



HO LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

of the pain I suffered at her father's, more than eleven years ago ; 
of the kindness and attention I then received. Cripple as I then 
thought myself, I had no forecast that in so short a time I should be 
almost superannuated. My sight is nearly gone, and my memory of 
recent events no better. When you see or hear from Mr. Meade, 
mention me in the warmest terms of regard and respect. * * * * In 
your next I expect a dish of chit-chat. P. S. I wish the first leisure 
half hour you light upon you would take up your pen and tell me all 
about it. ' About what?' Why, every thing and every body. There's 
that fine fellow, D. M — y, whom you have not once named ; nor J. 

C n, whom, for the life of me, I can hear nothing about — whether 

he has gone to pieces in the general wreck ? I speak of his fortune, 
for my confidence in his principles is unshaken. Then there is your 
friend Mr. T. 

" You see, Frank, that I am, indeed, growing old, and, like other 
dotards, delight in garrulity and gossip. To tell you the truth, I 
stay here, and look at the trees until I almost conceit myself a dryad ; 
at least you perceive I am no grammarian." 

To Dr. Brockenbrough he speaks more unreservedly on all sub- 
jects than to any other man. Take the following letters, written 
about the same time as those addressed to Mr. Key : 

" I was very glad to learn from Quashee that you were well enough 
to walk the streets when he was in Richmond. I make it almost a 
matter of conscience, notwithstanding, to bore you with my letters ; 
but I must beg you to take into consideration that I am cut off from 
all intercourse with the rest of the world, and unable to obtain the 
slightest information of what is passing in it. It would be a charity 
to drop me a line now and then. I have hardly seen a white face 
since I got home, until last evening, when Colonel C. showed me a 
letter from T. asking a discharge from him and his brother and son- 
in-law. If I had had any expectations from that quarter, this let- 
ter would have put an end to them. T. and M. will receive no release 
from me. I will not persecute them : but their conduct deserves 
no indulgence. I had intended to have been in Richmond ten days 
ago, but my health is so deplorably bad that I cannot venture to leave 
my own house even for a day ; and it is well for me. Here, then, I 
must live, and here I must die, ' a lone and banished man ;' and what 
banishment can be worse than his who is ashamed to show his face to 
society? I nerve myself up to bear it as I would to undergo a sur- 
gical operation ; but the cases are widely different. The one must 
soon end in a cure, or in death ; but every succeeding day brings no 
relief, but utter aggravation of wretchedness, to the other. These 
days, however, God be praised ! must have an end. 

" An Enquirer fell into my hands yesterday. What a contrast be- 



IDIOSYNCRACIES. HI 

tween the universal cry of the country and the testimony of our gra- 
cious sovereign to our great and increasing prosperity ! You have 
them in the same columns. It will make a figure in Europe. Bal- 
timore seems to have suffered not less than Richmond. Pray let me 
know if S. and B. have failed ; and, if you can, the cause of J. S. 
leaving the Bank of Baltimore. 

K My best respects to Mrs. B. These glaring long days make me 
think of her. I lie in bed as long as I can to shorten them, and 
keep my room darkened. Perhaps a strait waistcoat would not be 
amiss. Have E. and A. stopped ? Farewell. If we ever meet again, 
it must be here. Should I ever get in reach of a ship bound to any 
foreign land, I will endeavor to lose sight of this for ever." 

To the same : 

" I have long been indebted to you for your letter by Mr. Wat- 
kins, which reminded me of those which I used to receive from you 
some years ago, when I was not so entirely unable as I am now to 
make a suitable return to my correspondents. I feel most seriously 
this incapacity and deplore it, but for the life of me I cannot rouse 
myself to take an interest in the affairs of this • trumpery world ' as 
' the antiquary ' calls it, and with a curious felicity of expression ; 
for it is upon a larger scale what a strolling play-house is upon a 
smaller, all outside show and tinsel and frippery, and wretchedness. 
There are to be sure a few, a very few, who are what they seem to be. 
But this ought to concern me personally as little as any one ; for 
I have no intercourse with those around me. I often mount my 
horse and sit upon him ten or fifteen minutes, wishing to go some- 
where but not knowing where to ride, for I would escape any where 
from the incubus that weighs me down, body and soul ; but the fiend 
follows me ' ex croupa.' You can have no conception of the intense- 
ness of this wretchedness, which in its effect on my mind I can com- 
pare to nothing but that of a lump of ice on the pulse of the wrist, 
which I have tried when a boy. And why do I obtrude all this upon 
you? Because from the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh. I 
can be and am silent for days and weeks together, except on indiffe- 
rent subjects ; but if I address myself to a friend, the misery that 
preys upon me will not be suppressed. The strongest considerations 
of duty are barely sufficient to prevent me from absconding to some 
distant country, where I might live and die unknown. There is a 
selfishness in our occupations and pursuits, after the first gloss of 
youth has worn off, that hardens us against our fellow-men. This I 
now know to be the necessary consequence of our nature, but it is 
not therefore the less revolting I had hoped to divert the gloom that 
overhangs me by writing this letter at the instigation of old Quashee, 
but I struggle against it in vain. Is it not Dr. Johnson who says 
that to attempt ' to thiuk it down is madness ? ' 



112 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

11 Your brother William and myself hit upon the same 4th of July- 
toast with some variation ; mine was ' State Rights, de mortuis nil 
nisi bonum? It will hardly appear in the newspapers. I agree with 
you on the subject of the Bankrupt Law, with some shades of differ- 
ence. I would not have the General Government touch the subject 
at all. But some mode I think ought to be devised for setting aside 
the present shameful practices : robbing one man to pay another, &c. 

After a good deal about the pecuniary embarrassment of the 
times, and many friends who were involved in the catastrophe, the 
letter thus concludes : 

" My best regards to Mrs. B. Tell her I have read nothing for 
six weeks, being ' high gravel blind,' and having nothing to read 
but old standard authors, who are too solid for my weak stomach 
and this hot weather. Adieu ! 

Yours truly, 

J. R. of Roanoke. 
A worn-out man and pen. 



CHAPTEE XI. 

CONGRESS — POLITICAL PARTIES. 

After Mr. Randolph had been in Washington some two or three 
weeks, he thus gives the result of his observations to a friend, under 
date of the 21st of December, 1819. — " Here I find myself isoU, al- 
most as entirely as at Roanoke, for the quiet of which (although I 
left it without a desire ever to see it again) I have sometimes panted ; 
or rather, to escape from the scenes around me. Once the object of 
proscription, I am become one of indifference to all around me ; and 
in this respect I am in no wise worse off than the rest ; for, from 
all that I can see and learn, there are no two persons here that care 
a single straw for one another. My reception is best by the old ja- 
cobins enrages; next, by the federalists, who have abjured their 
heresies and reconciled themselves to the true Catholic Church; worst 
of all, by the old minority men, white washed into courtiers." 

When Mr. Randolph returned to Congress in 1819, the relation 
of political parties had been entirely changed. The restoration of 



POLITICAL PARTIES. 113 

peace put an end to all the questions which had hitherto divided 
them. With the exception of the bank — whose chartered existence 
commenced in 1791, and closed in 1811 — all the great subjects dis- 
cussed in the halls of legislation and by the press, grew out of 
our relations with foreign countries. Washington had scarcely taken 
in hand the reins of government when the French revolution burst 
forth, and disturbed the repose of Europe. The Republican ten- 
dencies of the French people, notwithstanding their bloody extrav- 
agancies, found at all times in the United-States a strong and sym- 
pathizing party. On the other hand, there was a powerful party 
that deprecated French influence, and sympathized with England in 
her efforts to repress those revolutionary tendencies. All those who 
were opposed to a strong centralizing government, and favored the 
independence of the States so far as consisted with the strict limita- 
tions of the Constitution, leaned to the French side of the question. 
Those of the contrary opinions took the opposite. As the destructive 
war between those great belligerent powers waxed hotter and hotter, 
its exciting and maddening influences were more deeply felt by the 
sympathizing parties here. Each accused the other of wishing to in- 
volve the country in the war on the side of their respective friends. 
Anglomania, Gallomania, raged like an epidemic through the land, 
and every subject discussed partook of its influence — the Indian 
Wars, Whisky Insurrection, Gennet's reception, Jay's treaty, and 
the depredations on our commerce. 

As those who were opposed to French influence were in the as- 
cendent, they pushed their measures to an open rupture with France, 
and, as a means of repressing the further progress of her revolution- 
ary doctrines, enacted those harsh and unconstitutional remedies 
called the Alien and Sedition Laws, whicn were the immediate cause 
of their overthrow. 

The resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and of Kentucky, 
growing out of the above laws, and the exposition of those resolutions 
by Mr. Madison, in his report to the Virginia legislature in 1800, 
constitute the doctrine and political faith, so far as they go, of the 
republican party that came into power under the auspices of Mr. 
Jefferson. 

But no sooner was Mr. Jefferson installed in office, than he was 
called on to encounter the same difficulties which had so much em- 



114 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

barrassed his predecessors in their intercourse with foreign powers. 
The federal party, now in the minority, and much weakened by 
their late overthrow, opposed all his measures, and wielded his own 
arguments against him. They had contended that the Constitution 
justified any measure that tended to promote " the public good and 
general welfare." This broad doctrine was denied by the republican 
party, and was totally annihilated by Mr. Madison's report. But the 
first important measure of Mr. Jefferson involved a contradiction of his 
doctrines. We were in danger of a rupture with Spain and France, 
on account of the navigation of the Mississippi. To put an end to 
these difficulties, Louisiana was purchased. Mr. Jefferson said there 
was no constitutional authority for the act, that it could only be jus- 
tified from the necessity of the case, and that the people must sanction 
it by an express provision in the Constitution. Then followed the em- 
bargo law, which the federalists in like manner opposed on the ground 
of its unconstitutionality. They contended that it was the result of 
" the public good and general welfare" construction, so much and so 
successfully condemned by the party now in power. Then followed 
other restrictive measures, and finally the war with Great Britain, all 
of which were opposed, as we already know, by the federalists, as 
parts of the same erroneous and destructive and unconstitutional 
policy. These divisions and difficulties, growing out of our foreign 
relations, were finally healed and put to rest by the termination of 
the war. Former asperities were smothered down, old animosities 
forgotten, and the exciting cause of party heats was burnt out and ex- 
tinguished in the general pacification of the world. New questions, 
arising for the first time since the organization of the government, 
had now to be discussed and solved. The functions of the gov- 
ernment, as restrained and directed by the limitations of the Consti- 
tution, had to be exercised on a class of cases entirely different from 
those which had hitherto tested their capacity. 

Under the monopolizing influence of the embargo, non-intercourse, 
and war measures of the last eight or nine years, a great manufactur- 
ing interest had been stimulated into being. During this long period 
of stagnation to commerce and agriculture, much capital was with- 
drawn from them and vested in manufactures. This great interest 
was likely to be seriously affected by the restoration of peace and of 
reciprocal commerce with other manufacturing nations. 



POLITICAL PARTIES. H5 

During the long continental wars, when the omnipotent British 
fleet drove the commerce of all the belligerent powers from the 
ocean, our merchantmen, under the protection of the neutral flag of 
their country, gathered a rich harvest in the carrying trade. They 
had now to be reduced to the bounds of a legitimate commerce, and 
subjected to the eager rivalry of other more powerful and commercial 
States. 

By the acquisition of Louisiana, a vast dominion had been added 
to our territories, and our population was rapidly spreading over that 
immense and fertile region. The means of internal communication 
became questions of serious consideration. The resources of the 
country lay dormant in their primeval state, like a vast weltering 
chaos, waiting for some brooding spirit to breathe life and form into 
its teeming elements. The South American provinces catching the 
spirit of freedom from our example, had thrown off the yoke of the 
mother country, and were looking to us for countenance, and stretch- 
ing forth the hand for aid in their arduous struggle for independence. 

These were the great themes that filled the public mind at the 
coming in of Mr. Monroe's administration and during its continuance. 
It was called the period of good feeling. The Federal party entirely 
disappeared, and its members were received into the ranks of their 
old opponents. But many respectable men among them, not disposed 
to abandon principles which they had honestly adopted, retired to 
private life. The rhetorical phrase of Mr. Jefferson, in his inaugural 
address, was made to have a practical meaning. The popular word 
was, " We are all Federalists, all Republicans." The existence of a 
distinct Federal party, or a distinct Republican party, was denied, 
and the leading politicians cultivated with great assiduity, the favor 
and support of all men, without regard to former distinctions, count- 
ing them as brothers of the same republican family. 

This new state of things was made the theme of congratulation 
to the country by the newspaper writers and the fourth of July 
orators of the time. " I come not here to burn the torch of Alecto," 
says one of the latter ; " to me there is no lustre in its fires, nor 
cheering warmth in its blaze. Let us rather offer and mingle our 
congratulations, that those unhappy differences which alienated one 
portion of our community from the rest, are at an end ; and that 
a vast fund of the genius and worth of our country has been restored 



116 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

to its service, to give new vigor to its career of power and prosperity. 
To this blessed consummation the administration of our venerable 
Monroe has been a powerful auxiliarj r . The delusions of past years 
have rolled away, and the mists that once hovered over forms of now 
unshaded brightness, are dissipated for ever. We can now all meet 
and exchange our admiration and love in generous confraternity of 
feeling, whether we speak of our Jefferson or our Adams, our Madi- 
son or our Hamilton, our Pinckney or our Monroe ; the associations 
of patriotism are awakened, and we forget the distance in the politi- 
cal zodiac which once separated these illustrious luminaries, in the 
full tide of glory they are pouring on the brightest pages of our 
history." 

This amalgamation of all parties was a dangerous experiment on 
the health and soundness of the Republic. Over action was the ne- 
cessary consequence of the destruction of all the countervailing influ- 
ences of the system ; and the generation of some latent chronic 
disease, which in after time must seriously affect the constitution of 
the body politic. The French government, the laborious work of a 
thousand years, was destroyed in a single night, by the sacrifice of all 
the orders of their distinctive privileges and opposing influences on 
what they fondly deemed to be the altar of patriotism. The flood- 
gates were now opened ; and from this single blunder there followed 
a series of frightful consequences, which history in the course of half a 
century has not been able to understand nor to portray. 

It is lamentable to see a country cut up into factions, following 
this or that great leader with a blind, undoubting hero-worship ; it is 
contemptible to see it divided into parties, whose sole end is the spoils 
of victory ; such an one is nigh its end : but, on the other hand, it is 
equally true, that no government can be conducted by the people and 
for the benefit of the people, without a rigid adherence to certain fixed 
principles, which must be the test of parties, and of men and of their 
measures. These principles once determined, they must be inexora- 
ble in their application, and compel all men either to come up to 
their standard, or to declare against it ; their criterion of political 
faith must be the same as that of Christian faith laid down by Christ 
himself — they ivJio arc not for us are against us. Men may betray, 
principles never can. Oppression is the invariable consequence of 



POLITICAL PARTIES. \yj 

misplaced confidence in treacherous man ; never is it the result of 
the working of a sound, just, and well-tried principle. 

If the proposition be true, that ours is a government peculiar in 
its nature, unknown in former times, or to other nations, then the 
political doctrines arising from a contemplation of its structure and 
the principles by which it is to be conducted, should be peculiar also : 
the analogies of history, and the examples of other states, should 
serve rather as beacons of warning than as precedents to be followed. 
If it be true, that ours is a government of delegated authority, arising 
out of the constitutional compact of sovereign and independent 
States, which delegated powers are specified and strictly limited, 
while all others are reserved to the States, or to the people of the 
States ; then there must grow out of this peculiar and jealous rela- 
tion of the States and the people of the States to each other and to 
the government they have mutually drawn over them for their com- 
mon protection, certain political principles as essential for the sound 
and healthy action of the complicated system as vital air is to the 
human body. 

The same wise abstinence that influenced the structure should 
control the action of this governmental machinery. It would seem 
that the first inquiry a prudent statesman should propound to him- 
self would be this — is the power delegated 1 Does the charter specify 
the grant? If not, is it a necessary inference as the means of carry- 
ing into effect a power granted 1 If it be neither the one nor the other, 
but is in itself a distinct and substantive power, he should say to 
himself, this power ought not to be exercised, however expedient or 
necessary it may seem to me at this time ; to place it among the 
delegated powers by construction, is to construe away the Constitu- 
tion — my example will be made a precedent for still bolder construc- 
tion, until there shall be nothing left to the States or to the people ; 
and this well balanced republic of confederated States shall sink down 
into ci consolidated and despotic empire. These reflections seem not 
to have influenced the statesmen of Mr. Monroe's administration. 
The new and brilliant career that lay before them kindled their 
imaginations ; and each, like an Olympian courser, eagerly pressed 
forward to take the lead in every enterprise. In projecting schemes 
to develope and to direct the resources and the domestic concerns of 
the people, they seemed to vie with each other in giving to the limita- 



118 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tions of the Constitution the utmost latitude of interpretation. Nor 
is it at all surprising, when we consider the materials of which the 
government was composed. The minority men of embargo times 
had been whitewashed into courtiers, with their old leader (Monroe) 
at the head of the government, who, to obtain that station, was 
accused of sacrificing every principle he ever professed. The Fede- 
ralists (latitudinarians in principle), who had abjured their heresies, and 
reconciled themselves to the true catholic church, constituted the body 
of voters in the two Houses of Congress ; while their parliamentary 
leaders were the same intrepid young men, who entering into public 
life in times of war, when boldness was the first requisite in a states- 
man, kept up the same ardent career in peace, and mounted first 
the one and then the other hobby, on which they hoped to ride 
into popular favor. The only men left behind in this wild race, 
were the few Jacobins of the Adams and Jefferson times, who 
looked with astonishment and rage (enrages) on the adroit and unex- 
pected manner in which the reins of government had been slipped 
from the hands of the true Republicans. 

" The spirit of profession and devotion to the court has increased 
beyond my most sanguine anticipations," says John Randolph in a 
letter to Dr. Brockenbrough, dated December 30th, 1819. "The 
die is cast. The Emperor is master of the Senate, and through that 
body commands the life and property of every man in the Republic ! 
The person who fills the office seems to be almost without a friend. 
Not so the office itself." 



CHAPTER XII. 

MISSOURI QUESTION 



The great subject not only of discussion, but of deep and fearful 
agitation in Congress to its close, on the 3d of March, 1821, and 
among the people, was the Missouri Question, or the question of 
slavery in its political influence on the legislation of the country. 
This subject, together with the question of right to the waste lands 



MISSOURI QUESTION. 119 

lying within the jurisdiction of some of the larger States, constituted 
the chief obstacle in the way of a cordial and harmonious union of 
the States, even in the time of their utmost peril, when they were 
contending for their independence. When the States were called 
upon to contribute their portion of men and money to conduct the 
war on the issue of which depended their existence, the question was, 
In what ratio shall they contribute? After trying the valuation of 
landed property, with its improvements, they abandoned it, and 
adopted the ratio of population as the best evidence of ability to con- 
tribute, and as the most practicable plan ; and it was agreed that in 
determining the amount of population in each State, five slaves 
should be counted as equal to three free men. Thus the slavery ques- 
tion was settled for the time. 

When the Articles of Confederation were proposed to the States 
for adoption, some of them, enough to defeat the measure, refused to 
come into the Confederation, unless the waste lands were admitted and 
received as common property ; especially after the treaty of peace in 
1783, and the boundaries of the United States were defined, they con- 
tended that all the waste, or back lands within those boundaries, 
having been bought with the common blood and treasure of all. was 
the joint property of all the States. It was maintained by the 
States on the other hand, that the land lay within their chartered 
limits, and rightfully belonged to them. This subject was a serious 
obstacle in the way of a more permanent union. At length it was agreed 
to propose to the States to grant, in a spirit of harmony and conces- 
sion, all their rights to the Confederation. New- York set the exam- 
ple, and made a concession of all her rights west of her present bound- 
ary ; though her title was regarded as of no value. South Carolina 
followed next ; she also had little or nothing to concede. Then came 
Virginia : her title to lands lying northwest of the Ohio, and extend- 
ing to the Lakes and the Mississippi, was for a long time disputed, 
but after a jealous and thorough investigation, it was finally given 
up and conceded that her title was valid. On the 1st of March, 1784, 
a deed was executed by Virginia, granting this immense domain to 
the Confederation — on the condition that the territory so ceded shall 
be laid out and formed into States, and that the States so formed shall 
be distinct republican States, and admitted members of the Federal 



120 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Union, having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and indepen- 
dence, as the other States. 

Immediately on the reception of this grant, Congress, on the 23d 
of April, 1784, passed a resolution extending its jurisdiction over the 
newly acquired territory, and projected a plan of government for the 
new States that might grow up therein, according to the conditions of 
the grant. It was admitted that Congress had no authority under 
Articles of Confederation for the measures adopted ; the plea of ne- 
cessity alone was urged in their justification. Congress resolved that 
the settlers shall, either on their own petition or on the order of Con- 
gress, receive authority from them, for their free males of full age, 
to meet together, for the purpose of establishing a temporary govern- 
ment, to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of the original 
States, subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature ; and to 
erect counties or other divisions, for the election of members of their 
legislature. They further resolved, that when any such State shall 
have acquired twenty thousand free inhabitants, on giving due proof 
thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them authority to call 
a convention of representatives to establish a permanent constitution 
and government for themselves. Provided, that both the temporary 
and permanent governments be established on the principle that they 
shall for ever remain a part of the Confederacy of the United States 
of America, and be subject to the articles of confederation. 

These articles, together with others, prescribing the mode of self- 
government to be pursued by the new States, as they shall from time 
to time be carved out of the recently acquired territory, Congress 
resolved shall be formed into a charter of compact ; and shall stand 
as fundamental constitutions between the thirteen original States, 
and each of the several States now newly described, unalterable from 
and after the sale of any part of the territory of such State but by 
the joint consent of the United States in Congress assembled, and 
of the particular State within which such alteration is proposed to be 
made. Notwithstanding the unalterable nature of this charter of 
compact, Congress did, by an Ordinance of the 13th of July, 1787, 
materially modify the same, and introduced a new article, by which 
it was ordained that " there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary 
servitude in the territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, 
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." Thus we per- 



MISSOURI QUESTION. 121 

ceive that, prior to the adoption of the present Constitution, which 
was some months after the above ordinance, the whole of the North- 
western Territory had been provided with a government. 

No other lands were ceded to the Confederation, or'were expected 
to be. The jurisdiction of Virginia extended over the District of 
Kentucky to the borders of the Mississippi. So did the jurisdiction 
of North Carolina extend over Tennessee, and of Georgia over the 
whole country now embraced within the limits of Alabama and Mis- 
sissippi. Massachusetts did not surrender her jurisdiction over the 
District of Maine ; Vermont was a sovereign State, though not in the 
Confederation, disputing her independence with New-York on the 
one hand, and New Hampshire on the other. 

Thus it appears that at the time of the adoption of the present 
Constitution, every foot of land embraced within the borders of the 
United States under the treaty of independence in 1783, was em- 
braced within the jurisdiction of some one of the States, or the Con- 
gress of the United States under the charter of compact of the 23d 
April, 1784; amended and enlarged by the Ordinance of the 13th 
July, \ 787. The framers of the Constitution, therefore, in contem- 
plation of the facts before them, had only to introduce an article 
binding the new government to fulfil the contracts of the old one, 
and an article authorizing Congress to dispose of, and make all need- 
ful rules and regulations, respecting the territory or other property 
belonging to the United States. Such articles were introduced, and 
they were sufficient for the purpose. 

A proposition was made in the Convention to authorize Congress 
" to institute temporary governments for the new States " arising 
within the unappropriated lands of the United States. But this 
was unnecessary, because the object contemplated had already been 
accomplished by the charter of compact and the ordinance, and the 
article in the Constitution requiring a fulfilment of those contracts. 
As to lands within the jurisdiction of the States ; Georgia for exam- 
ple, however much Congress might claim the right to them as com- 
mon property, they never disputed the jurisdiction of the State. 
Those wise men, therefore, declined acting on the proposition, they 
never granted an unnecessary power. 

The slave-question was equally well and wisely settled by the pro- 
visions of the Constitution. The same rule which had been adopted 

VOL. II. 6 



122 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

under the Confederation as the ratio of contribution, was made the 
basis of representation and taxation. Representatives and direct 
taxes were apportioned among the several States according to their 
respective numbers ; and to determine the number, Jive slaves were 
to be counted as equal to three free men The Slave-States, by this 
rule, lost in representation, but they gained whenever the government 
resorted to direct taxation ; that being very seldom, the general re- 
sult has been a loss to the slave-holding States. But they cannot 
complain, it was a rule insisted on by themselves when, under the 
Confederation, it was only the basis of contribution of men and mo 
ney. They said that two-fiftJis of the slaves, the old and the young, 
were a burthen to their owners and ought not to be taxed ; this was 
considered reasonable, and they were exempted. 

By an article in the Constitution, the importation of slaves was 
permitted for twenty years : that is, the slave-trade was tolerated for 
that length of time ; and by another provision, owners of slaves were 
protected in their rights whenever they escaped into States where 
involuntary servitude was not allowed by law. It is obvious, that 
every other question which could arise touching the subject of slavery 
was of a local and domestic nature, and was reserved to the States 
or to the people. 

Thus did the framers of our Constitution, clearly perceiving and 
appreciating the delicacy of the subject, wisely provide for the diffi- 
culties which had so much embarrassed the States and the Confede- 
ration in regard to the public lands and the subject of slavery. Their 
measures were complete and exhaustive of the subject, so far as the 
existing limits of the United States were concerned. They did not 
contemplate an extension of the Union beyond its present bounda- 
ries. The serious difficulties that now so much threaten the integ- 
rity of the republic, have grown out of the purchase and acquisition 
of foreign territory. It is true the Constitution provides for the ad- 
mission of new States ; but the States contemplated were those ex- 
pected to grow up within the existing borders of the Union — Maine, 
Vermont, the North Western States, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missis- 
sippi, and Alabama. None others were anticipated. That the vast 
dominions of the King of Spain, extending from the borders of the 
Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, would ever become a portion of the 
territories of the United States, was a thing our forefathers never 



MISSOURI QUESTION. 123 

dreamed of, much less provided for in that Constitution they had so 
cautiously limited and guarded in all its parts, as a fit government 
for their posterity. 

The acquisition of Louisiana was without constitutional authority. 
Mr. Jefferson, who made the purchase, admitted it to be so. He 
wished a ratification of the act by the people ; but that was never 
done. It would be dangerous to take their silent acquiescence as 
evidence of approval. The amendment of the Constitution, which 
Mr. Jefferson desired, by the insertion of an ex post facto clause, par- 
doning its infraction under the pressure of an imperious necessity, 
was never attempted. The deed stands now as it did then — a naked 
usurpation of power, sanctioned only by the silent acquiescence of the 
people. We do not wish to be understood as condemning it. The 
evils which must necessarily have flowed from the continuance of 
Louisiana in the hands of a foreign and hostile power, are much 
greater, as we conceive, than those which ought to result as a neces- 
sary consequence of its annexation to the Union. But this does not 
alter the fact in regard to it — that it was acquired without autho- 
rity, and that there has been no amendment of the Constitution rati- 
fying the deed. 

It is said, however, that under the war and treaty-making power, 
Congress may acquire foreign territory ; under the same authority by 
which it is obtained, it may be held and governed — conquered by 
the sword, it may be held and governed by the sword. This doc- 
trine, whether derived from the war or treaty-making power, leads to 
the consequence that Congress may acquire foreign territory, and hold 
it and govern it as a province — as England governed the old thirteen 
provinces, as she now governs Canada and the East Indies ! This is 
a startling conclusion ; but it is the inevitable consequence of the 
premises ; grant the one, and you are forced to admit the other. But 
Congress, having acquired the territory, must govern it in the spirit 
of the Constitution. This is a total surrender of the doctrine of 
strict construction, which requires a distinct grant for the exercise 
of every substantive power by Congress, as the governing of a terri- 
tory, making and unmaking laws for it, must be admitted to be. In 
the spirit of the Constitution ! What that may be is a matter of 
opiuion. A States-rights man holds one opinion on that subject; 
a Consolidationist or Federalist holds another ; and it is left to a 



124 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

majority of Congress for the time being to say what is legislation in 
the spirit of the Constitution. These are the absurd and dangerous 
conclusions of a false doctrine, and we are now reaping the conse- 
quences. Better admit honestly and candidly with Mr. Jefferson, 
that the first acquisition was without constitutional authority, and, 
of consequence, that all the subsequent acts in regard to it must 
partake of the same character. The truth is, that nearly all the legis- 
lation of Congress for the last half century, on the subject of territo- 
ries, can be sustained by their own examples and precedents alone, 
and not by any grant of power in the Constitution. 

When Missouri presented herself for admission into the Union, 
a proposition was made in Congress to amend her constitution, by 
inserting the clause, that " all children of slaves, born within the said 
State after the admission thereof into the Union, shall be free, but 
may be held to service until the age of twenty-five years ; and the 
further introduction of slavery, or involuntary servitude, is prohibited, 
except for the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have 
been duly convicted." This proposition came too late. Missouri was 
now an independent State, made so by the permission and by the 
authority of Congress ; she could not be thrown back by the will of 
Congress into the colonial state. Her internal and domestic affairs 
were under her absolute control ; and the only inquiry left to Con- 
gress was, to determine whether her Constitution was republican, and 
whether, as a new State, she shall be admitted into the Union. The 
attempted restriction on her domestic policy was a monstrous propo- 
sition that no other Congress, save such an one as we have described 
in the preceding chapter, could have entertained. Men having a just 
conception of the limitations of the Constitution and of the rights of 
the States, would have perceived that the internal affairs of a State 
were wholly beyond the jurisdiction of a government, whose powers 
were specially and strictly limited to a few general subjects common 
to all States. 

But as it regards the Territory beyond the limits of the State of 
Missouri, wholly a different question was presented — here was a fair 
subject of compromise. Congress had no right to legislate, we are 
told, on the subject of slavery in that Territory — what right had they 
to legislate on any subject ? What right had they in the first in- 
stance to acquire possession of foreign territory ? Under the treaty- 



MISSOURI QUESTION. 125 

making power, it is answered. Then under the treaty-making power 
it must be governed as a necessary inference, or implication. The 
proposition to confer on Congress the power to make a temporary 
government for territories was distinctly rejected by the framers of 
the Constitution. Any specific grant to that effect is not pretended. 
Congress has the right to make treaties — this confers on them the 
power to purchase by treaty and to take possession of foreign terri- 
tory — having a right to acquire by treaty, the necessary inference is 
that they have the right to make laws and to govern the territory or the 
province acquired — this is the line of argument. Now all implied 
powers have no other limitation on them, but the will of those who 
make the implication — let the Protective Tariff, the system of In- 
ternal Improvements by the General Government, and the Bank, 
serve as examples and illustrations of this truth. When you go be- 
yond the specific grants and resort to implication for such a distinct, 
substantive and important power as the one under consideration, then 
all the limitations in the Constitution are of no avail. Take either 
alternative, therefore, that Congress had no constitutional authority 
either to purchase or to govern foreign territory — or that, under the 
treaty-making power, they had the right to acquire and to govern, 
then there is no limitation on the exercise of the power, usurped or 
implied, save that imposed by themselves. The examples and prece- 
dents set by their predecessors constitute their only guide. The 
spirit of the Constitution as manifested in these authorities must be 
their only rule of action. It was precisely in accordance with the 
history of past legislation that the Missouri compromise was accom- 
plished. It seems to have grown up as a tacit, though well under- 
stood agreement, that North of a certain line involuntary servitude 
should not exist, and South of it slavery should be tolerated. The 
compromise ordinance of 1787 originated in this feeling. 

Repeated attempts at an early day were made in Indiana and Il- 
linois to suspend the article of the Ordinance prohibiting slavery be- 
yond the Ohio — but they were always opposed and defeated by South- 
ern men. On the contrary, when the provisions of the Ordinance 
were extended to Southern territory, the article on the subject of 
slavery was striken out. Thus there grew up from the nature of the 
case, and under the force of circumstances, a sort of common law un- 
derstanding, that all North of a certain line, restrictions on the sub- 



126 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ject of slavery should be enforced, and South of it, they should be 
removed. When, therefore, the question was raised in regard to 
newly acquired foreign territory, the same rule was enforced. It was 
imposed by a combined northern majority on the South who, without 
a dissenting voice, steadily opposed it. This geographical majority 
ingrafted on the Missouri bill a provision — " that in all that territory 
teded by France to the United States, under the name of Louisiana, 
which lies north of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north lati- 
tude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this 
act, slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punish- 
ment of crimes, whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, 
shall be and is hereby for ever prohibited." Thus we see that the line 
was extended and definitely laid down by northern men. The whole 
South voted against it under the impression that Congress had no 
right to legislate on the subject ; but we have seen their error in sup- 
posing that there were any constitutional provisions on the subject at 
all — and that, whether as usurped or implied power, there was no 
other limitation on it, save that of precedent and authority. And it 
was precisely in accordance with precedent and authority, and the 
common sentiment silently grown up among the States, that this line 
was laid down and extended. The northern men took on themselves 
the fearful responsibility of acting alone in this business. They dic- 
tated the line and said by that we will stand. All subsequent legis- 
lation has been based on the faith of this pledge. Iowa has been ad- 
mitted as a State into the Union — Minnesota and Oregon organized 
as Territories on its faith. And can any reasonable man see why 
this line should not as well extend to the Pacific ocean, as to the 
Rocky Mountains? to the territories recently acquired of Mexico, as 
well as to those which in 1803 were purchased of France? There is 
no constitutional authority for the acquisition or the government of 
either as territory or a province — the necessity of the case in the 
first instance, and the subsequent 'practice of the government, can 
alone be adduced as justification and authority. 

The same rules, precedents, and examples, apply as well in the 
one case as in the other. And above all, that overwhelming senti- 
ment of justice, that spirit of concession and compromise, which pre- 
sided over the birth and infancy of the Constitution, and preserved it 
from destruction when well-nigh torn asunder by the Missouri con- 



COMPROMISE BILL. 127 

vulsion, urge on us now with tenfold force, at a moment when all the 
nations of the earth are torn up from their deep foundations — and 
this blessed Constitution stands as the only sheltering rock in whose 
broad shadow, far stretching over the dark waters, their scattered 
fragments may come together and be re-formed. If the sentiment of 
brotherly forbearance, if a generous pride in the glory and prosperity 
of our common country do not prevail at this crisis, we shall then 
hang our heads in sorrow, mourn over the departed spirit of our fa- 
thers, and look with fearful forebodings on that dark demon, that has 
come to usurp its place — the mad spirit of fanaticism, engendered in 
ambition and fostered by the lust of plunder and dominion. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

COMPROMISE BILL SMUGGLED THROUGH THE HOUSE. 

Mr. Randolph's opposition to the Missouri Bill, with the obnoxious 
clause in it prohibiting slavery beyond a certain line, was very de- 
cided. In common with the southern members, he regarded the 
whole proceeding as unconstitutional — destructive of the vital in- 
terests of the South — a dangerous precedent, that might be used for 
still greater encroachments hereafter — and would listen to no com- 
promise on the subject. One night, when the House was engaged in 
debating the great question, and there seemed but a faint prospect 
of its adjustment, Mr. Randolph, it is said, accosted Mr. Clay, the 
Speaker of the House, who, for a moment, was absent from the chair, 
and said to him, « Mr. Speaker, I wish you would quit the chair, and 
leave the House ; I will follow you to Kentucky, or any where else." 
Mr. Randolph was told, in reply, that his proposition was a very seri- 
ous one ; and that if he would meet Mr. Clay the next morning, in 
the Speaker's room, the latter would converse with him fully on the 
whole subject. The interview accordingly took place, and the parties 
had a long conversation, relating, principally, to the propriety of a 
compromise. Mr. Randolph was decidedly opposed to any compro- 
mise, and Mr. Clay was in favor of acceding to one, if it could be 



128 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

done without any sacrifice of principle. After the termination of this 
interview, they never exchanged salutations, or spoke to each other 
again, during the session. We do not vouch for the truth of this 
statement ; but it is very certain, that Mr. Randolph spoke in no 
measured terms of the course of the Speaker of the House (Mr. Clay) 
on the subject of the compromise, and charged him with taking ad- 
vantage of his office, and conniving, if not actually aiding, in smug- 
gling the bill through the House, contrary to the rules of proceeding, 
thereby depriving him and other members of their constitutional 
right to a final vote, on a motion for reconsideration, which the 
Speaker knew Mr. Randolph was about to make. 

His own account of that transaction is so graphic, so character- 
istic of the man, that we here give it to the reader entire. 

" On the night that that bill had its last vote in the House, my 
colleague, W. S. Archer, was a new member. I declared, publicly 
and openly, that in case that bill should pass, with the amendment 
then proposed, unless another amendment should succeed — which 
did not succeed — I declared, conditionally, that I should move for 
a reconsideration of the vote. Myself and my colleague, who, with 
another gentleman, whom I shall not refer to, though near me 
(Mr. Macon), were the only persons whom I have heard of, be- 
longing to the Southern interest, who determined to have no com- 
promise at all on this subject. They determined to cavil on the nine- 
tieth part of a hair, in a matter of sheer right, touching the dearest 
interests, the life-blood of the Southern States. The House was ex- 
hausted ; a gentleman fainted in front of the chair, and tumbled on 
the ground. In this state of things, my colleague asked whether it 
would not do as well to put off the motion till to-morrow (for he was 
in ill health and much fatigued) 1 I said I could not agree to that, 
till I had taken the opinion of the court, in the last resort. After 
that question had eventuated, as I foresaw it might, I rose in my 
place, and asked of the Speaker whether it was in order to move a recon- 
sideration of the vote. He said that it was. Sir, I am stating facts 
of more importance to the civil history of this country than the battle 
which took place not far from this. He said it was. I then asked 
him (to relieve my colleague, who had just taken his seat for the first 
time that session), whether it would be in order to move the recon- 
sideration of the vote, on the next day 1 He said something to this 
effect : Surely the gentleman knows the rules of the House too well 
not to know that it will be in order at any time during the sitting, to- 
morrow or the next day. I replied, I thought I did ; but I wanted 
to make assurance doubly sure, to have the opinion of the tribunal, 



COMPROMISE BILL. 129 

in the last rosort. I then agreed — to accommodate my colleague, in 
the state of exhaustion in which the House then was — I agreed to 
suspend my motion for a reconsideration, and we adjourned. The 
next morning, before either House met, I learned — no matter how — 
no matter from whom, or for what consideration — that it was in contem- 
plation that this clock (Senate chamber), which is hardly ever in order, 
and the clock in the other House, which is not in a better condition, 
should somehow disagree ; that the Speaker should not take his seat 
in the House till the President had taken his seat here ; and then, 
that when I went into the House to make my motion, I was to be 
told that the Chair regretted very much that the clerk had gone off 
with the bill ; that it was not in their possession, and the case was 
irreparable ; and yet I recollect very well, when we applied to the 
Secretary of State for a parchment roll of an act which had not been 
duly enrolled, two sections were left out by the carelessness of the 
clerks and of the committee of enrollment. That act was, by the 
House of Representatives, in which it originated, procured from the 
archives of the Department of State, and put on the statute books, as 
it passed — not as it was on the roll — and enrolled anew. It was the 
act for the relief of the captors of the Mirboha and Missonda. As 
soon as I understood this, sir, T went to the Speaker myself, and 
told him that I must have my vote for reconsideration that day. 

" I can only say that I inferred — not from what he told me — that 
my information was correct. I came off immediately to this House 
(Senate.) It wanted about twenty minutes of the time when the Sen- 
ate was to meet. I saw that most respectable man whom we have 
just lost, and begged to speak with him in private. We retired to a 
committee room, and to prevent intrusion we locked the door. I told 
him of the conspiracy laid to defeat me of my constitutional right to 
move a reconsideration, (though I think it a dangerous rule, and 
always voted against its being put on the rules at all, believing that, 
to prevent tampering and collusion, the vote to reconsider ought to 
be taken instantly, yet, sir, as it was then, I had a right to make the 
motion.) I told this gentleman that he might, by taking the chair 
of the Senate sooner than the true time, lend himself unconsciously 
to this conspiracy against my constitutional rights as a member of 
the other House from the State of Virginia. I spoke, sir, to a man 
of honor and a gentleman, and it is unnecessary to say that he did 
not take the chair till the proper hour arrived. As soon as that hour 
arrived, we left the committee room together. I went on to the 
House of Representatives, and found them in session, and the clerk 
reading the journal, meanwhile there had been runners through the 
long passage, which was then made of plauk, I think, between the 
two Houses, hunting for Mr. Gaillard. Where is he? He is not to 
be found. The House of Representatives having organized itself, 

vol. n. 6* 



130 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH 

when I came in from the door of the Senate, I found the clerk read- 
ing the journal ; the moment after he had finished it I made the mo- 
tion, and was seconded by my colleague, Mr. Archer, to whom I could 
appeal — not that my testimony wants evidence. I should like to see 
the man who would question it on a matter of fact. This fact is well 
remembered ; a lady would as soon forget her wedding day as I forget 
this. The motion to reconsider was opposed ; it was a debateable 
question, and the Speaker stated something this way — 'that it was 
not for him to give any orders ; the Clerk knew his duty.' The Clerk 
went more than once — my impression is, that he went more than 
twice. I could take my oath, and so, I believe, could Mr. Archer, 
that he made two efforts, and came back under my eye, like a mouse 
under the eye of a cat, with the engrossed bill in his hand. His 
bread was at stake. At last he, with that pace, and countenance, and 
manner, which only conscious guilt can inspire, went off, his poverty, 
not his will consenting ; and before the debate was finished, back he 
comes with the bill, from the Senate, which had then become a law, 
before it was decided whether they would reconsider it at my mo- 
tion or not, which motion nailed the bill to the table until it should 
have been disposed of. Notorious as these facts are, so anxious was 
one side of that House to cover up their defection ; such was the anx- 
iety of the other to get Missouri in on any conditions, that this thing 
was hushed up, just as the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was 
hushed up. 

" The bill was passed through the forms of law. Missouri was ad- 
mitted into the Union contrary to the Constitution, as much so as if 
I had voted the other way in the first instance, and the Speaker had 
ordered the Clerk to put my name with the ayes in the journal when 
I had voted no — because, sir, agreeably to the Constitution of the 
United States every member has a right to his vote, under the forms 
of the House, whether these forms are wise or foolish ; and my col- 
league and myself were ousted out of our right to reconsider, for 
which I would not have taken all the land within the State of Mis- 
souri." 

Mr. Randolph was greatly excited during the agitation of the 
Missouri question ; he did not sleep of nights ; and his energetic, 
quick temper, exasperated by the scenes around him, inflamed by 
long watching and anxiety, gave a peculiar force and piquancy to all 
he said. His indignation was particularly levelled at Mr. Clay, not 
that he had any personal dislike to that gentleman, apart from his 
political course, but as he was the leader of the spurious Republican 
party then in the ascendent, Mr. Randolph thought him entitled to 
the animadversions that were aimed at the party itself, particularly 



COMPROMISE BILL. 131 

as he was not only their leader, but their chief spokesman, setting 
forth on all occasions, and embellishing their doctrines by his copious 
and ornate style of oratory. 

Old minority men, turned courtiers, and whitewashed Federalists, 
composed the self-styled Republican party, when in truth they did 
not possess the first principle — the doctrine of State rights, that 
should characterize a party bearing that title. Mr. Clay's course on 
the bank in 1811, and again in 1816, his course on internal improve- 
ments, and his conduct in regard to " the compromise," as it was un- 
derstood by all strict constructionists, eminently fitted him for the 
leadership of such a mongrel party ; and surely he was not spared in 
the animadversions of those who perceived the old leaven of Federal- 
ism penetrating the whole mass under the shallow disguise of a new 
name. 

In the following strictures Mr. Randolph is particularly pointed 
and severe. 

" The anniversary of Washington's birth-day (says he, in a letter 
to Dr. Brockenbrough, Feb. 23d, 1820) will be a memorable day in the 
history of my life, if indeed any history shall be attached to it. Yes- 
terday, I spoke four hours and a half to as attentive an audience as 
ever listened to a public speaker. Every eye was riveted upon me, 
save one, and that was sedulously and affectedly turned away. The 
ears, however, were drinking up the words as those of the royal Dane 
imbibed " the juice of cursed heberon," though not, like his, uncon- 
scious of the leprous distilment ; as I could plainly perceive by the 
play of the muscles of the face, and the coming and going of the 
color, and the petty agitation of the whole man, like the affected fidget 
and flirt of the fan whereby a veteran coquette endeavors to hide her 
chagrin from the spectators of her mortification. 

" This person was no other than Mr. Speaker himself, the only 
man in the House to whose attention I had a right. He left the chair, 
called Cobb to it. paced the lobby at the back of it in great agitation, 
resumed, read MSS., newspapers, printed documents on the table 
(i. e. affected to read them), beckoned the attendants, took snuff, 
looked at his shoe-buckles, at his ruffles, towards the other side of the 
House — every where but at me. I had mentioned to him as deli- 
cately as I could, that being unable to catch his eye, I had been 
obliged (against my will, and what I thought the rule of order and 
decorum in debate) to look elsewhere for support. This ajjology I 
expected would call him to a sense of what was due to himself and 
his station, as well as to me ; but it had none effect. At last, when 
you might have heard a pin drop upon the carpet, he beckoned one 



132 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

of the attendants and began whispering to the lad (I believe to fetch 
his snuff-box). ' Fooled to the top of my bent,' I ' checked in mid 
volley,' and said : ' The rules of this House, sir, require, and properly 
require, every member when he speaks to address himself respectfully 
to Mr. Speaker ; to that rule, which would seem to imply a correla- 
tive duty of respectful attention on the part of the Chair, I always 
adhere ; never seeking for attention in the countenances of the mem- 
bers, much less of the spectators and auditors in the lobby or the gal- 
lery : as, however, I find the Chair resolutely bent on not attending 
to me, I shall take my seat :' which I did accordingly. The chas- 
tisement was so deserved, so studiously provoked, that it was not in 
my nature to forego inflicting it. Like 'Worcester's rebellion, it lay 
in my way and I found it. 1 

" He replied in a subdued tone of voice, and with a manner quite 
changed from his usual petulance and arrogance (for it is generally 
one or t'other, sometimes both), ' that he had paid all possible atten- 
tion,' &c, which was not true, in fact : for from the time that I en- 
tered upon the subject of his conduct in relation to the bank in 1811 
(renewal of old charter), and in 1816 (the new bank), and on inter- 
nal improvements, &c. (quoting his words in his last speech, that 
' this was a limited, cautiously restricted government'), and held up 
the ' Compromise' in its true colors, he never once glanced his eye 
upon me but to withdraw it, as if he had seen a basilisk. 

" Some of the pretenders to the throne, if not the present incum- 
bent, will hold me from that day forth in cherished remembrance. I 
have not yet done, however, with the pope or the pretenders, their 
name is legion. 

' : My dear friend, I have been up since three o'clock ; as soon as 
I could see to write I began this letter, if it deserve the name of one. 
I have received my death-wound on Tuesday, the 1st, and Wednes- 
day, the 2d of February. Had I not spoken on the last of these 
days, I might have weathered this point and clawed off of death's lee 
shore. My disease is assuming a hectic type. I believe the lungs 
are affected symptomatically, through sympathy with the liver, at 
least I hope so. Yet why hope when the vulture daily whets his 
beak for a repast upon my ever-growing liver, and his talons are fixed 
in my very vitals? I am done with public life, as soon as the business 
of Congress will permit me to leave it ; at any rate, immediately after 
the adjournment I shall travel — perhaps take a sea voyage, not to 
get rid of duns (although the wolf will be at my door in the shape 
of the man I bought that land of), but to take the only chance of 
prolonging a life, that I trust is now not altogether useless. 

'• Remember me kindly to all friends ; respectfully to Mr. Roane. 
Tell him that I have fulfilled his injunction, and I trust proved 
myself ' a zealous, and consistent, and (I wish I could add) able 



! 



COMPROMISE BILL. 133 

defender of State Rights.' I have yet to settle with the Supreme 

Court 

"'I am hurt — a plague of both the Houses — I am sped ! 'Tis not 
so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but 'twill serve : ask 
for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.' " 

The foregoing, and other lettez-s that followed close upon it in 

quick succession, show the diseased condition of body, and the excited 

and feverish state of mind under which Mr. Randolph was laboriDg 

at this time. 

/ Thursday morning. 5 o'clock, Feb. 24, 1820. 

'• I have been up since half past three. My sensations are indes- 
cribable. The night before last I had a return of the spasms. At 
present I am free from pain ; but what I feel is worse than pain, un- 
less in its most acute form, and even then I think I could better bear 
it. Whatever it be, something is passing in the nobler viscera of no 
ordinary character. They have got a Missouri question there, that 
threatens a divulsion of soul from body. Nausea in its worst form 
(sea sickness) is not equal to what I feel. I have it slightly, accom- 
panied with a sinking of the spirits, a soul-sickness, a sensation 
as if I should swoon away instantly ; meantime, diarrhoea is not idle, 
from twenty to fifty calls in the four and twenty hours. Every thing 
I eat (only milk and crackers, heated over again in the oven) passes 
unchanged. So did gruel when I took some well boiled and gelatinous. 

" You will not see my name on the yeas and nays yesterday on the 
Senate's bill. I could not remain in the house, the air of which is 
unchanged for weeks. It smells like a badly kept comodite, (shouldn't 
there be two m's in that word ?) and even worse, for you have in ad- 
dition to ordure and urine all the exhalations that overpowered Matt. 
Bramble at a fashionable squeeze, and stale tobacco smoke into the 
bargain ; cigars are smoked in the ante-room. The avenues to our 
hall are narrow, mean, dark and dangerous, and when you pass the 
first portal, you are assailed by a compound of villanous smells, which 
is only a little more diluted when you emerge into light, or rather 
darkness visible through cross lights that torture the eye. 

" My faithful Juba is sick, very sick, and four nights ago I heard 
him in his sleep cry out ' I wish I and master teas at home.' These 
Yankees have almost reconciled me to negro slavery. They have 
produced a revulsion even on my mind, what then must the effect be 
on those who had no scruples on the subject. I am persuaded that 
the cause of humanity to these unfortunates has been put back a 
century, certainly a generation, by the unprincipled conduct of am- 
bitious men. availing themselves of a good as well as of a fanatical 
spirit in the nation. 

" Tell Mrs. Brockenbrough that Mr. Meade makes anxious inqui- 



134 LI FE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ries about the state of her mind on the subject of religious opinions. 
He and Frank Key are with us on the question. Frank has just re- 
turned from Frederick, where he was summoned a fortnight ago to 
attend a (supposed) dying father. The old gentleman is recovering 
slowly. What must it have been to have his bedside attended by 
such a son ! He is indeed as near perfection as our poor nature can 
go, although he would be shocked to hear it said. Severe to him- 
self, considerate and indulgent to others, speaking ill of none. Day 
is breaking ; good morning." 

" J. R. of R. to J. B., a letter, like Mrs. Rowe's, from the dead 
to the living. 

Saturday, Feb. 26, 1820. 

" Hear all ye nations ! Last evening the late J. R. of R. who is 
' stone dead (the major) precisely ', went to Mrs. F h's ' con- 
sort ' — said dead man being like any other great personage deceased, 
tired of ' toujours perdrix.' (N. B. : the plural of this French noun- 
substantive is perdros, according to Mr. Speaker Clay, who has been 
to Paris, aye, and to Ghent too ; and ought surely to know.) Why 
shouldn't dead men enjoy a little variety as well as folks that talk in 
their sleep in Congress ? — and there were ' lots of them ' there — 
(see Tom Crib). The French lady proved to be a noun-adjective, 
as old Lilly hath it, she 'could not stand by herself (or would not) 
for after some execrable airs, at the beginning of the third (not the 
third by at least thirty — it is Dogberry who, after ' sixthly and lastly' 
brings in ' thirdly') she enacted something like a fit, and threw her- 
self into the arms of a gentleman (not a false concord I hope — I 
trust it was her husband), whereupon the 'dead man' not the 'mas- 
ter of the rolls ' (he deals only in crackers) ' opened wide his mouth ' 
and called a coach and threw himself into it and drove home, not 
sha/n-sick. I was heartily glad of our early dismission, and after an 
almost sleepless night, me void, at my daily occupation, by day- 
break, boring you. 

" I learn from a very direct source, that this lady was an obscure 

girl, whom Mrs. B 11 ' patronized ' and placed at Mad. Rivaldi's 

boarding-school ; where the protegee was shown off to the glory of 

the patroness, and sung at Mad. R 's concerts and married one 

of the teachers, and in short, has been used to exhibition and dis- 
play from the egg-shell. I felt very much ashamed of being there, 
not because the room was mean and badly lighted, and dirty, and the 
company ill dressed, but because I saw, for the first time, an Ameri- 
can woman singing for hire. I would import our actors, singers, 
tumblers and jack-puddings, if we must have such cattle, from Eu- 
rope. Hyde dc Neuville. a Frenchman, agreed with me, 'that although 
the lady was universally admitted to be very amiable, it was a danger- 
ous example.' At first {on dit) she was unaffected and sang natu- 



COMPROMISE BILL. 135 

rally, and, I am told, agreeably enough, but now she is a bundle of 
' affectations ' (as Sir Hugh hath it), and reminds me of the little 
screech ' owels ' as they say on ' the south side? Her voice is not bad, 
but she is utterly destitute of a single particle of taste or judgment. 
Were she a lady and I in her company, my politeness should never 
induce me to punish myself by asking her to sing. 

"A member from Virginia, whose avoirdupois entitles him to 
weight, as well as his being a sort of commis to the P., told me yes- 
terday, ' that the tale in circulation of the P. having written a let- 
ter to Mr. Roane, declaring his disapprobation of the compromise, 
was an idle scandal, for that he had seen the letter (or rather that it 
bad been read to him) and there was no such sentiment expressed in 
it.' Hem ! Pretty good ! Don't you think so 1 

'•'• When Mrs. F. was ' screeching,' I was strongly reminded of two 
lines of a mock Methodist hymn, that poor John Hollingsworth used 
to sing, when we were graceless youths at college — 

" ' ! that I, like Madame French, 
Could raise my ' vice'' on high, 
Thy name should last like oaken bench, 
To parpctui-ty. : 

" The same ' two single gentlemen rolled into one,' told me that 

M e expressed a desire to maintain the relations of peace and 

amity and social intercourse, with me ; that he did not stand upon 
etiquette ; did not require any gentleman to pay him the respect of a 
call in the first instance ; gave examples to that effect, some of which 
I know to be true (N. B. election coming on), and that he should have 
sent his invitations to me as well as to the rest, but that he thought 
they would not be acceptable — that I had repelled, &c, &c, &c. 

" Whereupon I said that I had not seen said great man but once 
(Friday, the 11th, riding by, after Mr. King's speech in the Senate) 
since the Georgetown sheep-shearing, in the spring of 1812. That I 
had called more than once that spring, on him and Madame, and not 
at home was the invariable reply ; that he had invited Garnett, as it 
were out of my own apartment that year, to dine with General Mo- 
reau, Lewis and Stanford, the only M. C's that lodged there besides 
myself, and omitted to ask me, who had a great desire to see Moreau ; 
that I lacqueyed the heels of no great man ; that I had a very good 
dinner at home, which I could not eat, although served at an hour 
that I was used to ; and that I was very well, as I was, &c. Hodijah 
Meade writes Archer that I am becoming popular, even in Amelia. 
Perhaps the great man has heard something to this effect. 

" Write me volumes — all your news, chat, &c. Yesterday we 
' settled the chat,' not by the rules of ' the Finish' (see Tom Crib), but 
of the House of Commons, actually coughing, and scraping, and ' ques- 
tion' questioning some brave fellows that made a stout resistance to 



136 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

be heard, but were outnumbered. I was not party to the outrage — 
did not cough nor cry, but I heard the speaker's voice above the rest. 
G-. T. spoke the last — promised us novelty at least, borrowed largely 
from Pinkney, P. Barbour, and your humble servant, during three 
quarters of an hour that I listened to him, when I left him, I believe, 

without a single auditor except Mr. Chairman C b ! as very a 

' Johnny Raw' as ever entered a ring. See again my standard au- 
thority, Tom Crib.' : 



CHAPTER XIV. 

"I NOW GO FOR BLOOD" — MADNESS. 

Immediately on the settlement of that exciting subject — the Missouri 
question — followed the death of Commodore Decatur, who fell in a 
duel the 20th March, 1820, with Commodore Barron. This sad 
event produced a shock throughout the community. The gallant 
seaman lived in the hearts of his countrymen. His untimely end 
shrouded the country in mourning. The occasion, the manner, and 
the place — not on the proud deck, in face of the enemies of his coun- 
try, added poignancy to their grief. None felt more deeply on the 
occasion than John Randolph. They were friends, and they were kin- 
dred spirits. To lose so noble a soul from among the few whose love 
he cherished, under such painful circumstances, and at a time when the 
country could illy spare so gallant a heart, was more than his weak 
frame could endure. Worn out with excessive watching and anx- 
iety on the momentous question which had well nigh torn the Union 
asunder, emaciated with disease bodily and mental, that for years had 
known no intermission, with the keen sensibility of a woman, delicate 
as a sensitive plant, this last calamity proved too rude an assault on 
the nicely balanced, mysteriously wrought machinery of mind, which 
went whirling and dashing in mad disorder, and defying for a time 
the controlling influence of the master's will. 

His conduct on the occasion of the funeral of Commodore Decatur 
is said to have been very extravagant. The cold and heartless world, 
that is unconscious of any thing else but a selfish motive, and the igno- 



MADNESS. 137 

rant multitude that followed the funeral pageant, with gaping mouth, 
agreed on a common explanation of his extravagance by proclaiming 
" the man is mad /" 

That he might have been greatly excited in manner and conver- 
sation, and that he was wholly indifferent as to what other people 
might say or think of him, is highly probable. All his friends agree that 
his mind, from the cause above alluded to, had been wrought up to 
the highest pitch of fervor, and that, like a highly-charged electric 
battery, it threw off brilliant and fiery sparks that scorched and burnt 
the uncautious person who had the temerity to approach too near. 

This highly charged electric state of mind — it can be likened to 
nothing else — lasted through the spring. Mr. Anderson, the Cashier 
of the United States Branch Bank, in Hichmond, says that about the 
20th of April, 1820, Mr. Kandolph came into the Bank and asked for 
writing materials to write a check. He dipped his pen in the ink, 
and finding that it was black, asked for red ink, saying, " I now go for 
blood." He filled the check up, and asked Mr. Anderson to write his 
name to it. Mr. Anderson refused to write his name ; and after im- 
portuning that gentleman for some time, he called for black ink, and 
signed John Randolph, of Roanoke, txj his mark. He then called 
for the porter, and sent the check to Mr. Taylor's, to pay an account. 
Ci One day I was passing along the street," says Mr. Anderson, " when 
Mr. Randolph hailed me in a louder voice than usual. The first 
cmestion he asked me was. whether I knew of a good ship in the 
James River, in which he could get a passage for England. He said 
he had been sick of a remittent and intermittent fever for forty days, 
and his physician said he must go to England. I told him there 
were no ships here fit for his accommodation, and that he had better 
go to New-York, and sail from that port. ' Do you think,' said he, 
' I would give my money to those who are ready to make my negroes 
cut my throat? — if I cannot go to England from a Southern port I 
will not go at all.' I then endeavored to think of the best course for 
him to take, and told him there was a ship in the river. He asked 
the name of the ship. I told him it was the ' Henry Clay.' He 
threw up his arms and exclaimed ' Henry Clay ! no, sir ! I will never 
step on the planks of a ship of that name.' He then appointed to 
meet me at the bank at 9 o'clock. He came at the hour, drew sev- 
eral checks, exhausted his funds in the bank, and asked me for a set- 



138 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tlement of his account, saying he had no longer any confidence in the 
State banks, and not much in the Bank of the United States ; and 
that he would draw all his funds out of the bank, and put them in 
English guineas — that there was no danger of them." 

Mr. Randolph spent the summer, as usual, in retirement at Roan 
oke — his excitement gradually wore away, and on the return of au 
tumn he was himself again. " I saw him in the autumn of the same 
year, 1820, says a friend — he was then as perfectly in possession of 
his understanding as I ever saw him or any other man." He return- 
ed to Washington about the latter part of November, and thus writes 
to his friend Brockenbrough : 

Washington, Nov. 26, 1820. 

Dr. Dudley informs me that you have been sick of the prevailing 
Catarrh. If it has treated you as roughly as it has me, you have 
found it to be no trifling complaint. By this time, I trust you are as 
free from it as I have always found you to be from other undue in- 
fluences. My infirmities of body and mind, have nearly obliged me 
to lay aside the use of the pen. I cannot see to make or mend one, 
and am wholly at the mercy of our stationers, whose pens, like Peter 
Pindar's razors, are " made to sell," and whose interest it is that fifty 
bad pens should supply the place of one good one. Indeed I have 
little use for the instrument — the receipt of a letter being a rare 
event in my annals. I ought, perhaps, to take somewhat unkindly, 
the withdrawal of my old correspondents from an intercourse so bene- 
ficial on my side, but I do not. A commerce in which the advanta- 
ges are all on one side will never be prosecuted long — what then must 
be the case with a trade in which (as at present throughout the com- 
mercial world), both parties are losers. 

The situation of public affairs, and of my own more especially, 
disturb my daily and nightly thoughts. I believe I must even make 
up my mind to " overdraw," or to be " an unfortunate man." Can 
you put me in no way to become a successful rogue to an amount that 
may throw an air of dignity over the transaction, and divert the at- 
tention of the gaping spectators from the enormity of the offence, to 
that of the sum 1 

As to affairs here, I know nothing of them. They are carried on 
by a correspondence between Heads of Houses — I do not mean in 
the University sense of the term — but boarding-houses, who have an 
understanding with some Patron in the Ministry, to whom they " re- 
port themselves," and from whom they '• receive orders " from time to 
time. 

I dined yesterday with the S. of the T., and, although as far as I 
was concerned, the party was a very pleasant one, I can conceive of 



MISSOURI QUESTION— ACT THE SECOND 139 

nothing, in the general, more insipid than these Ministerial dinners. 
You are invited a,t Jive. The usage is to be there 15 or 20 minutes 
after the time. Dinner never served until six ; and a little after 
seven coffee closes the entertainment, without the least opportunity for 

conversation. Quant a moi, I was placed at his S ship's left hand, 

and he did me the honor to address his conversation almost exclu- 
sively to me. Now you know that as 'attentions' constitute the 
great charm of manners, so are they more peculiarly acceptable to 
them that are least accustomed to them — such as antiquated belles, 
discarded statesmen, and bankrupts of all sorts — whether in person 
or in character. 

"Nothing can be more dreary than the life we lead here. 'Tis 
something like being on board ship, but not so various. We stupidly 
doze over our sea-coal fires in our respective messes, and may truly 
be said to hibernate at Washington." 



CHAPTER XY. 

MISSOURI QUESTION. — ACT THE SECOND. 

Shortly after the opening of the session, this exciting subject again 
came up in a most unexpected form. Missouri under the " com- 
promise act" of March the 6th, 1820, had adopted a constitution with 
a clause declaring that free negroes and mulattoes should not emigrate 
into the State. It was contended that free negroes and mulattoes 
were citizens of the State of their residence ; and as such, under the 
Constitution, had a right to remove to Missouri or any other State 
in the Union, and there enjoy all the privileges and immunities of 
other citizens of the United States emigrating to the same place ; 
and, therefore, that the clause in the constitution of Missouri, above 
alluded to, was repugnant to the constitution of the United States, 
and she ought not to be admitted into the Union. On the other hand 
it was maintained that the African race, whether bond or free, were 
not parties to our political institutions ; that therefore, free negroes 
and mulattoes were not citizens, within the meaning of the constitu- 
tion of the United States : and that even if the constitution of Mis- 
souri were repugnant to that of the United States, the latter was par- 



140 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

amount, and would overrule the conflicting provision of the power, 
without the interference of Congress. 

Notwithstanding the reasonableness of this view of the subject, 
a stern and inflexible majority, the same as at the last session, re- 
pelled every proposition, in every form, which aimed at the reception 
of the offending State. Scarcely a day elapsed that did not bring up 
the question in some shape or other. The presidential election had 
taken place in November preceding ; it became the duty of the Pre- 
sident of the Senate, in presence of the other House, to count the 
votes of the States. The Senate being present, and their President 
having counted the votes of all the other States, opened the package 
containing the vote of the State of Missouri, and handed it to the 
tellers to be counted. Mr. Livermore, of New Hampshire, objected, 
because Missouri was not a State of this Union. The Senate then 
withdrew. In the House the following resolution was then submitted : 
' ; Resolved — That Missouri is one of the States of this Union, and 
her vote ought to be received and counted." An animated debate 
ensued, in which Mr. Randolph largely participated. We shall only 
bring together here, under one view, what he said on the constitu- 
tional question involved in the controversy. No man had a clearer 
perception of the meaning and spirit of that sacred instrument, more 
highly valued it as a government when properly administered, or did 
more, as the reader will see in the sequel, to restore it to its proper 
interpretation. 

Mr. Randolph said — " He could not recognize in this House, or 
the other, singly or conjointly, the power to decide on the votes of 
any State. Suppose you strike out Missouri and insert South Caro- 
lina, which has also a provision in its Constitution repugnant to the 
Constitution of the United States ; or Virginia, or Massachusetts, 
which had a test, he believed, in its Constitution ; was there any less 
power to decide on their votes than on those of Missouri ? He main- 
tained that the electoral college was as independent of Congress as 
Congress was of them ; and we have no right to judge of their pro- 
ceedings. He would rather see an interregnum, or have no votes 
counted, than see a principle adopted which went to the very founda- 
tion on which the presidential office rested. Suppose a case in which 
some gentlemen of one House or the other should choose to object to 
the vote of some State, and say that if it be thus, such a person is 
elected ; if it be otherwise, another person is elected ; did any body 
ever see the absurdity of such a proposition ? He deemed the course 



MISSOURI QUESTION— ACT THE SECOND. 141 

pursued erroneous, and in a vital part, on the ascertainment of the 
person who had been elected by the people Chief Magistrate of the 
United States, the most important office under the Constitution. 
* * * * She has now presented herself (Missouri) for the first time 
in a visible and tangible shape ; she comes into this House, not in 
forma pauperis, but claiming to be one of the co-sovereignty of this 
confederated government, and presents to you her vote, by receiving or 
rejecting which the election of your Chief Magistrate will be lawful 
or unlawful. He did not mean by the vote of Missouri, but by the 
votes of all the States. 

' ; Now comes the question, whether we will not merely repel her, 
but repel her with scorn and contumely. Cui bono ? she might add, 
quo warranto ? He should like to hear from the gentleman from 
New Hampshire (Mr. Livermore) where this House gets its authority. 
He should like to hear some of the learned (or unlearned) sages of 
the land, with which this House, as well as all our legislative bodies, 
abounds, show their authority for refusing to receive the votes of 
the State of Missouri. He went back to first principles. The elec- 
toral colleges are as independent of this House as we are of them. 
They had as good a right to pronounce on their qualifications as this 
House has of its members. Your office in regard to the electoral votes, 
is merely ministerial — to count the votes — and you undertake to re- 
ject votes ! To what will this lead ? * * * * The wisest men may 
make Constitutions on paper, as they please. What was the theory 
of this Constitution ? It is that this House, except upon a certain 
contingency, has nothing to do with the appointment of President and 
Vice-President of the United States, and by States only can it act on 
this subject, unless it transcend the limits of the Constitution. What 
was to be the practice of the Constitution as now proposed? That 
an informal meeting of this and the other House is to usurp the ini- 
tiative, the nominative power, with regard to the two first officers of 
the government ; that they are to wrest from the people their inde- 
feasible right of telling us whom they wish to exercise the functions 
of government, in despite and contempt of their decision. Is there 
to be no limit to the power of Congress 1 no mound or barrier to stay 
their usurpation 1 Why were the electoral bodies established? The 
Constitution has wisely provided that they shall assemble, each by 
itself, and not by one great assembly. By this means, assuredly, that 
system of intrigue which was matured into a science, or rather into 
an art here, was guarded against. But he ventured to say, the electo- 
ral college of this much despised Missouri, acting conformably 
to law and to the genius and nature of our institutions, if it were 
composed of but one man, was as independent of this House as 
the House was of it. ***** L e t m e tell my friend before 
me (Mr. Archer), we have not the power which he thinks we pos- 



142 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

sess ; and if there be a casus omissus in the Constitution, I want 
to know where we are to supply the defect. You may keep Missouri 
out of the Union by violence, but here the issue is joined, and 
she conies forward in the persons of her electors, instead of repre- 
sentative, and she was thus presented in a shape as unquestion- 
able as that of New-York or Pennsylvania, or the proudest and 
oldest State in the Union. Will you deny them admission ? Will 
you thrust her electors, and hers only, from this hall 1 I made no 
objection to the vote of New Hampshire ; I had as good a right to 
object to the vote of New Hampshire, as the gentleman from New 
Hampshire had to object to the vote of Missouri. The electors of 
Missouri were as much the hominus probi et legates as those of New 
Hampshire. This was no skirmish, as the gentleman from Virginia 
had called it. This was the battle where Greek meets Greek. Let 
us buckle on our armor, let us put aside all this flummery, these 
metaphysical distinctions, these unprofitable drawings of distinc- 
tions without differences ; let us say now, as we have on another oc- 
casion (the election of Jefferson and Burr in 1801), 'we will assert, 
maintain, and vindicate our rights, or put to every hazard, what you 
pretend to hold in such high estimation.' " 

These arguments, which clearly prove the false and absurd and 
dangerous position assumed by the House on the Missouri question, 
were of none avail. And yet a simple truism — a mere nullity in fact, 
in the shape of a compromise resolution, had the effect of magic in heal- 
ing all the differences that had arisen between the respective parties. 
Another sad example of the blindness and obstinacy of men, when 
passion assumes sway of their cooler judgment. 

Mr. Randolph participated in the debate on other subjects during 
this session of Congress. 

" Yesterday," says, he in a letter dated January 5th, 1821, "we 
had a triumph over the ' veteran Swiss of State ' and the S. of W. on 
the appropriation to cover Indian arrearages. He (C-- n) is po- 
litically dead. L s, towards the close of the debate, ' put in ' and 

imputed want of economy to the Committee of Ways and Means 
when I was a member. This gave me an opportunity to contrast the 
military expenditure of 1803-4-5 of 800.000— 800,000, and 700.000, 
respectively with the modern practice. In 1804 we took possession 
of New Orleans (an event utterly unlooked for) without incurring 

one farthing of additional expense. Mr. L s looked very foolish, 

and uglier than usual. Mr. M. of S. C. (the successor of Mr. 

C n's man Friday) made several attempts, I was told, to get 

the floor, in his patron's defence, but his timidity prevented success. 
* * * * You will see a most villainous report of yesterday's proceed- 



MISSOURI QUESTION— ACT THE SECOND. 14.3 

ings, in the court paper. The r 1 pretends he can't hear me. 

There was not a man in the House that did not hear me. It is a 
usual massacre. Pray ask Ritchie not to publish it. I will correct 
it for his paper, and send it on, that the people of Virginia at least 
may be undeceived. I am made to talk nonsense, such as ' kissing 
of hands ' for ' imposition of hands.' There is a studied and de- 
signed suppression of what passed." 

Besides Mr. Randolph, Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina, and 
Spencer Roane, Chief Justice of Virginia, were the most conspicu- 
ous State-rights men in that time of amalgamation and confusion of 
all parties. They were ever consistent and uniform in their adher- 
ence to the principles of the strict construction school, and always 
urgent for those measures of economy and that course of " wise and 
masterly inactivity," which must ever characterize a party based on 
such principles. Of the former of those gentlemen Mr. Randolph 
was the mess-mate while in Congress, and on terms of unreserved 
daily intercourse ; with Judge Rt)ane he did not pretend to stand on 
a footing of intimacy ; but he respected his virtues, his talents, his 
long services, and had begun to look to him as a fit person to be se- 
lected by " all the honest men" as a candidate for the presidency. 

" With the exception of my old friend, Mr. Macon," says he to 
Dr. Brockenbrough, " you are the only person with whom I hold any 
intercourse, except of that heartless sort which prevails in what is 
called the world. Your letters, therefore, are as much missed by me 
as would be an only member of one's family who should disappear at 
breakfast and leave one to a solitary and cheerless meal. So much 

of your penultimate as relates to Mr. M I shall take the liberty 

to communicate to oneoi the N. C. delegation. I am truly concerned 
at your anticipations respecting Mr. Roane's health. I earnestly 
hope that your presage may prove fallacious, although, when I reflect 
on your skill and intimate knowledge of the man, I feel very appre- 
hensive of its truth. 

" I began Fabricius, but was obliged to drop it. He sets out 
with a string of truisms conveyed in the style of a schoolboy's theme. 
Mercy upon us ! What has become of the intellect and taste of our 
country % Your secret is as safe with me as in your own breast ; but 
rely upon it, if either of the personages you mention should present 
any thing fit to be offered to the H. of D. it will be ascribed to some 
other hand, and, if it smack of the old school, to the pen of Mr. 
Roane. I differ from you about ' his being a Virginian ;' not that I 
doubt the fact. But take my word for it, he is becoming every day 
more and more known out of the State, and occupies a large space 



1-i-i LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

in the public eye. I think he can be elected easily against any one 
yet talked of." 

" I read Mr. Roane's letter," says he on another occasion, " with 
the attention that it deserves. Every thing from his pen on the sub- 
ject of our laws and institutions excites a profound interest. I was 
highly gratified at the manner in which it was spoken of in my hear- 
ing by one of the best and ablest men in our House. It is indeed high 
time that the hucksters and money-changers should be cast out of the 
Temple of justice. The tone of this communication belongs to ano- 
ther age : but for the date, who could suppose it to have been written 
in this our day of almost universal political corruption? I did not 
road the report on the lottery case. The print of the Enquirer is too 
much for my eyes ; and, besides, I want no argument to satisfy me 
that the powers which Congress may exercise, where they possess ex- 
clusive jurisdiction, may not be extended to places where they pos- 
sess solely a limited and concurrent jurisdiction. The very statement 
of the question settles it, and every additional word is but an incum- 
brance of help." 

In the same letter he says : 

" If I possessed a talent that I once thought I had, I would try 
to give you a picture of Washington. The state of things is the 
strangest imaginable ; but I am like a speechless person who has the 
clearest conception of what he would say, but whose organs refuse to 
perform their office. There is one striking fact that one can't help 
seeing at the first glance — that there is no faith among men ; the 
state of political confidence may be compared to that of the commer- 
cial world within the last two or three years. ***** Our State 
politics, like those of the General Government, are a conundrum to 
me, and I leave the unriddling of them to the ingenious writers who 
construct and solve enigmas and charades for the magazines. * * * * 

" I have been trying to read Southey's Life of Wesley for some 
days. Upon the whole, I find it a heavy work, although there are 
some very striking passages, and it abounds in curious information. 
From 279 to 285 inclusive of volume the second is very fine. Yes- 
terday I was to have dined with Frank Key, but was not well enough 
to go. He called here the day before, and we had much talk toge- 
ther. He perseveres in pressing on towards the goal, and his whole 
life is spent in endeavoring to do good for his unhappy fellow-men. 
The result is, that he enjoys a tranquillity of mind, a sunshine of the 
soul, that all the Alexanders of the earth can neither confer nor take 
away. This is a state to which I can never attain. I have made up 
my mind to suffer like a man condemned to the wheel or the stake. 
Strange as you may think it, I could submit without a murmur to 
pass the rest of my life ' on some high lonely tower, where I might 
outwatch the bear with thrice great Hermes,' and exchange the enjoy- 



HIS WILL. 145 

merits of society for an exemption from the plagues of life. These 
press me down to the very earth ; and to rid mj-self of them, I would 
gladly purchase an annuity and crawl into some hole, where I might 
commune with myself and be still." 

"Thursday, March 1, 1821. 

' ; I am in luck this morning. Johnny has brought me a letter from 
you instead of returning from the Post-offrce empty handed as usual. 
It gives me great satisfaction to find that the good people of my dis- 
trict are not dissatisfied with my course this winter. 

'■ Last night there was, as I am informed by the gentlemen of our 
club, a most disgraceful scene in the H. of R. on the Bankrupt bill, 
which, by virtue of the previous question, will be forced through the 
House without being committed, or even once read ! except by its 
title — a bill of 65 sections ! 

" The bankrupt land speculators and broken merchants are, like 
; the sons of Zeruiah, too strong for us.' So you see our coronation 
will be graced by a general jail delivery. 

'• Mrs. Brockenbrough's rheumatism, which is an opprobrium of 
medicine, gives me real concern. I sympathize with her in the liter- 
al sense of the term. 

' ; My pains are aggravated by having neither society nor books to 
relieve my ennui. 

" ' You mention whatever comes into your head' — To be sure you 
ought. It is the charm of a letter. 

-The gentlemen you mention are right in their 'attentions' to 
Miss . I consider the society of such a woman as the best possi- 
ble school for a young man, and solace for an old one. 

I have not read Col. Taylor's book, but I heartily agree with Mr. 
Jefferson that 'the Judiciary gravitates towards consolidation.' 
I consider this district to be the irovcrrw and the Supreme Court to be 
the lever of the political Archimedes. I do not know whether you 
can make out my Greek character. 

" I give you joy that this is the last epistle that you will be plagued 
with from me from this place." 



-»-*-*- 



CHAPTER XVI. 

"be not solitary; be not idle." his WILL — SLAVES. 

Mr. Randolph's solitary residence at Roanoke had become more 
and more intolerable to him. '• The boys" were off at school. Dr. 
Dudley, at his solicitation, had moved to Richmond, and he was like 

VOL. II. 7 



146 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

the " Ancient Mariner" on the wide sea — " alone — alone — all — all 
alone !" 

"You do not overrate the solitariness," says he. " of the life I lead 
here. It is dreary beyond conception, except by the actual sufferer. 
I can only acquiesce in it, as the lot in which I have been cast by 
the good providence of God, and endeavor to bear it, and the daily 
increasing infirmities, which throaten total helplessness, as well as I 
may. ' Many long weeks have passed since you heard from me' — and 
why should I write ? To say that I have made another notch in my 
tally ? or to enter upon the monstrous list of grievances, mental and 
bodily, which egotism itself could scarcely bear to relate, and none oth- 
er to listen to. You say truly : ' there is no substitute' for what you 
name. ' that can fill the heart.' The better conviction has lona; ae;o rush- 
ed upon my own, and arrested its functions. Not that it is without its 
paroxysms, which, I thank heaven, itself alone is conscious of. Perhaps 
I am wrong to indulge in this vein ; but I must write thus or not at all. 
No punishment, except remorse, can exceed the misery I feel. My 
heart swells to bursting, at past recollections ; and as the present is 
without enjoyment, so is the future without hope ; so far at least, as 
respects this world. 

" Here I am yearning after the society of some one who is not 
merely indifferent to me, and condemned, day after day, to a solitude 
like Robinson Crusoe's. But each day brings my captivity and ex- 
ile nearer to their end." 

To Dr. Brockenbrough, June 12th, he says: — "This letter is 
written as children whistle in the dark, to keep themselves from being 
afraid. I dare not look upon that ' blank and waste of the heart' 
within. Dreary, desolate, dismal — there is no word in our language, 
or any other, that can express the misery of my life. I drag on like 
a tired captive at the end of a slave-chain in an African Coifle. I go 
because I must. But this is worse than the sick man's tale." 

From this solitude he sent forth lessons that should be graven on 
the heart of every young man. His own sad experience adds weight 
to his precepts. Out of the deep anguish of his heart poured forth 
the words of wisdom. His admonitions give a sure guide to the be- 
wildered mind, and cheering hope to the depressed spirit. No young 
man can give heed to them and follow them, without finding to his 
joy that he has hit upon the true and only path of success in human 
life — he will find that activity, cheerful activity, in some useful call- 
ing in daily intercourse with his fellow man, is the business, the 
solace, and the charm of existence. 

" The true cure for maladies like yours, " says he to Dr. Dudley, 



HIS WILL. 147 

who had written in a desponding tone, " is employment. ' Be not soli- 
tary ; be not idle !' was all that Burton could advise. Rely upon it, 
life was not given us to be spent in dreams and reverie, but for ac- 
tive, useful exertion ; exertion that turns to some account to our- 
selves or to others — not laborious idleness — (I say nothing about re- 
ligion, which is between the heart and its Creator.) This preaching 
is, I know, foolish enough ; but let it pass. We have all two educa- 
tions ; one we have given to us — the other we give ourselves ; and, 
after a certain time of life, when the character has taken its ply, it is 
idle to attempt to change it. 

" If I did not think it would aggravate your symptoms, I would 
press you to come here. In the sedulous study and practice of your 
profession I hope you will find a palliative, if not a complete cure, 
for your moral disease. Yours is the age of exertion — the prime and 
vigor of life. But I have 'fallen into the sear and yellow leaf: and that 
which should accompany old age, as honor, love, obedience, troops of 
friends, {• Rega?i — What need oneV) I must not look to have; but, 
in their stead .' 

' : Rely upon it, you are entirely mistaken in your estimate of the 
world. Bad as it is, mankind are not quite so silly as you suppose. 
Look around you, and see who are held in the highest esteem. I will 
name one — Mr Chief Justice. It is not the ' rogue' who gains the 
good opinion of his own sex, or of the other. It is the man, who by 
the exercise of the faculties which nature and education have given 
him, asserts his place among his fellows ; and, whilst useful to all 
around him, establishes his claim to their respect, as an equal and 
independent member of society. He may have every other good 
quality under heaven ; but, wanting this, a man becomes an object 
of pity to the good, and of contempt to the vile. Look at Mr. Leigh, 
his brother William, Mr. Wickham, Dr. Brockenbrough, &c, &c, 
and compare them with the drones which society is impatient to 
shake from its lap. 

" One of the best and wisest men I ever knew has often said to 
me, that a decayed family could never recover its loss of rank in the 
world, until the members of it left off talking and dwelling upon its 
former opulence. This remark, founded in a long and close observa- 
tion of mankind, I have seen verified, in numerous instances, in my 
own connections ; who, to use the words of my oracle, ' will never 
thrive, until they can become "poor folks:'" he added, ' they may 
make some struggles, and with apparent success, to recover lost 
ground : they may, and sometimes do, get half way up again ; but 
they are sure to fall back ; unless, reconciling themselves to circum- 
stances, they become in form, as well as in fact, poor folks.' 

" The blind pursuit of wealth, for the sake of hoarding, is a species 
of insanity. There are spirits, and not the least worthy, who. con- 



148 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

tent with an humble mediocrity, leave the field of wealth and ambi- 
tion open to more active, perhaps more guilty, competitors. Nothing 
can be more respectable than the independence that grows out of 
self-denial. The man who, by abridging his wants, can find time to 
devote to the cultivation of his mind, or the aid of his fellow-crea- 
tures, is a being far above the plodding sons of industry and gain. 
His is a spirit of the noblest order. But what shall we say to the 
drone, whom society is eager ' to shake from her encumbered lap ?' — 
who lounges from place to place, and spends more time in ' Adoniz- 
ing' his person, even in a morning, than would serve to earn his 
breakfast? — who is curious in his living, a connoisseur in wines, fas- 
tidious in his cookery ; but who never knew the luxury of earning a 
single meal? Such a creature, 'sponging' from house to house, and 
always on the borrow, may yet be found in Virginia. One more 
generation will, I trust, put an end to them ; and their posterity, if 
they have any, must work or steal directly. 

" Men are like nations: one founds a family, the other an empire; 
both destined, sooner or later, to decay. This is the way in which 
ability manifests itself. They who belong to a higher order, like 
Newton, and Milton, and Shakspear*, leave an imperishable name. 
I have no cpiarrel with such as are content with their original obscu- 
rity, vegetate on from father to son ; ' whose ignoble blood has crept 
through clodpoles ever since the flood ;" but I cannot respect them. 
He who contentedly eats the bread of idleness and dependence is 
beneath contempt. 

" Noscitur e socio. ' Tell me your company and I will tell you 
what you are.' But there is another description of persons, of far 
inferior turpitude, against all connection with whom, of whatsoever 
degree, I would seriously warn you. This consists of men of broken 
fortunes, and all who are loose on the subject of pecuniary engage- 
ments. Time was, when I was fool enough to believe that a man 
might be negligent of such obligations, and yet a very good fellow, 
&c. ; but long experience has convinced me that he who is lax in this 
respect is utterly unworthy of trust in any other. He might do an 
occasional act of kindness (or what is falsely called generosity) when 
it lay in his way, and so may a prostitute, or a highwayman ; but he 
would plunge his nearest friends and dearest connections, the wife 
of his bosom, and the children of his loins, into misery and want, 
rather than forego the momentary gratification of appetite, vanity, or 
laziness. I have come to this conclusion slowly and painfully, but 
a rtainly. Of the Shylocks, and the smooth-visaged men of the 
world, I think as I believe you do. Certainly, if I were to seek for 
the hardest of hearts, the most obdurate, unrelenting, and cruel, I 
should find them among the most selfish of mankind. And who are 
the most selfish ? The usurer, the courtier, and above all, the spend- 



HIS WILL. 



149 



thrift. Try them once as creditors, and you will find, that even the 
Shylocks, we wot of, are not harder. 

" You know my opinion of female society. Without it, we should 
degenerate into brutes. This observation applies with tenfold force 
to young men, and those who are in the prime of manhood : for. after 
a certain time of life, the literary man may make a shift (a poor one. 
I grant) to do without the society of ladies. To a young man, nothing 
is so important as a spirit of devotion (next to his Creator) to some 
virtuous and amiable woman, whose image may occupy his heart, and 
guard it from the pollution which besets it on all sides. Neverthe- 
less, I trust that your fondness for the company of ladies may not rob 
you of the time which ought to be devoted to reading and meditating 
on your profession ; and, above all, that it may not acquire for you 
the reputation of dangler — in itself bordering on the contemptible, 
and seriously detrimental to your professional character. A cautious 
old Squaretoes, who might have no objection to employing such a one 
at the bar, would, perhaps, be shy of introducing him as a practitioner 
in his family, in case he should have a pretty daughter, or niece, or 
sister ; although all experience shows, that of all male animals, the 
dangler is the most harmless to the ladies, who quickly learn, with 
the intuitive sagacity of the sex, to make a convenience of him, while 
he serves for a butt, also. 

" Rely upon it. that to love a woman as ' a mistress,' although a 
delicious delirium — an intoxication far surpassing that of Cham- 
pagne — is altogether unessential, nay, pernicious, in the choice of a 
wife ; which a man ought to set about in his sober senses, choosing 
her, as Mrs. Primrose did her wedding-gown, for qualities that 'wear 
well.' I am well persuaded that few love-matches are happy ones. One 
thing, at least, is true, that if matrimony has its care's, celibacy has 
no pleasures. A Newton, or a mere scholar, may find employment in 
study ; a man of literary taste can receive, in books, a powerful 
auxiliary ; but a man must have a bosom friend, and children around 
him, to cherish and support the dreariness of old age." 

Just as he was about to leave home for Washington, the first of 
December, 1821, while his horses were at the door, and he booted 
and spurred, and Johnny and his travelling companion, Richard 
Randolph, impatiently waiting for him in the cold, Mr. Randolph sat 
down and wrote his will — the will which, after a long contest, was 
finally established as his last will and testament. 

In May, 1819, he wrote a will, and deposited it with Dr. Brocken- 
brough, to the following effect : 

" I give to my slaves their freedom, to which my conscience tells 
me they are justly entitled. It has a long time been a matter of the 



150 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

deepest regret to me, that the circumstances under which I inherited 
them, and the obstacles thrown in the way by the laws of the land, 
have prevented my emancipating them in my lifetime, which it is my 
full intention to do, in case I can accomplish it. 

"All the rest and residue of my estate (with the exceptions here- 
after made), whether real or personal, I bequeath to William Leigh, 
Esquire, of Halifax, attorney at law, to the Rev. Win. Meade, of 
Frederick, and to Francis Scott Key, Esqr., of Georgetown, District 
of Columbia, in trust, for the following uses and purposes, viz: 
1st. To provide one or more tracts of land in any of the States or 
Territories, not exceeding in the whole four thousand acres, nor less 
than two thousand acres, to be partitioned and apportioned by them, 
in such manner as to them may seem best, among the said slaves- 
2d. To pay the expense of their removal, and of furnishing them with 
necessary cabins, clothes, and utensils." Then follow other pro- 
visions. The will of 1821 is substantially the same as the above. 
The first item is : "I give and bequeath to all my slaves their free- 
dom, heartily regretting that I have ever been the owner of one. 
2. I give to my executor a sum not exceeding eight thousand dol- 
lars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, to transport and settle 
said slaves to and in some other State or Territory of the United 
States, giving to all above the age of forty not less than ten acres of 
land each." 

He then makes a special annuity to his " old and faithful servants, 
Essex and his wife Hetty" — the same allowance to his "woman- 
servant, Nancy" — to Juba (alias Jupiter) — to Queen — and to Johnny, 
his body-servant. 

In the codicil of 1826, he says: "I do hereby confirm the be- 
quests to or for the benefit of each and every of my slaves, whether 
by name or otherwise." 

In 1828, "Being in great extremity, but in my perfect senses," 
says he, " I write this codicil to my will in the possession of my 
friend, William Leigh, of Halifax, Esquire, to declare that that will 
is my sole last will and testament ; and that if any other be found of 
subsequent date, whether will or codicil, I do hereby revoke the 
same." 

In a codicil of 1831, Mr. Randolph says : "On the eve of embark- 
ing for the United States (he was then in London), considering my 



HIS WILL. 151 

feeble health, to say nothing of the dangers of the seas, I add this 
codicil to my last will and testament and codicils thereto, affirming 
them all, except so far as they may be inconsistent with the follow- 
ing disposition of my estate." The third item of disposition is this : 
" I have upwards of two thousand pounds sterling in the hands of Baring 
Brothers & Co., of London, and upwards of one thousand pounds, 
like money, in the hands of Gowan and Marx. This money I leave 
to my executor, Wm. Leigh, as a fund for carrying into execution my 
will respecting my slaves ; and, in addition to the provision which I 
have made for my faithful servant John, sometimes called John 
White, I charge my whole estate with an annuity to him, during his 
life, of fifty dollars, and as the only favor I ever asked of any govern- 
ment, I do entreat the Assembly of Virginia to permit the said John 
and his family to remain in Virginia." 

And finally, in his dying hour, he gathered witnesses around him ; 
and when the spirit was trembling to escape from the frail tenement 
that bound it, summoned all his energies in one last moment, and con- 
firmed, in the most solemn form, before God and those witnesses, all 
the dispositions he had made in his will, in regard to his slaves. 
' : More especially," said he, " in regard to this man !" bringing down 
his hand with force and energy on the shoulder of John, who stood 
weeping beside the couch of his expiring master and greatest benefactor. 

Let the reader pause and reflect on these things ; here are deeds, 
not promises — facts that speak for themselves ; they need no addition, 
no embellishment. Here is a man who made no pretensions to phi- 
lanthropy — despised the pretence of it. The hypocritical cant, for 
ever prating about it, pouring forth its cheap abundance of words, but 
which, unaccompanied with substantial works of true charity, are as 
sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Here is a man who cavilled 
for the nineteenth part of a hair in a matter of sheer right — who 
would admit no compromise in the Missouri question, and was ready 
to put every thing to hazard in vindication of the rights of the South. 
" I now," says he, on that occasion, " appeal to this nation, whether 
this pretended sympathy for the rights of a few free negroes is to su- 
persede the rights of the free white population, of ten times their whole 
number." These words were uttered in February, 1821. In Decem- 
ber following the same man made free, and provided for the comfort- 
able maintenance of three hundred negro slaves. Is there a man of 



152 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

that majority that voted against him, with all their professed sympa- 
thy, who would have done likewise 1 And how completely has been 
fulfilled the prophecy of Mr. Randolph, uttered on the occasion of 
the Missouri agitation — " I am persuaded that the cause of humanity 
to these unfortunates, has been put back a century — certainly a gene- 
ration — by the unprincipled conduct of ambitious men, availing them- 
selves of a good as well as of a fanatical spirit, in the nation." 

There can be no doubt, that if the agitation of this slavery ques- 
tion had not been commenced and fermented by men who had no pos- 
sible connection with it, and who, from the nature of the case, could 
have no other motive but political ambition and a spirit of aggression ; 
had that subject been left as we found it, under the compromises of 
the Constitution, and the laws of Grod and conscience, aided by an en- 
lightened understanding of their true interests — been left to work their 
silent, yet irresistible influences on the minds of men, there can be 
no doubt that thousands would have followed the example of John 
Randolph, in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, and that 
long ere this, measures would have been adopted for the final, though 
gradual, extinguishment of slavery within their borders ; as it is, that 
event has again been put off for another generation. 



CIIAPTEE XVII. 

LOG-BOOK AND LETTERS. 

" As one of the very few persons in the world (Dr. Brokenbrough) 
who really care whether I sink or swim, I am induced to send you 
the following extract from my log-book ; relying on your partiality to 
excuse the egotism ; and if you experience but the tenth part of the 
pleasure I felt on reading your account of your November jaunt, I 
shall be much gratified, as well as yourself: — 

"1821, December 10th, Monday, half-past 1 1, A. M. Left Rich- 
mond. Four miles beyond the oaks met Mrs. T b and poor Mrs. 

R h. Reached Underwood half-an-hour by run, and pushed on 

to Sutter's, where I arrived quarter past five. Very comfortable quar- 
ters. Road heavy. 

" 11th, Tuesday. Breakfasted at eight A. M., and reached Batta- 
der by quarter past twelve. Fed my horses and arrived at Freder- 



LOG-BOOK AND LETTERS. 153 

icksburg half-past three. Koad heavy. Mansfield laue almost im- 
passable. Excellent fare at Gray's, and the finest oysters I have seen 
for this ten year. 

" 1 -2th. Wednesday. Hard frost. Left Fredericksburg at nine, 
A. M. Reached Stafford, C. H., at half-past eleven, Dumfries at five 
minutes past three, P. M., and Occoguon at half-past five. I made 
no stop except to breathe the horses, from Dumfries to Xeabsco, sixty- 
five minutes three and a half miles. The five miles beyond Dumfries 
employed nearly two hours. Roads indescribable. 

••13th, Thursday. Snow; part heavy rain. Waited until meri- 
dian, when, foreseeing that if the roads froze in their then state, they 
would be impassable ; and that the waters between me and Alexan- 
dria would be out perhaps for several days, I set out in the height of 
the storm, and through a torrent of mud. and water, and sloughs of 
all degrees of viscidity, I got to Alexandria before five, where a fine 
canvas-back, and divers other good things, set my blood into circula- 
tion. 

" 14th, Friday. Bitter cold. Reached Washington half-past 
eleven. House does not sit to-day. Funeral. No southern mail. 
Waters out. 

"15th. Very cold. No southern mail. Waters out. Just beyond 
Pohick I met a man driving a double chair. 

" J. R. — ' Pray, sir, can I ford Accotink V 

" Traveller. — '■ If you drive brisk perhaps you may.' 

" J. R. — ' Did you cross it, sir V 

" T. — : Yes ; but it is rising very fast.' 

" As I pressed my little mare on. or rather as she pushed on after 
comrade and Johnny, I thought of Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour, 
of the old Gabertunzie, as, in breathless anxiety, they turned the 
head-land, and found the water-mark under water. Pohick, a most 
dangerous ford at all times, from the nature of the bend of the stream, 
which is what is called a kettle-bottom, was behind me, and no retreat 
and no house better than old Lear's hovel, except the church, where 
were no materials for a fire. When I reached Accotink. the sand- 
bank in the middle of the stream was uncovered ; but for near a mile 
I was up to the saddle-skirts. A great price, my good sir, for the 
privilege of franking a letter, and the honor of being overlooked by 
the great men. new as well as old. 

" Just at the bridge over Hunting Creek, beyond Alexandria, I 
met the mail cart and its solitary driver. The fog was Cimmerian. 

" J. R. — : How far do you go to-night, friend V 

' ; D.— ; To Stafford Court-house, sir. 'Can I ford the Accotink ?' 

- J. R. — • I think you may ; but it will be impossible before mid- 
night : I am really sorry for you.' 

" D. — ' God bless your honor.' 

vol. 11. 7* 



154 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

" I am satisfied this poor fellow encounters every night dangers 
and sufferings in comparison with which those of our heroes are flea- 
bites. 

" Friday morning. Your letter of the 25th (Christmas day) did 
not reach me until this morning. I have been long mourning over 
the decline of our old Christmas sports and pastimes, which have 
given way to a spirit of sullen fanaticism on the one hand, or affected 
fashionable refinement on the other, which thinly veils the selfishness 
and inhospitality it is designed to cover. Your own letter may be 
cited as a proof that I am no grumbler (in this instance at least) at 
the times, although friend Lancaster, after puffing me in his wfty, 
was moved by the spirit (when I would not subscribe to his books) to 
say that the character I disclaimed in the H. of R. was the one that 
fitted me. ' Difficilis, querulus, laudatur temporis acti.' You date 
on Christmas day ; you do not make the least mention of the season, 
into such ' desuetude ' has the commemoration of the nativity of the 

great Redeemer fallen. On the eve of that day P a gave a grand 

diplomatic dinner, at which Messrs. les Envoyes enrages were pre- 
sent, but held no intercourse. At this dinner J. Q. A. (the cub is a 
greater bear than the old one) gave this toast, rising from his chair 
at the time : ' Alexander the Great, Emperor of all the Russias, and 

the Cross.' Cross vs. Crescent, I presume ; and no doubt M. P a 

wrote to his court, announcing ' the disposition of this government 
towards Russia.' He is a wretched ass (this P.), who is writing a 
book on America, and whom every body quizzes. Some very laugh- 
able instances of this have been related to me. Travelling through 
Ohio, he was as much scandalized as John Wesley by the want of a 
commodite, and took the host to task about it. The fellow gravely 
assured him that were he to erect such a temple to a heathen and 
obscure deity, the people would rise in arms and burn it to the ground ; 
and this mystification completely took, and was clapped down in 
P 's notes. I expect to see it under the head of state of religion. 

" To return. The next day the parties were reconciled, and all is 
hushed up. Yesterday, I had the honor of a visit from M. l'Envoye 
de sa Majeste tres Chretienne and the Secretary of- Legation. This 
great honor and distinction (for such the folks here deem it) I sus- 
pect 1 owe to the exercise of a quality for which I have not, I fear, 
been greatly distinguished ; I mean discretion ; for, although I was 
present, I refused to be a referee, when applied to from various quar- 
ters, on the subject of the quarrel. I did not hesitate to say that cer- 
tain very offensive words imputed to de N. were not uttered by him ; 
but I declined giving any account of the matter, except to my old 
friend, Mr. Macon, and one other person, forbidding the mentioning 
of my name under the strongest sanctions. 

" On reading over the above, I perceive that it is ' horribly 



LOG-BOOK AND LETTERS. 155 

stuffed' with scraps of French. This apparent affectation (for it is 
only apparent) is owing to a silly falling in with the fashion in this 
place, where the commonest English word or phrase is generally ren- 
dered in (not always good) French. 

" I showed your letter to my most discreet friend, Mr. Macon. 
He concurs with me that the first part (relative to the chair) of what 
you heard is pretty much ' all my eye, Betty ; ' but will not agree as 
to the remainder, which I class under the same head. Else how 
comes the greatest latitudinarian in our State, and a professed one 
too, who acknowledges no : law,' but his favorite one of circumstances, 
a bank man, or any thing you please, to have received greater and 
more numerous marks of the favor of the Legislature of Virginia 
(recent ones too) than any citizen in it, the three last Presidents ex- 
cepted ? I detest mock-modesty, and will not deny that if I had the 
disposition, and could undergo the labor, (neither of which is the case,) 
I might acquire a certain degree of influence in the House, chiefly 
confined, however, to the small minority of old-fashioned Republicans. 
As to the first station, there was a time in which I might not have 
disgraced it, for I had quickness and a perfect knowledge of our 
rules and orders, with a competent acquaintance with parliamentary 
law in general. But since the dictatorship of Mr. C — y, ' on a change 
tout cela' (French again), and I am now almost as raw as our newest 
recruits. Then, too, I had habits of application to business ; but, 
my good friend, while I am running on (Alnaschar-like), I protest I 

believe the thought entered no head but Mr. S 's (to whom, of 

course, I am much obliged for his good opinion) ; for no suggestion 
of the sort ever occurred to me until I read it under your hand. 

" My days of business, of active employment, are over. , My judg- 
ment, I believe, has not deserted me, and when it does, as old George 
Mason said, I shall be the last person in the world to find it out : 
my principles I am sure have not ; and if, which God forbid, they 
should, I shall be the first person to find it out. Till that shall hap- 
pen, I will be ' the warder on the lonely hill.' 

" Why cannot all the honest men (not poor Burr's sort) unite in a 
man for the presidency who possesses: 1. Integrity, 2. firmness, 3. 
great political experience, 4. sound judgment and strong common 
sense, 5. ardent love of country and of its institutions and their spirit, 
6. unshaken political consistency in the worst of times, 7. manners (if 
not courtly) correct. I could name such a man. 

" Apropos to Burr. 1 have been reflecting this morning on the 
fate of some of the most active and influential (pardon the slang) of 
them that contributed to effectuate the change in 1800-1. Burr 
stands foremost ; Ned. Livingston ; W. C. N. ! though last, not least. 
It is mournful to think on. I might mention a good many more who 
played an under part in the drama, such as Duane, Merriwether, 
Jones. &c. &c." 



156 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

In the appropriation bill for the ensuing year, there was a large 
undefined appropriation for the Indian Department asked for by the 
Secretary of War, and was understood to be intended to cover up a 
deficiency of the past year. Mr. Randolph, the 4th of January, 1822, 
moved a re-commitment of the bill. 

" Unreasonable jealousy of the Executive Government." said he, 
" often led to the opposite extreme — a blind confidence in the govern- 
ing power. From this jealousy and confidence he felt himself free. 
He believed that this House also was as free from unreasonable 
jealousy as any reasonable body ought to be. In fact, jealousy in 
public life was like that same ' green-eyed monster' in the domestic 
circle, which poisoned the source of all social happiness. It was 
extraordinary, and yet apparent, that the case had occurred in which 
confidence had lost its true character, and taken another, which he 
would not name in this House. It was remarkable, as well on the 
other side of the Atlantic as this, that a general suspicion had gone 
abroad, that the department which emphatically holds the purse- 
strings of the nation, was more remiss than any other in guarding 
against the expenditure of its subordinate agents. If it should be 
generally and unanswerably understood, that the body whose duty 
it was to guard the public treasure from wasteful expenditure, had 
abandoned their trust to a blind confidence in the dispensers of pub- 
lic patronage, they must immediately and justly lose all the confi- 
dence of the community. He had heard yesterday, with astonish- 
ment, a proposition to surrender inquiry to a confidence in the 
integrity and ability in the officer who had made the requisition. 
When this House should be disposed to become a mere chamber in 
which to register the edicts, not of the President, but of the heads of 
departments, it would be unimportant whether the members of this 
House professed to represent 35,000 freemen, or collectively the 
single borough of Sarum. This proceeding was to him unprece- 
dented. * * * * He would give to the Government his confidence 
when it was necessary, and he would not give it to the Government, 
nor to any man further than that, unless to his bosom friend. But 
there was a wide difference between voting for an advance for the 
service of the current year, and voting for the same sum to cover a 
deficiency of the past year, under cover of an advance for the present 
year." 

The same day, January 4th, before making the above speech, he 
thus writes to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

" A question will come on to-day respecting an appropriation, 
ostensibly in advance (or ' on account,' as trading folks say) of the 
military expenditures of the current year ; but really to cover a defi- 



LOG-BOOK AND LETTERS. 157 

ciency (or excess of expenditure) for the last year. The sum is only 
$100,000; yet, my word for it! this honest gentleman (who had 
kept him up half a night to win back a few dollars) will vote it with- 
out the least scruple, at the nod of an executive officer. In short, 
the greater part of us view with equal eye 

' The public million and the private groat.' 

" The ' arguments' yesterday, when the question was pending, 
were ' Having the fullest confidence in the head of the war depart- 
ment ;' ' can any gentleman believe or suppose that the Secretary of 
War could ask an improper appropriation,' &c, &c, all to the same 
tune ; and although Tracey, of New- York, and Trimble, of Kentucky, 

distinctly opposed the imposition, that old sinner, of ' MarlandJ 

by sheer force of lungs, induced some right well-meaning people to 
think the objections (which they did not understand, nor the answer 

neither) satisfactorily repelled. Even L s, with whom I dined, 

agreed that the thing was wrong ; said he had told S. S. it ought to 
be in a separate grant, expressive of its true character ; but that S. 
said ' he did not like to trust it,' and so thrust it in the partial appro- 
priation bill for 1822, where he hoped, no doubt, it would pass unob- 
served. 

" By the way, I believe I wrote that C n had ' accepted.' 

He and L. are, I think, shot dead by their want of retenue. More 
French, and I am not sure that it is good French. 

'• On the day of your ' debauch,' I dined with Van Buren and the 
whole New-York delegation in both Houses, with the V. P. at their 
head. Although it no doubt had a meaning like ' the shake of the 
head' in the ' Critic,' I did not exactly find it out, but I believe I was 
not far off the true construction. Many here think that neither 

C n, nor C s, nor C y will be ' run' — that this is but a 

ruse de guerre to weaken C d and of course strengthen the East- 
ern and Northern interest. 

" Since I came to the House, Baldwin, speaking of the present 
candidate, said to me — " The people ought to put down (I trust they 
will) every man who has put himself forward at this premature time.' 
I left my letter open for what I might hear, and I have heard nothing 
else." 

•' Washington, Jan. 13, 1822. — My good friend — I had taken it 
for granted that you were gone. Orpheus like, to fetch your wife from 
the infernal regions, or at least through infernal ways, when I received, 
this morning, your welcome letter of Friday (the 11th). The truth 
is, I am disappointed by the Enquirer, and so you may tell him. Al- 
though it is not very desirable to be studiously misrepresented and 
caricatured to the rest of the States, yet I was fain to content myself 
with standing (substantially at least, if not in form) on my own title, 



158 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

with the good people of poor old Virginia (God help her !) through 
the medium of the Enquirer. When any of the courtiers are to speak, 

G- s takes his seat in his box, and makes the best report he can : 

e. g. McD 's speech, which is greatly softened in point of arro- 
gance, and which is much improved by the total omission of the sui- 
cidal declaration towards its close, that the money was wanting ' to 
pay vouched accounts then lying on the Secretary of War's table.' 
When one of the country party speak, the duty is devolved upon an 
incapable deputy ; but mere incapacity will not account for such man- 
ifest and repeated perversions. Take the following as some among 
the most glaring in the last report of a speech which satisfied many 
others much more than it did its author. (Here follow numerous cor- 
rections of the report alluded to.) 

" The words for which I was called to order by S., are not those 
stated in the report. Those words were subsequently used — I said 
not one syllable about the soldiers ' dealing in perfumery.' What the 
creature means I can't even divine. In short, it may be considered 
as the greatest outrage of the sort ever committed." 

" Tuesday, Jan. 15. 1822. — I wrote you a letter the day before 
yesterday, in a character that might have passed for Sir Anthony 
Scrabblestone's. You no doubt remember that old acquaintance of 
our reverend friend the holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, and are full as 
well acquainted with his handwriting as that pious anchorite was 
with his person. However, I have (in addition to the apology that 
my implements are furnished by contract) the further justification of 
my Lord Arlington's high authority 

" Did you preserve the Baltimore paper that contained No. 18, of 
: a Native Virginian?' Nos. 19 and 20 have since been sent me. 
They are well written, and unanswered, if not unanswerable. Had 
they appeared in a paper of general circulation, and one that possess- 
ed any share of public confidence, they would, I think, have produced 
some effect, if indeed the public be not dead to all sensation. 

" There is a young man here by the name of Chiles, making re- 
ports of our proceedings for the ' Boston Daily Advertiser.' Mr. 
Mills of the Senate (from Massachusetts) gave me his report of the 
doings of Friday, the 4th instant — with the help of such a report as 
that. I could have given Mr. Ritchie what I said almost verbatim. 
Bat the truth is, that after the occasion passes away, I can seldom rc- 
c:ill what I said until I am put in mind, by what I did not say, or by 
Millie catch-word; at the same time, I have given Mr. Ritchie the 
substance, and, where any particular word or incident occurred, the 
very language that I used. I am determined, hereafter, to wait for 
Chiles's report from Boston, and with a slight alteration, when neces- 
sary, I will send it to the Enquirer. The N. I. does not condense as 
lie pretends. Of all the speeches made on the subject, it was the 



LOG-BOOK AND LETTERS 159 

longest and the most audible. In the report it is one of the shortest, 
and yet stuffed with expletives not used by me, as well as perver- 
sions of meaning. There is no mistaking this, when continually oc- 
curring. 

" The discussion of the M. A. bill has done me no service." 

'•'Jan. 18. 1822. — I'm afraid you think me such a tiresome ego- 
tist that you are fain to drop my correspondence. To say the truth, 
I am vexed at being made to talk such nonsense, and bad English 
into the bargain — 'proven' cum multis aliis ejusdem farinae, familiar 
enough, indeed, to congressional ears, but which never escaped from 
my lips. 

u There is a very impudent letter in Walsh, which I half suspect 
he wrote to himself — ; hungry mouths to stop, and dogs not above 
eating dirty pudding' — must sound peculiarly offensive in his ears, 
since he could not even get the run of the kitchen when he was here 
in 1816-17. At that time he had the effrontery to tell me to my 
face, that he had no doubt I was far more eloquent than Patrick 
Henry. The Intelligencer puts words into my mouth that I never 
uttered, and these furnish the basis of Mr. W.'s comments, with those 
great critics and annotators — for ' debate,' read ' detail ' (which I 
said neither health nor inclination allowed me to enter into), and 
what becomes of the comment 1 Of one thing I am sure, that the 
House is not yet becoming tired of me ; and I shall take especial 
care that it do not." 

"Jan. 19. — My avocations are such, that my time, like my 
money, runs away in driblets, without producing an 'effected I have 
more than once thought of using my pen in some other way besides 
scribbling to you : but, some how or other. I can find none so pleasant, 
and time is always wanting. I have read nothing, but have been 
very much in company. Like the long waists of our mothers. I really 
believe I am growing, if not generally, at least somewhat, in fashion. 
But I hope I am not so old a fool as to presume upon this ; for of all 
fools, an old one is the least tolerable. 

K Like most jmrvenus, the man you mention is a sorry black- 
guard, in dress, manners, figure (a complete paddy), countenance, 
and principle. I could have given him ' such a sackfull of sair 
bones,' that he could have borne the marks to his grave. But I pur- 
posely abstained from the slightest notice of him. It is not the least 
of our success against temptation, to suppress the overwhelming re- 
tort, and, just as it rises to the tongue, to give a good gulp and swal- 
low it." 

.. F e0 [ — You will see a correction of Gales's in yesterday's Intel- 
ligencer. He has restored the words that I used, almost verbatim. 
They were these : ' Transubstautiation, I was going to say ; but I 
would not, from respect to a numerous and most respectable class of 



1(30 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

persons ; but would say, as any in priestcraft, kingcraft, or another 
craft which (as great as is the Diana of the Ephesians !) I would not 
name.' Yet I have received an indignant remonstrance from a 
Roman Catholic of Washington City, ' on my invective against that 
sect,' of which you may see some notice in to-morrow's Moniteur. 

Administration is sunk into much contempt with our House, and 
the other too. They hail from ' four corners.' Instead of Dana's 
' triangular war,' we have a quadrangular one. They must dissolve 
in their own imbecility. By the way, I want my ' native Virginian,' 
when you are clone with him. 

" I trust the Virginian Government will not be weak enough to 
dismiss the " claim " of Kentucky. I suspect it was got up to defray 
C s' electioneering campaign for the winter." 

" Feb. 7. — I am at last gratified by a letter from you. To say 
the truth, I had rather, much rather, that the thing had not ap- 
peared ; but as to ' being affronted ' at it, that was out of the ques- 
tion. Indeed, if I do not egregiously deceive myself, a great change 
has been wrought in my character. I am become quiet and sedate — 
torpid, if you will — but much less disposed to take or give offence 
than I once was. This remark is made, not in reference to the little 
incident above alluded to, but in that vein of egotism to which I am 
too prone. 

" Y"ou do right in endeavoring to reconcile L. and T. ; but in the 
course of my observation, I cannot recall a single instance of cordi- 
ality between reconciled friends. Poor human nature ! The view 
which I am compelled to take of it every day, augments my pity for 
it. We dare not trust ourselves with the truth. It is too terrible. 
Hence the whole world is in masquerade. ' Words were invented,' 
said Talleyrand, ' to conceal our thoughts.' Hence, a conventional 
language, in which it is understood that things are never to be 
called by their right names, and which at last ceases to answer its 
original design, except with the vulgar great and small. 

" I must be a very uncommon personage to ' astonish all the 
world' with what I do not do. Since I am not able to astonish them 
with my exploits, it is very good in them to be negatively charged on 
my account. I heartily wish that I had never given them any other 
cause of wonder. 

" Poor T. T r ! I know his disease. It has been killing me 

inch-meal, a long, long while. Give him my best regards. It is a 
dreadful thing to find out, as he has done, too late, what stuff the 
world is made of ; to have an illusion dispelled that made life agree- 
able to us. Did you ever read ' Cobbett's Sermons,' or his ' Cottage 
Economy V If not, pray do. They are written with great originality 
and power, and I heartily wish they were in the hands of all who 
can read. 



THE APPORTIONMENT BILL. IQ\ 

<; There has been a great deal of stuff uttered in our House for 
the last two or three days. It has degenerated into a mere bear 
garden ; and, really, when I see strangers on the platform, I feel 
ashamed of belonging to the body. I have been a good deal pressed 
to join the squabble ; for it don't deserve the name of debate ; but I 
have refrained, if the expression can be applied, where, instead of 
desire, one feels only disgust. I have not yet seen the Chief Justice, 
although we have exchanged visits. I am glad to hear that you in- 
tend to ' write again soon.' If you knew the feeling I have when a 
letter from you is brought in, you would shower them down like snow. 
My health and spirits are incurably bad. If I can raise the money, 
I mean to dissipate my chagrin and ennui in some foreign land. In- 
cessant change of place, and absence of all occupation, seem indis- 
pensable to my tolerable existence. I am become almost reconciled 
to pain ; but there is a sensation of another sort that is worse than 
death. Familiar as I am to it, it serves but to increase its misery. 
At this moment, I am obliged to relinquish my pen from the com- 
bined effects of bodily disease and mental distress. Adieu. 

"J. R. of R." 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

THE APPORTIONMENT BILL. 

" Government, to be safe and to be free, must consist of Representatives having a 
common interest and a common feeling with the represented." — John Ran- 
dolph. 

The great business of the session was the apportionment of repre- 
sentatives among the States, according to the new census. It seems 
to have been the policy of Congress, as the population increased, to 
increase the ratio of representation from decade to decade, so as to 
keep down the numbers of the House of Representatives. This sub- 
ject was one of exciting interest to all parties. None felt more deeply 
than Mr. Randolph, not only the importance of the principles involved 
but the serious influence the new apportionment was likely to have 
on the relative weight and standing of the old Commonwealth which 
he had been so proud to represent for so many years, as the Empire 
State. " Yesterday I rose, (says he, the 7th of February, the day the 
question was taken) at 3, and to-day at 2, A. M. I cannot sleep. 



162 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Two bottles of champagne, or a dozen of gas, could not have excited 
me like this apportionment bill." 

A variety of propositions were made to fix the ratio, ranging from 
35,000 to 75,000. The committee reported 40,000. Mr. Tucker, of 
Virginia, proposed 38,000. By the ratio of the committee, Virginia 
would lose one member, and fall below New-York and Pennsylvania. 
By the ratio of Mr. Tucker she would retain her present delegation in 
Congress. Mr. Randolph was in favor of the latter proposition. But 
his arguments reach far beyond the particular interest his own State 
had in the question. They are profound and statesmanlike — are wor- 
thy of our most serious consideration — and the principle they evolve 
should be made a cardinal doctine in the creed of those who hold that 
the responsibility of the representative — the independence and sover- 
eignty of the States, and the cautious action of the Federal Govern- 
ment on the subjects strictly limited to it, are the only sound rules 
for interpreting the Constitution. The danger is in having too small 
a representation. No country was ever ruined by the expense of its 
legislation ; better pay an army of legislators than an army of soldiers. 

" I cannot enter into the reasoning," said Mr. Randolph, " which 
goes to show that two hundred members, or this ratio of 42.000, or 
what not, is to serve some great political purpose, whilst one member 
more or less, or 1000 in the ratio, more or less, would produce a ca- 
lamitous effect. To such prescience which could discover such impor- 
tant effects from such causes he had no claim ; but this he would say, 
it was made an objection to the Constitution by some of the greatest 
men this country ever produced, and perhaps as great as it ever would 
produce. It was, in itself, a vital objection to George Mason's putting 
his hand to the Constitution, that the representation in Cougress was 
limited not to exceed one member for every 30,000 souls, whilst on 
the other hand, a most unbounded discussion was given over the in- 
crease of the ratio. It was an objection to the Constitution, on the 
part of some of the wisest men this country ever produced. It was an 
objection on the part of Patrick Henry, whose doubts, I need not ask 
you, Mr. Speaker, to recur to. I fear you have been too familiar 
with them in the shape of verified predictions, whose doubts experi- 
ence has proved to be prophetic. On a question of this sort, shall we 
be told of the expense of compensating a few additional members of 
this body 1 He knew we had, in a civil point of view, perhaps the 
most expensive government under the sun. We had. taking one gen- 
tleman's declaration, an army of legislators. There was a time, and he 
wished he might live to see it again, when the legislators of the country 



THE APPORTIONMENT BILL. 1Q3 

outnumbered the rank and file of the army, and the officers to boot. 
I wish I may see it again. Did any man ever hear of a country ru- 
ined by the expense of its legislation? Yes. as the sheep are ruined 
by so much as is required for the nourishment of the dogs. As to 
the civil list, to pay a host of legislators, is it this pay that has run 
up the national debt? Is it their pay that produces defalcations of 
the revenue ? Did mortal man ever hear of a country that was ru- 
ined by the expense of its civil list, and more especially by the legis- 
lative branch of it? We must take a number that is convenient for 
business, and at the same time sufficiently great to represent the in- 
terests of this great empire. This empire, he was obliged to say, 
for the term republic had gone out of fashion. He would warn, not 
this House, for they stood in no need of it, but the good, easy, sus- 
ceptible people of this country, against the empiricism in politics, 
against the delusion that because a government is representative, 
equally representative, if you will, it must therefore be free. Govern- 
ment, to be safe and to be free, must consist of representatives having 
a common interest and common feeling with the represented. 

When I hear of settlements at the Council Bluffs, and of bills for 
taking possession of the mouth of the Columbia River, I turn, not a 
deaf ear, but an ear of a different sort to the sad vaticination of 
what is to happen in the length of time : believing, as I do, that 
no government extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific can be fit 
to govern me, or those whom I represent. There is death in the pot, 
compound it how you will. No such government can exist, because it 
must want the common feeling and common interest with the govern- 
ed, which is indispensable to its existence. * * * * The first House 
of Representatives consisted of but sixty-five members. Mr. Ran- 
dolph said he well remembered that House. He saw it often, and 
that very fact was, he said, to him a serious objection to so small a 
representation on this floor. The truth is, said he, we came out of 
the old Constitution in a chrysalis state, under unhappy auspices. 
The members of the body that framed the Constitution were second 
to none in respectability. But they had been so long without power, 
they had so long seen the evils of a government without power, that 
it begot in them a general disposition to have king Stork substituted 
for king Log. They organized a Congress to consist of a small num- 
ber of members, and what was the consequence ? Every one in the 
slightest degree conversant with the subject must know, that on the 
first step in any government depends, in a great degree, the charac- 
ter and complexion of that government. What, I repeat, was the 
consequence of the then limited number of the representative body ? 
Many, very many, indeed all that could be called fundamental laws, 
were passed by a majority, which, in the aggregate, hardly exceeded in 
number the committee which was the other day appointed to bring in 



164 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

the bill now on your table ; and thereby, said he, hangs (not a tale, 
but) very serious ones, which it is improper to open here and now. 
Among the other blessings which we have received from past legisla- 
tion, we should not have been sitting at this place if there had been 
a different representation. Those who administered the government 
were in a hurry to go into the business of legislation before they 
were ready — and here I must advert to what had been said with re- 
gard to the redundance of debate. For my part, said he, I wish we 
could have done nothing but talk, unless, indeed, we had gone to 
sleep for many years past ; and coinciding in the sentiment which 
had fallen from the gentlemen from New-York, give me fifty speeches. 
I care not how dull or how stupid, rather than one law on the 
statute book ; and if I could once see a Congress meet and adjourn 
without passing any act whatever, I should hail it as one of the most 
acceptable omens. * * * * The case of a State wisely governed by 
its legislature, that of Connecticut, for example," he argued, ' ; would 
be preposterously applied to this government, representing as it does 
more than a million of square miles, and more than twenty millions 
of people, for such ere long would be the amount of our population. 
To say that 200 shall be the amount of our representation, and then 
to proportion that number among the States, would be putting the 
cart before the horse, or making a suit of clothes for a man and then 
taking his measure. The number of representatives ought to be suf- 
ficient to enable the constituent to maintain with the representative 
that relation without which representative government was as great a 
cheat as transubstantiation — he was going to say — but would not, 
from respect to a numerous and most respectable class of persons, 
but he would say, as any priest-craft, king-craft, or another craft, 
which (as great is the Diana of the Ephesians !) he would not name. 
When I hear it proposed elsewhere to limit the numbers of the re- 
presentatives of the people on this floor, I feel disposed to return 
the answer of Agesilaus when the Spartans were asked for their 
arms — ' come and take them !' — It appeared to be the opinion of some 
gentlemen, who seemed to think that He who made the world should 
have consulted them about it, that our population would go on in- 
creasing, till it exceeded the limits of the theory of our representative 
government. He rememberered a case in which it had been seriously 
proposed, and by a learned gentleman too, that inasmuch as one of 
his brethren was increasing his property in a certain ratio, in the 
course of time it would amount, by progressive increase, to the value 
of the whole world, and this man would thus become master of 
the world. These calculations would serve as charades, conun- 
drums, and such matters, calculated to amuse the respectable 
class (much interested in such matters) of old maids and old bache- 
lors, of which Mr. R. said he was a most unfortunate member. To 
this objection, that the number of the House would soon become 



THE APPORTIONMENT BILL. K35 

too great, to this bugbear it was sufficient to reply, that when the 
case occurred it would be time to provide for it. We will not take 
the physic before we are sick, remembering the old Italian epitaph. 
' I was well. I would be better. I took physic, and here I am.' * * * * 
He was in favor of making the House as numerous as the Consti- 
tution would permit, always keeping within such a number as would 
not be inconvenient to the House for the transaction of business. 
For, in that respect, the legislature of a little Greek or Swiss repub- 
lic might be as numerous as that of the Kingdom of Great Britain 
The only limit was, the capacity to do business in one chamber ; and 
it was desirable to have as great a number as would keep on this side 
of a mob. 

" One of the most profound female writers of the present age — 
and, perhaps, he might amend by striking out the word female — had 
pointed out the superiority of the legislative body of England over 
that of France, from the circumstance that, of the British Parlia- 
ment, no man is permitted to read a speech, but is obliged to pro- 
nounce it extempore ; while in the French Legislative Assembly, the 
rage for making speeches was excited by the usage, that any member 
who could manufacture one. or get some one else to do it for him, 
ascended the tribune, and delivered, and afterwards published it : 
and hence their notion, that an assembly of more than one hundred. 
if composed of Newtons, might be called a mob. The practice in 
England naturally forced out the abilities of the house. The speaker 
was obliged to draw on his own intellectual resources, and upon those 
talents with which heaven had endowed him. Talents descend from 
heaven ; they are the gift of God ; no patent of nobility can confer 
them ; and he who had the right, beyond a monarch's power to grant, 
did conduct the public affairs of the country. By the contrary prac- 
tice, according to Madame Be Stael, the French nation was cheated, 
and men passed for more than they were worth. * * * * A gentle- 
man from Georgia had feared a large ratio would introduce an oli- 
garchy. But it would be recollected that our government, in its 
head, was monarchical. It was useless to quarrel about words, for 
such is the fact ; and, as some writers say, not the best form of mo- 
narchy, the elective ; but on this he would express no opinion. There 
was another body that was oligarchical — the Senate, and an oligar- 
chy of the worst, for the representatives of the State sovereignties 
were not revocable by them. What would become of the House of 
Representatives if the whole rays of Executive influence were to be 
concentrated upon it 2 It would be consumed, or, like a diamond 
under a lens, would evaporate. Nevertheless, there were dull speeches 
delivered in the Houses of Parliament, as well as here. Witness 
those of Mr. Fuller, or of Mr. Drake. This was one of those cases 
in which the maxim de mortuis nil nisi bonum did not hold. He 
complained of the growth of the contingent expenses of the House. 



166 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

which had been incurred for the accommodation of the members, in a 
profusion of stationery, easy arm-chairs, and a mass of printed docu- 
ments that nobody reads ! These accommodations, like those at 
Banks, did no good to those who made use of them. He believed 
that an increased ratio would be one of the means of getting rid of 
these incumbrances." 

These observations are worthy of most serious consideration. In 
the opinion of Mr. Randolph, an enlargement of the numbers of the 
House of Representatives would, in the end, produce an economy of 
expenditure for their own accommodation, would reduce the chances 
of executive influence, give a more immediate and responsible repre- 
sentation to the people, enlarge the field of political interest in the 
country, by bringing the representative and the represented more 
closely together, would lessen the propensity, and take away the faci- 
lities for sectional combinations and partial and unconstitutional 
legislation, more effectually call forth the real talent and patriotism 
of the House, and add to the weight and respectability of the States, 
which are the only opposing forces and counterweights to the strong 
centripetal tendencies of the Federal Government. These are results 
greatly to be desired. The wisest men foresaw the dangers of too 
small a representation. It was a serious objection to the Constitu- 
tion. We have felt the evil consequences in more ways than one. 
Let the evil be remedied : reduce the army ; reduce the navy ; they 
have almost become useless in our vastly-extended territory and com- 
manding position. Build no more fortifications ; build no more ships 
but steam-ships, and make them useful as mail-carriers and explorers 
of unknown regions. Abolish the land system (which is expensive), 
and sell out to the States the public lands within their respective 
borders. Collect no more revenue than is needed for an economical 
administration of the government. Increase the representatives of 
the people in Congress ; let them avoid all doubtful questions ; con- 
fine themselves to the few subjects of a common interest, specifically 
delegated, and proceed on the maxim, that a " wise and masterly in- 
activity " in the science of legislation, as well as in the practice of the 
healing art, is the truest evidence of wisdom and prudence. When 
these things are done, then the great danger so much apprehended 
by our fathers need no longer to be the cause of uneasiness to their 
children, and we may go on adding State after State until our Fede- 
rative Union shall overspread the whole continent. The truth is. 



THE APPORTIONMENT BILL. 167 

the addition of States from different sections of widely-diversified and 
opposing interests has done more than any thing else to bring back 
the action of the government to its legitimate sphere, by diminishing 
the chances and the desire of sectional combinations. 

Mr. Randolph's efforts were all in vain. The ratio was fixed at 
40.000 On the 6th of February, by means of the previous question, 
the bill was carried by a vote of nearly two to one, and Virginia, 
henceforth, had to take her rank, in numerical strength at least, as 
a second or third-rate State. Mr. Randolph spoke most feelingly on 
the occasion. 

" I confess," said he, " that I have (and I am not ashamed to own 
it) an hereditary attachment to the State that gave me birth. I shall 
act upon it as long as I act upon this floor, or any where else. I 
shall feel it when I am no longer capable of acting any where. But 
I beg gentlemen to bear in mind, if we feel the throes and agonies 
which they impute to us at the sight of our departing power, there is 
something in fallen greatness, though it be in the person of a despot — 
something to enlist the passions and feelings of men, even against 
their reason. Bonaparte himself believed he had those who sympa- 
thized with him. But if such be our condition — if we are really so 
extremely sensitive on this subject — do not gentlemen recollect the 
application of another received maxim in regard to sudden, I will 
not say upstart, elevation, that some who are once set on horseback, 
know not. nor care not, which way they ride ? I am a man of 
peace. With Bishop Hall, I take no shame to myself for making 
overtures of pacification, when I have unwittingly offended. But, 
sir, I cannot permit, whatever liberties may be taken with me, I can- 
not permit any that may be taken with the State of Virginia to pass 
unnoticed on this floor. I hope the notice which I shall always take 
of them will be such as not only becomes a member of this House, 
but the dignity of that ancient State." 

While the star of Virginia was in the ascendant, and her do- 
minion was acknowledged by all, her course was one of self-sacrifice. 
A royal domain she surrendered as a peace-offering to the Confede- 
ration ; she exhausted her own resources to fill the common treasury ; 
ever careful of the rights of others, she neglected her own, and stu- 
died more the common welfare than her private interest. No statute 
can rise up and condemn her as mean or selfish, unjust or wasteful. 

Let those who are now in the ascendant go and do likewise ; 
above all, let them take care that the maxim given by Mr. Randolph 
as a warning, prove not prophetic — " that some who " (by sudden ele- 



') 



163 LIFE 0F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

vation) " are once set on horseback, know not, nor care not, which 
way they ride." 

Next day after the passage of the bill, Mr. Randolph thus writes 
to his friend Brockenbrough. 

Washington, Thursday, 4 o'clock p. m., Feb. 7, 1822. 
From Dudley's letter, written the day after the event, I had an- 
ticipated the cause of my not having heard from you within the 
week. My good friend, " neither can I write," but for a different 
reason. I am now down, abraded., by long-continued stretch of mind 
and feeling. We may now cry out " Ichabod," for our glory is de- 
parted. I made last night my final effort to retrieve our fortunes, 
and the Virginia delegation (to do them justice, sensible when too 
late of their error) did what they could to second me. I do them 
this justice with pleasure, if there was one I did not note the excep- 
tion. Had they supported me from the first, we could have carried 

38,000 or 38,500. S e of W e got alarmed at my earnest 

deprecation of the conduct of the majority, of which he was one, 
and came to me repeatedly, and tried to retrace his steps. So did 
some others (i. e. "try back "), but the mischief had gone too far to 
be remedied. Our fathers have eaten grapes, and my teeth, at least, 
are set on edge. I am sensible that I have spoken too much, and 
perhaps my friends at a distance may think me more faulty in this 
respect than they would do, had they been on the spot— for since my 
first (also unpublished) opposition to the "Yazoo " bill, I have never 
spoken with such effect upon the House, as on Saturday last : and 
I am certain by their profound attention last night, that I lost no- 
thing even with them that divided against me, at least the far greater 
part & of them. If in this I shall find' by the representation of others 
that my self-love has deceived me, I will be more than ever on my 
guard against that desperately wicked and most deceitful of all 
things, my own heart. I pray you, therefore, not to have the fear of 
the Archbishop of Grenada before your eyes, but tell me truly, if I 
am mistaken. This you can readily learn through Mr. Ritchie, to 
whom please show this letter, or through some of our assembly men, 
or others, who have correspondents here. I do not want to know 
the source whence your information comes ; nor yet am I setting a 
clap-trap, vain as I am (for vanity I know is imputed to me by my 
enemies, and I fear (as has been said) that they come nearer the 
truth of one's character than our friends do), and sweet as applause 
is. (Dr. South says of the seekers of praise, that they search for 
what "flashes for a moment in the face like lightning, and perhaps 
says he, it hurts the man.") I fish for no opinion on the character 
of' my endeavors to render public service, except as regards their 
too frequent repetition ; it is rather to obtain the means of hereafter 
avoidiug censure that this request is made. 



DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE. 1(39 



CHAPTER XIX. 

PINCEJSTEY, MARSHALL, TAZEWELL — DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE. 

Monday, the 25th of February, Mr. Randolph prematurely an- 
nounced the death of William Pinckney, a Senator from Maryland, 
and a distinguished jurist and orator. He had obtained the infor- 
mation from one of the Judges of the Supreme Court, who came in 
while the House was in session, and gave the information to Mr. Ran- 
dolph as coming from a gentleman of the bar, who told him he had 
seen the corpse. Mr. Randolph immediately rose and pronounced 
the following eulogy, which, considering that it was sudden and ex- 
temporaneous, is unsurpassed in eloquence : 

He arose to announce to the House the death of a man who filled 
the first place, in public estimation, in the first profession in that es- 
timation, in this or any other country : — 

" We have been talking," says he, " of General Jackson, and a 
greater man than he is not here, but gone for ever ! I allude, sir, to 
the boast of Maryland and the pride of the United States — the pride 
of us all, and particularly the pride and ornament of that profession 
of which you, Mr. Speaker (Stephenson), are a member, and an emi- 
nent one. He was a man with whom I lived when a member of this 
House, and a new one too ; and ever since he left it for the other — I 
speak it with pride — in habits not merely negatively friendly, but of 
kindliness and cordiality. The last time I saw him was on Saturday, the 
last Saturday but one, in the pride of life and full possession and vigor 
of all his faculties, in that lobby. He is now gone to his account (for 
as the tree falls so it must lie), where we must all go — where I must 
soon go, and by the same road, too — the course of nature ; and where 
all of us, put off the evil day as long as we may, must also soon go. 
For what is the past but a span ; and which of us can look forward to 
as many years as we have lived % The last act of intercourse between 
us was an act, the recollection of which I would not be without for 
all the offices that all the men of the United States have filled or ever 
shall fill. He had, indeed, his faults, his foibles ; I should rather say 
sins. Who is without them? Let such, such only, cast the first 
stone. And these foibles, if you will, which every body could see, 
because every body is clear-sighted with regard to the faults and foi- 
bles of others, he, I have no doubt, would have been the first to ac- 
knowledge, on a proper representation of them. Every thing now is 

VOL. II. 8 



170 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

hidden from us — not, God forbid, that utter darkness rests upon the 
grave, which, hideous as it is, is lighted, cheered, and warmed with 
light from heaven ; not the impious fire fabled to be stolen from 
heaven by the heathen, but by the Spirit of the living God, whom we 
all profess to worship, and whom I hope we shall spend the remainder 
of the day in worshipping ; not with mouth honor, but in our hearts, 
in spirit and in truth ; that it may not be said of us also, ' This people 
draweth nigh unto me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' 
Yes, it is just so ; he is gone. I will not say that our loss is irrepar- 
able, because such a man as has existed may exist again. There has 
been a Homer, there has been a Shakspeare, there has been a Mil- 
ton, there has been a Newton. There may be another Pinckney, but 
there is none now. And it was to announce this event that I have 
risen. I am almost inclined to believe in presentiments. I have 
been all along, as well assured of the fatal termination of that disease 
with which he was afflicted as I am now ; and I have dragged my 
weary limbs before sunrise, to the door of his sick chamber (for I 
would not intrude on the sacred grief of the family), almost every 
morning since his illness. From the first, I had almost no hope." 

In these early and pious visitations to the sick chamber of virtue 
and genius, he was frequently accompanied by the Chief Justice. 
What a beautiful and touching tribute to the memory of Pinckney, 
that the greatest orator and statesman, and the greatest jurist of his 
age, should watch with so much interest and tenderness, the last ex- 
piring breath of him who in life had rivalled the one in eloquence and 
the other in profound learning. 

Though premature, the event of Mr. Pinckney's death soon fol- 
lowed the announcement. 

" Mr. Pinckney (says Randolph to a friend) breathed his last 
about 12 o'clock (midnight). The void cannot be filled. I have not 
slept, on an average, two hours, for the last six days. I have been 
at his lodgings, more than half a mile west of mine, every day, by 
sunrise — often before — and this morning before daybreak. I heard 
from him last night at ten, and sat up (which I have not done before 
for six weeks) until the very hour that he expired. He died literally 
in harness. To his exertions in the Dudley cause, and his hard train- 
ing to meet Tazewell in the cochineal case, as 'tis called, may be fairly 
ascribed his death. The void will never be filled that he has left. 
Tazewell is second to no man that ever breathed ; but he has taken 
almost as much pains to hide his light under a bushel as P. did to 
set his on a hill. He and the Great Lord Chief are in that 2mr-?wbi/e ; 
but Tazewell, in point of reputation, is far beyond both Pinckney and 
Marshall." 



DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE. 171 

Saturday. March 9th, Mr. Randolph made a speech of two hours, 
against the Bankrupt bill. Finding by a vote, to strike out the enact- 
ing clauses, that the bill would pass by a large majority, and that 
being the only remaining subject of importance before the House, he 
obtained leave of absence on Monday, the 11th, and set out for New- 
York, to embark on board the packet ship Amity, for Liverpool. 

From '■ on board the steamboat Nautilus, under weigh to the 
Amity, Saturday, March 16, 1822," he addressed a letter to his con- 
stituents : — ■ 

" My friends, for such indeed you have proved yourselves to be, 
through good and through evil report, I throw myself on your indul- 
gence, to which I have never yet appealed in vain. It is now just 
five years since the state of my health reluctantly compelled me to 
resist your solicitations (backed by my own wishes) to offer my ser- 
vices to your suffrages. The recurrence of a similar calamity obliges 
me to retire, for a while, from the field of duty. 

" Should the mild climate of France and the change of air restore 
my health, you will again find me a candidate for your independent 
suffrages at the next election (1823). 

" I have an especial desire to be in that Congress, which will de- 
cide (probably by indirection) the character of the executive gov- 
ernment of the Confederation for, at least, four years — perhaps for 
ever ; since now, for the first time since the institution of this gov- 
ernment, we have presented to the people the army candidate for the 
presidency, in the person of him who, judging from present appear- 
ance, will receive the support of the Bank of the United States also. 
This is an union of the purse and sword, with a vengeance — one 
which even the sagacity of Patrick Henry never anticipated, in this 
shape at least. Let the people look to it, or they are lost for ever. 
They will fall into that gulf, which, under the artificial, military, and 
paper systems of Europe, divides Dives from Lazarus, and grows 
daily and hourly broader, deeper, and more appalling. To this state 
of things we are rapidly approaching, under an administration, the 
head of which sits an incubus upon the State, while the lieutenants 
of this new Mayor of the palace are already contending for the suc- 
cession ; and their retainers and adherents are with difficulty kept 
from coming to blows, even on the floor of Congress. We are arrived 
at that pitch of degeneracy when the mere lust of power, the reten- 
tion of place and patronage, can prevail, not only over every consid- 
eration of public duty, but stifle the suggestions of personal honor, 
which even the ministers of the decayed governments of Europe 
have not vet learned entirely to disregard." 



172 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

From the same steamboat, Nautilus, he addressed the following 
note to Dr. Brockenbrough. 

" As I stepped into the Nautilus, a large packet from Washington, 
among which was yours inclosing ' Uncle Nat's' letter, was put into 
my hands. 

" The ' Native of Virginia' is indiscreet in covering too much 
ground. He ought to have darned and patched old Tom's Mantle, 
and fought behind it as a Telemonian shield. 

" Add to my P. S. in the address to my constituents, that letters, 
via New-York, to the care of the P. Master, will reach me. My ad- 
dress is, care of John & Wm. Gilliatt, London, until further notice. 
I am nearing the Amity. Farewell ! farewell !" 



CHAPTEE XX. 

THE VOYAGE. 

After the Amity had gotten fairly under way, and the passengers 
somewhat acquainted with each other, they sought, by various amuse- 
ments, to relieve the tedium of their voyage. Whist was a favorite 
game on board ; and here Mr. Randolph soon proved his superiority 
as a player. It became a contest each night, who should have him as 
a partner, and finally they took turns. 

I observed, one morning, says Mr. Jacob Harvey, of New- York, 
to whom we are indebted for the incidents of this voyage, that Mr. 
Randolph was examining a very large box of books, containing enough 
to keep him busy reading during a voyage round the world. I asked 
him why he had brought so many with him? " I want to have them 
bound in England, sir," replied he. ' : Bound in England !" ex- 
claimed I, laughing, " why did you not send them to New-York or 
Boston, where you can get them done cheaper ?" 

" What, sir," replied he sharply, " patronize some of our Yankee 
taskmasters ; those patriotic gentry, who have caused such a heavy 
duty to be imposed upon foreign books'? Never, sir, never; I will 
neither wear what they make, nor eat what they raise, so long as my 



THE VOYAGE. 173 

tobacco crop will enable me to get supplies from old England ; and 
I shall employ John Bull to bind my books, until the time arrives 
when they can be properly done South of Mason and Dixon' 's line /" 
He was kind enough to offer me the use of them, saying : " Take my 
advice, and don't read any of the novels ; and when you get home, sir, 
tell your father that / recommended abstinence from novel reading 
and whisky punch. Depend upon it, sir, they are both ecpually in- 
jurious to the brain /" 

His favorite author was Milton, and he frequently gave us read- 
ings from " Paradise Lost," stopping occasionally to point out the 
beauties of the poem. Young, Thomson, Johnson, and Southey, did 
not please his taste ; they were, he said, " too artificial." But his 
classification of modern poems was very original. 

" Sir, I place first on this list, Tom Crib's Memorial to Congress, for 
its great wit and satire ; next, the Two Penny Post Boy, for similar 
excellencies ; and third, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, for every variety 
of sentiment, well expressed. But, sir (no offence to Ireland), I can't 
go Moore's songs ; they are too sentimental by half ; all ideal and 
above nature." 

Turning over his books one day, I was surprised to find a copy of 
" Fanny," Mr. Halleck's very clever satirical poem, which had been 
recently published. " I am glad," said I, " that you do not proscribe 
Yankee poetry as well as Yankee codfish." 

" no, sir," replied he, " I always admire talent, no matter where 
it comes from ; and I consider this little work as the best specimen 
of American poetry that we have yet seen. I am proud of it, sir ; 
and I mean to take it to London with me, and to present it to that 
lady whose talents and conversation I shall most admire." 

I may mention here, although somewhat out of place, that when we 
met in London in June following, I suddenly recollected the circum- 
stance, and said to him : " By the way, Mr. Randolph, to whom did 
you present ' Fanny V " 

'• To your countrywoman, Miss Edgeworth, sir : she has no com- 
petitor in my estimation. She fairly won the book, sir." 

He proposed, one fine morning, to read Fanny to me aloud, and 
on deck, where we were enjoying a fine breeze and noonday sun. It 
was the most amusing " reading" I ever listened to. The notes were 
much longer than the poem ; for, whenever he came to a well-known 



174 LIFE 0F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

name, up went his spectacles and down went the hook, and he branch- 
ed off into some anecdote of the person or of his family. Thus we 
" progressed" slowly from page to page, and it actually consumed 
three mornings before we reached — 

" And music ceases when it rains 
In Scudder's balcony." 

I was one morning looking over his books for my own amusement, 
and observed that several of the prettiest editions were marked 
« This for Miss " 

" How is this ?" said I ; " some fair lady seems to have enchained 
you." 

" Ah," replied he, " if you only knew her, the sweetest girl in the 
' Ancient Dominion,' and a particular favorite of mine, sir ; I shall 
have all these books beautifully bound in London, sir, fit to grace 
her centre-table on my return." 

I took up one of them, a volume of old plays, and after reading 
a few pages, exclaimed : " Surely you have not read these plays 
lately, Mr. Randolph, or you would not present this book to Miss 
; it is too lascivious for her eyes." 

He immediately ran his eye over the page ; then took the book 
out of my hands, and immediately indorsed on the back " not fit for 
Bet." Then, turning to me, he said with warmth ; 

"You have done me an infinite service, sir. I would not for 
worlds do aught to sully the purity of that girl's mind. I had for- 
gotten those plays, sir, or they would not have found a place in my 
box. I abominate as much as you do, sir, that vile style of writing 
which is intended to lessen our abhorrence of vice, and throw ridi- 
cule on virtuous conduct. You have given me the hint, sir. Come, 
assist me in looking over all these books, lest some other black sheep 
may have found its way into the flock." 

We accordingly went through the whole box, but found no other 
volume deserving of condemnation, much to Randolph's satisfaction. 
He then presented me with several books, as keepsakes ; and lie 
wanted to add several more, but I had to decline positively. His 
generosity knew no bounds ; and had I been avaricious of mental 
food, I might have become possessed of half his travelling library. 
On the 5th of April, we landed about noon. The wind had 



THE VOYAGE. 175 

changed since Randolph predicted that we would strike : Sligo Head,' 
and we first saw the high mountains of Donegal. The atmosphere 
was beautifully clear, and we ran along the coast near enough to see 
the houses, &c. Towards night Randolph said to me : 

" Well, sir, I now believe the anecdote related by Arthur Young. 
In his notes on Ireland he says, that one day a farmer took his son, 
a young boy, some distance from home, in the county Meath. They 
came to a tree ; the boy was astonished, stopped, and asked, ' Father, 
what is that?' never having seen one before. Here have we been 
sailing along the Irish coast for a whole day, and not a single tree 
have I yet seen !" 

It was too true. Barren are the mountains of Donegal, no trees 
are to be seen ; and it is no wonder that an American should be 
struck with astonishment, just arriving from his own well-wooded 
shores. 

The moon was shining brightly when we came up with the island 
of " Rathlin." or " Raghery ;" but the tide ran so strongly against us 
we passed it very slowly, notwithstanding we had a stiff breeze in our 
favor. As Mr. Randolph gazed upon its rugged shore, he said : 

" That island I have wished much to see, sir. I suppose that 
you are aware that its inhabitants are a most peculiar race. They 
look down with contempt upon the ' Continent] as they call Ireland 
(only three miles distant) ; and the greatest curse known to them is, 
' May Ireland be your latter end.' They have their own laws and 
usages : intermarrying among themselves ; pay great deference to 
their landlord and priest; smuggle a little for an homst livelihood; 
and the severest punishment practised among them is, banishment to 
Ireland /" 

Next day we ran down the Channel, passing and meeting hun- 
dreds of vessels, from the stately Indiaman to the small fishing- 
smack. The American vessels were easily discovered from the Brit- 
ish, by their white canvas, bright sides, and sharp bows. It was a 
very exciting scene, and Randolph was in fine spirits. The sight of 
Old England brought back the " olden time " to his memory, and he 
shed tears of delight. 

"Thank God: ; exclaimed he, "that I have lived to behold the 
land of Shakspeare, of Milton, of my forefathers ! May her greatness 
increase through all time !" 



176 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

It was past eleven o'clock at night when we reached the dock, and 
we remained on board till next morning. Before parting, Randolph 
said to me, " I do not wish you to tell any one that I am here. I do 
not covet any attentions, at present, sir. I have come to England 
to see, and not to be seen; to hear, and not to be heard. I don't 
want to he made a lion of, sir. You understand me. I have formed 
a friendship for you, which I hope will be continued, sir ; and when 
you come to London, you must instantly inform me of your arrival ; 
there is my address, sir. God bless you ; and remember you tell 
your father not to give you whisky punch or novels." 

London, May 27th, 1822. Monday. 
My Dear Bet : On Saturday I had the pleasure to receive your 
letter of the 10th of last month ; and a great one it was ; for, altho' 
I took somewhat of a French leave of you, I do assure you, my dear, 
that " my thoughts, too, were with you on the ocean." Among my 
treasures I brought a packet, containing all the letters I have ever 
received from you ; and the reading over these, and talking of you to 
a young Irish gentleman, whose acquaintance I happened to make 
on board the steamboat, was the chief solace of my voyage. It was a 
short one, although a part of it was somewhat boisterous, and the 
press of sail carried by our ships (the packets more especially), when 
those of other nations are under reefed and double-reefed topsails, 
exposes them to greater danger, while it shortens their voyage ; and 
yet, such is the skill of our seamen, that insurance is no higher upon 
our bottoms than upon European ones. Indeed, our voyages remind- 
ed me of our tobacco crop. You see I can't " sink the tailor." The 
vessel is out so short a time that she avoids many dangers to which 
dull sailers are exposed. 

We made the coast of Ireland at noon on Good Friday, and at 
twelve on the following night we were safe in the Regent's Dock, in 
Liverpool. When you consider that we had to come the North Pas- 
sage (that is, between the coast of Ireland and Scotland), and crooked 
as our path was, to go out of our way to Holyhead for a pilot, it was 
an astonishing run. The first land we made in Ireland was Runar- 
dallah (liquid n. as in Spanish), or the Bloody Foreland, bearing on 
our lee (starboard), bore S. S. E. G leagues — an ominous name. Fal- 
coner's beautiful poem, The Shipwreck, will render you mistress of 
the sea-phrases. The coast of Donegal, far as the eye can reach, is 
lonely, desolate, and naked ; not a tree to be seen, and a single Mar- 
tello tower the only evidence that it was the dwelling-place of man. 
Not even a sail was in sight ; and I felt a sensation of sadness and 
desolation, for we seemed more forsaken and abandoned than when 
surrounded only by the world of waters. This is the coast to which 



THE VOYAGE. 177 

our honest American (naturalized) merchants smuggle tobacco, when 
piracy under Arligan colors or the slave-trade is dull. Tory island 
rises like the ruins of some gigantic castle, out of the sea. I presume 
that it is basaltic, like the Giant's Causeway, of which we could not get 
a distinct view ; but Fairhead amply compensated us. I must not for- 
get, however, the beautiful revolving light of Ennistra Hull, which 
at regular intervals of time broke upon us like a brilliant meteor, and 
then died away; while that on the Mull of Contire (mistaken by our 
captain, who had never gone the North Passage before, for Rachlin, 
or Rahery, as the Irish call it) was barely visible. It is a fixed light, 
and a very bad one. After passing Fairhead, I " turned in," and was 
called up at dawn to see Ailsa Craig, which our captain maintained 
would be too far distant to be seen in our course, while I as stoutly de- 
clared we must see it if we had light. And here, by the way, my 
dear, I found my knowledge of geography always gave me the advan- 
tage over my companions, and rendered every object doubly interest- 
ing. The Irish Channel swarmed with shipping, and as we " near- 
ed ; ' the Isle of Man, and her Calf, I looked out for Dirck Hatteraick 
and his lugger. We hugged the Irish shore — Port Patrick, a nice 
little white town on our right ; but the green hills of Erin were as 
'• brown as a berry." When we came in sight of the entrance into 
Strangford Lock, I longed to go ashore and see Mrs. Cunningham, at 
Dundrum. Tell this to my friend Ed. C, and give my love to Mrs. 
Ariana, and the whole firm. Holyhead is a fine object ; so is the 
Isle of Anglesea. At the first glance I recognized the Parry's Mine 
mountain, with Lord Grosvenor's copper treasures ; and Gray's Bard 
rushed into my mind at the sight of the Carnarvonshire hills, with 
Snowdon overtopping them all — still, not a tree to be seen. The fields 
of Man are divided by stone " march-dykes," and the houses are 
without shade, or shelter from the bleak easterly winds. The float- 
ing light off Hoyle-sands, which we passed with the speed of a race- 
horse — a strong current and stiff breeze in our favor — was a most 
striking object. One view of it represented a clergyman preaching 
by candlelight, the centre light being the head ; and the two others 
gave a lively picture of impassioned gesture of the arms, as they 
were tossed up and down. 

Although our pilot, and the captain too, declared the thing to be 
impossible, we did get " round the rock," and passing a forest of 
masts in the Mersey, were safely moored at quarter-past twelve, in 
the dock, where ships are put away under lock and key, like books in 
a book-case. 

After a very sound and refreshing sleep, I rose and went ashore, 
in search of breakfast — for not a spark of fire, not even a candle or 
lamp, can be brought into the dock, on any pretext whatsoever. At 
the landward gate I stopped, expecting to be searched, but the guard 

vol. 11. 8* 



178 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

did not even make Lis appearance ; so on I passed with little Jem, a 
wicked dog of a cabin-boy, carrying my bundle, to the King's Arms, 
in Castle street ; but I had hardly commenced my breakfast, when 
the femme d'affaires, in the person of a strapping Welsh wench, who 
had tried before to put me up two pair of stairs, entered the room, 
and with well dissembled dismay " begged my pardon, but the room was 
engaged (it was the best in the house) for the Lord Bishop of the Isle 
of Man, and the — the — the Dean of — of Canterbury." Here again my 
knowledge of England, to say nothing of innkeepers, stood me in good 
stead. I coolly replied that they would hardly arrive before 1 had 
finished breakfast, and requested to see her master or mistress, as the 
case might be. " Mrs. Jones was sick," but her niece would wait on 
me. She came in the person of a pretty young married woman ; and 
now the tale varied to " the room being engaged for a family daily ex- 
pected." " The name?" " The name had not been given — was very 
sorry for the mistake," &c. " Mistakes, madam, must be rectified ; 
as soon as this nameless family arrives, I will make my bow and give 
up the parlor." " Very handsome, and very genteel, and a thousand 
thanks" — and a courtesy at every word. Next day, the arrival of a 
regiment from Ireland unlocked the whole mystery. The room was 
wanted for the officers. And here, my dear, I am sorry to say that, 
except by cross-examination, I have not obtained a word of truth 
from any of the lower orders in this country. I think that in this 
respect, as well as in honesty, our slaves greatly excel them. In ur- 
banity they are also far superior. Now, don't you tell this to any 
body — not even to your father — but keep the fact to yourself, for a 
reason that I will communicate to you when I see you ; and a very 
important one it is. 

After receiving every civility from the collector, Mr. Swainson, 
and from my countrymen, Mr. James King, Mr. Maury, and Mr. 
Haggerty, and seeing the docks, and the Islington market, I was im- 
patient to leave Liverpool, which bears the impress of trade upon it, 
and is, of course, as dull as dull can be. The market is of new erec- 
tion, and I believe altogether unique — far surpassing even that of 
Philadelphia, not only in the arrangement (which is that of a square, 
roofed, well lighted, and unencumbered with carts, and unannoyed 
by a public street on each side of it), but in the variety and delicacy 
of its provisions. Here, for the first time, I saw a turbot, and Mr. 
King bought half a one for our dinner, for which he paid half a 
guinea. The variety and profesion of the vegetables, and the neat, 
rosy-cheeked " Lancashire witches," that sprinkled them with water 
to keep them fresh, who were critically clean in their dress and per- 
sons, was a most delightful spectacle. Whatever you buy is taken 
home for you by women whose vocation it is ; and Mr. King's house 
is two miles off, at the beautiful village of Everton. commanding a 



THE VOYAGE. ]_79 

fine view of the Mersey and the opposite coast of Cheshire. For a 
full account of Liverpool, see its '• Picture," at Roanoke, where you 
will find, if you have them not, the other books referred to in this let- 
ter, and I shall write, by this packet, to Leigh, to send them to you. 
The packets sail with the punctuality of stage-coaches, and arrive al- 
most as regularly. The Albion formed the first and most melan- 
cholly exception. We were long kept in painful suspense respecting 
the names of the passengers. I was afraid that my unfortunate 
friend Tuboeuf was one of the "five Frenchmen." The Mr. Clark, 
and lady, I take for granted is an old acquaintance, George Clark, of 
Albany, son of a former royal governor of New- York, and a man of 
very large estate, returning with his wife to England, after fifteen or 
twenty years' absence. Dupont may be another very old acquaint- 
ance, whom I knew thirty-four years ago in New-York, and saw in 
Charleston in 1796, and a few months ago in Washington. His 

name is Victor Dupont, son of D de Nemours, and brother of 

Irenee D. They have a large powder and woollen manufactory on 
the Brandywine, in Delaware. Tuboeuf. I see, had not left the U. S. 
Both he and Dupont told me they were about to cross the Atlantic. 
The history of the former is the " romance of real life." In educa- 
tion and feeling, he is more than half a Virginian. His father was 
killed by the Indians when he was a child, and he knows the rifle, 
hunting-shirt, and moccasons. His father was the friend of my near 
and dear relative, Jack Banister, of Battersea. When Tuboeuf l'aine 
arrived at City Point he found his young friend had been dead sev- 
eral years. This connection determined him to Virginia, and he went 
out to the Holston country, where he was killed, and where the son 
lived until manhood. But I shall never get off from Liverpool. 

On Wednesday morning, April 10th, I set out alone, in a post- 
chaise ; and now you must take an extract from my " log-book." 

Verdure beautiful ; moss on youngest trees shows dampness of 
climate. Dr. Solomon and Gilead House. The Doctor dead, but 
quackery is immortal. Highfield, the seat of Mrs. Parke, on the 
right ; very fine object. Around Liverpool, in their fine pastures, I 
saw the most wretched looking horses, and even cows — not a good 
horse in the town. To Prescot, with a fine view of Kuowsley Park, 
and a glimpse of the house. Legs of Man. (the arms of the Isle of 
Man are three legs, and the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, were lords of 
Man, as Shakspeare will tell you, Hen. VI.) The park-keeper in the 
kitchen — send for him and talk about the horses ; all in training on 
Delamere forest, except old Milo and one other. The Earl and Count- 
ess in town, (this always means London narcgoxriv. Mr. G. will deci- 
pher and translate my Greek for you.) So is Lord Stanley, the 
Earl's eldest son, who represents the county in Parliament. Cross 
the Sankey canal, the first executed in England. Soon after, pass 



180 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

under the Bridgewater canal. To Warrington, Nag's Head ; cross 
the Mersey, and enter Cheshire. At High Leigh, West Hall, Eger- 
ton Leigh, Esq., (the road-book falsely places this seat beyond Knuts- 
ford), and High Leigh (or East) Hall, Geo. Leigh, Esq. See Debrett's 
Baronetage. At Mere, which, as the name imports, is a beautiful 
sheet of natural water, too small to be dignified with the name of 
lake, but large enough to be quite rough with the wind, I came to 
the first descent that could be called a hill ; for although hills and 
mountains too were in sight all around me, the roads are conducted 
on a level. On the right is Mere Hall, Peter L. Brooke, Esq., a fine 
seat. I ought to mention that all the seats are embosomed in fine 
woods. There were some noble pines at High Leigh, which a Vir- 
ginian overseer would soon have down for tobacco sticks. The houses 
of the poorest people are adorned with honeysuckles, and have flower 
pots in the windows, with geraniums, &c. Dear Mrs. Bell, I thought 
of her at every step ; and, by the way, Mr. G. writes that she was in 
Richmond on the 26th, and well, although he does not say a word of 
a certain E. T. C, or, indeed, any body else but the Brockenbro's, 
and to them he allows not quite a line. His letter of a page and a 
half is most provokingly concise. What there is of it is horribly 
stuffed with epithets of war, and what not, about ' ; Fox, and Burke, 
and Pitt, and Brutus, and Cassius. and Junius, and Rome ;" descend- 
ing by regular anti-climax to " Russia, and Poletica, and Adams." 
Pray tell him from me, that I could hardly have expected much 
worse even from Mr. Walsh, if I had the misfortime to be afflicted 
with his correspondence. And I had rather have heard of old Aggy 
than all those fine ancients and would-be-fine moderns. Now, this from 
Frank G., who can write so well, and so much to the purpose, is too 
bad. I assure you, reading the result of the election of Ned Maj'o, in 
Henrico, was more interesting. 

Before reaching Knutsford, I travelled along the huge, high wall 
of Tatton Park, twelve miles in circumference. It extends to the 
very town. Dine at Knutsford, and drive into the park ; superb do- 
main ; fine sheet of water on the right, with a view of the Lancashire 
hills, about Worsley. For the sixth time to-day it snowed. Re- 
turned, and struck off from the London road, to Northwich, to see 
the mines of fossil salt. 

On the right of Northwich is the seat, and a very fine one it is, 
of Sir John Stanley, who married the eldest daughter of Gibbon's 
friend, Lord Sheffield. I felt when I saw him at Chester, as if he 
was an old acquaintance. He was foreman of the grand jury, and 
had his hands full of business, for there were seventy felons against 
whom bills were preferred. I breakfasted at a small inn, at Sandy- 
way head, having passed through a road of heavy and deep sand, 
with considerable hills. But before reaching S. H., I made the 



THE VOYAGE. 131 

postillion drive through Vale Royal Park, the proprietor of which, 
Thomas Cholniondeley, Esq., is one of the new coronation peers, by 
the title of Lord Delamere. With the names and proprietors of all 
these places I was as familiarly acquainted as if I had lived all my 
life in the palatinate. Nothing can be more beautiful than these 
parks. Here I saw that rara avis (rare bird) the black swan, in 
company with white ones. I drove about two miles and a half before 
I reached the house, when I caused the postillion to return. There 
was no fear of disturbing the family, although his lordship had re- 
turned from town the day preceding, for it was only six o'clock, and 
the great in Eugland seldom leave their beds before noon. The 
whole establishment, although not so great as Tatton, is princely. I 
told the keepers of the lodges, who were very grateful for their shil- 
lings, to tell Lord D., if he asked, that a foreign gentleman travelling 
for his health had taken the liberty to drive through his beautiful 
grounds. Over Delamere forest, a rough, barren tract, for eight 
miles. Very likely government have inclosed and planted it, for the 
" forest" contained not a tree or shrub ; and individuals also have 
done much in this way. At present the trees are almost knee high. 
At Kelsah we leave the forest and emerge into the rich pastures and 
meadows of Cheshire. To Chester — the Albion hotel ; drive to 
Eaton Hall, Lord Grosvenor's ; return — dine ; misconduct of inn- 
keeper, who put me into his own filthy bed-chamber ; (town full, it 
being assize time). Remove to the Royal hotel ; visit the cathedral, 
" and let my due feet never fail to walk the studious cloisters pale," 
&c. At every turn since I came from Liverpool, I have been break- 
ing out into quotations from Milton and Shakspeare. Bad Latin in 
a bishop ; epitaph ; and worse scholars in the Royal School. None 
of the boys could give the Latin of their coronation banner, and I 
offered half a guinea to him who would complete the following lines : 
" Vir bonus est quis ? Qui consulta patruum, qui," — and translate 
them. Only one boy could supply " leges juraque servat," and he be- 
gan " Vir bonus est quis" — " He is a good man" — so I took up my 
half guinea and walked out, thinking of Mr. Brougham and his bill. 
To the Castle — here two boys arraigned for robbery. 

Saturday — through Eaton Park ; see the horses and grounds, and 
pheasants, and hares, and deer, and stables — in comparison with 
which last, the finest house I ever saw in America is a mere hovel. 
(I except the public buildings at Washington, and the Bank of Penn- 
sylvania.) To Wrexham, in Wales, which principality I entered six 
miles from Chester. Near W., on the left, is a magnificent entrance 
into Acton Park, Sir Foster Cunliffe's, with greyhounds, in stone, on 
the gates. Cross the Dee, to Overton, eight miles. The beauty of 
this country throws all that I have seen before or since into the 
shade. Nothing can be imagined finer. The village of Overton is a 



182 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

perfect paradise, and the vale of Dee is more like fairy-land than real 
earth and water. Mr. Price's seat, at Bryxypys, surpasses all I have 
seen yet. To Ellesmere — Bridgewater arms. The Earl of B. has a 
great estate here. The mere very beautiful. Dine, and go on to 
Shrewsbury. Country changes, and becomes comparatively ugly. 
To the Lion mn, at Shrewsbury. Sunday — drive through a lovely 
country, to Battlefield church, five miles, on the very site of the bat- 
tle ground where Harry Percy's spur became cold ; mound of the 
slain. Parish clerk and wife true English cottagers. Sunday school 
of clean, fine children. Bev. Mr. Williams, of Battlefield, preaches 
to a congregation of rustics a truly evangelical sermon. Church per- 
fectly clean ; rush mats to kneel on. How different from Chester 
cathedral. Only equipage a single "taxed cart." Mr. Williams 
preached at Effington in the evening. Returned the same road to 
Shrewsbury ; ascended Lord Hill's column — most heavenly view. 
Remember that I am now on the Severn, and turn to Gray's Letters. 
Leave the Lion, and my friend Bourne, the head waiter, and the 
truly respectable landlady, with regret I hope on all sides, and go on, 
with sleek, fine horses, and clean chaise, and obliging driver, to Iron- 
bridge, thirteen miles, where I changed chaise and horses, and cross- 
ing the Severn a second time, over the bridge of one arch, ascended 
a mountainous hill on the other side, through Madely market. These 
are the greatest iron works (Colebrooke Dale) in England. To 
Bridgeworth, seven miles, to sup and sleep. This town pleases me 
more than any I have seen before or since. It is old, clean, pleasant, 
romantic, with no commercial, manufacturing, or fashionable taint 
about it. Cheltenham sickened me of the last. 

Monday, 15th — wound round the high hill of red stone ; stopped ; 
ascended to the ruin of the castle and the church ; ludicrous epitaph : 
returned to the chaise, and completed our descent to the Severn, •' the 
very principal light and capital feature of my journey," which I again 
crossed. Stopped at a small house of call to beg an idle pin. Old 
man and wife show me their cows ; their tenderness to the mother- 
less lamb, and pity of me. Their gratitude to their cow, which, said 
the dame, " when my house was burnt, maintained our whole family, 
old and unsightly as she looks, but making me pounds of butter 
a week." Caetera desunt. 

Monday, past 12, May 27, 1822. 
Mv dear Bet, — When, a few minutes ago, I wrote " cetera 
desunt," as I folded my letter which young Mr. Hammond waited 
to the last minute to take to Liverpool, I did not know that the be- 
ginning, as well as the conclusion, was wanting. I now inclose it to 
Mr. H., with a request that he will put the two under one cover, and 
address it to your father — as he promised to do with the first — for it 



THE VOYAGE. 



183 



was to avoid exposing your name to strangers, that I got him to take 
the letter. He carries a map of the city, in which the new improve- 
ments are laid down ; with this, and the Ambulator, and the Pictures 
of London (all at Roanoke), and Smith's English Atlas (also there), 
you can travel with me without once mistaking your way, and, I hope' 
pleasantly, as well as easily. 

I left the old farmer (Evans) and his dame (for he has a small 
farm under Mr. Whittemore, member for the borough of Bridge- 
north), as well as his ale-house. I left the old couple fondling their 
lamb, and caressing it and their kine — one a Hereford red, with a 
fine calf, which they had been debating about selling to the butcher ; 
but at last their aifections got the better of their poverty, and the old 
man concluded, by saying, it would be a pity to kill the poor thing, 
and he would e'en keep it for the mother's sake. Although I stopped 
for a pin to fasten up the envious curtain behind the chaise, yet I asked 
for a draught of milk, warm from the favorite cow, which was given 
to me in a clean porringer, with a face of as true benevolence as I 
ever saw. On taking leave, I asked to contribute towards the re- 
building of the burnt house, telling them it was the custom in the 
country I came from. But the old man, with a face of great surprise, 
said, " I was kindly welcome to the milk ; it was a thing of nothing ;" 
and they both rejected the money (only two half-crowns), until I told 
them they must oblige me by accepting it, or I should be ashamed 
of having such a trifle returned. Whereupon the gude man said he 
would give the postillion with the return chaise a skinful of his best 
ale, when he came back ; and the dame, ascribing her good fortune 
to the mercy shown to the calf, promised, at my recpiest, to remember 
me, in her prayers, as the sick stranger to whom she had ministered ; 
and I left them, with feelings of deep respect for their honest poverty 
and kind-heartedness. Mr. Whittemore is a great proprietor here. 
His great house, on the right, is under repair, and he occupies a " cot- 
tage " in the village ; about such a house as Mr. Wickham's. His 
poor tenant at Quat is the third instance I have met with of a per- 
son refusing money here. The first was the parish-clerk, at Battle- 
field ; the next, Bourne, the head-waiter at the Lion ; a thing hardly 
credible in England, where the rapacity of this class, in particular, is 
proverbial ; for — asking Mr. Wickham's pardon for making free with 
his person, as well as his house — you meet with as well dressed per- 
sons as himself who will make you a low bow for sixpence ; aye, and 
beg for it, to boot. I thought a thousand times of Mr. Wickham's 
speech. Plunder is the order of the day. Shopkeepers, tradesmen, 
but, above all, innkeepers, waiters, postillions, ostlers, and chamber- 
maids, fleece you without mercy ; all is venal. Pray remember the 
boots ! Something for the waiter, sir ! — and this at a coffee-house 
where you have only stepped in to take a glass of negus, after a 



134 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

play, and have paid a double price for it. You can't get a reply- 
to the plainest question without paying for it, unless you go into 
a shop ; and to speak to one whom you don't know, is received 
with an air as if you had clapped a pistol to his breast. 

But I should do the greatest injustice were I not to say, that the 
higher ranks — a few despicable and despised fashionables ex- 
cepted — are as unpretending and plain as our old-fashioned Virgin- 
ian gentlemen, whom they greatly resemble. This class of men is 
now nearly extinct, to my great grief, and the shame and loss of our 
country. They are as distinct from the present race in their manners, 
dress, principles, and every thing but anatomical structure, as an 
eagle is from a pig, or a wild turkey from a turkey-buzzard. The 
English gentleman is not graceful, not affable, but plain, sincere, kind, 
without one particle of pretension in dress, manner, or any thing 
else. 

At Kidderminster, I breakfasted (15 miles), and saw the carpet 
manufactory, and bought four hearth rugs. I also visited the old 
church, as was my custom, and copied an epitaph, not on the rich 
and great, but a poor sergeant, erected by his colonel ; I mean the 
monument was, not the epitaph. We entered Worcestershire some 
miles before we reached Kidderminster. It is perhaps the finest 
county in the kingdom, take it for all and all. Among the seats 
between Kidderminster and Worcester, are Halleburg ; the Bp. of 
W.'s, where the pigs (hogs, we should call them,) were in the beauti- 
ful grounds ; Waverley House, Mrs. Orange, a rich widow lady, 
with an only daughter, unmarried — this is one of the prettiest and 
finest places I have seen ; Sir John Fleming Leicester's, between 
Knutsford and Northwich (which I just remember to have omitted), is 
another very capital place ; and I am sure I have not mentioned a 
thousand superior to any thing we have. But the air of comfort and 
fatness since we left Lancashire, is very- refreshing. The houses are 
old and weather-stained, but clean to fastidiousness ; some of frame- 
work, filled in with brick ; the timbers black, and the brick-work 
overcast with lime, and white as this paper ; casement-lights, leaden 
sashes, &c. Ombresley Court, Lady Downshire's, which is the 
ancient seat of the Sandys family, is a fine place. She is a Sandys, 
and Baroness S. in her own right. I thought of Walpole and Pulte- 
ney, and her progenitor who sunk into a peerage. 

At Worcester, in driving into the Hop Pole Inn yard, the postil- 
lion had nearly killed a poor girl, with a child in her arms. She was 
thrown down, but, God be praised ! neither were hurt. I would not 
endure what I felt while the suspense lasted for any consideration. 
Town full. Quarter sessions. Cleanest and prettiest town (a city) 
that I have yet seen. Determined to remain, and see the cathedral ; 
but next morning I determined otherwise. 



INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND. 135 

Giving up, for the present, my pilgrimage to Cheltenham, I set 
out on the top of the coach, paying 12 shillings for my fare to Lon- 
don, and through the Vale of Evesham, and an enchanting coun- 
try through Pershire, Bengeworth, Morton, Broadway (where is a 
tremendous hill, commanding the whole vale and the Malvern Hills), 
Morton, Woodstock, Oxford, a city of palaces 

And here, my dear Bet, I must again abruptly close this long- 
winded epistle, with assurances of my exalted regard. 

J. R. of R. 

I broke open this letter myself. 



CHAPTEE XXI. 

INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND. 

In the month of June, says Mr. Harvey, I went over to London, ac- 
companied by my father, who had been summoned to attend a com- 
mittee of the House of Commons, to give evidence in a case of some 
importance. I had prepared my father for an introduction to my 
most eccentric friend, and yet, when I did introduce him, he could 
scarcely refrain from smiling. " Sir," said Mr. Randolph, '• I am 
proud to make the acquaintance of the son of that man who received 
the thanks of Congress for his kindness to my poor countrymen. 
Your son, my young friend here, sir, tells me he has delivered my 
letter, and I hope you will soon receive the books from my bookseller 
in Washington. Keep them as a momento of my friendship, sir." 
My father thanked him warmly for his kindness, and we entered into 
a general conversation. Suddenly Randolph rose from his chair, and, 

in his most imposing manner, thus addressed him : " Mr. H , two 

days ago I saw the greatest curiosity in London ; aye, and in England, 
too, sir — compared to which, Westminster Abbey, the Tower, Somer- 
set House, the British Museum, nay Parliament itself, sink into utter 
insignificance ! I have seen, sir, Elizabeth Fry. of Newgate, and I 
have witnessed there, sir, miraculous effects of true Christianity upon 
the most depraved of human beings — bad women, sir, who are worse, 
if possible, than the devil himself! and yet the wretched outcasts 



186 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

have been tamed and subdued by the Christian eloquence of Mrs. 
Fry ! I have seen them weep repentant tears whilst she addressed 
them. I have heard their groans of despair, sir ! Nothing but reli- 
gion can effect this miracle, sir ; for what can be a greater miracle 
than the conversion of a degraded, sinful woman, taken from the very 
dregs of society ! Oh ! sir, it was a sight worthy the attention of 
angels ! You must, also, see this wonder, sir ; and, by the way, this 
is one of her visiting days — let us go at once ; we shall just be in 
time. She has given me permission to bring any of my friends with 
me. I shall introduce you, sir, with great pleasure." We immedi- 
ately ordered a coach, and drove to Mrs. Fry's house, but found, to 
our no small disappointment, that she was not in town that day. 

It was my good fortune, afterwards, to become acquainted with 
Mrs. Fry, and to spend a day or two at her country-seat, near Lon- 
don, and I need scarcely add, that my admiration of her character 
was, if possible, increased by this introduction into her social circle. 
In the course of conversation, I said to Miss Fry, " Pray tell me in 
what way you became acquainted with my eccentric friend Randolph ?" 
" Why," replied she, ' : in rather an eccentric way. One day my mo- 
ther was in town, getting ready to go to Newgate, when a stranger 
was announced. A tall, thin gentleman, with long hair, and very 
strangely dressed, entered the parlor, walked deliberately up to my 
mother, who rose to receive him, and held out his hand, saying, in 
the sweet tone of a lady's voice, ' I feel I have some right to intro- 
duce myself to Elizabeth Fry, as I am the friend of her friend, Jessy 
Kersey, of Philadelphia, (a celebrated preacher in the Society of 
Friends). I am John Randolph, of Roanoke, State of Virginia ; the fel- 
low countryman of Washington.' My mother, who had heard a great 
deal of him from different persons, gave him a cordial reception ; and 
was so extremely pleased with his most original conversation, she not 
only took him with her to Newgate, but invited him to come and see us. 
We have since seen him several times, and have been highly delighted 
with him. Last week some strangers were to dine with us, and my 
mother invited him to be of the number. In writing the note of in- 
vitation, I apologized to him for naming so unfashionably earl} 7 an 
hour as four o'clock, knowing that at the west end he never dined be- 
fore eight. His reply was quite characteristic, and made us all 
laugh heartily. Here it is : ' Mr. Randolph regrets that a prior en- 



INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND. 137 

gageinent will deprive him of the pleasure of dining with Mrs Fry 
on Thursday next. No apology, however, was necessary for the early 
hour named in her note, as it is two hours later than Mr. R. is accus- 
tomed to dine in Virginia ; and he has not yet been long enough in 
London to learn how to turn day into night, and vice versa.' " 

I told Randolph, next day, that I had seen his note. " "Well, sir," 
said he, ' ; and was I not right to be candid ? Mrs. Fry is a most sen- 
sible woman, sir, and she shows her good taste by opposing the fool- 
ish customs of the aristocracy ; and I wanted her to know that T agreed 
with her, sir. I can go all but the late dinners ; they are killing me. 
sir ; and I must quickly run away from London, or cut my noble ac- 
quaintances." 

Before my arrival in London, Lord L , meeting Randolph 

one night, under the gallery of the House of Commons, introduced 
himself to him, and they became very intimate. His lordship said 
to me one day afterwards, " I have never met with so thoroughly 
well-informed a gentleman as your friend Randolph, no matter what 
the subject — history, belles-lettres, biography j but, sir, the most 
astonishing part of all is, that he possesses a minute local knowledge 
of England and Ireland. I thought that I knew them well, but I 
assure you I was obliged to yield the palm to him. I have purposely 
tried to puzzle or confuse him, but all in vain. His conversational 
powers are most dazzling, even in London, sir, where we pride our- 
selves on good talkers. I never have been so much struck with any 
stranger ; and although a high tory, I always forgot that lie was a re- 
publican. By the way, not a very bigoted one, sir. I never heard 
him abuse the aristocracy ! I was so much pleased with him, on our 
first interview, I determined to pay him a mark of respect, which I 
was sure would gratify his Virginia pride. I solicited permission 
from the Lord Chancellor, to introduce Mr. Randolph, as a distin- 
guished American, into the House of Lords, by the private entrance, 
near the throne, instead of obliging him to force his way, with the 
crowd, at the common entrance. Having obtained his lordship's con- 
sent, I then introduced Mr. Randolph to the door-keeper, and desired 
him to admit him whenever he presented himself, without requiring 
him to exhibit any special order. His figure and whole appearance 
are so singular, I ran no risk in having any counterfeit Randolphs, — 
and I said so to the door-keeper, as some excuse for omitting our 



188 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

usual practice. When I told him of his privilege, I saw at once that 
I had won my way to his heart ; and amply has he repaid me, sir, by 
the richness of his conversations whenever we have since met." 

A few days after my arrival in London, continues Mr. Harvey. 
I had an opportunity of testing the value of this privilege of private 
entry. It will be recollected that George Canning, in the year 1822. 
just previous to his intended departure as governor-general of India 
(which never took place, owing to Lord Castlereagh's death), intro- 
duced, and carried through the House of Commons, the ' : Roman 
Catholic Peers' bill," as it was called, which he intended as a fare- 
well legacy to his countrymen. It passed by a handsome majority, 
and was then sent to undergo the fiery ordeal of the House of Lords 
The subject engrossed public attention, and there was great anxiety 

to attend the debate on the appointed night. The Marquis of L 

was kind enough to present me with an order to admit two persons — 
myself and friend — and I returned to our lodgings in great glee. 
There I found Randolph, told him of my good luck, and offered him 
the unoccupied half of my order. 

" Pray, sir," said he " at which door do you intend to enter the 
House ? 

" At the lower door, of course," replied I " where all strangers 
enter." 

" Not all strangers if you please," said he, " for I shall enter at the 
private door, near the throne !" " Oh, my dear sir," replied I, "your 
privilege, I dare say, will answer on any common occasion ; but to- 
night the members of the House of Commons will entirely fill the 
space around the throne, and no stranger, depend upon it, will be 
admitted there. So be wise, and don't refuse this chance, or you 
will regret it." 

" What sir," retorted he, " do you suppose I would consent to 
struggle with and push through the crowd of persons who, for two 
long hours, must fight their way in at the lower door ? Oh no, sir ! I 
shall do no such thing ; and if I cannot enter as a gentleman com- 
moner, I go not at all ! " 

After vainly endeavoring to induce him to change his mind, we 
separated ; he for the aristocratic entrance, I for the common one. 
With great difficulty, and wondering how I had preserved my coat-tails 
whole, I finally squeezed myself into the House, half suffocated, and 



INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND. 189 

was fortunate enough (being then young and active) to secure a stand 
at the bar, from whence I could see my noble lord's face, and hear 
every word that was spoken. Casting a glance towards the throne 
soon after my entrance, to my no small surprise and envy, I beheld 
'• Randolph of Roanoke" in all his glory, walking in most leisurely, 
and perfectly at home, along-side of Canning, Lord Castlereagh, Sir 
Robert Peel, and many other distinguished members of the House 
of Commons. Some of these gentlemen even selected for him a pro- 
minent position, where he could see and hear perfectly, and I observ- 
ed many courtesies passing between them during the night. Very 
shortly after Mr. Randolph's arrival in London, a splendid ball 
was given, under the immediate patronage of George the Fourth and 
the principal nobility, for the benefit of the poor Irish peasantry of 
Munster and Connaught, who were suffering from the effects of 
famine, attended as usual by disease. It was a magnificent affair, 
Randolph attended, glad of an opportunity to give his mite, and to 
behold at the same time the congregated aristocracy of Great Britain. 
" It was cheap, sir, very cheap " said he to me, " actors and actresses 
innumerable, and all dressed out most gorgeously. There were 
jewels enough, sir, there, to make new crowns for all the monarchs 
of Europe ! And I, too, republican though I am, must needs go 
in court-dress ! Well sir, don't imagine that I was so foolish as to 
purchase a new suit, at a cost of twenty-five or thirty guineas. Oh 
no ! I have not studied London life for nothing. I have been told, 
sir. that many a noble lady would appear at the ball that night with 
jewels hired for the occasion ; and I took the hint, sir, and hired a 
full court-dress for five guineas. When I beheld myself in the glass, 
I laughed at the oddity of my appearance, and congratulated my- 
self that I was three thousand miles from Charlotte Court-House. 
Had I played the harlecpiin t/iere, sir, I think my next election 
would be doubtful. I stole into the room, with rather a nervous 
walk, and was about selecting a very quiet position in a corner, when 
your countryman, Lord Castlereagh, seeing my embarrassment, 
came forward, and with an air of the most finished politeness, insist- 
ed upon being my chaperon. For one hour he devoted himself to 
me. and pointed out all persons of notoriety in the crowd as they 
passed us in review. Such was the fascination of his manners, I for- 
got, for the moment, that I was speaking to the man who had sold 



190 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

his country's independence and his own ; who had lent hS aid to a 
licentious monarch to destroy his queen, who, if guilty, might point 
to her husband's conduct as the cause of her fall. But, sir, I was 
spellbound for that hour, for never did I meet a more accomplished 
gentleman ; and yet he is a deceitful politician, whose character none 
can admire. An Irish tory, sir, I never could abide." Miss Edge- 
worth and Randolph met together for the first time at the breakfast- 
table of a very distinguished Irish member of Parliament (now a 
peer of the realm). The gentleman to whom I refer, told me that 
it was an intellectual feast, such as he had rarely enjoyed before. 
To use his own words : 

" Spark produced spark, and for three hours they kept up the 
fire, until it ended in a perfect blaze of wit, humor, and repartee. 
It appeared to me that Mr. R. was more intimately acquainted with 
Miss Edgeworth's works than she was herself. He frequently quoted 
passages where her memory was at fault ; and he brought forward 
every character of any note in all her productions : but what most 

astonished us was, his intimate knowledge of Ireland. Lady T 

and myself did nothing but listen ; and I was really vexed when some 
public business called me away." 

" Who do you think I met under the gallery of the House of 
Commons ?" said Randolph to me one day. " You can't guess, and 
so I'll tell you. There was a spruce, dapper little gentleman sitting 
next to me, and he made some trifling remark, to which I replied. 
We then entered into conversation, and I found him a most fascinat- 
ing witty fellow. He pointed out to me the distinguished members 
who were unknown to me, and frequently gave them a friendly shot. 
At parting, he handed me his card, and I read with some surprise, 
' Mr. Thomas Moore.' Yes. sir, it ivas the ' Bard of Erin ;' and upon 
this discovery I said to him, ' Well, Mr. Moore, I am delighted to 
meet you thus ; and I tell you. sir, that I envy you more for being 
the author of the " Twopenny Post-bag" and ; ' Tom Crib's Memorial 
to Congress," than for all your beautiful songs, which play the fool 
with young ladies' hearts.' He laughed heartily at what he called 
my ' singular taste,' and we parted the best friends imaginable." 

Mr. Randolph was present at a large meeting of the African In- 
stitution at London. Mr. Wilberforce, after speaking with his usual 
ability and eloquence on the appropriate subjects of the occasion, 
concluded by pronouncing a warm panegyric upon the example set 
by the United States of America, in making the slave-trade piracy, 
and upon Mr. Randolph's great efforts in promoting that act. 



INCIDENTS IN ENGLAND. 191 

Mr. Randolph then rose to return thanks for the mark of respect 
towards the United States of America. After a few appropriate re- 
marks, he thanked the meeting for the grateful sense they had 
expressed towards America ; and also assured them that all that was 
exalted in station, in talent, and in moral character among his coun- 
trymen, was (as was also to he found in England) firmly united for 
the suppression of this infamous traffic. It was delightful to him to 
know that Virginia, the land of his sires, the place of his nativity, 
had for half a century affixed a public brand and indelible stigma 
upon this traffic, and had put in the claim of the wretched objects of 
it to the common rights and attributes of humanity. 

The plainness of Mr. Randolph's appearance, says a London 
paper, his republican simplicity of manners, and easy and unaffected 
address, attracted much attention, and he sat down amidst a burst of 
applause 

Mr. Randolph travelled extensively in England and Scotland, 
met a flattering and distinguished reception wherever he went, was 
pleased with every thing, and delighted every body with his cordial 
manner and fascinating conversation. He returned to the United 
States about the last of November, and was present during the last 
session of the seventeenth Congress, which, on the 3d of March, 1823, 
was closed ; but he did not open his lips on any occasion whatever ; 
indeed there was no discussion of any importance during the session. 
Immediately on the adjournment he hurried off to Virginia, and 
spent some days with his friend, William R. Johnson, in Chesterfield, 
who was then in high training for the great match race between the 
North and the South. The exercise and excitement of mind in anti- 
cipation of his favorite sport produced an evident change in Mr. Ran- 
dolph's health ; it was much improved ; he slept better than he had 
for ten years. 

<; To that night." says he, " spent on a shuck matress in a little 
garret room at Chesterfield Court-house, Sunday, March the 9th, 
1823. I look back with delight. It was a stormy night. The win- 
dows clattered, and William R. Johnson got up several times to try 
and put a stop to the noise, by thrusting a glove between the loose 
sashes. I heard the noise ; I even heard him ; but it did not dis- 
turb me. I enjoyed a sweet nap of eight hours, during which, he said, 
he never heard me breathe. N B I had fasted all dav, and supped 
(which I have not done since) on a soft egg and a bit of biscuit. My 



192 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

feelings next day were as new and delightful as those of any b r ide 
the day after her nuptials, and the impression (on memory at least) 
as strong." 

He was present (as most lovers of the turf were) at the celebrated 
race between Eclipse and Henry, on the Long Island Course, in the 
month of May. He stood in a very conspicuous place on the stand 
during the race, surrounded by gentlemen of the North and the 
South ; and he evidently was very confident of the success of Henry. 
But after the result, to him so unexpected, and while the thousands 
of spectators were vociferously applauding the successful rider 
(Purdy), Mr. Randolph gave vent to his great disappointment by 
exclaiming to those around him in his most satirical tone : 

" Well, gentlemen, it is a lucky thing for the country that the 
President of the United States is not elected by acclamation, else 
Mr. Purdy would be our next President, beyond a doubt." 

He then left the ground, and spent the evening with Mr. Rufus 
King, at Jamaica. Next day he said to a friend, with a sigh : 

" Ah, sir ! only for that unfortunate vote on the Missouri question, 
he would be our man for the presidency. He is, sir, a genuine Eng- 
lish gentleman of the old school ; just the right man for these degen- 
erate times. But, alas ! it cannot be !" 

Mr. Randolph, soon after this event, retired into his usual summer 
solitude, at Roanoke. Thence, on the 25th of July, he asks Dr. 
Brockenbrough, " You and Mr. Wickham are wise men, but a by- 
stander, you know, sees the blots of better players than himself. 
Are you both resolved to die in harness 1 You may put the question 
to me, but I tell you NO. March 3, 1825, is the utmost limit of my 
servitude. But what's the use of talking ? — ' a man will do what he 
will do ;' a saying, which, like some others, I once took to be rather 
silly, but which, I have since found out. contains much sense. * * * 

" You wouldn't infer it from the tone of this epistle, but I too am 
sick — seriously sick, as well as home-sick, i. e. as Sir John Brute was 
wife-sick. My oaks send love and duty to you and the silent Mad- 
ame, and hope you'll never be as tired of them as their master is. I 
would go among the Se/vidges, beyond the ' mountings,' but I dare 
not encounter Pharaoh's plagues. I'd rather be swallowed up in the 
Red Sea at once. 



EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS. 19g 

" P. S. In sheer distress what to do with myself, I yesterday 
read Don Juan — the third, fourth and fifth cantos for the first 
time — fact, I assure you. It is diabolically good. The ablest, I am 
inclined to think, of all his performances. I now fully comprehend 
the cause of the odium plusquam theologicum of the lake school, to- 
ward this wayward genius. I am not sorry that I had not read the 
whole when I was in Southey's company. I could not have conversed 
so unreservedly as I did on the subject of Byron's writings." 

In October, he says : " The life I lead here is enough to destroy 
the intellectual and moral faculty of any human being. It resembles. 
in many points, solitary confinement. It is the daily recurrence of 
the same dreary scene ; and when evening sets in, so that I cannot 
read or ride, nothing can be imagined more forlorn. But I struggle 
through it, as the will of Providence. 

" I've received from London some publications on the subject of 
slavery, that have awakened me more than ever to that momentous 
question. They are from Wilberforce, T. Clarkson, Adam Hodgson, 
and a larger pamphlet, entitled ' Negro Slavery as it exists in the 
U. S. and the West Indies, especially in Jamaica ' — that being held 
up as the negro paradise, by the W. I. body in England." 



CHAPTER XXII. 

EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS — CONSOLIDATION IS THE ORDER OF 
THE DAY — "SPEAK A CHEERING WORD TO THE GREEKS." 

In 1822, a leading federalist, one who was conspicuous in the attempt 
to elect Burr over Jefferson, and was opposed to every measure of 
the Jefferson and of the Madison administrations, in 1822, made use 
of these words : " The federalists almost unanimously declared their 
approbation of the leading measures of the Government, and gave it 
their cordial support. The National Government, indeed, destroyed 
the federal party, in the only way it could be destroyed, by adopting, 
substantially its principles.' 1 '' This was true in that " era of good- 
feeling," when we were " all federalists and all republicans." The 
vol. 11. 9 



194 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

seeds of consolidation were sowed broad-cast. But at no period were 
more rapid strides made toward a prostration of all the barriers of 
the Constitution, than at the first session of the eighteenth Congress. 
A general distress pervaded all departments of business. The peo- 
ple were taught to look to Government for relief, and were ready to 
acquiesce in any measure that gave hopes of present alleviation, 
without regard to the consequences ; and, besides this, there seemed to 
be a universal madness — a national and individual ambition that 
o'erleaped all bounds, and embraced the whole world in its aspiring 
grasp. The body politic seemed to be radically diseased. " You are 
right," said Randolph, to a friend who was deploring the state of 
tilings, ' ; consolidation is the order of the day. The epidemic shows 
itself in a thousand Protean forms : so was despotism epidemic from 
the foundations of the world. In that state of the body politic the 
predisposition turns every pimple to cancer." With this belief, 
and in this spirit, he met and manfully, though often unsuccessfully, 
fought each Protean shape, as it successively arose to distil its lep- 
rous poison into the Constitution, or to develope the seeds of some 
gangrenous ulcer, deep festering in the body politic. 

The first subjeet Mr. Randolph met and successfully opposed, 
was the measure proposed by Congress to be adopted on the Greek 
question. It will be recollected that the Spanish provinces, Mexico, 
Peru, New Granada, and others, had been struggling for a long time 
for their independence. They had been recognized by the United 
States as independent Republics, and ministers had been sent to re- 
side near their respective governments. But Spain still persisted in 
her efforts to reconquer her revolted provinces ; and it was rumored 
that aid would be granted her for this purpose, by the allied powers 
of Europe. In the mean time, the Greeks, also, had revolted from 
the odious yoke of Turkish despotism, and were fighting with a valor 
and a success worthy of the better days of Thermopyke and of Mar- 
athon. 

In this state of things, the President in his annual message to 
Congress expressed the opinion that there was reason to hope that 
the Greeks would be successful in the present struggle with their 
oppressors, and that the power that has so long crushed them had 
lost its dominion over them for ever. The same communication con- 
tained other matters of great importance, in relation to the rumored 



EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS. 195 

combination of foreign sovereigns to interfere in the affairs of South 
America, Under these circumstances, Mr. Webster thought it was 
proper and becoming that the communication of the President should 
receive some response from the House of Representatives. Accord- 
ingly, on Monday, December the 8th, 1823, he submitted for consider- 
ation a resolution : " That provision ought to be made, by law. for 
defraying the expense incident to the appointment of an agent, or 
commissioner, to Greece, whenever the President shall deem it expe- 
dient to make such appointment." 

On the 19th of January the resolution was called up, and Mr. 
Webster delivered his sentiments on the subject embraced in it, in a 
speech of great power, eloquence, and feeling. When he sat down. 
Mr. Clay introduced a resolution : " That the people of these States 
would not see, without serious inquietude, any forcible interposition 
by the allied powers of Europe, in behalf of Spain, to reduce to 
their former subjection those parts of the continent of America which 
have proclaimed and established for themselves, respectively, inde- 
pendent governments, and which have been solemnly recognized 
by the United States." Thus the whole field of foreign politics was 
brought within the scope of the debate. 

Next dav Mr. Poinsett delivered his sentiments at length on the 
subject, and concluded by moving a modification of Mr. Webster's 
resolution, so as merely to express the sympathy of the nation for the 
suffering Greeks, and the interest felt by the Government in their wel- 
fare and success. Mr. Clay then followed and expressed himself with 
great force. It was, indeed, a glorious theme ! wide as the sufferings 
of humanity ; deep as the love of liberty in the breast of man. It 
was a subject that took hold on the hearts of the people ; predisposed 
to sympathize with nations struggling against despotism every where, 
how could they resist the appeals of the glorious descendants of 
Leonidas, and of Epaminondas, and Philopcemen ; aided, too, by 
the condensed logic of Webster, the varied learning of Poinsett, 
and the fervid eloquence of Henry Clay? A harvest of golden 
opinions was to be the destined reward of this day's exhibition. 
Webster was to be translated into Greek, to be read with rapture 
through the Peloponnesus, and to be pronounced side by side with 
Demosthenes from the heights of the Acropolis ; while Clay was to 
receive the thanks and the gratitude of the South American Repub- 



196 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

lies through the person of the great Liberator, the modern "Wash- 
ington. 

Under such circumstances, it took a man of no ordinary strength 
of character to resist these seductive measures, and expose their true 
nature and tendency. John Randolph was the man for the times : 
he was then, as he had been for years past, " the solitary warder on 
the wall ;" all others were asleep, or caught away by the enthusiasm ; 
he saw the danger, and gave the alarm. 

" This." said he, " is perhaps one of the finest and prettiest themes 
for declamation ever presented to a deliberative assembly. But it 
appears to me in a light very different from any that has as yet been 
thrown upon it. 

' ; I look at the measure as one fraught with deep and deadly dan- 
ger to the best interests and to the liberties of the American people ; 
so satisfied, sir, am I of this, that I have been constrained by the 
conviction to overcome the almost insuperable repugnance I feel to 
throwing myself upon the notice of the House : but I feel it to be 
my duty to raise my voice against both these propositions. 

My intention in rising at present, sir, is merely to move, that the 
eommittee rise, and that both of the resolutions may be printed. I 
wish to have some time to think of this business, to deliberate, before 
we take this leap in the dark into the Archipelago, or the Black Sea, 
or into the wide-mouthed La Plata. I know, sir, that the post of 
honor is on the other side of the House, the post of toil and of diffi- 
culty on this side, if, indeed, any body shall be with me on this side. 
It is a difficult and an invidious task to stem the torrent of public 
sentiment, when all the generous feelings of the human heart are ap- 
pealed to. But I was delegated, sir, to this House, to guard the 
interests of the people of the United States, not to guard the rights 
of other people ; and. if it was doubted, even in the case of England, 
a land fertile above all other lands (not excepting Greece herself) in 
great and glorious men — if it was doubted whether her interference 
in the politics of the continent, though separated from it only by a 
narrow strait, not so wide as the Chesapeake, as our Mediterranean 
Sea, had redounded either to her honor or advantage ; if the effect of 
that interference has been a monumental debt that paralyzes the arm 
that might now strike for Greece, that certainly would have struck 
for Spain, can it be for us to seek, in the very bottom of the Mediter- 
ranean, for a quarrel with the Ottoman Porte? And this, while we 
have an ocean rolling between ? While we are in that sea without a 
single port to refit a gun-boat ; and while the powers of Barbary lie 
in succession in our path, shall we open this Pandora's box of politi- 
cal evils ? Are we prepared for a war with these pirates ? (not that 



EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS. 197 

we are not perfectly competent to such a war, but) does it suit our 
finances? Does it suit, sir, our magnificent projects of roads and 
canals ? Does it suit the temper of our people ? Does it promote 
their interests ? will it add to their happiness ? Sir, why did we 
remain supine while Piedmont and Naples were crushed by Austria ? 
Why did we stand aloof, while the Spanish peninsula was again 
reduced under legitimate government? If we did not interfere then, 
why now ? 

" This Quixotism, in regard either to Greece or to South Ameri- 
ca, is not what the sober and reflecting minds of our people require 
at our hands. Sir, we are in debt as individuals, and we are in debt 
as a nation ; and never, since the days of Saul and David, or Caesar 
and Catiline, could a more unpropitious period have been found for 
such an undertaking. The state of society is too much disturbed. 
There is always, in a debtor, a tendency either to torpor or to despe- 
ration — neither condition is friendly to such deliberations. But I 
will suspend what I have further to say on this subject. For my part, 
I see as much danger, and more, in the resolution proposed by the 
gentleman from Kentucky, as in that of the gentleman from Massa- 
chusetts. The war that may follow on the one, is a distant war: it 
lies on the other side of the ocean. The war that may be induced 
by the other, is a war at hand; it is on the same continent. I am 
equally opposed to the amendment which has been since offered to 
the original resolutions. Let us look a little further at all of them. 
Let us sleep upon them before we pass resolutions, which, I will not 
say, are mere loops to hang speeches on, and thereby commit the na- 
tion to a war, the issues of which it is not given to human sagacity 
to divine." 

The resolutions were postponed. When again taken up, Mr. Ran- 
dolph spoke at large upon them. We must be content with a few par- 
agraphs, only. 

' l It is with serious concern and alarm," said Mr. Randolph, " that 
I have heard doctrines broached in this debate, fraught with conse- 
quences more disastrous to the best interests of this people, than any 
that I ever heard advanced, during the five and twenty years since I 
have been honored with a seat on this floor. They imply, to my ap- 
prehension, a total and fundamental change of the policy pursued by 
this Government, ab urbe condita — from the foundation of the Repub- 
lic, to the present day. Are we, sir, to go on a crusade, in another 
hemisphere, for the propagation of two objects as dear and delightful 
to my heart, as to that of any gentleman in this, or in any other as- 
sembly — Liberty and Religion — and, in the name of these holy 
words — by this powerful spell, is this nation to be conjured and be- 
guiled out of the highway of heaven — out of its present compara- 



198 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tively happy state, into all the disastrous conflicts arising from the 
policy of European powers, with all the consequences which flow from 
them? Liberty and Religion, sir! Things that are yet dear, in spite 
of all the mischief that has been perpetrated in their name. I be- 
lieve that nothing similar to this proposition is to be found in modern 
history, unless in the famous decree of the French National Assem- 
bly, which brought combined Europe against them, with its united 
strength; and, after repeated struggles, finally effected the downfall 
of the French power. 

•■ I will respectfully ask the gentleman from Massachusetts, 
whether, in his very able and masterly argument — and he has said 
all that could be said on the subject, and much more than I supposed 
could have been said by any man in favor of his resolution — whether 
he, himself, has not furnished an answer to his speech. I had not 
the happiness myself to hear his speech, but a friend has read it to 
me — in one of the arguments in that speech, towards the conclusion, 
I think, of his speech, the gentleman lays down from Puffendorff, in 
reference to the honeyed words and pious professions of the Holy Al- 
liance, that these are all surplusage, because nations are always sup- 
posed to be ready to do what justice and national law require. Well, 
sir, if this be so, why may not the Greeks presume — why are they 
not in this principle, bound to presume — that this Government is dis- 
posed to do all, in reference to them, that they ought to do, without 
any formal resolutions to that effect ? I ask the gentleman from Mas- 
sachusetts, whether the doctrine of Puffendorff does not apply as 
strongly to the resolution as to the declaration of the Allies — that is. 
if the resolution of the gentleman be indeed that almost nothing he 
would have us suppose, if there be not something behind this nothing, 
which divides this House, (not JiorizontaUy, as the gentleman has 
somewhat quaintly said — but vertically) into two unequal parties: one 
the advocate of a splendid system of crusades, the other, the friends 
of peace and harmony ; the advocates of a fireside policy — for, as 
long as all is right at the fireside, there cannot be much wrong else- 
where — whether, I repeat, does not the doctrine of Puffendorff apply 
as w'ell to the words of the resolution, as to the words of the Holy 
Alliance? 

" There was another remark that fell from the gentleman from 
Massachusetts — of which I shall speak, as I shall always speak of 
any thing from that gentleman, with all the personal respect that 
may be consistent with the freedom of discussion. Among other 
cases forcibly put by the gentleman, why he would embark in this 
incipient crusade against Mussulmen, he stated this as one — that they 
hold human beings as property. Aye, sir, — and what says the Con- 
stitution of the United States on this point? — unless, indeed, that 
instrument is wholly to be excluded from consideration — unless it is 



EIGHTEENTH CONGRESS. 199 

to be regarded as a mere useless parchment, worthy to be burnt, as 
was once actually proposed. Does not that Constitution give its sanc- 
tion to the holding of human beings as property 1 Sir, I am not go- 
ing to discuss the abstract question of liberty or slavery, or any other 
abstract question. I go for matters of fact. But I would ask gen- 
tlemen in this House, who have the misfortune to reside on the 
wrong side of a certain mysterious parallel of latitude, to take this 
question seriously into consideration — whether the Government of the 
United States is prepared to say, that the act of holding human be- 
ings as property, is sufficient to place the party so oifending, under 
the ban of its high and mighty displeasure ? 

- Sir, I am afraid, that, along with some most excellent attributes 
and qualities — the love of liberty, jury trial, the writ of habeas cor- 
pus, and all the blessings of free government we have derived from 
our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, we have got not a little of their John 
Bull, or rather John Bull-dog spirit — their readiness to fight for any 
body, and on any occasion. Sir, England has been for centuries the 
game-cock of Europe. It is impossible to specify the wars in which 
she has been engaged for contrary purposes ; and she will with great 
pleasure, see us take off her shoulders the labor of preserving the 
balance of power. We find her fighting, now for the Queen of Hun- 
gary — then for her inveterate foe, the King of Prussia — now at war 
for the restoration of the Bourbons — and now on the eve of war with 
them for the liberties of Spain. 

" These lines on the subject, were never more applicable, than they 
have now become : 

" ' Now Europe's balanced — neither side prevails. 
For nothing's left in either of the scales.' 

" If we pursue the same policy, we must travel the same road, and 
endure the same burthens, under which England now groans. But. 
glorious as such a design might be, a President of the United States 
would, in my apprehension, occupy a prouder place in history, who. 
when he retires from office, can say to the people who elected him, I 
leave you without a debt, than if he had fought as many pitched bat- 
tles as Caesar, or achieved as many naval victories as Nelson. And 
what, sir, is debt 1 In an individual it is slavery. It is slavery of 
the worst sort, surpassing that of the West India Islands, for it en- 
slaves the mind, as well as it enslaves the body : and the creature who 
can be abject enough to incur and to submit to it, receives, in that condi- 
tion of his being, perhaps, an adequate punishment. Of course, I speak 
of debt, with the exception of unavoidable misfortune. I speak of 
debt caused by mismanagement, by unwarrantable generosity, by being 
generous before being just. I am aware that this sentiment was ridi- 
culed by Sheridan, whose lamentable end was the best commentary 
upon its truth. No. sir ; let us abandon these projects. Let us say 



200 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

to those seven millions of Greeks, ' We defended ourselves when we 
were but three millions, against a power, in comparison with which 
the Turk is but a lamb. Go and do thou likewise.' And so with 
the governments of South America. If, after having achieved their 
independence, they have not valor to maintain it, I would not commit 
the safety and independence of this country in such a cause. I will, 
in both these, pursue the same line of conduct which I have ever pur- 
sued, from the day I took a seat in this House, in 1799, from which, 
without boasting, I challenge any gentleman to fix upon me any color- 
able charge of departure. 

" Let us adhere to the policy laid down by the second as well as 
the first founder of our republic — by him who was the Camillus, as 
well as Romulus, of the infant State — to the policy of peace, com- 
merce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances 
with none ; for to entangling alliances we must come, if you once em- 
bark in policy such as this. And, with all my British predilections, 
I suspect I shall, whenever that question shall present itself, resist 
as strongly an alliance with Great Britain, as with any other power. 
We are sent here to attend to the preservation of the peace of this 
country, and not to be ready, on all occasions, to go to war, whenever 
any thing like what, in common parlance, is termed a turn up, takes 
place in Europe. 

" What, sir, is our condition ? We are absolutely combatting 
shadows. The gentleman would have us to believe his resolution is 
all but nothing ; yet, again, it is to prove omnipotent, and fill the 
whole globe with its influence. Either it is nothing, or it is some- 
thing. If it be nothing, let it return to its original nothingness ; 
let us lay it on the table, and have done with it at once ; but, if it is 
that something, which it has been on the other hand represented to 
be, let us beware how we touch it. For my part, I would sooner put 
the shirt of Nessus on my back than sanction these doctrines — doc- 
trines such as I never heard from my boyhood till now. They go 
the whole length. If they prevail, there are no longer any Pyre- 
nees ; every bulwark and barrier of the Constitution is broken down ; 
it is become tabula rasa, a carte blanche, for everv one to scribble on 
it what he pleases." 

The resolutions were laid on the table, never afterwards to be 
called up. 



INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. 201 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. 

Immediately after the close of the foregoing debate, within a few days, 
there followed a discussion on an appropriation to defray the expenses of 
a survey of the country, with reference to an extended and connected 
scheme of roads and canals. But two years previous, May, 1822. Mr. 
Monroe had demonstrated, in the most elaborate manner, the unconsti- 
tutionality of any system of internal improvement by the Federal Gov- 
ernment. Having duly considered the bill, entitled " An act for the 
preservation and repair of the Cumberland Road," he returned it 
to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, under the 
conviction that Congress did not possess the power, under the Con- 
stitution, to pass such a law. 

A power to establish turnpikes, with gates and tolls, and to enforce 
the collection of the tolls by penalties, implies a power to adopt 
and execute a complete system of internal improvement. Mr. Mon- 
roe contended that Congress did not possess this power — that the 
States individually could not grant it. If the power exist, it must 
be either because it has been specifically granted to the United States, 
or that it is incidental to some power which has been specifically 
granted. It has never been contended that the power was specifi- 
cally granted. It is claimed only as being incidental to some one or 
more of the powers that are specifically granted. 

The following are the powers from which it is said to be derived ; 
1st. From the right to establish post-offices and post-roads. 2d. From 
the right to declare war. 3d. To regulate commerce. 4th. To pay 
the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare. 
5th. From the power to make all laws necessary and proper for car- 
rying into execution all the powers vested by the Constitution in the 
Government of the United States. 6th. From the power to dispose 
of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory 
and other property of the United States. 

Mr. Monroe took up the power thus claimed, and by a most 
extended and elaborate review of the history and the principles 

VOL. II. 9* 



202 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

of the Constitution, demonstrated that it could not he derived 
from either of those powers specified, nor from all of them united, 
and that in eonsecpience it did not exist. 

These views, so distinct and unequivocal, were set forth by Mr. 
Monroe on the 4th of May, 1822, in a special message, addressed to 
Congress. In December, 1823, a bill was introduced into the House 
of Representatives, by which the President of the United States was 
authorized to cause the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates to 
be made, of the routes of such roads and canals as he may deem of 
national importance, in a commercial or military point of view, or 
necessary for the transportation of the public mail. This bill, it was 
understood, contemplated a scheme of internal improvement on the 
most extended scale ; as such, it was discussed and voted upon. 
The debate was long, and was ably conducted. Mr. Clay, as usual, 
was the great champion of this as of all the other brilliant schemes 
of the day. It was natural, therefore, that he and Randolph should 
come in collision on all occasions. The one was the bold leader of a 
new school of politicians, sprung up out of the ruins of the old Ham- 
iltonian dynasty, who by interpolation or construction made the Con- 
stitution mean any thing and every thing their ardent minds chose 
to aspire to. The other was the clear-sighted, consistent, and up- 
right statesman, that stood by the old landmarks of republicanism, 
as they were laid down by the fathers of the faith ; and never could 
be induced to depart from them by the hope of reward or the fear 
of denunciation. They were the Lucifer and the Michael of contend- 
ing hosts : 

"Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air 
Made horrid circles : two broad suns their shields 
Blaz'd opposite, while expectation stood 
In horror ; from each hand with speed retir'd 
Where erst was thickest fight, the angelic throng, 
And left large field ; unsafe within the wind 
Of such commotion." 

Or, Randolph, rather, was the faithful Abdiel — 

" Nor number, nor example with him wrought 
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind, 
Though single. From amidst them forth he passed, 
And with retorted scorn his back he turned 
On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed. 1 ' 



INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. 203 

Mr. Randolph, on the 31st of January, 1824, delivered his senti- 
ments at large on the bill. The reader must here also be content 
with a few paragraphs : 

'• During no very short course of public life," said Mr. R,., " I do 
not know that it has ever been my fortune to rise under as much em- 
barrassment, or to address the House with as much repugnance as 
I now feel. That repugnance, in part, grows out of the necessity that 
exists for my taking some notice, in the course of my observations, 
of the argument, if argument it may be called, of an honorable mem- 
ber of this House, from Kentucky. And, although I have not the 
honor to know, personally, or even by name, a large portion of the 
members of this House, it is not necessary for me to indicate the 
cause of that repugnance. But this I may venture to promise the 
committee, that, in my notice of the argument of that member, I 
shall show, at least, as much deference to it, as he showed to the 
message of the President of the United States of America, on re- 
turning a bill of a nature analogous to that now before us — I say at 
least as much; I should regret if not more. With the argument of 
the President, however, I have nothing to do. I wash my hands of 
it, and will leave it to the triumph, the clemency, the mercy of the 
honorable gentleman of Kentucky — if, indeed, to use his own lan- 
guage, amid the mass of words in which it is enveloped, he has been 
able to find it. My purpose in regard to the argument of the gen- 
tleman from Kentucky is, to show that it lies in the compass of a 
nut-shell ; that it turns on the meaning of one of the plainest words 
in the English language. I am happy to be able to agree with that 
gentleman in at least one particular, to wit : in the estimate the gen- 
tleman has formed of his own powers as a grammarian, philologer, 
and critic ; particularly as those powers have been displayed in the 
dissertation with which he has favored the committee on the inter- 
pretation of the word establish. 

" ' Congress,' says the Constitution, ' shall have power to establish 
(ergo, says the gentleman, Congress shall have power to construct) 
post-roads.' 

" One would suppose, that, if any thing could be considered as 
settled, by precedent in legislation, the meaning of the words of the 
Constitution must, before this time, have been settled, by the uniform 
sense in which that power has been exercised, from the commence- 
ment of the Government to the present time. What is the fact? 
Your statute-book is loaded with acts for the ' establishment' of post- 
roads, and the post-master general is deluged with petitions for the 
■ establishment' of post-offices ; and yet, we are now gravely debating 
on what the word ' establish' shall be held to mean ! A curious pre- 
dicament we are placed in : precisely the reverse of that of Moliere's 



204 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

citizen turned gentleman, who discovered, to his great surprise, that 
he had been talking ' prose' all his life long without knowing it. A 
common case. It is just so with all prosers, and I hope I may not 
exemplify it in this instance. But, sir, we have been for five and 
thirty years establishing post-roads, under the delusion that we were 
exercising a power specially conferred upon us by the Constitution, 
while we were, according to the suggestion of the gentleman from 
Kentucky, actually committing treason, by refusing, for so long a 
time, to carry into effect that very article of the Constitution ! 

" To forbear the exercise of a power vested in us for the public 
good, not merely for our own aggrandizement, is. according to the 
argument of the gentleman from Kentucky, treachery to the Consti- 
tution ! I, then, sir, must have commenced my public life in trea- 
son, and in treason am I doomed to end it. One of the first votes 
that I ever had the honor to give, in this House, was a vote against 
the establishment, if gentlemen please, of a uniform system of bank- 
ruptcy — a power as uncpuestionably given to Congress, by the Consti- 
tution, as the power to lay a direct tax. But, sir. my treason did 
not end there. About two years after the establishment of this uni- 
form system of bankruptcy, I was particeps criminis, with almost 
the unanimous voice of this House, in committing another act of 
treachery in repealing it ; and Mr. Jefferson, the President of the 
United States, in the commencement of his career, consummated the 
treason by putting his signature to the act of repeal. 

" Miserable, indeed, would be the condition of every free people, 
if, in expounding the charter of their liberties, it were necessary to go 
back to the Anglo-Saxon, to Junius and Skinner, and other black- 
letter etymologists. Not, sir, that I am very skilful in language : 
although I have learned from a certain curate of Brentford, whose 
name will survive when the whole contemporaneous bench of Bishops 
shall be buried in oblivion, that words — the counters of wise men, 
the money of fools — that it is by the dexterous cutting and shuffling 
of this pack, that is derived one-half of the chicanery, and much 
more than one-half of the profits of the most lucrative profession in 
the world — and, sir, by this dexterous exchanging and substituting 
of words, we shall not be the first nation in the world which has 
been cajoled, if we are to be cajoled, out of our rights and liberties. 

'• In the course of the observations which the gentleman from 
Kentucky saw fit to submit to the committee, were some pathetic 
ejaculations on the subject of the sufferings of our brethren of the 
West. Sir, our brethren of the West have suffered, as our brethren 
throughout the United States, from the same cause, although w T ith 
them the cause exists in an aggravated degree, from the acts of those 
to whom they have confided the power of legislation ; by a departure — 
and we have all suffered from it — I hope no gentleman will under- 



INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. 205 

stand me, as wishing to make any invidious comparison between dif- 
ferent quarters of our country, by a departure from the industry, the 
simplicity, the economy, and the frugality of our ancestors. They 
have suffered from a greediness of gain, that has grasped at the sha- 
dow while it has lost the substance — from habits of indolence, of pro- 
fusion, of extravagance — from an aping of foreign manners and of 
foreign fashions — from a miserable attempt at the shabby genteel, 
which only serve to make our poverty more conspicuous. The way to 
remedy this state of suffering, is, to return to those habits of labor 
and industry, from which we have thus departed." 

'• With these few remarks," continued Mr. B., -permit me now to 
recall the attention of the committee to the original design of this 
Government. It grew out of the necessity, indispensable and un- 
avoidable, in the circumstances of this country, of some general 
power, capable of regulating foreign commerce. Sir, I am old 
enough to remember the origin of this Government ; and, though I 
was too young to participate in the transactions of the day, I have a 
perfect recollection of what was public sentiment on the subject. 
And I repeat, without fear of contradiction, that the proximate, as 
well as the remote cause of the existence of the federal government, 
was the regulation of foreign commerce. Not to particularize all the 
difficulties which grew out of the conflicting laws of the States, Mr. 
B. referred to but one, arising from Virginia taxing an article 
which Maryland then made duty-free ; and to that very policy, may 
be attributed, in a great degree, the rapid growth and prosperity of 
the town of Baltimore. If the old Congress had possessed the power 
of laying a duty of ten per cent, ad valorem on imports, this Consti- 
tution would never have been called into existence. 

" But we are told that, along with the regulation of foreign com- 
merce, the States have yielded to the General Government, in as 
broad terms, the regulation of domestic commerce — I mean the com- 
merce among the several States — and that the same power is possessed 
by Congress over the one as over the other. It is rather unfortunate 
for this argument, that, if it applies to the extent to which the power 
to regulate foreign commerce has been carried by Congress, they 
may prohibit altogether this domestic commerce, as they have here- 
tofore, under the other power, prohibited foreign commerce. 

• ; But why put extreme cases? This Government cannot go on 
one day without a mutual understanding and deference between the 
State and General Governments. This Government is the breath of 
the nostrils of the States. Gentlemen may say what they please of 
the preamble to the Constitution ; but this Constitution is not the 
work of the amalgamated population of the then existing confede- 
racy, but the offspring of the States ; and however high we may 
carry our heads and strut and fret our hour ' dressed in a little brief 



206 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

authority,' it is in the power of the States to extinguish this Govern- 
ment at a blow. They have only to refuse to send members to the 
other branch of the legislature, or to appoint electors of President 
and Vice-President, and the thing is done. Gentlemen will not un- 
derstand me as seeking for reflections of this kind ; but. like Fal- 
staff's rebellion — I mean Worcester's rebellion — they lay in my way 
and I found them." 

" I remember to have heard it said elsewhere," said Mr. R., " that 
when gentlemen talk of precedent, they forget they were not in West- 
minster Hall. Whatever trespass I may be guilty of upon the atten- 
tion of the Committee, one thing I will promise them, and will faith- 
fully perform my promise. I will dole out to them no political meta- 
physics. Sir, I unlearned metaphysics almost as early as Fontenelle, 
and he tells us, I think, it was at nine years old. I shall say nothing 
about that word municipal. I am almost as sick of it as honest Fal- 
staif was of ' security ;' it has been like ratsbane in my mouth, ever 
since the late ruler in France took shelter under that word to pocket 
our money and incarcerate our persons, with the most profound 
respect for our neutral rights. I have done with the word municipal 
ever since that day. Let us come to the plain common sense con- 
struction of the Constitution. Sir, we live under a government of a 
peculiar structure, to which the doctrines of the European writers on 
civil polity do not apply ; and when gentlemen get up and quote 
Vattel as applicable to the powers of the Constitution of the United 
States, I should as soon have expected them to quote Aristotle or the 
Koran. Our Government is not like the consolidated monarchies of 
the old world. It is a solar system ; an imperium in imperio ; and 
when the question is about the one or the other, what belong to the 
imperium and what to the imperio, we gain nothing by referring to 
Vattel. He treats of an integral government — a compact structure, 
totus teres atque rotundus. But ours is a system composed of two dis- 
tinct governments ; the one general in its nature, the other internal. 
Now, sir, a government may be admirable for external, and yet exe- 
crable for internal purposes. And when the question of power in the 
government arises, this is the problem which every honest man has 
to work. The powers of government are divided in our system be- 
tween the General and State Governments, except such powers which 
the people have very wisely retained to themselves. With these 
exceptions, all the power is divided between the two Governments. 
The given power will not lie unless, as in the case of direct taxes, 
the power is specifically given ; and even then the State has a con- 
current power. The question for every honest man to ask himself 
is, to which of these two divisions of government does the power in 
contest belong % This is the problem we have to settle: Does this 
power of internal improvement belong to the General or to the State 



INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS. 207 

Governments, or is it a concurrent power ? Gentlemen say we have, by 
the Constitution, power to establish post-roads ; and. having established 
post-roads, we should be much obliged to you to allow us therefore the 
power to construct roads and canals into the bargain. If I had the phy- 
sical strength, sir, I could easily demonstrate to the committee that, 
supposing the power to exist on our part, of all the powers that can be 
exercised by this House, there is no power that would be more sus- 
ceptible of abuse than this very power. Figure to yourself a commit- 
tee of this House determining on some road, and giving out the con- 
tracts to the members of both Houses of Congress, or to their friends, 
&c. Sir. if I had strength, I could show to this committee that the 
Asiatic plunder of Leadenhall street has not been more corrupting 
to the British Government than the exercise of such a power as this 
would prove to us. 

'• I said," continued Mr. R., " that this Government, if put to the 
test — a test it is by no means calculated to endure — as a government 
for the management of the internal concerns of this country, is one 
of the worst that can be conceived, which is determined by the fact 
that it is a government not having a common feeling and common 
interest with the governed. I know that we are told — and it is the 
first time the doctrine has been openly avowed — that upon the res- 
ponsibility of this House to the people, by means of the elective fran- 
chise, depends all the security of the people of the United States 
against the abuse of the powers of this Government. 

" But, sir, how shall a man from Mackinaw, or the Yellow Stone 
River, respond to the sentiments of the people who live in New Hamp- 
shire 1 It is as great a mockery — a greater mockery than it was to 
talk to these colonies about their virtual representation in the Bri- 
tish Parliament. I have no hesitation in sa} T ing that the liberties of 
the colonies were safer in the custody of the British Parliament than 
they will be in any portion of this country, if all the powers of the 
States, as well as of the General Government, are devolved on this 
House ; and in this opinion I am borne out, and more than borne out, 
by the authority of Patrick Henry himself. 

" It is not a matter of conjecture merely, but of fact, of notoriety, 
that there does exist on this subject an honest difference of opinion 
among enlightened men ; that not one or two. but many States in 
the Union see. with great concern and alarm, the encroachments of 
the General Government on their authority. They feel that they 
have given up the power of the sword and the purse, and enabled 
men, with the purse in one hand and the sword in the other, to 
rifle them of all they hold dear." "We now begin to per- 
ceive what we have surrendered ; that, having given up the power of 
the purse and the sword, every thing else is at the mercy and for- 
bearance of the General Government. We did believe there were 



208 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

some parchment barriers — no ! what is worth all the parchment 
barriers in the world — that there was, in the powers of the States, 
some counterpoise to the power of this body ; but, if this bill passes, 
we can believe so no longer." 

" There is one other power," said Mr. R., " which may be exercised, 
in case the power now contended for be conceded, to which I ask the 
attention of every gentleman who happens to stand in the same un- 
fortunate predicament with myself — of every man who has the mis- 
fortune to be. and to have been born, a slaveholder. If Congress 
possess the power to do what is proposed by this bill, they may not 
only enact a sedition law — for there is precedent — but they may 
emancipate every slave in the United States, and with stronger 
color of reason than they can exercise the power now contended for. 
And where will they find the power ? They may follow the example 
of the gentlemen who have preceded me, and hook the power upon 
the first loop they find in the Constitution. They might take the 
preamble, perhaps the war-making power, or they might take a 
greater sweep, and say, with some gentlemen, that it is not to be 
found in this or that of the granted powers, but results from all of 
them, which is not only a dangerous, but tlie most dangerous doctrine. 
Is it not demonstrable that slave labor is the dearest in the world, 
and that the existence of a large body of slaves is a source of danger 1 
Suppose we are at war with a foreign power, and freedom should be 
offered them by Congress, as an inducement to them to take a part in 
it ; or, suppose the country not at war, at every turn of this federal 
machine, at every successive census, that interest will find itself 
governed by another and increasing power, which is bound to it 
neither by any common tie of interest or feeling. And if ever the 
time shall arrive, as assuredly it has arrived elsewhere, and, in all 
probability, may arrive here, that a coalition of knavery and fanati- 
cism shall, for any purpose, be got up on this floor, I ask gentlemen 
who stand in the same predicament as I do, to look well to what 
they are now doing, to the colossal power with which they are now 
arming this Grovernment. The power to do what I allude to is, I 
aver, more honestly inferable from the war-making power than the 
power we are now about to exercise. Let them look forward to the 
time when such a question shall arise, and tremble with me at the 
thought that that question is to be decided by a majority of the 
votes of this House, of whom not one possesses the slightest tie of 
common interest or of common feeling with us." 

The debate on this important question was kept up ten days 
longer. On the 10th of February, Mr. Randolph moved that the 
bill be indefinitely postponed. The motion was overruled, and the 
bill was passed by a majority of 1 15 to 86. So soon as the vote was 



SUPREME COURT. 209 

announced, it was moved that the House go into committee of the 
whole on the state of the Union, with a view of taking up the bill for 
a revision of the tariff. Mr. Randolph exclaimed, ' : Sufficient for the 
day is the evil thereof," and hoped that the House would do no such 
thing ; they, however, did go into committee, and made some pro- 
gress in the bill. 

The measure above adopted by the House, was sanctioned by the 
President, thus furnishing another instance of a most extraordinary 
and flagrant abandonment of first principles, on a vital point of the 
Constitution. Mr. Madison's arguments as to the unconstitution- 
ality of the Bank, stand unanswered and unanswerable ; yet, in 
1816, Mr. Madison, under the pressure of circumstances, the plea of 
necessity, and the force of precedent, signed the Bank bill. 

No man argued more clearly and conclusively than Mr. Monroe 
the unconstitutionality of a system of internal improvement ; yet. 
under the influence of a yielding complacency, that was reluctant to 
oppose the encroaching spirit of the times, he sanctioned a measure 
that adopted the system in its broadest sense, and swept away every 
barrier of the Constitution. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

SUPREME COURT — DULL DINNER — HUDDLESFORD's OAK. 

About the time the Roads and Canals bill was discussed in the House. 
a case was argued before the Supreme Court, involving the same prin- 
ciples. Aaron Ogden, under several acts of the Legislature of the 
State of New- York, claimed the exclusive navigation of all the waters 
within the jurisdiction of the State, with boats moved by fire or 
steam. Gibbons employed two steamboats in running between Eliz- 
abethtown, New Jersey, and New-York, in violation of the exclusive 
privilege. He was enjoined by the Chancellor of New-York, and 
in his answers stated, that the boats were enrolled and licensed, to be 
employed in carrying on the coasting trade, under the acts of Con- 



210 LI FE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

gress — and insisted on his right, in virtue of such licenses, to navi- 
gate the waters between Elizabethtown and the city of New-York, 
the acts of the legislature of the State of New- York to the contrary 
notwithstanding. 

The question was, whether the laws of Congress, passed in virtue 
of the clause of the Constitution which confers on them the power 
to regulate commerce among the several States, shall contravene and 
supersede the laws of New-York, granting a monopoly to certain indi- 
viduals to navigate steam vessels on the waters within the jurisdic- 
tion of that State. 

The whole controversy turned on the interpretation of this clause 
of the Constitution — " Congress shall have power to regulate com- 
merce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with 
the Indian tribes." 

The Chief Justice, to arrive at his conclusions, took the broadest 
latitude of construction. " It has been said, argues he, that these 
powers" (powers enumerated in the Constitution) " ought to be con- 
strued strictly. But why ought they to be so construed ? Is there 
one sentence in the Constitution which gives countenance to this 
rule ? In the last of the enumerated powers, that which grants ex- 
pressly the means for carrying all others into execution, Congress is 
authorized ' to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper' for 
the purpose." With this broad principle as his rule of construction, 
he then goes on to argue that the power to regulate commerce with 
foreign nations, is full and absolute — and that it embraces the right 
to regulate navigation. The next step is to prove that the power to 
regulate commerce among the States is as broad and comprehensive 
as the power to regulate it with foreign nations. " Commerce among 
the States," says he, " cannot stop at the external boundary line of 

each State, but may be introduced into the interior." " The 

genius and character of the whole Government seem to be, that its 
action is to be applied to all the external concerns of the nation, and 
to those internal concerns which affect the States generally." .... 
" Commerce among the States must, of necessity, be commerce 
with the States. In the regulation of trade with the Indian tribes, 
the action of the law, especially when the Constitution was made, 
was chiefly within a State. The power of Congress, then, whatever 
it may be, must be exercised within the territorial jurisdiction of the 



SUPREME COURT. 211 

several States." . . . . " This power, like all others vested in Con- 
gress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and 
acknowledges no limitations, other than are prescribed in the Consti- 
tution." " The power of Congress, then, comprehends navi- 
gation within the limits of every State in the Union, so far as 
that navigation may be, in any manner, connected with ' commerce 
with foreign nations, or among the several States, or with the Indian 
tribes.' " 

He goes on to apply these principles — self evident axioms as he 
called them — to the case before the Court, and decided against the 
exclusive privilege of navigation granted by the laws and sustained 
by the Judiciary of New-Yorl. 

In conclusion, the Chief Justice says : ' ; Powerful and ingenious 
minds, taking, as postulates, that the powers expressly granted to the 
government of the Union, are to be contracted by construction into the 
narrowest possible compass, and that the original powers of the States 
are retained, if any possible construction will retain them, may, by a 
course of well-digested, but refined and metaphysical reasoning, found- 
ed on these premises, explain away the Constitution of our country, 
and leave it, a magnificent structure indeed to look at, but totally 
unfit for use." 

But the Chief Justice did not perceive, that, by pursuing the 
broad doctrines laid down by him, the several departments of gov- 
ernment, especially the one over which he presided — the Judiciary, 
whose business it is to construe and interpret — might, step by step, 
absorb all the powers reserved to the States, and to the people, and 
make the government a magnificent structure indeed, not merely to 
look at. but one wielding all the concentrated powers of a consoli- 
dated empire. The true rule is to go neither to the one extreme nor to 
the other, but to give to each and to all that which rightfully belongs 
to them. 

This opinion of the Chief Justice gave great umbrage to the 
States-rights men. They said he travelled out of the record, to 
make an elaborate argument in behalf of those principles which wore 
then urged in Congress as a justification of a general system of in- 
ternal improvement among the States. 

Mr. Randolph says to Dr. Brockenbrough, the 3d of March : 

" The Chief Justice yesterday delivered a most able opinion in the 



212 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

great New-York steamboat case, fatal to the monopoly. It is said that 
he decided in favor of the power of the General Government to make 
internal improvements, but I don't believe it. He is too wise a 
man to decide any point not before his court." No man admired 
Marshall more than John Randolph ; he held him up, as the reader 
knows, as a model to the young — to the world ; but he did not let 
his partiality for the man blind his judgment as to the dangerous 
doctrines of the Judge. When he had read " the opinion," he says : 
" It is the fashion to praise the Chief Justice's opinion in the case of 
Ogden against Gibbons. But you know I am not a fashionable man ; 
I think it is unworthy of him. Lord Liverpool has set him an ex- 
ample of caution in the last speech of the king : one that shames our 
gasconading message. I said it was ioo long before I read it. It 
contains a great deal that has no business there. 9r indeed any where. 
Mr. Webster's phrase, ' unit,' which he adopts, is a conceit (concetto), 
and a very poor one, borrowed from Dr. Rush, who with equal reason 
pronounced disease to be a unit. Now, as this theory of the Doctor 
had no effect whatever upon his practice, and that alone could affect his 
patients, it was so far a harmless maggot of the brain. But when 
that theory was imbibed at a single gulp by his young disciples, 
who were sent out annually from Philadelphia, it became the means 
of death not to units, or tens, or hundreds, but thousands, and tens 
of thousands. 

" A judicial opinion should decide nothing and embrace nothing 
that is not before the court. If he had said that ' a vessel, having the 
legal evidence that she has conformed to the regulations which Con- 
gress has seen fit to prescribe, has the right to go from a port of any 
State to a port of any other with freight or in quest of it, with passen- 
gers or in quest of them, non obstante such a law as that of the State 
of New- York under which the appellee claims,' I should have been 
satisfied. 

" However, since the case of Cohen vs. Virginia, I am done with 
the Supreme Court. No one admires more than I do the extraordi- 
nary powers of Marshall's mind : no one respects more his amiable 
deportment in private life. He is the most unpretending and unas- 
suming of men. His abilities and his virtues render him an orna- 
ment not only to Virginia, but to our nature. I cannot, however, 
help thinking, that he was too long at the bar before he ascended the 
bench ; and that, like our friend T , he had injured, by the indis- 
criminate defence of right or wrong, the tone of his perception (if you 
will allow so quaint a phrase) of truth or falsehood." 

John Marshall was, " after the most straitest sect," a Federal- 
ist of the Hamilton school. The reader, doubtless, well remembers 
his attempt to play at the game of Diplomacy with Talleyrand, and 



SUPREME COURT. 



213 



the figure he cut in the X. Y. Z. business. Soon after his return to 
the United States he was elected a member of Congress, from the 
Richmond District, in the spring of 1799, after a most violent and 
bitter contest, beating John Clopton. the old republican representa- 
tive. Mr. Adams, in 1800, removed Timothy Pickering from the 
head of his cabinet, and put General Marshall in his place ; and in 
1 SO 1, as one of the last acts of his administration, made him Chief 
Justice of the United States. 

The man of great parts and of upright principles will perform 
justly and nobly the duties of whatever station he may be placed in. 
This maxim was well illustrated by Judge Marshall. As a partisan 
leader he was bold, fearless, uncompromising, and devoted to the 
principles of the cause he espoused. When elevated to the Bench 
he rose serenely above all party influences, and became the enlight- 
ened, wise, and upright Judge. But it is very clear, that wherever 
the powers of the Federal Government were concerned, he could not 
rise above those doctrines which had been so thoroughly inculcated 
on his mind. His federal principles, by long practice and thorough 
digestion, had so completely become a part of his mental system as 
to be a law of thought on all questions of constitutional interpreta- 
tion. The tendency of the Supreme Court is now to the opposite 
extreme. The system of judicial reasoning, like all other moral sys- 
tems built on the laws of the human mind, and not the principles of an 
exact science, revolves in a cycle ; and in a series of years, will find 
itself occupying in regular succession the same positions which it had 
held at some former period. The mind progresses, but it is in a circle. 

On the 20th of March, Mr. Randolph writes to his friend : 

" Mr. King of N. Y., his colleague, Mr. Chief Justice, Tazewell, 
and some three or four more dine with me to-morrow, so that I shall 
have good company, at least, if not a good dinner." Two days after, 
he says: " Mr. Chief Justice, Tazewell, Van Buren, Benton. Morgan, 
of N. Y., and George Calvert, dined with me yesterday (Mr. King 
was sick, of his late freak in the Senate, I shrewdly suspect) ; and 
your ' fat sail-ion party' was hardly more dull than we were. The 
Chief Justice has no longer the power ' d'etre vif Tazewell took to 
prosing at the far end of the table to two or three, who formed a sort 
of separate coterie ; V. B. was unwell, and out of spirits ; and I was 
obliged to get nearly or quite drunk, to keep them from yawning 
outright." 



214 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Mr. Randolph was informed, about this time, that Miss Roane, 
the daughter of the late Judge Spencer Roane, was expected to visit 
Washington. 

" If Miss Roane," says he, " should honor our metropolis with her 
presence, I shall make it a point to call upon her — if for no other 
cause, from the very high respect in which I held her father whilst 
living, and hold his memory, being dead. I consider him as a great 
loss to his country, not only in his judicial character, but as a 
statesman, who formed a rallying point for the friends of State-rights. 
Besides, he had the judgment to perceive, and the candor to acknow- 
ledge, the consistency of my public conduct with my avowed princi- 
ples ; and he had too much greatness of mind to lend himself to the 
long and bitter persecution with which I was assailed by two govern- 
ments, by the press, by a triumphant party (many of whom were old 
sedition law federalists), until, Sertorius like, after having waged 
a long war upon my own resources, I was vancpiished as much by 
treachery in my own camp, as by the courage or the conduct of the 
enemy My hopes (plans, I never had any) have been all blasted, 
and here I am, like Huddlesford's oak. 

" 'Thou, who unmoved hast heard the whirlwind chide 

Full many a winter, round thy craggy bed, 

And like an earth-born giant hast outspread 
Thy hundred arms, and Heaven's own bolts defied, 
Now liest along thy native mountain's side, 

Uptorn ! yet deem not that I come to shed 

The idle drops of pity o'er thy head, 
Or, basely, to insult thy blasted pride. 

" : No, still 'tis thine, though fallen, imperial Oak, 
To teach this lesson to the wise and brave — 

That 'tis far better, overthrown and broke, 
In Freedom's cause to sink into the grave, 

Than in submission to a tyrant's yoke, 

Like the vile Reed, to bow and be a slave.' 



CHAPTER XXV. 

TARIFF — PEOPHECY — LEWIS McLEAN. 

The Tariff question, during the spring of 1824, was thoroughly 
discussed, and for the first time distinctly recognized and placed on 
the footing of a protective policy. We pass over this subject, and 



TARIFF. 215 

Mr. Randolph's great speech on its leading principles, for the present. 
Mr. Randolph, however, watched the bill in all its stages, and opposed 
many of its most objectionable parts in the incipient stage. Some of 
his best speeches are those short, comprehensive, and pithy discourses 
delivered on the spur of the occasion, on some isolated point under 
discussion. On the motion to reduce the duties on coarse woollens. 
' Mr. Randolph said : — 

" I am surprised that the votaries of humanity — persons who can- 
not sleep, such is their distress of mind at the very existence of negro 
slavery — should persist in pressing a measure, the effect of whidh is 
to aggravate the misery of that unhappy condition, whether viewed in 
reference to the slave, or to his master, if he be a man possessing a 
spark of humanity ; for what can be more pitiable than the situation 
of a man who has every desire to clothe his negroes comfortably, but 
who is absolutely prohibited from so doing by legislative enactment ? 
I hope that none of those who wish to enhance to the poor slave (or 
what is the same thing — to his master) the price of his annual blan- 
ket, and of his sordid suit of coarse, but, to him, comfortable woollen 
cloth, will ever- travel through the southern country to spy out the 
nakedness, if not of the land, of the cultivators of the soil. It is no- 
torious that the profits of slave labor have been, for a long time, on 
the decrease ; and that, on a fair average, it scarcely reimburses the 
expense of the slave, including the helpless ones, whether from infancy 
or age. The words of Patrick Henry, in the Convention of Virginia, 
still ring in my ears : ' They may liberate every one of your slaves. 
The Congress possess the power, and will exercise it.' Now, sir, the 
first step towards this consummation, so devoutly wished by many, is 
to pass such laws as may yet still further diminish the pittance which 
their labor yields to their unfortunate masters, to produce such a 
state of things as will insure, in case the slave shall not elope from 
his master, that his master will run away from him. Sir, the blindness, 
as it appears to me — I hope gentlemen will pardon the expression — 
with which a certain quarter of this country — I allude particularly to 
the seaboard of South Carolina and Georgia — has lent its aid to in- 
crease the powers of the general government on points, to say the least, 
of doubtful construction, fills me with astonishment and dismay. And 
I look forward, almost without a ray of hope, to the time which the 
next census, or that which succeeds it, will assuredly bring forth, 
when this work of destruction and devastation is to commence in the 
abused name of humanity and religion, and when the imploring eyes 
of some will be, as now, turned towards another body, in the vain 
hope that it may arrest the evil, and stay the plague." 

April 12, Mr. Randolph said : " If the House would lend me its 



216 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

attention five minutes, I think I can demonstrate that the argument 
of the gentleman from Delaware in favor of the increased duty on 
Drown sugar, is one of the most suicidal arguments that ever reared 
its spectral front in a deliberative assembly. 

" The gentleman objects to reducing the duty on sugar, because 
it will diminish the revenue, which he says we cannot dispense with, 
and yet he wishes to continue it as a bounty of $3 per 100 lbs. (not 
the long hundred of 112 lbs.), until the sugar planting and sugar ma- 
nufacture should be extended, so as to supply the whole demand of 
our consumption. Then what becomes of the revenue from sugar 
that we cannot dispense with 1 This is what I call a suicidal argu- 
ment, it destroys itself. 

Mr. McLean, at the commencement of his reply, appearing to 
be much irritated, Mr. Randolph rose and assured him that he in- 
tended not the slightest disrespect or offence — but Mr. McLean 
went on to say that the gentleman from Virginia had displayed a 
good head, but he would not accept that gentleman's head, to be 
obliged to have his heart along with it. 

Mr. Randolph replied : 

"It costs me nothing, sir, to say that I very much regret 
that the zeal which I have not only felt, but cherished, on the sub- 
ject of laying taxes in a manner which, in my judgment, is incon- 
sistent, not merely with the spirit, but the very letter of the Constitu- 
tion, should have given to my remarks, on this subject, a pungency, 
which has rendered them disagreeable, and even offensive to the gen- 
tleman from Delaware. For that gentleman I have never expressed 
any other sentiment but respect — I have never uttered, or entertain- 
ed, an unkind feeling towards that gentleman, either in this House 
or elsewhere, nor do I now feel any such sentiment towards him. I 
never pressed my regard upon him — I press it upon no man. He 
appears to have considered my remarks as having a personal applica- 
tion to himself. I certainly did not intend to give them that direc- 
tion, and I think that my prompt disclaimer of any such intention 
ought to have disarmed his resentment, however justly it may have 
been excited. He has been pleased, sir, to say something, which, 
no doubt, he thinks very severe, about my head and my heart. 

" How easy, sir, would it be for me to reverse the gentleman's 
proposition, and to retort upon him, that I would not, in return, take 
that gentleman's heart, however good it may be, if obliged to take 
such a head into the bargain. 

" But, sir, I do not think this— I never thought it — and, there- 
fore, I cannot be so ungenerous as to say it : for, Mr. Speaker, who 
made me a searcher of hearts ? of the heart of a fellow-man, a fellow- 



TARIFF. 217 

sinner ? Sir, this is an awful subject ! better suited to Friday or 
Sunday next (Good Friday and Easter Sunday), two of the most 
solemn days in the Christian calendar — when I hope we shall all con- 
sider it, and lay it to heart as we ought to do. 

" But, sir, I must still maintain that the argument of the gentle- 
man is suicidal — he has fairly worked the equation, and one-half of 
his argument is a complete and conclusive answer to the other. And, 
sir. if I should ever be so unfortunate as, through inadvertence, or 
the heat of debate, to fall into such an error, I should, so far from 
being offended, feel myself under obligation to any gentleman who 
would expose its fallacy, even by ridicule — as fair a weapon as any 
in the whole Parliamentary armory. I shall not go so far as to 
maintain, with my Lord Shaftesbury, that it is the unerring test of 
truth, whatever it may be of temper ; but if it be proscribed as a 
weapon as unfair as it is confessedly powerful, what shall we say (I 
put it, sir, to you and to the House) to the poisoned arrow ? — to the 
tomahawk and the scalping-knife? Would the most unsparing use 
of ridicule justify a resort to these weapons? Was this a reason 
that the gentleman sould sit in judgment on my heart? — yes, sir, 
my heart — which the gentleman (whatever he may say) in his heart 
believes to be a frank heart, as I trust it is a brave heart. Sir. I 
dismiss the gentleman to his self-complacency — let him go — yes, sir, 
let him go, and thank his God that he is not as this publican." 

This is the finest retort of the kind to be found in the English lan- 
guage. Its admirable style and temper cannot be too strongly 
recommended to those who in the heat of debate may be tempted to 
say severe and irritating things. This is a model for them to follow : 
" A soft answer turneth away wrath." Mr. Randolph's conduct on 
this occasion was looked upon with admiration by all gentlemen. 

" Mr. King, of New-York," says he to a friend, '• came to me yes- 
terday, and said that ; all the Georgetown mess were loud in their 
praises of my reception of McLean of Delaware's attack upon me on 
Monday (the day before yesterday), the 12th; that the Patroon (Van 
Rensselaer) was delighted,' &c, &c, &c. Tattnall of Georgia (a preux 
chevalier), told Mr. Macon that nothing could be more dignified or 
gentlemanly than my reply, and that it was just what it ought to 
have been. Many others tell me that this is the general sentiment." 

Mr. Randolph frequently expressed to his friends his surprise at 
this attack upon him, and could not conceive the motive. He had a 
true regard for the gentleman from Delaware, though he might not 
have been aware of it ; he pressed his regard upon no man. As far 
back as 1820, when Mr. McLean first took his seat in Congress, Mr. 

VOL. II. 10 



218 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Randolph, with characteristic accuracy and penetration, had described 
him to a friend, his origin and history, and that of his family, and 
concluded by saying, " He is the finest fellow I have seen here, by a 
double distance." 

Mr. Randolph watched the tariff bill in all its stages, and resisted 
it so long as there was any hope. At length he wrote to a friend : 

" I am satisfied (now) that nothing can avail to save us. Indeed 
I have long been of that opinion. ' The ship will neither wear nor 
stay, and she may go ashore, and be d — d,' as Jack says." 

Friday, 25th April, he says : 

" The tariff is finished, (in our House at least.) and so am I. I 
was sent for on Tuesday in all haste to vote upon it ; when I got 
there the previous question was taking, and the clerk reading the 
yeas and nays. 

" At the end, Gilmore (a fine fellow, by the way, although a 
Georgian and a Crawford man) moved for a call of the House. When 
that was over, Wilde, from Georgia, moved to amend the title. I, as 
big a fool as he, got up to tell him what an ass he was. (By the way, 
for ' Smith's verses on the old continental money,' which the reporter 
put into my mouth — why or wherefore he only can tell — read what 
I actually did say : Swiff s verses on the motto upon Chief Justice 
Whitshed's coach. So much for reporters. That over, Drayton, of 
S. C, who is the Purge of the House, got up to make another motion 
to amend. By this time the noisome atmosphere overcame me, and 
I left the hall, Mr. D. on his legs ; but a copious effusion of blood 
from the lungs has been the consequence. It came on in about thirty 
minutes after I got home ; so that the debate on the amendment of 
the tariff bill has the honor of my coup de grace." 

Mr. Randolph was appointed on the committee to investigate the 
charges of mismanagement brought by Ninian Edwards against the 
Secretary of the Treasury. In reference to this subject he writes to 
his constituents from on board the ship Nestor, at sea, May 17 : 

" Fellow-citizens, friends, and freeholders — A recurrence of the 
same painful disease that drove me from my post some two years ago 
again compels me to ask a furlough, for I cannot consent to consider 
myself in the light of a deserter. But no consideration whatever 
would have induced me to leave Washington, so long as a shadow of 
doubt hung over the transactions of the Treasury, which I was (among 
others) appointed to investigate. * * * * I confess that I was not 
without some misgivings that all was not right. Holding myself aloof 
from the intrigues and intriguers of Washington, I had remained a 



SECOND VOYAGE TO EUROPE. 219 

* 
passive spectator of a scene such as I hope never again to witness. 
Not that I was without a slight, a very slight, preference in the 
choice of the evils submitted to us for our acceptance. I inclined 
towards Mr. Crawford, for some reasons which were private and per- 
sonal, and with which it is unnecessary to trouble you ; but, chiefly, 
because you preferred him to his competitors, and because, if elected, 
he would, in a manner, be compelled to throw himself into the hands 
of the least unsound of the political parties of the country ; that he 
would, by the force of circumstances, be compelled to act with us (the 
people), whilst the rival candidates would, by the same force of cir- 
cumstances, be obliged to act against us, and with the tribe of office 
hunters and bankrupts that seek to subsist upon our industry and 



CHAPTER XXVI 



SECOND VOYAGE TO EUROPE. 



Mr. Jacob Harvey, who died in 1848, was an Irishman by birth; 
he emigrated some thirty years ago from his native country, and made 
the city of New-York the place of his residence. He was a mer- 
chant by profession, and those who knew him in his business bear tes- 
timony to his extensive information, his skill and prudence, his integ- 
rity and liberality. He was a man of refined literary tastes, brilliant 
wit, genuine humor, and exquisite delicacy of feeling. These quali- 
ties rendered him, in the social relations of life, an instructive and 
fascinating companion. The acquaintance that commenced between 
him and Mr. Randolph, on his first voyage to Europe, grew into an 
unreserved intimacy that lasted to the day of his death. Speaking 
of him, in a letter to his niece from London, he says : " His name 
is Jacob Harvey, son of Joseph Massey H.. a Limerick mer- 
chant, attached to the society of Friends — what is called a gay 
Quaker. His grandfather, Reuben H, was a merchant of Cork, and 
during the war of 1776 received a letter under General Washington's 
own hand, returning his thanks and those of Congress for his kind- 
ness to our countrymen in Ireland, prisoners and others. He was 
introduced to me by Mr. Colden, as we left the quay." 

Having assisted Mr. Randolph, says Mr. Harvey, in making 



220 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

his preparations for the voyage, I left him at Bunker's, and promised 
to call upon him next morning at half past nine o'clock, to accompany 
him to the steamboat, which was to convey him to the packet. 

I charged him to have all his luggage ready, as the steamboat 
was to start precisely at ten o'clock, which he promised to do. Next 
morning, punctual to my appointment, I entered his sitting-room, ex- 
pecting, of course, to find him. cap in hand, ready to walk to White- 
hall dock, the moment I appeared. Judge, then, of my utter aston- 
ishment to see him sitting at the table, in his dressing-gown, with a 
large Bible open before him, pen in hand, in the act of writing a let- 
ter ; while ' John' was on his knees, most busily employed in empty- 
ing one trunk and filling another ! 

" In the name of heaven," said I, " Mr. Randolph, what is the 
matter 1 Do you know that it will soon be ten o'clock, and the steam- 
boat waits for nobody 1 You promised me last night to have every 
thing packed up and ready when I called, and here you are not even 
dressed yet !" 

" I cannot help it, sir," replied he ; "I am all confusion this morn- 
ing ; every thing goes wrong ; even my memory has gone ' a good 
wool gathering.' I am just writing a farewell letter to my constitu- 
ents, and, would you believe it, sir, I have forgotten the exact words 
of a quotation from the Bible, which I want to use, and, as I always 
quote correctly, I cannot close my letter until I find the passage ; 
but strange to say, I forget both the chapter and verse. I never was 
at fault before, sir ; what shall I do ?" 

" Do you remember any part of the quotation ?" said I, " perhaps 
I can assist you with the rest, as time is precious." 

'• It begins," replied he, ' : ' How have I loved thee, oh Jacob ;' but 
for the life of me, I cannot recollect the next words. Oh my head ! 
my head ! Here, do you take the Bible, and run your eye over that 
page, whilst I am writing the remainder of my address." 

" My dear sir," said I, " you have not time to do this now, but let 
us take letter, Bible, and all on board the steamboat, where you will 
have ample time to find the passage you want, before we reach the 
packet." 

After some hesitation and reluctance, he agreed to my proposi- 
tion, and then, suddenly turning round, he said, in a sharp tone : 



SECOND VOYAGE TO EUROPE. 221 

" Well, sir, I will not take John with me, and you will please get 
back his passage-money to-morrow. He must go home, sir." 

" Not take John with you !" exclaimed I. " Are you mad ? Do 
you forget how much you suffered last voyage for want of John or 
Juba. and how repeatedly you declared that you would never again 
cross the Atlantic without one of them? It is folly, and I cannot 
consent to it." 

" I liave decided, sir ; the question is no longer open to discus- 
sion." 

" At least," said I, ' : be so good as to give some reason for such a 
decision." 

" Why, sir," replied he, " John has disobliged me. He has been 
spoiled by jour free blacks, and forgets his duty ; and I have no idea 
of having to take care of him all the way to Europe and back again !" 
Then, turning to poor John, who was completely crest-fallen, he went 
on : " Finish that trunk at once, and take it down to the steamboat, 
and on your return take your passage in the Philadelphia boat ; and 

when you get to Philadelphia, call on Mr. , in Arch street, and 

tell him that I have sailed ; then go on to Baltimore, and call on Mr. 

, in Monument Place, and say that I shall write to him from 

London ; thence proceed to Washington ; pack up my trunks, which 
you will find at my lodgings, and take them with you to Roanoke, 
and report yourself to my overseer." After a pause, he added, in a 
sarcastic tone, " Now, John, you have heard my commands ; but you 
need not obey them, unless you choose to do so. If you prefer it, when 
you arrive in Philadelphia, call on the Manumission Society, and they 
will make you free, and I shall never look after you. Do you hear, 
sir?" 

This unjust aspersion of John's love was too much for the faith- 
ful fellow ; his chest swelled, his lips quivered, his eyes filled, as he 
replied, in much agitation : 

" Master John, this is too hard. I don't deserve it. You know 
I love you better than every body else, and you know you will find 
me at Roanoke when you come back !" 

I felt my blood rising, and said : " Well, Mr. Randolph, I could 
not have believed this had I not seen it. I thought you had more 
compassion for your slaves. You are positively unjust in this case, 
for surely, you have punished him severely enough by leaving him 



222 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

behind you, without hurting his feelings. You have made the poor 
fellow cry." 

" What," said he quickly, " does he shed tears?" " He does," re- 
plied I, " and you may see them yourself." " Then," said he, " he 
shall go with me ! John, take down your baggage, and let us forget 
what has passed. I was irritated, sir, and I thank you for the re- 
buke." 

Thus ended this curious scene. John instantly brightened up, 
soon forgot his master's anger, and was on his way to the boat, in a 
few minutes, perfectly happy. 

Just as the boat was casting off, Randolph called out to me — 

" Grood-by, my friend, and remember, I shall land at the Cove of 
Cork (the dangers of the sea always excepted), and go over to Limer- 
ick, and spend a day or two at your father's house." 

I did not place much dependence upon this hasty promise, and 
was, therefore, agreeably surprised, a few weeks afterwards, by re- 
ceiving a letter from home, informing me that ' : Randolph of Roan- 
oke" had really paid my family a visit, of which they had not receiv- 
ed the slightest intimation, until he entered the parlor and introduced 
himself. He made himself extremely agreeable, and they were very 
sorry to part with him the next day. 

'• Sir," said he, speaking of Ireland, " much as I was prepared to 
see misery in the South of Ireland, I was utterly shocked at the con- 
dition of the poor peasantry between Limerick and Dublin. Why, 
sir, John never felt so proud at being a Virginia slave. He looked 
with horror upon the mud hovels and miserable food of the white 
slaves, and I had no fear of his running away. The landlords, and 
the clergy of the established church, have a fearful account to give, 
some day or other, sir, of the five and ten talents intrusted to them. 
I could not keep silence, sir, but every where, in the stage-coaches and 
hotels, I expressed my opinions fearlessly. One morning, whilst 
breakfasting at Morrison's, in Dublin, I was drawn into an argument 
with half a dozen country gentlemen, all violent tories, who seemed 
to think that all the evils of Ireland arose from the disloyalty of the 
Catholics. I defended the latter, on the ground that they were de- 
nied their political rights; and I told them very plainly, in the lan- 
guage of Scripture, that until they ' unmuzzled the ox which treadeth 
out the corn.' they must expect insurrections and opposition to the 



SECOND VOYAGE TO EUROPE. 223 

government. I had no sooner uttered these words than they all en- 
deavored to silence me by clamor, and one of them insinuated that 
I must be a ' foreign spy.' I stood up at once, sir, and after a pause, 
said, ' Can it be possible that I am in the metropolis of Ireland, the 
centre of hospitality, or do I dream ? Is this the way Irish gentle- 
men are wont to treat strangers, who happen to express sympathy for 
the wrongs of their countrymen ? If, gentlemen, you cannot refute 
my arguments, at least do not drown my voice by noisy assertions, 
which you do not attempt to prove. If ever any of you should visit 
old Virginia, I shall promise you a fair hearing, at all events ; and 
you may compare our system of slavery with yours — aye, and be the 
judges yourselves !' This pointed rebuke had the desired effect ; the 
moment they discovered who I was they instantly apologized for their 
rudeness, insisted upon my dining with them ; and never did I spend 
a more jovial day. The instant jjolitics were laid aside, all was wit 
and repartee, and song. So ended my first and last debate with a 
party of Irish tories." 

Of England, he says, " there never was such a country on the face 
of the earth, as England ; and it is utterly impossible that there ever 
can be any combination of circumstances hereafter, to make such an- 
other country as old England now is — God bless her ! But in Ire- 
land." he added, " the Government and the Church, or the Lion and 
the Jackal, have divided the spoils between them, leaving nothing for 
poor Pat, but the potatoes. The Marquis of Wellesley, sir, does his 
best to lessen the miseries of the peasantry, and yet he is abused by 
both factions — a pretty good proof that he acts impartially between 
them, sir." 

From England, Mr. Randolph crossed over into France. From 
Paris, he addressed the following letter to his friend, Dr. Brocken- 
brough : 

Paris. July 24, 1824. 

This date says every thing. I arrived here on Sunday after- 
noon, and am now writing from the Grand Hotel de Castile, rue 
Richelieu and Boulevard des Italiens — for, as the French say, it gives 
upon both, having an entrance from each. 

I need not tell either of you, that it is in the very focus of gayety 
and fashion ; and if the maitre d'hotel may be credited, it is al- 
ways honored by the residence of " M. le Due de Davuansaire," when- 
ever his Grace pays a visit to his birthplace. The civilities which, 



224 LIFE 0F -TOHN RANDOLPH. 

through the good offices of my friend, Mr. Foster, were tendered to 
me two years ago, from ' Davuansaire House,' and ' Chisonig,' would 
render this circumstance a recommendation, if the neatness and com- 
fort of my apartments did not supersede all necessity for any other 
recommendation. 

Here, then, am I, where I ought to have been thirty years ago 
— and where I would have been, had I not been plundered and op- 
pressed during my nonage, and left to enter upon life overwhelmed 
with a load of DEBT, which the profits of a nineteen years' minority 
ought to have more than paid ; and ignorant as I was (and even yet 
am) of business, to grope my way, without a clue, through the laby- 
rinth of my father's affairs, and brought up among Quakers, an ardent 
ami des noirs. to scuffle with negroes and overseers, for something like 
a pittance of rent and profit upon my land and stock. 

" Under such circumstances, that I have not been utterly ruined, 
is due (under God) to the spirit I inherited from my parents, and to the 
admirable precepts, and yet more admirable example of my revered mo- 
ther — honored and blessed be her memory. Then I had to unravel the 
tangled skein of my poor brother's difficulties and debts. His sud- 
den and untimely death threw upon my care, helpless as I was, his 
family, whom I tenderly and passionately loved, and with whom I 
might be now living, at Bizarre, if the reunion of his widow with the 

of her husband had not driven me to Roanoke ; where, but 

for my brother's entreaty and forlorn and friendless condition, I 
should have remained ; and where I should have obtained a release 
from my bondage more than twenty years ago. Then I might have 
enjoyed my present opportunities ; but time misspent and faculties 
misemployed, and senses jaded by labor, or impaired by excess, can- 
not be recalled any more than that freshness of the heart, before it 
has become aware of the deceits of others, and of its own. 

" But how do you like Paris 1 for all this egotism you might have 
poured out from Washington." 

Not in the least. And I stay here only waiting for my letters, 

which are to the return of this day's post from London. To 

you I need not say one word of the Lions of Paris, but will, in a 
word, tell you, that crucifixes, and paintings of crucifixions, and 
prints of Charlotte Corday and Marie Antoinette, &c, are the fashion 
of the day. That the present dynasty, infirmly seated in the saddle ; 
and that by little and little every privilege, acquired not by the de- 
signs of its authors, but by the necessary consequences of such a revo- 
lution, will be taken from the people ; nay, I am persuaded that the 
lands will be resumed, or (what is the same thing) an ample equiva- 
lent will be plundered from the public, to endow the losers with. At 
the next session of the deputies, the measure of reimbursing the emi- 
grants — a measure the very possibility of which was scouted, only 



SECOND VOYAGE TO ENGLAND. 225 

three years ago. The Marquis de La Fayette had sailed for the 
United States about ten days before my arrival here. I am sorry 
he lias taken the step. It will do no good to his reputation, which 
at his time of life he ought to nurse. I take it for granted, that 
Ned Livingston, or some other equally pure patriot, will propose 
another donation to him ; the last, I think, was on the motion of Beau 
Dawson. I hope I may be there, to give it just such another recep- 
tion as M. Figaro had at my hands. Although it is certainly a species 
of madness (and I hear that this malady is imputed to me) to be 
wearing out my strength and spirits, and defending the rights (whe- 
ther of things or of persons) of a people who lend their countenance 
to them that countenance the general plunder of the public, in the 
expectation either that they may share in the spoil, or that their 
former peculations will not be examined into. 

I consider the present King of France, and his family, to be as 
firmly seated on the throne of the Tuilleries, as ever Louis XIV. 
was at Versailles ; all possibility of counter-revolution is a mere chi- 
mera of distempered imagination. It would be just as possible to re- 
store the state of society and manners which existed in Virginia a 
half a century ago ; I should as soon expect to see the Nelsons, and 
Pages, and Byrds, and Fairfaxes, living in their palaces, and driving 
their coaches and sixes ; or the good old Virginia gentlemen on the 
assembly, drinking their twenty and forty bowls of rack punches, and 
madeira, and claret, in lieu of a knot of deputy sheriffs and hack at- 
torneys, each with his cruet of whisky before him, and puddle of 
tobacco-spittle between his legs. 

Bat to return to Paris. It is wonderfully improved since you 
saw it ; nay, since the last restoration, but it is still the filthiest hole, 
not excepting the worst parts of the old town of Edinboro', that I 
ever saw out of Ireland. I have dined, for your sake, chez Beau- 
villiers, and had bad fare, bad wine, and even bad bread, a high 
charge, and a surly garcon. Irving, whom you know by character 
(our ex-minister at Madrid), was with me. He says all the Traiteurs 
are bad, and the crack ones worst of all. I have also dined with Very, 
the first restaurateur of the Palais Royal, four times ; on one of 
which occasions I had a good dinner and a fair glass of champagne — 
next door to Very, once, at the Cafe de Chartres — with Pravot — Pas- 
tel ; all in the Palais Royal ; all bad, dear, and not room enough, 
even at Beauvilliers 1 or Very's, to sit at ease. I can have a better 
dinner for half a guinea at the Traveller's, in a saloon fit for a prince, 
and where gentlemen alone can enter, and a pint of the most exqui- 
site Madeira, than I can get here for fifteen francs. I have dined 
like a marketman for 5 fr. 10 sous; that is the cheapest. All the 
wine, except le vin ordinaire, is adulterated shockingly. The Eng- 
lish, that made every thing dear, and spoiled the garcons and filles, 

VOL. II. 10* 



226 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

whose greediness is only equalled by their impudence. Crucifixes, 
madonnas, and pictures and prints of that cast, with Charlotte Cor- 
day, &>c., &c, are the order of the day. Paris swarms with old 
priests, who have been dug up since the restoration, and they manu- 
facture young ones (Jesuits especially) by hundreds at a single ope- 
ration. 

Monsieur, whom you saw at Edinburgh, is remarkable, as I hear, 
for consuming a hat per day, when one is each morning put upon his 
toilet. Hats were not so plenty then. 

I made a strange mistake in my order to Leigh. I intended to 
have given him control over all my funds, except the tobacco sold 
after that period, which I wished to reserve as a fund, on which to 
play here — I mean in Europe. Pray, let it be so, deducting my 
cheek for the passage money. 

And now, my good friend, let me tell you that the state of my 
eyes, and of my health, and of my avocations too — for I have a great 
deal of writing to do — may cause this to be the last letter that you 
shall receive from me until my return, when we shall, I hope, chat 
about these and other matters once more. 

In case you should not have gone to Kentucky, I expect a regu- 
lar bulletin from you. There is one subject very near my heart that 
you must keep me informed about. I know that women (with great 
plasticity on other subjects) never will take advice upon that. I 
know that they rush into ruin with open eyes, and speud the rest of 
their lives in cursing, at least, the happier lot of their acquaintances, 
who have in the most important concern of life been governed by the 
dictates of common sense. The man is too old ; he has not nous 
enough ; he is helpless. If he had ten thousand a year, he would 
not be a match for her. I don't know who is worthy of her. But 
let him be of suitable age, with mind and taste congenial with her 
own, and of an erect spirit as well as carriage of body. They shall 
have my blessing. 

Adieu, 

J. R. op R. 

Except a few of the English, with which people Paris swarms, 
I have not seen, either in the streets or elsewhere, any thing that by 
possibility might be mistaken for a gentleman. The contrast in this 
respect with London is most striking; indeed I would as soon com- 
pare the Hottentots with the French as these last with the English. 
No Enquirer yet received, and I pine for news from home. 

The latter part of the summer Mr. Randolph spent among the 
mountains of Switzerland. August the 25th he says : " I was at 
Lauterbrunnen gazing on the Stubbach, or seeing ' the soaring Jung- 
frau rear her never-trodden snow.' " 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 227 

He arrived in New-York the 2d day of December, when the result 
of the Presidential election was still in doubt, and hastened on to 
Washington. 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 

The Presidential election of 1824 was the legitimate result of the 
preceding " era of good feelings/' In that contest there was not one 
political principle involved. In no State in the Union, Delaware 
alone excepted, did tbe people pretend to keep up their old party 
organization. The word federalist was not heard in political circles ; 
it was a mark of rudeness to attach that epithet to any gentleman ; 
the measures it represented had long since been exploded ; the word 
itself, as calling up unpleasant reminiscences, had grown obsolete; 
and every body professed to belong to the great republican family. 
It was suspected there were many federalists in disguise, and that 
their profession of republicanism was merely a lip service; but no 
one could point them out, or identify them by their political acts. 
The party had been dissolved, the federalists themselves admitted ; 
but they contended that it had only been dissolved by the republi- 
cans embracing their doctrines. And it is very true that all the 
leading measures of Congress were of a federal stamp, and that they 
were bottomed on principles of the most latitudinous kind ; the very 
same that Hamilton used in defending his obnoxious schemes, that 
brought such discredit on the name of federalism. It was impossible 
to draw a line of distinction between men, or to set up any standard 
by which to judge their opinions. Old measures and the divisions 
they occasioned had passed away ; new measures, under entirely new 
and variant circumstances, had been brought forward ; but they in- 
volved the same principles of interpretation, and required the same 
line of argument in their defence, as the old ones : but men did not 
divide upon them as they had done heretofore. Those who professed 
to abhor the doctrines of Hamilton, when applied to the schemes of 



228 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

his day. now embraced them as the only means of defending and sus- 
taining their own measures. A change of circumstances was thought 
to justify a change of political principle. In Hamilton's day, and 
down to 1811, a national bank was unconstitutional; but now, in the 
estimation of republicans, it had become " necessary and proper,'' 
and therefore constitutional. Those who came into power with Mr. 
Jefferson, professing hostility to a national bank, and who refused in 
1811 to re-charter the old one, established in 1816 a similar institu- 
tion. The latitudinous construction of the Constitution by the 
Adams administration in 1798-99, and the odious measures based 
thereon, such as the alien and sedition laws, constituted the principal 
objection to that administration, and were the main cause of its over- 
throw ; and the substitution of a party professing the contrary doc- 
trines — a party that professed to interpret the Constitution literally, 
and that would exercise no power that had not been specifically given 
by some express grant in the Charter. This party pursued their 
principles for some years, and furnished a model of a plain, just, and 
economical government ; but in 1816, while nominally in power, they 
elected their President, and for eight years seemed to control the 
measures of his administration ; and yet those measures, as we have 
abundantly seen, were founded on the same principles that had been 
so loudly condemned and unequivocally repudiated under the Adams 
dynasty : so easily are men deceived by names and appearances ; so 
hard is it to follow a rigid rule of abstinence, when appetite and 
opportunity invite to indulgence. 

A respectable minority, with John Randolph at the head, invaria- 
bly opposed the consolidating measures of the times ; demonstrated 
their identity with the exploded doctrines of federalism, and warned 
the people of the dangerous consequences ; but it was a sort of Cassan- 
dra voice, that nobody heeded : it seemed impossible to restore the old 
landmarks, and to convince the people that they had gone backwards, 
and fallen into the old paths they had once abandoned. All were ex- 
expecting some special advantage from the legislation of the day ; the 
hopes of profit had stifled the remonstrances of truth ; and the popular 
leaders were constantly dazzling the imaginations of the people with 
some magnificent scheme, by which they hoped to gain renown for them- 
selves, and to fasten to their fortunes by the ties of a common interest 
some class or section of the community. The presidential candidates 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 229 

were all committed, or in some way identified with those schemes. 
Mr. Adams, Mr. Calhoun, and Mr. Crawford, were members of the 
cabinet ; but they had not been slow in expressing themselves on all 
occasions, and had given unequivocal evidence of their devotion to 
those broad doctrines that swept away the barriers of the Constitu- 
tion, and made it a convenient instrument to sanction whatever might 
be deemed for the time being to be necessary and proper. 

Mr. Clay, as the leader in the House of Representatives, had been 
their most ardent, active, and eloquent champion. His position gave 
him the advantage of the initiative in all popular measures, and he never 
failed to identify himself with them by some bold and eloquent dis- 
course. Not content with sweeping away the barriers within the narrow 
horizon of domestic politics, he embraced in the wide scope of his phi- 
lanthropic regard all the oppressed and struggling nations of the earth; 
and, turning a deaf ear to the warning of the father of his country, 
he hastened to speak a word of encouragement, and to stretch out an 
arm of help without regard to the consequences to his own country. 
His ambition for public display, his thirst for present and personal 
applause, his frank and manly character, his sanguine temperament, 
and bold imagination, with a quick, comprehensive, yet undisciplined 
mind, made him just the character to be led off by any popular theme 
that might promise distinction and popularity — just the man to fol- 
low with undoubting faith the shining ignis fatuus of the hour, and 
to be dazzled by it and deceived. 

General Jackson had not been in political life, and possessed 
great military renown ; this gave him an advantage over his competi- 
tors : but he was not known to differ materially from them in his 
political opinions. There were no public acts to commit him ; but 
all his correspondence and conversations, so far as they were made 
known to the public, proved that at that time he had no clear con- 
ception of the principles that divided the old federal and republican 
parties, and that he was equally devoted to those new measures which 
had done so much to bring back in disguise the ascendency of 
federal doctrines. 

In this state of things the partisans of each of the candidates for 
the presidency sought to impress on the public mind the idea that 
their friend was par excellence the true republican candidate. But 
it was impossible to persuade the people to this belief, when there 



230 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

was no political principle dividing them — no platform of doctrine on 
which they were called to stand, so as to be separated and distin- 
guished from those around them. The consequence was, the whole 
country was divided into sectional and personal factions. The West 
and Southwest voted for a western and southwestern man ; New- 
York and New England voted for a New England man ; while the 
Southern and Middle States were divided between a northern, a 
southern, and a western man. There was no principle to bring the 
discordant sections together, and to cause them to sacrifice their 
friend on the altar of the public good : there was no such public 
good — nothing in the whole controversy that would justify any such 
immolation. What advantage had Mr. Adams over Mr Clay, or 
Mr. Crawford, or General Jackson ? or what advantage had either of 
these over him, so as to induce the friends of one to surrender him 
that they might thereby secure the success of the other? It was not 
publicly pretended that one was sounder in his political opinions than 
the other ; and they all stood on their own personal merits as having 
done some service to the country and to the republican cause. The 
friends of Mr. Crawford endeavored to gain an advantage for him 
by procuring a " regular nomination," according to the usages of the 
party. It had been usual for a convention, or, as it was called, a 
caucus, of republican members at the proper time to assemble to- 
gether, and to designate some suitable pei'son for the presidency on 
whom the people might concentrate their votes, so as to prevent the 
triumph of those principles which they regarded as so obnoxious : so 
long as federalism continued in organized opposition, this concentra- 
tion was the only means of securing the ascendency to the republican 
party. But federalism had long ceased to exist as an opposing force. 
This party machinery, therefore, in the absence of those higher mo- 
tives of combination, could only be made to subserve the purposes of 
faction, and to give an undue advantage where none was deserved. 

The friends of Mr. Crawford, however, being mostly from Vir- 
ginia and New- York, and considering themselves as the true stand- 
ards of republican orthodoxy, persisted in their course, notwith- 
standing a formidable opposition, and called together their conven- 
tion the 14th of February, 1824. Out of two hundred and sixty-one 
members of Congress, only sixty-four attended the meeting in person, 
and two by proxy. The two proxies and sixty-two members present 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 231 

voted for Mr. Crawford. Of the sixty-two votes, one-half were from 
New-York and Virginia. This convention did not exceed one-fourth 
of the members of Congress, and was composed entirely of the friends 
of one only of the candidates — there was no comparison of opinions — 
no sacrifices of personal preferences and mutual concessions for the 
good of a common cause. Under such circumstances, it is obvious 
that the meeting could make no pretensions to nationality, not even 
to a full and fair party organization. Yet it was proclaimed as " the 
regular nomination " according to the usages of the party, and the 
republicans called on to sustain it as such. In Virginia, the people 
gave it their support, because Mr. Crawford was their choice under 
all circumstances. But in New-York it met with a very different 
fate. Mr. Crawford was not a favorite with the people of New- York, 
though her delegation voted for him in the caucus of 1816 in oppo- 
sition to Mr. Monroe, and came near defeating by their skilful and 
secret management the only person seriously spoken of by the peo- 
ple. Finding that the " regular nomination," according to party 
usage, which carried such a potent spell with it heretofore, had lost 
its influence, and that if the people were left to themselves, Mr. 
Crawford was certain of defeat, his friends took refuge in the legis- 
lature, and determined to gain their point by keeping the election 
from the people. Up to this time the electors of President and 
Vice-President had been nominated by the legislature. The people 
now determined to take the election in their own hands. A bill to that 
effect passed the lower House with only four dissenting voices, such 
was the unanimity on the subject ; but it was defeated in the Senate, 
where there were a majority of Mr. Crawford's friends. So great 
was the excitement in the State, that the Governor called an extra- 
session of the legislature to execute the will of the people. But the 
Senate again defeated the bill, and the Assembly adjourned without 
doing any thing. All this was done in the name of liberty. The 
majority of the Senate assumed to be the only true exponents of re- 
publicanism, and Mr. Crawford as its only true representative, and 
in order to carry their measures, committed great violence on their 
own principles. But even the legislature would not sustain this 
violent effort to force the State to cast her vote for one she did not 
prefer. 



232 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

When the nominations were made, Mr. Crawford got only four 
out of the thirty-six electoral votes of New-York. 

The events of this presidential campaign furnish an instructive 
page of history, which should be well considered by the people. It 
was just the combination of circumstances to tempt ambitious men 
to form coalitions for their own personal ends, and to make a 
regular bargain and sale of the rights of the people. In the absence 
of all political principle — in a mere contest between individuals for 
power — what was to prevent a union of the North and the South, or 
the East and the West, in a regular contract for a division of the 
spoils? There was no election by the people. Adams, Crawford. 
Clay and Jackson, were all voted for, but no one obtained a majority 
of the electoral colleges. The duty of making a choice between the 
three highest candidates now devolved on the House of Representa- 
tives. For a long time Mr. Clay was expected to be one of the three. 
The vote of Louisiana, which his friends expected, being given 
against him, caused Mr. Crawford to have a few more votes than he, 
and the contest was between Jackson, who had the highest number 
of votes in the electoral colleges, Adams, and Crawford. Mr. Clay. 
from his great influence, had entire control of the election. He de- 
cided in favor of Mr. Adams, and immediately accepted, at his hands, 
the office of Secretary of State. He was openly charged in the House 
of Representatives with bargain and corruption. He repelled the 
charge with becoming indignation. The reasons he gave for voting 
for Mr. Adams were just — situated as he was, he could not have 
voted otherwise — but the fact of his accepting office from the man he 
himself had elevated into the seat of power, condemned him. He 
should have given the vote, but declined the office. His own con- 
sciousness of innocence may have sustained him in the performance 
of the deed, but it could not screen him from the inferences that 
would be drawn from it by a censorious world. Men's motives are 
known only to themselves ; language, says Talleyrand, was given to 
conceal them ; and that which is avowed, is rarely the true cause of 
any action. Knowing these things, it is not surprising that a 
jealous and censorious world will at least sasjoect the motive, where 
the act and the circumstances might justify the imputation of a bad 
one. 

During the time of the ballotting, an incident took place that was 



HIS CONSTITUENTS. 233 

very characteristic of John Randolph ; it showed his great accuracy in 
the statement of a fact, at the same time his jealous observance not 
only of the rights of the States, but even of the forms and expres- 
sions in which those rights might be involved. Mr. Webster was 
appointed by the tellers who sat at one table, and Mr. Randolph by 
those at the other, to announce the result of the ballotting. After the 
ballots were counted out, Mr. Webster rose, and said : Mr. Speaker, 
the tellers of the votes at this table have proceeded to count the bal- 
lots contained in the box set before them ; the result they find to be, 
that there are for John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, 13 votes; 
for Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, 7 votes ; for Wm. H. Crawford, of 
Georgia, 4 votes. 

Mr. Randolph, from the other table, made a statement corres- 
ponding with that of Mr. Webster, in the facts, but varying in the 
phraseology, so as to say that Mr. Adams, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. 
Crawford, had received the votes of so many States, instead of so 
many votes. 



M 



CHAPTER XXVILI. 



SUCH CONSTITUENTS AS MAN NEVER HAD BEFORE, AND 
NEVER WILL HAVE AGAIN." 



From Charlotte Court-house, Tuesday, April 5th, 1825, Mr. Ran- 
dolph writes to Dr. Brockenbrough : " Much against my will — I 
do not deceive myself — I am involved in another election. Two 
more years, if I live as long, in that bear garden, the House of 
Representatives ! You ask after my health, it is wretched in the 
extreme. Nothing but an earnest desire to avoid the imputation of 
giving myself airs, brought me here yesterday." He was at Prince 
Edward Court-house, also, on Monday, the 18th — the day of elec- 
tion in that county. It was the first time the writer of this memoir 
had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Randolph among his constituents, or 
hearing him on the hustings. He was then a lad at the neighboring 
college — Hampden Sydney. That day was given as a holiday to 
the students, and they all repaired at an early hour to the Court- 



234 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

house to see the wonderful man of whom they had heard so much. 
I saw Mr. Randolph when he arrived on the " court green ;" he 
alighted from his sulky some distance from the Court-house, and 
handed over the reins to Johnny, who was in an instant by his side. 
He was dressed in his old " uniform of blue and buff." with knee- 
buckles, and long fair-top boots. He seemed to limp slightly in his 
gait, which only added dignity and gravity to his carriage. The 
moment his arrival was known, the people came flocking from all 
directions towards him. The tavern-porches, the shops, and offices, were 
soon emptied, and every body went running towards the great object 
of attraction. His old acquaintances (and who were not old acquaint- 
ances there ?) were eager to take him by the hand ; they pressed for- 
ward without ceremony, and their greetings were most cordially re- 
ciprocated. To all the old men he had something to say, pointed 
and appropriate, that seemed to give them infinite satisfaction — a 
word of recognition, that meant more than it expressed, and went 
home to the heart. He marched slowly towards the Court-house, 
still greeting and talking with his friends, as they came up to take 
him by the hand. Many followed him, doubtless, from curiosity ; but 
much the largest portion of the crowd that hovered around him. 
were men who had known him all their lives, and had seen him a 
hundred times before ; yet they followed him with as much interest 
as the youngest school-boy there, and their eyes could not be sated by 
gazing upon him. Such is the magic influence of genius and of 
true greatness on the human mind. 'Tis said that Robert Burns 
could not arrive at an inn, at midnight, without its being known to 
all the inmates, who would come flocking, even in their night gar- 
ments, to see, for the twentieth time, perhaps, the enchanting coun- 
tenance of Scotland's noblest bard, who, like Randolph, from his 
earliest youth, had no other thought but to serve and adorn his na- 
tive land. 

" E'n then a wish (I mind its power), 
A wish, that to my latest hour 

Shall strongly heave my breast — 
That I, for poor auld Scotland's sake, 
Some usefu' plan or hook could make, 
Or sing a sang at least." 

Mr. Randolph was pressed to make a speech. He pleaded his 
wretched health, and begged to be excused. But no excuse would be 



HIS CONSTITUENTS. 235 

taken ; his old friends wanted to hear him ; it was a long time since 
they had that pleasure ; great changes had taken place in politics ; 
they had heard much ahout them, but wanted to hear from his own 
lips how the matter stood. Finding that no apology would be taken, 
that such men as the Mortons, the Prices, the Watkins' and the Ven- 
ables, were urging on him to say something to gratify the people, he 
at length consented ; and retiring from the multitude, he sat down 
on an oaken bench in the corner of the Court-house yard, and rested 
his head on the end of his umbrella. No one approached or dis- 
turbed him. After sitting some ten or fifteen minutes, he arose, and 
asked the sheriff to make proclamation that he would address the 
people. There was no need of that ; they were all there, pressing 
around, and waiting patiently his pleasure to speak to them. As he 
approached the stile, the crowd receded, and opened a way for him 
to pass. I followed in his wake, unconscious of what I was doing, 
and stood near his left side, where I could hear every word that was 
uttered, and see every motion of every muscle of the whole man. I 
was too young to remember what was said, at this distance of time. 
The newspapers said he "addressed his constituents in a manner and 
with matter which gave great and universal satisfaction. He des- 
canted, with great eloquence and power, on the alarming encroack- 
ments of the General Government upo?i the rights of tlie States" I 
have no doubt that was the theme of his discourse. But what I saw 
I shall never forget — the manner of the man. The tall, slender fig- 
ure, swarthy complexion, animated countenance ; the solemn glance, 
that passed leisurely over the audience, hushed into deep silence be- 
fore him, and bending forward to catch every look, every motion and 
every word of the inspired orator ; the clear, silver tones of his 
voice ; the distinct utterance — full, round expression, and emphasis 
of his words ; the graceful bend and easy motion of the person, as he 
turned from side to side ; the rapid, lightning-like sweep of the 
hand when something powerful was uttered ; the earnest, fixed gaze, 
that followed, as if searching into the hearts of his auditors, while 
his words were telling upon them ; then, the ominous pause, and the 
twinkling of that long, slender forefinger, that accompanied the 
keen, cutting sarcasm of his words — all these I can never forget. 
My beau ideal of the orator was complete. What I had read of De- 
mosthenes and Cicero, aided by the lights of Longinus and Quinctil- 



236 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

ian, was fulfilled in this man. I have heard him several times since 
from the same place. Those who have heard him elsewhere concur 
in the opinion, that before the people of Prince Edward he was pecu- 
liarly free and happy. These were the people that stood by him in 
the darkest hour of his fortunes ; " when two administrations" and 
the whole political press made war upon him, they shielded him from 
the assaults of his enemies, and cheered him in the desolate and dan- 
gerous path he had to tread, by the light of their countenance and 
the voice of their approbation. It is not wonderful, then, that in 
the presence of such a people, the reminiscences of the olden time 
should rekindle the slumbering fires of his heart, and inspire his 
thoughts with more than their wonted force and brilliancy. 

From the stand, Mr. Randolph retired to the bench in the Court- 
house. The polls were opened, and the voting commenced. Each 
one, as he came up, pronounced with a clear and audible voice the 
name of John Randolph as the person voted for for Congress. There 
was not a dissenting voice. When any one of the old men gave his 
vote, Mr. Randolph partly rose from his seat, and in the most bland 
and affecting manner thanked him for his vote. He seemed to say, 
I am grateful, sir, and proud to have the approbation of a man of 
your independence, understanding, integrity, and weight of character. 
The old man returned the salutation with a look that said, I am 
proud, also, to have the privilege of voting for you, Mr. Randolph. 
There was no pretence, no affectation in all tins ; it was natural, 
spontaneous, and, to those who knew the history of the parties and 
their relations to each other, it was truly affecting. No one could 
look upon the scene without exclaiming, that with such constituents 
and such representatives, no danger or harm could befall the Repub- 
lic. They were men, for the most part, owners of the soil, and living 
by its cultivation ; men who, from their youth up, by the daily read- 
ing of the best conducted political journals, and their monthly con- 
versations and discussions at the Court-house on political topics, had 
become familiar with the institutions of their country and the man- 
ner in which they had been conducted — who knew the characters of 
all public men that had l'isen above a neighborhood reputation, and 
could judge dispassionately and without enthusiasm of their objects 
and the tendency of their measures — they were models of republican 
simplicity, intelligence, and virtue. The same, for the most pair 



HIS CONSTITUENTS. 237 

may be said of all Mr. Randolph's district. He had represented 
them for five and twenty years ; they all knew him — men, women, 
and children — and he knew them. These are the people of whom he 
spoke, when he said, on a memorable occasion in the House of Rep- 
resentatives : 

•• I will go back to the bosom of my constituents — to such con- 
stituents as man never had before, and never will have again — and I 
shall receive from them the only reward that I ever looked for, but 
the highest that man can receive — the universal expression of their 
approbation — of their thanks. I shall read it in their beaming faces ; 
I shall feel it in their gratulating hands. The very children will 
climb around my knees, to welcome me. And shall I give up them. 
and this ? And for what ? For the heartless amusements and va- 
pid pleasures and tarnished honors of this abode of splendid misery, 
of shabby splendor ? for a clerkship in the war office, or a foreign mis- 
sion, to dance attendance abroad, instead of at home — or even for a 
Department itself? Sir, thirty years make sad changes in man. 
When I first was honored with their confidence. I was a very young 
man, and my constituents stood almost in parental relation to me, and 
I received from them the indulgence of a beloved son. But the old 
patriarchs of that day have been gathered to their fathers — some adults 
remain, whom I look upon as my brethren : but the far greater part 
were children — little children — or have come into the world since my 
public life began. I know among them, grand-fathers, and men mus- 
ter-free, who were boys at school when I first took my seat in Con- 
gress. Time, the mighty reformer and innovator, has silently and 
slowly, but surely changed the relation between us ; and I now stand 
to them in loco parentis — in the place of a father — and receive from 
them a truly filial reverence and regard. Yes, sir, they are my chil- 
dren — who resent, with the quick love of children, all my wrongs, 
real or supposed. Shall I not invoke the blessings of our common 
Father upon them. Shall I deem any sacrifice too great for them? 
To them I shall return, if we are defeated, for all of consolation that 
awaits me on this side of the grave. I feel that I hang to existence 
but by a single hair — the sword of Damocles is suspended over me." 

Mr. Randolph spent the summer in his usual solitude at Roan- 
oke. In June, he says to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

•• You are very good in taking time to write to me, but I hope 
you will continue to do so, notwithstanding the drudgery of penman- 
ship that you are subjected to — for your letters constitute the only 
link between me and the world, at present — a world where I have 
but a little while longer to stay. I feel those internal monitions (of 
which the patient alone is sensible) that convince me that I cannot 



238 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

hold out much longer, and although life has no one attraction left for 
me, I cannot hut look towards its point of dissolution, with some mis- 
givings of mind. We shall probably never meet again on this side 
of the grave: beyond it, all is involved in obscurity. I have just as 
much expectation of living to the end of the century, as to the close 
of the year. There is nothing left now for regimen or medicine to 
act upon. I have never been in such a condition ; not even in 1817." 

July 8th, he says : — " Your kind letter of the 3d has just arrived 
to throw a cheerful ray over my clouded mind. Although I stood in 
no need of any such assurance, yet the declaration it contained at the 
outset gave me most sensible gratification. I believe we have dealt 
as little in professions as any persons similarly circumstanced ever 
did ; and for a plain reason — neither of us distrusted the sincerity 
of his sentiments towards the other. My dear friend, my strength 
ebbs apace. My health (like the stocks) fluctuates, but gets worse. 
I have lost my grasp upon the world. If it be not mad — then I am. 
Its political, religious and commercial relationships are, in my view, 
irrational and contemptible ; but I still cherish a warm feeling of 
regard and of interest in the welfare of those who have manifested 
kindly dispositions towards me. Indeed, I wish well to all — I must 
except a few ' caitiffs' — and would do good to all, if it was in my 
power. Among those who have shown me favor, I set high value upon 
the attachment of Frank Gilmer ; and I too had a very strong desire for 
his sake, that he would take the professorship. I was concerned to 
learn by a late letter from Mr. Barksdale. that he looked very ill. and 
was more desponding than when B. saw him in March. When you 
write to him, name me among those who think often and always kind- 
ly of him. 

4i The rains have destroyed our crops of every description but In- 
dian corn, and that is much injured. If I live as long, which I do 
not at all look forward to, I shall assuredly take the voyage you 
mention. It is dreary enough to be in a land of strangers, a cipher 
and at sufferance ; but any thing is better than the horrors of this 
climate, and indeed our state of society and manners is so changed, 
that were I to remain here, it must be in a sort of dreamy existence, 
among my books and shades, ignorant of what might be passing in 
the world around me. 

" Jarvis, I remember, some fourteen years ago, made me laugh 
very heartily at poor Nicholson's table in Baltimore ; but I might 
defy him now to raise even a smile, except of 'such a sort' as Ju- 
lius Caesar could not endure. You are right to be as convivial as 
you can ; soberly, as Lady Grace says. Dulce est desipere. I am 
persuaded that our self-righteous denouncers of our old-fashioned 
sports and pastimes have added nothing to the stock of our morali- 
ty ; our young men and boys have exchanged the five's-court, and 



HIS CONSTITUENTS. 239 

other athletic exercises, for the tavern-bench, squirting tobacco-juice, 
and drinking whisky-grog. The girls, instead of balls and dress, 
&c, discourse of original sin — 'fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge 
absolute.' But after all, we shall look in vain for the worth or man- 
ners of the last generation. 

'• I read little but Dr. Barrow, and not much of him. I have 
sometimes thought of attacking Atterbury and South ; but after a 
short application, my eyes become dim and my head swims, and I 
have to take a turn or two about the room to recover myself. I 
would not trouble you with this long (for such it is) and stupid letter, 
but for the assurance that it is gratifying to you to hear from me in 
my present reduced condition. You may judge what it is, when I 
tell you that I have not seen my plantation since my return from 
Europe. 

" Butler's Reminiscences I read two years ago, and was much dis- 
appointed in them. Do you note an article in the Edinburgh Review 
on the subject of the West Indies? It is written in a most fero- 
cious spirit of philanthropy. My infirmity admonishes me to lay 
down my pen." 

The monotony and tedium of his solitary life were greatly re- 
lieved by a visit from his friends, Dr. and Mrs. Brockenbrough, in 
the month of October. They spent a week with him. Most of his 
correspondence, before and after, was in reference to this visit. It 
was an important era in the chronicles of Roanoke. November 25th, 
he writes, " I am truly glad the agues fled before the thing with the 
hard name. Old Mrs. D. says of you, any body may see from his 
face that he is a mighty clever man. What say you to that, my dear 
madam 1 * * * * You know me well ; ' distrust ' is a sin that I 
cannot easily forgive. I can truly say that the pleasantest week by 
far that I have spent for years, was that that you and Mrs. B. 
spent here." 

Mr. Randolph was detained at home on business till late in De- 
cember. He did not arrive in Washington — '• Babylon," as he called 
it — till Christinas. In the mean time, he had been elected to the 
Senate of the United States, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the re- 
signation of Gov. James Barbour, who had been appointed, by Mr. 
Adams, Secretary of War. 

The election took place the 17th of December. The candidates 
nominated were Judge Henry St. George Tucker, the half-brother 
of Mr. Randolph, William B. Giles, John Floyd, and John Ran- 
dolph. On the first ballot, the vote stood : Tucker 65, Randolph 



240 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

63. Giles 58, Floyd 40. According to the rule of the House, Mr. 
Floyd was dropped, and the second ballot stood: Tucker 87, Randolph 
79, Giles 60. Mr. Giles being likewise dropped under the rules, and 
the members having prepared and deposited their ballots in the 
boxes, Mr. Jackson on the part of the friends of Mr. Tucker, rose 
and stated to the House, that it was the desire of Mr. Tucker, in 
no event, to be placed in competition with Mr. Randolph. Con- 
sidering that Mr. R. had no chance of being elected, they had on 
their own responsibility, put Mr. Tucker in nomination. But as the 
collision was now between these two gentlemen, they thought it due 
to Mr. Tucker's feelings and request to withdraw his name. Some 
conversation then ensued, in which it was suggested that the ballot- 
boxes ought to be emptied and the ballots again collected. Mr. 
Jackson declared he did not know the ballots had been put in the 
boxes, or he should have withdrawn Mr. Tucker sooner. One gen- 
tleman remarked that the person who had been last dropped, ought, 
under these circumstances, to be again before the House. But the 
chair decided, that as the ballots had been all deposited in the boxes, 
and there being no mistake or irregularity, they must be counted 
under the rule of the House This was accordingly done, and the 
ballots stood, Randolph 104, Tucker 80. Mr. Randolph, having a 
majority, was declared duly elected. 

On the reception of the news of this election, through a letter 
from Dr. Brockenbrough, Judge Tucker thus responds : " I have 
barely time before the closing of the mail to acknowledge the receipt 
of your friendly letter, and to express my hearty concurrence in the 
gratification you feel at the election of my brother. I could wish in- 
deed that my name had been withheld, yet hope that its withdrawal 
even at the time it took place, was not too late to manifest my de- 
ference to him. God preserve him long as an honor to his station 
and the Old Dominion. I cannot but think that this occurrence will 
reanimate his spirit, and restore him to that activity in the public 
councils for which he was always remarkable, until he thought him- 
self unkindly treated by his native State. He will now, I trust, see 
in himself her favorite son." 



THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION. 241 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION. 

The reader is already aware that Mr. Randolph took no interest in 
the late Presidential contest. There were circumstances that inclined 
him to favor the pretensions of Mr. Crawford ; but it was a mere 
personal preference ; and as there were no principles involved in the 
controversy, he left the country with rather a feeling of indiiference 
as to the result of the election. But no sooner was the contest de- 
cided by the election of John Quincy Adams in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, than Mr. Randolph gave unequivocal evidences of hos- 
tility to the new administration. For this he has been blamed by 
many persons. It seemed like a pre-determination to condemn men 
when they as yet had perpetrated no act worthy of condemnation. 
But it must not be forgotten that we have a written Constitution, 
containing the fundamental law of all our political institutions. We 
have a Federal Government and State Governments, each with 
limited and specified powers, and acting as mutual checks and balances 
to each other. An over-action on the part of the one or the other 
would destroy the equilibrium, and endanger the existence of our 
complicated and nicely-adjusted system of Government. Hence the 
necessity of a scheme of doctrine, or rules of interpretation, by which 
the Constitution was to be construed, and the different departments 
guided in their administration of the Government. Our statesmen 
have something more to do than advise measures. They have to 
show that those measures are sanctioned by the Constitution, and 
that, in their final result, they will not disturb the harmony of the 
system. 

In consequence of this necessity imposed on our public men, there 
had grown up at a very early period two distinct schools of politicians 
differing widely in their doctrines and rules of interpretation. But 
during the recent administration, as the reader is aware, these dis 
tinctions were effaced, and men seemed to stand on the same platform 
professing a general, vague, undefined belief in the doctrines of repub 
licanism. Mr. Adams, having acted a conspicuous part under Mr 

VOL. II. 1 1 



242 LIFE °F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Monroe, had now to take an independent position, and to mark out a 
line of policy for himself. Rising from a subaltern station into the 
chief magistracy of the Republic, where he could not be restrained 
by the authority of superiors, one would naturally suppose that his 
mind would take the direction of its early thoughts and associations. 
Mr. Adams's early education unfitted him to associate with those 
statesmen who looked with jealousy on the Federal Government, who 
deprecated its over-action as dangerous to the Union, and who abste- 
miously exercised those powers that had been actually delegated to 
it. Being the son of the late President John Adams, he received his 
education mostly abroad, while his father, as Minister of the United 
States, attended the various courts of Europe. At a very early 
period, before he had performed any public service whatever, General 
Washington, doubtless, in compliment to his father, appointed him 
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Hague. During the eventful period 
of his father's administration, he continued abroad in daily connec- 
tion with the habits, opinions, and associations of the royal courts to 
which he was successively transferred as Minister of the United 
States. 

After the political revolution of 1800 had condemned the admin- 
istration of John Adams, and driven him from the helm of affairs, 
one of his last acts was the recall of his son, to save him frjDin the 
mortification of being dismissed by Mr. Jefferson. 

Soon after his return, John Quincy Adams was elected to the 
Senate of the United States from Massachusetts. He was elected 
as a federalist by a federalist Legislature ; and one of his first acts 
in the Senate was to oppose the purchase of Louisiana, then the favo- 
rite measure of the republican party. But he had not been in the 
Senate long before an eventful and radical change took place in his 
public conduct. The restrictive policy of Mr. Jefferson, as the reader 
is aware, was very much opposed in New England. It crippled their 
commerce, on which they were mainly dependent for support. The 
embargo, in 1808, capped the climax of restriction ; and the opposi- 
tion in New England, led on by the old federal leaders, knew no 
bounds in their denunciations of those measures, which they regarded 
as so destructive of their interests. 

Mr. Adams conceived the idea, or was informed by what he 
deemed good authority, that his old friends and associates were about 



THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION. 243 

to commit an act of treason to the country ; that so deep was their 
hostility to the measures of the Government, and so great their deter- 
mination to get rid of the burthen, that they contemplated a separa- 
tion from the Union. Through the interposition of a distinguished 
Senator, he called on the President, and communicated to him his 
apprehensions. 

He spoke of the dissatisfaction of the eastern portion of our Con- 
federacy with the restraints of the embargo. That there was nothing 
which might not be attempted to rid themselves of it. That he had 
information of the most unquestionable certainty, that certain citizens 
of the Eastern States (naming Massachusetts particularly) were in 
negotiation with agents of the British Government, the object of which 
was an agreement that the New England States should take no further 
part in the proceedings of the Federal Government ; that, without form- 
ally declaring their separation from the union of the States, they should 
withdraw from all aid and obedience to them ; that their navigation and 
commerce should be free from restraint or interruption by the British ; 
that they should be considered and treated by them as neutrals, and 
as such might conduct themselves towards both parties. He assured 
Mr. Jefferson that there was imminent danger that a separation 
would take place ; that the temptations were such as might debauch 
many from their fidelity to the Union. The course of Mr. Adams 
brought upon him the hostility of his own legislature : another per- 
son was elected to succeed him, and he was instructed, during the 
remnant of his term, to oppose the measures of the administration. 
He retired from a position he could no longer hold with honor. The 
purity of his motives was defended in the Senate by a member of 
the administration party against the denunciations of his late col- 
league, who manifested feelings of the deepest hostility towards 

him. 

Soon after his retirement, Mr. Adams was tendered a mission to 
the court of St Petersburg, but the Senate did not think such a mis- 
sion at that time was necessary, and did not confirm the appointment. 
He was renominated by Mr. Madison on his accession to the Presi- 
dency, and the appointment was confirmed by the Senate. Mr. 
Adams continued abroad in various diplomatic capacities till the 
summer of 1817, when he was recalled by Mr. Monroe, and placed at 
the head of his administration as Secretary of State. 



244 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH 

During this " era of good feelings" nothing occurred to develope 
the opinions of Mr. Adams as to the true construction of the Consti- 
tution. He is known to have favored the magnificent schemes of that 
day, and is thought to have had much influence over the mind of 
Mr. Monroe in producing the great change of sentiment on the sub- 
ject of internal improvement. Thus we perceive that the early edu- 
cation, and the diplomatic career of Mr. Adams in the midst of royal 
courts, and the strongly concentrated and despotic governments of 
an hereditary aristocracy, illy fitted him to appreciate the unpretend- 
ing and abstemious doctrines of that republican school for which he 
abandoned his old friends, and, as they say, basely calumniated them. 
His change of position did not involve a change of politics. He 
merely exchanged a broken and divided party for one in the ascend- 
ant. There never was an occasion to test the sincerity of this change 
until he was elected President of the United States. In this ex- 
alted station, unrestrained by the routine of office, he was not long 
in manifesting the bold and ardent aspirations of his mind. Endowed 
with a poetic genius and an ardent imagination, possessing a quick, 
irascible, and obstinate temper, a man of the closet, wholly unused 
to the restraints and the caution of legislative experience, he mounted 
the chair of state with the boldness and the confidence of Phaeton 
into the chariot of the sun. 

The great idea that filled the mind and kindled the imagination 
of Mr. Adams was a magnificent scheme of internal improvement, to 
be constructed by the General Government. In his inaugural address 
he recurs to the subject, as he says, with peculiar satisfaction. " It 
is that," he continues, " from which I am convinced that the unborn 
millions of our posterity who are in future ages to people this conti- 
nent, will derive their most fervent gratitude to the founders of the 
Union ; that on which the most beneficent action of its Government 
will be most deeply felt and acknowledged. The magnificence and 
splendor of their public works are among the imperishable glories of 
the ancient republics The roads and aqueducts of Rome have been 
the admiration of all after ages ; and have survived thousands of 
years after all her conquests have been swallowed up in despotism, 
or become the spoil of barbarians." Mr. Adams did not doubt the 
power of Congress to enter in this field of rivalry with the ancient 
republics ; and to surpass even the Roman empire, with the spoils of 



THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION. 245 

a world in its treasury, in the magnificence and splendor of their 
roads and aqueducts. He impatiently rejects the contrary proposi- 
tion as unworthy of consideration, and boldly and dogmatically an- 
nounces " that the question of the power of Congress to authorize 
the making of internal improvements is, in other words, a question 
whether the people of this Union, in forming their common social 
compact as avowedly for the purpose of promoting the general wel- 
fare, have performed their work so ineffably stupid as to deny them- 
selves the means of bettering their own condition. I have too much 
respect for the intellect of my country to believe it." 

In his annual message, the President again dilates on this subject 
with his peculiar animation and earnestness : " The spirit of improve- 
ment is abroad upon the earth. It stimulates the heart, and sharp- 
ens the faculties, not of our fellow-citizens alone, but of the nations 
of Europe, and of their rulers. While dwelling with pleasing satisfac- 
tion upon the superior excellence of our political institutions, let us 
not be unmindful that liberty is power ; that the nation blessed with 
the largest portion of liberty, must, in proportion to its numbers, be 
the most powerful nation upon earth ; and that the tenure of power 
by man is. in the moral purposes of his Creator, upon condition that 
it shall be exercised to ends of benificence, to improve the condition 
of himself and his fellow-man. While foreign nations, less blessed 
with that freedom which is power, than ourselves, are advancing with 
gigantic strides in the career of public improvement, were we to slum- 
ber in indolence, or fold up our arms and proclaim to the world that 
we are palsied by the will of our constituents ; would it not be to cast 
away the bounties of Providence, and doom ourselves to perpetual 
inferiority ? ; ' 

But the President was surpassed, if possible, in his ideas of a 
magnificent and all-powerful Government, by the Secretaries whom he 
had gathered around him, as constitutional advisers. The Secretary 
of State, while a popular orator on the floor of Congress, had never 
failed, when occasion offered, to describe in glowing terms, the bene- 
fits to be derived from a free and unrestrained exercise of all those 
powers that Congress, in its wisdom, might deem necessary and pro- 
per to promote the common good and general welfare. But the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury went beyond them both in defining the object 
and the duties of Government. In his annual report he says the 



246 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

duty of a provident Government is " to augment the number and va- 
riety of occupations for its inhabitants ; to hold out to every degree 
of labor, and to every modification of skill, its appropriate object 
and inducement ; to organize the whole labor of a country ; to entice 
into the widest ranges its mechanical and intellectual capacities, in- 
stead of suffering them to slumber ; to call forth, wherever hidden, 
latent ingenuity, giving to effort activity, and to emulation ardor ; to 
create employment for the greatest amount of numbers, by adapting 
it to the diversified faculties, propensities, and situations of men, so 
that every particle of ability, every shade of genius, may come into 
requisition." 

In the eye of these political economists, Government is every 
thing, the people nothing. In their estimation, Government is a 
unit, having absolute control over the property and the industry of 
the people ; directing the resources of the one and the energies of 
the other, into this or that channel, as may seem best to its sovereign 
and omnipotent will. 

Doctrines like these were not ventured even in the palmiest days 
of federalism. John Adams, the father, and Hamilton, the Secretary, 
could not hold a light to the son, and those luminaries around him, 
who drew their inspiration from some modern political philosophy, 
which taught that the prosperity of the people must be based upon, 
and measured by, the omnipotent and unlimited powers conferred on 
the Government. It is not surprising that the people awoke from 
their long dream of security, and that they were alarmed at the bold- 
ness and the confidence with which these extraordinary doctrines 
were announced by the highest authorities known to the Constitu- 
tion. It is not surprising, that John Randolph, the champion of 
State-rights, should sound the tocsin to warn the people, and that in 
the midst of so much error of doctrine, and bold usurpation of au- 
thority, he should express doubts of a long continuance of our fede- 
rative Government, as designed and constructed by our forefathers: 

" We are now making an experiment," says he, " which has never 
yet succeeded in any region or quarter of the earth, at any time, from 
the deluge to this day. With regard to the antediluvian times, his- 
tory is not very full ; but there is no proof that it has ever succeeded, 
even before the flood. One thing, however, we do know, that it has 
never succeeded since the flood ; and, as there is no proof of its hav- 



THE ADAMS ADMINISTRATION. 247 

ing succeeded before the flood, as cle non apparentibus et non existen- 
tibus eadcm est ratio; it is good logic to infer, that it has never suc- 
ceeded, and never can succeed any where. In fact the onus probandi 
lies on them that take up the other side of the question ; for although 
post hoc ergo propter hoc be not good logic, yet, when we find the same 
consequences generally following the same events, it requires nothing 
short of the skepticism of Mr. Hume, to deny that there is no con- 
nection between the one and the other ; whatever, metaphysically 
speaking, there may be of necessary connection between cause and 
effect. 

•' I say, then, that we are here making an experiment which has 
never succeeded in any time or country, and which — as God shall 
judge me at the great and final day — I do in my heart believe will 
here fail ; because I see and feel that it is now failing. It is an in- 
firmity of my nature ; it is constitutional ; it was born with me ; it 
has caused the misery (if you will) of my life ; it is an infirmity of 
my nature to have an obstinate constitutional preference of the true 
over the agreeable ; and I am satisfied, that if I had an only son. or, 
what is dearer, an only daughter — which God forbid ! — I say, God 
forbid ! for she might bring her father's gray hairs with sorrow to the 
grave ; she might break my heart ; but, worse than that, what ! Can 
any thing be worse than that 1 Yes, sir, I might break hers. I 
should be more sharp-sighted to her foibles than any one else 

'• I say, in my conscience and in my heart, I believe that this ex- 
periment will fail. If it should not fail, blessed be the Author of 
all Good for snatching this people as a brand from the burning, 
which has consumed as stubble all the nations — all the fruitfulness 
of the earth — which, before us, have been cut down, and cast into the 
fire. Why cumbereth it the ground 1 Why cumbereth it? Cut it 
down ! Cut it down ! 

" I believe that it will fail ; but, sir, if it does not fail, its success 
will be owing to the resistance of the usurpation of one man, by a 
power which was not unsuccessful in resisting another man, of the 
same name, and of the same race. And why is it that I think it will 
fail % Sir, with Father Paul, I may wish it to be perpetual, esto 
perpetua, but I cannot believe that it will be so. I do not believe that 
a free republican government is compatible with the apery of Euro- 
pean fashions and manners — is compatible with the apery of Euro- 
pean luxury and habits ; but if it were, I do know that it is entirely 
incompatible with what I have in my hand — a base and baseless 
paper system of diplomacy, and a hardly better paper system of 
exchange. 

'• Now, sir, John Quincy Adams, coming into power under these 
inauspicious circumstances, and with these suspicious allies and con- 
nections, has determined to become the apostle of liberty, of universal 



248 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

liberty, as his father was, about the time of the formation of the 
Constitution, known to be the apostle of monarchy. It is no secret. 
I was in New- York when he first took his seat as Vice-President. I 
recollect — for I was a schoolboy at the time — attending the lobby of 
Congress, when I ought to have been at school. I remember the 
manner in which my brother was spurned by the coachman of the 
then Vice-President, for coming too near the arms emblazoned on 
the scutcheon of the vice-regal carriage. Perhaps I may have some 
of this old animosity rankling in my heart, and, coming from a race 
who are known never to forsake a friend or forgive a foe, I am taught 
to forgive my enemies ; and I do, from the bottom of my heart, most 
sincerely, as I hope to be forgiven ; but it is my enemies, not the 
enemies of my country, for, if they come here in the shape of the 
English, it is my duty to kill them ; if they come here in a worse 
shape — wolves in sheeps' clothing, it is my duty and my business to 
tear the sheep-skins from their backs, and, as Windham said to Pitt, 
open the bosom, and expose beneath the ruffled shirt the filthy dow- 
las. This language was used in the House of Commons, where they 
talk and act like men ; where they eat and drink like men ; and do 
other things like men, not like Master Bettys. Adams determined 
to take warning by his father's errors ; but in attempting the perpen- 
dicular, he bent as much the other way. Who would believe that 
Adams, the son of the sedition-law President, who held office Under 
his father — who, up to December G, 1807, was the undeviating, 
stanch adherent to the opposition to Jefferson's administration, then 
almost gone — who would believe he had selected for his pattern the 
celebrated Anacharsis Cloots, 'orator of the human race?' As 
Anacharsis was the orator of the human race, so Adams was de- 
termined to be the President of the human race, when I am not wil- 
ling that he should be President of my name and race ; but he is, 
and must be, till the third day of March, eighteen hundred and — 
I forget when. He has come out with a speech and a message, and 
with a doctrine that goes to take the whole human family under his 
special protection. Now, sir. who made him his brother's keeper? 
Who gave him, the President of the United States, the custody of 
the liberties, or the rights, or the interests of South America, or any 
other America, save, only, the United States of America, or any other 
country under the sun? He has put himself, we know, into the way, 
and I say, God send him a safe deliverance, and God send the coun- 
try a safe deliverance from his policy — from his policy." 



THE PANAMA MISSION. 249 

CHAPTEE XXX. 

THE PANAMA MISSION — BLIFIL AND BLACK GEOEGE. 

The American system of Mr. Clay was not confined to the mere do- 
mestic affairs of the United States, it contemplated a wider range, 
and embraced within its scope an intimate political relationship with 
all the republics and empires of North and South America. On 
the floor of the House of Representatives, in 1820, he gave the first 
outline of this American policy. " What would I give," says he, 
" could we appreciate the advantages of pursuing the course I pro- 
pose. It is in our power to create a system of which we shall be 
the centre, and in which all South America will act with' us. Im- 
agine the vast power of the two continents, and the value of the in- 
tercourse between them, when we shall have a population of forty, 
and they of seventy millions. In relation to South America, the 
people of the United States will occupy the same position as the 
people of New England do to the rest of the United States. We 
shall be the centre of a system, which would constitute the rallying 
point of human freedom against all the despotism of the old world. 
Let us no longer watch the nod of any European politician. Let us 
become real and true Americans, and place ourselves at the head of 
the American system." 

So soon as Mr. Clay took possession of the Department of State, he 
had an ample field for the exercise of his passion for diplomacy. He 
not only instilled his doctrines into the minds of our public function- 
aries abroad, but he immediately commenced a line of policy which 
must soon consummate his cherished schemes, and place himself at 
the head of an American Holy Alliance, to defend human freedom 
against tlie despotism of tlie old world. 

The Spanish American Republics, by various treaties among them- 
selves, had determined to appoint delegates to meet in Congress at 
Panama, for the purpose of devising means more effectually to prose- 
cute the war with Spain, who had not yet acknowledged their inde- 
pendence ; to settle some principles of international law ; and to di- 
gest some plan of co-operation with the United States, to prevent the 

VOL. II. 11* 



250 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

interference of any other nation in the present war, on behalf of 
Spain, and to resist the further colonization of the American coast 
by the nations of Europe. There were many and serious difficulties 
in the way of any participation on the part of the United States in 
the deliberations and decisions of this Congress. Nor was their pre- 
sence at first anticipated. But this Assembly furnished too favorable 
an opportunity for Mr. Clay to accomplish his schemes, to let it escape 
He, as Secretary of State, intimated to the resident Ministers at 
Washington, in the name of the Government, that the United States, 
if formally invited, would, on their part, appoint a person to repre- 
sent them. The invitation of course was extended ; but before ac- 
cepting it, the President thought that certain important preliminary 
questions should be settled. It appeared to him to be necessary, be- 
fore the assembling of such a Congress, to settle between the differ- 
ent powers to be represented, several preliminary points ; such as the 
subjects to which the attention of the Congress should be directed ; 
the substance and the form of the powers to be given to the respect- 
ive Representatives ; and the mode of organizing the Congress. 
These subjects were discussed for many months in verbal conferences. 
They were not merely preliminary, but vital as to the propriety of 
accepting the invitation. 

They were never settled. But the Secretary of State, and the 
President, whose imagination had now become inflamed with the same 
brilliant theme, were not to be diverted from their purpose by these 
grave difficulties. Two such ardent and obstinate tempers united on 
the same object, were not to be balked by ordinary obstacles. 

But a few days before the meeting of Congress, the 30th of No- 
vember, 1825, the Secretary wrote to the several Spanish American 
Ministers, residing at Washington. After expressing his regret that 
these subjects had not been arranged, he proceeds : " But as the want 
of the adjustment of these preliminaries, if it should occasion any 
inconvenience, could be only productive of some delay, the President 
has determined, at once, to manifest the sensibility of the United 
States to whatever concerns the prosperity of the American hemis- 
phere, and to the friendly motives which have actuated your Govern- 
ments in transmitting the invitation which you have communicated. 
He has, therefore, resolved, should the Senate of the United States, 
now expected to assemble in a few days, give their advice and consent, 



THE PANAMA MISSION. 251 

to seDd Commissioners to the Congress at Panama." Accordingly, 
in his annual message, the 6th of December, the President announces 
to Congress that " the invitation has been accepted, and ministers on 
the part of the United States will be commissioned to attend at those 
deliberations." 

New offices were to be created, and the whole policy of the coun- 
try, in despite of the warning of the father of his country, was to be 
changed, by mere Executive will, without the advice and consent of 
the Representatives of the States, or of the people. 

This extraordinary measure was deemed by the President to be 
within the constitutional competency of the Executive ; and, before 
ascertaining the opinion of the Legislature as to its expediency, by 
first obtaining a creation of the offices proposed to be filled, and then 
an appropriation for the salaries, he nominated Richard C. Anderson, 
of Kentucky, and John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, to be Envoys 
Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary to the Assembly of 
American Nations, at Panama. 

Mr. Randolph took his seat in the Senate a few days after the 
message containing these nominations was communicated to that body. 

On the 4th of January, 1826, he writes to a friend, "We are 
here, as dull as the ' Asphaltic Pool.' Yet I think it possible (not 
to say probable) that we shall not continue so during the remainder 

of the session If any check can be given to the Ex. Power, I 

have long believed that the Senate alone had the reins. The H. of 
R.. from its character and composition, can never be formidable to a 
P. who has common sense." The "Asphaltic Pool" was soon driven 
and tossed by a mighty tempest. 

After repeated calls on the President for fuller information, 
which he very mincingly dealt out to them, the Senate at length com- 
menced in conclave to discuss the Panama question. 

Mr. Van Buren, on the 15th of February, submitted a resolu- 
tion, "That upon the question, whether the United States shall be rep- 
resented in the Congress of Panama, the Senate ought to act with 
open doors ; unless it shall appear that the publication of documents 
necessary to be referred to in debate will be prejudicial to existing 
negotiations." 

He submitted a further resolution, " That the President be re- 
spectfully requested to inform the Senate whether such objection ex- 



252 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

isted in the publication of the documents communicated by the Ex- 
ecutive, or any portion of them ; and, if so, to specify the parts the 
publication of which would, for that reason, be objectionable." 

Mr. Randolph opposed these resolutions. He protested against 
opening the doors, and contended that the President was a co-ordin- 
ate branch of the Government, and was entitled to all possible respect 
from the Senate. " It is his duty," said he, " to lay before us infor- 
mation on which we must act ; if he does not give us sufficient informa- 
tion, it is not our business to ask more." The resolutions, however, were 
adopted ; and the next day, the President sent the following message 
in reply : " In answer to the two resolutions of the Senate, of the 15th 
instant, marked (Executive) and which I have received, I state re- 
spectfully, that all the communications from me to the Senate, relat- 
ing to the Congress at Panama, have been made, like all other com- 
munications upon Executive business, in confidence^ and most of them 
in compliance with a resolution of the Senate, requiring them confi- 
dentially. Believing that the established usage of free confidential 
communications between the Executive and the Senate ought, for the 
public interest, to be preserved unimpaired, I deem it my indispensa- 
ble duty to leave to the Senate, itself, the decision of a question in- 
volving a departure, hitherto, so far as I am informed, without exam- 
ple, from that usage, and upon the motives for which, not being in- 
formed of them, I do not feel myself competent to decide." 

This message changed the tone of Mr. Randolph towards the 
President. Some weeks afterwards, when addressing the Senate with 
open doors, he alluded to this subject. 

" I did maintain," said he, " the rights of the President ; but from 
the moment he sent us this message, from that moment did my tone 
and manner to him change; from that moment was I an altered msrn, 
and, I am afraid, not altered for the better. 

" Sir, if he would leave to the Senate the decision of the question, 
I would agree with him ; but the evil genius of the American house 
of Stuart prevailed. He goes on to say that the question ' involves 
a departure, hitherto, so far as I am informed, without example, from 
that usage, and upon the motives for which, not being informed of 
them, I do not feel myself competent to decide.' If this had been 
prosecuted for a libel, what jury would have failed to have found a 
verdict on such an inuendo ? That we were breaking up from our 
own usages to gratify personal spleen? I say nothing about our 
movements, because he was not informed of them. The inuendo was 



THE PANAMA MISSION. 253 

that our motives were black and bad. That moment did I put, like 
Hannibal, my hand on the altar, and swear eternal enmity against 
him and his, politically. From that moment I would do any thing 
within the limits of the Constitution and the law ; for, as Chatham 
said of Wilkes, ' I would not, in the person of the worst of men, vio- 
late those sanctions and privileges which are the safeguard of the 
rights and liberties of the best ; but, within the limits of the Consti- 
tution and the law, if I don't carry on the war, whether in the Penin- 
sula or any where else, it shall be for want of resources.' " 

After further observations on the resolutions moved in conclave, 
Mr. Randolph repeated what he had then said in reference to the 
message of the President. 

" Who made him a judge of our usages 1 Who constituted him ? 
He has been a professor, I understand. I wish he had left off the 
pedagogue when he got into the Executive chair. Who made him 
the censor morum of this body 1 Will any one answer this question 1 
Yes or no 1 Who 1 Name the person. Above all, who made him 
the searcher of hearts, and gave him the right, by an inuendo black 
as hell, to blacken our motives? Blacken our motives! I did not 
say that then. I was more under self-command ; I did not use such 
strong language. I said, if he could borrow the eye of Omniscience 
himself, and look into every bosom here ; if he could look into that 
most awful, calamitous, and tremendous of all possible gulfs, the 
naked unveiled human heart, stripped of all its covering of self-love, 
exposed naked, as to the eye of God — I said if he could do that, he was 
not. as President of the United States, entitled to pass upon our 
motives, although he saw and knew them to be bad. I said, if he 
had converted us to the Catholic religion, and was our father confes- 
sor, and every man in this House at the footstool of the confessional 
had confessed a bad motive to him by the laws of his church, as by 
this Constitution, above the law and above the church, he, as Presi- 
dent of the United States, could not pass on our motives, though we 
had told him with our own lips our motives, and confessed they were 
bad. I said this then, and I say it now. Here I plant my foot ; 
here I fling defiance right into his teeth before the American people : 
here I throw the gauntlet to him and the bravest of his compeers, to 
come forward and defend these miserable lines : ' Involving a depar- 
ture, hitherto, so far as I am informed, without example, from that 
usage, and upon the motives for which, not being informed of them, 
I do not feel myself competent to decide.' Amiable modesty ! I 
wonder we did not, all at once, fall in love with him. and agree una 
voce to publish our proceedings, except myself, for I quitted the 
Senate ten minutes before the vote was taken. I saw what was to 



254 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

follow ; I knew the thing would not he done at all, or would be done 
unanimously. Therefore, in spite of the remonstrances of friends, 
I went away, not fearing that any one would doubt what my vote 
would have been, if I had staid. After twenty-six hours' exertion, 
it was time to give in. I was defeated, horse, foot, and dragoons — 
cut up, and clean broke down by the coalition of Blifil and Black 
George — by the combination, unheard of till then, of the puritan with 
the blackleg." 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

DUEL WITH HENRY CLAY. 

The remarks contained in the closing paragraph of the preceding 
chapter, were made in reference to the coalition between Mr. Clay 
and Mr. Adams. Mr. Randolph was fully persuaded that it was the 
result of corrupt motives ; and being so persuaded, he did not hesi- 
tate to express himself in the strongest terms of denunciation. But, 
on the present occasion, he so far forgot himself as to indulge in lan- 
guage of the grossest personal insult. We do not believe that this 
was a premeditated and malicious assault on the private reputation 
of an absent rival. In the heat of debate, Randolph often used ex- 
pressions that in cooler moments he regretted. Concentration of 
thought and intensity of expression were characteristic of his mind. 
Few men could say more pithy or pungent things. His sentences 
were aphorisms, without a superfluous ornament, and pregnant with 
meaning. On the present occasion, while the blood was up, and the 
mind glowing with intense action, we are persuaded that he looked 
only to the vividness of his illustrations and the aptness of his allu- 
sions. He felt only the strength of the orator giving intensity to his 
expressions ; he perceived only the effect on his audience, and did 
not consider the wound he might inflict on the feelings of the subject 
of his allusions. If the thought flashed across his mind at the mo- 
ment, it was too late ; while " at the top of his bent," and in the eye 
of the Senate, he could not pause to weigh consequences. When, per- 
haps, in the next hour after taking his seat, he may have regretted 
that any offensive words had escaped his lips. So conscious was he 



DUEL WITH HENRY CLAY. 255 

of his proneness to this license in the heat of debate, that he not un- 
frequently asked pardon of the House, or of the Senate, while a mem- 
ber of that body, for any unguarded and injurious expressions he 
may have uttered. We can readily fancy that when his attention 
was called to the subject by a friend, he would exclaim. ' ; God for- 
give me ! but it is too late now; it can't be helped." Having flung 
down the gauntlet, and challenged the boldest champion of the admin- 
istration to take it up, he was not the man to take back any insulting 
expressions that might provoke an acceptance of his challenge. Hav- 
ing offered the insult, he calmly awaited the consequences, not doubt- 
ing what those consequences would be. Mr. Clay was not a man of 
such forbearance and Christian virtue as to permit a gross im- 
putation on his motives to pass unnoticed. The circumstances by 
which he was surrounded, and the quarter from which it came, for- 
bade it on this occasion. He was compelled to act. He had reached 
a crisis in his public career ; a vast suspicion hung upon the integrity 
of his late conduct ; the public had fixed a jealous eye on his move- 
ments ; had he then quailed, or even been silent, under the charge of 
bankruptcy in morals, both public and private, his political fortunes 
would have been ruined beyond the hope of redemption. Randolph, 
too, was the man to confront. He had been the evil genius that from 
the beginning stood in the way of his aspirations : not as the weird 
sisters in the path of Macbeth, to cheer him on with prophecies of 
future greatness, but as the angel with the flaming sword, that 
checked the presumptuous Baalam as he went up to curse the chil- 
dren of Grod. 

He strode from the vestibule to the speaker's chair, and from that 
elevated position fixed his eye on a still more lofty seat. Randolph's 
keen and practised perception saw the dangerous and the vaulting 
ambition of the man, and from that moment marked him as an 
object of especial notice. While the country yet paused, and her 
fate still hung balanced between peace and war, Clay, with burning 
zeal, urged on to strife. Randolph's voice was heard for peace. On 
the political arena they met. and with ethereal weapons fought. 
When the trophies of victory reared on the bloody field of combat 
shall have mouldered into dust, the intellectual conflicts of these 
great orators shall live in the memory of coming ages. Soon they 
parted: one to the shades and the solitude of Roanoke, the other to the 



256 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

achievement of still higher exploits in the cabinet of diplomacy. 
Again they met on the same arena. Peace had returned, and with 
it a tide of prosperity that maddened the minds of the multitude, 
and filled the imaginations of gravest statesmen with schemes of 
magnificence and grandeur that brooked no constitutional restraint 
in the way of their complete and immediate execution. But the 
towering genius of the young Apollo soared above them all, and 
bore away the crown of victory, while the people stood charmed 
with the melodious tones of his persuasive voice, and enchanted by 
the magic spell he had thrown about their bewildered minds. But 
the eagle, towering in his pride, was doomed to fall. The keen 
archer sped an arrow, plumed with feathers fallen from his own wing, 
that brought him wounded to the earth. " From the time that I en- 
tered upon the subject of his conduct in relation to the Bank, in 
1811 (renewal of the old charter) and in 1816 (the new Bank), and 
on internal improvements, &c , (quoting his own words in his last 
speech that ' this was a limited cautiously restricted government.) and 
held up the ' compromise' in its true colors, he never once glanced 
his eye upon me but to withdraw it, as if he had seen a basilisk." 
But the glance of the basilisk, nor the archer's shaft, could quell his 
aspiring mind. Borne up on the popular breeze, he still mounted 
aloft, and waved defiance to his enemies. Scorning meaner things, 
his wide vision stretched across the continent, and embraced far dis- 
tant republics in the scope of his philanthropy. A halo of glory 
seemed to hover about his brow, and he rode like a sun, eclipsing the 
beams of lesser luminaries. But his hour had come ; the fatal blun- 
der had been committed. Proud and confident, he had never mis- 
trusted his own infallibility. The averted countenance of retiring 
friends, the chilling breath of cold suspicion, taught him when too 
late that he also was mortal. In this hour of abandonment and 
peril, his old enemy dealt him a deadly blow. He had no right to 
complain; he could not exclaim et tu, Brute! for no friendship had 
ever been professed : on the contrary, Randolph had ever deprecated 
his ambition as dangerous, and felt justified in the use of any weapon 
that might curb its career. Embittered by the denunciations heaped 
upon him on every hand, and chafed by the prospect of falling for- 
tunes, Clay only saw in his ancient rival a cunning Mephistopheles, 
heaping scornful words upon him, and smiling in triumph at his over- 



DUEL WITH HENRY CLAY. 257 

throw. Stung to desperation, he sought revenge in the blood of his 
adversary. Pity he knew no other mode of vindicating an injured 
character than a resort to mortal combat. It is a reproach to civili- 
zation, if not to Christianity, that they have found no other means 
of wiping away the stains of dishonor than that which is exacted by 
the bloody code of a barbarous age. 

These two remarkable men, so often meeting in the arena of de- 
bate, and now for the first time on the bloody field, were born within 
a day's ride of each other. One in the baronial halls of his an- 
cestors, on the lofty banks of the Appomattox, the other in an hum- 
ble dwelling amidst the slashes of Hanover. While the poor depu- 
ty clerk, in the intervals of toil, picked up his scanty crumbs of 
knowledge, the proud son of fortune enjoyed the richest repasts in 
the highest seminaries of learning. While the one yet a youth, was 
borne into the halls of Congress by the sweet voices of the people, 
the other was still fighting his uncouth way to fame and fortune 
among the hunters of Kentucky. 

Born to command, each was reared in that school that best fitted 
him to perform the part Providence had assigned him. In daily 
contact with his fellows, the one became affable, courteous, winning 
in his ways, and powerful in his influence over the mind and the will 
of the admiring multitude ; the other, in retirement and solitude, 
cherished those sterner virtues that made him the unbending advo- 
cate of truth, the unwavering defender of the Constitution, and 
the intrepid leader of those who rallied around the rights of the 
States as the only sure guarantee of the rights of the people. 

The acknowledged champions of the two great political parties 
again reorganized, and with the hopes of the whole country resting 
upon them, these two men were about to meet for the purpose of ex- 
tinguishing the lives of each other. Sad end to a bright career ! But 
encompassed as they were by a false sense of honor, which they them- 
selves had cherished, there was no other alternative but to fight. 
With a laudable desire to terminate the difference between the parties 
in a manner alike honorable to both, General Jesup and Colonel 
Tattnall mutually agreed to suspend the challenge and acceptance, 
in order that, if possible, satisfactory explanations might be entered 
into. 

General Jesup, as the friend of Mr. Clay, stated that the injury 



258 LI FE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

of which that gentleman complained consisted in this : that Mr. Ran- 
dolph had charged him with having forged or manufactured a paper 
connected with the Panama mission ; also, that he had applied to him 
the epithet black legs. General Jesup considered it necessary that 
Mr. Randolph should declare that he had no intention of charging 
Mr. Clay, either in his public or private capacity, with forging or 
falsifying any paper, or misrepresenting any fact ; and also, that the 
term black legs, if used, was not intended to apply to him. 

Colonel Tattnall made the communication to Mr. Randolph. His 
reply cut off all hope of any satisfactory adjustment of the diffi- 
culty ; " I have gone, says he, as far as I could in waiving my pri- 
vilege to accept a peremptory challenge from a minister of the 
Executive Government, under any circumstances, and especially un- 
der such circumstances. The words used by me were, that I thought 
it would be in my power to show evidence, sufficiently presumptive, 
to satisfy a Charlotte jury, that this invitation was " manufactured ' ; 
here — that Salagar's letter struck me as being a strong likeness in 
point of style, &c, to the other papers. I did not undertake to prove 
this, but expressed my suspicion that the fact was so. I applied to 
the administration the epithet, " puritanic, diplomatic, black -legged 
administration." 

"I have no explanations to give — I will not give any — I am called 
to the field — I have agreed to go and am ready to go." 

"The night before the duel," says General James Hamilton, of 
South Carolina, " Mr. Randolph sent for me. I found him calm, but 
in a singularly kind and confiding mood. He told me that he had 
something on his mind to tell me. He then remarked, ' Hamilton, 
I have determined to receive, without returning, Clay's fire ; nothing 
shall induce me to harm a hair of his head ; I will not make his wife 
a widow, or his children orphans. Their tears would be shed over 
his grave ; but when the sod of Virginia rests on my bosom, there is 
not in this wide world one individual to pay this tribute upon mine.' 
His eyes filled, and resting his head upon his hand, we remained 
some moments silent. I replied, 'My dear friend (for ours was a sort 
of posthumous friendship, bequeathed by our mothers), I deeply re- 
gret that you have mentioned this subject to me ; for you call upon 
me to go to the field and to see you shot down, or to assume the re- 
sponsibility, in regard to your own life, in sustaining your determina- 



DUEL WITH HENRY CLAY. 259 

tion to throw it away. But on this subject, a man's own conscience 
and his own bosom are his best monitors. I will not advise, but un- 
der the enormous and unprovoked personal insult you have offered 
Mr. Clay. I cannot dissuade. I feel bound, however, to communi- 
cate to Colonel Tattnall your decision.' He begged me not to do so, 
and said ' he was very much afraid that Tattnall would take the 
studs and refuse to go out with him.' I, however, sought Colonel 
Tattnall, and we repaired ' about midnight to Mr. Randolph's lodg- 
ings, whom we found reading Milton's great poem. For some mo- 
ments he did not permit us to say one word in relation to the ap. 
proaching duel ; and he at once commenced one of those delightful 
criticisms on a passage of this poet, in which he was wont so enthu- 
siastically to indulge. After a pause, Colonel Tattnall remarked, 
' Mr. Randolph. I am told you have determined not to return Mr. 
Clay's fire ; I must say to you, my dear sir, if I am only to go out 
to see you shot down, you must find some other friend.' Mr. Ran- 
dolph remarked that it was his determination. After much conver- 
sation on the subject, I induced Colonel Tattnall to allow Mr. Ran- 
dolph to take his own course, as his withdrawal, as one of his friends, 
might lead to very injurious misconstructions. At last, Mr. Ran- 
dolph, smiling, said, ' Well, Tattnall, I promise you one thing, if I 
see the devil in Clay's eye. and that with malice prepense he means 
to take my life, I may change my mind.' A remark I knew he made 
merely to propitiate the anxieties of his friend. 

'■ Mr. Clay and himself met at 4 o'clock the succeeding eveuing, on 
the banks of the Potomac. But he saw 'no devil in Clay's eye,' but 
a man fearless, and expressing the mingled sensibility and firmness 
which belonged to the occasion. 

•• I shall never forget this scene, as long as I live. It has been my 
misfortune to witness several duels, but I never saw one, at least in 
its sequel, so deeply affecting. The sun was just setting behind the 
blue hills of Randolph's own Virginia Here were two of the most 
extraordinary men our country in its prodigality had produced, about 
to meet in mortal combat. Whilst Tattnall was loading Randolph's 
pistols I approached my friend, I believed, for the last time ; I took 
his hand ; there was not in its touch the quivering of one pulsation. 
He turned to me and said, ' Clay is calm, but not vindictive — I hold 
my purpose, Hamilton, in any event ; remember this.' On handing 



260 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

him his pistol, Colonel Tattnall sprung the hair-trigger. Mr. Ran- 
dolph said, ' Tattnall, although I am one of the best shots in Vir- 
ginia, with either a pistol or gun, yet I never fire with the hair-trigger ; 
besides, I have a thick buckskin glove on, which will destroy the de- 
licacy of my touch, and the trigger may fly before I know where I 
am.' But, from his great solicitude for his friend, Tattnall insisted 
upon hairing the trigger. On taking their position, the fact turned 
out as Mr. Randolph anticipated ; his pistol went off before the word, 
with the muzzle down. 

" The moment this event took place, General Jesup, Mr. Clay's 
friend, called out that he would instantly leave the ground with his 
friend, if that occurred again. Mr. Clay at once exclaimed, it was 
entirely an accident, and begged that the gentleman might be allowed 
to go on. On the word being given, Mr. Clay fired without effect, 
Mr. Randolph discharging his pistol in the air. The moment Mr. 
Clay saw that Mr. Randolph had thrown away his fire, with a gush of 
sensibility, he instantly approached Mr. Randolph, and said with an 
emotion I never can forget : — ' I trust in God, my dear sir, you are 
untouched ; after what has occurred, I would not have harmed you 
for a thousand worlds.' " 

Thus ended this affair. None but the uncharitable will believe, 
after what passed on the field, that Randolph had any malicious mo- 
tive in the words that fell from him on the floor of the Senate. Had 
a bloodthirsty spirit burned in his bosom, ' the best shot in Virginia' 
would not have permitted this opportunity to escape of levelling his 
weapon at the breast of an old rival, whose ponderous blows he had 
felt for fifteen years, and whose political opinions he considered so 
dangerous to the country. The true character of the man shone forth 
when he declared his intention not to injure a hair of Mr. Clay's 
head — and a gush of sensibility came over him at the thought of his 
forlorn condition. Mr. Clay had a wife and children to mourn his 
loss ; but there was not one to shed a tear over his solitary grave. 
He knew the safety of his adversary — but with the immediate pros- 
pect of death before him, the sublime strains of the godlike Milton 
attuned his heart to softest influences ; and the cords of affection so 
long silent and rusted by the chilling breath of a cold world, awak- 
ened by the soft echoes of long past memories, now vibrated a sweet, 
though mournful melody, that mingled its harmonious notes with the 
divine song of the poet : 



NEGRO SLAVERY. 261 

"How mournfully sweet are the echoes that start 
When Memory plays an old tune on the heart." 

John Randolph was not understood. Many who professed to 
know him, and who considered themselves his friends, could not com- 
prehend " the hair-trigger" sensibility of the man. 

A few days after this affair, ' : Friday morning, April 14, 1826." 
he wrote thus to his friend, Dr. Brockenbrough : 

" I cannot write — I tried yesterday to answer your letter, but I 
could not do it. My pen cJwked. The hysteria passio of poor old 
Lear, came over me. I left a letter for you in case of the worst. It 
now lies on my mantel-piece. Perhaps you may, one time or other, 
see it. I am a fatalist. I am all but friendless. Only one human 
being ever knew me. She only knew me. Benton begins to under- 
stand and to love me. Nothing has stood in his way. No lions in 
his path. Had I suffered it, he would have gone with me. as my 
friend. In that case I should not have violated the laws of Virginia. 

It was not my intention to do so and .... were ardent, 

honorable, devoted to my cause, but obtuse, wanted tact. I am a fatal- 
ist — on no one occasion of my life have I ever been in extremity, that 
they, to whom my heart yearned and turned for aid, or at least for 
comfort, have not appeared to hold aloof from me. I say appeared. 
I am assured that it was appearance, only, in both instances, on the 
part of the two persons in Virginia, who shared highest in my confi- 
dence and regard. But when a man comes home from the strife and 
conflict of this wicked world, and its vile and sinful inhabitants, it is 
then that a certain tone of voice — an averted look — or even the sweet 
austere composure of our first mother, cuts him to the heart in the 
reception of the wife of his bosom. The words are nothing — the 
countenance and the tone of voice, the last especially, every thing. 

" I again repeat, that I cannot write. But I shall be thankful for 
your letters ; as long as I could, I gave you what I had. I too am 
bankrupt, and have as good a right to break as the rest. God bless 
you both.' 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

NEGRO SLAVERY. 

Mr. Randolph participated largely in the debates of the present ses- 
sion. The absence and illness of his colleague. Mr. Tazewell, im- 
posed a double duty upon him. The extraordinary state of affairs 



262 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

acting on a nervous sensibility, at all times acute — exasperated now 
by long protracted disease, made him more than commonly animated 
and eccentric in his manner and style of speaking. " The fever," 
says he, Feb. 27, 1826, " and the toast and water (I touch nothing else), 
keeps me more intoxicated (exhilarated, rather) than two bottles of 
champagne." Many thought him mad ; but there was a method in 
his madness. All his speeches had a purpose bearing on the past 
history and the future destiny of the obnoxious incumbents in office. 
While many thought he was scattering sparks and even firebrands 
around him in wanton sport, he was forging weapons to be used in 
the coming contest with the men in power. Many of his speeches 
on these occasions were truly characteristic, some of them far seeing 
and prophetic, especially the one delivered March 2, on " Negro 
Slavery in South America." 

" I know there are gentlemen," said Mr. Randolph, "not only 
from the Northern, but from the Southern States, who think that 
this unhappy question — for such it is — of negro slavery, which the 
Constitution has vainly attempted to blink, by not using the term, 
should never be brought into public notice, more especially into that 
of Congress, and most especially here. Sir, with every due respect 
for the gentlemen who think so, I differ from them, toto coelo. Sir, 
it is a thing which cannot be hid — it is not a dry-rot that you can 
cover with the carpet, until the house tumbles about your ears — you 
might as well try to hide a volcano in full operation — it cannot be 
hid ; it is a cancer in your face, and must be treated secundum artem ; 
it must not be tampered with by quacks, who never saw the disease 
or the patient — it must be, if you will, let alone ; but on this very 
principle of letting it alone, I have brought in my resolution. I 
am willing to play what is called child's play — let me alone and 
I will let you alone ; let my resolution alone, and I will say no- 
thing in support of it ; for there is a want of sense in saying any 
thing in support of a resolution that nobody opposes. Sir, will the 
Senate pardon my repeating the words of a great man, which cannot 
be too often repeated? 'A small danger, menacing an inestimable 
object, is of more importance, in the eyes of a wise man, than the 
greatest danger which can possibly threaten an object of minor con- 
sequence.' I do not put the question to you, sir. I know what your 
answer will be. I know what will be the answer of every husband, 
father, son, and brother, throughout the Southern States ; I know that 
on this depends the honor of every matron and maiden — of every ma- 
tron (wife or widow) between the Ohio and the G-ulf of Mexico. I know 
that upon it depends the life's blood of the little ones which are lying 



NEGRO SLAVERY. 263 

in their cradles, in happy ignorance of what is passing around them ; 
and not the white ones only, for shall not we too, kill — shall we not 
react the scenes which were acted in G-uatamala, and elsewhere, except, 
I hope, with far different success : for if, with a superiority in point of 
numbers, as well as of intelligence and courage, we should suffer our- 
selves to be, as them, vanquished, we should deserve to have negroes 
for our task-masters, and for the husbands of our wives. This, then, 
is the inestimable object, which the gentleman from Carolina views in 
the same light that I do, and that you do too, sir, and to which every 
Southern bosom responds ; — a chord which, when touched, even by 
the most delicate hand, vibrates to the heart of every man in our 
country. I wish I could maintain, with truth, that it came within the 
other predicament — that it was a small danger, but it is a great dan- 
ger ; it is a danger that has increased, is increasing, and must be di- 
minished, or it must come to its regular catastrophe." 

But it is not our purpose to make further allusion to Mr. Ran- 
dolph's public acts during the present excited session. Let us turn 
to the inner man, and view him seated by his solitary fireside, com- 
muning with almost the only friend to whom he felt at liberty to un- 
veil the secret workings of his heart. Friday, January 6, 182G, he 
writes to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

Your letter, addressed to Petersburg, has just hove in sight; I 
should like " to have a word with you touching a certain subject." 
When I first heard of it I was thunderstruck. For that was the 
only person who had (repeatedly) urged this matter upon me, by the 
strongest expressions that our language affords. At first it revived 
very strongly the recollection of the " ratting" (as the English phrase 
it) among the " minority-men," some twelve or fourteen years ago : 
when this Very person (and long before his seceding from us) wrote 
to me somewhat in this strain — " Let Monroe go over to the ministry, 
if he will — as for us," &c, &c. Well, what of all this ; I have seen 
and conversed with the party, in the most familiar manner, without 
one bitter feeling. The event was too recent to be forgotten, but it 
did not tinge, in the slightest degree, the kindly intercourse between 
us. Am I to blame a man for being what nature aud education made 
him ? In this case, I am persuaded that all the blame lies at the door 
of the latter. What could be expected from such an example (to say 
nothing of the precepts) as this poor fellow had always before him. 
And again, is it not more than an even wager, that I have defects at 
least as great, although not of the same character? My horse Mark 
Anthony is fleeter than Janus, but Janus is the better horse. Why 
should I curse twenty poor devils that I could name, because they are 
mean? They can't help it. The leopard cannot change his spots. 



264 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Now, after all this philosophy, if it may be called such, do not 
suppose that I mean to compromise with fraud, and falsehood, and 
villany, in any shape. I only mean not to run a tilt against wind- 
mills or flocks of sheep. Yesterday I took a good long ride of eight 
or nine miles, and am now going to do likewise. J. R. of R. 

To the same. 

Saturday, January 14th. 1826. 

Your letter of Thursday gives me very great relief: continue, I pray 
you, to write, if it be but a line. I noted Giles's " discovery ;" but. 
this absurdity notwithstanding, it is a stinging piece. If he were not 
himself " particeps criminis," he would touch upon the libel against 
the whole West, in the case of John Smith, of Ohio ; and above all, 
the suspension of the habeas corpus. 

On the whole, I am firmly persuaded that nothing but a paper, 
such as he would manage (and the vocation is as creditable as school- 
keeping), can arrest (if it can) the present current of affairs. 

Your questions relating to the Senate I cannot (agreeably to our 

rule) answer. As to Mr. M , I did not know, until I heard it 

from you, that he had been in the lachrymatory mood at all. 

Poor Gilmer ! He is another of the countless victims of calomel. 
I had indulged a hope that he would at least live to finish his life of 
Fabricius. He told me some years ago, that if he survived me he 
meant to write a biography of me. But what he would have found 
to say that is not in the newspapers, I cannot conjecture. 

You are right to like the Ch. J.'s Madeira, or any body's, if it be 
old and good. I ride every day from six to ten miles. A friend has 
just told me that M.'s pathos excited great laughter in the House. 

J. R. of R. 
To the same. 

Washington. January 30th, 1826. 
Your letter of the 28th — Jam satis tcrris nivis. It began to snow 
about an hour before day, and continues to fall fast and furious, re- 
minding me of schoolboy and snow-bird days, ' : departed, never to 
return." I rode out yesterday some six or eight miles, and the day 
before as far (when I paid my devoirs to Madame la Presidente, I 
could do no less). I have even attended two days in the Senate, but 
if ever man was dying, I am. It does not take more than one hour 
for food, &c, to pass from my esophagus through the rectum, un- 
changed. This I have proved with various substances. The coffee 
passes off (not by the bladder) without a change of hue or smell. 
The least mental fatigue, above all, the jabber of Congress, prostrates 

me. My old friend, Mr. M , comes ' ; to keep me company." with 

the most amiable disposition in the world, and leaves me exhausted 
and worn down. If some one would sit by and say nothing, I could 
bear it ; but conversation — no, no, no. 



NEGRO SLAVERY. 265 

I have always believed that St. Thomas of Cantingbury's jewels 
were Bristol stones — in other words, that he was insolvent. What 
else could be expected from his gimcracks and crack-brained notions 
and " improvements?" Ah ! that La Fayette business. Do you re- 
member my Cassandra voice from Paris, about the time of his em- 
barkation for the U. S. ? I am more and more set against all new 
things. I only wanted to know who C. G. was, because in the En- 
quirer, of October the 25th last, F. Key published an answer to him ; 
I have seen neither. I am against all Colonization, &c, societies — 
am for the good old plan of making the negroes work, and thereby 
enabling the master to feed and clothe them well, and take care of 
them in sickness and old age. 

To the same. 

Wednesday Morning, February 1st, 1826. 

Yesterday we had a very interesting debate in the Senate, in which 
I took part. I verily believe it assisted the determination of my 
disease to the surface, for I was never more animated. A superficial 
speech, you will say. Be that as it may, it drew upon me a great 
many handsome and nattering compliments ; and from one quarter, 
my friend Benton (for I was on his side), I believe sincere. We dif- 
fered from the presiding officer upon what Mr. J. would call a 
' : speck" in the political horizon ; but it turned out to be of vital con- 
sequence as we probed it. It was laid over for mature consideration. 
After the debate, and while some Indian treaties were being read, 
Mr. C. sent for me, and said, that the question had assumed a new 
and important aspect — required solemn consideration and decision — 
my views were strong and important, &c. <fcc. He then sent for B. 
and told him much the same. He electioneers with great assiduity. 
Although it has no influence on the marked attention that I have re- 
ceived from him, yet the civilities of the palace have produced an 
evident effect on the manner of some others towards your humble 
servant. Indeed, since my call on Mrs. A (in return for her civility 
while I was confined), M., of Massachusetts, who is the ear-trumpet 
and mouthpiece of the palace in our House, has changed his de- 
meanor from (not " sweet") " austere composure" to officious cor- 
diality. 

Your letter of Monday — my God ! where will all this end 1 It 
will soon be disgraceful to be honest and pay one's debts. It is bit- 
ter cold, and I am suffering with it and erysipelas. Adieu ! 

To the same. 

Monday Morning, February 6, 1826. 

Your letters are my only comfort : that of the 4th was brought in 
just now on my breakfast tray. I can't help being sorry for that 
poor man to whom you were called the morning you wrote, although 

vol. n. 12 



266 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

he did, some twenty or thirty years ago (how time passes !) attempt 
by a deep-laid scheme of to beggar a family that I was much 

attached to ; one, too, with which he was nearly connected, and that 
he kept upon the most friendly terms with — his debts have floored 
him It is strange, passing strange — people will get in debt : and 
instead of working and starving out, they go on giving dinners, keep- 
ing carriages, and covering aching bosoms with smiling faces, go 
about greeting in the market-places, &c. I always think that I can 
see the anguish under the grin and grimace, like old mother Cole's 
dirty flannel peeping out beneath her Brussel's lace. This killed 
poor H H., and is killing like a slow poison all persons so circum- 
stanced, who possess principle or pride. I never see one of these 
martyrs to false pride writhing under their own reflections, that I am 
not in some degree reconciled to the physical fire that I carry in my 

bosom. The man whom H 's fall will probably prostrate, would 

himself have been no better off than his principal, but for 
speculation and a lucky sale, just as the tide began to fall, a few 
years ago. 

I send you the " Citizen." The schoolmaster writes better than 
his employer. J. R. of R. 

To the same. 

Monday, the 20th February, 1826. 

For the first time during the last four or five days, I got a little 
ride yesterday, sick as I was and am. I called on the Ch. J., and 
told him what you said about L., and he joined me, in a hearty appro- 
bation of his refusal to become a candidate for the Assembly, or any 
thing else, until he shall have secured " a competence, however mode- 
rate, without which no man can be independent, and hardly honest." 
The words are Junius's to Woodfall, when he declined sharing any 
part of the profits of his celebrated letters. 

I told him, also, of my firm and positive refusal to present to the 
Senate the petition of the Colonization Society, although earnestly 
entreated to do so, by F. Key. That I thought the tendency of it 
bad and mischievous ; that a spirit of morbid sensibility, religious 
fanaticism, vanity, and the love of display, were the chief moving 
causes of that society. 

That true humanity to the slave was to make him do a fair day's 
work, and to treat him with all the kindness compatible with due 
subordination. By that means, the master could afford to clothe and 
feed him well, and take care of him in sickness and old age ; while 
the morbid sentimentalist could not do this. His slave was unpro- 
vided with necessaries, unless pilfered from his master's neighbors ; 
because the owner could not furnish them out of the profits of the 
negro's labor — there being none. And at the master's death, the 
poor slaves were generally sold for debt (because the philanthropist 



NEGRO SLAVERY. 267 

had to go to bank, instead of drawing upon his crop), and were dis- 
persed from Carolina to the Balize ; so that in the end the superfine 
master turned out, like all other ultras, the worst that could be for 
the negroes. 

This system of false indulgence, too, educates (I use the word in 
its strict and true meaning) all those pampered menials who. sooner 
or later, find their way to some Fulcher, the hand-cuffs, and the Ala- 
bama negro trader's slave-chain. How many such have I met within 
the different " coffies " (Mungo Park) of slaves that I had known living 
on the fat of the land, and drest as well as their masters and mistresses. 
I wished all the free negroes removed, with their own consent, out of the 
slave States especially ; but that, from the institution of the Passover 
to the latest experience of man, it would be found, that no two dis- 
tinct people could occupy the same territory, under one government, 
but in the relation of master and vassal. 

The Exodus of the Jews was effected by the visible and miracu- 
lous interposition of the hand of God ; and that without the same 
miraculous assistance, the Colonization Society would not remove the 
tithe of the increase of the free blacks, while their proceedings and 
talks disturbed the rest of the slaves. Enough ; enough Rain — 
sleet — drizzle. J. R. of R. 

To the same. 

Monday morning:. February 27th, 1826. 

Gaillard died yesterday, at 4 o'clock. P. M. Although, on this 
account, the Senate will transact no business to-day, yet, as I yester- 
day received from H. T. the sad news of his son's death, and have 
Tazewell to keep up with us. I can only acknowledge your letter of 
this morning (written on Saturday). Poor Gilmer ! he is only gone 
a little while before all that he loved or cared for. I am proud that 
I was one of the number. 

As Dr. says, " I take" what you say about V. B.'s " address." 
I do assure you he has not warmed himself into my good graces by 
flattery, to which, like all men. I am accessible, and perhaps more so 
than men generally are, although I begin to think, that if they go on 
much longer as they do at present. I shall, like Louis Quatorze, not 
know when I am flattered. As to V. B. and myself, we have been a 
little cool: it was under that state of things that I mentioned him. 
He has done our cause disservice by delay, in the hope of getting 
first Gaillard, then Tazewell (while he was sick here), and since, while 
absent at Norfolk, and some other aid. I was for action, knowing 
that delay would only give time for the poison of patronage to do its 
office. His extreme delicacy upon all matters of money (upon which 
he never bestows ;t thought), having (as Junius says) secured a com- 
petency however moderate, his scorn of debt or obligation, won him 
first my good opinion. But if he has not, others have poured " the 



268 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

leprous distilment into the porches of mine cars." The V. P. has 
actually made love to me ; and my old friend, Mr. Macon, reminds 
me daily of the old major, who verily believed that I was a nonesuch 
of living men. In short, Friday's affair has been praised on all 
hands, in a style that might have gorged the appetite of Cicero him- 
self. Mr. M. returned on Saturday from Lloyd's (he gave a party on 
that day, and had invited Mr. M. three times before, who had ex- 
cused himself), and asked me if my face did not burn. I really did 
not comprehend the question. It was a saying, when I was a boy, that 
when backbitten the ears burned. He went on in a way that I shall 
not repeat, as the sentiments of every man at table. 

To the same. 

March 4th. 182G ; Washington, Saturday morn., four o'clock. 
I have been up an hour and a half, trying to kindle a fire, and have 
at last succeeded. I cannot sleep. Death shakes his dart at me ; 
but I do not, cannot fear him. He has already killed my friends — 

Gilmer Tazewell. I fear that I shall never see the last again. The 

first is removed for ever. This February and these ides of March 
will live in future times, as the black year does yet in the North of 
Europe — i n Iceland particularly ; that it depopulated of its enligh- 
tened, virtuous, and pious inhabitants ; poor indeed, but pious and 
good, and therefore happy ; happy as mortality can be. And what 

is that 2 

This cold black plague has destroyed the only two men that Vir- 
ginia has bred since the Revolution, who had real claims to learning ; 
the rest are all shallow pretenders ; they were scholars, and ripe and 
good ones, and the soil was better than the culture. Here the mate- 
rial surpassed the workmanship, tasteful and costly as it was. 

I had read " Burns and Byron " before I received the Compiler. 
I am a passionate admirer of both. I shall not pretend to decide 
between them in point of genius. They were the most extraordinary 
men that England and Scotland have produced since the days of Mil- 
ton and Napier of Merchistou, although there be no assignable rela- 
tion between logarithms and poetry. They are incommensurable. 

Write ; but do not expect bulletins for some days. I have no 
phthisis, nor fear of it. My cough is symptomatic, or sympathetic, 
or some other " sym." 

McNaught is not the only suicide, even in Richmond. Now, 
when too late, I am a confirmed toast-and-water man. My convivial- 
ities for fifteen years (1807-1822) are now telling upon me. If man- 
kind had ever profited even by their own experience ! Now that poor 
Frank is gone, and cannot execute his threat of writing my life, I 
would turn autobiographer. But he meant to dedicate to Tazewell ! 
That word, that name seems to petrify me. If living, blind like 



LETTERS FROM ABROAD. 269 

" Thamyris and blind Meonides," and like a greater than they — he 
who achieved " things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme." 

I am really ill ; the whole machine is rotten ; the nails and 
screws that I drive will not take hold, but draw out with the decayed 
wood. J. R. of R. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

LETTERS FROM ABROAD. 

Early in May, before the adjournment of Congress, Mr. Randolph 
sailed from the Delaware Bay on his third voyage to Europe. He 
arrived in Liverpool about the middle of June. " I have barely time 
to tell you," says he to a friend, " that I had a very disagreeable pas- 
sage, finding B n, the master of the Alexander, to be the most 

conceited and insufferable tyrant of the quarter-deck that I ever saw, 
and I have been to sea going on these three and forty years." 

He remained in Liverpool for some time, enjoying the hospitali- 
ties of the place. "I am arrived in time for elections," says he. 
" You will see a lame report of an aquatic excursion, in which I bore 
a part, yesterday. Mr. Huskisson and Mr. John Bolton are just 
arrived to take me to the Mayor's to dinner." From Liverpool Mr. 
Randolph travelled extensively in England, Wales, and on the Con- 
tinent. We are happy to have it in our power to allow him to speak 
of those travels in his own words. 

To Dr. Brockeribrough. 

Holkham, Sunday, July 16th, 1826. 
A month has now elapsed since I landed in England, during which 
time I have not received a line from any friend, except Benton, who 
wrote to me on the eve of his departure from Babylon the Great to 
Missouri. Missouri ! and here am I writing in the parlor of the New 
Inn, at the gate of Mr. Coke's park, where art has mastered nature 
in one of her least amiable moods. To say the truth, he that would 
see this country to advantage must not end with the barren sands 
and flat infertile healths (strike out the /, I meant to write heaths) 
of the east country, but must reserve the Vale of Severn and Wales 
for a bonne bouche. Although I was told at Norwich that Mr. Coke 
was at home (and by a particular friend of his too), yet I find that 



270 LI FE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

he and Lady Anne are gone to the very extremity of this huge county 
to a wool fair, at Thetford, sixty-five miles off; and while my com- 
panion. Mr. Williams, of S. C. (son of David R. W.), is gone to the 
Hall, I am resolved to hestow, if not " all," a part at least of " my 
tediousness" upon you. Tediousness, indeed, for what have I to 
write about, unless to tell you that my health, so far from getting bet- 
ter, was hardly ever worse. Like the gallant General H., I am 
"pursued by a diarrhoea" that confines me to my quarters, and may 
deprive my native land of the "honor" of my sepulchre. The mis- 
chief is, that in this age of fools and motions in Congress, my ashes 
can have no security that some wiseacre may not get a vote (because 
no one will oppose him through mere vis inertia and ennui), that my 
"remains" too may be removed to their parent earth. 

Mr. Williams has been very attentive and kind to me. I have 
been trying to persuade him to abandon me to the underwriters as a 
total loss, but he will not desert me ; so that I meditate giving him. 
the slip for his own sake. We saw Dudley Inn and a bad race at 
Newmarket on our way to Norwich. There we embarked on the 
river Yare, and proceeded to Yarmouth by the steam packet. We 
returned to Norwich by land, and by different routes ; he by the 
direct road, and I by Becdes, fifteen miles further ; and yet I 
arrived first. Through Lord Suffield's politeness, who gave me a 
most hearty invitation to Gun ton, I was enabled to see the Castle (now 
the county jail) to the best advantage. His lordship is a great pri- 
son discipline financier, and was very polite to me when I was in 
England four years ago. I met him by mere accident at the inn at 
Norwich, where the coach from Beccles stopped. 

At this distance of time and place, our last winter's squabbles, 
over Panama itself, seem somewhat diminished in importance. For 
my part if I can get rid of that constitutional disease, which certain 
circumstances brought on last winter with symptoms of great aggra- 
vation, I shall care very little about the game, and nothing about them 
that play it. 

With some of these circumstances, you are unacquainted — the 
chief one was the long absence of my coadjutor, which flung upon 
my shoulders a load that Atlas could not have upheld. 

I see that Ritchie has come out against me. I looked for nothing 
better. But why talk of such things. M. H. knows more than he 
cares to tell. I was detained in town to attend the funeral of Mrs. 
Marx of Croydon. She was a charming woman, and her attention to 
poor Tudor, on his death bed, laid me under heavier obligations 
than this (equivocal) mark of respect to her memory can repay. 
God willing, I shall return to the United States with De Cost, who 
leaves Liverpool on the 24th of October, in the York. It is possi- 
ble that I may be taken with a fit of longing to see Roanoke, 



LETTERS FROM ABROAD. 271 

(where I heartily wish that I now could be) that may accelerate my 
return. Meanwhile, you can have no conception of the pleasure that 
a long gossiping letter, from you, could give me. It would cheer 
my exile, which is no more voluntary than that of the Romans, who 

were forbidden the use of fire and water at Rome, and I was but 

I can't write now, for my heart is heavy to sadness. It well may be 
so, for it has not been kindly treated. God bless you both — I hope 
that the experience of last year has not been thrown away upon you. 
Here the climate has been almost as bad as ours is in a favorable 
summer. The drought has been unparalleled and the distress im- 
pending over the land, tremendous. A failure of the potato crop, 
in Ireland, threatens to thicken the horrors of the picture. The 
ministers are not upon a " bed of roses." Musquitoes abound here. 
I have just killed a " gallinipper." Adieu ! J. R. of R. 

To the same. 

The Hague. Tuesday, August 8. 1826. 
" The Portfolio reached me in safety." So much had I written 
of a letter to you in London, but I was obliged to drop my pen in G. 
Marx's compting-house, and here I am, and at your service at the 
Hague. My dear friend, I wish you could see, — and why can't you ? 
for I wear a window in my breast — what is passing in my bosom. 
You could find there, thoughts black as hell sometimes, but nothing 
of the sort towards any one of the few — the very few — who, like you, 
have clung to me, through good and evil reports. What an ill star- 
red wretch have I been through life — a not uneventful life — and yet, 
how truly blest have I been in my friends ; not one, no, not one has 
ever betrayed me, whom I have admitted into my sanctum sancto- 
rum. Bryan, Benton, Rutledge — let me not forget him, whom I 
knew before either of the others, although for the last thirty years 
we have met but once. The last letter that I received on my depar- 
ture from Washington, was from him. In the late election, he was 
the warm supporter of General J., whom he personally knew and es- 
teems ; and I confess that the testimony of one whom I have known 
intimately for more than six and thirty years, to be sans peur et sans 
reprocJie, and who is an observer and an excellent judge of mankind, 
weighs as it ought to weigh with me, in favor of the veteran. I 
know him (Genl. J.) to be a man of strong and vigorous mind, of 
dignified deportment, and is. I believe, omni f<znore solatits. I think 
this is no small matter. In the olden time, when credit existed, be- 
cause there was real capital, a man in debt — I mean a landed man 
in debt — might be trusted. But not so now, for reasons that are cu- 
rious and amusing ; which (were I to state them) would cause this 
letter to run into an essay on the progress of society, that would re- 
quire quires instead of pages. 



272 LIFE °F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

In my passage from London I met with a serious accident, that 
might have been fatal. We broke our engine, and when the pilot 
boarded us, I was desirous to get on board of his boat ; to do this, 
I had to cross the quarter-dock. The sky-light of the ladies' cabin 
was open, but (poiir bienseance) the "orifice " was covered with our 
colors, and the grating being removed only about 18 inches, a com- 
plete pit-fall or trap was made, into which I fell, and my right side, 
immediately below the insertion of the false ribs into the spine, was 
'• brought up by the combings of the sky-light." I lay for some mi- 
nutes nearly senseless, and it was more than an hour before I could 
be moved from the deck. My whole side, kidney and liver, are very 
much affected. It has obliged me to suspend my course of Swain's 
Panacea, upon which I entered a few days before I left London. 

I have not seen Mr. Gallatin. Mr. John A. King, our charge 
d'affaires, was very polite to me. We met on neutral ground, at the 
Traveller's Club-House, in Pall Mall, No. 49. 

I am pleased with Holland. Cleanliness here becomes a virtue. 
My companion's. Mr. Win's passport wanting some formularies, and 
our charge (Mr. C. Hughes ! oh for some of Giles' notes of admira- 
tion ! ! ! !) not being present, Sir Charles Bagot has been good enough 
to do the needful. I waited upon him in Mr. Win's behalf and was 
received by him with the greatest warmth, asked to dine en famillc. 
(as I leave the Hague to-morrow for Leyden), and told that any let- 
ters brought to dinner would be forwarded by his courier to London. 
To him, therefore, I am obliged for a conveyance for this. 

Apropos to Giles. I think I know him to the bottom, if he has 
any bottom. I know also the advantages that will be taken of me, 
the formidable array of enemies that I have to encounter. I might 
have neutralized some of them; but as Bonaparte said on another 
occasion. " it is not in my character " Whatever may be the decision 
of the Virginia Assembly on my case, I shall always say that a ca- 
pricious change of her public agents has never been the vice of the 
Government or the people of Virginia, and that whenever a man is 
dismissed from the service of either, it is strong presumptive evi- 
dence {prima facie) of his unfitness for the place. 

I hope, however, that no report of my speeches will be taken as 
evidence of what I have uttered, for I have never seen any thing 
further from a just representation than the report of one that G. and 
S. say I in part revised, and so I did, and if they had printed it by 
their own proof-sheet now in London, I should have been better sa- 
tisfied with that part; the first, that I did not revise, is mangled and 
hardly intelligible even to me. The warning, which they make me 
give to my friend from Missouri, is to poor little Miles of Mass., and 
the whole affair is as much bedevilled as if they had at random picked 
out every other word. So much for that. — Neither Gales (whom I 
solicited) nor Seaton took down my speeches. 



LETTERS FROM ABROAD. 273 

Your intelligence about the election, about W. S. A., and W. R. 
J., and W. B. Gr., was highly gratifying. I hope that my initials are 
intelligible to you, for your Miss S., upon whom you say Mr. M. D. 
was attending, is une inconnue a moi. I did not know that you had 
any Richmond Belles, of whom the Beaux could say, " I love my love 
with an S., because," &c, &c. 

Poor Stephenson, I think, has no daughter, or child, even. Remem- 
ber me kindly to him and the Lord Chief, and do not forget my best 
love and duty to madame. Tell her, and mark it yourself, that you 
at home may and can write long gossiping letters, but a man at the 
end of a journey, harassed by a valet de place, and commissionaire 
j)OK,r le passeporte, has no stomach but for his coffee and bed. Such 
is my case (this day excepted, and even to-day I am a good deal wea- 
ried by a jaunt to Scheveling, and Mr. Wm's business), and such has 
it been since I set my foot on the quay at Liverpool. 

And so old Mr. Adams is dead ; on the 4th of July, too, just half 
a century after our Declaration of Independence ; and leaving his son 
on the throne. This is Euthenasia, indeed. They have killed Mr. 
Jefferson, too, on the same day, but I don't believe it. 

Great news from Turkey. That country is either to be renovated 
as a great European power, or it is to be blotted from the list of na- 
tions, at least on this side the Hellespont. It is a horse medicine 
now in operation. It will kill or cure. 

I am sensible that this letter is not worth sending across the At- 
lantic. But what am I to do ; you expect me to write. 

Pray, has the Enquirer come out against me. I see something that 

looks like it in the matter of Mr. B\, of M s. Le vrai n 'est pas tou- 

jours le vraisemblable. There is a dessous de cartes there, that is not 
understood. But who does really understand any thing 1 The En- 
glish know us only through the medium of New- York and Yankee news- 
papers, and which is worse, through the Yankees themselves. The only 
Virginia papers that I saw at the North and South American Coffee 
House, were the Norfolk Beacon, ditto Herald, and Richmond Whig. 
They don't take the Enquirer. What a pretty notion they must 
have of us in Virginia. Adieu for the present. 

To the same. 

Pall Mall, Sept. 22, 1826. Friday. 

I write because you request me to do so ; but really, my dear 
friend, I have nothing to tell you, that you may not find in the news- 
papers ; and they are as dull and as empty as the town. They who 
can take pleasure in the records of crime, may indeed find amuse- 
ment in Bow Street and other criminal reports It is now agreed on 
all hands, that misery, crime and profligacy are in a state of rapid 
and alarming increase. The Pitt and paper system (for although he 

VOL. II. 12* 



274 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

did not begin it, yet he brought it to its last stage of ini-perfection), 
is now developing features that " fright the isle from its propriety." 

Your letter reached me in Paris, where I was in a measure com- 
pelled to go, in consequence of my having incautiously set my foot in 
that huge man-trap, France. I had there neither time nor opportu- 
nity to answer it, and now I have not power to do it. The dinner 
to M. does, I confess, not a little surprise me. I know not what to 
think of these times, and of the state of things in our country. The 
vulgarity and calumny of the press I could put up with, if I could 
see any tokens of that manly straight-forward spirit and manner 
that once distinguished Virginia. Sincerity and truth are so far out 
of fashion that nobody now-a-days seems to expect them in the inter- 
course of life. But I am becoming censorious — and how can I help 
it, in this canting and speaking age, where the very children are made 
to cry or laugh as a well-drilled recruit shoulders or grounds his fire- 
lock. 

I dined yesterday with Mr. Marx. It was a private party — and 
took additional cold. This morning my expectoration is quite bloody, 
but I do not apprehend that it comes from the lungs. It is disagree- 
able, however, not only in itself, but because I have promised my 
Lord Chief Justice Best to visit him at his seat in Kent, and another 
gentleman, also, in the same county ; " invicta" " unconquered Kent." 

Mr. Marx has shipped my winter clothing to his brother. By this 
time you will be thinking of a return to Richmond ; and before this 
reaches you, I hope that you and madame will be restored to the com- 
forts of your own fireside, where I mean to come and tell you of my 
travels. God bless you both. J. R. of R. 

To the same. 

Pall Mall, October 13, 1826. 

Another packet has arrived, and no letter for me. The last that 
I received from you was (in Paris) dated July. How is this, my 
good friend % you, who know how I yearn for intelligence from the 
other side of the Atlantic, and that I have no one to give it to me 
but yourself. 

Mr. W. J. Barksdale writes his father, that a run will be made 

at me by Gr s, this winter. On this subject, I can only repeat 

what I have said before — that when the Commonwealth of Virginia 
dismisses a servant, it is strong presumptive evidence of his unfit- 
ness for the station. If it shall apply to my own case, I cannot help 
it. But I should have nothing to wish on this subject, if the As- 
sembly could be put in possession of a tolerably faithful account of 
what I have said and done. I have been systematically and indus- 
triously misrepresented. I had determined to devote this last sum- 
mer to a revision of my speeches, but my life would have paid the 
forfeit, had I persisted in that determination. Many of the misrepre- 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 275 

sentations proceed from the " ineffable stupidity" of the reporters, but 
some must, I think, be intentional. Be that as it may, the mangled 
limbs of Medea's children, were as much like the living creations as 
the disjecta membra of my speeches resemble what I really did say. 
In most instances my meaning has been mistaken. In some it has 
been reversed. If I live, I will set this matter right. So much for 

I see that Peyton R. advertises his land on River. This 

was the last of my name and race left whom I would go and see. 
The ruin is no doubt complete. Dr. Archer has - resumed the prac- 
tice of the bar ;" and poor Mrs. Tabb, by the death of Mrs. Coupland, 
is saddled with two more helpless grand-children. She is the best 
and noblest creature living ; and I pray God that I may live once 
more to see her — a true specimen of the old Virginia matron. 

On the 24th, God willing, I depart with DeCost, in the York. 
My health is by no means so good as it has been since my arrival on 
this side the Atlantic ; but I have made up my mind to endure life 
to the last. 

My best regards to Mr. and Mrs. Rootes. I exerted myself to 
see her proteges, Jane and Marianna Bell, but they were at Rams- 
gate, out of my reach. Mr. Barksdale talks of returning to Virginia 
next autumn. I fear that he will put it off till it is too late. 

Town is empty, and I live a complete hermit, in London. If you 
see the English newspapers, you will see what a horrible state of so- 
ciety exists in this strange country, where one class is dying of 
hunger and another with surfeit. The amount of crime is fearful; 
and cases of extreme atrocity are not wanting. The ministry will 
not find themselves upon a bed of roses when Parliament meets. 



-•-•-♦- 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 

At the opening of Congress, in December, 1826, Mr. Randolph took 
up his winter quarters at his old lodgings, Dowson's, No. 2, on Capi- 
tol Hill. His health was extremely bad during the winter. Almost 
his only companion, was his old and tried friend, Mr. Macon, of 
North Carolina — a man whose matured wisdom, simplicity of man- 
ners, and integrity of character, distinguished him as the admired 
relict of a purer age, and the venerable patriarch of a new genera- 



276 LIF E OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tion. How pleasant it is to look into the quiet parlor of those two 
remarkable men ! While the busy and anxious politicians were hold- 
ing their secret conclaves, and plotting the means of self-advance- 
ment, they sat, whole hours together, in the long winter nights, keep- 
ing each other company. In silence they sat and mused, as the fire 
burned. Each had his own private sorrows and domestic cares to 
brood over ; both felt the weight of years pressing upon them, and 
still more, the wasting hand of disease. They had long since learned 
to look upon the honors of the world as empty shadows, and to 
value the good opinion of the wise and good more than the applause 
of a multitude. Nothing but the purest patriotism, an ardent de- 
votion to their country and her noble institutions, could hold them to 
the discharge of their unpleasant duties, while every admonition of 
nature warned them to lay aside the harness of battle, and be at 
rest. 

What eventful scenes had they passed through ! Side by side 
they stood and beheld the young eagle plume himself for flight, and 
mount into the sky, with liberty and universal emancipation inscribed 
on his star-spangled banner. With anxious eye they saw him plunge 
into the dark clouds, and battle with the storms, and hailed him with 
delight as he emerged from the perils that encompassed his path, and 
glanced his outspread wing in the sunbeams of returning day, and 
wafted himself higher and still higher in his ethereal flight. 

But now, behold ! in mid-career a mortal foe encounters him in 
fiercest battle — " An eagle and a serpent wreathed in fight !" — and 
like the maiden on the sea-shore did they watch, with suppressed 
heart, " the event of that portentous fight." 

" Around, around, in ceaseless circles wheeling, 
With clang of wings and screams, the Eagle sailed 
Incessantly — sometimes on high, concealing 
Its lessening orbs — sometimes, as if it failed, 
Dropp'd through the air ; and still it shrieked and wailed, 
And casting back its eager head, with beak 
And talon unremittingly assailed 
The wreathed Serpent, who did ever seek 
Upon his enemy's heart a mortal wound to wreak. 

" What life, what power, was kindled and arose 
Within the sphere of that appalling fray ! 

********* 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 277 

Swift changes in that comhat — many a check, 
And many a change, a dark and wild turmoil : 
Sometimes the Snake around his enemy's neck 
Lock'd in stiff rings his adamantine coil, 
Until the Eagle, faint with pain and toil, 
Remitted his strong flight, and near the sea 
Languidly flutter'd, hopeless so to foil 
His adversary, who then rear'd on high 
His red and burning crest, radiant with victory. 

"Then on the white edge of the bursting surge, 

Where they had sunk together, would the Snake 

Relax his suffocating grasp, and scourge 

The wind with his wild writhings ; for to break 

That chain of torment, the vast bird would shake 

The strength of his unconquerable wings, 

As in despair, and with his sinewy neck, 

Dissolve in sudden shock those linked rings, 
Then soar, as swift as smoke from a volcano springs." 

So may our country, like her noble symbol, triumph over every 
enemy ! So may she shake the strength of her unconquerable wings, 
and dissolve, in sudden shock, the adamantine coil of that wreathed 
serpent that now seeks upon her heart a mortal wound to wreak ! 

After this manner, we may suppose that those venerable sages, 
seated by their solitary fireside, looked back on the rapid career of 
their country — its dangers and triumphs of past years, in which they 
had participated — and meditated with awe and trembling on the 
many difficulties that now beset her path. What a treasure of wis- 
dom, could those meditations have been embodied in words, and 
handed down for our instruction ! But a faint glimmering of what 
passed in the mind of one of those men, may be found in the letters 
at the close of this chapter. 

Mr. Randolph continued faithful in the discharge of his duties in 
the Senate. He rarely opened his mouth during the session, but 
made it a point never to miss a vote. He suffered martyrdom during 
many a tedious and protracted debate ; but, however painful, he 
never abandoned his post when action was required. 

But his enemies would not allow the old Commonwealth of Vir- 
ginia long to be honored by the services, and adorned by the illus- 
trious character, of her most devoted and faithful son. Too faithful 
in his devotion, she again was made to deal out to him his accustomed 
reward — "a step-son's portion." 



278 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Mr. Randolph's doctrine was too stern, abstemious, and unpalata- 
ble to the lovers and the parasites of power. His restrictive system 
had grown obsolete. Lulled in the lap of prosperity, the people had 
ceased to listen to his warning voice. Too often had he repeated to 
unwilling ears, " that the inevitable tendency of this system, by even 
a fair exercise of the powers of the Federal Government, has a cen- 
tripetal force — the centrifugal force not being sufficient to overcome 
it ; and at every periodic revolution, we are drawing nearer and 
nearer to the final extinguishment that awaits us." They ceased to 
listen to him, or returned such answer as was given to the prophets 
of old : Are not things now as they were before, and have always 
been ? then hush your babblings, and disturb not the people with 
your idle prophecies. 

Even in his native State, that had been the standard-bearer of the 
doctrine of State-rights, he now found, to his mortification, a woful 
degeneracy. In the days of Hamilton and the elder Adams, when 
the centripetal force of the Federal Government, by an intense over- 
action, was rapidly hurrying the system to its final catastrophe, the 
counterpoise of Virginia, almost alone, restored the rightful balance, 
and gave it once more an onward and harmonious movement. But 
now, in these latter days, when the legitimate successors of old fede- 
ralism, under a new name, were in the ascendent, the position of Vir- 
ginia in regard to them was not merely doubtful, but she was about to 
throw her whole weight on the side of centralism, by rejecting from 
her councils the only man that could arrest the rapid tendencies of 
the Government in that direction. From 1800 to the present time, 
there had been scarcely a show of opposition in Virginia to the con- 
servative States-rights doctrine of George Mason and Thomas Jef- 
ferson. But during the " era of good feelings," and the undisturbed 
repose of Mr. Monroe's administration, the pernicious doctrines of a 
contrary school had been widely disseminated. And now that the 
elements of party strife were again set in motion, mainly through the 
exertions of Mr. Randolph himself ; now that the great fountains of 
the political deep were broken up, and men were struggling tore-form 
themselves around some fixed principles, according to their natural 
affinities, without regard to former associations, which had long since 
been obliterated, it was discovered that the old federalism of John 
Adams, newly baptized, had numerous and powerful friends in a land 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 279 

where it could never have flourished under its original name. Many 
who were the followers of Mr. Jefferson, and still professed his doc- 
trine when applied to the alien and sedition law, adopted the Ameri- 
can system in all its parts. Bank, protective tariff, internal improve- 
ment by the Federal Government, and political alliances with foreign 
republics — which system could only be supported by the same doc- 
trine tbat justified those obnoxious laws. 

Mr. Randolph did not spare those men. Neither age nor sta- 
tion could escape his burning indignation. He knew them all — their 
history, both public and private — his denunciations were often bitter, 
personal, and sometimes insulting. 

This drew upon him not only a political, but a rancorous and unre- 
lenting personal opposition. Old reminiscences were revived, and 
many sought to wreak their vengeance upon him for wounds inflict- 
ed in days long gone by ; instead of yielding their private feelings to 
the public good, they preferred the unholy incense of personal re- 
venge to the rich oblation of a self-sacrifice on the altar of their 
country. 

But Mr. Randolph, after all, could not be defeated without taking- 
some man from his own ranks, who could carry off some personal 
friends to his support. Mr. Floyd, Mr. Giles, and others of the Re- 
publican party, were spoken of as his competitors. During all this 
excited canvass, in which so much personal and bitter feeling was per- 
mitted to enter, Mr. Randolph remained calm and unmoved. New 
Year's day he writes to his friend, Dr. Brockenbrough : 

' : I am greatly obliged to Mr. May and my other friends and sup- 
porters ; but no occasion has yet presented itself, on which I could, 
with propriety, have said any thing ; and to be making one, would, I 
think, be unworthy of my character and station. The fabrications 
of my enemies. I cannot help. I can only say that there exists 
not the slightest foundation for them. I feel, perhaps, too keenly for 
the state of the country. I have (as who has not ?) my own private 
sorrows ; and I have participated in the deep affliction of my poor 
brother. If it be any crime to be grave. I plead guilty to the charge, 
but, at the same time, thank heaven ! I feel myself to be calm, com- 
posed and self-possessed. To pretend indifference to the approach- 
ing election, would be the height of affectation and falsehood — but. go 
how it may. I trust that I shall bear myself under success or defeat, 
in a manner that my friends will not disapprove. I have ever looked 
up to Virginia, as to a mother, whose rebukes I was bound to receive 



280 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

with filial submission ; and no instance of her displeasure, however 
severe, shall ever cause me to lose sight of my duty to her," 

At length an available candidate was found in the person of Mr. 
Tyler, then Governor of the State. 

When the friends of Mr. Randolph learned that he was to be op- 
posed by that gentleman, they addressed him a note, the 18th Janu- 
ary, 1827, in which they say — " We understand that the friends of 
the Administration and others will support you for the Senate in op- 
position to Mr. Randolph. We desire to understand destinctly, 
whether they have your consent or not." 

Mr. Tyler replied — " My political opinions on the fundamental 
principles of the Government, are the same as those espoused by Mr. 
Randolph, and I admire him most highly, for his undeviating attach- 
ment to the Constitution, manifested at all times, and through all the 
events of a long political life ; and if any man votes for me under a 
different persuasion, he most grievously deceives himself. You ask 
me whether I have yielded my consent to oppose him. On the contrary, 
I have constantly opposed myself to all solicitations." Mr. Tyler, 
however, was run against Mr. Randolph, and was successful in defeat- 
ing him. With what magnanimity Mr. Randolph bore this defeat, 
and how cheerfully he submitted to the rebuke, coming from his 
native State — venerated and beloved, with all her unkindness, maybe 
seen from the following letters, addressed to Dr. Brockenbrough, that 
range from the first of January, to the close of Congress. 

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 1827. 
Yesterday I had the gratification of seeing my old friend Mr. 
Macon elected to the Presidency of the Senate. He had not a 
single vote to spare. I apprehend that he owed his election chiefly 
to the absence of Chambers of Maryland, who had gone to the eastern 
shore, and who arrived from Baltimore not ten minutes after Mr. M. 
had taken the chair. Mr. Silsbee of Massachusetts voted for him. 
So did Mr. Noble of Indiana, and H. of Ohio. The other vote, I con- 
jecture, was given by Mr. Mills, for one of our side (King) was also 
absent, although it was not generally known. This is the greatest 
and almost the only gratification that I have received here. It was 
altogether unexpected. 

Friday, Jan. 5, 1827. 
I write, although I have nothing in the world to say. Yester- 
day letters were received stating that P. P. B. would receive the vote 
of the administration men, notwithstanding his refusal to be nomina- 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 281 

ted by them. I wish with all my heart the thing was decided one 
way or other ; although I am sensible that the precipitation of one of 
my friends on a former occasion did mischief. I have neither the 
right nor the will to dictate, but to you (who are not a member) I can 
say that my present situation is far from being agreeable. General 
Smythe has not at all disappointed me — he has acted magnanimously 
and like a patriot. I looked for such a course from him — I never 
had a feeling of enmity against him — nothing ever passed between 
us, beyond a single spar. 

Sunday morning, Jan. 7, 1827. 

Mr. Macon is highly gratified at your mention of him. I could 
not resist the inclination to show him that part of your letter. He is 
to me, at this time, a treasure above all price : but that consideration 
apart, he richly deserves every sentiment of respect and veneration 
that can be felt for his character. 

The news here is that the administration folks are chuckling at the 
prospect of my discomfiture. They are. or affect to be, in high spir- 
its upon that subject. It must be confessed that my situation is 
awkward enough. 

Monday morning. Jan. 8, 1827. 

Your letters and Mr. Macon's society are my greatest resources 
against the miserable life we lead here. Tazewell tells me that he is 
well convinced that the article in question was written here. Mr. 
Macon, who reads the paper to his daughter, flung it into the fire 
with great indignation. I cannot understand Mr. R.'s reasons, and 
therefore they cannot be satisfactory to me, although no doubt they 
are perfectly so to himself. 

Poor old S. will. I think, be re-elected. His masters have shaken 
the whip over him to secure his future unconditional obedience. 

This morning was ushered in by a salute of cannon. A great 
dinner is to be eaten in honor of the day. Mr. M. and I foreswore 
public dinners ever since one that we gave Monroe in 1803, on his 
departure for France. Consequently, neither of us go. The day is 
wet and dirty, if there be such a word, and we shall lose nothing by 
staying at home. 

I should like very well to see the antique you mention. It ought 
to be preserved with care. How little, in fact, do we know of our 
early history. Perhaps there was nothing to tell ; but all the plan- 
tations seem to have been considered as a terra incognita by the 
mother country. I am sorry for what you mention respecting Mr. 
M., of F k. But it can't be helped. 

Friday morning, Jan. 12, 1827. 
Another mail, and no letter from you. I can't help feeling anxious 
and uneasy. 



282 LIFE °F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

My old friend is a good deal better ; but I, after many days of 
premonition, from pains in the right side, &c., have had a very smart 
attack. My constitution is so worn out that it can resist nothing, 
and cannot recover itself as it once could. It seems to be the pre- 
vailing opinion here that the friends of the powers that be are some- 
what despondent. Pennsylvania they say has given the most deci- 
sive indications of her adherence to Jackson. The dinner, although 
the military men slunk away from it, was attended by a formidable 
array of adversaries. 

The weather is excessively gloomy, and sheds its malign influence 
upon my spirits. I can't read, and my old friend's cough is excited 
by talking; so we sit, and look at the fire together, and once in 
half an hour some remark is made by one or the other. 

Saturday, Jan. 13, 1827. 
Your letter of Thursday gives me much relief, although it con- 
tains intelligence of a very unpleasant nature. I allude to the publi- 
cation you mention. I know that such things — to one especially not 
at all inured to them — are most unpleasant ; but I trust that the im- 
pudent excuse of the printer will not be entirely thrown away, for it 
is as true as it is shameless. My good friend, I have long been of 
the opinion, that we are fast sinking into a state of society the most 
loathsome that can be presented to the imagination of an honorable 
man. Things, bad as they are, have not yet reached the lowest deep. 
If I had health and strength, I think that I would employ a portion 
of them in an inquiry into the causes that propel us to this wretched 
state. Why is it that our system has a. uniform tendency to bring 
forward low and little men, to the exclusion of the more worthy? I 
have seen the operation of this machine from the beginning. The 
character of every branch of the Government has degenerated. In 
point of education and manners, as well as integrity, there has been 
a frightful deterioration every where. In this opinion I am sup- 
ported by the experience of one of the most sagacious and observing 
men, himself contemporary with the present system from the com- 
mencement. My dear friend, I cannot express to you the thousandth 
part of the disgust and chagrin that devour me. When I landed at 
New- York the complexion of the public journals made me blush for 
the country. There was a respectable foreigner, my fellow-passen- 
ger, and I thought I could see the dismay which he attempted to con- 
ceal, at certain matters that passed, as things of course, in one of the 
first boarding houses in that city. To me, the prospect is as cheer- 
less and desolate as Greenland. Yourself, and one or two others, 
separated by vast distances and execrable roads, form here and there, 
as it were, an oasis in the Sahara. My soul is " out of taste," as 
people say of their mouths after a fever. I dream of the snow-cap- 
ped Alps, and azure lakes and waterfalls, and villages, and spires of 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 283 

Switzerland, and I awake to a scene of desolation such as one might 
look to find in Barbary or upper Asia. But the morale, as the 
French would say, is worse than the physique and the materiel. I 
remember well when a member of Congress was respected by others 
and by himself. But I cannot pursue this theme. 

The Government is as you describe it to be. They have nearly 
monopolized the press ; and if the opposition prints lend themselves 
to their views the cause is hopeless. However, such is the growing 
conviction of their depravity, that I believe the people will throw 
them off at the next election. I shall expect your letters, of course, 
with eagerness. Yours truly. J. R. of R, 

Sunday morning. January 14. 1827. 

Your letter of Friday is just received. The artifices resorted to 
are worthy of the tools of such an administration as ours. By this 
time to-morrow I shall know the result. Be it what it may, it will 
exercise a very decisive influence over what may remain of my life to 
come. Success I know cannot elate me, and I hope that defeat will 
not depress me : but I have taken a new view of life, of public life 
especially ; and if I am not a wiser and a better man for my last 
year's experience, you may pronounce me an incorrigible, irreclaim- 
able fool. 

Yesterday Mr. Chief Justice paid me a very friendly visit. His 
manner said more than his words. I am not vain but proud of the 
distinguished marks of regard which I have received on many occa- 
sions from this truly good and great man. Our conversation was 
interrupted by the unexpected and undesired visit of another person. 

Yours truly, J. R of R. 

Friday, January 19 1827. 

Your most welcome letter of Wednesday is just now received. 
Every syllable in the way of anecdote is gratifying in a high degree. 

My first impression was to resign. There were, notwithstanding, 
obvious and strong objections to this course ; my duty to my friends, 
the giving of a handle to the charges of my enemies that I was the 
slave of spleen and passion, and many more that I need not specify. 
There was but one other course left, and that I have taken, not with- 
out the decided approbation of my colleague, and many other friends 
here. I find, too, that it was heartily desired by my enemies that I 
should throw up my seat. They even propagated a report on Mon- 
day, that I had done so in a rage, and left the city. Numerous 
concurring opinions of men of sense and judgment, who have had no 
opportunity of consulting together, have reached me. that fortify me 
in the line of conduct that I have taken. Nothing, then, remains but 
a calm and dignified submission to the disgrace that has been put 
upon me [his ejection from the Senate]. It is the best evidence that 
I can give my friends of the sense which I feel, and will for ever 
cherish, of their kind and generous support. J. R. of R. 



284 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Saturday, January 20. 1827. 

" Bore me ?" Your letter has become more necessary to me than 
my breakfast ; and it is almost as indispensable for me to say a few 
words to you upon paper, as soon as I have finished it. It consists 
of a cup of tea and a cracker, without butter, which I never touch. 
My constitution is shaken ; nerves gone, and digestive powers almost 
extinct. I look forward to hopeless misery. As to a '• firm and dig- 
nified" discharge of my duty, I hope that I shall be equal to it, so far 
as attendance and voting goes. I can't go farther, because I am 
unable. What I shall do with myself I am at a loss to conjecture. 
I have already found the solitude of Roanoke insupportable. With 
worse health, and no better spirits, how can I endure it ? But too 
much of this egotism. 

I would give not a little to know the reply of Mrs. B. to the 
member in question. The tear shed by her eyes for my defeat is 
more precious in my own than the pearl of Cleopatra. I beseech 
you not to omit writing whenever you can. I require all the time 
that you can bestow upon me. Except Mr. M., I am desolate. 

Sunday morning, February 11. 1827. 

I have not written as usual, because I almost made it a matter of 
conscience to oppress you with my gloom. I have never been more 
entirely overwhelmed with bad health and spirits. I look forward 
without hope, and almost without a wish, to recover. What can be 
more cheerless and desolate than the latter days that are left to me ? 
I am, however, relieved from one apprehension — the fear of surviving 
all who may care for me. I feel that this can hardly be, for without 
some almost miraculous change in a worn-out constitution, I shall 
hardly get through the year. The thoughts of returning here tor- 
ment and harass me by day and by night. Little do you even 
know of the character and composition of the House. If I were even 
able to exert myself. I should never obtain the floor. The speech 
which I made on the tariff was owing to a waiving of the right of 
another to speak. I feel that my public life ought to terminate with 
this session of Congress. These thoughts are for you, and you alone. 
I have risen from a sleepless bed to give utterance to them. 

I saw the V. P. yesterday. He is in good spirits ; he is sustained 
by a powerful passion. For my part, I am far from thinking a seat 
in the S. very desirable, although, certainly, to be preferred to any 
other position in this Government. If I could have done it with pro- 
priety, I should not have hesitated to retire voluntarily from mine. 

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 1827. 

Yesterday the Senate gave no equivocal evidence on behalf of 

the woollen bill from the other House. Mv colleague is, I think, 

more disgusted and wounded than I am. We are bound hand and 

foot, and the knife is at our throat. There is no help but from the 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 285 

people through the State Legislatures. We are sold before our faces 
in open market. 

Thursday, Feb. 15, 1827. 

The V. P. has pressed me very warmly to take a seat in his car- 
riage, which will travel the direct road by Carter's Ferry. This temp- 
tation is a very strong one in my present feeble condition. A plea- 
sant companion, easy stages, and exemption from all the cares of a 
journey that will bring me to my own door. But then I shall not 
see you. This consideration would determine me to forego his invita- 
tion if I could see you and one or two others without bustle in a 
quiet way. But I take it that the close of a session of Assembly is 
(like one in Congress) as the last days of a long voyage. 

Among my afflictions and privations, I cannot read. I have abso- 
lutely lost all taste for reading of every sort, except the letters of my 
friends. Books, once a necessary of life, have no longer a single 
charm for me. How this has happened I know not ; but it is so. I 
should not talk so eternally of myself if I felt at liberty to speak of 
other people : I do not mean in the way of censure, but in any way. 
I think I see a great deal more than meets the usual eye ; but then 
I may be mistaken. Of one thing I am certain, that nothing can 
surpass the disgust of my colleague. His countenance speaks volumes. 
Indeed I cannot blame him. I know that there is nothing in this 
thing that, from its length, seems a letter ; but I can't help it. Adieu 
to you both. 

Saturday, February 17, 1827. 

Your last was dated this day week. Yesterday we had no mail 
in consequence of the storm of Thursday That storm nearly demo- 
lished me. I took a violent cold at the door of the Senate waiting 
until two hackney coaches could disengage themselves from a jam. 
I have since been much worse. I hope to get a line from you to-day. 

I mentioned to you the V. P.'s invitation to accompany him. You 
will think me a strange, inconsistent creature, when I tell you that I 
am at a loss what to do. Home I must go; and yet for me home has no 
charms. I think of its solitude, which I can no longer relieve by 
field-sports, or books, and my heart dies within me. Stretched on a 
sick-bed, alone, desolate, cheerless. I must devise some other plan, 
and I want to see you and consult you about it. You see what little 
mercy my querulous selfishness has upon you. 

The prospect here is far from brightening. I know others, and 
abler men than myself, who think differently ; but they take counsel 
of their hopes and wishes. I, who have neither to bias me, can see 
more plainly, with weaker vision. Not that I am at all indifferent 
(far from it) to the question of change of the bad and corrupt men at 
the head of our affairs. I allude to wishes of a different sort. 

What you say about the spirit of the times and the state of soci- 



285 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

ety, has " often and over" occurred to me. I want to be at rest ; 
with Gray's prophetess, I cry out " leave me, leave me to repose !" I 
am almost as well convinced that I shall not live twelve months, as 
twelve times twelve, and I wish to die in peace. My best love to 
Mrs. B. God bless you both, my dear friends. 

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 1827. 

I have omitted for some days to bore you with my querulous 
notes, because I knew that you had better use for your time than to 
read them. And now, that I have taken up my pen, what shall ] 
say? Still harp upon the old string? My good friend, you will, I 
am sure, bear with my foolishness. I am incapable of business.^ I 
have not been so sensible of the failure of my bodily powers since 
1817, when you saw me at Mr. Cunningham's ; and in my dreary and 
desolate condition I naturally turn to you. 

My view of things in Richmond coincided with your own, before 
I knew what your impressions were. I think that I shall make my 
escape, with the V. P., via Cartersville. It is the very road that I 
travelled here, and is the obvious way back again. 

I shall have again to attend a six hours' sitting to-day. It abso- 
lutely murders me. The H. of R. sat late last night. Mr. Rives 
gained great, and I believe deserved praise. Mr. Archer passed a 
severe rebuke upon one of his colleagues from beyond the Blue 
Ridge, who spoke very irreverently, 'tis said, of his native State. 

I fear that when we do meet, I shall teaze you to death with my 
egotism. A man with a tooth-ache thinks only of his fang. I am 
become the most inert and indolent of creatures. I want to get into 
port. Nothing would suit me so well as an annuity, and nothing to 
do. You see how selfish I am. But all my selfishness vanishes when 
I think of you. God bless you both. Adieu. 

Thursday, Feb. 22, 1827. 
General S. Smith, of Maryland, made a very strong speech yes- 
terday on the colonial trade bill and the report accompanying it. He 
exposed, without reserve, the ignorance and incapacity of our cabi- 
net, and particularly of the Secretary of State ; and pointed out 
many manifest errors in the bill and report, between which he show- 
ed more than one instance of discrepancy. His speech was so much 
approved that a subscription for its publication was immediately set 
on foot and filled. I think it will have great effect on the public 
opinion. I listened to it with great attention, and after he had con- 
cluded, the old gentleman came and thanked me for it. He said that 
my occasional nods of assent to what he said was a great support to 
him, and enabled him to get through with what he had to say with 
more animation and effect than he had anticipated. The applause 
bestowed upon him by very many members of the Senate, seemed to 
warm the old man's heart. 



HIS DEFEAT FOR THE SENATE. 287 

Friday, Feb. 23, 1827. 
Yesterday we adjourned much earlier than usual, on the motion 
of Mr. Johnson, of Louisiana, who means to inflict upon us a speech 
of unconscionable length, if I am to judge from the apparatus of 
notes and books which he has collected. It will, no doubt, receive 
contribution from the S of S. It is strange that the administration 
should be reduced to rely upon so feeble and confused an understand- 
ing as that of J., whom no one can listen to, and who is unanswera- 
ble because he is unintelligible. His friend and patron passes my 
window every morning, arm in arm with M. C. : s, whom he ap- 
pears to be vainly engaged in drilling. My good friend, politics re- 
mind me of Goldsmith's character of a schoolmaster — any other em- 
ployment seems '-genteel' in comparison to it. 

Saturday. Feb. 24, 1827. 

Your letter of Thursday and the Enquirer of the same date are just 
now brought in. I am truly sensible of the kind partiality of my 
friends, but I feel that my career is drawing to a close. My system 
is undermined and gone, and a few months must. I should think (and 
almost hope) put an end to my sufferings. God only knows what 
they have been. I think it probable that I shall take the steamboat 
to Kichmond ; in which case I shall have the pleasure to see you 
once more. I don't like to hear of your being •• unwell." and hope 
that the approaching adjournment of the Assembly will relieve you 
from your harassing employment at the Bank. 

I have lain all night listening to the rain. I have not passed one 
quite so bad this winter. I shall, nevertheless, go to the Senate, for 
I have made it a point not to miss a vote. I tasked myself beyond 
my strength in retaining my seat, and am by no means quite satis- 
fied that 1 took the right course in that matter. It is not now, how- 
ever, to be remedied. 

Many thanks for your news of my niece. God bless her ! I 
wrote to her the day before yesterday. 

We had yesterday a confused jumble of two and a half hours from 
J., of L. But I have no doubt that the best face that the adminis- 
tration can put on the matter will appear in print. The chairman of 
foreign relations has been weighed and found wanting. The man has 
not a shadow of pretension to ability or information. Adieu. 

Sunday, Feb. 25. 1827. 
My lamentations must, I am sure, weary you, and not a little. 
Like Dogberry. I bestow all my tediousness upon you. I have had 
another bad night. Not so bad however as the preceding one. But 
I am in a state of utter atony. 1 think that you medical men have 
such a term. I have lost all relish for every thing, and would will- 
ingly purchase exemption from all exertion of body and mind at 



288 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

almost any price. My old friend, Mr. M., remarks my faint and lan- 
guid aspect, but even lie little knows of what is passing within. If 
change of scene brings no relief, and I have little hope that it will, 
I cannot long hold out under it ; and why do I reiterate this to you? 
Because I have no one else to tell it to, and out of the fulness of the 
heart the mouth speaketh. I can no longer imagine any state of 
things under which I should not be wretched. I mean a possible 
state. I am unable to enter into the conceptions and views of those 
around me. They talk to me of grave matters, and I see children 
blowing bubbles. 

Monday morning, Feb. 26, 1827. 

Your letter of Friday, which ought to have arrived yesterday 
morning, came in with the northern mail. No two instruments of 
music ever accorded more exactly than our opinions do, concerning 
public men and measures. I am heartily sick of both, and only wish 
to find some resting-place, where I may die in peace. I saw a letter 
from Crawford to Mr. M., a day or two ago, that affected me most 
deeply. Nothing can be more simple and touching than the manner 
in which he speaks of himself and his affairs. What a fate his has 
been ! 

I agree with you, about the great man of Richmond. His an- 
tagonist I know well. He is a frog at the utmost degree of disten- 
tion. How I shall get home I can't yet tell. My helplessness is in- 
conceivable I want a dry nurse — somebody to pick me up and take 
me away. I have passed another horrid night. Garnett writes me 
that he obtained relief from Dr. Watson, during his late visit to Rich- 
mond. There is some talk of a fight in the other House, but I con- 
jecture that it will end in smoke. I listen, but say nothing. 

Your letter of Saturday, and the Enquirer of Wednesday, are just 
now put into my hands. " Old Prince Edward has come out man- 
fully" indeed ; and if any thing could exhilarate me, it would be such 
a manifestation of the confidence of those who know me best ; but to 
the dead fibre all applications are vain. 

Senate, Thursday, March 1, 1827. 

I can only thank you 'for your letter of Tuesday. We meet at 
ten ; and yesterday we adjourned at the same hour. It almost killed 
me, and has worsted my old friend, Mr. M., a good deal. In common 
with all the honest and sagacious men here, he partakes of the gen- 
eral disgust ; and I think it not at all unlikely that he will throw up 
his commission before the next winter. S. of S. C, one of the most 
sterling characters, and of untiring zeal and labor hitherto, begins 
also to despond, seeing, as he does, that the administration is more 
effectually served by its professed opponents than by its friends. 
They are utterly insufficient. This is for you only. 

This is probably the last note that you will receive from me until 



ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 289 

we meet. You must be prepared for a great change in me — greater 
in temper, &c, than in health. You both, I know, will put up with 
my tediousness. I feel that I am becoming a burthen to others, as 
well as to myself, and the thought depresses me not a little. " Time 
and the hour run through the longest day." What a fate ours would 
have been if we had been condemned to immortality here. 

Saturday, March 3, 1827. 
We sat until after two this morning. The House of Representa- 
tives, by a very thin vote, adhered to their amendment to the Colo- 
nial Bill. Had it been put off until to-day, it would not have been 
done. We shall, I take it for granted, also adhere, and so the bill 
will be lost. I have made my arrangements to go in the Potomac 
to-morrow, at 9 o'clock. When I consider, that at this session the 
Bankrupt Bill, the Woollen Bill, the Naval School, and two Dry Docks, 
and the Colonial Bill, have all failed, I am of opinion that (as we say 
in Virginia) we have made a " great break." In fact, the administra- 
tion have succeeded in no one measure. - 



CHAPTEE XXXV. 

ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 

So soon as it was known in Washington that Mr. Randolph had 
been defeated for the Senate, Dr. G-eorge W. Crump, who repre- 
sented his district, published a letter to his constituents, declining a 
re-election, and united with Mr. Randolph's other friends, in an- 
nouncing him as a candidate for Congress. 

The legislature was still in session, as he passed through Rich- 
mond. His friends in that body invited him, as a token of their re- 
spect, to partake of a public dinner. He said, in reply : — " The fee- 
bleness of my health admonishes me of the imprudence I commit in 
accepting your very kind and flattering invitation, but I am unable 
to practise the self-denial which prudence would impose. I have 
only to offer my profound acknowledgment, for an honor to which I 
am sensible of no claim on my part, except the singleness of purpose 
with which I have endeavored to uphold our common principles, never 
more insidiously and vigorously assailed than now, and never more 

VOL. II. 13 



290 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

resolutely defended and asserted." To a complimentary toast, call- 
ing him " the constant defender of the principles of the Constitution, 
the fearless opponent of a mischievous administration," he made a 
very hrief hut appropriate answer — " He knew that of late years it 
had become a practice, that the person thus selected as the object of 
distinction and hospitality, should make his acknowledgments in a 
set speech ; but as a plain and old-fashioned Virginian, it was, he must 
be permitted to say, a custom more honored in the breach than the 
observance. He felt assured that no declaration of his principles was 
called for on the occasion. It would, indeed, be too severe a tax upon 
the courtesy of that intelligent auditory, for him to attempt to gloss 
over what he had done or omitted to do. He did not expect them to 
judge of those principles from any declarations that he might see fit 
to make, instead of inferring them from the acts of his public life, 
which had commenced in the last century, and had terminated but a 
few days ago." Mr. Randolph received several similar invitations 
from his old constituents, but he was constrained to decline them all. 
He expressed his regret at being unable to partake of the hospitality 
and festivity of his friends, " to whom," says he, " I am bound by 
every tie that can unite me to the kindest and most indulgent con- 
stituents that ever man had." 

It is almost needless to say, that at the April elections he was 
returned to Congress by his old constituents, without opposition. 
The summer was spent in his accustomed solitude at Roanoke ; and 
as to the thoughts and feelings that occupied and harassed him during 
that monotonous period, we leave him to speak for himself, in the fol- 
lowing letters to his friend, Dr. Brockenbrough : 

Roanoke, March 30, 1827 ; Friday. 

My dear Friend — My worst anticipations have been realized. 
I got home on the 22d (Thursday), and since then I have scarcely 
been off my bed except when I was in it. My cough has increased 
very much, and my fever never intermits : with this, pain in the treast 
and all the attendant ills. Meanwhile I am, with the exception of 
my servants, as if on a desert island. I feel that my doom is sealed, 
as it regards this life at least. I do not want to distress you, or to 
make you gloomy ; but you had a right to know the truth, and I have 
told it to you. 

My best regards to Mrs. B. Write to me when you have nothing 
better to do. I shall be detained here all the summer, if I last as 
long. Like other spendthrifts, I have squandered my resources, and 
am pennyless. 



ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 291 

Roanoke May loth, 1827 ; Tuesday. 

Your letter gives me much concern. These sudden and repeated 
attacks alarm me. Pray do not fail to write and let me know how 
you are. I would readily embrace Mrs. B.'s kind invitation (God 
bless her for it) ; but. my good friend, I am untit for society. Mj 
health is better — more so in appearance than in reality ; but my spi- 
rits are (if any thing) worse In other words, a total change has 
been effected in my views and feelings, and nothing can ever restore 
the slightest relish for the world and its affairs. If property in this 
country gave its possessor the command of money. I would go abroad 
immediately. But I feel that I am fixed here for life. I am sensibly 
touched by the kind interest expressed for my welfare by the Wick- 
hams (and others). Make my best acknowledgments to them. Yester- 
day I received a present offish from a man whom I hardly know, who 
sent it eight miles. On Saturday, for the first time. I made an essay 
towards riding, and got as far as Mrs. Daniel's, who. I heard, was 
very unwell. I repeated the experiment on Sunday ; but yesterday 
was cold and cloudy, and the rain. I am persuaded, saved us last night 
from another frost. 

By this time, I conjecture that my niece is in Richmond. Give 
her my best love, and Mrs. B. and Mary also. Remember me most 
kindly to Leigh, Stevenson, and all who ask after me 

Reading over what I have written. I find that I have expressed 
myself unhappily, not to say ungraciously, on the subject of Mrs B.'s 
invitation. "What I meaut was, that I could not be in Richmond 
without being thrown into society. It is inexpressibly fatiguing and 
irksome to me to keep up those forms of intercourse which usage has 
rendered indispensable. He who violates them deserves to be kicked 
out of company. This is one among many reasons why I like to go 
abroad. You may ask 

patria qui exsul 
Sequoque fugit 1 

but I have no such vain expectation. 

Five, P. M. — Since writing the above I have felt so peculiarly 
desolate and forlorn, that I would be glad to transport myself any 
where from this place. For some days this feeling has been gaining 
the mastery over me. What wouldn't I give to be with you at this 
moment, or to see you drive up to my door ! The pain in my right 
side and shoulder has increased, and that, no doubt, occasions, in part 
at least, my wretched sensations. To-morrow will bring but the same 
joyless repetition of the same dull scene. 

Roanoke. May 22, 1827 ; Tuesday. 
Your last (14th) gives me considerable relief on the subject of 
your health. Now that you have hit upon the remedy. I hope to 
hear no more of your spasmodic paroxysms. I have followed your 



292 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

advice with sensible benefit ; but nothing seems to relieve the anxiety, 
distress, and languor to which I am by turns subjected, or the pains, 
rheumatic or gouty, that are continually flying about me. 

I have passed a wretched week since my last. Why my letters 
are so long getting to hand, I cannot tell — perhaps it would be well 
for you if they should miscarry altogether, for they are little else 
besides lamentations. I cannot express to you the horror I feel at 
the idea of a winter in Washington. I have used a very improper 
word, for it is a feeling of loathing, of unutterable disgust. I am (of 
course) obliged to " every body" for their incpiiries and " apparent 
concern" respecting my health ; but there are some individuals 
towards whom I entertain a warmer feeling, and I beg you to express 
it for me to Leigh, the Wickhams, and others whom I need not 
name, although I will name Mr. and Mrs. T. Taylor. 

Whichever way I look around me, I see no cheering object in 
view. All is dark, and comfortless, and hopeless : for I cannot dis- 
guise from myself, that the state of society and manners is daily and 
not slowly changing for the worse. After making every allowance 
for the gloom of age and disease, there are indications not to be mis- 
taken of general deterioration. If I survive this winter I must try 
and hit upon some plan of relief, for I would not spend another year 
1827 for any imaginable earthly consideration. This is not a bull, 
although it may look like one. 

I have some conveniences here (not to say comforts) that I can- 
not always meet with from home ; and this consideration, and the 
vis inertice which grows daily stronger, have detained me here, where 
I vegetate like the trees around me. Give my best love to Mrs. B., 
and Mary. I most heartily wish that I could see you all. 

Roanoke, Tuesday, June 12, 1827. 

Your letter of the 5th was received last night. When I wrote 
that to which you refer, I had not received Mr. Chiles's and Mr. 
Allen's, with your P. S. They came about a week afterwards. I 
wrote you a few hardly legible lines on Friday evening. The next 
morning I got into my chair and drove to W. Leigh's, whence I re- 
turned yesterday. I would have stayed longer, but there were young 
people in the house, and I felt as if I was a damper upon their cheer- 
fulness. Luckily I had a cool morning for my return home. 

I have had a visit from a Stouldburg — old Mr. Archibald B. It 
almost made me resolve never to leave my own plantation again. 
I hardly think that I shall go to the Springs. I have a decided 
aversion to mixing with mankind, especially where I am known. I 
have been obliged to give up riding on horseback altogether. It 
crucified me, and I did not get over a ride of two miles in the course 
of the whole day. I will stay at home, and take your prescription. 
I wish I could see your Dr. Johnston's book. There are other rea- 



ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 293 

sons why I should stay at home : I have no clothes, and no money. 
In fact, I never was in so abject a state of misery and poverty since 
I was born. They who complain are never pitied. But I have so true 
a judgment of the value of this world and its contents, that I would 
not give the strength and health of one of my negro men for the wis- 
dom of Solomon, and the wealth of Croesus, and the power of Caesar. 

" Though Solomon, with a thousand wives, 
To get a wise successor strives, 
But one, and he a fool, survives." 

So much for the pleasure of offspring. 

My best love to Mrs. B. and Mary, and to my niece, who is with 
you, I hope. Tell her that I got her two last letters a great while 
after they were written; and that I should have written in return, but 
that I was never in a frame of mind for it. My life is spent in pain 
and sorrow. " We passed in maddening pain life's feverish dream," 
was said of poor Collins. It is almost true of me. I have a thousand 
things to attend to, many duties to perform, and all are neglected. 
I know and feel that I am incurring an awful responsibility, but 
that only serves to add to the miseries of the day and night. 

Roanoke, September 4, 1827. 

I certainly took it for granted that you were at the Springs, or I 
should have written, although I have been particularly unwell of 
late, and have had a great deal of company, most of which I could 
have gladly dispensed with. Indeed, I have more than once regret- 
ted that not at home was inadmissible in the country. At this time 
I am laboring under a sharp attack of bile, and am hardly able to 
direct my pen. All those symptoms of anxiety, distress, &c, I need 
not recapitulate to you. I had anticipated your caution respecting 
wine, but am not the less thankful for it. Kidder R. was here, and 
had no one to join him in a glass of claret, so that, as Burns says, I 
helped him to a slice of my constitution, although my potation was 
very moderate. If people would not harass me with their unmean- 
ing visits I should do much better. 

Roanoke, Nov. 6, 1827 ; Tuesday. 

I write because you request it. I got home on Friday evening 
(the 2d), and Sam and the wagons arrived here next night. This 
morning I received your letter of the 1st, Thursday. In answer to 
your inquiry, I am worse, decidedly worse than when I wrote from 
Amelia. I wrote you a long letter from thence, which I afterwards 
threw into the fire — and like it, I am withering, consuming away. I 
will try and see you if I can, on my way to W. Nothing but the circum- 
stance attending my election, prevents an immediate resignation of 
my seat. My good friend, I can't convey to you — language can't ex- 
press — the thousandth part of the misery I feel. 

I found a long letter from you, at Charl. C. H. You say that 



294 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

" without something of the sort (cotton spinning). Richmond is done 
over." My dear friend, she is " done over," and past recovery. She 
wears the fades Hippocratica. That is not the worst — the country is 
also ruined — past redemption, body and soul — soil and mind. 

My friend, Mr. Barksdale, has resolved to sell out and leave 
Amelia. He is right, and would be so, were he to give his establish- 
ment there away. If I live through the coming year, I too, will break 
my fetters. He was almost my only resource. They have dried up, one 
by one, and I am left in the desert alone. 

Mrs. B. "wants to see me" — God bless her. When I come, you 
must hide me. I can write no more, even of this nonsense. Farewell. 

Washington, Dec. 15, 1827 ; Saturday. 

I confess that I have been disappointed, nay almost hurt, at 
not hearing from you. My good friend, I am sore and crippled, 
mind and body — and I might add estate. These, according to the 
Liturgy, embrace all the concerns of man, but there is another branch 
in which I am utterly bankrupt. 

You say that you have nothing to communicate, and yet Steven- 
son tells me that tlie election made a great sensation with you 

Quant a mat. I am dying as decently as I can. For three days 
past, I have rode out, and people who would not care one groat, if I died 
to-night — are glad that I am so much better, &c. &c , with all that 
wretched grimace that grown-up makers of faces call, and believe to 
be, politeness, good-breeding, &c. I had rather see the children or 
monkeys mow and chatter. 

My diet is strict. Flesh once a day (mutton, boiled or roasted), 
a cracker and cup of coffee, morning and night, no drink but toast 
water. But it will not do. For the first time in my life, I now be- 
gin to drink in the night, and copiously. I would give fifty pounds 
if no one would ask me again, " how I do ?" 

Mr. Macon, who was strictly neutral last year, is now decided for 
Jackson. Perhaps this may give some relief to our friend, Christo- 
pher Quandary. From some Fauquier and other symptoms, I fear 
that the Chief J. is cpuandaryish too. 

Tazewell talks of going home, and has asked me to go with him. If 
I could bear the beastly abominations of a steamboat, I would do it. 
for here I cannot stay. Mr. M. recruited very much after his arrival, 
but within a few days he has been complaining, and in very bad spirits. 
The fact is, that his grand-children torture my old friend almost to 
death. I bless God that I have none. Of all the follies that man is 
prone to, that of thinking that he can regulate the conduct of others. 
is the most inveterate and preposterous. Mr. Macon has no such weak- 
ness ; but the aberrations of his descendants crucify him. What has 
become of all the countless generations that have preceded us? Just 
what will become of us, and of our successors. Each will follow the 



ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 295 

devices and desires of its own heart, and very reasonably expect that 
its descendants will not, but will do, like good boys and girls, as they 
are bid. And so the papas and mammas, and grand-papas and grand- 
mammas flatter themselves — utterly regardless of their own contuma- 
cy. If ever I undertake to educate, or regulate any thing, it shall be 
a thing that cannot talk. I have been a Quixotte in this matter, and 
well have I been rewarded — as well as the woful Knight in the Galley 
slaves in the Brown mountain. 

Washington, Friday, Dec. 21, 1827. 

At last I have a letter from you. Your epistles are like angels' 
visits, ■• short and far between." I have one too from the Chief Jus- 
tice, whom Mrs. B. will smile to hear me describe as one of the 
best-bred men alive. I sent him the King's speech and documents, 
and here in return is a letter that I would not exchange for a Diploma 
from any one of our Universities. 

Nothing was further from my intention than to touch any nerve 
in Watkins, &c, when I mentioned his having written a book. At 
that time, I thought C. Q. was ascribed to Garnett. I referred to. 
his publications some years ago against Jackson. Do you remember 
that Dr. Johnson, who hardly rose to the dignity and polish of a bear, 
told Boswell that he thought himself a very well-bred man ? Now, 
I thought that I rallied our friend that night, with playful good hu- 
mor, incapable of wounding even as sensitive a person as he on that 
occasion seemed to be. 

Although I rode out on Wednesday, I am no better. Yesterday 
the atmosphere was loaded with rlieum, and to-day it is hardly better. 
The first good spell of weather that seems settled, I shall leave this 
place, pour jamais. I have yet some confidence left in mankind, and 
much in my constituents. Now, let me beg you not to mention this 
to any one. I have heard of my conversation with W. L. at your 
house with alterations, I can't say with emendations. How every 
idle word I utter flies abroad upon the wings of the wind, I know not. 
I could not help smiling at the version given of my retort, that ' ; J. 
could not write because he had never been taught, and Adams be- 
cause he was not teachable " — the two last words were changed into 
" a man of abilities." This is like the National Intelligencer's re- 
ports of me. 

I am sensible that these effusions of querulous egotism can have 
no value in your eyes. I will therefore try something else. 

Mr. Barbour's motion is, to say the least of it. ill-timed. I be- 
lieve that he consulted no one about it. Our play is to win the game ; 
to keep every thing quiet ; to give no handle for alarm, real or pre- 
tended ; to finish the indispensable public business, and to go home. 

As you make no mention of Mrs. B. or of Mary, I conclude that 
they are both well. My love to them both. I have been not a little 



296 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

amused with hearing a gentleman describe the artful and assiduous, 
and invidious court paid to a certain lady, the year before last, at the 
Springs, by a certain great, very great man. I now understand why 
she introduced the subject of General Jackson to me of all the peo- 
ple in the world, when I last saw her — the only instance of want 
of good taste that I ever remarked in that lady. Quant a moi, I 
was (as became me) mute as a fish. 

I agree that it is a serious objection to any man that he has such 
a hanger-on as C. B. But when I am determined upon turning off a 
very bad overseer, I shall not be deterred, because I can't get exactly 
him whom I would prefer. This squeamishness does, for girls, but 
with men, you must act as a man upon what is, and not upon what 
ought to be. I have seen no man but Genl. W., and there were 
strong objections to him, that I think fit for the office. 

Washington, Saturday, Dec. 22, 1827. 

My cough and pain in the breast are both much worse, owing to my 
being a few minutes in the House yesterday, from which I was speed- 
ily driven by the atmosphere. I cannot believe it possible that the 
Ch. J. can vote for the present incumbent. To say nothing of his 
denunciation of all the most respectable federalists ; the implacable 
hatred and persecution of this man and his father of the memory of 
Alexander Hamilton (the best and ablest man of his party, who 
basely abandoned him for old Adams' loaves and fishes), would, I sup- 
pose, be an insuperable obstacle to the C. J.'s support of the younger 
A. When I say the best and ablest of his party, I must except 
the Ch. J. himself, who surpassed H. in moral worth, and although 
not his equal as a statesman, in point of capacity, is second to none. 
Hamilton has stood very high in my estimation ever since the contest 
between Burr and Jefferson ; and I do not envy a certain Ex.-P. or 
your predecessor, the glory of watching his stolen visits to a courtezan, 
and disturbing the peace of his family by their informations. I have 
a fellow-feeling with H. He was the victim of rancorous enemies, 
who always prevail over lukewarm friends. He died because he pre- 
ferred death to the slightest shade of imputation or disgrace. He was 
not suited to the country, or the times ; and if he lived now, might 
be admired by a few, but would be thrust aside to make room for any 
fat-headed demagogue, or dextrous intriguer. His conduct, too, on 
the acquisition of Louisiana, proved how superior he was to the Otises 
and Quincys, and the whole run of Yankee federalists. 

Yours are the only letters that 1 receive from Richmond — the 
one mentioned yesterday, from the Ch. J., excepted. Indeed I have 
had but three others ; one from Mr. Leigh, and two from Barksdale. 
It is now snowing fast, and I fear that I shall be detained here much 
longer than I could wish. I left the House yesterday, after an 



ELECTION TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 297 

hour's stay in it, and. as I finished my ride, I saw the flag waving 
over the Hall of the Representatives. I thought what fools men 
were, to be there listening to jackanapes, and what fools we, the people, 
were, to submit to their rule. I must get away, or die outright. 

Washington, Wednesday. Dec. 26. 1827. 

My Dear. Friend, — Your letter, too, looks a little more like 
" past times " thaD those which I have received from you of late. I 
wonder that you should be at a loss for something to write about, for 
Mr. Speaker, whom I saw some days ago for a single minute, related 
to me that you had given a splendid party ; for so I interpreted the 
word fandango, used by him. 

But for a visit last evening from Frank Key, who came and sat 
about three hours with me, yesterday would have been the dullest 
Christmas day that I can recollect. We want a synonym for the 
French triste. I was invited to dine, enfamille. with Mr. Hamilton, 
of South Carolina, but the day was so particularly detestable, that I 
could not stir abroad. The Pennsylvania Avenue is a long lake of 
mud. I go nowhere, and see nobody but Mr. Macon. He is so deaf 
that he picks up none of the floating small trash in the Senate, and I 
am hard put to it to make him hear my hoarse whispers. 

I understood the whole matter of Mr. H., of Kentucky, and the 
" very great man," and I readily comprehended the lady's scruples ; 
one, especially, that was to be looked for in a female of delicacy and 
right feeling ; for I have felt, and I do feel the same, myself. But 
there is no alternative. 

You say that ' ; all the world are amazed how the devil I know 
every thing before any body else." I got that piece of information 
from Lynchburg, a long while ago, through my silent, discreet friend, 
W. L., who, I verily believe, never mentioned it to any body else, 
but, as the Waverly man says, "kept a calm sough." I have paid 
more money of my own for intelligence than, I believe, any other 
public man living ; but this came gratis. Apropos to the Waverly 
man. His last work (Canongate) is beneath contempt. The mask 
is off, and he stands confessed a threadbare jester, repeating his worn- 
out stories. I wish that some one would take pen in hand, and abolish 
him quite. It might be easily done. 

I pray you write to me as often and as fully as you can. I have 
no other epistolary aliment, except from Harry Tucker. God bless 

you both. 

My most respectful and friendly regards to Mr. Wickham. when- 
ever you see him. He has won upon my esteem. I made the very 

same remark upon the Ch. J ; s dignified and simple manners, 

that evening, that Mrs. B. did. Pray tell him that I hope soon to 
see him here. 



298 LIFE °F JOHN RANDOLPH. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION — A WISE AND MASTERLY 

INACTIVITY. 

Mr. Randolph's opposition commenced with the administration. 
His objection was not confined to the measures, but extended to the 
men — the principles they avowed — and the manner in which they 
came into power. In his judgment they were condemned in the be- 
ginning, and it was folly to wait to strike the first blow until they 
could safely intrench themselves behind the walls of patronage, and 
the well furnished batteries of a pensioned press. Like a skilful 
leader, he dashed at once on the foe, and gave him a stunning and 
fatal blow, ere he was aware of the near approach of an enemy. Two 
years ago, in the Senate, we observed his bold and vigorous onset ; 
and now, in another field, his charges on the intrenchments of the 
enemy are still more fearless and effective. " I shall carry the war 
into Africa," said he, " Delenda est Carthago ! I shall not be con- 
tent with merely parrying. No, Sir, if I can — so help me God ! — I 
will thrust also ; because my right arm is nerved by the cause of the 
people and of my country." 

It was conceded, on all hands, that he was the leader of the op- 
position in Congress. 

A member from Ohio, in responding to a rhetorical inquiry pro- 
pounded by himself — " Who is it that manifested this feeling of pro- 
scription towards us and our posterity ?" answered, ' Sir, it is the 
man who is now at the head of the opposition to this administration ; 
it is the man who was placed by you, Sir, at the head of the principal 
committee of this House. Yes, Sir, he was placed there by aid of 
the vote of the very people that he has derided and abused ; and if 
ill health had not prevented, would have been in that exalted station. 
It is the man that is entitled to more credit — if it is right that this 
administration should go down — for his efficiency in effecting that ob- 
ject, than any three men in this nation. This is not a hasty opinion 
of mine; it is one long held, and often expressed. I have been an 
attentive observer of his course ever since the first organization of 
the party to which he belongs. From the moment he took his seat 



LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. 299 

in the other branch of the legislature, he became the great rallying 
officer of the South. Our southern brethren were made to believe 
that we, of the North, were political fiends, ready to oppress them 
with heavy and onerous duties, and even willing to destroy that 
property they held most sacred. Sir, these are not exaggerated 
statements relative to the course of this distinguished individual. 
He is certainly the ablest political recruiting sergeant that has been 
in this or any other country." 

Another member " considered him the commanding general of 
the opposition force, and occupying the position of a commander, in 
the rear of his troops, controlling their movements ; issuing his 
orders : directing one subaltern where and how to move his forces ; 
admonishing another to due and proper caution, and to follow his 
leader ; nodding approbation to a third, and prompting him to ex- 
traordinary exertion ; examples of which he has given us in this 
debate." 

Mr. Randolph was eminently fitted to be the leader of the repub- 
lican party, at this time. The time-serving policy, and the ' ; cen- 
tripetal " tendency of the last twelve or fifteen years, had utterly 
obliterated all traces of its former existence. The old principles that 
constituted it, were effaced from the memory. He was the " Old 
Mortality," whose sharp chisel could retrace the lines on the whited 
sepulchres, and bring them out in bold relief, in all their original 
strength and freshness. His was the prophet's voice, to &tir the dry 
bones in the valley. 

In the first place, he was purely disinterested. He filled the sta- 
tion assigned him by his beloved constituents ; his ambition extended 
not beyond. His age, his wretched health, and " churchyard cough." 
admonished him that he might not live to witness the triumph of his 
cause. None but the most uncharitable could suspect his motives, or 
doubt that his right arm was nerved by the cause of the people and 
of his country. The history of all nations, and of their governments, 
was well known to him ; the causes of their rise, progress, and de- 
cline, were thoroughly studied and digested. He knew the Consti- 
tution of his own country — its strength, its weakness, and the dangers 
that beset it. Possessing a thorough acquaintance with human 
character, and a keen insight into the motives of individuals, he was 
familiai' with the history, both public and private, of every prominent 



800 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

man connected with the Government. Nothing escaped his observa- 
tion. No " Senior Falconi " could work the wires in his presence, 
without being detected and exposed. He possessed a fearless spirit, 
that dared to look at the naked truth — to confront it boldly, and to 
speak to it. 

He called things by their right names ; he called a spade a spade, 
offend whom it might. His mind was untrammelled by professional 
habits : nor was it fettered to the narrow round of an inferior trade. 
His comprehensive genius, with a free and fearless spirit, travelled 
over every field of knowledge, and appropriated to itself the richest 
fruits of ancient and modern lore. While others were poring over 
their books, or plodding through a labored and methodical speech, 
striving by a slow inductive process to arrive at their conclusion, he, 
with a comprehensive glance surveyed the whole field, and by an in- 
tuitive perception leapt to the conclusion without an apparent effort. 
No man more completely fulfilled his own beautiful fable of the cat- 
erpillar and the huntsman. " A caterpillar comes to a fence ; he 
crawls to the bottom of the ditch, and over the fence ; some one of his 
hundred feet always in contact with the object upon which he moves : 
a gallant horseman, at a flying leap, clears both ditch and fence. 
1 Stop !' says the caterpillar, ' you are too flighty, you want connection 
and continuity ; it took me an hour to get over ; you can't be as 
sure as I am, who have never quitted the subject, that you have over- 
come the difficulty, and are fairly over the fence.' ' Thou miserable 
reptile,' replies our huntsman, ' if, like you, I crawled over the earth 
slowly and painfully, should I ever catch a fox, or be any thing more 
than a wretched caterpillar?' " With these qualities of head and of 
heart — a profound statesman, a ready debater, a resolute will, pos- 
sessing the spirit of command — he was eminently fitted to be the 
leader of a great party. While others were bewildered, or timidly 
waited the coming of events, he was quick to perceive and prompt to 
act. 

His policy during the present session was a toise and masterly in- 
activity. The administration was in a minority, and with a " sar- 
donic sneer" had told the leaders of the opposition that they had be- 
come " responsible for the measures of the Government." But Mr. 
Randolph urged his friends to do nothing — stand still and observe a 
wise and masterly inactivity. He often used that expression : " We 



LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. 301 

ought," said he, " to observe that practice which is the hardest of all, 
especially for young physicians — we ought to throw in no medicine 
at all — to abstain — to observe a wise and masterly inactivity." That 
was not only his policy then, but at all times. We are indebted to 
him for a political maxim that embraces the whole duty of an Amer- 
ican statesman. Let the Government abstain as much as possible 
from legislation ; interfere not at all with individual interests ; leave 
all they can to the States, and to the boundless energies of a free and 
enlightened people. In a word, the true constitutional spirit of the 
Federal Government would prompt it at all times (there are excep- 
tions of course to all rules) to observe a wise and masterly inactivity ; 
it would fulfil its whole duty in that. Whither would the contrary 
doctrine of the men then in power — that Government must do every 
thing — have carried us 1 to what a condition has it brought the na- 
tions of Europe? Let their enormous standing armies, bankrupt 
treasuries, irredeemable national debts, wretched and impoverished 
people, ansiver the question ! 

All of Mr. llandolph's speeches during the present session were 
interesting and instructive. Some of them are tolerably fair speci- 
mens of his style of thought and composition ; especially the one in 
answer to Mr. Everett, of Massachusetts, on the first of February, 
which was revised by himself and dedicated to his constituents : " To 
my constituents, whose confidence and love have impelled and sus- 
tained me under the effort of making it, I dedicate this speech." 

It is a great mistake to suppose that he had no method in his dis- 
course. His was not a succession of loose thoughts and observations 
strung together by the commonplace rules of association, but the pro- 
found method of a mind of genius, that looked into the very heart of 
a subject, and drew forth the laio of association by which its ideas are 
bound together in an adamantine chain of cause and effect. Like the 
musician who draws from a simple ballad an infinite variety of har- 
monies, in all of which may be traced the elements of the original 
song — so, Randolph, in his speeches, expanded the original thought 
into a rich and copious variety ; but every illustration was suggested 
by the subject : each episode tended to accomplish the purpose he 
had in view. Let the following extract from the speech now under 
consideration, suffice as a specimen of his large acquaintance with 
history : profound knowledge of human character ; his copiousness 



302 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

of illustration, and the rapidity, beauty, strength, and purity of his 
style. After reviewing the observations of other speakers that 
had gone before him, suggested by a former speech of his, he 
conies directly to the subject in hand — the unfitness of the present 
rulers : we wanted statesmen who could wisely direct the helm of 
State, and not orators to make speeches, or logicians to write books : 

Sir, said he, I deny that there is any instance on record, in 
history, of a man not having military capacity, being at the head of 
any Government with advantage to that Government, and with credit 
to himself. There is a great mistake on this subject. It is not those 
talents which enable a man to write books and make speeches, that 
qualify him to preside over a Government. The wittiest of poets has 
told us that 

" All a rhetorician's rules 
Teach only how to name his tools." 

We have seen professors of rhetoric, who could no doubt descant flu- 
ently upon the use of these said tools, yet sharpen them to so wiry an 
edge as to cut their own fingers with these implements of their trade. 
Thomas a Becket was as brave a man as Henry the Second, and, in- 
deed, a braver man — less infirm of purpose. And who were the Hil- 
debrands. and the rest of the papal freebooters, who achieved victory 
after victory over the proudest monarchs and States of Christendom? 
These men were brought up in a cloister, perhaps, but they were en- 
dowed with that highest of all gifts of Heaven, the capacity to lead 
men, whether in the Senate or in the field. Sir, it is one and the 
same faculty, and its successful display has always received, and al- 
ways will receive, the highest honors that man can bestow : and this 
will be the case, do what you will, cant what you may about military 
chieftains and military domination So long as man is man, the vic- 
torious defender of his country will, and ought to receive, that coun- 
try's suffrage for all that the forms of her government allow her to 
give. 

A friend said to me not long since: "Why, General Jackson 
can't write.' "Admitted." (Pray, Sir, can you tell me of any one 
that can write? for, I protest, I know nobody that can.) Then, 
turning to my friend, I said : " It is most true that General Jackson 
cannot write," (not that he can't write his name or a letter, &c.,) " be- 
cause he has never been taught : but his competitor cannot write, 
because he was not teachable;" for he has had every advantage of 
education and study. Sir. the Duke of Marlborough, the greatest 
captain and negotiator of his age. which was the age of Louis the 
Fourteenth, and who may rank with the greatest men of any age, 
whose irresiscible manners and address triumphed over every obsta- 



LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. 303 

cle in council, as his military prowess and conduct did in the field — 
this great man could not spell, and was notoriously ignorant of all 
that an undergraduate must know, but which it is not necessary for 
a man at the head of affairs to know at all. Would you have super- 
seded him by some Scotch schoolmaster ? Gentlemen forget that it 
is an able helmsman we want for the ship of state, and not a profes- 
sor of navigation or astronomy. 

Sir, among the vulgar errors that ought to go into Sir Thomas 
Brown's book, this ought not to be omitted : that learning and wis- 
dom are not synonymous, or at all equivalent Knowledge and wis- 
dom, as one of our most delightful poets sings — 

" Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, 
Have ofttimes no connection : Knowledge dwells 
In hearts replete with thoughts of other men; 
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own. 
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much ; 
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more. 
Books are not seldom talismans and spells, 
By which the magic art of shrewder wits 
Holds the unthinking multitude enchained." 

And not books only, Sir. Speeches are not less deceptive. I not 
only consider the want of what is called learning, not to be a disquali- 
fication for the commander-in-chief in civil or military life ; but I do 
consider the possession of too much learning to be of most mischiev- 
ous consequence to such a character, who is to draw from the cabinet 
of his own sagacious mind, and to make the learning of others, or 
whatever other qualities they may possess, subservient to his more 
enlarged and vigorous views. Such a man was Cromwell ; such a 
man was Washington : not learned, but wise. Their understandings 
were not clouded or cramped, but had fair play. Their errors were 
the errors of men, not of schoolboys and pedants. So far from the 
want of what is called education being a very strong objection to a 
man at the head of affairs, over-education constitutes a still stronger 
objection. (In the case of a lady it is fatal. Heaven defend me from 
an over-educated accomplished lady ! Yes, accomplished indeed ; for 
she isjinishcd for all the duties of a wife, or mother, or mistress of a 
family.) We hear much of military usurpation, of military despot- 
ism, of the sword of a conqueror, of Caesar, and Cromwell, and Bona- 
parte. What little I know of Roman history has been gathered 
chiefly from the surviving letters of the great men of that day, and 
of Cicero especially ; and I freely confess that if I had then lived, 
and had been compelled to take sides. I must, though very reluc- 
tantly, have sided with Caesar, rather than have taken Pompey for 
my master. It was the interest of the House of Stuart — and 
they were long enough in power to do it — to blacken the character 
of Cromwell, that great, and, I must add, bad man. But, Sir, the 



304 LIFE 0F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

devil himself is not so black as he is sometimes painted. And who 
would not rather have obeyed Cromwell than that self-styled Parlia- 
ment, which obtained a title too indecent for me to name, but by 
which it is familiarly known and mentioned in all the historians from 
that day to this. Cromwell fell under a temptation, perhaps too 
strong for the nature of man to resist ; but he was an angel of light 
to either of the Stuarts, the one whom he brought to the block, or 
his son, a yet worse man, the blackest and foulest of miscreants that 
ever polluted a throne. It has been the policy of the House of 
Stuart and their successors — it is the policy of kings — to villify and 
blacken the memory and character of Cromwell. But the cloud is 
rolling away. We no longer consider Hume as deserving of the 
slightest credit. Cromwell " was guiltless of his country's blood ;" 
his was a bloodless usurpation. To doubt his sincerity at the outset 
from his subsequent fall would be madness. Religious fervor was 
the prevailing temper and fashion of the times. Cromwell was no 
more of a fanatic than Charles the First, and not so much of a hypo- 
crite. It was not in his nature to have signed the attainder of such 
a friend as Lord Strafford, whom Charles meanly, and selfishly, and 
basely, and cruelly, and cowardly repaid for his loyalty to him by an 
ignominious death — a death deserved indeed by Strafford for his trea- 
son to his country, but not at the hands of his faithless, perfidious 
master. Cromwell was an usurper — 'tis granted ; but he had scarcely 
any choice left him. His sway was every way preferable to that 
miserable corpse of a Parliament that he turned out, as a gentleman 
would turn off a drunken butler and his fellows ; or the pensioned 
tyrant that succeeded him, a dissolute, depraved bigot and hypocrite, 
who was outwardly a Protestant and at heart a Papist. He lived and 
died one, while pretending to be a son of the Church of England — 
aye, and sworn to it — and died a perjured man. If I must have a 
master, give me one whom I can respect, rather than a knot of knav- 
ish attorneys. Bonaparte was a bad man ; but I would rather have 
had Bonaparte than such a set of corrupt, intriguing, public plun- 
derers as he turned adrift. The Senate of Rome, the Parliament of 
England, " the Council of Elders and Youngsters," the Legislature of 
France — all made themselves first odious and then contemptible ; 
and then comes an usurper ; and this is the natural end of a corrupt 
civil government. 

There is a class of men who possess great learning, combined with 
inveterate professional habits, and who. ipso facto, or perhaps I should 
rather say ipsis factis, for I must speak accurately, as I speak before 
a professor, are disqualified for any but secondary parts any where, even 
in the cabinet. Cardinal Richelieu was, what ? A priest. Yes, but 
what a priest ! Oxenstiern was a chancellor. He it was who sent 
his son abroad to see quarto parva sapientia regitur mundus — with 



LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. 305 

how little wisdom this world is governed. This administration seemed 
to have thought that even less than that little would do for us. The 
gentleman called it a strong, an able cabinet — second to none but 
Washington's first cabinet. I could hardly look at him for blushing. 
What, Sir ! is Gallatin at the head of the Treasury — Madison in the 
department of State 1 The mind of an accomplished and acute dia- 
lectician, of an able lawyer, or, if you please, of a great physician, 
may, by the long continuance of one pursuit — of one train of ideas — 
have its habits inveterately fixed, as effectually to disqualify the pos- 
sessor for the command of the councils of a country. He may, never- 
theless, make an admirable chief of a bureau — an excellent man of 
details, which the chief ought never to be. A man may be capable 
of making an able and ingenious argument on any subject within the 
sphere of his knowledge ; but every now and then the master sophist 
will start, as I have seen him start, at the monstrous conclusions to 
which his own artificial reasoning had brought himself. But this 
was a man of more than ordinary natural candor and fairness of 
mind. Sir, by words and figures you may prove just what you 
please ; but it often and most generally is the fact, that, in propor- 
tion as a proposition is logically or mathematically true, so it is poli- 
tically and commonsensically (or rather nonsensically) false. The 
talent which enables a man to write a book, or make a speech, has no 
more relation to the leading of an army or a senate, than it has to 
the dressing of a dinner. The talent which fits a man for either 
office is the talent for the management of men : a mere dialectician 
never had, and never will have it ; each requires the same degree of 
courage, though of different kinds. The very highest degree of moral 
courage is required for the duties of government. I have been 
amused when I have seen some dialecticians, after assorting their words 
— " the counters of wise men, the money of fools" — after they had laid 
down their premises, and drawn, step by step, their deductions, sit 
down completely satisfied, as if the conclusions to which they had 
brought themselves were really the truth — as if it were irrefragably 
true. But wait until another cause is called, or till another court 
sits — till the bystanders and jury have had time to forget both argu- 
ment and conclusion, and they will make you just as good an argu- 
ment on the other side, and arrive with the same complacency at a 
directly opposite conclusion, and triumphantly demand your assent 
to this new truth. Sir, it is their business — I do not blame them. 
I only say that such a habit of mind unfits men for action and for 
decision. They want a client to decide for them which side to take ; 
and the really great man performs that office. This habit unfits 
them for government in the first degree. The talent for government 
lies in these two things — sagacity to perceive, and decision to act. 
Genuine statesmen were never made such by mere training ; nas- 



306 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

cuntur non jiunt : education will form good business men. The 
maxim, nascitur non Jit, is as true of statesmen as it is of poets. 
Let a house be on fire, you will soon see in that confusion who 
has the talent to command. Let a ship be in danger at sea, 
and ordinary subordination destroyed, and you will immediately 
make the same discovery. The ascendency of mind and of character 
rises and rises as naturally and as inevitably where there is fair play 
for it, as material bodies find their level by gravitation. Thus, a 
great logician, like a certain animal, oscillating between the hay on 
different sides of him, wants some power from without, before he can 
decide from which bundle to make trial. Who believes that Wash- 
ington could write a good book or report as Jefferson, or make an 
able speech as Hamilton? Who is there that believes that Crom- 
well would have made as good a judge as Lord Hale ? No, Sir ; these 
learned and accomplished men find their proper place under those 
who are fitted to command, and to command them among the rest. 
Such a man as Washington will say to Jefferson, do you become my 
Secretary of State ; to Hamilton, do you take charge of my purse, or 
that of the nation, which is the same thing ; and to Knox, do you be 
my master of horse. All history shows this ; but great logicians and 
great scholars are, for that very reason, unfit to be rulers. Would 
Hannibal have crossed the Alps, when there were no roads — with 
elephants — in the face of the warlike and hardy mountaineers, and 
have carried terror to the very gates of Rome, if his youth had been 
spent in poring over books? Would he have been able to maintain 
himself on the resources of his own genius for sixteen years in Italy, 
in spite of faction and treachery in the Senate of Carthage, if he had 
been deep in conic sections and fluxions, and the differential calculus. 
to say nothing of botany and mineralogy, and chemistry ? " Are you 
not ashamed," said a philosopher to one who was born to rule ; " are 
you not ashamed to play so well upon the flute ?" Sir, it was well 
put. There is much which becomes a secondary man to know — much 
that it is necessary for him to know, that a first-rate man ought to 
be ashamed to know. No head was ever clear and sound that was 
stuffed with book learning. You might as well attempt to fatten and 
strengthen a man by stuffing him with every variety and the greatest 
quantity of food. After all, the chief must draw upon his subalterns, 
for much that he does not know and cannot perform himself. My 
friend, Wm. R. Johnson, has many a groom that can clean and dress 
a race-horse, and ride him too, better than he can. But what of that ? 
Sir, we are, in the European sense of the term, not a military people. 
We have no business for an army ; it hangs as a dead weight upon 
the nation, officers and all. All that we hear of it is through pam- 
phlets — indicating a spirit that, if I was at the head of affairs. I should 
very speedily put down. A state of things that never could have 



LETTERS FROM ROANOKE. 307 

grown up under a man of decision of character at the head of the 
State, or the Department — a man possessing the spirit of command ; 
that truest of all tests of a chief, whether military or civil. Who 
rescued Braddock when he was fighting, secundem artem, and his 
men were dropping around him on every side 1 It was a Virginia 
militia major. He asserted in that crisis, the place which properly 
belonged to him, and which he afterwards filled in a manner we all 
know. 



CHAPTEE XXXVII. 

LETTERS FROM ROANOKE. 

We again leave the reader to follow Mr. Randolph into his accus- 
tomed summer quarters, there to commune with him alone, and to 
commiserate his unhappy lot. With a heart most exquisitely attuned, 
as the reader has learned to know, to love and friendship, he had no 
wife nor children to share his home and fortune, and to fill that aching 
void, that none but domestic affection can fill. Wholly dependent on 
outward friendship, he found the world all too busy for that, and was 
desolate. The reader will not be at a loss to perceive that the fol- 
lowing letters were addressed to Dr. Brockenbrough. 

Roanoke, Tuesday evening. May 27. 1828. 

My dear friend, I hope to hear from you by Sam on Saturday 
night, and to receive Lord Byron in a coffin, where I shall very soon 
be. I daily grow worse : if that can be called " growth " which is 
diminution and not increase. My food passes from me unchanged. 
Liver, lungs, stomach (which I take to be the original seat of dis- 
ease), bowels, and the whole carnal man are diseased to the last ex- 
tent. Diarrhoea incessant — nerves broken — cramps — spasms — ver- 
tigo. Shall I go on % — no, I will not. 

I have horses that I cannot ride — wine that I cannot drink — and 
frieuds too much occupied with their own affairs to throw away a day 
(not to say a week) upon me. Of these, except Mr. Macon, your- 
self and Barksdale, who has entangled himself with Mrs. Tabb's 
estates, are all that I care to see here. Meanwhile, my dear friend, 
I am not without my comforts, such as they be. I have a new passion 
arising within me. which occupies me incessantly — the improvement 
of my estate. But for three men : — A. B. V. (your old master), 
Creed Taylor, and Patrick Henry, I should have commenced thirty 
years ago, what now I can hardly begin — finish, never. Don't you 
smile at my array of names ? " Le vrai n'est pas toujours le vraisem- 



308 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH 

bJable." Perhaps I might say, without hazarding more than public 
speakers (of whom I have been one) often do, "jamais " for " tou- 
jour s " 

My cough is tremendous. The expectoration from mucus has 
become purulent. My dear friend, you and I know that the cough 
and diarrhoea, and pain in the side and shoulder, are the last stage of 
my disorder, whether of lungs in the first instance, or of liver. 

I send you the measure of my thigh at the thickest part. Calves 
I have none, except those that suck their dams ; but then I have 
ankles that will out-measure yours or any other man's as far as you 
beat me in thighs. 

I am super-saturated with politics ; care nothing about conven- 
tion or no convention, or any thing but the P. election, and no great 
deal about that. The country is ruined, thanks to Mr. Jefferson and 
Mr. Ritchie, who, I suppose, is ashamed of sending me the Enquirer, 
for I never get it. It is a temporizing, time-serving print, which I 
heartily despise, and should not care to have it, except that it is the 
Moniteur of the poor old. ruined and degraded Dominion. Neverthe- 
less, ask somebody (for Ritchie is too much of a Godwinian to attend 
to facts) to send it to me. 

Ro anoke, Friday, May 30, 1828. 

Although I wrote to you so short a time ago by Sam, as well as by 
the post, yet as my frank has not expired (at one time indeed I expect- 
ed not to live out my 60 days' leave), I write again to tell you that 
extremity of suffering has driven me to the use of what I have had a 
horror of all my life — I mean opium ; and I have derived more re- 
lief from it than I could have anticipated. I took it to mitigate se- 
vere pain, and to check the diarrhoea. It has done both ; but to my 
surprise it has had an equally good effect upon my cough, which now 
does not disturb me in the night, and the diarrhoea seldom, until to- 
wards daybreak, and then not over two or three times before break- 
fast, instead of two or three and thirty times. Yet I can't ride — but 
I hobble with a stick, and scold and threaten my lazy negroes who are 
building a house between my well and kitchen, and two (a stable boy 
and under gardener) mending the road against you come — or Barks- 
dale. I want to see nobody else, that will come, except Leigh and 
Mr. Wickham, and they won't. Yes, let me except W. M. Watkins, 
who has been twice to see me ; once spent the day from early break- 
fast, until after dinner — and seemed to feel a degree of interest in 
my life, that I thought no one took, except my " woman kind," and 
my friend Win. Leigh. 

Disgusted to loathing with politics, I have acquired a sudden taste 
for improving my estate, and my overseers are already aghast at my 
inspection of their doings. My servants here had been corrupted, 
by dealing with a very bad woman, that keeps an ordinary near me. 



LETTERS FROM ROANOKE. gQQ 

Twenty odd years ago, I saw her, then about 16, come into Charlotte 
court to choose a very handsome young fellow of two and twenty, for 
her guardian, whom she married that night. She was then as beau- 
tiful a creature as ever I saw (some remains yet survive). They re- 
minded me of Annette and Lubin, but alas ! Lubin became a whisky 
sot, and Annette a double you. Her daughters are following the 
same vocation, and her house is a public nuisance. I have been 
obliged to go there and lecture her — at first she was fierce, but I re- 
minded her of the time when she chose her guardian, extolled her 
beauty — told her that I could not make war upon a woman — and that 
with a widow — that if she wanted any thing, she might command 
much more from me as a gentleman, by a request, than she could 
make by trafficking with my slaves. She burst into tears, promised 
to do so no more, and that I might, in case of a repetition of ber of- 
fence, '• do with her as Ipkased." Her tears disarmed me, and I with- 
drew my threat of depriving her of her license, &c, &c. : Voila un 
roman. 

Roanoke, Aug. 10, 1828. 
Your brother Tom, who dined here and lay here last Tuesday, 
tells me that you say " you believe that I have forgot you." I told 
the colonel to reply in jockey phrase, that " the boot was on the other 
leg." Until I saw him, I took it for granted that you had gone on 
from Charlottesville to the Springs, and I should as soon think of ad- 
dressing a letter to Tombuctoo, as to our watering places. Moreover, 
he tells me that " he does not think that you will go at all." Now all the 
circumstances of the case taken together, I think I have some right 
to complain ; but as that is a right which I had much rather waive 
than exercise, I shall content myself with laughing at you most heart- 
ily, for the part you had in the accouchment of Carter's mountain, 
which, after violent throes, has not produced even a mouse. My good 
friend, you and your compeers, Ex-P — s, Ch. J — s, and learned 
counsellors (to say nothing of the little tumbler), remind me of my 
childhood, when we used to play at " ladies and gentlemen," and make 
visits from the different corners of the room, and cut our bread or 
cake into dishes of beef, mutton, &c. What is all this for ? — a me- 
nace 1 Then it must be treated with contempt; a persuasive, or ar- 
gument 1 then / should treat it likewise. Against all self-created as- 
sociations, taking upon themselves the functions of government, I set 
my face ; and I should disregard the propositions of the convention, 
however reasonable or just, because of the manner in which they had 
been got up. Richardson and Gaines and Joe Wyatt are my politi- 
cal attorneys ; in fact, and by them only, I mean to be bound — one set 
is enough, and I am vain enough to believe that my opinion and wish- 
es are entitled to as much respect from the assembly (ceteris paribus) 
as that of any member of the Charlottesville convention. In truth 



310 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

we are a fussical and fudgical people. We do stand in need of " In- 
ternal Improvement" — beginning in our own bosoms, extending to 
our families and plantations, or whatever our occupation may be : and 
the man that stays at home and minds his business, is the one that is 
doing all that can be done (rebus existentibus) to mitigate the evils of 
the times. 

" Well, after all this expectoration, how is your cough ?" Steadily 
getting worse ; d'allieurs. I am better — I mean as to the alimentary 
canal. Why can't you and madam come and see me? We are burnt 
to a cinder ; although I had beautiful verdure this summer, until late 
in July. But if you could but see my colt Topaz, out of Ebony : my 
filly Sylph, out of Witch ; or my puppy Ebony, you would admit that 
the wonders of the world were ten, and these three of them. Adieu ! 

J. R of R. 

P. S. My frank being out, I subject you to double postage, to 
tell you that I clearly see in the C. C. a sort of tariffical log rolling 
between Ja. R. and the " mounting men," to tax the rest of the State 
and spend the money among themselves. I expect to live to see the 
upper end of Charlotte combine to oppress and plunder the lower 
end ; or vice versa. The cui bono Mr. Mercer can tell, so can such 
contractors as his friend J. G. Gr. &c. 

Did you read Mr. J.'s letter? I could not get through with it. 
Who does these things'? It is exhumation. 

Roanoke, Tuesday, September 30, 1828. 
My dear Friend — Your letter, which I received last night, was 
a complete surprise upon me. I had begun to think that I was 
never to hear from you again. I have been here five cheerless 
months. Two letters from you, and one from Barksdale, written 
early in May ! Did you get one from me in reply to your penul- 
timate, addressed to Philadelphia? Since my return home from 
W. I have not once slept out of my own bed ; neither have I 
eaten from any other man's board, except when carried to Char- 
lotte C. H. by business. With the exception of a few visitors. I 
have been solitary, or worse — being occasionally bored with company 
that I would have been glad to dispense with. There is a disease 
prevailing on Dan river, which they call the cold plague. It is very 
fatal and speedy ; the patient dying on the second or third day. In 
Virginia we have a moral cold plague, that has extinguished every 
social and kindly feeling. I do not believe that there ever existed a 
state of society — no, not even in Paris — so selfish and heartless as 
ours ; and then the pecuniary distress that stares you in the face, 
whichsoever way you turn ! The like has never been seen and felt 
in this country before. If I had the means of insuring a mutton 
cutlet and a bottle of wine in a foreign land, I would take shipping 
in the next packet. 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 311 

My good friend, my health is very bad. My disease is eating me 
away, and for the last month I have been sensible of a dejection of 
mind that I can't shake off. Perhaps some interchange of the cour- 
tesies and civilities of life might alleviate it; but these are unknown 

in this region. 

Roanoke, Tuesday, October 28. 1828. 

You are very good, but I cannot accept your kind invitation. I 
have lived here six solitary months in sickness and sorrow, until I 
find myself unfit for general converse with mankind. Mr. Barksdale 
presses me to go to How Branch, but I cannot. Sometimes, in a fit 
of sullen indignation, I almost resolve to abjure all intercourse with 
mankind ; but the yearnings of my heart after those whom I have 
loved, but who, in the eagerness of their own pursuits, seem to have 
cast me aside, tell me better. 

My good friend, I am sick, body and mind. I am without a sin- 
gle resource, except the workings of my own fancy. Fine as the 
weather is and has been all this month, I have not drawn a trigger. 
I often think of the visit you and madame made me three years ago 
just at this time. Although I never get a word from her, give her my 
best love. God bless you, may you never feel as I do. J. R. of R. 

Charlotte C. H., November 4, 1828. 

I got here to-day with some difficulty, and attempted to return 
home, but have been compelled to put back into port. Yesterday I 
was unable to attend. Indeed I have been much worse for the last 
five or six days. 

Vote of the county at 4 P. M., Tuesday — Jackson 270 ; Adams 57. 

The sun is more than an hour high, but I am obliged to go to 
bed. No letters from you for a long time. J. R. of R. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION — RETIREMENT FROM CONGRESS. 

General Jackson was elected, by a large majority, President of the 
United States. No man contributed more than Mr. Randolph to 
this result — none expected to profit less from the triumph of his 
cause. His sole object was to turn out men from office who had 
climbed up the wrong way, and whose principles were ruinous to the 
Constitution, and to the Union as a union of co-equal and indepen- 
dent States. Having accomplished this end, he had nothing more to 
desire. Whether the new men in office would fulfil his expectations 



312 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

remained to be seen One thing was certain, if they did not, they 
would find no support from him. The spoils of office had no charm 
to lull him into forgetfulness of his duty — the sop of Cerberus could 
not close his watchful eye, nor silence his warning voice. Principles, 
not men, were not empty sounds on his lips, but a rule of action from 
which he never deviated ; friend or foe alike shared his indignation 
whenever they betrayed a perverseness in their opinions, or a selfish- 
ness in their motives. His course was understood from the begin- 
ning. " The gentleman from Massachusetts warns us," says he, " that 
if the individual we now seek to elevate shall succeed, he will in his 
turn, become the object of public pursuit ; and that the same pack 
will be unkennelled at his heels, that have run his rival down. It 
may be so. I have no hesitation to say, that if his conduct shall 
deserve it, and I live, I shall be one of that pack ; because I main- 
tain the interests of stockholders against presidents, directors, and 
cashiers." 

After the election Mr. Randolph, as he had always done, kept 
aloof from political intrigues ; took no jxrsonal interest in the for- 
mation of the new cabinet ; nor did he open his mouth during the 
session of Congress that closed the day General Jackson was inau- 
gurated President of the United States. 

He had nothing more to do ; his work was finished. He an- 
nounced his intention not to be a candidate for re-election, and to bid 
adieu for ever to public life. It was certainly the last time he ever 
appeared on the floor of Congress. The question has often been 
asked, where are the monuments of his usefulness 1 what important 
measure did he ever advocate 1 The answer to this inquiry can only 
be found in contrasting the results of his labor with those of his 
great rival. Mr. Clay exerted all his great faculties and command- 
ing influence to build up his American system. Randolph labored 
with equal assiduity to prevent its being built up ; and after it was 
established, was unremitting in his exertions to tear it down. It has 
been torn down ; and none did more than he in the work of demoli- 
tion. One prop after another was taken from beneath this magnifi- 
cent structure, and it now lies a heap of ruins. The American sys- 
tem is a mouldering ruin — the very memory of it has grown obso- 
lete ; but the American people were never more prosperous, and the 
American Constitution was never more ardently cherished by their 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 313 

grateful hearts. The American system, whatever might have been 
the design of the great projector, worked only for the benefit of the 
presidents, directors, and cashiers ; the destruction of it has resulted 
to the infinite advantage of the stockholders. But this is a service 
the people do not appreciate — a negative virtue, in their estimation, 
for which there is no reward. He is more valued who invites them 
to a feast, than he who holds them from the poisoned chalice. We 
have labored, throughout the Life of Mr. Randolph, to show that there 
are principles of the Constitution behind all measures and all admin- 
istrations, of infinitely more importance than the temporary advan- 
tage that might be obtained by an infringement of them. These 
principles he studied with unremitting assiduity, and drew from them 
the golden rule that a statesman must abstain from much legislation, 
and leave every thing to the unrestrained energies of the people. He 
taught, as the soundest maxim of philosophy, not only in the practice 
of the medical art, but of political science, a ivise and masterly in- 
activity. 

But these lessons of wisdom have fallen like seed by the way- 
side, and many are tempted to ask. Where are the fruits of the long 
life and labors of this man? If the doctrine of State-rights, en- 
grafted on the Constitution by George Mason, and expounded by 
Jefferson and by Madison, be an essential element in our federative 
system, then what a debt of gratitude do we owe to John Randolph, 
who ever defended those principles through evil as well as through good 
report ; never swerved from their practice ; and finally, when the cen- 
tripetal tendencies of the present administration were rapidly hasten- 
ing their destruction, rescued them from ruin, and gave the federa- 
tive system a new impulse, which we trust will restore it to its origi- 
nal balance, and a just and harmonious action. 

The people are beginning to awake from their delusions. When 
they shall fully perceive and understand the fact that ail those bril- 
liant schemes that so much dazzled their fancy and made such potent 
appeals to their interests, were not only calculated to corrupt, oppress, 
and bankrupt the community, but to sweep away all the landmarks 
and barriers that stood in the way of lawless power, then will \kiQ 
name of John Randolph, whose prophetic voice had warned them of 
these consequences, be fondly cherished by them, and handed down 

VOL. II. 14 



314 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

from generation to generation as one of the greatest benefactors a 
kind Providence had vouchsafed to their country. 

The following letters were written by Mr. Randolph to his friend, 
Dr. Brockenbrough, during the session of Congress : 

Washington, Nov. 29, 1828. 

My good friend — Your kind letter reached me yesterday, but too 
late to thank you for it by return mail. At Fredericksburg I re- 
ceived such representations of the Dumfries road, as to induce me to 
take the steamboat. As there was only one other passenger, the 
cabin was quite comfortable. The boat is a new one, and a very fine 
one, and always gets up to the wharf. Her deck is roofed. We got 
here at two o'clock, but I lay until eight. Found Dr. Hall (N. C) 
here (at Dawson's), and this morning Colonel Benton and Mr. Gilmer 
have arrived. 

My cough is very much worse, and the pain in my breast and side 
increased a good deal. God bless you both. Pray write as often as 
you conveniently can. Yours, ever. J. B. of B. 

Dr. Bli.OCKENHPv.OUGH. 

Washington, Dec. 7, 1828. 
You have no doubt heard that Mr. A. does not return to Quincy. 
On (lit, that a very ungracious reception awaits him in Boston. A 
great deal has been said of the " philosophy" with which he bears his 
defeat, but a friend of mine, who saw him yesterday, tells me that he 
is emaciated to a great degree, and looks ten years older than he did 
last winter ; that his features are sunken, and his coat, although but- 
toned, hanging about him like a man's coat upon a boy. In short, 
said my informant, your epithets "lank and lean," applied to the ad- 
ministration, were forcibly recalled to my mind by the personal ap- 
pearance of the P. Clay, too, he added, endeavors to put a good 
face on the matter ; but after working himself up into one of these 
humors, the collapse is dreadful. Such are the rewards of ambition. 

"Ambition thus shall tempt to rise, 
Then whirl the wretch on high, 
To hitter scorn a sacrifice, 
And grinning infamy." 

You see I have nothing to write, when I send you stale poetry. My 
duty and love to Madame, and kind and respectful remembrance to 
Mr. Wickham. Yours, ever. J. B. of B. 

Washington, Dec. 11, 1828; Wednesday. 
Your letter shows on the face of it how much you are straitened 
for time. I wish I could spare you some of mine, that hangs 
heavy on my hands. In addition to my other annoyances, I am la- 
boring under a severe influenza, and might sit for the picture of a 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 315 

weeping philosopher, although I have as few claims to philosophy 
as Mr. J. Q. A. himself. He rides or walks around the square in 
front of the Capitol, every day. I have not seen him, but Hall tells 
me that he does very often, and that the sight makes him feel very 
queerly. " He looks," says Hall, " as if he did not know me, and I 
look as if I did not know him." His appearance is wretched. An 
acquaintance of mine called on him a few days ago ; he was much 
dejected, until some one made an allusion to Giles, when, in great 
wrath, he pronounced Gr.'s statements respecting him to be utterly 
false : said Gr.'s memory was inventive, &c. ; and, on the whole, con- 
ducted himself very undignifiedly. 

Washington. Dec. 17, 1828. 

Your letter, although dated four days ago, did not come to hand 
until this morning. It needed no excuse, for I am, now-a-day, glad to 
get a letter from you on any terms. 

Yesterday I dined with our old acquaintance, Dennis A. Smith, 
at Gadsbys. He spoke with great interest and regard of you. He 
introduced me to a Dr. McAulay, who has married a lady of fortune, 
in Baltimore. He was formerly of Virginia, and I conjecture, a son 
of McAulay, of York. I am glad that you are pleased with your 
adopted daughter. I pray that she may realize your fondest ex- 
pectations. I have long since done with forming any. If my ' ; body" 
and " estate" would permit, my " mind" is bent on spending the rest 
of my life in travelling — not in search of happiness ; that, I know, is 
not to be found — but of variety, which may be found ; and in which 
I consider the chief pleasure of life to consist. Habit, I know, can 
reconcile the gin-horse to his lot ; but I never could have made a gin- 
horse. 

This place is exceedingly dull. As no purpose can now be an- 
swered, by giving entertainments, none are made. I am nearly as 
much alone as I was at Roanoke : and. with the exception of the daily 
mails, I am full as much at a loss for resources to break the monotony 
of the day ; each day being, with the exception of the weather, ex- 
actly alike. If there be any news, I am in the dark. I only hear 
that some ladies of the heads of departments have, for the first time 
during the present reign, condescended to visit ladies of M C, who 
have passed several winters here, unnoticed by those grand dignita- 
ries. This was told me by my friend Benton, who sometimes knocks 
at my door, and sits a few minutes with me — but for whom, I should 
be utterly ignorant of what's going on. 

As to G.'s '-religion," I shall be sorry to pass upon it or him. 
My quondam neighbor. Peter J., has, I am certain, mistaken his 
wants, whatever may be the lady's case. My niece is now in Rich- 
mond, attending the wedding of some female friend. She is an 
admirable creature, susceptible of high and generous sentiments; but 



31(3 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

I have a most pitiful opinion of the friendship of girls generally , 
marriage is a touch-stone that few of them can bear. Indeed, it is 
too much the case with our sex, also. By this time you must be tired 
of my prosing. Let me hear from you, when you can find leisure to 
write. Yours truly, J. 11. of R. 

Washington, Dec. 22, 1828. 

After a dreadful night, I am greeted by your letter of Saturday. 
I am truly concerned to hear of Mrs. B.'s afflicting indisposition. In 
this climate, as we advance in life, that disorder becomes more com- 
mon and more formidable. Make my best respects to her. 

My good friend, few persons of my age, have thought more on the 
subject of government, and my situation for the last forty years has 
been highly favorable for watching the operations of our own. The 
conclusions that I have come to, do not very widely differ from your 
own ; they are any thing but cheering. What you say upon the au- 
thority of Mr. Short, of the condition of " a solitary itinerant," I know 
by some thousands of miles' experience, to be true ; but bad as it is, 
it is better, far better, than the life I lead here or at home. 

Mr. J. is again in the newspapers. I think this course very ill- 
advised ; but perhaps I am wrong, and do not take into consideration 
the very low state into which our society has fallen. 

The influenza has left my eyes weak and inflamed ; but if there 
was any thing worth communicating, I would tax them to give it to 
you. I hear nothing and see nobody. I cannot work myself up to 
take any interest in what is going on, or said to be going on. 

There is not, at this time, on the face of the earth, one spot where 
a man of sense, attached to the principles of free government, would 
wish to live. Governments have poisoned every thing. 

Farewell ! I can truly repeat after you, " Whether at home or 
abroad," God bless you. J. R. of R. 

January 6, 1829. 

Mr. Bell, of the House of Representatives, from Tennessee, has 
received a letter from Nashville, informing him that Mrs. Jackson 
died on the 23d December ; the day for the dinner and ball to Gen. J. 

While awaiting his arrival at the festival, a messenger brought 
the news of Mrs. Jackson's death. 

I shall probably not be in the Convention. I am sick of public 
affairs and public men, and have no opinions of constitutions ready 
made or made to order. 

If it would do any good, I would wish most heartily that your 
connection with the B. of V. was dissolved. You have been a slave 
to that company ; and after wearing yourself down, and devoting to 
it time and abilities and acquirements more than enough to amass an 
independent fortune (otherwise applied), where is your reward ? I 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 317 

tell you plainly and fairly that, in public opinion, a banking-house is 
a house of ill fame, and that all connection with it is discreditable. 
This, whether just or not, is the general sentiment of the country. 

My sufferings, for the last three days -especially, have been such 
that if it were lawful I would pray for death. 

You are sadly misinformed as to the ' ; heroism of our men in 
office here." Their affectation, like all other affectation, defeats its 
object. Mrs. A., who has been fuming and fretting all the year past, 
and who went to bed sick upon the catastrophe being announced, now 
•• is glad that she is no longer the keeper of a great national hotel." 
Mr. A. is quite rejoiced, and Mr. Clay delighted at the result. A 
keen and close observer tells me that C. is, on the contrary, down, 
down, down : that he cannot support himself ; that he sinks under 
the effort to bear up against his defeat. 

Washington, January 12, 1829; Monday. 

My dear Doctor — It won't do for a man, who wishes to indulge 
in dreams of human dignity and worth, to pass thirty years in public 
life. Although I do believe that we are the meanest people in the 
world, I speak of this "court" and its retainers and followers. I am 
super-saturated with the world, as it calls itself, and have now but 
one object, which I shall keep steadily in view, and perhaps some 
turn of the dice may enable me to obtain it: it is, to convert my pro- 
perty into money, which will enable me to live, or rather to die, 
where I please ; or rather where it may please God. 

As to State politics I do not wish to speak about them. The coun- 
try is ruined past redemption : it is ruined in the spirit and character 
of the people. The standard of merit and morals has been lowered 
far below "proof" There is an abjectness of spirit that appals and 
disgusts me. Where now could we find leaders of a revolution 1 
The whole South will precipitate itself upon Louisiana and the adjoin- 
ing deserts. Hares will hirdle in the Capitol. " Sauve qui peut" is 
my maxim. Congress will liberate our slaves in less than twenty 

years. Adieu. 

Friday, February 6, 1829. _ 
" This," you will say, " is nothing to you." You know better ; it 
is a great deal to me, and I sit up in bed to tell you that when you 
wrote that you did know better. My dear friend, I can hardly write 
or breathe. I was attacked last Monday about noon. I am now 
better ; that is, not in extremity. My best love and duty to madame. 
The itch to know and attach one's self to the great is an inherent 
vice of our nature. Have you seen Lockhart's Life of Burns? 
Adieu for the present. 

Washington, February 9, 1829 ; Monday. 
- My good Friend — I scratched a few lines to you on Thursday 
(I think) or Friday, while lying in my bed. I am now out of it, and 



3ly LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

somewhat better ; but I still feel the barb rankling in my side Whe- 
ther, or not, it be owing to the debility brought on by disease, 1 can't 
contemplate the present and future condition of my country without 
dismay and utter hopelessness. I trust that I am not one of those 
who (as was said of a certain great man) are always of the opinion of 
the book last read. But I met with a passage in a Review (Edin- 
burgh) of the works and life of Machiavelli that strikes me with great 
force as applicable to the whole country south of Potapsco : " It is 
difficult to conceive any situation more painful than that of a great 
man condemned to watch the lingering agony of an exhausted coun- 
try, to tend it during the alternate fits of stupefaction aud raving which 
precede its dissolution, to see the symptoms of its vitality disappear 
one by one, till nothing is left but coldness, darkness, and corrup- 
tion." 

You see that whatever temporary amendment there may be in 
my health, there is none in my spirits. On the contrary, they were 
never worse. It is not, I assure you, for the want of such feeble ef- 
fort as I can make against the foul fiend. 

The operation of this present Government, like a debt at usuri- 
ous interest, must destroy the whole South. It eats like a canker 
into our very core. South Carolina must become bankrupt and de- 
populated. She is now shut out of the English market for her rice, 
with all the premium of dearth in Europe. I am too old to move, 
or the end of this year should not find me a resident of Virginia, 
against whose misgovern men 1 1 have full as great cause of complaint as 
against that of the U. S. It has been one mass of job and abuse — 
schools, literary funds, internal improvements, Charlottesville con- 
ventions, and their spawn. I have as great horror of borrowing as 
you have ; but a friend having made the offer of some money, on 
good security, I think 1 shall take up some on mortgage, and make 
one more trial for life. If you lived in the country, I would come 
and stay with you ; but when I go to see you, you make dinners, and 
put yourself out of the way, and to unnecessary expenses, which I 
don't like to be the occasion of. 

The snow is all gone, and the sun is seen once more. God bless 
you both. 

Thursday, February 12, 1829. 

My good FraEND — Your letter of Monday came to hand yester- 
day, after I had written, and too late to thank you for it. Tom Mil- 
ler writes this morning that the convention bill has passed, and that 
my friends expect me to be a candidate for a seat in that body. If 
any one can and will devise a plan by which abler and better men 
shall be necessarily brought into our councils, I will hail him as my 
Magnus Apollo ! But as I have no faith in any such scheme, and a 
thorough detestation and contempt for political metaphysics, and for 



PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. 319 

an arithmetical and geometrical constitution, I shall wash my hands 
of all such business. The rest of my life, if not passed in peace, shall 
not be spent in legislative wrangling. I am determined, absolutely, 
not to expose myself to collision where victory could confer no honor. 
No, my dear friend, let political and religious fanatics rave about 
their dogmas, while the country is going to ruin under the one. and 
the others are daily becoming worse members of society. " I'll none 
of it." " By their fruits shall ye know them." 

P. S. By the time you receive this, you will have seen the Boston 
correspondence of Mr. Adams. The reply is, I'm told, by Mr Jack- 
son. Meanness is the key-word that deciphers every thing in Mr. 
Adams' character. 

Saturday, February 14 1829. 
My Dear Friend — Your opinions concerning the operation of 
this incubus, miscalled Government. I confess surprise me. I have 
made every allowance for the dearness of slave labor, and the mon- 
strous absurdities of our own State legislation. But I cannot shut 
my eyes to the fact, that a community that is forbidden to buy, can- 
not sell. " The whole southern country will buy less, and make their 
own clothing, without making smaller crops." Cut bono this last 
operation, except to wear out their lands and slaves gratuitously ? It 
is this very " buying less." that lies at the root of our mischief. If 
we bought more, we would sell more in proportion, and become rich 
by the transaction. To pursue a Chinese policy, which we did not 
want, this Government, by cutting us off from our best customer, 
England, inflicts a dead loss of 815.000,000 this very year on one 
southern State alone (South Carolina) ; as returns cannot be made in 
her commodities, England, in time of dearth, refuses to receive her 
rice. Formerly she would not eat India rice. In like manner, she 
will soon become independent of us for her supply of cotton. She is 
also planting tobacco ; so that the conflagration of the factories, at 
which I heartily rejoice, will take from us the mite received for their 
consumption. Again, all the expenditure of this machine of ours is 
made (Norfolk and Point Comfort excepted) north of the Chesapeake. 
All of the dividends of the debt of the bank are received there. No 
country can withstand such oppression and such a drain. 

As to W. H., I should not pay the slightest regard to any thing 
that he can say. I am well acquainted with the West Indies, and I 
have been told by some of the principal proprietors, that with all 
their heavy charges for provisions, lumber, mules. &c, from which 
Louisiana is exempt, the sugar crop is clear of all expenses ; these 
being defrayed by the molasses and rum. Moreover, you are to con- 
sider that the "West Indies suffer under grievous commercial restric- 
tions, and that Wilberforce and Co. have very much impaired the 
value of their slaves. (The same thing is at work here.) Nevertheless, 



320 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

I was assured, by the most intelligent and opulent of the " West India 
Body," that the mortgages and embarrassments of Jamaica, &c, grew 
chiefly out of the proprietors residing in England, and trusting to 
agents ; sometimes to colonial ostentation and extravagance ; but that 
there was scarcely an instance of a judicious and active planter per- 
sonally superintending his affairs, who did not amass a fortune in a 
very few years. 

England was our best customer, because we were her best cus- 
to • ers. This is the law of trade, and the basis of wealth ; instead of 
which, we have the exploded " mercantile system," as it was ridicu- 
lously called, revived and fastened, like the Old Man of the Sea, 
around our necks. 

Monday, February 16, 1829. 

I abstained saying any thing about the convention, seeing no 
cause to change my first impression on that subject. I once told you 
that every man was of some importance to himself. I found out this 
too late — after I had poured myself out like water for others. From 
my earliest childhood, I have been toiling and wearing my heart out 
for other people, who took all I could do and suffer for them as no 
more than their just dues. My dear friend, I am super-saturated 
with disgust My bodily infirmities do not contribute to relieve the 
feeling ; and if I mix in affairs, I must be content to be set aside, 
with contemptuous pity, for a testy, obstinate old fool. To this I do 
not mean to subject myself. " Let the dead bury their dead." I 
shall not dig or throw one shovel full of earth. Adieu ! 

Thursday, February 19, 1829. 
Your letter of Tuesday (17) is just received. I did not "mistake 
you very much," for I did not attribute to you opinions favoi-able to 
the tariff. The causes of disparity between the East and South, are 
to be found, among other things, in the former charging and being 
paid for every militia man in the field during the Revolutionary war, 
and for every bundle of hay and peck of oats furnished for public 
service ; in the buying up the certificates of debt for a song, and 
funding them in the banks ; in the bounty upon their navigation, 
and the monopoly of trade which the European wars gave them. If 
the militia services, losses, and supplies of the Carolinas had been 
brought into account, all New England would not have sold for as 
much as would have paid them. Iu regard to the West Indies, the 
great law of culture prevails — that the worst soils hardly reproduce 
the expense of cultivation. If even in Georgia, where the cane does 
not yield one-half the strength of syrup, sugar can be made to profit, 
what must be the yield of the rich, fresh lands of Jamaica, St. Kitts, 
or Juvinau 1 The syrup of New Orleans is, by the proof, 8 — of the 
West Indies, 16. 



ELECTED TO THE CONVENTION. 321 

I have not seen the picture. No steamboat can, I am persuaded, 
approach within fifty miles of this place. 

From what I hear, public expectation will be much disappointed 
in regard to the composition and character of the new cabinet. This 
is for you alone. " As you have done with political economies," so 
am I with politics, and politicians too. I went yesterday to vote, in- 
effectually, against "the Gate Bill." I shall be agreeably disap- 
pointed if it does not pass the Senate. 

Monday morning, February 23, 1829. 

My Good Friend — I don't know why I write to you, unless it 
be to assuage or divert the chagrin by which I am devoured. I have 
never witnessed so complete a discomfiture as is expressed in the 
faces of such of my friends as I see, and they tell me that there is 
not one exception among the eminent men who lately acted together. 
The countenances of the adverse party beam with triumph, as might 
be expected. 

I am making my arrangements to get away, and yet, I am better 
off here than I shall probably ever be again. I have a comfortable 
apartment and receive the most kind attentions from all the gentle- 
men under this roof, particularly Major Hamilton, Col. Benton and 
D. Hall. I shall never again know the comforts of society. The 
Ch. Justice was good enough to sit an hour with me yesterday ; and 
I had afterwards a visit from Mr. Quincy, my old fellow-laborer. 
He said that if Gen. J. had called to his councils high men, the East 
would be satisfied. He then asked who the present men were 1 add- 
ing, " They say that this is C 's arrangement." It continues to 

be intensely cold. Have I lost ground in Madame's good graces ? 
I shall be sorely mortified if it be so. 

Thursday morning, Feb. 26, 1829. 
My dear friend, I've been thinking of you all night, awake or 
asleep, and to-morrow, I hope to hear from you. You will see a most 
extraordinary announcement in this day's Telegraph. I am credibly 
informed by my friend H., that the V. P. is as much astounded by 
these results as any body, and is as indignant. This is most private 
and particular. Every body shocked, except Clay and Co. Stran- 
gers partake of these feelings. — My highest regards to Madame. 



CHAPTEK XXXIX 



ELECTED TO THE CONVENTION. 



On his retirement from Congress, Mr. Randolph hoped to disconnect 
himself from public affairs, and to spend the remainder of his days 
VOL. II. 14* 



322 LIFE 0F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

in travelling abroad. But his old constituents were not so willing to 
give up his services. They had lost him for ever on the floor of Con- 
gress, but they now wished him to represent them on another theatre. 
The people of Virginia had determined on a convention to amend the 
Constitution of the State. Mr. Randolph was called to serve them 
in that body. 

The reader will perceive, from the following letters, addressed to 
Dr. Brockenbrough, that he was nominated as a candidate without his 
knowledge, and greatly against his wishes. He was much embarrassed 
by this procedure, but at length consented to the sacrifice, that he 
might save the feelings of one friend and aid in the election of another 
who was a candidate also for the convention. 

The letters were written before the election. He was returned 
of course as a member of the convention, and took his seat in that 
body when it assembled, on the first Monday of October, in the Hall 
of Representatives, in the capitol at Richmond. 

Roanoke, Tuesday, April 21, 1829. 

To my friend Wm. Leigh, who called at the P. 0. yesterday after 
the stage had left it, I am indebted for your kind letter of the 15th. 
He was riding post haste from P. Edward election to Halifax Superior 
Court, for which place he set out this morning by day-light. Such is 
the life of those who are at the head of the liberal professions in 
this country. 

Whilst I was expressing to him my surprise at that passage of 
your letter which referred to my having consented to serve in the 
convention, if elected ; he told me, to my utter astonishment, that a 
proclamation to that effect had been made at the last Charlotte Court, 
and by a staunch friend of mine too, and a man of honor and truth. 
Now, I have held but one language on this subject from first to last, 
and you know what that is. To you, to B., W., L., and others, in wri- 
ting and orally, I have explicitly avowed my determination to have 
nothing to do with this matter. The more I have reflected on my 
retirement from public life, the better satisfied I am of the propriety 
and wisdom of the step. Before I take any in reference to this last 
matter, I shall see the gentleman who made the declaration in my 
behalf. He will be here about the last of this week. 

My dear friend, we shall not " meet in October." I am anchored 
for life. My disease every day assumes a more aggravated character. 
I have been obliged to renounce wine altogether. Coffee is my only 
cheerer. A high fever every night, which goes off about day break 
with a collicpiative sweat ; violent pain in the side and breast ; inces- 
sant cough, — with all my tenacity of life this can't hold long. I have 



ELECTED TO THE CONVENTION. 323 

rode once or twice a mile or two, but it exhausts me. The last three 
days have been warm, but last night we had a storm, and it was cold 
again. Luckily I have no appetite, for I have hardlj T any thing to eat 
except asparagus, which is very fiue and nice. I tried spinach a la 
Frangaise, but it disagrees with me. You see that, like Dogberry. ■• I 
bestow all my tediousness upon you." You know my maxim, " that 
every man is of great consequence to himself." The trees are bud- 
ding and the forest begins to look gay, but when I cast my eyes upon 
the blossoms, the sad lines of poor Michael Bruce recur to my mem- 
ory:— 

" Now Spring returns, but not to me returns 
The vernal joy my better years have known ; 
Dim in my breast, life's dying taper burns, 
And all the joys of life with health are flown." 

Remove Mr. Manvy ! You amaze me. What, the friend and 
school-fellow and class-mate of Jefferson, the first appointment to that 
consulate by Washington ! Pray, what is the matter ? And who is 
to be the successor ? 

Roanoke, Tuesday, April 28, 1829. 
My Dear Friend — You and I, if I mistake not, have long ago 
agreed that there is no such thing as free agency. I am at this mo- 
ment a striking example of the fact. In short, to save the feelings 
of a man of as much truth and honor as breathes, who believed him- 
self to be doing right, and to avoid injuring certain friends and 
interests, which the withdrawal of my name would, it seems, occasion, 
I am fain even to let it stand, at the risk of incurring the imputation 
of fickleness (for the world will never know the true version), and at 
what I shrink from with unutterable disgust, the prospect of again 
becoming a member of a deliberative, i. e. spouting assembly. 

Roanoke, Friday, May 22, 1829. 

My Dear Friend — It is a long while since I heard from you, and 
I am in a condition that requires all the aid my friends can give. If I 
could have been permitted to remain in the privacy I thought I had 
found, my life might have been prolonged some months — possibly 
years : but the kindness of my friends has destroyed me. I have 
been in a manner, forced upon exertions to which my strength was 
utterly unequal, and at an expense of suffering, both body and mind, 
of which none but the unhappy victim can have a conception. I 
have not been so ill since this month last year. 

As I have not the least prospect of attending Halifax election, I 
count upon being left out, a result which I by no means deprecate ; 
having already attained the only two objects that I had at heart, and 
which prevented my withdrawing my name in the out set — the saving 
the feelings of one friend, who had " declared me," and promoting the 



324 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

election of another (W. L). I am an entire stranger in Halifax, and 
personal courtship is as necessary to success in Politics as in Love 
They have four candidates of their own. 

To be killed by kindness is, to be sure, better than to be murdered, 
and it is some consolation to know that you have done service to one 
friend, and gratified many : but I have been most keenly sensible of 
the cruelty of which I could not complain. 

My kindest regards to Mrs. B. and to Mr. Wickham when you see 
him. Your much afflicted but sincere friend. 



CHAPTER XL. 

THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION — EVERY CHANGE IS NOT REFORM. 

No body of men that ever assembled in Virginia, created more interest 
than this convention. The State had been agitated for many years, 
on the subject of constitutional reform. Most of the slave property, 
and other wealth, were in the eastern section, extending from the Alle- 
gany to the sea shore, while a large free population were scattered over 
the western section, among the mountains. These people were almost 
unanimous in favor of an amendment of the Constitution, fixing the 
basis of representation on free white population. The result of such 
a measure, would be to change the balance of power, by giving the 
right of taxation to one portion, while the property to be taxed, for 
the most part, belonged to another portion of the Commonwealth ; 
thus divorcing taxation and representation, which, according to Ameri- 
can doctrine, should be inseparable. The eastern counties, who were 
to be the sufferers, strenuously opposed so radical a change in the fun- 
damental law. It was not a mere question of reform, that might af- 
fect all parts alike, but it was one of power between two sections of 
the State, essentially different in feelings, habits, and interests ; it 
was a question, too, that deeply involved that most difficult and deli- 
cate of all subjects, the right of slave representation. For these rea- 
sons a deep and absorbing interest was felt in the deliberations of 
the convention now assembled in the capitol, at Richmond. Each 
section put forth its strength. The ablest men were selected, without 



THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION. 325 

regard to locality. Gentlemen living in the lower part of the State, 
were elected by districts beyond the mountains, because of their coin- 
cidence of opinion with their distant constituents. 

Perhaps no assembly of men ever convened in Virginia, display- 
ing a larger amount of genius and talent — certainly none that con 
tained a greater number of individuals whose reputation had extended 
beyond the borders of the State, and reached the farthest limits of 
the Union. There were many of less renown, who, in after years, ac- 
quired equal eminence in their professional and political career. In- 
deed, of the one hundred men that composed that Convention, much 
the larger portion were above the ordinary standard of talents, expe- 
rience, and weight of character. The Editor of the " Proceedings and 
Debates" of the Convention, says, " that an assembly of men was 
drawn together, which has scarcely ever been surpassed in the United 
States." 

What strange groups, and awkward meetings, took place on that 
occasion ! Madison and Marshall side by side, in the same delibera- 
tive body ! Giles and Monroe ! Randolph, Tazewell, Garnett, Leigh, 
Johnson, Taylor, Mercer ! Old Federalists, old Democrats. Tertium 
Quids, and modern National Republicans ! What a crowd of recol- 
lections must have pressed on the mind of John Randolph, as he cast 
an eye around that assembly. For thirty years he had been on the 
political stage ; for full one-third of that time, the whole of the politi- 
cal press, and two administrations — State and Federal, made war 
upon him ! He was like an Ishmaelite ; his hand against every man, 
and every man's hand against him. Then a friend was a friend indeed ! 
and an enemy was one to be remembered ! Now, behold around him 
so many that were friends, so many that were enemies, and so many 
who, pretending to be friends, in his hour of need betrayed him ! 

Randolph's manner and bearing, on this extraordinary occasion, 
was in some respects peculiar, even for him ; but before the Conven- 
tion adjourned, his bland and conciliatory course exalted him in the 
estimation of the country, and gratified his devoted friends, even be- 
yond their most sanguine expectations. 

The first thing done in the Convention, was to divide out to com- 
mittees different parts of the Constitution, for revision. The most 
important was the Legislative Committee, to whom was assigned the 
duty of revising the "Right of Suffrage," the basis of representation. 



326 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

Randolph was a member of this committee. Mr. Madison was chair- 
man. In the committee room (Senate chamber) he took his seat at 
the head of a long table, and the members arranged themselves pro- 
miscuously along down the sides. Mr. Randolph, on the contrary, 
took his seat at some distance, in a corner, where he could observe 
every thing and every body that was passing. Erect in his seat, and 
his arms folded across his breast, he sat almost motionless, while his 
keen eye might be observed watching like a cat. Now and then his 
shrill voice, as if coming from some unseen being, would startle those 
in the room, and the crowd around would press forward to see from 
what quarter so startling a sound had emanated. 

Of all the men assembled there on that great occasion, he was 
certainly the observed of all observers. The multitude were soon sa- 
tisfied with seeing Madison, Marshall, Monroe, and other distinguish- 
ed men, but no gratification could abate their desire to watch every 
movement, and to catch every word that fell from the lips of John 
Randolph. They crowded around him whenever he emerged from 
the capitol ; through the throng of eager admirers he passed, hat in 
hand, with an ease, and grace, and dignity of manner, that struck 
every beholder with admiration. 

Few men escaped with the reputation they brought into that 
assembly. They found that professional attainments, however ex- 
tensive, or political studies confined to the measures or the politics 
of the day, did not qualify them to discuss those great principles 
which lie at the foundation of all government. Quite other habits 
of thought than the professional, and a far different training were ne- 
cessary for the discussion of those questions that involved all the in- 
terests of man, past, present, and to come. That, however, was the 
field for John Randolph to display, in a pre-eminent degree, his com- 
manding genius. His profound knowledge of men, of history, of 
government ; the causes of the growth and decay of nations ; his 
patient attention and wonderful faculty of winnowing the chaff, and 
collecting together the substantial grains of a protracted debate ; his 
concentrated, pointed, and forcible expressions, making bare in a few 
words the whole of a complicated subject ; and his vast experience in 
parliamentary proceedings, gave him an unexpected and controlling 
influence over the proceedings of the Convention. 

He watched those proceedings with unremitted attention, partook 



THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION. 327 

largely in the debates, and before the close of the Convention, was 
the acknowledged leader of a powerful party, embracing the most dis- 
tinguished men. who opposed all changes in the old Constitution, 
and actually prevented many that were contemplated by the reform- 
ers, and who, when they first assembled, supposed themselves in a de- 
cided majority. Mr. Randolph's speeches, with one exception (and 
that did not exceed two hours), were generally short, but to the pur- 
pose. They were well reported by Mr. Stansberry, the best steno- 
grapher of his time, and some of them are very fair specimens of his 
peculiar style. 

The cardinal rule that governed his whole political life may be 
found in the following short speech : 

'• Mr. Randolph said, he should vote against the amendment, and 
that on a principle which he had learned before he came into public 
life ; and by which he had been governed during the whole course of 
that life — that it was always unwise, yes, highly unwise, to disturb a 
thing that was at rest. This was a great cardinal principle, that 
should govern all statesmen — never, without the strongest necessity, 
to disturb that which was at rest. He should vote against the amend- 
ment on another, and an inferior consideration. Whatever opinion 
might have been expressed as to a multitude of counsellors, there was 
but one among considerate men as to a multiplicity of laws. The 
objection urged by the gentleman from Richmond, over the way (Mr. 
Nicholas), to the existing clause, was precisely one of the strongest 
motives with him for preferring the amendment. I am much opposed, 
said Mr. R., except in a great emergency — and then the legislative ma- 
chine is always sure to work with sufficient rapidity — the steam is 
then up — I am much opposed to this ' dispatch of business ' The 
principles of free government in this country (and if they fail, if 
they should be cast away, here, they are lost for ever, I fear, to the 
world), have more to fear from over legislation than from any other 
cause. Yes, sir, they have more to fear from armies of legislators, 
and armies of judges, than from any other, or from all other causes. 
Besides the great manufactory at Washington, we have twenty-four 
laboratories more at work, all making laws. In Virginia, we have 
now two in operation — one engaged in ordinary legislation, and ano- 
ther hammering at the fundamental law. Among all these lawyers, 
judges, and legislators ; there is a great oppression on the people, 
who ai-e neither lawyers, judges, nor legislators, nor ever expect to be ; 
an oppression barely more tolerable than any which is felt under the 
European governments. Sir, I never can forget, that in the great 
and good Book to which I look for all truth and all wisdom, the Book 
of Kings succeeds the Book of Judges." 



328 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

On a proposition being made to ingraft in the new Constitution 
a mode in which future amendments shall be made therein, Mr. Ran- 
dolph addressed the Convention: 

" Mr. President, I shall vote against this resolution : and I will 
state as succinctly as I can, my reasons for doing so. I believe that 
they will, in substance, be found in a very old book, and conveyed in 
these words : ' Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof Sir, I have 
remarked since the commencement of our deliberations, and with 
no small surprise, a very great anxiety to provide iov futurity. Gen- 
tlemen, for example, are not content with any present discussion of 
the Constitution, unless we will consent to prescribe for all time here- 
after. I had always thought him the most skilful physician, who, 
when called to a patient, relieved him of the existing malady, with- 
out undertaking to prescribe for such as he might by possibility en- 
dure thereafter. 

Sir, what is the amount of this provision 2 It is either mischiev- 
ous, or it is nugatory. I do not know a greater calamity that can 
happen to any nation than having the foundations of its government 
unsettled. 

Doctor Franklin, who, in shrewdness, especially in all that 
related to domestic life, was never excelled, used to say that two 
movings were ecpial to one fire. And gentlemen, as if they were 
afraid that this besetting sin of republican governments, this rerum 
novarum lubido (to us a very homely phrase, but one that comes pat 
to the purpose), this maggot of innovation, would cease to bite, are 
here gravely making provision that this Constitution, which we should 
consider as a remedy for all the ills of the body politic, may itself be 
amended or modified at any future time. Sir, I am against any such 
provision. I should as soon think of introducing into a marriage con- 
tract a provision for divorce, and thus poisoning the greatest blessing 
of mankind at its very source — at its fountain head. He has seen 
little, and has reflected less, who does not know that " necessity" is 
the great, powerful, governing principle of affairs here. Sir, I am 
not going into that question, which puzzled Pandemonium — the cpies- 
tion of liberty and necessity : 

" Free will, fixed fate, foreknowledge absolute ;" 

but I do contend that necessity is one principal instrument of all the 
good that man enjoys. The happiness of the connubial union itself 
depends greatly on necessity ; and when you touch this, you touch 
the arch, the key-stone of the arch, on which the happiness and well- 
being of society is founded. Look at the relation of master and 
slave (that opprobrium, in the opinion of some gentlemen, to all 
civilized society and all free government). Sir, there are few situa- 
tions in life where friendships so strong and so lasting are formed, 



THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION. 329 

as in that very relation. The slave knows that he is bound indisso- 

J 

lubly to his master, and must, from necessity, remain always under 
his control. The master knows that he is bound to maintain and 
provide for his slave so long as he retains him in his possession. And 
each party accommodates himself to his situation. I have seen the 
dissolution of many friendships — such, at least, as were so called : 
but I have seen that of master and slave endure so long as there re- 
mained a drop of the blood of the master to which the slave could 
cleave. Where is the necessity of this provision in the Constitution ? 
Where is the use of it ? Sir, what are we about ? Have we not been 
undoing what the wiser heads — I must be permitted to say so — yes, 
sir, what the wiser heads of our ancestors did more than half a cen- 
tury ago ? Can any one believe that we, by any amendments of ours, 
by any of our scribbling on that parchment, by any amulet, any legerde- 
main — charm — Abrecadabra — of ours can prevent our sons from doing 
the same thing — that is, from doing as they please, just as we are 
doing as we please? It is impossible. Who can bind posterity? 
When I hear of gentlemen talk of making a Constitution for •■ all 
time," and introducing provisions into it for " all time," and yet see 
men here that are older than the Constitution we are about to destroy — 
(I am older myself than the present Constitution — it was established 
when I was boy) — it reminds me of the truces and the peaces of 
Europe. They always begin : ' ; In the name of the most holy and 
undivided Trinity," and go on to declare, " there shall be perfect and 
perpetual peace and unity between the subjects of such and such po- 
tentates for all time to come ;" and in less than seven years they are 
at war again. 

Sir, I am not a prophet nor a seer ; but I will venture to predict 
that your new Constitution, if it shall be adopted, does not last twenty 
years. And so confident am I in this opinion, that if it were a pro- 
per subject for betting, and I was a sporting character, I believe I 
would take ten against it. It would seem as if we were endeavoring 
(God forbid that I should insinuate that such was the intention of 
any here) — as if we were endeavoring to corrupt the people at the 
fountain head. Sir, the great opprobrium of popular government is 
its instability. It was this which made the people of our Anglo- 
Saxon stock cling with such pertinacity to an independent judiciary, 
as the only means they could find to resist this vice of popular govern- 
ments. By such a provision as this, we are now inviting, and in a 
manner prompting, the people to be dissatisfied with their govern- 
ment. Sir, there is no need of this. Dissatisfaction will come soon 
enough. I foretell now, and with a confidence surpassed by none I ever 
felt on any occasion, that those who have been the most anxious to 
destroy the Constitution of Virginia, and to substitute in its place 
this thing, will not be more dissatisfied now with the result of our 



330 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

labors, than this new Constitution will very shortly be opposed by all 
the people of the State. I speak not at random. I have high autho- 
rity for what I say now in my eye. Though it was said that the 
people called for a new state of things, yet the gentleman from Brooke 
himself (Mr. Doddridge), who came into the Legislative Committee 
armed with an axe to lay at the root of the tree, told the Convention 
that he would sooner go home and live under the old Constitution 
than adopt some of the provisions which have received the sanction 
of this body. But I am wandering from the point. 

Sir, I see no wisdom in making this provision for future changes. 
You must give governments time to operate on the people, and give 
the people time to become gradually assimilated to their institutions. 
Almost any thing is better than this state of perpetual uncertainty. 
A people may have the best form of government that the wit of man 
ever devised ; and yet, from its uncertainty alone, may, in effect, live 
under the worst government in the world. Sir, how often must 
I repeat, that change is not reform. I am willing that this new Con- 
stitution shall stand as long as it is possible for it to stand, and that, 
believe me, is a very short time. Sir, it is vain to deny it. They 
may say what they please about the old Constitution. The defect is 
not there. It is not in the form of the old edifice, neither in the de- 
sign nor the elevation — it is in the material — it is in the people of 
Virginia. To my knowledge that people are changed from what they 
have been. The four hundred men who went out to David, were in 
debt. The partisans of Caesar were in debt. The fellow-laborers of 
Cataline were in debt. And I defy you to show me a desperately in- 
debted people any where, who can bear a regular sober government. 
I throw the challenge to all who hear me. I say that the character 
of the good old Virginia planter — the man who owned from five to 
twenty slaves, or less, who lived by hard work, and who paid his debts, 
is passed away. A new order of things is come. The period has 
arrived of living by one's wits — of living by contracting debts that 
one cannot pay — and above all, of living by office-hunting. Sir, what 

do we see ? Bankrupts — branded bankrupts, giving great dinners 

sending their children to the most expensive schools — giving grand 
parties — and just as well received as any body in society. I say, that 
in such a state of things, the old Constitution was too good for them ■ 
they could not bear it. No, sir, they could not bear a freehold suf- 
frage and a property representation. I have always endeavored to 
do the people justice, but I will not flatter them ; I will not pander 
to their appetite for change. I will do nothing to provide for change, 
I will not agree to any rule of future apportionment, or to any pro- 
vision for future changes, called amendments of the Constitution. 
They who love change — who delight in public confusion — who wish 
to feed the caldron and make it bubble, may vote, if they please, for 



THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION. 331 

future changes. But by what spell — by what formula are you going 
to bind the people to all future time 1 Quis custodiet custodies 1 The 
days of Lycurgus are gone by, when we could swear the people not 
to alter the Constitution until he should return — animo nonreverten- 
di. You may make what entries on parchment you please. Give 
me a Constitution that will last for half a century — that is all I wish 
for. No Constitution that you can make will last the one-half of half 
a century. Sir, I will stake any thing short of my salvation, that 
those who are malcontent now, will be more malcontent three years 
hence, than they are at this day. I have no favor for this Constitution. 
I shall vote against its adoption, and I shall advise all the people of 
my district, to set their faces — aye, and their shoulders against it. 
But if we are to have it, let us not have it with its death warrant in 
its very face : with the fades Uijpocratica — the sardonic grin of death 
upon its countenance." 

The resolution was rejected by a large majority, and the Conven- 
tion determined that the new Constitution should contain in itself 
no provision for future amendments. 

As the most distinguished member on the floor, Mr. Randolph 
was assigned the duty of closing the business of the Convention. 

" Mr. Chairman," said he, "for the last time, I throw myself up- 
on the indulgence and courtesy of this body. I have a proposition 
to submit, which, 1 flatter myself — which I trust — I believe, will be 
received with greater unanimity than any other which has been offer- 
ed in the course of our past discussions, with perfect unanimity. 
You will perceive, sir, that I allude to your eminent colleague, who 
has presided over our deliberations. When I shall have heard him 
pronounce from that chair, the words — ' This Convention stands ad- 
journed sine die,' I shall be ready to sing my political nunc dimittis ; 
for, it will have put a period to three months, the most anxious and 
painful of a political life, neither short nor uneventful. Having said 
thus much, I hope I may be permitted to add, that, notwithstanding 
any heat excited by the collision of debate, I part from every member 
here, with the most hearty good-will to all. But I cannot consent 
that we shall separate, without offering the tribute of my approbation, 
and inviting the House to add theirs — infinitely more valuable — to 
the conduct of the presiding officer of this Assembly. If it were a 
suitable occasion, I might embrace within the scope of my motion, 
and of my remarks, his public conduct and character elsewhere, with 
which I have been long and intimately acquainted ; but this, as it 
would be misplaced, so would it be fulsome. I shall, therefore, restrict 
myself to the following motion : 

'• • Resolved. That the impartiality and dignity with which Philip P. 
Barbour, Esq., hath presided over the deliberations of this House, 



332 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

and the distinguished ability whereby he hath facilitated the dispatch 
of business, receive the best thanks of this Convention.' " 

At the time of this adjournment, no man stood higher than John 
Randolph in the estimation of the members or of the people. He 
had won greatly on their affections. A more familiar contact, and 
closer observation of the man, had served to remove many prejudices. 
They began to comprehend and appreciate one who had been so long 
the victim of wilful misrepresentation, and of calumny. Notwith- 
standing the boldness with which he spoke unpleasant truths in the 
Convention, his manner, on the whole, was so mild and conciliatory, 
his wisdom and his genius so conspicuous, that they won for him the 
esteem and the veneration of every body. His friends, delighted with 
this state of things, wrote to him from all quarters, congratulating 
him on this agreeable termination of his labors in the Convention. 
Here is one of his letters in answer to a friend who had written him 
on this subject : 

" How I have succeeded in gaining upon the good opinion of the 
public — as you and others of my friends tell me I have done — I can- 
not tell. I made no effort for it, nor did it enter into my imagina- 
tion to court any man, or party, in or out of the Convention. It is 
most gratifying, nevertheless, to be told by yourself and others, in 
whose sincerity and truth I place the most unbounded reliance, that 
I have, by the part I took in the Convention, advanced myself in the 
estimation of my country. With politics I am now done ; and it is 
well to be able to quit winner" 



CHAPTEE XLI. 

MISSION" TO RUSSIA. 

Before Mr. Randolph took his seat in the Convention he had been 
offered the mission to the Court of St. Petersburgh. The President's 
letter, making the offer, was highly flattering to him. It was in the 
following words : 

Washington, Sept. 16, 1829. 
Dear Sir : The office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plen- 
ipotentiary to Russia will soon become vacant, and I am anxious that 
the place should be filled by one of the most capable and distin- 
guished of our fellow-citizens. 



MISSION TO RUSSIA. 333 

The great and rapidly increasing influence of Russia in the af- 
fairs of the world, renders it very important that our representative 
at that Court should be of the highest respectability ; and the expe- 
diency of such a course at the present moment is greatly increased 
by circumstances of a special character. Among the number of our 
statesmen from whom the selection might with propriety be made, I 
do not know one better fitted for the station, on the score of talents 
and experience in public affairs, or possessing stronger claims upon 
the favorable consideration of his country, than yourself. Thus im- 
pressed, and entertaining a deep and grateful sense of your long and 
unceasing devotion to sound principles, and the interest of the peo- 
ple. I feel it a duty to offer the appointment to you. 

In discharging this office I have the double satisfaction of seek- 
ing to promote the public interest, whilst performing an act most 
gratifying to myself, on account of the personal respect and esteem 
which I have always felt and cherished towards you. 

It is not foreseen that any indulgence as to the period of your 
departure, which will be required by a due regard to your private af- 
fairs, will conflict with the interests of the mission : and I sincerely 
hope that no adverse circumstances may exist, sufficient to deprive 
the country of your services. 

I have the honor to be. with great respect, 

Your most ob't serv't, 

Andrew Jackson. 
The Hon. John Randolph of Roanoke. 

This letter, as it must necessarily have been, was general, and 
diplomatic in its terms ; but it was sufficiently explicit to show that 
Mr. Randolph was needed for a special service ; that his great talents 
and experience rendered him, in the judgment of the President, pe- 
culiarly fitted for the service, and that no delay which might be re- 
quired for his private affairs, would affect the interests of the mission. 

The Secretary of State, Mr. Van Ruren, who inclosed the above 
communication, stated in his letter that " the vacancy spoken of by 
the President will be effected by a recall which he feels it to be his 
duty to make, and the notice of which will be sent the moment your 
answer is received." 

To the President's invitation Mr. Randolph replied : 

Roanoke, Sept. 24, 1829. 

Sir : Ry the last mail I received, under Mr. Van Ruren's cover, 
your letter, submitting to my acceptance the mission to Russia. 

This honor, as unexpected as it was unsought for. is very much 
enhanced in my estimation, by the very kind and flattering terms in 



334 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

which you have been pleased to couch the offer of the appointment. 
May I be pardoned for saying, that the manner in which it has been 
conveyed could alone have overcome the reluctance that I feel at the 
thoughts of leaving private life, and again embarking on the stormy 
sea of federal politics. This I hope I may do without any impeach- 
ment of my patriotism, since it shah in no wise diminish my exer- 
tions to serve our country in the station to which I have been called 
by her chief magistrate, and under those " circumstances of a special 
character" indicated by your letter. The personal good opinion and 
regard, which you kindly express towards me, merit and receive my 
warmest acknowledgments. 

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your most 
obedient and faithful servant, 

John Randolph of Roanoke. 
To Andrew Jackson, Esq., President of the U. S. 

Mr. Randolph was not called upon to assume the duties of his 
mission till the month of May, 1 830. when the appointment was first 
made known to the public. This was not occasioned by any expressed 
wish on his part for a delay. It was caused by circumstances over 
which the President himself had no control ; and which were to him 
the source of much vexation. 

Every thing was done by the President and Mr. Van Buren to 
render the appointment agreeable. General Hamilton, and others, 
had solicited the post of Secretary of Legation for Mr. Cruger, of 
South Carolina. The reply was that the President had decided to 
leave that matter altogether to Mr. Randolph. In a letter to him, 
February 25, 1830, Mr. Van Buren says: "If he (Cruger) will ac- 
cept, and you approve, no objections will be made from any quarter." 

About a month afterwards he was informed that the friends of 
Mr. Cruger had declined for him, he not being yet returned from 
Europe ; and was requested to look about him to suit himself. 

What followed is thus explained by him in a letter to Dr. Brock- 

enbrough, dated Friday, June 4, 1830: 

" Thanks for your caution ; but I was forearmed. This matter 
was left entirely to me. I had a full account of the late incumbent 
long ago. I waited as long as was practicable for Mr. Cruger. and 
this day sevennight I sent off Clay, who received the appointment 
the morning of his arrival. He says: 'He (the P.) told me he 
wished you to sail by the 15th of June, as the vessel would be ready 
at Norfolk by that time. As I could not get an audience before 
eleven o'clock, I have no time to add more. The P. will write to 



MISSION TO RUSSIA. 335 

you to-day.' (I shall not receive this until Monday.) ' The commis- 
sion for me will be made out to-morrow or next day, and your in- 
structions as soon as possible. He told me, that although he would 
havo liked very much to have shaken you by the hand, yet he would 
not put you to the inconvenience of coming to this place.' 

u This is vigorous proceeding. Last Friday I broached the sub- 
ject of my appointment to this youth. After talking of my disap- 
pointment ia regard to Mr. Cruger, I most unexpectedly offered it 
to him. It was an electric shock. That evening (in two hours after 
the mail arrived) he left me : and about the same time at the termi- 
nation of the week I have his letter, which must have been mailed at 
twelve on the noon of his arrival in Washington." 

About the latter part of the month of June Mr. Randolph sailed 
from Hampton Roads. His acceptance of this mission has been 
much condemned : many of his best friends disapproved of it ; they 
thought it was inconsistent with his former professions. They seemed 
to wish that it might be always said of him — he never accepted office — 
lived and died in the service of the people — the great commoner. 
But this was taking a limited view of the subject. It must be re- 
membered that Mr. Randolph had retired from public life ; the ses- 
sion that closed the 4th of March. 1829, put an end to his legislative 
career; his health was feeble: and his only hope of a prolonged 
existence was in travelling and sojourning in a better climate than 
that of his native land. All his plans had a reference to that object; 
he looked for nothing, expected nothing, from the Government. In 
this state of things a distinguished and important appointment was 
offered him. 

On whom could the President have more appropriately bestowed 
the most signal evidence of his approbation and confidence 1 He was 
by far the most illustrious man in the ranks of the administration, 
and had done more than any other individual to pull down the for- 
mer, and to build up the present dynasty. As the President most 
happily expressed himself, he was moved to make the appointment 
from '• a deep and grateful sense of Mr. Randolph's long and unceas- 
ing devotion to sound principles and the interest of the people." To 
have neglected bestowing some mark of distinguished honor on such 
a man, would have betrayed such a spirit of injustice and ingratitude 
as to arouse the indignation of the country. 

What more appropriate office could have been assigned him ? 
The departments at Washington, the missions to London and to 



336 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

Paris, were too confining, laborious, and vexatious in their details for 
his feeble health. At the distant court of St. Petersburgh he could 
not be much perplexed with business : while, at the same time, to 
give dignity and importance to his mission, he had assigned him a 
special duty, the results of which might greatly redound to the good 
of the country, while it required only occasional attention, and could 
not suffer by delay. 

In accepting this appointment, he only carried out his original 
design of going abroad in search of health ; while, at the same time, 
he served his country in a station she had pressed upon him as an 
evidence to foreigners of her distinguished regard. But he had said, 
office had no charms for him ; in his condition, a cup of cold water 
would be more acceptable. All this was true. Had he sought a 
change of administration for the sake of office — had he retired from 
the service of the people " to drudge in the laboratories of the depart- 
ments, or to be at the tail of the corps diplomatique in Europe," he 
might have been charged with inconsistency. But no one could 
justly accuse him of seeking to overthrow the administration of Mr. 
Adams from personal considerations. " Sir," said he, " my ' church- 
yard cough' gives me the solemn warning, that, whatever part I shall 
take in the chase, I may fail of being in at the death. I should think 
myself the basest and the meanest of men — I care not what the 
opinion of the world might be — I should know myself to be a scoun- 
drel, and should not care who else knew it. if I could permit any mo- 
tive connected with division of the spoil, to mingle in this matter 
with my poor, but best exertions for the welfare of my country." 

None but the most uncharitable, could doubt the truth and the sin- 
cerity of this declaration. But it so happened that Mr. Randolph 
did survive, and that the new administration called on him to leave 
his retirement, and to perform an important service for the country, 
in the diplomatic department. "What answer could he give 1 I have 
no desire for office ; its drudgery would be intolerable to me, in my 
feeble health. I am aware of that, says the President, but there is a 
special object to be accomplished at one of the most important courts 
in Europe. I can think of no one more able than yourself, or that 
will bring more weight of character into the service. I beg of you, 
for the sake of the country, to accept the office. What answer could 
he give, to this appeal to his patriotism ? Sir, I am the champion of 



MISSION TO RUSSIA. 337 

the people, and will only serve them. I will not accept your bribe, 
to close my eyes and silence my tongue. Such an answer would have 
been worthy of Diogenes (whose part he was expected to play on this 
occasion), but not of a patriot and a statesman, who is willing to serve 
his country in any capacity ; and who knows that a faithful discharge 
of his duties, in whatever station, is a good service performed for the 
benefit of the people. Mr. Randolph gave the only answer that was 
becoming in him to give — u May I be pardoned for saying that the 
manner in which it has been couched (the appointment) could alone 
have overcome the reluctance that I feel at the thoughts of leaving 
private life, and again embarking on the stormy sea of federal poli- 
tics. This I hope I may do, without any impeachment of my patri- 
otism, since it shall in no wise diminish my exertions to serve our 
country in the station to which I have been called by her Chief Magis- 
trate." Had Mr. Randolph declined the office so warmly pressed 
upon him, it would have been a condemnation of the administration 
in the beginning. It would have been a declaration to the world that 
he had no faith, no confidence in the man he had been so instrumen- 
tal in elevating to the presidency. As he did not thus feel, it would 
have been unpatriotic and unwise, to take a course that would mani- 
fest such distrust. Indeed, Mr. Randolph had no other alternative, 
without doing great violence to his true sentiments, but to accept the 
appointment, at whatever cost to his private interests ; and it was a 
great sacrifice ; " it has been my ruin," says he, " body and estate, this 
Baltic business." 

Mr. Randolph arrived in St. Petersburgh about the last of August. 
He writes to Dr. Brockenbrough, 4th September : 

' : My reception has been all that the most fastidious could wish. 
You know I always dreaded the summer climate, when my friends 
were killing me with the climate of Russia before my time. Nothing 
can be more detestable. It is a comet ; and when I arrived it was in 
perihelion. I shall not stay out the aphelion. Heat, dust impal- 
pable, pervading every part and pore, and actually sealing these last 
up, annoying the eyes especially, which are farther distressed by the 
glare of the white houses. Insects of all nauseous descriptions, bugs, 
fleas, mosquitos, flies innumerable, gigantic as the empire they in- 
habit ; who will take no denial. Under cover of the spectacles, they 
do not suffer you to write two words, without a conflict with them. 
This is the land of Pharaoh and his plagues — Egypt, and its ophthal- 
mia and vermin, without its fertility — Holland, without its wealth, 

VOL. II. 15 



338 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

improvements, or cleanliness. Nevertheless, it is beyond all compar- 
ison, the most magnificent city I ever beheld. But you must not 
reckon upon being laid in earth ; there is, properly speaking, no such 
thing here. It is rotten rubbish on a swamp ; and at two feet you 
come to water. This last is detestable. The very ground has a bad 
odor, and the air is not vital. Two days before my presentation to 
the Emperor and Empress, I was taken with an ague. But my poor 
Juba lay at the point of death. His was a clear case of black vomit ; 
and I feel assured that in the month of August, Havana or New 
Orleans would be as safe for a stranger as St. Petersburgh. It is a 
Dutch town, with fresh-water-river canals, &c. To drink the water 
is to insure a dysentery of the worst type. 

'■ In consequence of Juba's situation, I walked down one morning 
to the English boarding-house, where Clay had lodged, kept by a 
Mrs. Wilson, of whom I had heard a very high character as a nurse, 
and especially of servants. I prevailed upon her to take charge of 
the poor boy, which she readily agreed to do. I put Juba, on whom 
I had practised with more than Russian energy, into my carriage, got 
into it, brought him into the bedroom taken for myself, had a blazing 
fire kindled, so as to keep the thermometer at 65° morning, 70° af- 
ternoon ; ventilated well the apartment ; poured in the quinine, opium, 
and port wine ; snake-root tea for drink, with a heavy hand (he had 
been previously purged with mercurials), and to that energy, under 
God, I owe the life of my dear faithful Juba." 

Mr. Randolph very soon learnt, on his arrival, that the special 
object of his mission could not at that time be accomplished. " There 
has been," says he, " a game playing between my predecessor and a 
certain great man, in which M. has fairly beaten him, at his own wea- 
pons ; most disgracefully 'tis true for M., but not less so for the other 
party. This is the secret of that delay so vexatious to General 
Jackson, so injurious to me, and so destructive to the success of my 
mission. The day before I left Hampton Roads, Count Nesselrode's 
star sunk temperately to the West, and Prince Lieven became the 
Lord of the ascendent. The waters of Carlsbad are only like young 
unmarried ladies' dropsical affections, for which they are sent down to 
their friends in the country, a decent cover for what all consider a 
virtual superseding of the minister." 

Add to this change in the Ministry, the revolution in France, 
and in Belgium, the rebellion in Poland, and the cholera then raging 
through Europe, and it may readily be imagined that Russia was not 
in a condition to deliberate on such matters, as might without preju- 
dice be postponed. 



MISSION TO RUSSIA. 339 

The Emperor had as much as he could do to attend to affairs at 
home. The special subject of Mr. Randolph^ mission was delayed, 
and as he had no particular object connected with his public duties to 
detain him, he sought refuge in a more genial climate. 

He writes from London, Wednesday. Sept. 29, 1830: "I write 
merely to tell you that after having been lifted on board the coach 
and steamboat at St. Petersburgh on the 7th — 19th instant. I landed 
this morning at 8 on the Custom-House Wharf, able to walk a few 
steps." 

October 28, he writes : " I have letters from St. Petersburgh. one 
a ' note' from Count Nesselrode, as late as the 6th of this month, and 
I am daily in expectation of others from the same quarter. On Sun- 
day, if I have strength, we go to New Market, to attend the 3rd 
October or Houghton meeting. This will be a fine theme for the 
coalition presses. No matter. Let the curs bark since they cannot 
bite. I have been so often left for dead and rose again, that they may 
despair of victory over my feline political lives." 

Many ridiculous stories were told in the United States about Mr. 
Randolph's conduct and reception in Russia. In allusion to this sub- 
ject, he writes to his friend : 

" The yearnings of my heart after home, have been stifled by the 
monstrous and malignant calumnies which have been heaped upon my 
unoffending head. To them I have but to oppose the honor of a 
gentleman, upon which I declare them to be utterly false and ground- 
less. 

•'My official correspondence will flatly contradict the most mischie- 
vous of them, as regards the public interest. 

' : Nothing could be more cordial than my reception in Russia. It 
was but yesterday (Dec. 19. 1830) that I had my first interview with 
Prince Lieven since his return to this court, and my reception was 
like that of a brother. 

'• On my arrival at St. Petersburgh I took up my abode at the 
principal Hotel, Demouth's. where I staid one week. 

' : Furnishing myself with a handsome equipage and four or five 
horses, I called promptly on every diplomatic character, whether Am- 
bassador. Envoy, or Charge, or even Secretary of Legation, from the 
highest to the lowest. Not content with sending round my carriage 
and servants, I called in person and left my cards. 

'• Count Athalin, the new representative of France, promptly called 
on me (being a later comer), and the nest day. being ill a-bed. I ser.t 
my coach and Secretary of Legation to return his visit. I had pre- 
viously called on the Charge d' Affaires of France under Charles X. 



340 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

" I had not. during my sojourn in St. Petersburgh, the slightest 
difference with any one, except a British subject, and that was on the 
construction of a contract. This man (my landlord) and his niece 
were my fellow-passengers from Cronstadt, and we parted on the most 
civil and friendly terms. 

" He is not the author of these slanders. 

'• Before I thought of cancelling the bargain with Smith, I had ap- 
plied to Mrs. Wilson to receive and nurse my poor Juba. I removed 
to her house myself, not as a boarder, but a lodger, and took a room 
on the ground floor. Except Clay and Capt. Turner, of the ship 
Fama of Boston, to whom I intrusted my faithful Juba, I did not 
set eyes upon one of the inmates of the house Capt. T. at my re- 
quest was often in my apartment, and to him I fearlessly appeal for 
the falsehood of these calumnies, so far as I came under his observa- 
tion. They are utterly false. 

" ' The Court Tailor.' A day or two after I got to Demouth's 
Hotel, a person very unceremoniously opened my parlor door and ad- 
vanced to my bed-room, where I was lying on a sofa. He was the 
American Consul's Tailor, and said, ' he had been sent for,' but 
seemed abashed at finding the Consul with me. I, seeing through the 
trick (it is universally practised there), told him he had been misin- 
formed, and the man apologized and withdrew. He was sent for 
about ten days afterwards, and made some clothes for Mr. Clay. 

" I did not refuse to land at Cronstadt. The authorities came on 
board to visit me, and when they returned, I entered the steamboat 
and proceeded up to St. Petersburgh. 

" My dress, on presentation to their Imperial Majesties, was a full 
suit of the finest black cloth that London could afford ; and, with the 
exception of a steel-cap sword, was the dress of Mr. Madison during 
the late Convention. (I had indeed no diamond buckles.) In the 
same dress, never worn except upon those two occasions (with the 
exception of gold shoe and knee buckles, adopted out of pity to Mr. 
McLane, and laying aside, at his instance, the sword), I was presented 
at court he-re On neither occasion did I think of my costume after 
I had put it on ; nor did it attract observation ; and I am well satis- 
fied that the love of display on the part of some of our own foreign 
agents, and the pruriency of female frontlets for coronets and tiaras, 
have been at the bottom of our court-dress abroad. It is not expected 
or desired, that a foreign minister shall have exacted from him what 
is the duty of a subject. I saw Prince Talleyrand at the King's 
levee as plainly dressed as I was. But what satisfies me on the 
subject is, that Prince Lieven, on whose goodness I threw myself for 
instruction at St. Petersburgh, and who saw me in the dress (chosen 
by Polonius's advice), never hinted any thing on the subject ; but 
truly said that 'his Majesty the Emperor would receive me as one 
gentleman receives another :' and such was the fact." 



MISSION TO RUSSIA. 341 

Mr. Randolph afterwards described this interview to some of his 
friends. He said he went to the Palace, passed through a number of 
guards and officers splendidly dressed, and was introduced to the Em- 
peror alone. He was a handsome young man, dressed in uniform. 
But a difficulty arose from Mr. Randolph's speaking French imper- 
fectly, and the Emperor not speaking English. The Emperor sent 
for some one that could interpret for them ; but after a little time 
they managed to understand each other — Mr. Randolph speaking 
French very slowly, and the Emperor answering in the same manner. 
At length, the Emperor asked him if he wished to see the Empress? 
Mr. R. replied that he did. The Emperor then bowed, and Mr. 
Randolph bowed himself out of the presence backwards, according to 
the etiquette of the court. He was then conducted to another part 
of the Palace, and introduced, among a large assemblage of ladies, 
where he was presented to the Empress, she being in advance of the 
rest. He described her as being very handsome. She questioned 
him whether he had ever been at court before. He said he had not ; 
that it was the first time he had ever been in the presence of royalty. 
She asked him if he kuew Mr. Monroe, who had been aide-de-camp to 
Prince Constantine, and afterwards to the Emperor? He said he 
did not. She said he was a very fine young man, and a great favo- 
rite with the Emperor ; and asked if he was not the son of the Post- 
master-General 1 He replied that he was not ; but was the son of 
the postmaster at Washington. She asked him if he was not a rela- 
tion of President Monroe 1 He told her he was not. After some 
further conversation, Mr. Randolph said something which made the 
Empress laugh " most vociferously." The audience soon ended, and 
Mr. Randolph had again to bow himself out backwards ; " and it was 
lucky," said he, " that I happened to be near the door." 

On the 22d of January, 1831, Mr. Randolph wrote to his friend, 
Mark Alexander, Esq., a late colleague from the Mecklenburgh Dis- 
trict, then in Washington : 

" I am daily and hourly in the hope of hearing from Russia. My 
absence from that country has not been of the slightest detriment to 
our affairs in that quarter. Before my departure, I had put the im- 
perial ministry in full possession of our propositions and views, and 
have since been awaiting their answer, which the revolutions in France 
and Belgium and the insurrection of Poland (to say nothing of the 
cholera morbus) have retarded. The Russian government have been 



342 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

too much engrossed by these events, and by the feverish state of 
Europe, to attend to subjects which may as well be settled next year 
as now, not being of pressing necessity, and Russia having but a 
secondary interest in them. If my health shall permit, and there 
be the most remote prospect of success in the objects we have in 
view (or any of them), I shall return as soon as the Baltic is open." 

On the 19th of February he writes to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

'■• Count Nesselrode, who says that ' Mr. Randolph has justly an- 
ticipated the cause of delay on the part of the Imperial Ministry,' 
promises me as speedy an answer as the present disturbed state of 
Europe will permit them to give. It commenced in July last, and 
the political atmosphere seems to thicken. I shall probably return 
to Russia in April or May, and I fear that 1 shall have to pass an- 
other winter in Europe — south of the Alps, of course. The barking 
of the curs against me in Congress I utterly despise. I think I can 
see how some of them, if I were present, would tuck their tails be- 
tween their hind legs, and slink — aye, and stink too. Perhaps the time 
may come when I may see some of them, not face to face, for their 
eyes could not meet mine, I know by experience. 

" I could give you a great deal of speculation upon the present 
state of Europe ; for when I please, I can be as dull as another ; but 
perhaps the next advices might overthrow all my conjectural esti- 
mates, and leave me, like other builders of theories, a laughing-stock, 
until some new folly took off attention from my case. It remains to 
be seen whether Philip Louis, who is no Philip Augustus, can arrest 
the march of the revolution of July, and chain France to the car of 
the Holy Alliance. Here I am in the focus of European intrigue, 
and watching like a cat. I think, however, it requires not the eyes 
of a lynx, or any other of the feline tribe, to see that this present 
1 government,' as 'tis the fashion to call it, have no stomach to reform 
or to liberalism^ or to any thing but the emoluments and patronage 
of office. There are illustrious exceptions — Lord Althorp and Sir 
James Graham, for example — but my Lord Grey & Co. are of a very 
different temper." 

May 2d, he writes : " The heroic resistance of the Poles has 
found ample occupation for the councils as well as the arms of Rus- 
sia : but I fear that the contest cannot be prolonged beyond the 
present season. It makes one's heart sick to think of the catas- 
trophe. My thoughts are shared between the Poles and my friends 
at home ; a sinking of the heart comes over me when I think of 
either ; a sensation inexplicable, but most painful." 

June 4th, he speaks of the late political changes at home : " Yes- 
terday, with your letter, I received the intelligence of the resignation 
of our cabinet. The course of events during the past year is enough 
to perplex and puzzle abler judgments than mine. I have read the 



OPIUM EATER. 343 

letters of V. B. and the P. more than once, and with intense interest. 
At this distance, and with my imperfect knowledge of the state of 
affairs, it may be presumptuous in me to give an opinion ; but by 
such lights as 1 have, the step taken by V. B. seems manly and ju- 
dicious — worthy of his character, and of his attachment to Gen'l 
Jackson, whose reply is worthy of all praise. I cannot help feeling 
the deepest concern for the old hero, thus, as it were, left to struggle 
alone against his foes ; and I sincerely and devoutly pray, that he 
may form an administration that will contribute to his repose and 
glory, as well as the welfare of his country 

" Lord Palmerston entertained the corps diplomatique, in honor 
of the king's birth-day, and did me the honor to include me in his in- 
vitation. I went, because I did not feel at liberty to decline. It 
was, as you may suppose, very grand, but very dull. I was flattered 
by his lordship's polite attentions, and gratified by the cordial recep- 
tion of P. Lieven, with whom I had a good deal of conversation." 

t: If I abstain," says he, June 16, "from saying any thing on poli- 
tics, it is not because I feel indifferent to the state of public opinion 
at home. Far from it ; and I hope, when you get to New- York, that 
your promised letter will enlighten me on that head. The events 
which have taken place during my absence, seem to have unhinged 
and unsettled every thing. It is a matter of self-gratulation to all 
who are unconnected with them." 

In the autumn, Mr. Randolph returned to the United States, 
much reduced in health. When he landed in New- York, his old 
friend. Mr. Harvey, hastened to see him, and was greatly shocked 
at his emaciated appearance. " His eagle-eye," says he, " detected, 
by my countenance, what was passing in my mind, and he said, in a 
mournful tone of voice : ' Ah, Sir, I am going at last ; the machine is 
worn out ; nature is exhausted, and I have tried in vain to restore 
her.' ; Why,' replied I, forcing a smile, 'you told me the same thing 
some years ago, and yet here you are still.' ' True,' rejoined he, 
' but I am seven years nearer the grave? " 



CHAPTER XLII. 

OPIUM EATER. 

On his way home, October, 1831, Mr. Randolph spent a few days in 
Richmond. He was entirely prostrate — never left his bed-room — 



344 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

rarely his bed ; but his friends visited him frequently, and they 
speak in raptures of his brilliant and instructive conversation. None 
of them detected in his discourse any thing more than an occasional 
" flightiness," produced by fever — aggravated, perhaps, by the use of 
opium, to whose soothing qualities he had been compelled to resort, 
to quiet the pangs of that inexorable disease, which, like the vulture 
in the heart of Prometheus, had plunged its talons in his vitals, 
and consumed them with remorseless fangs, from the cradle to the 
grave. 

Mr. Randolph made no secret of his use of opium at this time. 
1( I live by, if not upon opium," said he to a friend. He had been 
driven to it as an alleviation of a pain to which few mortals were 
doomed. He could not now dispense with its use. " I am fast sink- 
ing," said he, " into an opium-eating sot, but, please God ! I will shake 
off the incubus yet before I die ; for whatever difference of opinion 
may exist on the subject of suicide, there can be none as to ' rush- 
ing into the presence of our Creator ' in a state of drunkenness, whe- 
ther produced by opium or brandy." To the deleterious influence of 
that poisonous drug, may be traced many of the aberrations of mind 
and of conduct, so much regretted by his friends, during the ensu- 
ing winter and spring. But he was, by no means, under its constant 
influence. During this period, he wrote almost daily to his friend, 
Dr. Brockenbrough. Those letters furnish incontestable evidence 
that, when they were written at least, his feelings were calm, and his 
judgment as unclouded as it ever had been. 

He hastened up from Richmond to Charlotte Court-house, to ad- 
dress the people on court day, the first Monday in November. The 
subject of his speech, among other things, was his conduct while min- 
ister to the Court of St. Petersburgh. His anxiety to explain this 
matter, so unusual with him, and his coldness of manner towards his 
friends, caused many of them to suspect that he was not altogether 
himself at that time. The next Monday, he addressed the people of 
Buckingham. On his return next day, Nov. 15, he wrote from Char- 
lotte Court-house to Dr. Brockenbrough : 

" On my road to Buckingham, I passed a night in Farmville, in 
an apartment which in England they would not have thought fit 
for my servant ; nor on the continent did he ever occupy so mean a 
one. Wherever I stop, it is the same — walls black and filthy — bed 



OPIUM EATER. 345 

and furniture sordid — furniture scanty and mean, generally broken — 
no mirror — no fire-irons — in short, dirt and discomfort, universally 
prevail, and in most private houses the matter is not mended. The 
cows milked half a mile off — or not got up, and no milk to be had at 
any distance — no Jordan — in fact, the old gentry are gone and the 
nouveaitx riches, where they have the inclination, do not know how to 
live. Biscuit not half cuit, every thing animal and vegetable, smear- 
ed with melted butter or lard. Poverty stalking through the land, 
while we are engaged in political metaphysics, and, amidst our filth 
and vermin, like the Spaniard and Portuguese, look down with con- 
tempt on other nations, England and France especially. We hug 
our lousy cloaks around us, take another chaw of ticdbacfcer, float the 
room with nastiness, or ruin the grate and fire-irons, where they 
happen not to be rusty, and try conclusions upon constitutional 
points." 

The great degeneracy of the times, was the constant theme of his 
discourse. He could not shake the sad reflection from his mind. 
When he thought of what Virginia had been and what she was, he 
was stung to the quick. His late experience of the high cultivation, 
the comforts, and the refinements of English society, brought the 
contrast of" the past and the present more vividly to his recollection. 
Many thought him mad on this subject. But little could they com- 
prehend the depth of his feelings, or the anguish of his soul, when 
he so often exclaimed, " Poor old Virginia ! poor old Virginia ! " What 
they conceived to be the ebullitions of a diseased fancy, were the la- 
mentations of a statesman and patriot over the ruins of his country, 
which his prophetic eye had long foreseen, and his warning voice had 
in vain foretold ! The old gentry are gone ; none knew better than 
he, the force of this truth. He saw what others could not see ; he 
saw, from the sea-board to the mountains, nothing but desolation and 
poverty, where the fires of a noble and generous hospitality had burn- 
ed on a thousand hearths. He remembered sires and grandsires, 
whose degenerate sons, like the Roman youth, pointed to the statues 
and the monuments of their noble ancestors, instead of achieving a 
monument for themselves by their own great deeds. 

This was the theme of Mr. Randolph's discourse at Prince Ed- 
wards Court-house, where, on the third Monday in November, he 
addressed the people. He passed in review all the old families of Vir- 
ginia, alluded to the fathers and grandfathers of many then standing 
around him ; spoke of their energy, sagacity, and efficient usefulness 

vol. 11. 15* 



346 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

of character. Then, addressing himself to one individual in parti- 
cular, as was his custom, he said : You, sir, '• will be the first to admit 
the higher claims of your father on the country, for general utility 
and energy of character. I am too old (he sportively added) to know 
much of his sons personally, but I will venture to affirm, that placed 
in your father's shoes, and having to keep off the calf whilst the wife 
milked the cow, you never would have achieved what he has done in 
point of character and fortune. The young people, now-a-days, 
have too much done for them, for them to exert themselves as their 
fathers and grandfathers have done." He then spoke of many illus- 
trious men, whose names adorn many pages of our earliest and bright- 
est history. Henry, Mason, and others ; not one has left a son eepial 
to their father. " In short," said he, " look at the Lees, Washingtons, 
Randolphs — what woful degeneracy !" 

What had all this to do with the politics of the day ? on which 
he was expected to talk to the people. Was there ever such a scat- 
ter-brain speech 1 Some turned away, shook their heads, and said, 
"the man is mad;" others maliciously misrepresented what he said, 
and went about telling people that he had slandered his old friends 
and neighbors. He struck at the root of the disease, however — probed 
the wound to its core ; the men of seventy-six were gone ; their sons. 
if not degenerate, were not equal to their fathers ! 

It cannot be denied, that Mr. Randolph attributed this great 
change in the condition of Virginia, mainly to the policy of Mr. Jef- 
ferson. The destruction of the law of inheritance, followed by the 
embargo and the non-intercourse system, he conceived, gave the fin- 
ishing stroke to her prosperity. " The embargo," he said, "was the 
Iliad of all our woes." The blind fidelity with which the people of 
Virginia followed Mr. Jefferson in all his schemes, is thus humor- 
ously described: "I cannot live (says he, March, 1832,) in this mis- 
erable, undone country, where, as the Turks follow their sacred 
standard, which is a pair of Mahomet's green breeches, we are gov- 
erned by the old red breeches of that prince of projectors, St. Thom- 
as, of Can^ttg-bury ; and surely, Becket himself never had more pil- 
grims at his shrine, than the saint of Monticello." 

Another source of great annoyance and excitement to Mr. Ran- 
dolph, was the conduct of his negroes and overseers during his ab- 
sence. He suspected that they had taken up a notion he would never 



OPIUM EATER. 347 

be able to return home again, and that they might do as they pleased, 
without the fear of his displeasure. His sudden appearance among 
them took them by surprise, and they were not prepared to give an 
account of their stewardship. Whether he had just cause of com- 
plaint, is not for us to determine. One thing is certain, he had to 
spend near two thousand dollars to buy provisions for their support. 
One would suppose that three hundred negroes, on the best lands in 
Virginia, might support themselves. 

' : I have been in a perpetual broil (says he. November 15th. 1831.) 
with overseers and niggers. My head man I detected stealing the 
wool that was to have clad his own and the other children : the re- 
ceiver the very rascal (one of Mr. Mercer's 'housekeepers.') who 
flogged poor Juba, who had no wool except upon his head. I have 
punished the scoundrel exemplarily, and shall send him to Georgia 
or Louisiana, at Christmas. He has a wife and three fine children. 
Here is a description of his establishment : a log house, of the finest 
class, with two good rooms below, and lofts above : a barrel half-full 
of meal (but two days to a fresh supply) : steel shovel and tongs, bet- 
ter than I have seen in any other house, my own excepted ; a good 
bed, filled with hay : another, not so good, for his children ; eight 
blankets ; a large iron pot. and Dutch-oven ; frying-pan ; a large fat 
hog, finer than any in my pen ; a stock of large pumpkins, cabbages, 
&c. secured for the winter. His house had a porch, or shed, to it, 
like my own." 

Mr. Randolph had an old servant by the name of Essex, the 
father of John. " He was the most genteel servant I ever saw," says 
Mr. Marshall. Mr. Randolph called him familiarly, " Daddy Essex." 
Although the relation of master and servant was kept up between 
them, it was done with more cordiality and kindness in the manner 
of each, than had ever been witnessed between master and slave. It 
'was the custom of Essex, when leaving his master's service at night, 
to give him the usual salutations, and this civility was returned by 
Mr. Randolph. But on the present occasion, whenever Essex came 
into his presence, he immediately flew into a passion, accused him of 
keeping a tavern in his absence, entertaining a pedler, and once or 
twice, even went so far as to strike him with a stick. Every body 
knows the inestimable value he set on John and Juba, but they now 
shared his wrath. " When I arrived in New-York," said he, " I 
would not have taken for John or Juba, or the smallest child either 
of them had, two thousand guineas ; but now, I would as soon sell 



348 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

them to a negro-trader as not." They were actually driven out of the 
house, into the corn-field, and other awkward fellows taken into their 
places. " Moses goes rooting about the house like a hog." Mr. Ran- 
dolph's friends witnessed, during the winter, many ludicrous scenes 
between him and his servants. But his fits of excitement did not 
last long. His extreme irritability, occasioned by disease, and the 
stimulants he was compelled to use to alleviate pain, may have caused 
him to magnify the offences of his slaves. But he was prompt in 
making reparation. His favorite body-servants were soon restored to 
their proper station. About the first of February, he called on the 
overseer, and asked him to ride out with him ; said he was going to 
make friends with his head man, Billy, whom he had put to work in 
the ditch. They rode to the ditch, and Mr. Randolph said, " Your 
servant, Billy." "Your servant, master," replied Billy. "Well, 
Billy," said he, " I have come to make friends with you." " Thank 
you, master," said Billy. " Billy," said Mr. Randolph, " you stole 
my wool, and sold it for fifty cents." " Yes, master." " But I think 
I am in debt to you, Billy, for I took your pumpkins and your house, 
and hog, turned you out of a comfortable house, and gave you three 
damned whippings. And now, I think I owe you something, and I 
have come up to settle with you." As the result of the settlement 
Billy was restored to his place and to his property. 

Mr. Randolph's mind continued to be disordered, and his health 
to grow more and more feeble, till the month of April, when many of 
his friends expected he would die. About the twenty-fifth of that 
month, he was moved to the house of his friend, Mr. John Marshall, 
at Charlotte Court-house. He frequently sent for Mr. Marshall into 
his room ; when that gentleman entered, he would say, " You are too 
late — it is all over." Sometimes he had a small bell in his hand, 
which he would ring slowly, saying, " It is all over." Sometimes he 
would make John ring the bell. He would sometimes ask Mr. Mar- 
shall, "Will you stand by me?" as if he was apprehensive of some 
personal conflict. He continued much in this condition till the mid- 
dle of May, with this difference, that his memory gave way almost 
entirely, and he had sunk into a kind of stupor. 

About the middle of May, after being reduced almost to a skele- 
ton, his mind began to clear awa}', his memory returned, and his feel- 
ings were calm and kind towards every person of whom he spoke. In 



OPIUM EATER 349 

a very short time he seemed to be perfectly himself. The first time 
Mr. Marshall saw him, when a change in his mind was distinctly 
marked, they were in the room alone. Mr. Randolph burst into 
tears, and said, " Bear with me, my friend ; this is unmanly, but I am 
hard pressed." He seemed to be in great pain, and said, " It is im- 
possible — I speak it reverently — that the Almighty himself, consist- 
ent with his holy counsel, can withhold this bitter cup. It is neces- 
sary to afflict me thus, to subdue my. stubborn will." He then 
prayed a few words audibly, shut his eyes, and seemed to be praying 
in a low whisper. From this time his spirits were good ; he uni- 
formly appeared cheerful and in good temper, conversed handsomely, 
and spoke of men, whether his political enemies or others, in good 
humor; his appetite seemed to have improved, and he gradually 
o-ained flesh. From this time forth, with rare exceptions, his mind 
continued unclouded to the day of his death. But it is astonishing 
how one in his condition, could prolong for a twelve-month, an exist- 
ence so attenuated, so feeble. 

In August he writes — " My lungs made a noble resistance, but, 
like the Poles, they were over-powered. The disease is now phthisis, 
and the tubercles are softening for breaking out into open ulcers ; 
liver, spleen, heart (I hope the pericardium), but above all, the stom- 
ach, diseased, and this last, I fear, incurable. My diet is water-gruel, for 
breakfast ; tomatoes and crackers for dinner, and no supper. Yet, 
these taken in the very smallest quantities that can sustain life, throw 
me into all the horrors of an indigestion ; so that I put off' eating as 
long as possible, and thereby make a dinner of my breakfast, and a 
sort of supper at five or six o'clock, of my dinner. Sleep I am nearly a 
stranger to. Many nights I pass bolt upright in my easy chair ; for 
when propped up by pillows in bed, so as to be nearly erect from the 
hips upwards. I cough incessantly and am racked to death." 

Some weeks after this, he says to Dr. Brockenbrough — " After I 
wrote to you on Sunday night, the next day I had a most violent 
fit of hysteria. I was so moved by the ingratitude of my servants, 
and my destitute and forlorn condition, that I ' lifted up my voice and 
wept :' wept most bitterly. Yet I am now inclined to think that I 
did the poor creatures some injustice, by ascribing to ingratitude, 
what was the insensibility of their condition in life. But every body, 
you only excepted, abandons me in my misery." 



350 LIFE °F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

CHAPTER XLIII. 

THE CONSUMMATION. 

Andrew Jackson was elected by State-rights men. There were 
many others united under his banner, who agreed only in their sen- 
timents of opposition to the ruling powers ; but the political princi- 
ples that transformed and harmonized the discordant elements into a 
consistent whole, were the doctrines of the old Republican party. 
The centripetal tendency of the administration of Adams and Clay, 
had awakened and alarmed the country. Mr, Clay, with a boldness 
and an energy peculiar to himself, had pressed forward his American 
sytem to its final and full consummation. The Bank was omnipotent; 
the principle of Protection for protection's sake, was distinctly recog- 
nized, and nothing remained to complete and to fasten the system on 
the country, but to carry out those magnificent plans of Improvement 
which had been projected. 

Randolph, Van Buren, Tazewell, and other distinguished leaders 
of the old Republican party, sounded the alarm, and raised the stand- 
ard of opposition. Andrew Jackson was the man selected as their 
leader. Whether he fully concurred with them in principles and in 
purposes, could not be known — his past life had not been in the line 
of politics — lie was pledged to no system — the great object was to de- 
feat the present dynasty, and to take the chances of directing his 
course by wise counsel, hereafter. Their object is explained by the 
familiar and homely illustration used by Mr. Randolph, to satisfy his 
own constituents. " When you have a faithless, worthless overseer," 
said he, " in whom you could place no confidence, and have resolved 
to dismiss him, did you ever change your mind, because, for no mat 
ter what reason, you could not get the man that you preferred, to 
every other? or have you been satisfied to turn him off, and employ 
the best man that you could get?" 

Jackson well fulfilled the expectations of those who elevated him to 
the Presidency. The first great measure of his administration, was 
to put an end to a system of Internal Improvement, which had been 
commenced by the Federal Government, and was rapidly growing up 
into a magnificent scheme of fraud, speculation and expenditure, far 



THE CONSUMMATION. 351 

surpassing the South Sea or Mississippi scheme, that ingulfed all 
Europe in bankruptcy and ruin. The veto to the Maysville Road 
bill, arrested this great evil, and did much to bring back the people to 
a just and sound interpretation of the Constitution. 

All reflecting men, who have any regard to the words and the 
spirit of a written, limited, and well-defined grant of power to a Fed- 
erative Union of States, are now satisfied that the construction of 
roads and canals, and other means of intercommunication, properly 
belongs to the States. To take it from them and to exercise jurisdic- 
tion within their borders, in the construction of highways, was so 
gross a violation of the Constitution, and so bold an assumption of 
the reserved rights of the States, as to render all other usurpations of 
minor consideration. Like Aaron's rod, it swallowed up every thing 
else. Besides, the States are better acquainted with their own re- 
sources, and can conduct the means of their development more eco- 
nomically, more judiciously, and more extensively. If they, in the pros- 
ecution of their plans, have involved themselves in so large a debt, 
suffered so much from fraudulent legislation, as to be driven, some to 
the necessity of repudiation, others to the verge of bankruptcy, what 
would have been the condition of the whole Union, had they contin- 
ued those plans so zealously commenced, and entered on the prosecu- 
tion of those magnificent surveys which their engineers had reported 
as practicable, necessary and proper? The States ceasing to be 
sovereign and independent — ceasing to act as a counterweight to the 
centralizing influence of the Federal Government, would have been 
clamorous suppliants for its bounty ; fraudulent combinations would 
have carried every thing in the national legislature — some of the 
States would have had large improvements conducted through their 
borders, while others would have none ; and all would have been load- 
ed with a debt, only surpassed by the crushing burthen of England. 
Resorting to that tribunal power, intrusted to the Executive, not 
only for the preservation of its own independence and dignity, but 
for the protection of the rights reserved to the States and the people, 
Andrew Jackson, by the simple exercise of its authority, arrested the 
centralizing tendency of the Republic, restored the States to their 
proper equilibrium, rebuked the spirit of Federal usurpation, and 
saved his country from ruin. 

When Jackson took in his hand the helm of State, the Bank of 



352 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

tbe United States was in the plenitude of its power ; its numerous 
branches, in close affiliation and absolute dependence on a central 
power, occupied the most important and commanding positions. Its 
influence over the currency and the commercial operations of the 
country, was unbounded. It could make or unmake, build up or de- 
stroy, at pleasure. Its directory, seated in their marble palace at 
Philadelphia, like the gods on Olympus, could make rain or sunshine, 
as it pleased their sovereign will. Even the Representatives of the 
people, sent to examine into the abominations and sorceries of this red 
harlot, were dazzled with her brightness. They bowed obsequiously 
before her golden altars, and returned rejoicing, and told the people 
that she was not only pure, but worthy of all trust and confidence. 
No greater combination of power ever existed under any government. 
The East India Company, that held an Empire under its sway, and 
burthened the seas with its treasures, could not boast of greater autho- 
rity. To possess the money influence in a commercial country, is to 
control its movements, not only in the affairs of government, but in 
the remotest ramifications of society. It is holding Leviathan with 
a hook. This power, all pervading and absolute, was unquestionably 
held by the Bank of the United States. The time had come, not to 
supplicate, but to demand a renewal of her charter, and a continua- 
tion of her enormous power for another generation. Shall the de- 
mand be granted ? was the question now submitted to the Representa- 
tives of the people, and to the President. 

January 10th, 1832, Randolph says, "I know Jackson to be firm 
on the Bank of the United States ; and I believe the tariff too. In 
United States Bank stock there will be a fall, for every thing is set- 
tled by the London prices ; and there will be a panic. But the Bank 
will bribe through. I detest it, and shall do all I can to defeat it, 
even by coming into Congress next election si le Roy (Peuple) le 
veut. When the Union shall crumble to pieces, the Bank will stand. 
The courts and its debtors will sustain it, in each grain of our rope of 
sand." In one particular, this prediction has happily not been veri- 
fied. The Bank is an " obsolete idea," while the Union still survives, 
we trust, to live for ever. But the other part of the prophecy was lit- 
erally fulfilled ; the Bank did create a panic, and did bribe through. 
While the bill was under discussion, Mr. Randolph wrote to his 
friends, urging them to resistance. Some of them from the South 



THE CONSUMMATION. 353 

were offended with Jackson, and he was afraid they would suffer their 
feelings to influence them on this occasion. To Mark Alexander, Esq., 
his old colleague, he says, " I have just received (June 26, 1832) your 
blank envelope, covering the Telegraph of the 21st. I write to en- 
treat you to tell Warren R. Davis and his colleagues (alas ! for poor 
Johnston), that if, by their votes, the United States Bank bill shall 
pass the House of Representatives, they will receive the curses, loud 
and deep, of every old school Republican of the South. To embar- 
rass Jackson is a small game, compared with saddling the country 
with that worst and most flagrant of the usurpations of the Federal 
Government, and the most dangerous engine against the rights, and 
very existence of the States. I am warm and abrupt, but I am dy- 
ing, and have not time to be more courtly and circumlocutory. The 
Tariff, the Internal Improvement jobs, and the Supreme Court, com- 
bined, are not to be put into the scale against this accursed thing. 
The man who supports the Bank and denounces the Tariff as uncon- 
stitutional, may take his choice between knave or fool, unless he ad- 
mits that he is both. 

'• In one case, the power to lay duties, excises, &c, is granted ; in 
the other, no such power is given. The true key is, that the abuse, 
under pretence of exercise of any power (midnight judiciary, &c.) is 
unconstitutional. This unlocks every difficulty. Killing a man may 
be justifiable homicide, chance-medley, manslaughter or murder, ac- 
cording to the motives and circumstances of the case. An unwise, 
but honest, exercise of a power, may be blamed, but it is not unconsti- 
tutional. But every usurped power (as the Bank) is so." 

The Bank bill, however, passed both Houses of Congress, and 
was submitted to the President, for his approval. Randolph was not 
mistaken in his man. " I know Jackson to be firm on the Bank of 
the United States." Against that formidable institution, he stood 
up and battled alone. In his reading of the Constitution, there was 
no authority for it ; to his observation and experience, the existence 
of such a power was dangerous to a free republic. Satisfied in his 
mind that the Bank of the United States was both unconstitutional 
and inexpedient, it was vain to remonstrate. It was idle to tell him 
that Washington had sanctioned it ; he had as clear a judgment, as 
pure a patriotism, as Washington. It was useless to tell him, that 
good and wise men, yielding to the cry of distress, had. for the second 



354 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

time, established a Bank ; and that Madison, surrendering his own 
judgment to precedence and authority, had approved it. No such 
distress existed now; no such plea of necessity could be urged. 
Now was the time, in profound peace, to apply the knife and the 
cautery, to cut out and destroy the cancer that was threatening to 
consume the Constitution of the country. Deserted by all his friends, 
as he had been on many trying occasions before, while a military 
chieftain, he was left alone to rely on his own clear judgment and un- 
shaken fortitude. When he vetoed the Bank bill, and caused the 
public money to be removed from the custody of that institution, his 
friends earnestly entreated him not to do it. But there was one that 
stood by him — a kindred spirit, that would perish with him in the 
ruins rather than have yielded. 

Had Randolph been on the floor of Congress, the Bank bill would 
never have passed. He would have scourged the money-changers 
from the temple. But the veto saved the Republic, and he was re- 
joiced at it. " Tell Leigh (says he, August 2,) that the veto mes- 
sage, and some other things, have made a Jackson man of me, and 
that I shall be delivered of my vote without/brays, or the Cesarean 
operation." 

But another deed, still greater, if possible, had yet to be per- 
formed, before the Government could be rescued from its centripetal 
tendency, and those features of a federative republic that, in the 
vicissitudes of forty years, had well nigh been effaced, could be re- 
stored to their original distinctness and beauty. A tariff of duties, 
onerous to the agricultural interests, and laid solely for the protection 
of other interests, and as a bounty, had been imposed. The protect- 
ive policy was distinctly recognized as a principle of legislation ; its 
friends regarded it as firmly established, and proclaimed it to be as 
fixed as fate. But this principle of protection, according to States- 
right doctrine, which was the basis and the essential element of the old 
Republican party, could only be looked upon as a violent interpola- 
tion. The most eminent statesmen of the strict-construction school 
denounced it as an unwarrantable abuse of power, if indeed it was 
not a plain infraction of the letter of the Constitution, which gave 
power to lay and collect duties, imports, and taxes, merely for the 
purposes of revenue. But one of the States of the Confederacy, be- 
lieving that the right to impose a tax on one class of industry, as a 



THE CONSUMMATION. 355 

bounty to another, had not been granted, and hearing a stern ma- 
jority assert the doctrine, and pronounce it as fixed as fate, pro- 
claimed that the only safety of the Republic lay in State inter- 
position. 

Our fathers did not complain of the burthen of their taxes, but 
contended against the right of taxation without representation. But 
South Carolina contended that her grievances were even greater than 
those of our ancestors ; she protested against the tariff system, as 
founded in usurpation and injustice, and at the same time complained 
of the onerous nature of the taxes imposed She was heavily taxed 
for the benefit of others, and yet had no voice in the imposition. 
Feeling herself aggrieved, and having appealed, as she thought, in 
vain for redress, she took the remedy of her wrongs in her own hands. 
The only conservative power of this Confederative Republic is in the 
States. What matters it how nicely adjusted may be the balance of 
power between the executive, legislative, and judicial departments at 
Washington, when they have swallowed up all the powers that were 
reserved to the States and to the people. Take away the rights that 
belong to Virginia and the other States as bodies ijolitic, and those 
that belong to their people, as citizens of each State respectively 
(strictly speaking, there is no such thing as an American citizen) ; 
take away these domestic guards, destroy these home securities that 
we hold in our own hands, and where is the guaranty for our liber- 
ties ? We should no longer be a federative republic of equal and 
sovereign States, but the miserable, degraded provinces of a consoli- 
dated empire, where a sectional and selfish majority will rule the nation 
with a rod of iron. The States would be recreant to their trust, and 
unworthy the veneration of their sons, did they not stand by those rights 
so essential to their own existence, and so invaluable as the means of 
protecting and preserving the liberties of their people. This is what 
Massachusetts did in the days of the embargo; it is what South Carolina 
did on the present occasion. She asserted (and surely she was the 
best judge) that the tariff which had been forced upon her, was not 
only ruinous, but as unjust and as unwarrantable as the right claimed 
by the British parliament to tax the Colonies without their consent. 
She protested that the tax was forced upon her by those who had no 
common interest, and declared her resolution to refuse obedience to 
the law. Whether she acted wisely — whether she threw herself 



356 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH 

upon those constitutional rights reserved to her as a State — or whether 
she resorted to the ultimate right of the oppressed under every form 
of government, is for the general historian and the political philoso- 
pher to determine. The biographer of John Randolph has only to 
say, that he sympathized with the State, and went with her, heart 
and soul, in the fearful struggle that ensued. He had battled with 
this tariff system from the beginning, and foresaw the dangerous con- 
sequences to which it would lead. When the subject was under 
discussion in 1824, he said, on the floor of the House of Repre- 
sentatives : 

" And what, sir, ape we now about to do ? For what was the 
Constitution formed ? To drive the people of any part of this 
Union from the plough to the distaff? Sir, the Constitution of the 
United States never would have been formed, and if formed, would 
have been scouted una voce by the people, if viewed as a means of 
effecting purposes like this. The Constitution was formed for exter- 
nal purposes, to raise armies and navies, and to lay uniform duties on 
imports, to raise a revenue to defray the expenditure of such objects. 
What are you going to do now? To turn the Constitution wrong- 
side out ; to abandon foreign commerce and exterior relations — I am 
sorry to use this Frenchified word — the foreign affairs which it was 
established to regulate, and convert it into a municipal agent ; to carry 
a system of espionage and excise into every log-house in the United 
States. * * * * But no force — no, sir, no force short of Russian des- 
potism — shall induce me to purchase, or, knowing it, to use any arti- 
cle from the region of country which attempts to cram this bill down 
our throats. On this we of the South are as resolved, as were our 
fathers about the tea, which they refused to drink ; for this is the 
same old question of the stamp act in a new shape, viz. : whether they 
who have no common feeling with us shall impose on us not merely 
a burdensome but a ruinous tax. and that by way of experiment and 
sport. And, I say again, if we are to submit to such usurpations, 
give me George G-renville, give me Lord North, for a master. It 
is in this point of view that I most deprecate the bill. If from the 
language I have used, and gentlemen shall believe I am not as much 
attached to this Union as any one on this floor, he will labor under 
a great mistake. But there is no magic in this word Union ; I value 
it as the means of preserving the liberty and happiness of the people. 
Marriage itself is a good thing ; but the marriages of Mezentius were 
not so esteemed. The marriage of Sinbad, the Sailor, with the corse 
of his deceased wife, was an union ; and just such an union will this 
be. if, by a bare majority in both Houses, this bill shall become a 
law And I ask, sir, whether it will redound to the honor of this 



THE CONSUMMATION. 357 

House, if this bill should pass, that the people should owe their escape 
to the act of any others, rather than to us ? How will it answer for 
the people to have to look up for their escape from oppression, not to 
their immediate representatives, but to the representatives of the 
States, or, possibly, to the Executive? ' In case this bill 

should be, unhappily, presented to him (the President) for his signa- 
ture, I hope, sir, he will scout it as contrary to the genius of our 
government, to the whole spirit and letter of our Confederation. I say 
of our Confederation. Blessed be Cod, it is a Confederation, and that 
it contains within itself the redeeming power, which has more than 
once been exercised, and that it contains within itself the seeds of pre- 
servation, if not of this Union, at least of the individual commonwealths 
of which it is composed." 

In another part of the same speech (1824), Mr. Kandolph de- 
clared : 

" This is not the last tariff measure ; for, in less than five years, 
I would, if I were a betting man, wager any odds that we have ano- 
ther tariff proposition, worse by far than that, amendments to which 
gentlemen had strangled yesterday by the bowstring of the previous 
question. ***** When I recollect that the tariff of 1816 was 
followed by that of 1819-20, and that by this measure of 1823-4, 
I cannot believe that we are at any time hereafter long to be exempt 
from the demands of those sturdy beggars, who will take no denial. 
Every concession does but render every fresh demand and new con- 
cession more easy. It is like those dastard nations who vainly think 
to buy peace." 

They did follow in rapid succession; the tariff of 1828 and of 
1832, each based on the principle of protection, each more burthen- 
some than those that had gone before, and proclaimed as fixed as 
fate. Mr. Randolph watched the crisis brought on by this unwise 
and oppressive legislation with intensest interest. South Carolina 
had taken her position, and he knew well she would maintain it. 
Though in retirement, he was in daily correspondence with the chief 
actors on the scene ; he knew they were in earnest, that they had 
counted the costs, and would not lightly hazard the dangers of a 
rupture and a civil war. In March, 1832, before any decisive steps 
had been taken, he spoke freely to his friends on the subject of South 
Carolina nullification. He said that dreadful times were coming, 
the United States Bank would be broken, and troops would be march- 
ing through the country ; he said that South Carolina would not 
yield — that she would fight ; that General Jackson would be glad to 



358 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

get Hamilton, Calhoun, McDuffie, and Hayne into his power ; that 
he had no doubt if a war came, as come he feared it must, General 
Jackson would hang those gentlemen, if he could get hold of thorn ; 
but that the whole South would unite, for it was their interest to do 
so, and there would be a bloody war of it. He read letters from gen- 
tlemen in South Carolina, and became highly excited on the subject. 
He said that if the war took place, he would have himself buckled on 
his horse, Radical, and would fight for the South to the last breath. 
These expressions, the reader is aware, were used by Mr. Randolph 
under peculiar circumstances, when he was not altogether himself. 
In his cooler moments no man looked more calmly or more judi- 
ciously on this momentous subject. On the 6th of December, before 
he knew of the ordinances of South Carolina, or the proclamation of 
the President, he writes : 

" A letter from my friend Hamilton indicates the most morbid 
state of excitement in South Carolina. The truth is, I have no doubt, 
that imprudent and rash declarations have been made on both sides, 
and have been carried from one to the other by the earwigs that, 
more or less, infest all political parties This has put the leaders of 
the two hostile divisions into the worst state of mind imaginable for 
cordial and dignified reconciliation. But I have great faith in Jack- 
son's magnanimity, and I trust that, as soon as he finds himself in a 
situation to recede without dishonor, he will make the preliminary 
advances with graceful cordiality." 

Had Randolph himself been on the floor of Congress, events 
might have been different. No man had more the confidence of both 
parties than he had ; but unfortunately there was no one of sufficient 
weight and influence, to give affairs this pacific direction, and they were 
consequently hurried on to their catastrophe. 

South Carolina, by her ordinance, proclaimed that she would not 
obey a law of the United States. It was the duty of the President 
to see that the laws were faithfully executed. General Jackson, by his 
proclamation, pronounced his determination to see that the Tariff law 
was properly enforced in South Carolina. The Proclamation contains 
an elaborate argument in justification of his conduct. It cannot be de- 
nied that his duty required him to take some such course, but he sustain- 
ed and justified it, by a resort to the exploded doctrines and reasonings 
of the old federal school ; if his arguments were true, then the principles 
of the Republican party, on which he had hitherto acted, were false. 



THE CONSUMMATION. 359 

It may have been a right action, but a wrong reason. All power ema- 
nates from the people, they are sovereign ; but the general undefined 
mass of individuals, told by the head within the borders of the Uni- 
ted States, are not the people known to our Institutions: the citizens 
of each State acting through the body fJolitic, or a convention, or in 
their primary assemblies, are the people. Whatever they shall do in 
their sovereign capacity, as the people of a State, may be a revolution, 
but it can never be a rebellion ; a sovereign cannot rebel against him- 
self, nor against his coequal sovereigns; he may violate a compact 
with them, or they may commit a breach of faith towards him, so as to 
justify resistance and even war, a revolution if you please of all the 
relations existing between them, but no act of omission or aggression 
between coequal and independent parties can be construed into a 
rebellion. 

Here was Jackson's great mistake ; he did not have a clear per- 
ception of a federative union between coequal and independent States ; 
he regarded the ordinance of the people of South Carolina, issuing 
from the highest authority known to a State — their sovereign will ex- 
pressed in Convention — as an act of rebellion, and the men and officers 
appointed to execute their will as rebels that ought to be hung when- 
ever taken. 

So soon as Randolph heard of this fatal proclamation, so preg- 
nant with pestilent heresies, his indignation knew no bounds. The 
Editor of the Richmond Enquirer endeavored to discriminate between 
the act itself and the reasoning in defence of it ; but Randolph in- 
volved both perpetrator and defender in one common denunciation. 
The 16th of December he says: 

- Your letter of the 12th was received late last night whilst I was 
under the influence of morphine and blue-pill, but such was the inter- 
est I took in it, and in the Jesuitical comments of Mr. Enquirer 
Ritchie on the ferocious and blood-thirsty proclamation of our Djezzar 
Pacha, that I did not close an eye until daybreak. I am now just 
out of bed (1 o'clock, p. m.), and not more than half alive, indeed not 
so much. 

" The apathy of our people is most alarming. If they do not 
rouse themselves to a sense of our condition and put down this wretch- 
ed old man. the country is irretrievably ruined. The mercenary 
troops who have embarked for Charleston, have not disappointed me ; 
they are working in their vocation, poor devils ! I trust that no quar- 
ter will be given to them. 



360 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

"Pray tell William Leigh to write to me forthwith, and to give me 
his full, unreserved opinion upon the state of aifairs. I sometimes 
distrust my own judgment in my present diseased condition. 

" I am heartily glad that my brother refuses to go to the Senate 
of the U. S. I should not be sorry to see him in our Legislature, 
where, as 1798-9, the resistance must be made." January 4, 1833, 
he writes to Mr. Harvey : ' : My life is ebbing fast. What will the 
New-York Evening Post say to Ritchie's apology for the Proclama- 
tion, in his ' Enquirer' of the first instant 1 ? Never was there so im- 
pudent a thing. It seems, then, that the President did not know, 
good, easy man, what his Proclamation contained. Verily, I believe 
it. He is now all for law and the civil power, and shudders at blood. 
' Save me from my friends' is a good old Spanish proverb. But his 
soi-disant friends are his bitterest enemies, and use him as a tool for 
their own unhallowed purposes of guilty ambition. They have first 
brought him into odium, and then sunk him into contempt. Alas ! 
alas !" January 31st he says: '-I am now much worse than when I 
wrote you last, and see no probability of my ever recovering suffi- 
ciently to leave this place. The springs of life are worn out. Indeed, 
in the abject state of the public mind, there is nothing worth living 
for. It is a merciful dispensation of Providence, that death can 
release the captive from the clutches of the tyrant. I was not born 
to endure a master. I could not brook military despotism in Europe, 
but at home it is not to be endured. I could not have believed that 
the people would so soon have shown themselves unfit for free govern- 
ment. I leave to General Jackson, and the Hartford men, and the 
ultra-federalists and tories, and the office-holders and office-seekers, 
their triumph over the liberties, of the country. They ivill stand 
damned to everlasting fame." 

But the dying statesman resolved to make another effort to rouse 
the people, and to pluck the fallen liberties of the country from the 
grasp of military despotism. The veteran of a hundred fields har- 
nessed himself for his last battle. The same cause that nerved his 
youthful arm, now shook the palsy from his aged limbs, and kindled 
in his bosom once more its slumbering fires. The sight of mercenary 
troops levied to uphold the usurpations of Government first called forth 
that bold and manly elormence, that revealed to the people the future 
champion of their cause, and made John Thompson exclaim — he will 
become an object of admiration and terror to tlie enemies of liberty. 
True to the destiny thus foretold, for more than thirty years he had 
successfully contended against the minions of power. But now, be- 
hold the same appalling scenes re-enacted before him — the hirelings 



THE CONSUMMATION. 361 

of Government marching through the land to trample down the rights 
of the States and of the people — the same doctrines avowed — the 
same excuses offered for the interposition of military authority — 
while the people, sunk into a deep lethargy like that of sleep, are 
unconscious of the " leprous distilment" that has poisoned the fount- 
ains of truth, and are forgetful of the threatening dangers that sur- 
round them. " The apathy of our people is alarming !" 

But there was no apathy in him : he saw, he felt, he acted. Lifted 
into his carriage like an infant, he went from county to county, and 
spoke with a power that effectually aroused the slumbering multi- 
tudes. Too weak to stand, he addressed them from his seat : but 
like Jupiter seated on Olympus, he shot forth his thunderbolts on 
every hand, blasting and withering whatever stood in the way. The 
sublime energies of a patriot soul were his ; they could not be re- 
pressed, and all the faculties of a dying frame were summoned to this 
last effort. It was like a voice coming from beyond the tomb : there 
was the skeleton of a man before them, but the people saw the fires of 
an immortal spirit beaming forth from its blazing sockets ; they heard 
the trembling accents of an expiring tongue, but felt the living words 
of an inspired prophet fall upon their tingling ears. Their fathers 
had heard that clear ringing voice in the days of his youth echo 
sweet music through their hearts, and had clasped him to their bo- 
soms as their most cherished son : tlicy now listened to his solemn 
tones, like the knell of a death-bell, with silence and awe ; and re- 
ceived his warning admonitions with the duty and reverence of affec- 
tionate children. 

He did not speak in vain. Throughout his old district, with 
scarcely a dissenting voice, they adopted his resolutions condemning 
the tone, the temper, and the doctrines of the Proclamation. In the 
course of his speech at Buckingham, Mr. Randolph is reported, on 
what seems to be good authority, to have said : " Gentlemen, I am 
filled with the most gloomy apprehensions for the fate of the Union. 
I cannot express to you how deeply I am penetrated with a sense of 
the danger which at this moment threatens its existence. If Madison 
filled the Executive chair, he might be bullied into some compro- 
mise. If Monroe was in power, he might be coaxed into some adjust- 
ment of this difficulty. But Jackson is obstinate, headstrong, and 
fond of fight. I fear matters must come to an open rupture. If so, 

VOL. II. 16 



362 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

this Union is gone !" Then pausing for near a minute, raising his fin- 
ger in that emphatic manner so peculiar to his action as a speaker, 
and seeming, as it were, to breathe more freely, he continued — " There 
is one man, and one man only, who can save this Union — that man 
is Henry Clay. I know he has the power, I believe he will be 
found to have the patriotism and firmness equal to the occasion." 

Mr. Clay did not disappoint his expectations. Whatever may be 
said of him as a statesman, none can deny that he is a true-hearted 
patriot. With parental fondness he cherished his American system 
— with unyielding pertinacity contended for it to the last extremity — 
but when it became a cpuestiou between that and the integrity of the 
Union, he did not hesitate ; like Abraham, he was ready to sacrifice 
his own offspring on the altar of his country, and to see the fond idols 
he had cherished perish one by one before his lingering eyes. Mainly 
through his efforts the Compromise bill of 1833 was passed, the 
principle of protection abandoned, the duties reduced, South Carolina 
satisfied, her honor preserved, and the Union saved. But let not 
Jackson be too lightly condemned. He had a difficult task to per- 
form ; aside from the heresies of his Proclamation we have not con- 
demned him. There were the laws on the statute book ; he had 
labored to get them modified : but however much he might disap- 
prove of their character, or sympathize with those on whose shoulders 
they fell as a grievous burthen, so long as they were laws, he was 
bound to see them enforced. He was not the man to shrink from 
his duty, and promptly declared that they should be enforced. This 
was an awful moment for the Republic. 

The most important experiment in the history of government had 
to be tried. The trial had to be made, whether State sovereignty 
was of any avail, or the Federal Government absolute and omnipotent. 
Had Carolina failed, we should have gone down like the Roman Re- 
public, into a consolidated empire, with all power concentrated in the 
capitol, and governed by venality and corruption. Had Jackson fail- 
ed in his duty, and suffered the laws to be put at defiance with impu- 
nity, the fraternal bonds of this Union would have been dissolved, 
and we should have existed for a time as petty States, in perpetual 
warfare, until some master should arise to govern them, or they should 
fall, as exhausted provinces, into the hands of European power. In 
this awful moment, when disrupture and civil war seemed inevitable, 



THE CONSUMMATION. 363 

that magnanimous spirit of compromise, in which the Constitution 
was framed, again rescued it from destruction. And so will it ever 
be while the States have independence and courage to assert their 
rights, and patriot souls shall guide the helm of affairs. 

This was the auspicious moment for John Randolph to depart. 
He died in the midst of the battle, but the victory had been won. 
The doctrine of State rights, ingrafted on the Constitution by 
George Mason, developed by Jefferson, expounded by Madison, and 
practised by himself, had once more triumphed — a strict construction 
of the Constitution, a total abstinence from the exercise of all powers 
not specifically granted, an abandonment to the States of the right to 
control all things affecting their internal and domestic affairs, was 
once again to become the rule of action to the Federal Government, 
and to be the means of developing a prosperity in the several States, 
unparalleled in the annals of history, and of exciting among them a 
generous spirit of emulation, causing each to strive with all the 
means of this inventive age, to excel the other in the various walks 
of industry, in the arts of peace, in the deeds of arms, and in noble 
acts of chivalry, that will cast a lustre over this great Republic, 
uneclipsed by the most brilliant achievements of ancient or modern 
times. 

For this glorious consummation, we are indebted' to John Ran- 
dolph, more than to any other man. His bold and masterly efforts 
arrested that centripetal tendency which was rapidly destroying the 
counterbalance of the States, and making them, instead of what they 
are, proud independent sovereignties, jealous of their peculiar rights, 
and prompt to defend them, mere abject provinces, bowing patiently 
to encroachment so long as largesses were bestowed by the bountiful 
hand of an all-powerful and concentrated empire. 

Let not the absurd notion then be repeated, that he was powerful 
to pull down, but feeble to build up. There it was, already built up, 
that beautiful system, unknown to the world before, an impcrium in 
imperio ; he had nothing to add to the design of those who projected 
it — leave it to its own beautiful and simple operations, and like the 
solar system, we should scarcely know of its existence save by the 
genial influence shed on the various planets that composed it ; he 
taught a loise and masterly inactivity — add nothing to clog its mo- 
tion — nothing to hurry it to rack and ruin, like an unbalanced ho- 



361 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

rologue, and the States and the Union in perpetual harmony, will 



move. 



" Like a star that maketh not haste, 
That taketh not rest ; 



— each one fulfilling 
His God-given hest." 



CHAPTER XLIV. 

"I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE." — DEATH. 

Mr. Randolph attempted to go to the different counties of his old 
district, in the month of April, and to address the people on the days 
of election, but he did not succeed. On the 14th of April, he writes 
to Dr. Brockenbrough. " Your letter of the 4th was received here 
(Charlotte Court-house) last night, on my return from Buckingham. 
I made an effort to attend that election, but was obliged to return 
re infecta, and reached this place so done up by fatigue, that I have 
not been able to get on to Roanoke. Exercise by gestation is in- 
dispensable to my existence ; from ten to tiventy miles are requisite 
to enable me to support life. I am now scuffling to get to England 
in the May packet. Whether I shall succeed or not. I propose being 
in Richmond immediately after the Cumberland election, if not 
sooner." He was at Cumberland on the day of election, and started 
that evening for Richmond ; but was compelled to turn in at Clay Hill, 
the residence of his friend Barksdale in Amelia. On the 23d, he 
says : " Although more than half dead when taken out of my car- 
riage, and enduring excessive pain, I passed a better night than I 
have had for two months, and was in every respect far better this 
morning, than I had been within that period ; and I feel satisfied 
that exercise by gestation, if I take enough of it, will greatly remit my 
exhausted system. However, while I was chuckling over my success. 
I suffered a fatal relapse, and the day has been spent in stupor and 
pain, which did not allow me to dispense with Johnny's presence and 
services. Deo voknte, he will set out to-morrow by day with this 
letter." From George W. Johnson's, near Moody's, Chesterfield 
Thursday, May 2d, he writes : "lam here very ill. I have little 
expectation of ever leaving this apartment, except on men's shoul- 



« I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE."— DEATH. 365 

ders ; an act of imprudence on the night of my arrival has nearly 
sealed my doom. Yet with my characteristic reaction, I may go to 
Petersburg to-morrow, and on Monday, to Richmond. Pray, secure 
me, if practicable, a parlor and bedroom adjoining, on a lower floor, 
and speak to Ball to reserve stalls for five horses and three servants. 

•• If my dear brother Harry be not gone, entreat him to come to 
me on the receipt of this. If I can, I will take the packet from the 
Delaware for London, avoiding the Irish Channel, which is the worst 
as the English S. Coast is the best of climates." 

He did go on to Petersburg, attended the races, made a speech, 
passed through Richmond, and from the Merry Oaks, Friday, May 
17, he writes : 

"Arrived here last night, through torrents of rain that deluged 
the roads, and made them run like rivers, John and Juba. as wet as 
drowned rats, but it was an admirable sedative (you are an ' Embro' 
man, and possibly a disciple of Cullen) for John's over stimulant. 
Quant, a moi, I came every foot of the way in torture, having been 
so lumbered by John, that I might as well have been in the pillory, 
and each jolt over stone, stump, or pole, or old fence rails left in the 
road, when the new one was made, or the old one ' upset ' for the be- 
nefit of travelling carriages, those of gentlemen in especial, as the 
Waverly man has it. 

'• At Botts's gate, Half Sink. I was fain to call and ask the price 
of his land, and sponge upon him for the night, for I was in agony, 
but he was gone to the Baltimore races. So, after making some bet- 
ter arrangements, and watering the tits which were half choked with 
thirst, I proceeded on over the slashes and ' cross ways' with peine 
forte et dure, to the old oaks, ignorant until then that the stage road 
had been changed, or I would have taken the other, except on account 
of the house. If Botts's land lay in any other county, except Hen- 
rico, and especially if it were on the south side, I would buy it and 
take my chance for selling Spring Hill, which except in point of soil, 
has every advantage over Half Sink." 

This was the last letter ever written by Mr. Randolph, to his most 
cherished and confidential friend. He had, in his last journey, pass- 
ed rapidly by most of the scenes rendered dear to him by the recol- 
lections of youth, and by the fond associations of love and friendship ; 
and it so happened that he saw most of the few friends that were left 
him this side of the grave. What recollections were called up, as he 
passed for the last time through Amelia — love ! love ! blighted love ! 
deeply buried in his heart's inmost core ! as he passed through Ches- 



366 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

terfield, and looked for the last time on the tombs of his beloved fa- 
ther and mother, at old Matoax, where he had so long wished to lie 
down and be at rest — Petersburgh — Richmond — there were a few 
left that still cared for him, that loved him, and warmly pressed his 
fevered hand as he passed rapidly by, on his last journey. They were 
now all behind him, and he might exclaim, as he did on a former oc- 
casion, when he heard of the death of one endeared by early, though 
mournful recollections : 

" Days of my cherished youth, 
When all unfelt Time's footsteps fell, 

And all unheeded flew, 
Dreams of the morn of life, farewell ! a long, a last farewell !" 

Mr. Randolph reached the landing at Potomac creek, before the 
arrival of the steamboat, and considerably in advance of the Fred- 
ericksburg stage-coaches, which could not keep pace with his fleet 
horses. 

When the approach of the boat was announced, he was brought 
out of the room by his servants, on a chair, and seated in the porch, 
where most of the stage passengers were assembled. His presence 
seemed to produce considerable restraint on the company ; and though 
he appeared to solicit it, none were willing to enter into conversation ■ 
one gentleman only, who was a former acquaintance, passed a few 
words with him ; and so soon as the boat reached the landing, all hur- 
ried off, and left him nearly alone, with his awkward servants as his 
only attendants. An Irish porter, who seemed to be very careless 
and awkward in his movements, slung a trunk round and struck Mr. 
Randolph with considerable force against the knee. He uttered an 
exclamation of great suffering. The poor Irishman was much terri- 
fied, and made the most humble apology, but Mr. Randolph stormed 
at him — would listen to no excuse, and drove him from his presence. 
This incident increased the speed of the by-standers, and in a few 
minutes not one was left to assist the dying man. 

Dr. Dunbar, an eminent physician, of Baltimore, witnessing what 
happened, and feeling his sympathies awakened towards a man so 
feeble, and apparently so near his end, walked up to the chair, as the 
servants were about to remove their master, and said, " Mr. Ran- 
dolph, I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance, but I have known 
your brother from my childhood ; and as I see you have no one with 



"I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE."— DEATH. 367 

you but your servants — you appear to require a friend. I will be happy 
to render you any assistance in my power, while we are together on 
the boat " He looked up, and fixed such a searching gaze on the 
doctor as he never encountered before. But having no other motive 
but kindness for a suffering fellow man, he returned the scrutinizing 
look with steadiness. As Mr. Randolph read the countenance of the 
stranger, who had thus unexpectedly proffered his friendship, his face 
suddenly cleared up ; and with a most winning smile, and real polite- 
ness, and with a touching tone of voice, grasping the Doctor's hand, 
he said, " I am most thankful to you, sir, for your kindness, for I do, 
indeed, want a friend." 

He was now, with the Doctor's assistance, carefully carried on 
board, and set down in the most eligible part of the cabin. He seem- 
ed to be gasping for breath, as he sat up in the chair ; having recov- 
ered a little, he turned to the Doctor, and said. " Be so good, sir, if 
you please, as to give me your name." The Doctor gave him his 
name, his profession, and place of residence. 

" Ah ! Doctor," said he, " I am passed surgery — passed surgery !" 
" I hope not, sir," the Doctor replied. With a deeper and more pa- 
thetic tone, he repeated, " I am passed surgery." 

He was removed to a side berth, and laid in a position where he 
could get air ; the Doctor also commenced fanning him. His face was 
wrinkled, and of a parched yellow, like a female of advanced age. 
He seemed to repose for a moment, but presently he roused up, 
throwing round an intense and searching gaze. The Doctor was 
reading a newspaper. 

" What paper is that, Doctor ?" 

« The Gazette, sir." 

" A very scurrilous paper, sir — a very scurrilous paper " 

After a short pause, he continued, "Be so good, sir, as to read 
the foreign news for me — the debates in Parliament, if you please." 

" As the names of the speakers were mentioned, he commented on 
each ; " Yes," said he, " I knew him when I was in England ;" then 
went on to make characteristic remarks on each person. 

In reading, the Doctor fell upon the word budget ; he pronounced 
the letter u short, as in bud — budget. Mr. Randolph said quickly, 
but with great mildness and courtesy, L Permit me to interrupt you 
for a moment, Doctor : I would pronounce that word budget ; like oo in 



368 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

book." " Very well, sir," said the Doctor, pleasantly, and continued 
the reading, to which Mr. Randolph listened with great attention. 
Mr. Randolph now commenced a conversation about his horses, which 
he seemed to enjoy very much ; Gracchus particularly, he spoke of 
with evident delight. As he lay in his berth, he showed his extremi- 
ties to the Doctor, which were much emaciated. He looked at them 
mournfully, and expressed his opinion of the hopelessness of his con- 
dition. The Doctor endeavored to cheer him with more hopeful views. 
He listened politely, but evidently derived no consolation from the re- 
marks. Supper was now announced ; the captain and the steward were 
very attentive, in carrying such dishes to Mr. Randolph as they 
thought would be pleasing to him. He was plentifully supplied with 
fried clams, which he ate with a good deal of relish. The steward 
asked him if he would have some more clams. " I do not know," he 
replied; " Doctor, do you think I could take some more clams'?" 
" No, Mr. Randolph ; had you asked me earlier, I would have advised 
you against taking any, for they are very injurious; but I did not 
conceive it my right to advise you " " Yes you had, Doctor ; and I 
would have been much obliged to you for doing so. Steward, I can't 
take any more ; the Doctor thinks they are not good for me." 

After the table was cleared off, one of the gentlemen — the one 
referred to as a former acquaintance of Mr. Randolph's, observed that 
he should like to get some information about the boats north of Bal- 
timore. " I can get it for you, sir," replied Mr. Randolph. " Doctor, 
do me the favor to hand me a little wicker-basket, among my things 
in the berth below." The basket was handed to him ; it was full of 
clippings from newspapers. He could not find the advertisement he 
sought foi\ The gentleman, with great politeness, said, " Don't trou- 
ble yourself, Mr. Randolph." Several times he repeated, " Don't 
trouble yourself, sir." At length Randolph became impatient, and 
looking up at him with an angry expression of countenance, said, " I 
do hate to be interrupted !" The gentleman, thus rebuked, immedi- 
ately left him. 

Mr. Randolph then showed another basket of the same kind, filled 
with similar scraps from newspapers, and observed that he was al- 
ways in the habit, when any thing struck him in his reading, as likely 
to be useful for future reference, to cut it out and preserve it in books, 
which he had for that purpose ; and that he had at home several vol- 
umes of that kind. 



"I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE."— DEATH. 369 

He showed his arrangements for travelling in Europe ; and after 
a while, seeing the Doctor writing, he said, " Doctor, I see you 
are writing ; will you do me the favor to write a letter for me, to a 
friend in Richmond?" " Certainly, sir." " The gentleman," he con- 
tinued, stands A. No. 1, among men — Dr. Brockenbrough, of Rich- 
mond." The letter gave directions about business matters, princi- 
pally, but it contained some characteristic remarks about his horses. 
He exulted in their having beaten the stage ; and concluded, " So 
much for blood. Now," said he, " sign it, Doctor." 

'• How shall I sign it, Mr. Randolph 1 sign it John Randolph of 
Roanoke?" 

" No, sir, sign it Randolph of Roanoke." 

It was done accordingly. " Now, Doctor," said he, " do me the 
favor to add a postscript." The postscript was added, ' : I have been 

so fortunate as to meet with Dr. , of , on board this boat, 

and to form his acquaintance, and I can never be sufficiently grateful 
for his kind attentions to me." 

So soon as the letter was concluded, Mr. Randolph drew together 
the curtains of his berth ; the Doctor frequently heard him groaning 
heavily, and breathing so laboriously, that several times he approached 
the side of the berth to listen if it were not the beginning of the death- 
struggle. He often heard him, also, exclaiming, in agonized tones, 
u Oh God ! Oh Christ !" while he was engaged in ejaculatory prayer. 

He now became very restless, was impatient and irascible with 
his servants, but continued to manifest the utmost kindness and 
courtesy towards Dr. Dunbar. 

When the boat reached the wharf at Alexandria, where the Doc- 
tor was to leave, he approached the side of the berth, and said, " Mr. 
Randolph, I must now take leave of you." He begged the Doctor to 
come and see him, at Gadsby's, then, grasping his hand, he said, 
• ; God bless you, Doctor : I never can forget your kind attentions t© 
me." 

Next day he went into the Senate chamber, and took his seat in 
rear of Mr. Clay. That gentleman happened at the time to be on hia 
feet, addressing the Senate. " Raise me up," said Randolph, " I 
want to hear that voice again." When Mr. Clay had concluded hia 
remarks, which were very few, he turned round to see from what 
quarter that singular voice proceeded. Seeing Mr. Randolph, and 

vol. n. 16* 



370 LIFE 0F J0HN RANDOLPH. 

that he was in a dying condition, he left his place and went to speak 
to him : as he approached, Mr. Randolph said to the gentleman with 
him, " Raise me up." As Mr. Clay offered his hand, he said, " Mr. 
Randolph, I hope you are better, sir." " No, sir," replied Randolph, 
" I am a dying man, and I came here expressly to have this interview 
with you." 

They grasped hands and parted, never to meet more. 

Having accomplished the only thing that weighed on his mind, 
having satisfied Mr. Clay, and the world, that, notwithstanding a 
long life of political hostility, no personal animosity rankled in his 
heart, he was now ready to continue on his journey, or to meet, with 
a lighter conscience, any fate that might befall him. 

He hurried on to Philadelphia, to be in time for the packet, that 
was about to sail from the Delaware. But he was too late ; he was 
destined to take passage in a different boat, and to a land far differ- 
ent from that of his beloved England. It was Monday night when 
he reached the city, and the storm was very high. His friends found 
him on the deck of the steamboat, while Johnny was out hunting for 
a carriage. He was put into a wretched hack, the glasses all broken, 
and was driven from hotel to hotel in search of lodgings, and exposed 
all the time to the peltings of the storm. He at length drove to the 
City Hotel, kept by Mr. Edmund Badger. When Mr. Badger came 
out to meet him, he asked if he could have accommodations. Mr. 
Badger replied that he was crowded, but would do the best he could 
for him. On hearing this, he lifted up his hands, and exclaimed, 
" Great God ! I thank thee ; I shall be among friends, and be taken 
care of!" 

Mr. Randolph was very ill. Dr. Joseph Parish, a Quaker phy- 
sician, was sent for. As he entered the room, the patient said, ' : I 
am acquainted with you, sir, by character. I know you through 
Giles." He then told the Doctor that he had attended several 
courses of lectures on anatomy, and described his symptoms with 
medical accuracy, declaring he must die if he could not discharge the 
puriform matter. 

" How long have you been sick, Mr. Randolph?" 

" Don't ask me that question ; I have been sick all my life. I 
have been affected with my present disease, however, for three years. 
It was greatly aggravated by my voyage to Russia, That killed me, 



"I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE."— DEATH. 371 

sir. This Russian expedition has been a Pultowa, a Beresina to 
me." 

The Doctor now felt his pulse. " You can form no judgment by 
my pulse ; it is so peculiar." 

" You have been so long an invalid, Mr. Randolph, you must have 
acquired an accurate knowledge of the general course of practice 
adapted to your case." 

" Certainly, sir ; at forty, a fool or a physician, you know." 

" There are idiosyncracies," said the Doctor. " in many constitu- 
tions. I wish to ascertain what is peculiar about you." 

" I have been an idiosyncracy all my life. All the preparations 
of camphor invariably injure me. As to ether, it will blow me up. 
Not so witli opium ; I can take opium like a Turk, and have been in 
the habitual use of it. in one shape or another, for some time." 

Before the Doctor retired, Mr. Randolph's conversation became 
curiously diversified. He introduced the subject of the Quakers ; 
complimented them in his peculiar manner for neatness, economy, 
order, comfort — in everything. ' : Right," said he, "in everything 
except politics — there always twistical." He then repeated a portion 
of the Litany of the Episcopal church, with apparent fervor. The 
following morning the Doctor was sent for very early. He was 
called from bed. Mr Randolph apologized very handsomely for dis- 
turbing him. Something was proposed for his relief. He petulantly 
and positively refused compliance The Doctor paused and addressed 
a few words to him. He apologized, and was as submissive as an in- 
fant. One evening a medical consultation was proposed ; he promptly 
objected. ' : In a multitude of counsel," said he, " there is confusion ; 
it leads to weakness and indecision ; the patient may die while the 
doctors are staring at each other." ^Vhenever Dr. Parish parted 
from him, especially at night, he would receive the kindest acknow- 
ledgments, in the most affectionate tones : '• God bless you : he does 
bless you. and he will bless you." 

The night preceding his death, the Doctor passed about two hours 
in his chamber. In a plaintive tone he said, " My poor John, sir. is 
worn down with fatigue, and has been compelled to go to bed. A 
most attentive substitute supplies his place, but neither he nor you. 
sir, are like John ; he knows where to place his hand on any thing, 
in a large cpuantity of baggage prepared for a European voyage." 



372 LIFE 0F JOHN RANDOLPH. 

The patient was greatly distressed in breathing, in consequence of 
difficult expectoration. He requested the Doctor, at his next visit, 
to bring instruments for performing the operation of bronchotomy, 
for he could not live unless relieved. He then directed a certain 
newspaper to be brought to him. He put on his spectacles, as he 
sat propped up in bed, turned over the paper several times, and ex- 
amined it carefully, then placing his finger on a part he had selected, 
handed it to the Doctor, with a request that he would read it. It 
was headed " Cherokee." In the course of reading, the Doctor came 
to the word " omnipotence," and pronounced it with a full sound on 
the penultimate — omnipotence. Mr. Randolph checked him, and 
pronounced the word according to Walker. The Doctor attempted 
to give a reason for his pronunciation. " Pass on," was the quick 
reply. The word impetus was then pronounced with the e long, " im- 
petus." He was instantly corrected. The Doctor hesitated on the 
criticism. " There can be no doubt of it, sir." An immediate ac- 
knowledgment of the reader that he stood corrected, appeared to sat- 
isfy the critic, and the piece was concluded. The Doctor observed 
that there was a great deal of sublimity in the composition. He di- 
rectly referred to the Mosaic account of creation, and repeated " ' Let 
there be light, and there was light.' There is sublimity." 

Next morning (the day on which he died), Dr. Parish received an 
early and an urgent message to visit him. Several persons were in 
the room, but soon left it, except his servant, John, who was much 
affected at the sight of his dying master. The Doctor remarked to 
him, " I have seen your master very low before, and he revived ; and 
perhaps he will again." u John knows better than that, sir." He 
then looked at the Doctor with great intensity, and said in an earn- 
est and distinct manner, " I confirm every disposition in my will, es- 
pecially that respecting my slaves, whom I have manumitted, and for 
whom I have made provision." 

" I am rejoiced to hear such a declaration from you, sir," replied 
the Doctor, and soon after, proposed to leave him for a short time, to 
attend to another patient. " You must not go," was the reply ; 
'• you cannot, you shall not leave me. John ! take care that the Doc- 
tor does not leave the room." John soon locked the door, and re- 
ported, " Master, I have locked the door, and got the key in my 
pocket: the Doctor can't go now." 



" I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE."— DEATH. 373 

He seemed excited, and said " If you do go you need not return." 
The Doctor appealed to him as to the propriety of such an order, in- 
asmuch as he was only desirous of discharging his duty to another 
patient. His manner instantly changed, and he said, " I retract 
that expression." Some time afterwards, turning an expressive look, 
he said again, " I retract that expression." 

The Doctor now said that he understood the subject of his coni- 
munication, and presumed the Will would explain itself fully. He 
replied in his peculiar way — " No, you don't understand it ; I know 
you don't. Our laws are extremely particular on the subject of 
slaves — a Will may manumit them, but provision for their subsequent 
support, requires that a declaration be made in the presence of a 
white witness ; and it is requisite that the witness, after hearing the 
declaration, should continue with the party, and never lose sight of 
him. until he is gone or dead. You are a good witness for John. 
You see the propriety and importance of your remaining with me ; 
your patients must make allowance for your situation. John told me 
this morning — ' master, you are dying.' " 

The Doctor spoke with entire candor and replied, that it was rath- 
er a matter of surprise that he had lasted so long. He now made 
his preparations to die. He directed John to bring him his father's 
breast button ; he then directed him to place it in the bosom of his 
shirt. It was an old fashioned, large-sized gold stud. John placed 
it in the button hole of the shirt bosom — but to fix it completely, re- 
quired a hole on the opposite side. " Get a knife, said he, and cut 
one." A napkin was called for, and placed by John, over his breast. 
For a short time he lay perfectly quiet, with his eyes closed. He 
suddenly roused up and exclaimed — " Remorse ! remorse !" It was 
thrice repeated — the last time, at the top of his voice, with great agi- 
tation. He cried out — " let me see the word. Get a Dictionary, let 
me see the word." " There is none in the room, sir." Write it down 
then — let me see the word." The Doctor picked up one of his cards, 
"Randolph of Roanoke" — "shall I write it on this card?" "Yes, 
nothing more proper." The word remorse, was then written in pen- 
cil. He took the card in a hurried manner, and fastened his eyes on 
it with great intensity. " Write it on the back," he exclaimed — it 
was so done and handed him again. He was extremely agitat- 
ed — " Remorse ! you have no idea what it is ; you can form no idea 



374 LIFE OF JOHN RANDOLPH. 

of it, whatever ; it has contributed to bring me to my present situa- 
tion — but I have looked to the Lord Jesus Christ, and hope I have 
obtained pardon. Now let John take your pencil and draw a line 
under the word," which was accordingly done. " What am I to do with 
the card ?" inquired the Doctor. " Put it in your pocket — take care 
of it — when I am dead, look at it." 

The doctor now introduced the subject of calling in some addi- 
tional witnesses to his declarations, and suggested sending down stairs 
for Edmund Badger. He replied — " I have already communicated 
that to him." The doctor then said — " With your concurrence, sir, I 
will send for two young physicians, who shall remain and never lose 
sight of you until you are dead ; to whom you can make your decla- 
rations — my son. Dr. Isaac Parish, and my young friend and late pu- 
pil, Dr. Francis West, a brother of Capt. West." 

He quickly asked — " Capt. West of the Packet ?" " Yes, sir, the 
same." " Send for him — he is the man — I'll have him." 

Before the door was unlocked, he pointed towards a bureau, and 
requested the Doctor to take from it a remuneration for his services. 
To this the Doctor promptly replied, that he would feel as though he 
were acting indelicately, to comply. He then waived the subject, by 
saying — " in England, it is always customary." 

The witnesses were now sent for, and soon arrived. The dying 
man was propped up in the bed, with pillows, nearly erect. Being 
extiemely sensitive to cold, he had a blanket over his head and shoul- 
ders ; and he directed John to place his hat on, over the blanket, 
which aided in keeping it close to his head. With a countenance full 
of sorrow, John stood close by the side of his dying master. The 
four witnesses — Edmund Badger, Francis West, Isaac Parish, and 
Joseph Parish, were placed in a semi-circle, in full view. He rallied 
all the expiring energies of mind and body, to this last effort. " His 
whole soul," says Dr. Parish, " seemed concentrated in the act. His 
eyes flashed feeling and intelligence. Pointing towards us, with his 
long index finger, he addressed us." 

" I confirm all the directions in my Will, respecting my slaves, 
and direct them to be enforced, particularly in regard to a provision 
for their support." And then raising his arm as high as he could, he 
brought it down with his open hand, on the shoulder of his favorite 
John, and added these words — " especially for this man." He then 



" I HAVE BEEN SICK ALL MY LIFE." -DEATH. 375 

asked each of the witnesses whether they understood him. Dr. Jo- 
seph Parish explained to them, what Mr. Randolph had said in regard 
to the laws of Virginia, on the subject of manumission — and then ap- 
pealed to the dying man to know whether he had stated it correctly. 
" Yes," said he, and gracefully waving his hand as a token of dismis- 
sion, he added — " the young gentlemen will remain with me." 

The scene was now soon changed. Having disposed of that sub- 
ject most deeply impressed on his heart, his keen penetrating eye 
lost its expression, his powerful mind gave way, and his fading imagi- 
nation began to wander amid scenes and with friends that he had left 
behind. In two hours the spirit took its flight, and all that was 
mortal of John Randolph of Roanoke was hushed in death. At a 
quarter before twelve o'clock, on the 24th day of June, 1833, aged sixty 
years, he breathed his last, in a chamber of the City Hotel, No. 
41 North Third Street, Philadelphia. 

His remains were taken to Virginia, and buried at Roanoke, not 
far from the mansion in which he lived, and in the midst of that 
" boundless contiguity of shade," where he spent so many hours of 
anguish and of solitude. He sleeps quietly now ; the squirrel may 
gambol in the boughs above, the partridge may whistle in the long 
grass that waves over that solitary grave, and none shall disturb or 
make them afraid. 

That innumerable funeral bells were not tolled, and eulogies pro- 
nounced, and a monument was not erected to his memory in the 
capitol of his native State, is because Virginia has not yet learned to 
" understand" and to appreciate her wisest statesman, truest patriot, 
and most devoted son. 



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