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probable (and said so at the time) that the king's life would be attempted, (I am not sure it was, though,) and from the fiery, uncalculating courage of the whole French people, man, woman and child, and the impetuosity with which they throw themselves into any row, once there is a breaking out among them nobody can say where it will end. Then the "hero of two worlds", Jonathan's only guest and pensioner, was still harping upon the democratic fiddle, (excuse the iricism,-scraping or strumming is the word,) and was going so far as even to wish to introduce "State Rights" into France. Lord have mercy upon the grande nation! Very soon after I came here, however, things began to assume a better aspect, the mouvement (true nullies) party lost ground with thinking men,-a ministry of great ability was formed out of what are called the Doctrinaires, (a party answering precisely to the present whigs of England); and no sooner had the Chambers been convened, than it was very evident they had a tremendous majority at their back. They plucked up courage. Antwerp was taken on the one side, and the Duchess of Berry on the other. Then the Reform Parliament is elected, and the Grey ministry carry every thing before them; and, to crown all, poor Madame,-the heroine of a national romance, the paragon of maternal devotedness and courage, proves enceinte, and confesses her sins before all Europe. Moreover, the république modèle (the U. S. of A.) and La Fayette's ever ready example of successful reform, fall as flat in the eyes of mankind as the Duchess of Berry; and, to use the strong expression of one of the leading Paris papers, "saves France a whole avenir of revolutions"! Just about the time that all eyes and mouths were opened upon the most unexpected, but deeply instructive scene that was exhibiting in Columbia and Washington, some debates on one of the favorite schemes of the French liberals (the municipal and departmental administrations) occurred, in which the horror of federal weakness and distractions was expressed with all suitable force. In short, the statues of the leading nullifiers ought to be set up in the vestibule of every palace in Europe, for whole centuries of the history of unsuccessful popular rule are not half so pregnant of eloquent defence of the old monarchical plan, as what occurred among you, from the second Monday in October to the 1st Dec. But I beg your pardon. The cursed topic forced itself upon me unsought and unwelcome. In short, things promise better at this moment in France than I ever expected to see them, and I do not know that that gifted country has any thing to envy (all things considered) any where else.
I have said nothing to you, though I have a great deal to say, about Catharine II. and her Russian confederacy. I rather think her successors have found a shorter and surer road to despotism.
Neither have I time to touch upon the dark topic you allude to. Undoubtedly it is full of alarm and anxiety. Dangers surround the subject on all sides; and to make the prospect worse, before you get this letter the House of Commons will probably have passed a bill for universal emancipation in the British West Indies, which, added to St. Domingo, will present you, at the mouth of the Mississippi, a black population of some 2,000,000, free from all restraint and ready for any mischief. The table of the House of Commons is groaning (as we say) under petitions for this consummation, and you have no idea at all of the horror which slavery inspires in Europe. That W**** admits papers of the stamp you mention, by no means surprises me. He is a bitter man and hates the South. I remember well a conversation Mr. Lowndes and myself had with him at Mr. Cheves' table, thirteen years ago. And so I have no doubt there are many, many others who think as he does. But, after all, what is to be done? And even suppose the worst that could happen without dissolving the Union, would it, could it be so bad as the desperate hostility they would wage against us, backed by the opinions of all mankind, aided by the events of the times, etc., if they were no longer under the restraints (be they ever so weak) of the existing connection? There is no subject that has a thousandth part of the interest this has for me,-I think of it continually, though, as G**** said once in the Legislature, it ends in my not knowing what to think, except that dangers are around and above and below and within our poor little State,-which may God preserve us from! I ask of heaven only that the little circle I am intimate with in Charleston should be kept together while I live,-in health, harmony and competence; and that, on my return, I may myself be enabled to enjoy the same happiness, in my intercourse with it, with which I have been hitherto blessed. We are (I am quite sure) the last of the race of SouthCarolina; I see nothing before us but decay and downfall,-but, on that very account, I cherish its precious relics the more.- -"If chance the sun with farewell sweet; extend its evening rays," etc. My ambition is dead, and I think only of repose and social enjoyment and usefuiness hereafter. Yet my heart sinks within me often when I think of what may too soon be, and I say, in those touching words, "Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and her gates are burnt with fire."
Take care of yourself, and endeavor to restore to that city what once made it celebrated, and is now all that makes it desirable, and believe me, dear Holmes, with undiminished affection and esteem, yours ever, H. S. L.
From Mr. Legaré to the Hon. A. Huger.
My dear Huger, I received your letter, dated somewhere in the neighborhood of the Virginia Springs, some weeks ago, but have put off answering it in hopes of getting another from you on your (then) expected arrival at Pendleton, where one from me was, you said, waiting your coming.
It seems, from the state of the polls at the last election, that there is a sort of reaction beginning against the nullifiers. I regard the run made by Perry in Pendleton and Greenville as very important,-that is to say, in the former, where he must have received many votes to bring him so near his competitor. I feel animated by this change, and am half disposed to cry out with Wellington, after the last fatal failure at Waterloo, "Now, boys, up and at them." As long as we were a wronged people, as we were before the last tariff act, and so many of us compromised by loud and vehement invectives against the usurpations of the federal government, it was absolutely impossible to oppose a party dwelling upon such topics and wielding such resources as theirs. I felt all the unspeakable difficulty of that position in the debate of 1828, and though I succeeded then, am very sure I should have failed in 1830. That was my reason for renouncing my seat. I wished to husband my resources for better days, for it is a great mistake in a public man to suffer himself to be used up by unavailing and feeble efforts made malàpropos. Besides this, the indignation excited in a brave people by a system of oppression, not only confessed to by us all, but first and most passionately denounced by some of us, (myself especially,) had, by the contrivance of their demagogues, raised one of those popular storms where resistance is perfectly out of the question, and nothing remains to be done but to give way and scud for it, or lie to until the wind lulls. No man ever yet opposed such a movement with success, in any country under the sun; and those who talk about what Mirabeau would have done had he lived, to save the monarchy, have read the story of that day in vain. He certainly would have had his head chopped off before '94, and his body thrown where his ashes afterwards were. So would Bonaparte have fared, at that period, or any other, before men got sick of the hair-brained metaphysicians and empirical demagogues that brought France, at last, to the brink of ruin. To spit against such a wind, is, as Franklin or some other sage says, just to spit in one's own face. Besides, how could one who deeply felt the injustice of the tariff, answer it to his conscience, if it came to a fight, to take part with the oppressor, merely because his victim felt his wrongs too keenly? The arts, therefore, practised by their demagogues, for ends
now perfectly explained by their recent coalition with the whigs, might have been pardoned and forgotten, in consideration of the good they had been the means of doing, had not their wanton return to the charge, without one colorable motive for such an audacious attack upon all our hereditary liberties, after every grief had been redressed, and in the midst of all the honest gratulations which a whole people, rescued from such a fearful crisis, were offering each other, in the best spirit of amity and mutual confidence and forbearance,-revealed the strangest perversion, either of head or heart, that has ever yet been witnessed in our still comparatively blessed country,--and such a one as I doubt whether even Jefferson himself would have approved, tho' the majority of Virginians have not disapproved it, at least.
But revenons à nos moutons. I am led to think, from all I hear, that C******'s theory is ended in fanaticism. Nullification is, with him, it seems, what the French call an idée fixe,—a monomania,-in short, he is quoad hoc, stark mad, just as H***** is, and perhaps one or two more of their leaders. It is really lamentable to think that C******'s pre-eminent abilities as a politician have been so wofully misapplied. There is nobody to be compared with him in the management of men and affairs,—in mere discussion he is not equal to Webster, whose genius besides has a beauty and elegance that the other is quite destitute of. I have no hesitation in saying, however, that he is by far the fittest man in the country for the presidential chair, and that, even now, I have no doubt, power would cure him of his metaphysical delusions, as it did once before.
You seem very earnest in dissuading me from my purpose of returning; and really the motives you urge for my remaining where I am are very plausible. If I consulted only my own case, I should certainly take your advice; but I can't consent to do that. No man is free to dispose of himself according to his enlightened judgment. Our tastes, our character, our ruling passions, these are our destiny. I am extremely well off here, but it is Rasselas in the happy valley; and the sort of occupation I have always hankered after is precisely what I want. must own, too, that, without having the least spark of ambition, i. e., the love of power or the love of place, I feel that the post I occupy is rather below me; at all events, that, as a private individual, I shall possess more true importance in the exercise of my poor abilities, and enjoy more self-approbation. I shall, therefore, on no account remain at Brussels longer than next June twelvemonth,-when I shall have been four years from home. You may expect me, therefore, in Carolina, in the autumn of 1836. I know what I have to expect, but the truth is that, after living so long a time as I have here, I shall have no wish whatever to mix with the world in America. Not that I shall be at VOL. I.-28.
war with it, for I trust, on the contrary, that I shall enjoy great peace of mind for the rest of my days; but I shall wish to form no social connections beyond the few that are now dear to me,— I shall live only for usefulness and virtue. No one can be more sure of his determinations than one whose experience is, in all respects, what mine has been both in pleasure and pain.
Fortunately for you, as I came to the end of the last sentence, my servant announced dinner, and broke off the thread of a discourse which promised to be as long and stupid as a congressional speech. Apropos o long speeches, I suppose you have felt more even than the generality of people on the occasion of poor Grimké's death, considering how great a veneration you always expressed for his many virtues. I used to envy him that faith which could move mountains, with hope and charity to suit it. He saw every thing in America couleur de rose. He wrote to me just after the fracas about nullification and the pulling of the President's nose, and told me he was more than ever convinced that our affairs were in the best possible condition and our prospects brighter than ever. Voltaire's Pangloss was a fool to him in optimism. But if his notions were, many of them, very odd, and even wild and pernicious, (for so I think some of them were,) nobody can doubt his surpassing moral excellencies. Stephen Elliott, John Gadsden, and now Grimké : just consider what an irreparable loss for so small a community, in the last five years, and that of men the oldest of whom was only fifty-eight years, and the others in what is considered, in Europe, as the very prime of life. The worst of it is that, as such persons have never been produced any where else in America than in the low country of South-Carolina, so that soil is now worn out, and, instead of these oaks of the forest, its noble original growth, is sending up, like its old fields left to run to waste, thickets of stunted loblolly pine, half choked with broom grass and dog fennel. Take it all together, there are few spectacles so affecting as the decay of our poor parish country, which I often think of, even at this distance, with the fondness of disappointed love: for I have never, since I could form an opinion on such matters, doubted of the immense superiority of Carolina society over all others on that continent, and now feel it more than ever. The result of this state of feeling, however, is rather fortunate as things stand; if exile is to be one's doom, it is better to be able to say, like the old philosopher, to those who condemned him to it, that they are condemned to stay behind. I have heard of a whole host of deaths,-Horry, Lewis Simons, (an excellent man.) old Mr. Simons, etc., etc.,-not forgetting those rare rivals in making the fun stir on Pon Pon, S******* S**** and H**** M********,-Carolinians, both, in their good as well as their bad qualities.