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of the United States. In truth the pamphlet review of my last summer's address and the strictures of Mr. Hale's paper1 were so far from indicating inconsistency with the opinion always entertained of my talents and style by the Eastern politicians, that I have something more than surmise for the belief that they had the same identical origin as the review of my commenceent oration upon my taking the bachelor's degree in 1787. Shall I acknowledge to you that I regret nothing of all this? Shall I confess that this unrelenting and almost unrelaxing opposition of your Eastern politicians which I have now breasted these five and thirty years, and against which the cheering voice of my country has hitherto triumphantly supported me instead of casting me down, has been my highest pride? Weak and vain as the confession is I cannot deny it. Were it therefore true that Virginia has been a partial mother to her own sons and a stepmother to those of her sisters, right glad should I be that at least in my person no such dandling spirit should have been manifested by my good mother Massachusetts. The reputation which must be pampered and cosseted has no charms for me. Give me that which is spontaneously bestowed by strangers. Give me that which is reluctantly extorted from rivals. Give me that which the whole nation shall sanction and after ages shall ratify, or give me none. It is not assuredly for me to complain of the partialities of Virginia. Of the last twenty-eight years of my life twenty have been employed in offices of trust and profit and honor in the service of the Union at the call of Virginian Presidents. I have never courted her favor. I have never ministered to her passions. I have never flattered her prejudices. Yet three of the four eminent citizens born of her who have presided over the Union have successively confided to me
1 Nathan Hale (1784-1863), editor and proprietor of the Boston Daily Advertiser.
several of the highest trusts of the Nation. From the fourth I have received multiplied tokens of esteem, such as the Eastern politicians never thought me to deserve. Under this patronage I have rendered as in duty bound faithful services to the Union. Of their value or importance I am not to judge. Great or small, some of them are now beyond the power of time and out of the reach of fortune. Clouds and darkness rest upon the future; but whatever my fortune may be, whether my reputation as a statesman or a writer is to stand or fall will, I trust, depend as little upon the policy or the good will of the Eastern politicians, as upon the strictures of Mr. Hale's gazette or the pamphlet of the Boston reviewer.
There is much of egotism and so little of discretion in this letter that after having written it thus far, I have long hesitated whether it should be committed to the post office or to the flames. I have at length concluded to forward it to you in strict confidence, with permission to give its perusal only to the friend to whom your brother's letter was addressed. He has been to me for more than thirty years the true and disinterested friend of all hours and under every vicissitude. He knows as well as any living man all the good and all the evil of my character, and though as quick to discern and as judicious to distinguish a blemish or a beauty as the clearest sighted of Eastern politicians, if he should here and there espy some trivial crudity of diction or deportment, will yet not make it his business or his pleasure to blazon it forth to the world.
I regret that it will not be in my power to review the memoir of Mr. Onis. It is indeed of very little consequence in itself and scarcely deserves the notice of your miscellany, unless it were as an occasion for reviewing the political relations of this Union with Spain from their commencement
amid the storm of our Revolution until this time. Such a review would make a curious and interesting article for your work, but I could not write it as it ought to be written without walking upon firebrands. "Suppositos cineri doloso."
I send you however as a substitute for my half promised communication, two-thirds of a review of Don Luis's Memoir published at Philadelphia, and in which that most excellent Lord is handled more roughly than I should permit myself to treat him, though not more severely than he deserves.
I will thank you to acknowledge the receipt of this letter, and remain with very high regard and esteem, etc.1
"In respect to the candidates for the Presidency, discussion has somewhat subsided, but it is clear that all public business is colored with the hues borrowed from this subject. Every measure is watched with a jealous regard to its bearing on this point. Kentucky is at present firm for Mr. Clay, and will struggle hard to bring other western interests to bear in his favor. Mr. Crawford's friends are evidently alive and exerting themselves. Beyond all question Virginia means to stick by him. Mr. Adams seems in statu quo. I do not hear that he makes any friends, and unless supported by Maryland, he will not have a commanding vote. I do not learn that he has any very zealous partisans at work for him. Mr. Lowndes by present appearances will not ultimately run against any other candidate from South Carolina, but his friends will unite with those of Mr. Calhoun. This latter gentleman stands very high here among elevated and considerate men, and appears to be gaining ground. His youth is against him, and will probably weigh much in abating the wishes in his favor. But in all other respects I am told he is thought superior to most, if not all of the candidates. It is impossible to conjecture what will be the event, and I have not even attempted to speculate on it. I think, if he is not set up, his friends will probably incline to Mr. Adams. The whole Cabinet is by the ears. All are candidates, and as I hear, they are quite shy of each other. I imagine that consultations are merely formal, and advice rarely given in concert." Story to Jere. Mason, February 21, 1822. Memoir of Jeremiah Mason, 264. See Crawford to Gallatin, May 13, 1822, in Adams, Writings of Gallatin, II. 243.
TO JOEL LEWIS
WASHINGTON, 20th February, 1822.
Your letter of the 12th instant has been received and I answer it with the same frankness with which it was written. The report1 to which you refer is one among a multitude of falsehoods, which under the varying forms of positive untruth and of invidious misrepresentation are now, and will doubtless continue to be, circulated in every quarter of this Union with a view to counteract, and if possible to extinguish, any favorable disposition which might possibly be entertained of my character and services by my fellow citizens. Of these falsehoods adapted in the several sections of the Union to the particular feelings there prevailing respectively, I have been apprized by communications from many different persons, most of them like yourself persons with whom I have not the advantage of any personal acquaintance, but who witnessing the effects of this undermining species of calumny have, from sentiments of kindness to me for which I am duly grateful, given me notice of it. This system of secret defamation has been pursued with special industry, since the attempt at the close of the last year to obtrude upon the Union at this present session of Congress a caucus candidate for the Presidential election of 1825, and I have no doubt that the channel through which the report that has occasioned your letter was conveyed was the same through which that hopeful project was disembogued. This much I have thought proper to say in answer to the
1 The report, referred to by Lewis, was that Adams was the friend of W. B. Irish, and active in obtaining for him a reappointment as marshal of the western district of Pennsylvania.
particular subject of your letter. The report which you mention to have been circulated with a view to impair favorable sentiments entertained of me is utterly false. But it is only one of a multitude equally false, circulated for the same or a similar purpose. And permit me now to add that in different quarters of the Union these reports are so numerous and so insidiously circulated, that if I should undertake to refute or answer them all, it would absorb a large portion if not the whole of the time which I am in duty bound to employ in the discharge of my duties to the public service. This explanation was due from me to the good opinion which you had formed of my character, and I have cheerfully given it. At the same time I feel it incumbent upon me to assure you, that with regard to any future prospects of relation between the public service and me after the termination of Mr. Monroe's administration, as no such relation will be in any manner solicited or sought by me, so I shall be prepared to receive the definitive voice of my country concerning it with entire acquiescence and submission. The constitution of the United States has vested the election in the people acting by their regularly organized agents. That confidence which the Constitution has reposed in the calm and deliberate judgment of the people, in a matter always of deep interest to them, I am assuredly not the man to deny them in the bearing which once or twice in the course of my life it may have upon myself. That falsehood of every description will be insinuated by some and asserted by others to deprive me of that estimation in the minds of my fellow-citizens which might incline them to honor me with their highest trust, is what I must and do expect, and is that of which I consider my present experience as only an earnest of that which is to Happy will it be for me, if from the test which my character moral and political must abide, it may issue with a