James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Bentley, 1 February 1810

From William Bentley

Salem 1 February 1810


With the utmost care I conveyed the Letter to General Stark, & tho’ my importunity might be troublesome, it obtained for me a great pleasure. On the occasion, I find, the General has not so much of the Philosopher, as of the Good Old man. He felt with extasy, that he had a share in the affections of the man he reverenced as a rich Benefactor of his Country, & like Good Old Simeon, he pronounced, now lettest thou, thy Servant depart in peace. To impart his pleasure, is to enjoy it. To resist the wish of his heart, was to deny him a free draught from his overflowing cup of pleasure.

I have inclosed the Letters, which passed, that the documents might speak for themselves.1 Let him do as seemeth to him good. He hopes to be useful to his Country, & a more sincere friend, no Country ever had.

I hope, Sir, that you will have a kind opinion of my acquiescence. I never had more pleasure than from the pure flame, as an unknown friend, I had assisted to kindle. Your Letter, Sir, has made a Good man happy. With the highest respect of your public & private Character, Sir, Your devoted Servant,

William Bentley

RC and enclosures (DLC). RC docketed by JM. Enclosures are a copy of B. F. Stickney to Bentley, 29 Jan. 1810 (2 pp.), and an extract of Bentley’s reply of 31 Jan. 1810 (1 p.).

1In his 29 Jan. letter to Bentley, Stickney acknowledged Bentley’s letter to him enclosing JM to John Stark, 26 Dec. 1809. Stickney wrote, “You suggest a doubt of the propriety of printing Mr. Madisons letter ’just at these electionering times.’ Mr Madison’s letter is so guarded, & so void of political considerations, that I think it removes the objection you mention, (that it may be said that it was written for electionering purposes).” Stickney added that Stark “has expressed a wish to have the correspondence published” but asked Bentley’s opinion on the matter. Bentley’s reply of 31 Jan. agreed to the publication of Stark’s and JM’s letters.

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