James Madison Papers

Lafayette to James Madison, 27 October 1827

La grange October 27th 1827

My dear friend

I Hope Your Health, the Report on Which Has for Some time Given me inexpressible Anguish, is now perfectly Restored, and that Mrs Madison and your Excellent mother are Well to Both of Whom I Beg you to present my most Affectionate Respects.

A Very kind and Affecting Answer from Mrs Randolph, dated Boston, and Your letter Novemb. 1826, Have informed me of the Situation of the family at the time they were Writen; Since Which I Have Had Only public intelligence and Such partial Accounts as I Could Collect. The donations of two States, the dispositions of Some others, an intended Attempt in Congress is all What I Have Heard. The purpose of Virginia Has never Been fully Explained. I need not add How Anxious I am on the Subject.

Your letter Had given me the Hope of a Speedy publication at least of one Volume. I am Convinced it Should Well Sell in Europe. You know that litterary Men, Sir Walter Scott; Mr Cooper &c. Now manage their Arrangement With Book Sellers so as to Have the publication and translation to Appear at the Same time. A new Novel of Mr Cooper Has Been Some Weeks printed in paris, and Waits Untill it Has Reached the U. S. for Simultaneous publication. You Had mentioned that my Councils should Be Soon Resorted to, and I Was prepared to do Every thing in my power. But Have Heard Nothing, and Seen No Body. Mr Sparks Has Communicated to me His intention to publish gnl Washington’s Correspondence, and the probability of a Visit to Europe Which I Have Heard with pleasure, as I think the Records of England and france might furnish interesting illustrations. The Same opinion I Can Export Relative to our dear Jefferson’s Works. I myself Have Several interesting letters from Him, and might give Some Contemporary information. In Case no one Could Come on purpose to make Arrangements I think You, Jeffers. Randolph, Mr. Coolish might Select Some of the numerous travellers to G. B. and to france to Whom I Should Be Happy to Give Every Assistance in my power, as to Subscriptions in this or other matters, on You, my friend, I depend, distanced as I am, to inform, Suggest, or do in my name as You think fit from the knowledge You Have of my feelings.

The Situation of Europe affords nothing of actual importance, Excepting the affair of Greece and of the peninsula. You Will See By the papers that three Governments Have at last Come out to stop the Exterminating War; they are jealous of Each other, and all Unite in their Jealousy of Genuine Republican liberty. Their intervention However will Give to the Greeks Some Respite: I am affraid th[at] independance, and institutions of that So very interesting people Will Be Stamped With the prevailing illiberal Sentiment of their protectors. Yet, Something Better than Complete destruction must take place. They Have Been Very Happy in the Choice of their president, Capo d’istrias, Whom I Have Had the pleasure to See Before His departure from paris. As to the peninsula, Spain is in Such a State of Confusion, the produce of that foolish and Criminal armed intervention Which We Had, my friends and myself, So warmly [deprecated], that no Body Can now Understand What is Going on there; the politics of Mr Canning and His Successors in Portugal, altho’ they Wear a Better Appearance, are However Very obscure; is it not strange that they Have persisted to keep at lisbon Sir William A Court the known Betrayer of the Revolutions of Naples and Spain? Public Spirit is progressing in france. A Complete Counter Revolution is the ill disguised aim of king, Court, and Government. To Resist it is the Almost Unanimous feeling of the people, altho’ not So Energetic as to produce insurrection. The parisian National guard Has Been dissolved Directly; to disarm it Was the intention; Government dares not Execute it. Manuel an Eloquent patriot died; His funerals Were Attended By an immense Concourse of people, teazed, But not Attacked By Government; Speeches Were pronounced on the tomb. Inclosed you Will find the few Words I Said. The publisher, printer, and Book Seller Were tried. We Claimed our share of the prosecution as first Authors; the king’s attorney Opposed our Admission; But the inferior tribunal Acquitted at [Both], Speeches, and publishers, and it is Questioned Whether Government Will pursue the Appeal, to the Royal Superior Court. Now they are Going to dissolve the Chambre des deputés on this principle that there is less danger for them in the Opposition of this Year than in the probable developpment of public Spirit Against a later Election. While Speaking of Speeches I don’t know Whether in the publication of What I Said on the fourth of july last by the Richmond Enquirer under the date of September 4th You Have observed a typographical mistake, Which Substituting the Words Veteran’s Struggle to those of Virtuous Struggle as printed in the other papers, Has, placed as it is, a Very Ridiculous Appearance. Had I Been in the U. S. I Should Have Writen to our friend Ritchie Whose particular kindness to me would at once Have Made the Erratum. But at this distance of time and place I thought I Had Better Call Your Attention on that number to Request an Occasional Remark or let it alone as You Will think fit, as it is probable it Has Escaped observation.

I Really Grieve at the tone of Bitterness and abuse that Attends the presidential Contest. It Has Gone So far as to attack good Mrs Jackson, a Sort of illiberality Very Uncongenial to the American Character. It Has invaded the public Concerns and Congressional Business. It Seems to me that all the purposes of a Severe, and even Hostile Competition Might Be answered Without Recurring to those imputations on Both Sides Which By Neither are Credited. It answers no [ ] and leaves abroad unfavorable impressions. However Averse I am from obvious motives and feelings to take any part, or answer an improper Question in those party dissensions, it Has Been my duty, as an Honest man, When Called Upon By Mr Clay Whether I Remembered the time and manner in Which He made me Anticipate His Choice, to tell Him His Recollection Coincided with my own. But I took Care in my letter to State that my Opinion did also Coincide with His in the impropriety there Should Be in my Situation to Meddle With political Contests Among the friends Who Had All Been Unanimous in their testimonies of kindness to me.

Frances Wright, Being on the point of death, Has Been Embarked at Memphis for N. orleans, and Arrived in Europe partly Recovered, altho’ Still Very Weack. She Has past a few Weecks With us at la Grange, and With Some other friends in paris, and is Now in England from Where she is Going to Embark for New orleans and Nashoba Near memphis West tenessee, Where Her Sister Camilla is Waiting for Her. The two Admirable Sisters Have devoted their fortune, their lives, and all their Exertions to the Benefit of the Human, and particularly of the Coloured Race. Miss Wright’s actual System is that total Colonisation Being Next to impossibility, the object should Be Now to Soften and finally do away prejudices of Colour, By the Experiment of Common Education, for Which a Seminary Should Be Set up at Nashoba. Her ideas on the Cooperative System are Congenial to those of Mr Owen Whom she taxes With Want of proper forms to introduce His doctrines, But Whose ideas, in the Main, appear to Her Correct and productive of Social Melioration. Such is the fixed State of Her mind and Her plans which Have Been By Several of Her European friends Criticized, By others admired, While all Could not But Agree in a Sense of High Respect for Her person, Her Virtues, intentions and Exalted character. She is eloquent in Her Cause, Amiable in Her admission of every objection, more affectionate than Ever in Her feelings, namely towards You and Mrs Madison, But Quite determined in the pursuit of Her Vocation. Those particulars I am anxious to give to You Both Because I think Your advices, and Your kindness may Become of Great Service to my Excellent Enthusiastic Young friends not less Remarkable for the purity of their Hearts than for the powers of their mind.

A Great deal Has Been Said in the ministerial publications of a letter Writen By our dear illustrious Jefferson, Where, in His advice to a litterary man not to Become Editor of a Newspaper, He is Said to Have Expressed Himself Very Severely Not only on the profession But on the inconveniencies of a public print. As the inductions drawn from that document are Quite the Reverse of His principles and other declarations on that Matter I Beg You to let me know the truth of that letter published it is Said in Some American paper, as it is Said a Bill is intended to be proposed in the Chambre des deputés for the permanent Establishment of the Censorship on periodical publications.

My Son, lately Returned from a Visit to His property in Auvergne Where He Has Been most kindly Greeted By the people of that, my Native Country Begs to Be Respectfully Remembered to Mrs Madison and to You; So does le Vasseur. My Whole family ask leave to join in those Tributes of Respect, and I offer You the Affectionate Wishes and Sentiments that for Ever Bind to You Your old friend


Be pleased to Remember me Affectionately and Gratefully to Your kind Relations and Neighbours, and to the dear family of Monticello. The University is no doubt in a flourishing State.

RC (PHi).

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