James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Mason Locke Weems, 18 May 1820

From Mason Locke Weems

Fredricksbg May. 18. 1820

Very Honord & Esteemd Sir

I send by the stage a copy of what the Critics in these things call “A very interesting history of the Great French War”1—in all its ramifications, I presume, of numbers, moods, Cases &c &c! This Copy belongs to your modest & worthy Son P. Todd Esqr who subscribd to me for it, last winter. I can’t conclude without adding my fond hopes that Doctr. Hunter2 has had the honor to amuse yourself & very Amiable Lady, this Inclement Spring, with the welcome flowers of his finely colouring fancy. You know I dont pretend to talk or write much before you, save to get ideas & information but I must needs say of this same Doctr. Hunter, that I know no luxury beyond that of reposing myself, when weary, on some refreshing green under trees made vocal by Natures Songsters & her rustling gales, and perusing his Enchanting pages.

On returning home I found after a long search, the letter you did me the honor to write to me relative to Marion.3 I thank you much for it. We are about to Steriotype that little Vol. I am preparing a little affair that I hope will divert you—[“]against Dueling”4—with Caricatures that wd not dishonor, Bunbury or even Hogarth5—all American. Wishing that you & yr Excellent Partner may, e’er long, gaze with extacy on the “Sacred Group” of Infant Angels dulce rident, dulce loquent,6 in the pleasant halls of Montpelier, I remain Most Esteemed Sir Yours,

M L Weems

The bundle too late for this Stage, but left at the Stage Office.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Edward Baines, Baine’s History of the Late War, between the United States and Great Britain: With a Critical Appendix, &c. by Ebenezer Harlow Cummins (Baltimore, 1820; Shoemaker 186).

2For Henry Hunter, see Weems to JM, 22 Jan. 1819, PJM-RS description begins David B. Mattern et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Retirement Series (2 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 2009–). description ends 1:404 and n. 3.

3JM to Weems, 16 Feb. 1819, ibid., 418–19.

4Mason Locke Weems, God’s Revenge against Duelling, or, The Duellists Looking Glass … (Georgetown, D.C., 1820; Shoemaker 4233).

5Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811) was an English amateur artist and caricaturist. William Hogarth (1697–1764) was an English artist best known for his satirical engravings of contemporary life.

6Dulce rident, dulce loquent: sweetly smiling, sweetly speaking. Weems refers here to the last two lines of an ode of Horace: “dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo, dulce loquentem” (“I will love my sweetly laughing, sweetly prattling Lalage”). Weems may have chosen this allusion to flatter JM, since the moral of the ode is that “from the Righteous Man even the Wild Beasts Run away” (Hor., Odes 1.22.23–24 [Horace: Odes and Epodes, Loeb Classical Library (1978 reprint), 64–65]).

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