James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Joy, 9 February 1821

From George Joy

London 9th febry 1821.

Dear sir,

You shall have no cause to complain of a tardy rejoinder to your favour of the 25th Novr. last, altho’ in that war of recrimination I was long since offered the Alliance of my friend Jeremy Bentham; and it was literally the fact that at the hour of receiving your Letter last Evening and from that to the present, I have had more of Correspondence to attend to than for any week together in the current year. However we sometimes manage best when put to our shifts;1 and the Receipt of your Letter determined me to divert to Montpellier a Newspaper I was about sending to Washington, and even to add to it the Copy of a Letter I wrote a few Days before, and which you will see I had retained for some such purpose. I have a young Myrmidon here, the only Servant I can afford to keep, who writes a hand so like my own (albeit he can write much better) that I am afraid Physiologists will mistake him for one of my Bastards, for I have seen a deal of family Conformation in handwriting—(tho’ by the way there are no two of my own family that write at all alike)—but what I dread much more is that his Orthography should be mistaken for mine, especially when he writes from dictation or from the reading to him from a Stenographic Copy—for the enclosed he had the original before him; but I am afraid to trust it, without this Notice. It is a Letter to my Sister,2 who had bored me more than once for an opinion on the Speech of our Nephew at the Wiltshire Meeting; and I have not time to clip it. I have however marked the Scripture phrases in quotations as a New Englander should always do in writing to a Virginian. I shall also eke out my despatch by an Extract from a Letter just received from my Brother,3 on a Work of Wm Tudor (Letters on the Eastern States published in New York) and another from my own Letter to Tudor of this date.4 I am reminded by his Letter on Politics of the Efforts I made to remove the Notion entertained here that the Members of the opposition to our Government could be counted on as friendly to this; particularly in my Conciliator Nr 5.5 The importance of inculcating this opinion—(now, I trust, confirmed at home)—is one of the strongest motives for getting the Work into Circulation here. I have little apprehension of a Collision; but it is well to take Time by the Forelock; and reference to a Work written now may be more satisfactory than any Statement drawn up pro re nata.6

By the way I have tried in various ways to get Copies of my Conciliator, printed in the National Intelligencer, of which Mr: Gales sent me the first three Numbers with his Exordium; and he wrote that he had printed the whole. I have particular reasons for wishing to have them in that form. I am afraid the wish is hopeless; but if you could put me in the way to procure them, it would oblige me greatly. If I had covered the Wiltshire Paper to Mr. Gales, I should have repeated a requisition of this kind; but besides the Intervention of your Letter to give it another direction, here is now the Speaker himself saying, to send it to the Nat. Int. would be too like the Puff direct. This however is not to prevent your making any use you please of it or of the learned Comments upon it; and as I cannot lay hold of the preceding County Paper to compleat the Series; I cover the Times of the 19th Ult. containing with the Wiltshire an Account of the Kent County Meeting.7 With respect to the distresses arising from superabundance, I cannot help thinking if the Moonites have sufficiently good Telescopes what a miserable set of Lunarians they must take us for. But Ministers shall not have my project of redress, till I have a better Guarantee than they can give me, that in “waxing fat, like Jessurun,” they will not also “kick.”8 I have held it back for years under this apprehension, and I should not wonder if it never came forward.

In respect to the Changes taking place in Europe, I note your distinction between the precise dangers from within and the probable dangers from without—it is not in the nature of things that Monarchs should be pleased with those Changes; and however prudent, and wise it may be to yield with a good Grace where the insurrectionary movement is already made; if those to whom it is only approaching should make no Effort to keep it off, it will only be because “their Poverty and not their Will consents.”9

I see no reason to alter the opinion I have uniformly held on the subject of Manufactures. I wish not for an isolated Independence; but rather, if it could be had, the freest possible interchange of all the Commodities of Life—but this, depending on a general acquiescence, is rather possible than at once practicable. All the world must be Quakers before we can have universal peace—and to this sect I beg you to tell Mrs. M. with my Compliments, tho’ I have not made up my mind on the subject, I think I approach the nearest—and if such general acquiescence cannot be had; it behoves every nation to take care of herself. Hamilton reported long since on the policy of encouraging such manufactures as would make the Country independent on foreign Nations for the Munitions of War,10 and these include many Articles ancipiti usus11—what would an Army do in our Climate without Blankets? Laisser faire is a good general rule; but there are occasions on which the Government may lend a hand. If there were none other than offensive wars; I should never desire the means to be of easy acquirement; but where to be defenceless is to invite insult, I must say, Si vis pacem, para Bellum.12 But even the Doctrine of Laisser aller must bring about Manufactures in the Case you mention, and they should have some encouragement. “If you cannot sell you cannot buy”—then as Dr: Franklin said 50 years ago, you must use the Loom more and the Plough less.

Now you will think I have made out a Dispatch of sufficient Bulk; and I see my Boy has shown his predilection for Legitimacy, by copying the Extracts in a hand less resembling mine than the Letter to Miss Joy. He is one of the nova progenies;13 and not a bad example of the benefit of giving education to the poorer Classes. I know only the outline of the Missouri Question, and am sorry to say it presents itself to me as a thing of some difficulty—a sort of Collision between Justice and Humanity. I trust there is sufficient Virtue, and sufficient good temper, in the U.S. to render these objects compatible with each other; and shall rejoice to hear that it is settled on satisfactory terms.

The Bag of the regular Boston Ship goes tomorrow; and I shall avail myself of your monstrous Sinecure14 to give this a long Sweep of postage by that route.

I am always gratified in receiving a Letter from you; and hope you will indulge me at your leisure, addressing as this last to No 13 Finsbury Square. Always, very faithfully, Dear sir, Your most obedt Servt

G. Joy

RC and enclosures (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by JM. For enclosures, see nn. 2–4.

1Put to our shifts: “to bring to extremity” (OED Online description begins Oxford English Dictionary, www.oed.com. description ends ).

2Joy enclosed a copy of a letter to his sister, Betsy, 5 Feb. 1821 (4 pp.), that included criticism of his nephew’s speech and comments on the purging of Queen Caroline’s name from the liturgy. As Joy explained, “as to any Spiritual advantage or disadvantage from her name being retained, omitted, or restored to the Liturgy, I would not give 18d one way or the other. The Prayers of the whole Kingdom would not pray away or restore the Life of a worm.”

3The enclosure is an extract of a letter from Michael Joy to George Joy, 7 Feb. 1821 (2 pp.), praising Letters on the Eastern States by William Tudor and urging that it be brought to the notice of the Quarterly Review or Edinburgh Review. Of the former he wrote that “if their commendation cannot be obtained, the next best thing is to secure their enmity; for this goes almost as far towards selling a book, as their praise.”

4Joy enclosed an undated extract of his letter to William Tudor (1 p.), commenting on Tudor’s book and “the Amalga[ma]tion of the Ancient Nobility with the modern Meritists” in England.

5Joy referred here to his essays under the signature of “Conciliator,” some of which he enclosed in manuscript in his letter to JM, 23 Feb. 1815, DLC. In his Conciliator essay No. 5, Joy described the Henry affair, in which the Irish adventurer, John Henry, was employed by the British government to assess the degree of antiadministration feeling in New England during and immediately after the Embargo. For the background of this story and the sale of Henry’s letters to the Madison administration in February 1812, see Elbridge Gerry to JM, 2 Jan. 1812, and nn. 1–2 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends 4:116–17).

6Pro re nata: “as required, or as needed” (OED Online description begins Oxford English Dictionary, www.oed.com. description ends ).

7The County of Wilts meeting, at which Henry Joy spoke, was called “to consider the propriety of declaring the ‘unabated and unalterable attachment of the county to the constitution and government of this country, as by law established; to express their deep regret at the late unjustifiable and unconstitutional proceedings instituted against the Queen; and to petition both Houses of Parliament to take the most effectual steps for the removal of every obstacle to a satisfactory and final arrangement, as well as to prevent a recurrence to measures of a similar tendency, and the revival of discussions equally mischievous to the public morals, and dangerous to the peace of the country’ ” (Times [London], 19 Jan. 1821).

8Joy paraphrased the verse “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked” (Deut. 32:15 [AV description begins The Bible. Authorized (King James) Version. description ends ]).

9Joy paraphrased the line “My poverty, but not my will, consents,” Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 5.1.75 (Riverside description begins G. Blakemore Evans, ed., The Riverside Shakespeare (Boston, 1974). description ends ).

10One rationale for Alexander Hamilton’s Report on the Subject of Manufactures, 5 Dec. 1791, was to identify “the means of promoting such [manufactures] as will tend to render the United States, independent on [sic] foreign nations, for military and other essential supplies” (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Alexander Hamilton, 10:230).

11Ancipitis usus: in international law, “goods susceptible of being used for warlike and peaceful purposes” (Black’s Law Dictionary [9th ed.], 101, 365).

12Si vis pacem, para Bellum: if you want peace, prepare for war.

13Nova progenies: new offspring.

14On 1 Mar. 1817 Congress had passed “An Act freeing from postage all letters and packets to and from James Madison,” U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 3:350.

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