James Madison Papers

Thomas Bee to James Madison, 4 July 1828

Charleston, July 4th. 1828.

Dear Sir,

I recd. yesterday your letter, with its inclosure, & thank you very sincerely for both. I am glad, too, to find that you concur with me in condemning that fondness for titles that mean nothing. I wish that, without any sort of connection with your own claim to it, you had expressed an opinion as to the peculiar applicability of the epithet emeritus, for one who has filled an office of high distinction, & has retired from it with the approbation of his country and his conscience. The term, which I have lately seen applied to yourself & others, of ex-president is equivocal &, therefore, not respectful. The hackney’d "honourable" is merged in the single distinction of President. I am not very young; else, I should hope to see my neology adopted, & supported by an ample provision during life—such as the English Judges receive, whenever they chuse to retire. Hitherto,

"Diis aliter visum est."

I wish more success to your University than I expect it will meet with. It is, indeed, a noble reservoir; but where are your springs? Your Legislature might, at a very moderate expence, organize "High Schools" as they call them in Scotland, from whence your boys, at 18, might bring to the University all the classical knowledge necessary; and commence their College plan with Science. This is the case in England; & be assured that our scholarship will never rival theirs, till we head in their footsteps.

"To this complexion we must come at last", if we are to have among us such accomplishments as those of Canning, Lord Wellesley, Charles Fox &c. We have equal talent, with very good means of instruction in Mathematics &c—but I see daily cause to cry out for such schools as Eton, Westminster, Winchester and Harrow—as Lord Nelson tells us was his constant cry for frigates, previously to his falling in with his enemy at Aboukir. "Experto crede Roberto". I was educated at a public school in England, from ten to eighteen; &, afterwards, at Oxford, till I took a Bachelor of Laws degree: I owe everything to the school. Any man may teach himself the rest, or, at least, may acquire it by lectures. As this letter will not put you to the trouble of an answer, & as most of us, however unwilling to write, have no objection to read, I will make no apology for once more subscribing myself, Very respectfully, your obedt. Servt

Thos. Bee

This State is grievously agitated by the late Tariff-Law. What may be its ultimate measures, God knows. The "nodus" is manifestly "vindice dignus". We shall hardly take any material step, till the meeting of our Legislature. Your friend (such I have always considered him) Dr. Cooper was lately in Charleston, and formed at once a nucleus for some of our most daring spirits. The Doctor is perfectly disinterested & sincere; but his element is, by nature, that of the salamander. Like other men of a similar marked-character,

Laudatur ab his, culpatur ab illis.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Docketed by James Madison.

Index Entries