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MY DEAR SIR I was in Washington a few days past. I saw Mason, Marcy, Buchanan and Bancroft. These people are the vilest of hypocrites if they are not your friends. I am old enough to distrust all politicians, for they are the pests of every community in which they are members. The loss of personal hopes and the consequent lapse of selfishness into patriotism make them your friends, as far as they can be friends of anybody, in spite of antient predelections. Several little anecdotes were told me to satisfy me of Bancrofts admiration of your ability in the despatches to the British Minister. And one of these occurring in Cabinet Council. Men like animals of every other Class have their instinct, and you cannot mistake the instinct that is u North of the Tweed." Victory said Bonaparte is never called to an account for her actions. And the "flesh pots of Egypt" are scented in the
Attorney-general and secretaries of war, state, and navy, respectively. distant gales. These people doubtless think that having exhausted both their powers and their hopes in wrangles for other uses than those of the Country; they may now fall back in commendation of you, as the offering which "Vice gives to Virtue". The agent I believe is according to the Masters in Ethicks, vicious or virtuous according to his intention, but the act good or ill according to its tendency. Be this as it may these people are professedly at least your friends very laudatory of you. And I may add that which was my chief purpose in picking up my pen to write you the President (Colo Polk) is so likewise.
Mr. Polk is by nature a good man, plain in understanding, raised into aspiration by the advent of peculiar combinations of powers, parties, and persons; and successful to the highest limit in the altitude of aspiration. He may naturally and I believe patriotickly wish first that he may be succeeded by the most worthy for his own gratification and secondly for the Countrys weal. I have the best reason to think that his present hopes and wishes lean to you. It was he who recounted to me Mr Bancrofts eulogy on reading (or hearing) your letter to the British Ambassador. I know that Ritchie is decidedly your friend. And I know he is a friend to be valued. The young Ritchies I know nothing of; but the old man is far more sincere and honest than We might expect from a hacknied politician.
The President asked me why it was that the South Carolina Statesmen declined the Mission to England ? I replied that it was a matter of which I was wholly uninformed. I thought his views correct In this 1st That the Mission ought to go to a Slave State, 2d , particularly to South Carolina. I was alone with Mr. Polk for near two hours and I am greatly deceived if he is not sincerely your friend. He spoke of Wright as being powerless and in a tone of the feud of Dallas and Buchanan which left me with the belief that he regarded them both as feeble for ill or injury to others or profit to themselves. I may have been deceived in all that I heard. Yet I do not think so. When kindness is felt and is sincere in its tendency and object, it cannot always be repulsed with justice or policy. Unsolicited support for political trust, by those towards whom we have acted in opposition, and who are without personal regard to us, is perhaps high commendation to the object of support, and moreover commendation to the patriotism which offers its aid under such circumstances. To repulse it is I think neither wise nor dutiful. The substance of my thoughts is this: Those people at Washington wish to be your friends whether the motive be good or bad is it wise to discard their favour?
With great Respect and Sincere Regard
Yr friend J. S. BARBOUR
- John Barbour
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.