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spiritual welfare we have already referred, he says, in a letter written after he had been a few months in Washington:
“Yesterday I was to have dined with Frank Key, but was not well enough to go. He called here the day before, and we had much talk together. He perseveres in pressing on towards the goal, and his whole life is spent in endeavouring to do good for his unhappy fellow-men. The result is, that he enjoys a tranquillity of mind, a sunshine of the soul, that all the Alexanders of the earth can neither confer nor take away. This is a state to which I can never attain. I have made up my mind to suffer like a man condemned to the wheel or the stake. Strange as you may think it, I could submit without a murmur to pass the rest of my life on some high lonely tower, where I might outwatch the bear with thrice great Hernes,' and exchange the enjoyments of society for an exemption from the plagues of life. These press me down to the very earth; and to rid myself of them, I would gladly purchase an annuity and crawl into some hole, where I might commune with myself and be still.” -Vol. ii, pp. 144, 145.
On another occasion he uses this language :-“No punishment except remorse can exceed the misery I feel. My heart swells to bursting at past recollections; and as the present is without enjoyment, so is the future without hope.” And again, in the same strain :-“Dreary, desolate, dismal, there is no word in our language or any other, that can express the misery of my life. I drag on like a tired captive at the end of a slave-chain in an African coffle."
The most prominent subject of discussion in Congress, of which Mr. Randolph was now a member, was what is known as the Missouri Question. It met with his most determined opposition, as did the compromise which was finally adopted, or, as Randolph said,
smuggled through the House.” He declared of the speaker, Henry Clay, that he had taken advantage of his office; had deprived him and his friends of their constitutional rights; and thenceforward to the close of the session, he and the speaker never exchanged salutations, or even spoke to each other. The mutual animosity between these great men, each a leader of his party, appears to have increased until the election of Mr. Adams to the presidency, and the acceptance of the office of secretary of state by Mr. Clay. It resulted in a duel, the immediate cause of which was a speech of Randolph, then a senator, on a message from the president, relative to a proposed Congress of Nations at Panama. The gist of the offence in that message will be seen in the following sketch of Mr. Randolph's speech on the occasion. Referring to President Adams, he asks:
" Who made him a judge of our usages? Who constituted him? He has been a professor, I understand. I wish he had left off the pedagogue when he got into the executive chair. Who made him the censor morum of this body?
Will any one answer this question? Yes or no? Who? Name the person. Above all, who made him the searcher of hearts, and gave him the right, by an inuendo black as hell, to blacken our motives? Blacken our motives! I did not say that then. I was more under self-command; I did not use such strong language. I said, if he could borrow the eye of Omniscience himself, and look into every bosom here; if he could look into that most awful, calamitous, and tremendous of all possible gulfs, the naked unveiled human heart, stripped of all its covering of self-love, exposed naked, as to the eye of GodI said if he could do that, he was not, as President of the United States, entitled to pass upon our motives, although he saw and knew them to be bad. I said, if he had converted us to the Catholic religion, and was our father confessor, and every man in this House at the footstool of the confessional had confessed a bad motive to him by the laws of his Church, as by this Constitution, above the law and above the Church, he, as President of the United States, could not pass on our motives, though we had told him with our own lips our motives, and confessed they were bad. I said this then, and I say
now. Here I plant my foot; here I fling defiance right into his teeth before the American people; here I throw the gauntlet to him and the bravest of his compeers, to come forward and defend these miserable lines : Involving a departure, hitherto, so far as I am informed, without example, from that usage, and upon the motives for which, not being informed of them, I do not feel myself competent to decide? Amiable modesty! I wonder we did not, all at once, fall in love with him, and agree una voce to publish our proceedings, except myself, for I quitted the Senate ten minutes before the vote was taken. I saw what was to follow; I knew the thing would not be done at all, or would be done unanimously. Therefore, in spite of the remonstrances of friends, I went away, not fearing that any one would doubt what my vote would have been, if I had stayed. After twenty-six hours' exertion it was time to give in. I was defeated, horse, foot, and dragoons-cut up, and clean broke down by the coalition of Blifil and Black George—by the combination, unheard of till then, of the puritan with the black-leg." -Vol. ü, pp. 253, 254.
The allusion in the latter part of this speech was too pointed to be misunderstood. Randolph was fully persuaded that the coalition between the president and his secretary of state was the result of corrupt motives, and his language can be construed in no other way than as a personal insult of the grossest kind. A challenge followed. Attempts were made, by the friends of the parties, to prevent a meeting, but without success. Randolph refused to retract or to apologize. “I have said he, “no explanations to give-I will not give any. I applied to the administration the epithet puritanic, black-legged. I am called to the field—I have agreed to go, and am ready to go."
The following account of the meeting," and the preliminaries, is from the pen of General Hamilton, of South Carolina :
“ The night before the duel Mr. Randolph sent for me. I found him calm, but in a singularly kind and confiding mood. He told me that he had something on his mind to tell me. He then remarked, Hamilton, I bave determined to receive, without returning, Clay's fire; nothing shall induce. me to harm a hair of his head; I will not make his wife a widow, or his children orphans. Their tears would be shed over his grave; but when the sod of Virginia rests on my bosom, there is not in this wide world one individual to
pay this tribute upon mine.' His eyes filled, and resting his head upon his hand, we remained some moments silent. I replied, ' My dear friend, (for ours was a sort of posthumous friendship, bequeathed by our mothers,) I deeply regret that you have mentioned this subject to me; for you call upon me to go to the field and to see you shot down, or to assume the responsibility, in regard to your own life, in sustaining your determination to throw it away. But on this subject, a man's own conscience and his own bosom are his best monitors. I will not advise; but under the enormous and unprovoked personal insult you have offered Mr. Clay, I cannot dissuade. I feel bound, however, to communicate to Colonel Tattnall your decision. He begged me not to do so, and said he was very much afraid that Tattnall would take the studs and refuse to go out with him.' I, however, sought Colonel Tatnall, and we repaired about midnight to Mr. Randolph's lodgings, whom we found reading Milton's great poem. For some moments he did not permit us to say one word in relation to the approaching duel ; and he at once commenced one of those delightful criticisms on a passage of this poet, in which he was wont so enthusiastically to indulge. After a pause, Colonel Tattnall remarked, Mr. Randolph, I am told you have determined not to return Mr. Clay's fire; I must say to you, my dear sir, if I am only to go out to see you shot down, you must find some other friend.' Mr. Randolph remarked that it was his determination. After much conversation on the subject, I induced Colonel Tatnall to allow Mr. Randolph to take his own course, as his withdrawal, as one of his friends, might lead to very injurious misconstructions. At last, Mr. Randolph, smiling, said, 'Well
, I promise you one thing, if I see the devil in Clay's eye, and that with malice prepense he means to take my life, I may change my mind. A remark I knew he made merely to propitiate the anxieties of his friend.
“Mr. Clay and himself met at four o'clock the succeeding evening, on the banks of the Potomac. But he saw no devil in Clay's eye,' but a man fearless, and expressing the mingled sensibility and firmness which belonged to the occasion.
“Ishall never forget this scene, as long as I live. It has been my misfortune to witness several duels, but I never saw one, at least in its sequel, so deeply affecting. The sun was just setting behind the blue hills of Randolph's own Virginia. Here were two of the most extraordinary men our country in its prodigality had produced, about to meet in mortal combat. Whilst Tattnall was loading Randolph's pistols I approached my friend, I believed, for the last time; I took his hand; there was not in its touch the quivering of one pulsation.' He turned to me and said, Clay is calm, but not vindictive-I hold my purpose, Hamilton, in any event; remember this.' On handing him his pistol, Colonel Tattnall sprung the hair-trigger. Mr. Randolph said, “ Tattnall, although I am one of the best shots in Virginia, with either a pistol or a gun, yet I never fire with the hair-trigger; besides, ave a thick buckskin glove on, which will destroy the delicacy of my touch, and the trigger may fly before I know where I am. But, from his great solicitude for his friend, Tattnall insisted upon hairing the trigger. On taking their position, the fact turned out as Mr. Randolph anticipated; his pistol went off before the word, with the muzzle down.
“ The moment this event took place, General Jessup, Mr. Clay's friend, called out that he would instantly leave the ground with his friend, if that occurred again. Mr. Clay at once exclaimed, it was entirely an accident, and begged that the gentleman might be allowed to go on. On the word being given, Mr. Clay fired without effect, Mr. Randolph discharging his pistol in the air. The moment Mr. Clay saw that Mr. Randolph had thrown away his fire, with a gush of sensibility, he instantly approached Mr. Randolph, and said with an emotion I never can forget : I trust
, in God, my dear sir, you are untouched ; after what has occurred, I would not have harmed you for a thousand worlds.'”– Vol. i, pp. 258–260.
Thus ended this affair; and the combatants, although never afterward friends, appear to have treated each other with respect. One of the last acts of Mr. Randolph's life, -it occurred indeed but a few days before his death,—was a visit to the Senate Chamber, for the purpose of seeing and shaking hands with his antagonist. Mr. Clay was on his feet addressing the senate. “Raise me up,” said Randolph, "I want to hear that voice again." At the close of his speech Mr. Clay left his place, and accosting his rival, inquired kindly after his health. “I am a dying man,” replied Randolph, "and came here expressly to have this interview with you.” They shook hands, conversed together a few moments, and parted; Randolph having accomplished the desire of his heart, and shown that, “notwithstanding a long life of political hostility, no personal animosity rankled in his heart.”
Soon after Mr. Randolph had retired from Congress, in 1829, with the avoved determination to take no more part in public affairs, he was elected a member of the Convention for revising the Constitution of his native State. He was nominated without his consent, and greatly against his wishes. He accepted the honour at the earnest solicitation of friends, and was one of the most industrious and useful members of that body. Associated with such men as Madison, and Marshall, and Monroe,-indeed with the congregated talent and eloquence of the Old Dominion -he had full scope for his wonderful powers of debate, and greatly increased his reputation as a statesman and a man of political sagacity. It was a field in which, to the greatest advantage, he was enabled to display his knowledge of men and things; and his thirty years' experience of parliamentary proceedings, gave him a controlling influence in all matters before the convention. We make room for a short extract from one of his speeches, wherein he dilates upon his favourite axiom, Pay as you go, which, he contended, was the secret of public as well as private prosperity,-in fact the philosopher's stone.
“ They may say what they please about the old Constitution. The defect is not there. It is not in the form of the old edifice, neither in the design nor the elevation--it is in the material—it is in the people of Virginia. To my knowledge, that people are changed from what they have been. The four hundred men who went out to David, were in debt. The partisans of Cæsar were in debt. The fellow-labourers of Cataline were in debt. And I defy you to show me a desperately-indebted people anywhere, who can bear a regular sober government. I throw the challenge to all who hear me.
I say that the character of the good old Virginia planter the man who owned from five to twenty slaves, or less, who lived by hard work, and who paid his debts—is passed away. A new order of things is come. The period has arrived of living by one's wits—of living by contracting debts that one cannot pay—and above all
, of living by office-hunting. Sir, what do we see ? Bankrupts, branded bankrupts, giving great dinners-sending their children to the most
expensive schools--giving grand parties
and just as well received as anybody in society. I say, that in such a state of things, the old Constitution was too good for them; they could not bear it
. No, sir, they could not bear a freehold suffrage and a property representation. I have always endeavoured to do the people justice, but I will not flatter them; I will not pander to their appetite for change. I will do nothing to provide for change; I will not agree to any rule of future apportionment, or to any provision for future changes, called amendments of the Constitution. They who love change—who delight in public confusion—who wish to feed the caldron and make it bubble—may vote, if they please, for future changes. But by what spell-by what formula are you going to bind the people to all future time? Quis custodiet custodes? The days of Lycurgus are gone by, when he could swear the people not to alter the Constitution until he should return-animo non revertendi. You may make what entries on parchment you please. Give me a Constitution that will last for half a century--that is all I wish for. No Constitution that you can make will last the one-half of half a century. Sir, I will stake anything short of my salvation, that those who are malcontent now, will be more malcontent three years hence, than they are at this day. I have no favour for this Constitution. I shall vote against its adoption, and I shall advise all the people of my district, to set their faces—aye, and their shoulders against it. But if we are to have it, let us not have it with its death-warrant in its very face-with the facies hypocritica, the sardonic grin of death, upon its countenance.”—Vol. ii, pp. 330, 331.
At the adjournment of this Convention, which continued in session about three months, Mr. Garland says:
- No man stood higher than John Randolph in the estimation of the members or of the people. He had won greatly on their affections. A more familiar contact, and closer observation of the man, bad served to remove many prejudices. They began to comprehend and appreciate one who had been so long the victim of wilful misrepresentation, and of calumny. Notwithstanding the boldness with which he spoke unpleasant truths in the Convention, his manner, on the whole, was so mild and conciliatory, bis wisdom and his genius so conspicuous, that they won for him the esteem and the veneration of everybody. His friends, delighted with this state of things, wrote to him from all quarters, congratulating him on this agreeable termination of his labours in the Convention. Here is one of his letters in answer to a friend who had written him on this subject:
6. How I have succeeded in gaining upon the good opinion of the public as you and others of my friends tell me I have done-- I cannot tell. I made no effort for it, nor did it enter into my imagination to court any man, or party, in or out of the Convention. It is most gratifying, nevertheless, to be told hy yourself and others, in whose sincerity and truth I place the most unbounded reliance, that I have, by the part I took in the Convention, advanced myself in the estimation of my country. With politics I am now done; and it is well to be able to quit winner.?"_Vol. ii, p. 332.
From President Jackson Mr. Randolph received the office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Russia. In a feeble state of health he sailed from Hampton Roads, in the month of June, 1830. The post, in his hands, was little more than a sinecure, and he failed to accomplish the special object for which he had been selected. Nor did he regain his health by the journey, as him