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ble men in the world are those who are enjoying what are called political honors. It is a species of enjoyment which reminds me of the answer made by a man to a friend's inquiry after his health—“I thank you, I have enjoyed very bad health since I saw you last." These gigantic characters are pretty much in the predicament of another gigantic gentleman in old times, in a very elevated station. I mean him who was nailed to the mountain side, with vultures to feed on his liver. As for me, give me peace and competency, with "wife, children and friends." I ask no more upon this earth. And I thank God he has hitherto given me all these blessings to my heart's content.

I find it very hard to quit your company, as you see. But I must take my leave and go to work.

Offer my kindest greetings to your family, and to my dear Morris when you see him. I love him deeply and tenderly. God bless him and God bless you all!

Your friend,



WASHINGTON, July 4, 1828.


I find myself at present, so pre-eminently blessed in my family, in all its members, that it sometimes makes me shudder lest my own unworthiness or some salutary castigation should make it necessary, in the councils of Heaven, to punish me with a reverse.

I consider the next five years as amongst the most important of my life, as they will, in all probability, settle, one way or the other, the problem whether I am to leave my family independent. All looks fair at present; and as I have some remains of my childhood's superstition about me, a flash of hope brightens before me from the omen of the day on which I now write to you. You will smile at this, as you were not exposed, in the years of your infancy, to the influence of the same legends, which wrought upon me, and, possibly, have not the organs of ideality so strongly developed, or whatever else the organs are which go to make the compound of credulity and superstition. There is quite as much

poetry as faith in the visions which occasionally knock at my door and find admittance and a night's quarters. But day-light and the realities of life send them on their business next morning.

You have a touch of the passion for show about you. It is a gentlemanly feeling. I have had, all my life, a little too much of it. I don't mean too much of the feelings of a gentleman-but a little too much love for classical arrangement and embellishment-for graduating, turfing, arborizing, shrubbery, &c., which, as I have always lived in town, has been expensive. And then, I have been all my life altering the adjustment of my houses, changing partitions, plastering, painting and varnishing walls, to give them a lustrous appearance, and adding other buildings: and then importing busts, purchasing pianos, flutes, harps, guitars, and all that sort of furniture-not forgetting the accumulation of antique, rare and high-priced books—all of which would have well beseemed a man of princely fortune, but have suited mine very badly. I believe it has had the effect of giving an elegant turn of mind to my children, to see these objects always around them.

The natural beauties of your place, and those little embellishments of your grounds which will cost you nothing, will give full employment to your taste and your leisure time, for some years to come. During this time, I hope that your funds will be dammed up till the pool is full to overflowing. I advise you to live not simply within your means, but to live so far within them as to leave a broad margin every year,which, if you once begin, you will find to become a broader and still broader margin in each successive year. At the end of ten or twelve years these margins, added together, will make a little principality, and enable you to do what you please. Beware of speculations, particularly such as are beyond your present means. Never go in debt on them. Beware, especially, of those bold and dazzling speculations on a great scale, which, under the promise of speedy opulence, end too often in ruin. Ne festinas locupletari, said the wise man of Greece, and no wise man ever said a wiser thing. The richest men generally become so by gradual accumulation: I mean the men who most safely become rich. Aladdin's lamp is a fiction, and even were it not, VOL. 2-22*

there is more than one hostile magician to be slaughtered before our success may be secured-magicians in the shape of treacherous agents, insolvent debtors, sharpers and speculators-and of crosses and disappointments, of which the world is full. Give me a man like our old friend Judge E., who, without making any noise in the world, has been going on adding a child and a new farm to his stock every year, for the last fifteen of his life;—he and they are all well provided for and even rich. While your splendid and showy men are every where writhing under pecuniary embarrassments, dying in despair and leaving their families in beggary. Young men, at your time of life, are not apt to think of these things, and the subject is likely to be irksome to them; but they who are wise will not disdain a lesson of wisdom from their fathers, and will lay it to heart and practise upon it—as I am sure you will do. If I had a glass window in my breast, and you could have drawn a chair and sat down before it, and looked in-as Sterne says as into a "a dioptric beehive," and seen the anxieties that have been working there for the last ten years, on account of this retrospect of my lost time, you would not be surprised at the frequency and earnestness with which I press this subject on your


Yours affectionately,


These few fragments of letters give us some pretty distinct glimpses into that "dioptric beehive," the heart of the writer, and open to us interior views into the character of a man who, before the world, seemed, perhaps, a graver and more ambitious person than they unfold. This current of gaiety which runs so transparently through the depths of his mind, and which seems to mingle its waters even with its most earnest meditations, is never discolored by an impure thought, but reflects at all times, upon its surface, an innocent and religious nature.

The months of August and September-the Attorney General's usual term of exemption from business-were agreeably spent in a tour with some of his children, to the Falls of Niagara, thence, by way of Lake Champlain, to Montreal, and back to Washing

ton, a tour which furnished occasion for many pleasant descriptive letters to those he had left behind.

As the presidential canvass advanced, the demonstrations of popular opinion pointed more and more clearly to the probability, and even certainty, of the success of General Jackson. The party then in power regarded such an event as hostile to the political predominance with which they were associated. They foresaw that it must necessarily result in the establishment of a new political combination, and in the overthrow of that system of administration and party organization which was derived, through a lineal succession, from Jefferson and Madison, and had held the reins of Government through seven continuous presidential terms.

A question now arose as to the duty of the cabinet officers in such an event. On the part of the gentlemen who composed the cabinet, I believe, there was no dissenting opinion, as to the propriety of their own resignations. But this was, by no means, a settled opinion, at that time, in the country. The election of Mr. Jefferson in 1800, presented the only case which yet had arisen for the establishment of a precedent, in the history of the Government; and that single instance was not deemed, by many, sufficient to settle the question. This would be the second occasion, if General Jackson should be elected, when there had been a party revolution in the administration of affairs. Mr. Jefferson's election put an end to the rule of the federal party-superseding it by one adverse in all points. General Jackson's election would do the same thing with the successors of Jefferson;-not superseding it, however, so distinctly and with such specific antagonism, as in the first case, but, still, sufficiently so, to present a question whether the members of the existing cabinet were not placed under a clear obligation to withdraw from their posts by voluntary resignation.

Upon this question, I am able to present the opinion of Mr. Monroe in a letter casually written to the Attorney General in the course of a friendly correspondence whilst the issue of the pending election was yet unascertained :*

The practice of the cabinet on the point discussed in this letter, has been so decisively settled since that date, as to make it a matter of surprise that it should ever have been a subject for question.


OAK HILL, October 24, 1828.


Whether the present administration ought to withdraw, in the event of Mr. Adams not being re-elected, is a question of great delicacy as to the members, and of interest, by way of example, as to principle. They hold their offices as others do, as servants of the public, not the President's. Their appointments do not cease with his. They are responsible, each, for the faithful performance of his duties. He, likewise, is responsible for them. In this respect, there is a difference between our Government and that of Great Britain. In the latter, the minister alone is responsible. The office of the chief being hereditary, he is beyond the reach of impeachment. With us, both may be impeached-the chief and the ministers. They are also his counsellors. In some views, therefore, they may be considered as holding an independent ground: that is, as depending on their good conduct in office, and not on the change of the incumbent. In others, the opposite argument appears to have force. When a difference of principle is involved, it would seem as if a change would be necessary. But where such difference does not exist, the danger is, by connecting the members with the fortune of the incumbent, of making them the mere appendages and creatures of the individual, which may have, in certain views, in the progress of affairs, an unfavorable effect on our system. Whenever things get to that state, that measures are approved or disapproved by parties contending for power to promote the success of their favorite, principle is lost sight of, and the people cease to be sovereign-or rather, to exercise the sovereign power in a manner to preserve it. They become instruments whereby the basis of the system will be shaken.

Still, as the heads of departments are counsellors, and wield important branches of the Government, I do not see how they can remain in office without the President's sanction, nor wait after his election till apprised of his decision by himself.

This view is much less applicable, in every instance and circumstance to your case than to the others. Your duties are different. The President has less connection with and less responsibility

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