Letter to James Hervey Bingham
February 11, 1800

Salisbury, February 11,1800


--I now sit down in poor spirits to write a poor letter, to--a poor fellow, shall I say ? No, say rather,to the friend of my heart, the partner of my joys, griefs, and affections, the only participator of my most secret thoughts. I arrived here yesterday, seasonably for school, and having undergone the fatigues of the day, I retired to rest at nine o'clock, and surrendered myself to the dominion of Morpheus. At ten, I was awaked, and informed that Captain McClure, and Senior Curtis were below. I soon disengaged myself from the " slumbering god," and hastened to extend them the friendly right hand, accompanied with a hearty how do you do ! They left Hanover almost two weeks since; and have taken a tour to the southeast. By them I was favored with two letters from our friends at college, which, although dated some time ago, gave me much pleasure. Clark writes that he has taken the school there at twenty-four dollars per month. Doctor Marsh offered himself for fifteen, but was not received. " This," Clark observes, " feeds my vanity, but not my purse." In the course of his letter he observes, "blow ye Northern blasts with tenfold fury; beat back the pestilential breeze of matrimony,or my Icarus is fallen forever!" What does he hint at here ? How should he know that I was just about to (try to) be married ? My amour, you very well know, had not commenced the last time I wrote to him. He says he is well and happy; that he has heard from many of our friends who are in health. This information carries joy to the hearts Of J. H. B. and D. W. While you rejoice with me in the health and happiness of our brother students, I presume from the goodness of your heart, that you will join me in commiserating him who stands next to yourself on the catalogue of my friends. I mean Bracket; he has lost a sister; he is afflieted, and we will mourn. We have seen him in those happy hours, when every heart palpitated with joy, and every eye sparkled with benevolence; and we should be equally happy to meet him now and mingle souls in mournful sympathy. Though not personally acquainted with the deceased lady, it is enough to entitle her to a share in our remembrance that she was the sister of J. W. B. For his sake, then, we will shed the friendly tear and embalm her memory in our hearts. After the people were gone to bed, I wrote an answer to Clark, and presumed to offer him your best respects; this I conceived I had a right to do, since, between you and me, cor corde mutatur. I also wrote to H. W. F., and endeavored, with as much delicacy as I was able, to return the -- puellarum pulcherrimarum so politely bestowed on J. H. B. and D. W.

Capt. McClure, in his journey, saw Freeborn, and D. Osgood, and J. Dutch, &c. who are well In the letter which you did me the honor to send me, you have the following sentence, "cave, nequbis videat, &c.; " though it be very handsome Latin, and I can find no fault with it as a critic, yet, my dear Hervey, I must confess it surprises me much. Do you suspect my integrity? Do you imagine that I would do any thing which should endanger your reputation ? I certainly suspect no such things from you, and therefore never think to insert such an idea. If a letter from a friend chance to be written inaccurately, as is often the case when written calamo czbrrente, which, by the way, could not be said of yours, it behooves the receiver to consider it accordingly. Upon the whole, that sentence, though its like is frequently seen in letters, argues a suspicion of my sincerity, which, were I assured it really existed, would prove an eternal alloy to my felicity. But I am willing to impute it to custom, to compliment, or, as you say, to any thing else rather than to suspicion.

It is now nine o'clock; before I began this letter I read a chapter in Mallet du Pan's History of The Destruction of the Helvetic Union. I read till I saw Switzerland ravaged and depopulated, her sons barbarously butchered, and blood flowing in torrents from the side of the Alps ! All this I saw done by the intrigue of perfidious France. The scene was too affecting; I closed the book and exclaimed, " Havoc and spoil and ruin are thy gains; destruction is thy sport; blood, groans, and desolation are thy triumphs, thou magnanimous republic!!! Switzerland, which has been a republic for almost five hundred years, is now no more. The descendants of the immortal Tell, who rescued his country from Austrian tyranny, have nothing now left, as the historian observes, but rocks, ruins, and demagogues." " Ah, curst ambition, what hast thou done!" Nor is it enough that Switzerland, Venice, Genoa, and every other republic in Europe has fallen a prey to the despots of Paris; one quarter of the world cannot satiate their ambition. The worshipper of the Alcoran must be molested, the wandering Arab attacked, and slaughter carried to the forests of Africa. Their empire must be bounded only by the limit of their ambition; their ambition is coextensive with the universe. I expect that Blanchard will soon be despatched with his aerial squadron to attack the moon; to revolutionize the Lunarians by the same means that Talleyrand used to disturb the peace of his Satanic Majesty..... No more politics.

"-Sylvarumque potens Diana." A Fable.
Bright Phsebus long all rival suns outshone,
And rode triumphant on his splendid throne;
When first he waked the blushes of the dawn,
And spread his beauties o'er the flowery lawn,
The yielding stars quick hastened from the sky,
Nor moon dare longer with his glories vie;
He reigned supreme, and decked in roseate light
Beamed his full splendors on the astonished sight.
At length, on earth, behold a damsel rise,
Whose growing beauties charmed the wondering ski!
As forth she waLked to breathe the balmy air,
And view the beauties of the gay parterre,
Her radiant glories drowned the blaze of day,
And through all nature shot a brighter ray.
Old Phsebus saw--and blushed--now forced to own
That with superior worth the damsel shone.
Graced with his name, he bade her ever shine,
And in his rival owned a form divine!
I am, Sir, with much respect, yours in the indissoluble bonds of fraternal love,

Dan. Webster

Return to Daniel Webster Index