Thomas Mann Randolph to Peachy R. Gilmer
|Dear Sir,||Edgehill May 11, 1804|
I have just received your favor of 10th inst and return my most cordial thanks for the friendly sentiments which dictated it. I am not in the least surprized at the information it contains “that Hope was relating my conduct towards him much to my prejudice”: the violation of truth is the least ill of the little catalogue in his power to perform which could have been expected from him. I am not more surprized at his account being greedily swallowed by members. My good fortune has been too great in the last twelvemonths not to set members wishing me some harm and of course readily believing & listening with pleasure to every thing which might promise to gratify that wish. As for any mischief it might do me with my friends I have no apprehension on that score. All those who believe him would have found something or made something to blame me for, or have fallen out with me about nothing but because I was fortunate, before long. First if I had the views of continuance in my present situation of honour which those who are disposed to injure me have without reason supposed I should trust to other means than their favor to insure it. Next, I declare I have not those views at this time, nor do I believe I shall have them, (allthough it is possible and but possible I may resume them), for my favorite prospects are as remote as possible from that, and disappointment in them alone would force me into the other again. My only ambition is to be usefull to the people. I make no doubt I shall be employed by them if I am wanted, where I am most wanted, of which they will be the judges. The lies of a Blackguard Englishman not many years imported and in that time driven from several different places by his cheating inclinations and love for foul language can never possibly affect my powers to be usefull or the judgment of the people upon those powers. It is not possible for me to have so strong a desire to obtain votes even if I had the views these men who swallow Hopes lies believe, as to drown my sense of Honor, and induce me to receive foul language tamely. I have allways been accustomed to resent such; I allways will resent it: there is no remedy for that kind of injury by law and accordingly we most of us on such occasions adopt the natural law of Human kind. If Hope had been one of those who fight duels I should have challenged him to fight with pistols. as he was not I dared him to come out in the street & fight with his fists which he refused, from innate cowardice. If he had been a man of courage nothing more would have been heard about it. As he is not he of course adopted the usual defence of cowards, the fabrication of malignant lies. He told me, quite unprovoked, when I was walking to his house by his invitation that I told a falsehood, in such sound terms that I flew into a passion; I picked up a stone and swore, allthough I would take no notice of it that time, I would pound his skull for him if he ever did the like. I threw the stone down immediately. He was sorry, to appearance and from his [. . .]ge, for the insult and we walked quietly on to[. . .] to his house to read our contract. As soon as [I] got in the door he went round his dinner table and first either seized a fork or reached out his hand to do it, uttering in the moment such language against me as fired me to madness: I involuntarily seized a knife and I believe made a threat to throw it at him or a feigned pass over the table I know not which but it was quite a feint for I was not within 9 feet of him and did not make any attempt to rush at him. In one second as soon as I recollected myself I laid the knife down while he still held the fork, and walked out of his House asking his wifes pardon and challenging him to follow me into the street, where if I could have got him I would have behaved to him as my republicanism and my spirit together impelled me.You are free to shew this in my hand & by duplicates as you please.