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[561]

As he sailed from New York for Havre, in the ‘Vanderbilt,’ May 22, just two years from the day when he was assaulted in the Senate, he addressed a letter to the people of Massachusetts, explaining his absence from his post in search of health, and saying he should have resigned it if he had foreseen at the beginning the duration of his disability.1 The best wishes of his countrymen for his recovery went with him, and the public journals abounded in tender expressions of interest in him.2

Just before leaving home he wrote letters to Cobden and Tocqueville on European and American affairs. To the latter he wrote, May 7, from Washington:—

I was happy, dear Monsieur de Tocqueville, to hear from you; but I should have been happier still had you written me a few words about affairs in your own country. Everything there seems to portend great changes soon. The present unnatural system of compression cannot endure always.

Our politics here continue convulsed by the eternal slavery question; and this will not end until justice prevails. Mr. Buchanan has disappointed large numbers of his supporters by the extent to which he has gone in behalf of slavery. Many expected from him greater moderation; for myself I am not disappointed. He is essentially a politician rather than a statesman, and is governed by vulgar ideas. All his sympathies are given to the most ultra school of pro-slavery. The usurpations and atrocities in order to plant slavery in Kansas have all received his sanction. Indeed, I doubt if history can record any acts of meaner tyranny. He thinks that the Kansas question is now settled; but it is only postponed. Meanwhile Mr. Mason3 writes from Paris that the opposition to slavery from France and England is dying away. This is curious, while Russia is just beginning her great act of emancipation. At present all our ministers in Europe are creatures of slavery, and think only how they can serve its purposes. Of course, they belong to an inferior class of public men.

I am grateful that your interest in my country does not abate, and that you so often say a kind word for us. Be assured that many of those things by which we are degraded are caused by slavery, even in States where slavery does not exist. This has demoralized our government, and introduced everywhere the vulgar principle of force, which, as you well know, underlies slavery. Let a party prevail founded on hostility to slavery, and although abuses and excesses may not all cease, yet I cannot doubt that the very principle on which it is founded will diffuse a new civilization over the whole country. And now, my dear friend, if you hear the American republic abused, pray charge its evil deeds to slavery, and say that there are good people here who are determined that this source of all our woes shall cease,—at all events, that it shall no longer give its tone to our government and to our national character.

1 Works, vol. IV. pp. 408, 409.

2 New York Evening Post, May 22, 1858.

3 John Y. Mason, of Virginia, United States minister.

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