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[265]

To the Rev. H. H. Milman, London.

Boston, April 30, 1850.
my dear Mr. Milman,—I am indebted to you for a most kind letter concerning my ‘History of Spanish Literature.’ Such approbation as your kindness has given is the true and highest reward an author receives; for though the public may read,—and in this country the reading public is very large,--yet it is the few who decide. . . . .

I have lately spent a fortnight in Washington. The times there are very stirring, the passions of men much excited. But no permanent mischief will come from it. The people of the North have neither been frightened nor made angry, and are not likely to be. . . . . The result will be, that after much more angry discussion a ground of compromise and adjustment will be found which will settle the controversy once and forever, as we hope. This will be mainly owing to the conciliatory tone taken by Mr. Webster, which has much quieted the popular feeling at the North; for if he had assumed the opposite tone, the whole North would have gone with him, and the breach would have been much widened, if not made irreparable. . . .

Meantime the country advances with gigantic strides, and as the new States get on and take their permanent places in the Confederacy, they feel a new power coming upon them, which is destined to have a preponderating authority to keep the peace in all conflicts that may hereafter arise between the North and the South. I mean the great basin of the Upper Mississippi, with its free States, which, after the census of 1850, and the representation which will be organized upon its basis, will have upon all national questions a decisive power, and never endure for a moment a state of things that can tend to making New Orleans a foreign port. This power will be eminently conservative, hostile to the spirit of slavery, and every year will become more so. This makes the present contest in Congress very important, and will explain to you much of its fierceness. . . .

I have ventured to write to you about our political affairs, because they are of so broad a nature that they become a part of the concerns of the whole human family, and can be alien from no man's heart who feels what belongs to Christendom and its interests. It is, besides, the uppermost subject here now. Mr. Webster made a bold and manly speech about it in one of our public squares yesterday afternoon, as he arrived at his hotel from Washington


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