Sunday, September 24, 2023

Robert P. Letcher to Senator John J. Crittenden, May 6, 1850

MEXICO, May 6, 1850.

DEAR CRITTENDEN,—Ah, my dear governor! not quite so fast. You have pulled trigger a little too quick. There is no discrepancy between my speech and my letters. What a man says in his official capacity is one thing, and what he has a right to say in his private capacity is quite another thing, it's all “as straight as a gun-barrel.” I spoke for the United States, and am in no way responsible for what I said as an advocate; mind, I appeared as counsel. I reserve my defense till my return. If Clayton is a tender-hearted man, he will give me leave to return in October. I could not go now if I had leave, because of the crowd of business,—because, also, of the vomito. I am surprised, disappointed, and mortified exceedingly to hear that you are all taking the rounds, eating and drinking just as merrily and as happily as if I were with you. It is too bad, really. Had the good ship Walker been cast away, sure enough I don't believe it would have made a single swallow less, particularly of the liquids, among the whole squad of you. What a prolific topic of reflection does this furnish to one of my tender sensibilities, whose vanity had prompted him to suppose his absence would make a vacuum in the social circle that time itself would hardly ever fill up! Nobody died of a broken heart, nobody shed a tear, nobody lost a meal, or even a drink,—in fact, increased their drinks when it was fully believed I was food for the sharks in the Gulf of Mexico; and if this had been so, by this time the whole matter would have been utterly forgotten. Well, all I can say is, my friends can stand trouble and loss better than any other man's friends living. A noble set of fellows they are! I am as bad off as Orlando Brown was in Washington, when he took it into his head that the Frankfort people were glad he had left, and asked me to tell him candidly how it was. I told him he was right, and the only fear was that he might possibly come home. I am not altogether happy in my mind, but I don't wish my rascally friends to know that, they might think it was on that account,—not a bit of it! My depression is owing to the deep interest I feel for my country. Write to me often, write me the longest sort of letters. The Prussian minister just called to take a last farewell. A noble fellow he is! It was quite a tender scene. I shall miss that man more than any human being in this city. I have had one of Bob's and Harry's hams boiled, and I eat it twice a day,—no eating three times a day in this country. Bankhead and his wife are here; they are more broken down than any couple I know. I am distressed to look at them.

Your friend,

SOURCE: Ann Mary Butler Crittenden Coleman, Editor, The Life of John J. Crittenden: With Selections from His Correspondence and Speeches, Vol. 1, p. 370

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