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into the wilderness to deliberate on the course of life which he ought to choose. Two goddesses approach him; one recommending a life of ease and pleasure; the other, of labor and virtue. The hero adopts the counsel of the latter, and his fame and glory are known to the world. May this country, the youthful Hercules, possessing his form and muscles, be animated by similar sentiments, and follow his example!
get and hold office; and their leading
Their object is to political maxim
victors belong the spoils of victory!"*
Can any one, who will duly reflect on these things, venture to say that all is sound, and that our Government is not undergoing a great and fatal change? Let us not deceive ourselves, the very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party; and that system of political morals which regards offices in a different light, as public prizes to be won by combatants most skilled in all the arts and corruption of political tactics, and to be used and enjoyed as their proper spoils strikes a fatal blow at the very vitals of free institutions.
NATHANIEL BEVERLEY TUCKER.
BEVERLEY TUCKER, as he is usually known, was the son St. George Tucker and half-brother to John Randolph of Roanoke. He was born at Williamsburg, Virginia, educated at William and Mary College, and studied law. From
*William L. Marcy of New York, in the Senate, 1831.
1815 to 1830 he lived in Missouri and practiced his profession with great success. He returned to Virginia, and became in 1834 professor of Law in William and Mary College, filling that position until his death. By his public writings and by correspondence with various prominent men, he took a leading part in the political movements of his times.
The Partisan Leader, a Tale of the Future,
by William Edward Sydney.
George Balcombe, [a novel.]
Life of John Randolph, [his half-brother.]
Essays, [in Southern Literary Messenger.]
Principles of Pleading.
Of Judge Tucker's style, his friend, Wm. Gilmore Simms, with whom he long corresponded, says: "I regard him as one of the best prose writers of the United States."
His novel, "The Partisan Leader," made a great sensation. It was published in 1836; the story was laid in 1849, and described prophetically almost the exact course of events in 1861. It was suppressed for political reasons, but was reprinted in 1861 as a “Key to the Disunion Conspiracy." The extract is from the beginning of the book and introduces us at once to several interesting characters amid the wild scenery of our mountains.
THE PARTISAN leader, (written in 1836.)
[The scene is laid in Virginia, near the close of the year 1849. By a long series of encroachments by the federal government on the rights and powers of the states, our federative system is supposed to be destroyed, and a consolidated government, with the forms of a republic and the powers of a monarchy, to be established on its ruins. As a mere political speculation, it is but too probably correct. We trust that benign Providence will so order events as that it may not prove also a POLITICAL PROPHECY.-Sou. Lit. Messenger, Jan., 1837.]
Toward the latter end of the month of October, 1849, about the hour of noon, a horseman was seen ascending a
narrow valley at the Eastern foot of the Blue Ridge. road nearly followed the course of a small stream, which, issuing from a deep gorge of the mountain, winds its way between lofty hills, and terminates its brief and brawling course in one of the larger tributaries of the Dan. A glance of the eye took in the whole of the little settlement that lined its banks, and measured the resources of its inhabitants. The different tenements were so near to each other as to allow but a small patch of arable land to each. Of manufactures there was no appearance, save only a rude shed at the entrance of the valley, on the door of which the oftrepeated brand of the horseshoe gave token of a smithy. There, too, the rivulet, increased by the innumerable springs which afforded to every habitation the unappreciated, but inappreciable luxury of water, cold, clear, and sparkling, had gathered strength enough to turn a tiny mill. Of trade there could be none. The bleak and rugged barrier, which closed the scene on the west, and the narrow road, fading to a foot-path, gave assurance to the traveller that he had here reached the ne plus ultra of social life in that direction. At length he heard a sound of voices, and then a shrill whistle, and all was still. Immediately, some half a dozen men, leaping a fence, ranged themselves across the road and faced him. He observed that each, as he touched the ground, laid hold of a rifle that leaned against the enclosure, and this circumstance drew his attention to twenty or more of these formidable weapons, ranged along in the same position.
As the traveller drew up his horse, one of the men, speaking in a low and quiet tone, said, "We want a word with you, stranger, before you go any farther."
"As many as you please," replied the other, "for I am tired and hungry, and so is my horse; and I am glad to find
some one at last, of whom I may hope to purchase something for both of us to eat."
"That you can have quite handy," said the countryman, "for we have been gathering corn, and were just going to our dinner. If you will only just 'light, sir, one of the boys can feed your horse, and you can take such as we have got to give you."
The invitation was accepted; the horse was taken in charge by a long-legged lad of fifteen, without hat or shoes ; and the whole party crossed the fence together.
At the moment a man was seen advancing toward them, who, observing their approach, fell back a few steps, and threw himself on the ground at the foot of a large old appletree. Around this were clustered a motley group of men, women, and boys, who opened and made way for the stranger. He advanced, and bowing gracefully took off his forage cap, from beneath which a quantity of soft curling flaxen hair fell over his brow and cheeks. Every eye was now fixed on him, with an expression rather of interest than of mere curiosity. Every countenance was serious and composed, and all wore an air of business, except that a slight titter was heard among the girls, who, hovering behind the backs of their mothers, peeped through the crowd, to get a look at the handsome stranger.
As the youth approached, the man at the foot of the tree arose, and returned the salutation, which seemed unheeded by the rest. He advanced a step or two and invited the stranger to be seated. This action, and the looks turned towards him by the others, showed that he was in authority of some sort among them. With him, therefore, our traveller concluded that the proposed conference was to be held.
He was at length asked whence he came, and answered, from the neighborhood of Richmond.-From which side of
the river?—From the north side.—Did he know anything of Van Courtlandt?-His camp was at Bacon's branch, just above the town.-What force had he?
"I cannot say, certainly," he replied, "but common fame made his numbers about four thousand."
"Is that all, on both sides of the river?" said his interrogator.
"O, no! Col. Loyal's regiment is at Petersburg, and Col. Cole's at Manchester; each about five hundred strong; and there is a piquet on the Bridge Island."
"Did you cross there?"
"I did not."
Where, then?" he was asked.
"I can hardly tell you," he replied, "it was at a private ford, several miles above Cartersville."
"Was not that mightily out of the way? What made you come so far around?"
"It was safer travelling on that side of the river."
"Then the people on that side of the river are your friends?"
"No. They are not. But, as they are all of a color there, they would let me pass, and ask no questions, as long as I travelled due west. On this side, if you are one man's friend, you are the next man's enemy; and I had no mind to answer questions."
"You seem to answer them now mighty freely."
"That is true. I am like a letter that tells all it knows as soon as it gets to the right hand; but it does not want to be opened before that."
"And how do you know that you have got to the right hand now?"
"Because I know where I am."
"And where are you?"