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luced him to a skeleton, and robbed him of almost every attribute of man except his capacity to suffer. But even in his mad. ness he was a representative pan, and spoke the latent feeling of his class. The diseases which sharpened his temper unloosed his tongue; he revealed the tendency of the Southern mind, as a petulant child reveals family secrets. In his good and in his evil he was an exaggerated Southerner of the higher class. He was like them, too, in this : they are not criminals to be punished, but patients to be cured. Sometimes, of late, we have feared that they resemble him also in being incurable.
As long as Americans take an interest in the history of their country, they will read with interest the strange story of this sick and suffering representative of sick and suffering Virginia. To the last, old Virginia wore her ragged robes with a kind of grandeur which was not altogether unbecoming, and which to the very last imposed upon tory minds. Scarcely any one could live among the better Southern people without liking them and few will ever read Hugh Garland's Life of John Randolph, with out more than forgiving all his vagaries, impetuosities, and foibles. How often, upon riding away from a Southern home, have we been ready to exclaim, “ What a pity such good people should be B0 accursed !” Lord Russell well characterized the evil to which we allude as “ that fatal gift of the poisoned garment which was flung around them from the first hour of their establishment."
The last act of John Randolph's life, done when he lay dying at a hotel in Philadelphia, in June, 1833, was to express once more his sense of this blighting system. Some years before, he had made a will by which all his slaves were to be freed at his death. He would probably have given them their freedom before his death, but for the fact, too evident, that freedom to a black man in a Slave State was not a boon. The slaves freed by his brother, forty years before, had not done well, because (as he supposed) no land had been bequeathed for their support. Accordingly, he left directions in his will that a tract of land, which might be of four thousand acres, should be set apart for the maintenance of his slaves, and that they should be transported to it and established upon it at the expense of his Astate. “I give my slaves their freedom," said he in his will, “ to which my conscience tells me they are justly entitled.” On the last day of bis life, surrounded by strangers, and attended by two of his old servants, his chief concern was to make distinctly known to as many persons as possible that it was really his will that his slaves should be free. Knowing, as he did, the aversion which his fellow-citizens had to the emancipation of slaves, and even to the presence in the State of free blacks, he seemed desirous of taking away every pretext for breaking his will. A few hours before his death, he said to the physician in attendance: “I confirm every disposition in my will, especially that concerning my slaves whom I have manumitted, and for whom I have made provision.” The doctor, soon after, took leave of him, and was about to depart. “You must not go,” said he,“ you cannot, you shall not leave me.” He told his servant not to let the doctor go, and the man immediately locked the door and put the key in his pocket. The doctor remonstrating, Mr. Randolph explained, that, by the laws of Virginia, in order to manumit slaves by will, it was requisite that the master should declare his will in that particular in the presence of a white witness, who, after hearing the declaration, must never lose sight of the party until he is dead. The doctor consented, at length, to remain, but urged that more witnesses should be sent for. This was done. At ten in the morning, four gentlemen were ranged in a semicircle round his bed. He was propped up almost in a sitting posture, and a blanket was wrapped round his head and shoulders. His face was yellow, and extremely emaciated; he was very weak, and it required all the remaining energy of his mind to endure the exertion he was about to make. It was evident to all present thai his whole soul was in the act, and his eye gathered fire as he performed it. Pointing toward the witnesses with that gesture which for so many years had been familiar to the House of Representatives, he said, slowly and distinctly: “I confirm all the directions in my will respecting my slaves, and direct them to be enforced, particularly in regard to a provision for their support.” Then, raising his hand and placing it upon the shoulder of his servant, he added, “ Especially for this man.” Having performed
this act, his mind appeared relieved, but his strength immediately left him, and in two hours he breathed his last.
The last of the Randolphs, and one of the best representatives of the original masters of Virginia, the high-toned Virginia gentleman, was no more. Those men had their opportunity, but they had not strength of character equal to it. They were tried and found wanting. The universe, which loves not the high-toned, even in violins, disowned them, and they perished. Cut off from the life-giving current of thought and feeling which kept the rest of Christendom advancing, they came to love stagnation, and looked out from their dismal, isolated pool with lofty contempt at the gay and active life on the flowing stream. They were not teachable, for they despised the men who could have taught them. But we are bound always to consider that they were subjected to a trial under which human virtue has always given way, and will always. Sudden wealth is itself sufficient to spoil any but the very best men, - those who can instantly set it at work for the general good, and continue to earn an honest livelihood by faithful labor. But those tobacco lords of Virginia, besides making large fortunes in a few years, were the absolute, irresponsible masters of a submissive race. And when these two potent causes of effeminacy and pride had worked out their proper result in the character of the masters, then, behold! their resources fail. Vicious agriculture exhausts the soil, false political economy prevents the existence of a middle class, and the presence of slaves repels emigration. Proud, ignorant, indolent, dissolute, and in debt, the dominant families, one after another, passed away, attesting to the last, by an occasional vigorous shoot, the original virtue of the stock. All this poor John Randolph represented and was.
Virginia remains. Better men will live in it than hare ever yet lived there ; but it will not be in this century, and possibly not in the next. It cannot be that so fair a province will not be one day inhabited by a race of men who will work according to the laws of nature, and whom, therefore, the laws of nature will co-operate with and preserve. How superior will such Virginians be to what Dr. Francis Lieber styles the “provincial egotism” of State sovereignty !