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Nathaniel Beverley Tucker to Richard Cocke, January 10, 1861

MSS 9954
Special Collections Department, University of Virginia

Lamington, Warwickshire Eng.
January 10th 1861

My own dear Brother,

I was ill in body and in mind last monday when my messenger brought the steamer's mail, and I merely, pro forma, looking through the packet, I found a letter addressed to me! I say, 'pro forma', Dick, for rarely enough it is, my eye is brightened or my heart lightened by such a fortune as to find a letter--friendly letter, I mean to my sole self. I recognized dear Fan's writing in the address, and I tore it impatiently open, to learn what good Angel kind had stirred her sister spirit to such a mark of (illegible) to poor exiled me! Then I discerned, that though dated too, in her hand, the eight pages were from my old ever valued, ever loved, brother-friend! And now came a vanity over me--a vanity, that belonged to other days, when not, too much learning, or too much deserving my part on but too much praise and too much caressing--some call it, spoiling--more lavished on me, well nigh to maddening me, by a whole and populous home circle. And I felt gloriously! Indeed I did--and if every bone in your body ached as you traced the lines in that letter, you would, dear Dick, have been repaid, could you have looked into my heart and seen the emotions which it excited. Believe me--in this rigorous season of the year, when the poor are hungry and the sick and afflicted cold and dreary, your open hand of charity, has given to none of these, more grateful alms than that letter brought to me! God bless you both for it!

But it was freighted with intelligence, calculated to bear even farther down, the faint pulsations of my heart, and to chill its (illegible) elasticity. For weeks, I have been in the most fearfully dejected, because in the most humiliated condition of mind. I have been forced to that severest of all tasks, to a man of naturally frank nature, "making the countenance a mark of rest--and turning human nature to an art.

I was sent here, the Consul of the glorious United States of America--as such, I have been treated with most unusual honor, respect and kindness; What am I now? The commercial representative in consular capacity, of the dis--United States of America! Civil War, internecine war, servile war, and a worse war, than all these together, a divided South, impend over the destinies of our Country. She, who was the beacon in the great mission of experiment for the establishment of the capacity of man for self government, has, by her own follies, solved it by a fatal negative! Monarchies, despotisms, civil, military and religious & Aristocracies, point already the (illegible) finger at the feeble effort, and bid the struggling people subjugated by the iron hand of unrighteous power, to regard rather as a warning than as an example to be imitated, the once powerful Republic of the United States. This is no (illegible) drawn picture--it is a fact--The London Times, only yesterday, had a leader on this subject--and smearingly spoke of Italy's struggling to obtain, what in less than a century the United States had abandoned--and all the letter dogs, Tray Blanche & sweetheart--yells the same way. "Yesterday, the name of the United States would have stood against the world--now, in almost worse than anarchy she lies and none so poor to do her reverence"! Oh my friend, it was a fatal blow, and forcibly struck, and at the wrong time, that drove the wedge which has parted our beloved country. It was a step to have been taken most cautiously and well--digested too, even if the people of the Southern States had been a unit for it. But now, when you see at least immense minorities in these States, who are opposed to separation, what have we to hope? We have not yet put, our own house in order, and then in the (illegible) upon which our Northern Enemies now gloat.

But you say, and you are right--the time is past for crimination and recrimination--It matters not who has done the deed--nor can it be denied, that there were faults on both sides; graver, much graver, I must admit on one side than on the other, for dear Dick, you do not know the instigators of the terrible mischief as I know them, personally, politically & morally! but the great consummation, predicted by every wise man in and out of his country, (illegible) upon the disruption of the Democratic Party at Charleston, is now upon us. It was the political Delilah that sheared the only organization in the country competent to save it, of its power, and we must prepare ourselves in Counsel and in arms, to resist the abolition Philistines as best he may. Before (illegible) we go into this subject which I propose to discuss with you--I mean the mode of action, and the time, I must in justice to you and without flattery, say that there is more true, impartial genuine, educated statesmanship in that aforesaid letter of yours, than in any I have seen at all, from any quarter. It is written like a man, with the spirit of truth and fairness in his heart, and the sceptre of justice in his hand! While you fail to satisfy me entirely, with regard to the portion of an individual(& what is that at last?) during the canvass, you unravel the most tangled political (illegible), with less sophistry, and more straightforward ability and force than any one else I have read after. By the way, it is ever so: passion and prejudice, form a destructive alloy to faithful argument and good common sense--a bull by the way, for that sort of sense is the most un-common sense in this world of ours at the present writing.

Let every thing be bye-gones then, up to the 6th day of November last--that day, which gave the verdict--not of the American people, but under our system, of what is equivalent, of a constitutional electoral majority, without charge of fraud forgery, or any political misdemeanor, in the conduct of the election, to a black Republican or abolition anti-slavery President & Vice President! Do you suppose that in the broad limits of the Southern Country there is a more loyal man to the South and her institutions than Bev Tucker? I will talk for them, write for them, fight for them and die for them as quick as any other they can (illegible) out. Right or wrong, I will fight for my friend. Right or wrong, I will fight for & with, my dear old mother. But before I do so for either, I will try and see them right (illegible) the fight begins. First, then, a dissolution of the Union, I regard, as worse than any thing that can happen to us, except, a submission to wrong from that Union, whether it come in the form of political, social, moral or material indignity. Upon this last point, I trust all Southern people agree--so carry this with you in what I am going to say.

2nd Lincoln's election is constitutionally valid--though he is a sectional candidate of the worst stripe. We entered into the fight with him--we met him upon the field--we acknowledged him worthy of our lance--he was victorious--we must abide the issue until new cause of quarrel arises--then we will fight him again, and I trust with better success should the occasion arrive.

Breckenridge was a sectional candidate--though he was a constitutionally (in our view) sectional candidate--seventeen Northern States voted against him. If he had been elected, what would he have thought of these states, if they had threatened to and had actually separated themselves from the Union? If we sit down with a party to play "three trick (illegible)" as he did for that (illegible), in (illegible) dear old office in Columbia, its too late for us to object to any of the party, after the pot has been won, unless cheating is charged. I do not then honestly & conscientiously, think, that Lincoln's Election, is (illegible) facto cause for any State to separate herself from the Confederacy--I think it is in the fact that it brings into power a political organization adverse to our best interests and political rights--notice to us, to be on the (illegible), that we may not be surprised by an attack upon them. Let him be inaugurated--and if, even with South Carolina out for the (illegible)--we hold together, he and his whole party are impotent for evil.

3rd What are we to gain by a total dismemberment of the Union? Certainly, independence, honor, dignity & equality, and these we will have at any cost, at any sacrifice, if we have lost them irretrievably. But suppose we have not lost them--suppose, as I believe, the contest is just about to be decided--the difficulties just about to be solved--that if we hold on and fight for our rights--for our independence, honor, dignity and equality, in the Union and win them which as sure as the good God (illegible), we will do, if we are not too precipitate, and Federal and State Collision can be avoided,--will it not be well to save our beloved country from anarchy, fraternal strife and all the train of horrors consequent upon both? And if precipitate secession is insisted on, and the other slave states are forced to endorse and join with South Carolina in her prematureness, what are you going to do with that gallant and intrepid people of the North who have fought and immolated themselves for our rights and honor, and whose only fault is that they are at present in a minority? Are they to be swallowed up in the victory of their own home enemies. And what will you do with that patriotic old party, when the Clarion (illegible) of Clay so often called, & not in vain, to the country; rescue, when you rush headlong into secession, to which they are to a man opposed--under existing circumstances--when if you wait, you can make the whole Southern people a united and happy family, for offence or defence. I am therefore against Virginia and her sister slave holding States, seceding or countenancing the expediency of secession until--

4th The right of secession is practically denied by the Federal Government, by any, the least attempt to coerce a seceding State in the exercise of this inherent clear and indestructible right--or any other practical aggression upon this or any of her rights as a seperate and distinct State sovereignty. In this case, sound your bugle and winds shall bear its blast to me, and quick as wind and steam can carry me, I will be by your side to do my (illegible), for Virginia or any other Southern State.

5th But it is said, that the overt act has been committed time and again--there we should have taken up arms against this sea of troubles long ago. We should not have stratified ourselves by waiting until now when if the step is taken we are jointly liable to the charge that it was induced by the mere election of an adversary to the Presidency. This wont hold water.

6th If we stay in the Union--you will see that the obnoxious laws passed by some of the Northern States, will be repealed--e.g. Seward's offer to have this done but handicapping it, with what we never will and never ought to agree to, trial of fugitive slave by jury. The north are scared--they will yield the point--public opinion and the most terrific reaction and retribution against them, will drive them to it & we will be enabled yet to get our rights in the Union, which all will admit to be better, for many reasons, domestic and foreign for with regard to the last, we have seen with what audacious gusto the English people & the press are enjoying the difficulty, and with only one exception, as far as I have seen, in regard to the press, taking sides in the most offensive form of argument and language, with the North! For example--I predict England does not recognize South Carolina as a seperate government. There dear Brother are my views, hastily & crudely thrown together. Your own good sense will interpret & construe them as they are intended--and your knowledge of, and confidence in me, will at least accord me honesty in their entertainment and expression.

Let me add, that it is because I love slavery & approve it & justify it, in all its relations moral, social, religious & humane, as elevating the master & ameliorating the condition of the slave--that I wish to see the Union preserved if it can be with honor to the South. Mark me--if the Union is broken up--the death knell to slavery in the South is, in time, sounded. The greatest fallacy is to expect any affilliation, or sympathy with a Southern Confederacy, as long as slavery exists. I did not entertain this view until lately--but the states of political affairs in our distracted country, exhibited lately has brought out the (illegible) Fort! Keep this letter and see if I am not right.

But thank God there are sweeter if not more ennobling themes we can turn to & I avail myself of the right to speak of that dear sweet Christian being at your side. How I do love you Fan--and how often crave to hold you to my heart. God knows when (illegible) my child, for until I receive some letters I am expecting from the N. States in connection with my projected London business I am at a loss to decide. I shall resign to (illegible) effect the 4th of March, or as soon after that as my successor can be sent out. However, this, as in propriety it should be, to yourselves, for the present Jennie tells you all about the children--they are all dear things. She came here with me for my health, which is far from good, to pass a few days, the climate being brighter & more genial & I am much better. We return tomorrow. To day we were in the birthplace of Shakespear and in the house where he was born--yesterday at Warwick Castle--and the day before at the ruins of (illegible) Castle!!! What associations! And now dear Dick, do promise to write me soon, very soon, again & tell me all about yourself, your angel wife, & (illegible) boy.

Jennie has written by this Steamer, a letter to Charley giving him I believe an account of our visit here--Fan had better write to him for it--I am a bad hand at such things & always leave it to her yet romantic nature. I laugh at her as usual from morning till night and yet I believe she still loves me. She is fat and well and walked five miles with me the other day. I have to walk, or I should be as stiff as an old Spaniard horse.

God bless you--God bless you all.

Your affectionate Brother Bev Tucker

I (illegible) like, when convenient, these views of mine shown to my & our brothers--It may (illegible) my future (illegible) . But don't trouble yourself.