Letter from James Arlington Bennet, 24 October 1843

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<​Confidential excepting to your immediate friends.​>
Oct 24 1843
Dr. General. I am happy to know that you have taken possessio[n] of your New Establishment & presume you will be eminently successful & happy in it togethe[r] with your good & family. You are no doubt already aware that I have had a most interesteresting visit from your most excellent & worthy fr[i]end. Pres. , with whom I have had a glorious frolick in the clear blue ocean; for most assuredly a frolic it was, without a moments reflection or Consideration. Nothing of this kind would in the least attach me to your person or cause. I am capable of being a most undeviating fr[i]end without being governed by the smallest religious influence. As you have proved yourself to be a philosophical Divine you will excuse me when I say that we must leave these influences to the mass. The boldness of your plans & measures together with their unparalled Success, so far, are calculated to through <​throw​> a charm over your whole being & to point you out as the most extraordinary man of the present Age. But my mind is of so mathematical & philosophical a cast that the Divinity of Moses makes no impression on me, and you will not be offended when I say that I rate you higher as a Legislature [legislator] than I do Moses because we have you present with us for examination whereas Moses derives his Chief Author[ity] from prescription & the lapse of time.
I cannot however say but you are both right, It being out of the power of men to prove you wrong. It is no mathematical problem & can therefore get no mathematical solution. I say therefore go a head, you have my good wishes. You know Mahomet had his “right hand man.” [p. [1]]
The celebrated Thomas Brown of is now engaged in cutting your head on a beautiful Cornelian Stone as your private seal which will be set in gold to your order & sent to you. It will be a gem & just what you want. His sister is a member of your Church. The expense of this Seal set in gold will be about $40 and Mr Brown assures me that if he were not so poor a man he would present it to you free. You can however accept it or not no as he can apply it to another use.
I am myself short for cash, for although I had some time since $2000 paid me by the Harpers, publishers, as the 1st instalment on the purchase of my Copy right, yet I had got so much behind during the hard times that it all went to clear up old scores. I expect $38,000 more however in semi anual payments from those gentlemen within the limits of 10 years a large portion of which I intend to use in the State of in the purchase & conduct of a large tract of land & therefore should I be compelled to announce in this quarter that I have no connections with the , you will of course remain silent as I shall do it in such a way as will make all things right.
I may yet run for a high Office in your , where you would be sure of my best services in your behalf, therefore a known connection with you would be against our mutual interest. It can be shown that a commission in the was a Herald hoax carried, for the fun of it <​out​> by me, as it is not believed even now by the public. In short I expect to be yet through your influence Governor of the State of
My respects to , , & all fr[i]ends
Yours most respectfuly
L[i]eut Ge[n] Smith [p. [2]] [23 lines blank]
P. S. As the Officer of the Inspector General confers no command on me being a mere honor[ar]y title, if therefore there is any gentleman in who would like to fill it in a practical way I shall with great pleasure & good will resigned it to him by receiving advice from you to that effect. It is an office that should be filled by some scientific Officer. [p. [3]]
<​ OCT [illegible]​>
<​27​>
Lieut. Gen Joseph Smith,
City of
Illinois
[p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. new scribe logo

    Postmark stamped in red ink.  

  2. new scribe logo

    Postage in unidentified handwriting. The postage is written over by a series of indecipherable curlicues.