Israel Washburn to James Shepard Pike, March 16, 1858, in James S. Pike, First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States, from 1850 to 1860 (New York: American News Company, 1879), 526.
Pike, James Shepard
Transcription adapted from First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States, from 1850 to 1860 (1879), by James S. Pike
Adapted by Michael Blake, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States, from 1850 to 1860 (1879).
Washington, March 16, 1858.
My Dear Pike: I think they are distributing sorghum in small quantities at the Patent Office. Do you want some?
I think the Tribune must be hard up for cause against Seward when it relies on such specifications as are contained in your article -- it seems it was yours -- yesterday. Laurence Sterne has said somewhere that when it is determined that a victim shall be offered up, a fagot is never wanting; but in this case, as old Antoine Lachance, of said, it was a "d -- poor stub."
By the way, is it true, as an inside rumor here has it, that the Tribune is in for Douglas for President? I am willing he should be any thing else, but this would be up-hill travelling just now for our Republican masses worse than the Beddington hills. Because one can get a new mail route to Schoodic, it don't follow that he can do any thing he has a mind to. The Tribune, too, is mortal. I am for Seward in 1860, ain't you?
I do believe that old Wade's speech was just about the best that was ever made. Of argument, hard hits, and wholesome abuse that left nothing to be desired, it was full -- express and admirable.
In my opinion the Lecompton bill ought to be killed. It is right that it should be, and therefore, in my philosophy, it is expedient. As it ought to be killed, there is no weapon, scimeter or handspike, that we should not use. Time and the chapter of accidents may help the friends of freedom. The next best thing to defeating the bill is its passage only after the longest, hardest, honestest fight that can be made.
I am glad you have our friend Foster in hand; no man is more true.
Wasn't Benjamin's reference to Tennyson unfortunate? A volume of Tennyson, printed and published by Moxon or Longman, would, I take it, be respected as property in New York; and but for the local law of England he would have no right even there to sell his songs. Is the right to the sale of one's inspirations a higher law right, or one depending on local legislation? When God gives a great intellect to one of his children it is for the benefit of all of them. When a divine tale is told, all who have ears may hear it. I never heard that old Homer sold his Iliad, or that the Saviour of men claimed a copyright on the Sermon on the Mount. In these imperfect times, when Tribunes abuse Sewards, no doubt it is well to give copyrights to their inspirations; but when the Christian bells shall have "rung in the Christ that is to be," these things will be done away. But if one has a divine right to his works, Fred Douglass, a slave, would, in Benjamin's view, have a claim to his writings that he would not to himself.
When are you coming here?
I. Washburn, Jr.
J. S. Pike, Esq.