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Comments on the North Carolina Legislature - 1813

From Mordecai Collection*

Warrenton, December 23, 1813
Wednesday afternoon

Dear Ellen,

In compliance with your request I write from Raleigh which place I left on Sunday morning but the best paper I could find at the seat of government was so ungenteel in appearance that I determined not to send it to the metropolis of our sister state.

Yesterday on my return I found your welcome letter to which I should have replied last evening but found myself too much fatigued, and what with unpacking books and making boxes for Alfred I have little time left to inform you of my adventures. On my arrival I found all the sages of the state, and I blush to use the word found, not in the state house framing the laws for the benefit of their constituents, but crowded into what had much of the appearance of a carpenter shop, highly interested in viewing the American navy  and bursting with astonishment  as one of them observed by way of explanation to another, not quite so learned, a "maremaid" emerged from the canvas deep ~ but you must not judge the whole by an indifferent specimen, although it be a component part, for I assure you that our legislature, a motley crew indeed, wears on the whole, a respectable aspect and boasted a few that could do honor to any publick station ~ Mr. Stanley from Newbern is a small man unless you make his abilities your standard, his voice is full and sonorous, and his distilleth manna ~ he is indeed an oratour of the first class, and were his gestures more animated he would be a highly interesting speaker. Genl. Steel and Mr. Cameron contended for the next grade, the gravity and solemn manner of the one formed a contrast, with the hurried impetuosity of the latter. Genl. Steel's speeches contain good sense and solid reasoning but his delivery is not good, and his manner, to repeat the words of a learned friend, very disinteresting. Mr. Drew, if not a (___) natural, is at least a phenomena in the house, he tumbled forth most unmercifully his bombastical nonsense (or vice versa) accompanied with a furious twirling of the hand and arm, which serves to round his periods with a peculiar grace. A Mr. Calloway, whom you may place along side of the latter gentleman, in shape and mien not unlike a Sancho to the Knight of woful (sic) countenane, springs up mushroom like form his seat with "Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to observe ~ I must beg pardon of his serene highness, Genl. Jones of Wilminton, for omitting thus long to remark that I listened to several of his speeches with little ediffication and less pleasure." Our townsman Mr. Miller is speaker of the house of commons, he fills the seat with grace and dignity, and shines with a steady light, like a planet surrounded by the little nebulous stars. Of Mr. Johnson, I never had so high an opinion, because contrary to my expectation, he seems to have one of his own, and altho' well satisfied with expressing it by good old yea or nay, he is a very good member, and much respected by the house.

I think Raleigh a handsome little place ~ the State House, Bank, and City Hotel are, or will be excellent buildings, and if the town continues to improve for ten or twelve years, we will unite with Genl. Jones, and dignify it with the name of City.

I had the pleasure of seeing Misses Gilman Marshall and Freeman, the latter, 'tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true, dressed in all the gaiety of fashion, and at the Theatre.

Moses was is in good spirits, likes very well, and says that his sister Ellen writes very amusing letters ~ he will not visit us on his return, business requiring his presence at home, he still talks of getting married, but I fear is as far from it is ever ~ or more expressively speaking, as you or I.

It is now almost dark and if I finish the page you will not receive by the evenings mail ~or rather it will not bear it hence ~ when I write again and I will send you a fresh supply of de L'argent, and thank you for the paper hangings unless you choose to dispense with that sort of compensation ~ goodbye, my dear Ellen, may you be everything that I wish and may heaven grant you it's blessings and protection.

* This is the first of many items to be posted from the letters and journals of Ellen Mordecai 1790-1884.found in the Mordecai collection located in the NC State Archives, Raleigh, NC. We are concentrating on the period from 1810-1820 when the Mordecai family was still located in Warren Co.

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