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R[ufus] K[ing] to MVB, 22 July 1823


Dr Sir.

I am not surprized by the Receit of your letter of the 18th instant not only have the Proceedings at Washington been vacillating, and as I believe unprincipled; but the Correspondence of Mr S. T. has been so extraordinary, that were the case my own, I should in reply observe much Caution, with a decided Reserve, especially upon the Subject, concerning which, there has been on his part an unexplained failure: if his first letter to you was not intended in the sense in which it was understood, but ^aimed^ at quite another, and different object your Answer ought to have put him right, by making straight, what was intentionally crooked; and if the Secretary had wavered in his Decision, respecting the acceptance of a judicial office; your Reply precluded its communication to the President, and to have made such Communication, while his mind continued undecided, was a violation of the Duties of friendship; and if ^this^ generous Sentiment were wanting, the Communication could not be reconciled with the Principles of Honor. You must excuse the use of Strong Expressions, since in Questions of this Character, the Law is, as it ought to be, rigorous, and inexorable: There neither is, nor can be, on like occasions, an innocent or excusable failure: mutual Reservation, or the suppression of what should be expressed, is the part of Rogues, & Jesuits, who being without Honour, are incapable of the Offices of Friendship: but of this enough.

If the P. M G. Justices of the supreme Court Secretaries of the executive Departments, and foreign Ambassadors, are nominated upon a Computation of the aggregate of their supposed Capacities, and political influence, instead of an impartial estimate of their known Qualifications, how is it possible to decide upon the Competence of a Person named to one Office, without being made acquainted with the Qualifications of his associates destined to fill the other Offices? Your proposed answer may be more prudent, but I prefer the annexed as more sincere.

Yrs &c


PS. John is well and I believe is doing well, for he begins to like Mr. <Erjnbroth>.

Printed in King, Correspondence, 6:526.

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Source: NHi New-York Historical Society
Collection: Rufus King Papers (NHi)
Series: Series 4 (3 December 1821-31 December 1824)