Transcript:Letter from William C. Preston to John Campbell, 1856



Campbell Tapestry


……………………..The Tapestry
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Person:David Campbell (50)


Preston Place, S. C,
I8th December, 1856.
Genl. John Campbell, Abingdon, Va.

My Dear Sir

Before I received your letter some days since, I had forwarded by Genl. Thompson to Mr. Washington Irving a copy of our King's Mountain celebration, that he might be accurately informed of the atffair, for the purpose of his history. I am pleased though somewhat surprised to see the Life of Washington expanded into a history of the Kevolution, and in truth Genl. Washington cannot be portrayed as a single figure. lie must stand the center of a great historical group that one may have anything like a correct perception of him. It did not. however, enter into the plan of the work, and perhaps did not entirelv comport with Mr. Irving's genius, to exhibit a grand historical picture with the bold outlines, and uniform keeping of an historic painting, but rather to sketch the central figures, and admit the accompaniments as incidental matter. The revolution came necessarily within the field of vision, and is therefore sketched in, but with great accuracy and elegance. The work at once takes its place (and a very high one) in elegant literature, and will be read as well as a matter of taste as for its correct information. The style is to my mind perfectly exquisite, and the little picture touches enchanting.

If the work should run to twenty volumes, for my part I shall be delighted, for it will be so much additional pleasure to the few enjoyments that remain to my declining and desolate old age, and the reading is besides in ilie nature of a conversation with a beloved old friend whom I remember as a genial, cordial, sensible, and honest gentleman. This remembrance no doubt gives additional zest to the work as I read. I have now but few books about me, having given my library to the Columbian Atheneum as a token of my affection for, and gratitude to a city which for many years has not ceased to cherish me ever since I came to it a young stranger from the mountains of Virginia, now forty years ago. There are few left who cherished my youthful aspirations, or joined in my young sympathies, but the most of those I loved are in the City of the Dead, and when God pleases to call me I desire my own remains to be placed here by ker side who was the light of my life, and whose death left me in perfect darkness.

I was sadly disappointed in uot seeing you in the summer.

Our venerable relative and friend, your brother, Governor David Campbell, had brought me to expect that I should meyt you at dinner with him and his old lady in their most romantic and elegant retirement. I spent a most agreeable day v/ith them, though I must say. like angels' music, pleas- ant, and wonderful to the soul, I regard it as a sort of valedictory to the ministering hosts, for at our time of life, and in our respective c(jnnections, we can hardly calculate that the chances of life will enable us to meet again. How beautifully the sunset of life declines on the aged pair! I have hardly ever seen anything more touching and beautiful.

You will have been scandalized to see our Governor's proposition about the slave trade. He is in truth an ignoramus and a blackguard, and every- body revolts from his infamous proposition even those the most rabid abnut slavery ism. I rejoice to think that the clouds that Inwered over our country, if not in the deep bosom of the ocean buried, are at least for the present dispersed.

Kind salutations to all in your neighborhood, and especially to all kith and kin. Your friend,

Wm. C. Preston.