Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in Conservative Thought

Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in Conservative Thought

Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in Conservative Thought

Randolph of Roanoke: A Study in Conservative Thought

Excerpt

This little book is an account of the mind of a radical man who became the most eloquent of American conservative thinkers. John Randolph, the enemy of Jefferson, has been the subject of several biographies, one of them -- William Cabell Bruce's -- thorough and good. I do not propose to describe Randolph's life, therefore, but rather to outline his ideas and suggest their influence.

Randolph's career and character are familiar enough to those who read American history. His bitter hates and passionate loves, his fits of madness, his bewildering extemporaneous eloquence, his duels, his beautiful letters, his sardonic wit, his outbursts of prophecy and his visions of devils, his brandy and his opium, his lonely plantation life, his quixotic opposition to the great economic and political powers of his day -- every one knows something of these. He was out of the pages of Byron and Disraeli. But he was also a man of genius, a genius literary and political. Few of us remember that he was a master of English style and a major influence in conservative social thought. A recent history of American literature, got up on a grand scale, has kind words for some obscure literary hacks but does not mention Randolph even in the Index; and he has not fared much better in histories of American political ideas. I think it is a pious act, pious in the old Roman sense, to call John Randolph up from among the shades.

America, which presently finds herself the chief protector of . . .

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