Randolph of Roanoke: "The Warden
on the Lonely Hill"
His was a nature that would have made for itself a hell even though fate had put a heaven about it.
In his second public career as congressman, sometime senator, and ambassador to Russia, John Randolph continued to espouse the principles of his upbringing with literalness and vehemence. He acted out more completely and with greater abandon than he had previously the ideas he held about politics and society. The style of his later years was an aggressive and insistent assertion of an eccentric self. This eccentricity was not altogether new, but now it engrossed his public capacity to the exclusion of other means of political communication. It also carried Randolph to extremes of behavior, bizarre and unrestrained even by his idiosyncratic standards. There were some opportunities for a revival of his political fortunes, but because of his alienation from the political process and the social climate of American society, his feints at politics were halfhearted and foredoomed. His way of making the most of his opportunities was to address himself to what he thought was a headstrong and self-destructive country, finally preferring to prophesy its destruction rather than to save it.
For Randolph this was an era of blasted hopes. The reasons for his disillusionment have been examined previously. Fundamentally, however, his disappointment re