Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"He was sure to follow and sit down between us"

Drew R. McCoy's The Last of the Fathers opens with a wonderful description of the aged James Madison, as seen by Harriet Martineau when she stayed at Montpelier for three days in February 1835:
[Martineau] worried, at first, that she was imposing on the old man and would tire him out. "In perpetual fear of his being exhausted," she made polite efforts to afford him the rest he would obviously need: at the end of every few hours of conversation she left her seat by the arm of his chair and went to the sofa by Mrs. Madison on the other side of the room. "But he was sure to follow," she reported, "and sit down between us; so that, when I found the only effect of my moving was to deprive him of the comfort of his chair, I returned to my station, and never left it but for food and sleep, glad enough to make the most of my means of intercourse with one whose political philosophy I deeply venerated."

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