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and thrifty in the provinces; and many of the most distinguished families of later days are descended from the Huguenot settlers. Charleston was a very aristocratic city, and it has been said to have had its nobility in everything but titles. Among its residents at that time were the Right Hon. Richard Beresford, brother to the Premier; Pierce Butler, cousin to the Duke of Ormond; Lady Mary Middleton, and others. All these circumstances may have combined to cause Peter to choose that city for a permanent residence. It is said that from the first he attracted general and favorable notice from those the best qualified as judges, and that he became a prominent and influential citizen of his adopted city.
Peter was renowned throughout the State for his personal beauty; and his manners were such as to endear him to all and render him popular in the extreme.1 It is most probable, if he married, that his wife died early, as Mr. Thomas in his Reminiscences, to which I am indebted for most of these facts, says that although he kept up an establishment, he had no family but his slaves. It has also been stated that he never married. This, we think, is a mistake, as Philip's daughter Agnes remembered, as a child, seeing his wife frequently at Mt. Pleasant, and that upon one of Mr. and Mrs. Pierre Freneau's visits they drove by easy stages from Charleston, and presented her father with the handsome span of horses, carriage, and slave coachman. Peter was noted for his handsome presents and generous liberality. Mrs. Agnes Leadbeater also states that her elder sister Helen went to Charleston with her uncle and aunt and remained there some time, for the purpose of attending an excellent school conducted by a daughter of Admiral
1 It is said that, when visiting Mr. and Mrs. Philip Freneau in Philadelphia while that city was the seat of government, he became one of the greatest social favorites and one of the most talked-of men at the assemblies.
de Grasse,1 as schools for females were few and poor near her home. Pierre never married again, but he enjoyed in his home the friendship of many who were not friends alone in name, but in the deepest sentiments of the heart. His conversational powers, we are told, were unequalled; and what enhanced the charm was his utter unconsciousness of possessing such in any eminent degree; he communicated the most interesting truths in a manner all the more agreeable, as he was not conscious of saying anything not already familiar to his hearers.
Sometimes he would entertain his friends by rendering into English the famous Paris editions of Voltaire's plays. He was an admirable reader, and his translations were ready and unequalled, so that it was considered a great treat to listen to him. He was well versed in ancient, as well as modern languages, reading the Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New in Greek. His Latin was said to be good, but he took greater pleasure in the living languages and translated well from the Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Napoleon is said to have remarked to Berthier, the Minister of War, that Freneau's translations of his bulletins were the only correct Berthier communicated this fact to the French minister. Pierre's reading was extensive; he devoted most of his time to it, taking a book into his hand almost as soon as he entered the house.
In his early life he had started a paper called the "Charleston City Gazette," which obtained a vast controlling influence throughout the entire State; and it continued to increase until it was a complete political lever, he himself being a host. Pierre was peculiarly fitted for the position of editor, as he had a wide range of general knowledge and information; and
1 This lady afterwards married Mr. de Pau of New York.
he wrote with the greatest ease and facility, being seldom obliged to make an erasure. His style of composition is said to have combined the smoothness and beauty of Addison with the simplicity of Cobbett; his wit was ready, and he occasionally indulged in versification.
Decided in advancing his own opinions, he was nevertheless just, and even liberal, to those that thought differently from him; and no difference in political opinion ever caused a loss of his many warmhearted and devoted friends. In politics he maintained the Republican-Democratic party, and remained ever identified with it. His paper was, even before Jefferson's administration, the journal of the State as well as of the city, but after the nomination of the latter for the presidency, the patronage of the general government was added. Jefferson was warmly attached to Pierre, and kept up a correspondence with him, as did many other prominent men. Unfortunately, many of his letters and papers were burned in the fire which consumed Philip's residence at Mount Pleasant. Of one of these letters we are fortunate enough to have a copy. It reads as follows:
WASHINGTON, May 20, 1803.
DEAR SIR, I received last night from Paris the enclosed small parcel of Egyptian rice. I am not informed of its merits, but your's being the State where that can be best tried, I take the liberty of consigning it to your care, that we may be availed of whatever good it may offer.
The New York election no doubt attracted your attention from the inflated hopes of the Federalists. From a concurrence of circumstances they had been out with all their boldness. One source of their delusion was that they were so desirous of war themselves that they really believed the nation desired it. Never was defeat more complete; in Jersey it is confidently believed we shall have 29 members out of 52 which con
stitute both houses; in Massachusetts we have gained two senators more than we had last year, and it is believed that in the election of representatives now going on, we shall gain also. In Connecticut we have lost greatly in their house of representatives, yet in the whole body of the people we have unquestionably gained, as is proved by the votes for Governor. Last year the votes for Trumbull and Kirby were 10,000 to 4523; this year they are 14,300 to 7848; so that the last year of 100 parts of the whole voters, the Federalists had 71 and the Republicans 29; this year, of 100 parts of the whole voters the Federalists had 65, and the Republicans 35. We have advanced then from 29 to 35, or, while they have fallen from 71 to 65, or In New Hampshire they appear to have been more stationary. Delaware is entirely equivocal and uncertain. On the whole there is no doubt of republicanism gaining the entire ascendency in New England within a moderate time and consolidating the union into one homogeneous mass. In Philadelphia some heats have been excited against the leaving any Federalists in office, but these are softening down to moderation, while in the other states generally the course which has been pursued, altho' thought to have gone too far into removal, is acquiesced in and on the whole approved. We laid it down as a principal, in the beginning, that the Federalists had a right to a participation of office proportioned to their numbers; they in fact professed all. We removed a few in marked cases; we determined to remove all others who should take an active and bitter part against the order of things established by the public bill. Removals for this cause and for other delinquencies, resignations, and deaths have nearly given us our full proportion of office in all the States except Massachusetts. I speak of these offices only which are given by the President himself; the subordinate ones are left to their principals. At present, therefore, as from an early period of the administration, political principle, unless producing active opposition, is not a ground for removal, altho' it is as yet a bar to appointment, until the just proportion is fully restored.
A letter begun with a view to cover a few deeds, and to say a word about elections, has led to a length not at first contemplated. Desirous, however, that the principles of our proceedings should be understood, I explain them to no one more
willingly than yourself, because I am sure you will use them with prudence and sincerity for the information and satisfaction of others when occasions may lead you to an expression of sentiment. Should it be the means of giving me the advantage of receiving communications sometimes from you on the political state of things in your quarter, it will contribute to that information so desirable to myself, and so necessary to enable me to do what is best for the public interest. I pray you to accept my salutations, and utterances of esteem and respect. TH. JEFFERSON.
Peter's influence was extended and widely felt; and had he any personal ambition, there is no position in the power of the State to give that he could not have obtained, if he had manifested any desire for it. Although Freneau was so well fitted for the position of an editor, he was not so well qualified for that of a proprietor, as he was nothing of a business man; and his friend adds that it would be difficult to say, at times which was in the greatest confusion, his private affairs or those of the establishment. Over two hundred more papers than were needed were printed daily, and made way with by the slaves attached to the office. In the year 1810 he gave the paper into the hands of his friend Mr. Thomas, and was after that time Director of the State Bank. After the paper had passed from his hands, his intimate friend Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Colonel Lehre met at his house, as they were accustomed to do pending election, but this time it was for a special purpose. Knowing how impossible it was for Peter ever to say no, they asked him to request Mr. Thomas, the acting editor of the paper, to uphold a certain candidate they were desirous of having elected; and they took this way of accomplishing their end, conscious of the unwillingness of the editor to further the candidacy, yet also knowing that he could never refuse his friend anything that he asked of him.