Stephen F Austin to Mary Austin Holley, 01-14-1832
Summary: Compares colonization of Texas with farmer clearing land, planting seed, and harvesting crop. Government imposes too many restrictions and people are excited and turbulent about customs regulations, but all this will pass when Texas is a State.
San Felipe de Austin
I received yours this
What you say about the dissipation and other things in Brazoria has too much truth in it; in a little time, however, these matters will correct themselves. They are so repugnant to me, and to all my ideas of propriety that sometimes I lose patience.
I am glad you are pleased with the situation I have selected. In
You must fill it. Yes,
my friend, you shall have a place along side of me and my sister.
On our ponies we will scamper over the flowery prairies to the sea
beach, and along it with the wide waste of the ocean on one hand,
the level green carpet of nature fringed by distant woods, on the
other, and friendship and happiness in our hearts.
I am glad to hear that the officer was polite, though it is what I
expected of him. Colonel Ugartechea is a very honorable and
gentlemanly officer. I have no doubt but our temporary embarrass-
Such an enterprize as the one I undertook in settling an uninhabited country must necessarily pass through three regular gradations. The first step was to overcome the roughness of the wilderness and may be compared to the labor of a farmer on a piece of ground covered with woods, bushes and brambles, which must be cut down and cleared away, and the roots grubbed out before it can be cultivated. The second step was to pave the way for civilization and lay the foundation for lasting and productive advancement in wealth, morality and happiness. The step might be impared to the ploughing harrowing and sowing the ground after it is cleared. The third and last and most important step is to give proper and healthy direction to public opinion, morality and education;—to give tone, character and consistency to society, which, to continue the simile, is gathering in the harvest and applying it to the promotion of human happiness. In trying to lead the Colony through these gradations my task has been one of continued hard labor. I have been clearing away brambles, laying foundations, and sowing the seed, the genial influences of Cultivated society will be like the sun shedding light, fragrance and beauty.
I am more and more anxious to close my colonization business
and retire to private life. They laugh at me when I speak of it, and
declare that I shall die of ennui—that gardening farming and
stock-raising will tire and disgust me. They do not know my
disposition. There is nothing visionary in our calculations. Wealth
here is not indispensable; and I would set the Colony an example
of economy and plainness. In all countries the poorer class are
too often mortified, and the middling class ruined by the
extravagant example of the rich. The former feel degraded because they
are so far below, and the latter indulge a false pride, and waste
their substance by futile attempts to ape their more dashing
neighbors. Heaven save us from extremes. Let us have a just and reasonable
medium between poverty on the one hand, and excessive
Thus far for the
bright, now let us look on the gloomy side of the
picture. The blights of Governmental restrictions overspread the
land and paralyse its progress—a darker shade than I could wish.
The lights of reason and sound policy will dissipate it by showing
the Government that the only true policy is to make Texas a state,
and bind it to the nation by the ties of interest—the only ties that are
not cobwebs with the mass of any people. Bueno: that shade is
irradiated by hope, what next? Hope may vanish like a meteor,
and the current of events become dark turbulent and impetuous.
Such waters engender mists. I see a cloud of them passing before
our beloved picture, a brisk Norther will drive it away. What
else? Fevers in our long summers. Is not sickness every where?
Exercise of body and mind with temperance will keep it off; and
patience and perseverance will brush away all the shades. But, be
not too sanguine. It is necessary to keep the dark as well as the
bright side in view, then, if disappointment come it will be deprived
of a part of its sting.
[Stephen F. Austin.]