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 Jan: 14 1832

I received yours this morning and have stolen an hour from the cares of business, in the solitude of night, to answer it.

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 the year 1824 I first saw it, and then indulged the hope, though faint at that time, that I should one day be happily settled there with my brother, and sister along side of me, and for that purpose selected it as a part of my premium land. My brothers death made a most melancholy void in my arrangements. 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- ments in the custom house regulations, as well as all others, will be satisfactorily arranged by the Government, and when that is done Texas will flourish and prosper as a state of the Mexican confederation more than in any other situation in which it could be placed. The wild intemperance of some of the good folks almost put even me into a fever. But, it is past. Such men do harm, for their feelings are not sufficiently guided by judgment. Your observations about --------are correct. I have seen many things in him I could wish different, yet he is about the best I have near me. Can you wonder that I am poor, or that I should sometimes have, felt like an isolated being? But I will let that chord alone. It jars too harshly with the harmonious things at the bottom of this page.

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 luxury on the other. We began with buckskin clothes, and buffalo meat. Let us not end with silks, laces and the dainties of the cook shop. Envy and jealousy can never be banished from the human heart, but something may be done toward reducing the food, and tempering the excitement which keep them in activity, and madden them to fury.

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.

Adiós, adios.

[Stephen F. Austin.]