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The Devil And John Randolph
How a statesman’s strange letter settled a court fight over a will
August 1956 | Volume 7, Issue 5
And the letter John Randolph wrote, that mournful January day in 1832? Its text was engraved on the memory of Waller Holladay, who later recited it to his grandson, adding: “It with the lapse of time I have forgotten even a single word, I am sure the sense is perfectly preserved.” This is the letter: I am sure you will he surprised and pained to hear that I was honored last night by a visit from no less a personage than His Satanic Majesty. His Majesty assured me that my only hope of much longer continuance of my mortal existence depended upon my subsisting entirely upon the milk of your fine Medley mare, which would restore health to my worn out hody. Under these melancholy circumstances, I have no choice hut to throw myself upon your friendly mercies and I implore you to let me have the mare without delay which will inevitably bring my life to its end. I will not inquire your price. Draw upon me for whatever you may think proper, but I pray and conjure you by everything you hold sacred, and in the name of humanity, to sell me the mare, that her milk may save the life of your sincere but sullcring friend.
Randolph of Roanoke