“What do you wish, madam?” said he, rather mildly.
“What do I wish?” she cried. “Let me get at that villain Aaron Burr!”
Presently Burr seems to have succeeded in pacifying her; but in the end they separated, though she afterward always spoke most kindly of him. When he died, only about a year later, she is said to have burst into a flood of tears—another tribute to the fascination which Aaron Burr exercised through all his checkered life.
It is difficult to come to any fixed opinion regarding the moral character of Aaron Burr. As a soldier he was brave to the point of recklessness. As a political leader he was almost the equal of Jefferson and quite superior to Hamilton. As a man of the world he was highly accomplished, polished in manner, charming in conversation. He made friends easily, and he forgave his enemies with a broadmindedness that is unusual.
On the other hand, in his political career there was a touch of insincerity, and it can scarcely be denied that he used his charm too often to the injury of those women who could not resist his insinuating ways and the caressing notes of his rich voice. But as a husband, in his youth, he was devoted, affectionate, and loyal; while as a father he was little less than worshiped by the daughter whom he reared so carefully.
One of his biographers very truly says that no such wretch as Burr has been declared to be could have won and held the love of such a wife and such a daughter as Burr had.
When all the other witnesses have been heard, let the two Theodosias be summoned, and especially that daughter who showed toward him an affectionate veneration unsurpassed by any recorded in history or romance. Such an advocate as Theodosia the younger must avail in some degree, even though the culprit were brought before the bar of Heaven itself.
In the last decade of the eighteenth century England was perhaps the most brilliant nation of the world. Other countries had been humbled by the splendid armies of France and were destined to be still further humbled by the emperor who came from Corsica. France had begun to seize the scepter of power; yet to this picture there was another side—fearful want and grievous poverty and the horrors of the Revolution. Russia was too far away, and was still considered too barbarous, for a brilliant court to flourish there. Prussia had the prestige that Frederick the Great won for her, but she was still a comparatively small state. Italy was in a condition of political chaos; the banks of the Rhine were running blood where the Austrian armies faced the gallant Frenchmen under the leadership of Moreau. But England, in spite of the loss of her American colonies, was rich and prosperous, and her invincible fleets were extending her empire over the seven seas.