not dosmiss such a complaint against a citizen upon its own showing without defense or examination. But I will reply to your series of conjectures.
First, I deny that I have ever by act, word or ocrrespondence acknowledged or obeyed the authorities now acting in Virginia; second, what may be my sympathies (if it be allowable for man for such a purpose to penetrate the human heart) may I admit present a subject for argument, inference and conjecture founded upon evidence, past party associations and opinions expressed prior to the late fatal rupture of the peace of the country, although every day's experience of the conducthe stage of action shows how fallacious would be the conclusions drawn from such premises, but since the present rupturee, having been absent from the country and in to way connected with its interior movements, my sympathies whether for or against the Union are known only to myself and I defy the production of any credible testimony as to their expression by words or deeds since the present unhappy struggle commenced; third, the expectation that my services and influcence will be employed in behalf of the authorities acting in Virginia rests upon no foundation or evidence oof any kind whatever, and is one of those intangible surmises alike incapable of proof or refutation and which should not be made the basis of any action against the liberty of a citizen. It is impossible that one as familiar as you are with the principles of constitutional law can for one moment believe that you are justified in the eyes of God or man in depriving me of my liberty upon such unsubstantial pretenses. this is virtually conceded by your letter. It in effect admits that there is no just ground my escape b6y instructing Colonel Burke that I can release myself at any moment from imprrisonment by taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.
I have often taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States when tendered to me in accordance with that Constitution and the laws of the land, and I shouldd do so again if ever placed in a position where that equirement should legally and properly be demanded of me. the condition which you impose may thus at first sight not perfect spirit of candor, my objections to your propossal, I think you will concur with me that if pesisted in by the Government it will be equivalent to a sentence of indefinite improsonment against me.
My objections to the oath which you prscribe are:
First. That it is without sanction or authority of law. As a Christian I cannot take an oath which in my consicience I believe to be aunauthorized by law, and as a citizen I cannot may to so manifest an usurpation of executive power. It can sccarcely be necessary for me to say to a jurist of your intelligencee and high legal reputation thata an oath is one of those solemn appeals to the Divinity prescribed by the interests and necessities of society, and held to be so important in tis conseequences to the State and to the individual concerned that no power short of the supreme authority of a community is competent to authorize its administration and to providee the penalties for its vilation. The tender and enforcement of an oath by an officer of the Federal Government where not prescribed by some existing law is in my judgment a grave misdemeeanor for which he should be held judicially responsible. I might safely challenge the production in a single instsance in any Sstate of this confederacy where an oath is ever sought to be enforced except in pursuance of some statute emanating