Richmond May 1st 99 (Source of Letter)
You may possibly have seen a paragraph in a late publication, stating that several important offices in the gift of the Executive, & among others that of secretary of State, had been attainable by me. Few of the unpleasant occurrences produc’d by my declaration as a candidate for congress (& they have been very abundant) have given me more real chagrin than this. To make a parade of profferd offices is a vanity which I trust I do not possess, but to boast of one never in my power woud argue a littleness of mind at which I ought to blush.
I know not how the author may have acquird his information, but I beg leave to assure you that he never receivd it directly nor indirectly from me. I had no previous knowledge that such a publication was designd, or I woud certainly have suppressd so much of it as relates to this subject.
Under Idioms, this page from the Oxford Dictionary says:
beg leave to do something (formal) = to ask somebody for permission to do something
Could someone please explicate and elucidate beg leave? I can't grasp how one would ask person X for permission to assure person X of something (particularly in this context). Wouldn't one just assure person X directly of whatever thing it is?