June 3

June 3, 1864

Friday. Was notified that a commission had been appointed to investigate the stopping of my pay and would meet at brigade headquarters as soon as practicable. Then we will know. If Colonel Parker is right I shall apologize for the free speech I gave him. I wonder if he will do as much if I win out.

June Third

Other leaders have had their triumphs. Conquerors have won crowns, and honors have been piled on the victors of earth's great battles, but never, sir, came man to more loving people.

Henry W. Grady

 

Jefferson Davis born in Kentucky, 1808

 

 

June 3, 1863

Wednesday. The artillery kept firing all night, and the mortar fleet, which is said to be right opposite us, also sent shell after shell over into the works. The Rebs got real careless too, and fired right at our sleeping quarters. They seem to have a better range on us than ever before. I got behind my tree and went to sleep again. One of Company G was hit and badly hurt, and it is said a man farther down the line had both legs shot off.

June 3

June 3, 1849.--Fresh and delicious weather. A long morning walk. Surprised the hawthorn and wild rose-trees in flower. From the fields vague and health-giving scents. The Voirons fringed with dazzling mists, and tints of exquisite softness over the Salève. Work in the fields, two delightful donkeys, one pulling greedily at a hedge of barberry. Then three little children. I felt a boundless desire to caress and play with them. To be able to enjoy such leisure, these peaceful fields, fine weather, contentment; to have my two sisters with me; to rest my eyes on balmy meadows and blossoming orchards; to listen to the life singing in the grass and on the trees; to be so calmly happy--is it not too much? is it deserved? O let me enjoy it with gratitude. The days of trouble come soon enough and are many enough. I have no presentiment of happiness. All the more let me profit by the present. Come, kind nature, smile and enchant me! Veil from me awhile my own griefs and those of others; let me see only the folds of thy queenly mantle, and hide all miserable and ignoble things from me under thy bounties and splendors!

It still continues to rain a little, but for all this the Second, Sixth and Eighteenth Corps in the order mentioned from right to left, were ordered to charge at 4 o'clock a. m. and not to fire a shot until we got on to the enemy's works, but the charge was not a success. We never even reached the enemy's works. The attack commenced on the right and ran along the line until it reached the left. We advanced under a murderous fire in our front from the enemy's artillery, sharpshooters and when in range of its main line of battle and were simply slaughtered. We have lost to-day over 4,000 in killed and wounded. The total casualties June first and third have been 12,000, of which about 10,000 have been killed and wounded. The number killed in the Tenth Vermont since Tuesday is twenty-two and one hundred and twenty-nine wounded; and in Company K to-day one killed and five wounded. Two killed and nine wounded in two days greatly weakens my command. Captains Lucius T. Hunt and Pearl D. Blodgett were wounded, and Captain E. B. Frost was shot through the head and killed after the assault, by a sharpshooter. The Tenth Vermont lost sixty-two to-day in killed and wounded. We are now intrenching and ordered to act on the defensive. The men of Company K are cool, splendid fighters.

As I sat on the ground this morning with my back against a sapling in the woods, a sharpshooter planked a bullet in the ground about an inch from the calf of my right leg which covered me with flying dirt. He could see my blue pants through the green foliage. I moved. Colonel Schall who was wounded in the arm in the assault on June first and carried it in a sling in the fight to-day, was again wounded in the same arm. He is not a man to take advantage of a wound not totally disabling him to get out of a fight, evidently.

231. John Adams

Passy, 3 June, 1778.

On the 13th of February I left you. It is now the 3d of June, and I have not received a line nor heard a word, directly nor indirectly, concerning you, since my departure. This is a situation of mind in which I never was before, and I assure you I feel a great deal of anxiety at it; yet I do not wonder at it, because I suppose few vessels have sailed from Boston since ours. I have shipped for you the articles you requested, and the black cloth for your father, to whom present my most affectionate and dutiful respects. Captain Tucker, if he should not be unlucky, will give you an account of your things.

It would be endless to attempt a description of this country. It is one great garden. Nature and art have conspired to render everything here delightful. Religion and government, you will say, ought to be excepted. With all my heart. But these are no afflictions to me, because I have well fixed it in my mind as a principle, that every nation has a right to that religion and government which it chooses, and as long as any people please themselves in these great points, I am determined they shall not displease me.

There is so much danger that my letter may fall into malicious hands, that I should not choose to be too free in my observations upon the customs and manners of this people. But thus much I may say with truth and without offense, that there is no people in the world who take so much pains to please, nor any whose endeavors in this way have more success. Their arts and manners, taste and language, are more respected in Europe than those of any other nation. Luxury, dissipation, and effeminacy are pretty nearly of the same degree of excess here and in every other part of Europe. The great cardinal virtue of temperance, however, I believe flourishes here more than in any other part of Europe.

My dear countrymen! how shall I persuade you to avoid the plague of Europe! Luxury has as many and as bewitching charms on your side of the ocean as on this; and luxury, wherever she goes, effaces from human nature the image of the Divinity. If I had power I would forever banish and exclude from America all gold, silver, precious stones, alabaster, marble, silk, velvet, and lace.

Oh, the tyrant! the American ladies would say. What! Aye, my dear girls, these passions of yours which are so easily alarmed, and others of my own sex which are exactly like them, have done and will do the work of tyrants in all ages. Tyrants different from me, whose power has banished, not gold indeed, but other things of greater value, wisdom, virtue, and liberty. My son and servant are well. I am, with an ardor that words have not power to express,

Yours.

110. Abigail Adams

3 June, 1776.

I received by Mr. Church a few lines from you. I wish to hear from you every opportunity, though you say no more than that you are well. I feel concerned lest your clothes should go to rags, having nobody to take any care of you in your long absence; and then, you have not with you a proper change for the seasons. However, you must do the best you can. I have a suit of homespun for you whenever you return. I cannot avoid sometimes repining that the gifts of fortune were not bestowed upon us, that I might have enjoyed the happiness of spending my days with my partner, but as it is, I think it my duty to attend with frugality and economy to our own private affairs; and if I cannot add to our little substance, yet see it that it is not diminished. I should enjoy but little comfort in a state of idleness and uselessness. Here I can serve my partner, my family, and myself, and enjoy the satisfaction of your serving your country.

I wish you would write me what I had best do with our house at Boston. I would advertise it if you think best. There are so many houses torn to pieces and so many others abused, that I might stand a chance of letting it, perhaps, as it is in so good repair.

My brother is desirous of joining the army again, but would choose to be a field-officer. I have mentioned him to some of the House, and suppose he will be recommended to Congress for a commission. I hardly know where you will find men to form the regiments required. I begin to think population a very important branch in the American manufactories.

I inclose a list of the Council. The House consists of more than two hundred and fifty members. Your former pupil Angier comes from Bridgewater, and five others. I hope they will proceed in business with a little more spirit than heretofore. They are procuring two row-galleys, but when they will be finished I know not. I thought they were near done, but find to-day they are not yet contracted for. All our gentry are gone from Nantasket Road except the Commodore  and one or two small craft.

Everything bears a very great price. The merchant complains of the farmer and the farmer of the merchant—both are extravagant. Living is double what it was one year ago.

I find you have licensed tea, but I am determined not to be a purchaser unless I can have it at Congress price, and in that article the venders pay no regard to Congress, asking ten, eight, and the lowest is seven and sixpence per pound. I should like a little green, but they say there is none to be had here. I only wish it for a medicine, as a relief to a nervous pain in my head to which I am sometimes subject. Were it as plenty as ever, I would not practice the use of it.

Our family are all well. It has been reported here that Congress were going to remove forty miles beyond Philadelphia. I gave no credit to the report. I heard no reason assigned for it. I had much rather they would come a hundred miles nearer here. Adieu. Yours.

Tegernsee June 3, 1881

... I thought his[134 ] speech on the 2nd Reading[135 ] admirable, but for the allusion[136 ] to the larger measure the Tories would have to bring in, which might put Shaw & Co. into some difficulty.

They say that Lenbach has gone on painting him, and has succeeded admirably, but that the likeness is severe and depressing.

Lord Granville told me of his Roman troubles, and I had to give an opinion, which was not that of the importunate widow. But a representative so foolish and so hostile would have been more dangerous at St. Petersburg than at Rome, where he is only throwing away the mighty influence of your father's name, but where there is not critical interest at stake. Lord G. seems to me to have done well about Tunis; but I am sorry I wasted my eulogy on B. St. Hilaire.

The Contemporary  was very interesting. There was a saying of Carlyle that Germany had produced nothing since Goethe, which confirmed what I said to you about the limit of his information. I don't know who Shirley[137 ] is; but the small divine[138 ] amused me very much, and his article would have been just and good if it had not ended by implying that the judgment of the late elections settles the question of right—a sentiment fit for Gambetta and the punch-drinking politicians of Cahors.

You asked me the other day a perplexing question, suggested, less by the loss in the house of your friend, than by the observation that men are passionately fond of talking about themselves, and practising autobiographical arts. My answer must be what you anticipated. Being refused at Cambridge, and driven to foreign universities, I never had any contemporaries, but spent years in looking for men wise enough to solve the problems that puzzled me, not in religion or politics so much as along the wavy line between the two. So I was always associated with men a generation older than myself, most of whom died early—for me—and all of whom impressed me with the same moral, that one must do one's learning and thinking for oneself, without expecting short cuts or relying on other men. And that led to the elaborate detachment, the unamiable isolation, the dread of personal influences, which you justly censure.

Please write that censure is not anger, and tell me what you are all doing, what the prospects are, how much social trouble you take, and whether you liked Matthew Arnold and his airs....


Your letter has been indeed a joy in the midst of trouble.[139 ] You have understood so much of what it is hard to write....

[134 ] Mr. Gladstone's.

[135 ] Of the Irish Land Bill.

[136 ] Mr. Gladstone predicted that, if the Conservatives defeated the Bill and came into office, they would themselves introduce not a smaller, but a larger measure.

[137 ] Sir John Skelton, K.C.B., author of "Thalassa," Scottish disciple of Disraeli, a brilliant and scholarly writer.

[138 ] Canon Maccoll.

[139 ] The death of a little daughter.

June 3, 1914


Well, the deed is done. I have not wanted to talk with you much about it until I was here. I know all your objections. You remember that you did not spare me when, a year ago, I told you that this was my plan. I realize that you—more active, younger, more interested in life, less burdened with your past—feel that it is cowardly on my part to seek a quiet refuge and settle myself into it, to turn my face peacefully to the exit, feeling that the end is the most interesting event ahead of me—the one truly interesting experience left to me in this incarnation.

I am not proposing to ask you to see it from my point of view. You cannot, no matter how willing you are to try. No two people ever see life from the same angle. There is a law which decrees that two objects may not occupy the same place at the same time—result: two people cannot see things from the same point of view, and the slightest difference in angle changes the thing seen.

I did not decide to come away into a little corner in the country, in this land in which I was not born, without looking at the move from all angles. Be sure that I know what I am doing, and I have found the place where I can do it. Some time you will see the new home, I hope, and then you will understand. I have lived more than sixty years. I have lived a fairly active life, and it has been, with all its hardships—and they have been many—interesting. But I have had enough of the city—even of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. Nothing can take any of that away from me. It is treasured up in my memory. I am even prepared to own that there was a sort of arrogance in my persistence in choosing for so many years the most seductive city in the world, and saying, "Let others live where they will—here I propose to stay." I lived there until I seemed to take it for my own—to know it on the surface and under it, and over it, and around it; until I had a sort of morbid jealousy when I found any one who knew it half as well as I did, or presumed to love it half as much, and dared to say so. You will please note that I have not gone far from it.

But I have come to feel the need of calm and quiet—perfect peace. I know again that there is a sort of arrogance in expecting it, but I am going to make a bold bid for it. I will agree, if you like, that it is cowardly to say that my work is done. I will even agree that we both know plenty of women who have cheerfully gone on struggling to a far greater age, and I do think it downright pretty of you to find me younger than my years. Yet you must forgive me if I say that none of us know one another, and, likewise, that appearances are often deceptive.

What you are pleased to call my "pride" has helped me a little. No one can decide for another the proper moment for striking one's colors.

I am sure that you—or for that matter any other American—never heard of Huiry. Yet it is a little hamlet less than thirty miles from Paris. It is in that district between Paris and Meaux little known to the ordinary traveler. It only consists of less than a dozen rude farm-houses, less than five miles, as a bird flies, from Meaux, which, with a fair cathedral, and a beautiful chestnut-shaded promenade on the banks of the Marne, spanned just there bylines of old mills whose water-wheels churn the river into foaming eddies, has never been popular with excursionists. There are people who go there to see where Bossuet wrote his funeral orations, in a little summer-house standing among pines and cedars on the wall of the garden of the Archbishop's palace, now, since the "separation," the property of the State, and soon to be a town museum. It is not a very attractive town. It has not even an out-of-doors restaurant to tempt the passing automobilist.

My house was, when I leased it, little more than a peasant's hut. It is considerably over one hundred and fifty years old, with stables and outbuildings attached whimsically, and boasts six gables. Is it not a pity, for early association's sake, that it has not one more?

I have, as Traddles used to say, "Oceans of room, Copperfield," and no joking. I have on the ground floor of the main building a fair sized salon, into which the front door opens directly. Over that I have a long, narrow bed-room and dressing-room, and above that, in the eaves, a sort of attic work-shop. In an attached, one-story addition with a gable, at the west of the salon, I have a library lighted from both east and west. Behind the salon on the west side I have a double room which serves as dining and breakfast-room, with a guest-chamber above. The kitchen, at the north side of the salon, has its own gable, and there is an old stable extending forward at the north side, and an old grange extending west from the dining-room. It is a jumble of roofs and chimneys, and looks very much like the houses I used to combine from my Noah's Ark box in the days of my babyhood.

The House on the Hilltop 




The House on the Hilltop


All the rooms on the ground floor are paved in red tiles, and the staircase is built right in the salon. The ceilings are raftered. The cross-beam in the salon fills my soul with joy—it is over a foot wide and a foot and a half thick. The walls and the rafters are painted green,—my color,—and so good, by long trial, for my eyes and my nerves, and my disposition.

But much as I like all this, it was not this that attracted me here. That was the situation. The house stands in a small garden, separated from the road by an old gnarled hedge of hazel. It is almost on the crest of the hill on the south bank of the Marne,—the hill that is the water-shed between the Marne and the Grand Morin. Just here the Marne makes a wonderful loop, and is only fifteen minutes walk away from my gate, down the hill to the north.

From the lawn, on the north side of the house, I command a panorama which I have rarely seen equaled. To me it is more beautiful than that we have so often looked at together from the terrace at Saint-Germain. In the west the new part of Esbly climbs the hill, and from there to a hill at the northeast I have a wide view of the valley of the Marne, backed by a low line of hills which is the water-shed between the Marne and the Aisne. Low down in the valley, at the northwest, lies lie de Villenoy, like a toy town, where the big bridge spans the Marne to carry the railroad into Meaux. On the horizon line to the west the tall chimneys of Claye send lines of smoke into the air. In the foreground to the north, at the foot of the hill, are the roofs of two little hamlets,—Joncheroy and Voisins,—and beyond them the trees that border the canal.



The House on the Hilltop


On the other side of the Marne the undulating hill, with its wide stretch of fields, is dotted with little villages that peep out of the trees or are silhouetted against the sky-line,—Vignely, Trilbardou, Penchard, Monthyon, Neufmortier, Chauconin, and in the foreground to the north, in the valley, just halfway between me and Meaux, lies Mareuil-on-the-Marne, with its red roofs, gray walls, and church spire. With a glass I can find where Chambry and Barcy are, on the slope behind Meaux, even if the trees conceal them.

But these are all little villages of which you may never have heard. No guidebook celebrates them. No railroad approaches them. On clear days I can see the square tower of the cathedral at Meaux, and I have only to walk a short distance on the route nationale,—which runs from Paris, across the top of my hill a little to the east, and thence to Meaux and on to the frontier,—to get a profile view of it standing up above the town, quite detached, from foundation to clock-tower.

This is a rolling country of grain fields, orchards, masses of black-currant bushes, vegetable plots,—it is a great sugar-beet country,—and asparagus beds; for the Department of the Seine et Marne is one of the most productive in France, and every inch under cultivation. It is what the French call un paysage riant, and I assure you, it does more than smile these lovely June mornings. I am up every morning almost as soon as the sun, and I slip my feet into sabots, wrap myself in a big cloak, and run right on to the lawn to make sure that the panorama has not disappeared in the night. There always lie—too good almost to be true—miles and miles of laughing country, little white towns just smiling in the early light, a thin strip of river here and there, dimpling and dancing, stretches of fields of all colors—all so, peaceful and so gay, and so "chummy" that it gladdens the opening day, and makes me rejoice to have lived to see it. I never weary of it. It changes every hour, and I never can decide at which hour it is the loveliest. After all, it is a rather nice world.

Now get out your map and locate me.

You will not find Huiry. But you can find Esbly, my nearest station on the main line of the Eastern Railroad. Then you will find a little narrow-gauge road running from there to Crecy-la-Chapelle. Halfway between you will find Couilly-Saint-Germain. Well, I am right up the hill, about a third of the way between Couilly and Meaux.

It is a nice historic country. But for that matter so is all France. I am only fifteen miles northeast of Bondy, in whose forest the naughty Queen Fredegonde, beside whose tomb, in Saint-Denis, we have often stood together, had her husband killed, and nearer still to Chelles, where the Merovingian kings once had a palace stained with the blood of many crimes, about which you read, in many awful details, in Maurice Strauss's "Tragique Histoire des Reines Brunhaut et Fredegonde," which I remember to have sent you when it first came out. Of course no trace of those days of the Merovingian dynasty remains here or anywhere else. Chelles is now one of the fortified places in the outer belt of forts surrounding Paris.

So, if you will not accept all this as an explanation of what you are pleased to call my "desertion," may I humbly and reluctantly put up a plea for my health, and hope for a sympathetic hearing?

If I am to live much longer,—and I am on the road down the hill, you know,—I demand of Life my physical well-being. I want a robust old age. I feel that I could never hope to have that much longer in town,—city-born and city-bred though I am. I used to think, and I continued to think for a long time, that I could not live if my feet did not press a city pavement. The fact that I have changed my mind seems to me, at my age, a sufficient excuse for, as frankly, changing my habits. It surely proves that I have not a sick will—yet. In the simple life I crave—digging in the earth, living out of doors—I expect to earn the strength of which city life and city habits were robbing me. I believe I can. Faith half wins a battle. No one ever dies up on this hill, I am told, except of hard drink. Judging by my experience with workmen here, not always of that. I never saw so many very old, very active, robust people in so small a space in all my life as I have seen here.

Are you answered?

Yet if, after all this expenditure of words, you still think I am shirking—well, I am sorry. It seems to me that, from another point of view, I am doing my duty, and giving the younger generation more room— getting out of the lime-light, so to speak, which, between you and me, was getting trying for my mental complexion. If I have blundered, the consequences be on my own head. My hair could hardly be whiter—that's something. Besides, retreat is not cut off. I have sworn no eternal oath not to change my mind again.

In any case you have no occasion to worry about me: I've a head full of memories. I am going to classify them, as I do my books. Some of them I am going to forget, just as I reject books that have ceased to interest me. I know the latter is always a wrench. The former may be impossible. I shall not be lonely. No one who reads is ever that. I may miss talking. Perhaps that is a good thing. I may have talked too much. That does happen.

Remember one thing—I am not inaccessible. I may now and then get an opportunity to talk again, and in a new background. Who knows? I am counting on nothing but the facts about me. So come on, Future. I've my back against the past. Anyway, as you see, it is too late to argue. I've crossed the Rubicon, and can return only when I have built a new bridge.




Letters

Thursday, 3.

"Love is the life of friendship; letters are

The life of love, the loadstones that by rare

Attractions make souls meet and melt, and mix,

As when by fire exalted gold we fix."

But for letters the best of our life would hardly survive the mood and the moment. Prompted by so lively a sentiment as friendship, we commit to our leaves what we should not have spoken. To begin with "Dear Friend" is in itself an address which clothes our epistle in a rhetoric the most select and choice. We cannot write it without considering its fitness and taxing our conscience in the matter. 'Tis coming to the confessional, leaving nothing in reserve that falls gracefully into words. A life-long correspondence were a biography of the correspondents. Preserve your letters till time define their value. Some secret charm forbids committing them to the flames; the dews of the morning may sparkle there still, and remind one of his earlier Eden.

"Deeds are masculine, words feminine; letters are neither," wrote Howel. Rather say, letters are both, and better represent life than any form in literature. Women have added the better part, the most celebrated letters having been written by women. If your morning's letter is not answered and dispatched forthwith, 'tis doubtful if it will ever be written. Then there are those to whom one never writes, much as he may wish to cultivate correspondence. He reserves them for personal intercourse.

I hardly know which I most enjoy, the letter I send after my visitor, or the visit itself: the presence, the conversation, the recollection. Memory idealizes anticipation; our visit is made before we make it, made afterwards, as if love were a reminiscence of pleasures once partaken in overflowing fulness. The visit that is not all we anticipated is not made; we meet as idealists, if we meet at all.

My moments are not mine, thou art in sight

By days' engagements and the dreams of night,

Nor dost one instant leave me free

Forgetful of thy world and thee.

The popular superstition favors long visits. I confess my experience has not borne out the current creed. Compliment, of course, is of the other opinion, if we must take her fine accents of "stay, stay longer." But a week's stay with an angel would hardly bear the epithet angelic after it was over. Fewer and farther between. Good things are good to keep long by temperate use. 'Tis true a visitor who comes seldom should not fly away forthwith. And 'tis a comfort in these fast times to catch one who has a little leisure on hand, deaf the while to the engine's whistle. Stay  is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary. But if one does not stay while staying, better let him go where he is gone the while. One enjoys a visitor who has much leisure in him, in her especially,—likes to take his friends by sips sweetly, not at hasty draughts, as they were froth and would effervesce forthwith and subside. Who has not come from an interview as from a marriage feast, feeling "the good wine had been kept for him till now "?


Does it imply a refinement in delicacy that nuptial verses have no place with us in marriage ceremonies; that the service has lost the mystic associations wont to be thrown around it by our ancestors down almost to our time? Once epithalamium verses were esteemed the fairest flowers, the ornament of the occasion. If the poet sometimes overstepped modern notions of reserve, the sentiments expressed were not the less natural if more freely dealt with. Spenser, for instance, suggests the loveliest images, and with all his wealth of fancy ventures never a glimpse that a bride can blame; while Donne delights in every posture of fancy, as if he were love's attorney putting in his plea for all delights,—yet delicately, oftentimes, and on other occasions, as in these lines entitled "Love Tokens":—

"Send me some token that my hope may live,

Or that my ceaseless thoughts may sleep and rest;

Send me some honey to make sweet my hive,

That in my passions I may hope the best.

I beg no ribbon wrought with thine own hands

To knit our loves in the fantastic strain

Of new-touched youth; nor ring to show the stands

Of our affection:—that as that's round and plain,

So should our loves meet in simplicity,—

No, nor the corals which thy wrist infold

Laced up together in congruity

To show our thoughts should rest in the same hold:

No, nor thy picture, though most gracious,

And most desired since 'tis like the best,

Nor witty lines which are most copious

Within the writings which thou hast addressed:

Send me not this, nor that, to increase my store,

But swear thou think'st I love thee, and no more."

To the Lady Goodyeare he writes:—

"Madam :—I am not come out of England if I remain in the noblest part of it, your mind. Yet I confess it is too much diminution to call your mind any part of England, or this world, since every part of even your body deserves titles to a higher dignity. No Prince would be loath to die that were assured of so fair a tomb to preserve his memory. But I have a greater advantage than this, for since there is a religion in friendship, and death in absence, to make up an entire friend there must needs be a heaven too; and there can be no heaven so proportional to that religion and that death, as your favor. And I am the gladder that it is a heaven, than it were a court, or any other high place of this world, because I am likelier to have a room there, and better, cheap. Madam, my best treasure is time, and my best employment of that (next my thoughts of thankfulness to my Redeemer) is to study good wishes for you, in which I am, by continual meditation, so learned that any creature except your own good angel, whenit does you most good, might be content to come and take instruction from

Your humble and affectionate servant,

J. D.

Amyens, the 7th of February, year 1611."

What delicacy of compliment, coupled with nobility of sentiment, the fresh color of flattery not less, the rhetoric so graceful. One asks if our New-England reserve has added any graces to the Elizabethan courtliness, and if any feel quite at home in its tight costumes. Is it a want of taste if one is taken with such courtly compliments, lofty appreciation of character, such stately idealism, extravagant as it may appear, and bordering on insincerity? I wish my behavior, my letters, my address, may blush becomingly, court my friends' eyes as well as affections, by coy diffidences, win by lively phrase, telling how lovely presence is. Friendship is a plant that loves the sun,—thrives ill under clouds. I know temperaments have their zones, and can excuse the frigid manner of some in whose breasts there burns a hidden flame. There is a reserve that seems to fear the affections will be frosted by exposure, if not protected from any wind of acknowledgment. If "your humble servant" is written seldomer at the end of the letter, and "Sir" and "Madam" have dropped the once "Dear" and "My Dear"—used these adjectively for ceremony's sake,—the address has lost so much warmth and all the abandon  the words once implied. Must I withhold expressing all I would, lest I should seem to imply more than I meant? And has one nothing personal and private to communicate? It were not unbecoming to inquire if our Puritan culture still held us in check, life and literature were under eclipse, and the shadow threatening to become central and total.


Of celebrated letters, Pliny's are among the most delightful. A perusal of them refreshes and restores the old faith in persons and the possibilities of friendship. Alas for an age, if indifferent to this antique of virtue, the fair fellowships it celebrates, in the noble names of which he gives so many illustrious examples in his charming pages. Virtue seems something to be sought, to live and die for, every accomplishment a part of it, and a possession. I confess to a feeling, as I read, so modern and consonant to ideas and designs dear to me, that for the time I seem to recover brothers and friends—if it were not egotism to say it—in the aims and ends which I have so long loved and still cherish as life's pursuit and problem. A vein of noble morality pervades these letters which renders them admirable reading for all times and ages. And his allusions to his own life and pursuits, the glimpses he gives of his friends, commend his pages to all who seek virtue and wisdom at their sources. To his friend Paternus he writes with a tenderness and humanity to which the epithet Christian would add little.

"The sickness which has lately run through my family, and carried off several of my domestics, some of them, too, in the prime of their years, has deeply afflicted me. I have two consolations, however; while though they are not adequate to so considerable a loss, still they are consolations. One is, that as I have always very readily manumized my slaves, their death does not seem altogether immature, if they lived long enough to receive their freedom; the other, that I have allowed them to make a kind of will, which I observe as religiously as if they were legally entitled to that privilege. I receive and obey their last requests as so many absolute commands, suffering them to dispose of their effects to whom they please; with this single restriction, that they leave them to some of the family, which to persons in their station is to be considered as a sort of commonwealth. But though I endeavor to acquiesce under these reflections, yet the same tenderness which led me to show them these indulgences, still breaks out and renders me too sensitively affected by their deaths. However, I would not wish to be incapable of these tender impressions of humanity, though the generality of the world, I know, look upon losses of this kind in no other view than as a diminution of their property, and fancy, by cherishing such an unfeeling temper, they discover superior fortitude and philosophy. Their fortitude and philosophy I will not dispute; but humane, I am sure they are not; for it is the very criterion of true manhood to feel those impressions of sorrow which it endeavors to resist, and to admit not to be above the want of consolation. But perhaps I have detained you too long upon this subject, though not so long as I would. There is a certain pleasure in giving vent to one's grief, especially when we pour out our sorrow in the bosom of a friend, who will approve, or, at least, pardon our tears. Farewell."

Again to Geminitus:—

"Have you never observed a sort of people who, though they are themselves the abject slaves of every vice, show a kind of malicious indignation against the immoral conduct of others, and are the most severe to those whom they most resemble? Yet surely a beauty of disposition, even in persons who have least occasion for clemency themselves, is of all virtues the most becoming. The highest of character in my estimation, is His, who is as ready to pardon the moral errors of mankind as if he were every day guilty of some himself, and at the same time as cautious of committing a fault as if he never forgave one. It is a rule, then, which we should upon all occasions, both private and public, most religiously observe,to be inexorable to our own failings, while we treat those of the rest of the world with tenderness, not excepting even those who forgive none but themselves, remembering always that the humane, and, therefore, as well as upon other accounts, the great Thrasea, used frequently to say, 'He who hates vice hates mankind.' You will ask me, perhaps, who it is that has given occasion to these reflections. You must know a certain person lately,—but of that when we meet,—though, upon second thoughts, not even then, lest while I condemn and expose his conduct, I should act counter to that maxim I particularly recommend. Whoever, therefore, and whatever he is, shall remain in silence; for though there may be some use, perhaps, in setting a mark upon the man, for the sake of example, there will be more, however, in sparing him, for the sake of humanity."

Again:—

"There are, it seems," he writes to his friend Septitius, "certain persons who in your company have blamed me, as being upon all occasions too lavish in commendation of my friends. I not only acknowledge the charge, but glory in it; for, can there be a nobler error than an overflowing benevolence? But still, who are these, let me ask, that are better acquainted with my friends than I am myself? Yet, grant there are such, why will they deny me the satisfaction of so pleasing an error? For, supposing my friends deserve not the high encomiums I give them, certainly I am happy in believing they do. Let them recommend, then, this ungenerous discernment to those who imagine (and their number is not inconsiderable) that they show their judgment when they indulge their censure. As for myself, they will never persuade me that I can love my friends too well."


How amiable and just are sentiments like these rendering odious the carping censure and ill-natured criticism which finds free currency between those who, while meeting as acquaintances, perhaps affecting friendship for each other, yet speak disparagingly, and are loath to acknowledge the merit which they see in each other's character and acquirements. It is safer, and certainly more becoming, to overpraise than to undervalue and dispraise another. Faults are apparent enough, and, for the most part, superficial; in the atmosphere of affection and respect they fall away presently and disappear altogether, while virtues may be too deep sometimes and delicate in expression to be recognized readily by those who seek for blemishes rather. Modest praise is the freshest and purest atmosphere for modest virtue to thrive in and come to maturity. And the most exalted qualities of character admiration alone brings into the relief that discloses their proportions and reveals their lustre. A certain sentiment of worship insinuates itself into our affections for a near and dear friend; and while endearing us the more, yet holds us at the distance of reverence and of self-respect that belongs to the noblest friendships. 'Tis the poverty of life that renders friendship poor and cold. I am drawn to one who, while I approach yet seems distant still; whose personality has a quality so commanding as to forbid a familiarity not justified by affection and reason alike, and whom I never quite come up to, but yet is akin to me in the attributes that win my regard and insure my affection. A good man is a bashful man; he affects all who come within his influence with that grace. Do not the gods blush in descending to meet alike our affections and our eyes?

"The eldest god is still a child."