Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for I don’t think (Lee’s) report on the Gettysburg campaign has raised his reputation here.

I don’t think (Lee’s) report on the Gettysburg campaign has raised his reputation here.

October 23, 2013

Adams Family Civil War letters; US Minister to the UK and his sons.

Henry Adams to Charles Francis Adams, Jr.

London, October 23, 1863

I write and read, and read and write. Two years ago I began on history, our own time. I labored at financial theories, and branched out upon Political Economy and J. S. Mill. Mr. Mill’s works, thoroughly studied, led me to the examination of philosophy and the great French thinkers of our own time; they in their turn passed me over to others whose very names are now known only as terms of reproach by the vulgar; the monarchist, Hobbes, the atheist Spinoza and so on. Where I shall end, das weiss der liebe Gott! Probably my career will be brought up at the treadmill of the bar some day, for which, believe me, philosophy is as little adapted as war. Who will lead us back to the pleasant pastures and show us again the rich grain of the lawyer’s office! Verily I say unto you, the time cometh and even now is when neither in these mountains nor in Jerusalem ye shall worship the idols of your childhood.

Did you ever read Arthur Clough’s Poems? the man that wrote that pastoral with the unpronounceable name, the Bothie of Toper-na-Vuolich. If you have not, I would like to send them to you. Young England, young Europe, of which I am by tastes and education a part; the young world, I believe, in every live country, are reflected in Clough’s poems very clearly. Strange to say, even Oxford, that most Catholic of conservative places, has become strongly tinged with the ideas of the new school. John Stuart Mill ranks even there rather higher than the authorities of the place itself, with which he is waging internecine war. Whether this gentle simmering will ever boil anything, who can say?

Meanwhile we wait still for the result of your military evolutions. I cannot imagine that Lee means to attack you, and yet I am equally unable to comprehend how he can maintain himself. I don’t think his report on the Gettysburg campaign has raised his reputation here. There is such a thing as too candid confession of defeat, and he certainly does n’t conceal his blunders.

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