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[544] said to me that, in his opinion, there was nothing special in Grant to understand. Others have varied widely in their estimates of that extraordinary character. Yet I believe its most extraordinary quality was its extreme simplicity—so extreme that many have entirely overlooked it in their search for some deeply hidden secret to account for so great a character, unmindful of the general fact that simplicity is one of the most prominent attributes of greatness.

The greatest of all the traits of Grant's character was that which lay always on the surface, visible to all who had eyes to see it. That was his moral and intellectual integrity, sincerity, veracity, and justice. He was incapable of any attempt to deceive anybody, except for a legitimate purpose, as in military strategy; and, above all, he was incapable of deceiving himself. He possessed that rarest of all human faculties, the power of a perfectly accurate estimate of himself, uninfluenced by pride, ambition, flattery, or self-interest. Grant was very far from being a modest man, as the word modest is generally understood. His just self-esteem was as far above modesty as it was above flattery. The highest encomiums were accepted for what he believed them to be worth. They did not disturb his equilibrium in the slightest degree.

While Grant knew his own merits as well as anybody did, he also knew his own imperfections, and estimated them at their real value. For example, his inability to speak in public, which produced the impression of extreme modesty or diffidence, he accepted simply as a fact in his nature which was of little or no consequence, and which he did not even care to conceal. He would not for many years even take the trouble to jot down a few words in advance, so as to be able to say something when called upon. Indeed, I believe he would have regarded it as an unworthy attempt to appear in a false light if he had made preparations in advance for an ‘extemporaneous’

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Frederick Dent Grant (4)
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