inscrutable from this very habit of correspondents.
It is not merely that half a dozen persons will give wholly irreconcilable accounts of one event; that is to be expected, and if each would only say frankly that he was writing mere rumors, or the tales of “an intelligent eye-witness,” it might be possible to deal with them by making proper allowances; but since each claims to have personally seen the fact he describes, the case is hopeless.
No system of averages will apply.
If one correspondent describes a certain hero as dying at sunrise, and another pictures him as breathing his last just as the evening star shines out, you cannot adjust the matter by killing him at high noon.
But this habit of vicarious description did not disappear with the civil war; it is just as prevalent to-day in times of peace.
Let any one compare the references to himself or herself in the newspapers-and who is so humble as not to appear sometimes in the society columns?-and it will become evident that they not only are often wide of the truth, but are often so diametrically opposite as to destroy each other.
You are in the city and in the country on the same day; you have sailed for Europe
and are driving in a fourhand