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To Mrs. S. B. Shaw.

As for the President's proclamation, I was thankful for it, but it excited no enthusiasm in my mind. With my gratitude to God was mixed an under-tone of sadness that the moral sense of the people was so low that the thing could not be done nobly. However we may inflate the emancipation balloon, it will never ascend among the constellations. The ugly fact cannot be concealed that it was done reluctantly and stintedly, and that even the degree that was accomplished was done selfishly; was merely a war measure, to which we were forced by our own perils and necessities; and that no recognition of principles of justice or humanity surrounded the politic act with a halo of moral glory. This war has furnished many instances of individual nobility, but our national record is mean.

But notwithstanding these misgivings, I am truly thankful for the proclamation. It is doing us a great good in Europe, and will be a powerful agent in helping on the change of feeling in England. I have always put a good deal of trust in the common people of England.

Speaking of individual nobility, how beautifully and bravely young Russell behaved when Savage was wounded! I murmured that he was a prisoner when [172] his parents had been such consistent and generous friends of freedom; but after all, they have their reward in having a son to whom opportunities for moral greatness came not in vain. Your Robert, too,people say the war has ripened in him all manly qualities. God bless and protect the two young heroes! They told me in Boston that they had both offered to lead colored soldiers. Is it so?

I thank you very much for the lovely photograph of S- . What a pity it is that the ancients were ignorant of this wonderful process! How I should like a photograph of Plato! and how I should like to have a representation of the Venus of Milo unmutilated. Nothing within my limited knowledge of ancient art affects me like that miraculous statue. Is it a Venus? Always it seems to me like the heroic Antigone proclaiming to the tyrant Creon that there is a “higher law” than that of kings. The physical beauty of the woman is wonderfully inspired with moral majesty.

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