I have no doubt you think you do. I have no doubt you think that this love—which, as you yourself say, becomes such a part of your nature that you don't show it, and, you might add (if it were not doggerel), know it—is strong passion and devotion; but it is n't. So far as it has any character, it is more habit than anything else. You lead — not you particularly, but all the Eastern people— two lives: one, the outside life of society (which is hypocrisy); the other, the life of love, family, or otherwise, which is real: and you have plenty of support for both, and very little care for either. But wait until you only have support for one, the outer, and none at all for the other, the inner. Wait till you have to treasure up memories of each little act of affection, in place of having the realities about you daily, and you knowing all the time that these very realities exist, and you can't get at them. Did you ever read of Tantalus, of Ixion, and the other reprobates? Wait till distance blinds you to the faults, and exalts the virtues, of your friends, and you love them with a love the more absorbing and complete because it finds no response in daily life, and because it is all your inner and real life. Then, my dear, you won't call me a truculent border ruffian. Pshaw! what nonsense for me to write this stuff for you to laugh at! I love my friends, and that you know full well, that gave me leave or (if I might correct Shakespeare) provoked me to speak of it.
Bloomington, Mo., December 16, 1858.I have returned from a scouting expedition after game, cold, angry, and generally ill-humored. A ‘Merry Christmas’ to you all at home there. I send you a song which we shall sing to the tune of “Benny Haven's, Oh!” at our Christmas supper. Our fires are blazing cheerily,
Our loaded tables groan,
The wine is circling merrily
Among us here alone.
But our thoughts are wandering sadly
To the days of long ago,—
To the days when we so gladly
Saw Christmas wassail flow.
And the long years, whose passing
Hath left its many stings;
And the young hopes, whose glassing
Mirrored such noble things;
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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