not caring or not daring to do anything in the defence of my country. It was impossible for me to carry on my studies with any degree of interest or of profit to myself. I would read in Tacitus of the destruction and dismemberment of the mighty empire of Rome by internal feuds and civil dissensions, and my mind would be brought to the thought of another nation, equal in magnitude and power to that which issued its decrees—from the seven-hilled city, which was to be saved from a like fate only by the timely aid and support of every one of its sons. I felt that, if I remained at College, I could derive no benefit whatever while my mind was so entirely interested in another quarter. The only reason which could at all deter me from enlisting was your absence. I felt reluctant to take so important a step without your advice and consent; and yet I felt that, had you been here, you would have given me your blessing and bade me go. Here was a regiment formed and commanded by friends and kinsmen, and surpassing others in the material of which it was composed. If I embraced this opportunity, I should be among friends and equals, instead of being forced to accept as my associates any with whom I might be placed. If I did not make my decision quickly, the chance would be lost; and I knew that if I went, you would agree with mother in much preferring that C——and I should be together in the same regiment. At that time, too, a draft seemed almost certain; and, as several thousand were said to be wanting to complete the quota of Boston, the chance of being drawn was by no means small. I confess that the thought of leaving mother alone while you were away was very unpleasant to me; but, in reality, since I was at Cambridge all the time with the exception of Sunday, she would be left alone very little more; and since we have received the letter in which you say that you sail on the 11th, I feel much more easy about it, as you will arrive a week after our departure. Poor mother, she has had a hard time during your absence, especially in coming to a decision about me. . . . . Assure her fully of your approval of the course she has taken, and I shall be happy too. . . . . Everybody thinks that she has acted nobly, and that you have reason to be proud of your wife as we have of our mother. I have tried as well as I can, and I find that it is but poorly, to give you some idea of my feelings on this subject. I feel well satisfied that I have done what, upon careful deliberation, has seemed to me most in accordance with all my duties. I have looked at the matter from every point of view; and if I shall seem to you to have
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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