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[419] that I have little confidence in my readers and reviewers, and am really anxious about the number that may still remain after I have done my best.

Of family news, which are the most important and interesting to dear Ellen—and, therefore, to you—that I can send you, are they not written in the weekly chronicle she receives, from her old home, by every packet-ship? The new engagement and the new grandchild are old stories to you already, and I hate repetitions, vain repetitions. I will only, therefore, sum up all, by saying that we are all well, and that, notwithstanding the changes and trials that have occurred during the last fifteen months, 1 the average of content and happiness in the family is, I think, as great as it ever was.

As to the country, we go on much after the fashion you understand so well from autopsy. . . . . When we talked about our affairs in 1856-57, I easily foresaw that Buchanan would be chosen; that this would lead to no trouble with the governments of Europe, that Walker would fail as a flibustero, and that nothing could prevent Kansas from being a free State. But I cannot foresee now, as I could then. . . . Equally uncertain is what is more immediate,—the result of the present important discussions in Congress about the construction of a railroad from the Mississippi; though it is not doubtful, I fear, whenever it is constructed, that it will be made a stupendous job, involving great corruption, in Congress and out of it . . . . . And then, finally, as to the other great question, nobody, I think, knows what will be done about Utah; though I have no doubt Mormonism will perish of its own wickedness and corruption, and would, in fact, have perished long ago but for the large recruits it has received from the North of Europe. Now, from all these negative and uncertain quantities if you can extract anything positive, I wish you joy of your ingenuity. I cannot.

Your friends here, I think, are all well and doing well. Prescott told me yesterday that he had received letters from you and Mr. Adderley. I have seen him lately almost every day. He is looking as well as ever, and his constitution has accommodated itself, with wonderful alacrity, to the vegetable diet prescribed for him eleven months ago. But he does not yet feel himself equal to severe work, and has not undertaken any. In this I think he is wise.2

1 The financial troubles of 1857 had impaired the fortunes of some of the relatives of Mrs. Ticknor and Mrs. Twisleton.

2 Mr. Prescott died nine days after this was written. The whole of this subject is reserved for a later chapter.

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