avoided both dangers, wrote calmly and without hurry; and, after giving about three years to the preparation of the manuscript, finding the time unfavorable for its publication, he kept it by him for a while, and, going over it with care, undoubtedly added to the grace and proportion which distinguish it so much.
Meantime the civil war broke out, the war which roused the whole country, North and South, excited the passions of men with a bitterness and intensity scarcely to be conceived of by those who did not witness it, and raged for four years in the Middle
‘border’ States, with an untiring obstinacy that kept every citizen under a strain utterly unknown in peaceful days.
's letters during the spring of 1861 have already described the popular movement.
His belief that the North
was gaining strength year by year, while the South
was losing it, remained the same, and he always asserted, as he did in those letters, that the North
was sure to conquer in the war.
No one who has read what he wrote during the previous years, when from afar he had foreseen the possibility of this conflict, and had felt that what his view of true patriotism led him to wish avoided or postponed was being rendered inevitable, can fail to perceive how deeply he would share the excitement of the time.
He was in his seventieth year when war became an actual fact.
The Constitution of the United States
, which had been the object of his pride and admiration from his youth, ‘the best form of government that ever was made,’1
he saw often disregarded, heard often spoken of as if it were effete.
After a visit in Maine
he wrote to Mr. R. H. Gardiner
, in September, 1861: ‘I recollect that the acute lawyer who was at your house one evening with the mayor of your city2
did not hesitate to say that we have no longer any Constitution, and that very little of it had been in existence for some years.
I could not gainsay him.’
The Union, to him a reality such as it could only be to those who had loved the country while it was small, and had seen it