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To George T. Curtis.

Boston, March 30, 1863.
I send you by this mail a pamphlet which I want you to read, and tell me in a few general words what you think of it. Some very sensible people believe its fundamental idea important and practicable. . . . . Perhaps you know its author,—Fisher of Philadelphia, graduated at Cambridge in 1825,—a man of large fortune, conscientious, little accustomed to writing, as you will see by his style and modes of discussion, but determined to think for himself, and willing, I dare say, to make sacrifices to his convictions in action, if needful. He explained his plan, for representation by totalities, to me in Paris in 1857; but I thought nothing more about it until he was here a few weeks ago and told me he should soon print on the subject. His system, if carried into real, faithful effect, would, no doubt, break up the power of caucuses, and much impair the influence of demagogues; but the question is whether the people will not, after all, prefer the false gods they have so long worshipped. In other words, can they be got out of the old, deep ruts in which they have been so long misled. It seems to me as if, like Macbeth, we must wade over whatever may be the cost or the consequences.

And where are we going to, when we get to the other side without a Constitution?—says we are going to the D—l as fast as we can, and ought to be very grateful that we have got a D—l to go to. That is his fashion of expressing the state of things. How do you express it in New York? . . . . Many people are glad that the President is substantially made an irresponsible Dictator, though they have no confidence in him or his advisers; arguing that, if they are not sustained until victories enough are won to tide the present forms of our government over to another administration of its affairs, we shall go utterly to pieces now; chaos will come again now. But, suppose we fail of the victories, or, on the other hand, suppose we get them, and the dictatorship should be continued, in military forms, by the silent consent of a people too grateful for success and salvation, what then? Just now, men who hold the opinions referred to seem to have reached the point suggested by Macaulay, that there are times when liberty must be given up to save society. But are we called to this terribly stern sacrifice by the present state of things? . . . .

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