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To Sir Edmund Head.

Boston, April 20, 1864.
my dear Head,—. . . . As soon as I received Sir George's book1 about the Administrations, 1783-1830, I read the first article, which is largely about American affairs; and as I went on, I kept saying to myself, ‘He ought to have been a judge, he ought to have been Lord Chancellor.’ Nothing in the way of investigation seems ever to escape him, and when all his facts are brought together, then comes in his judicial fairness, and makes everything clear, as measured by some recognized principle. See what he says about Lord Shelburne's career, and especially what he says about Fox's mistake in joining Lord North. I do not know anything like it in political history. Romilly and Horner had a good deal of the same character; but, though they came to as fair and honest results as anybody, they were both practising lawyers, and preserved something of the air of advocates, in the form and turn of their discussions. Perhaps Lewis might have had the same air if he had been in the courts, and had had clients to conciliate as well as to serve. As it is, we get, I think, in him only a sort of clear, judicial statesmanship, of which—very likely because I know so little of political history—I can refer to no other example. How is it? . . . .

To Brigadier-General Sylvanus Thayer.

Boston, April 29, 1864.
my dear General,—I can't help it this once. Next time it shall be ‘My dear Thayer,’ as of old. But to-day you must consent to be ‘the General,’ and nothing else. At any rate, since last evening, when I saw the announcement in the paper, I have had you constantly before me with the two stars on your shoulder-strap; feeling all the time that a galaxy would not be an overstatement of your deserts, so far as the creation of West Point, and the education of the officers of our army, is concerned. But enough of this. I do not congratulate you. When only an act of decent justice is done, the person who does it is to be congratulated, if anybody is. I therefore congratulate a little—not much—the Secretary of War, and if anybody else has had a hand in it, I congratulate him, too; but I never saw the Secretary, and never expect to see him, so that my congratulations will be lost in thin air, like all those unavailing supplications in Homer.

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