previous next

[479] great anxiety on the state of affairs in Europe. We do not see how a war is to be avoided next summer, and hardly comprehend by what statesmanship it has already been postponed so long. The ill-will of nations has no other effective mode of expressing itself, and is sure enough to reach this one at last. How strong the ill — will has become between France and Prussia, since the battle of Sadowa, we cannot measure as you can. But it is an old grudge, which has been festering in the hearts of Prussians and Frenchmen ever since the time of Napoleon the First. I witnessed it in both countries, when I was in Europe above fifty years ago, and it has never subsided since.

In my country it is much the same. We are suffering from causes which go far back in our history, and which have been very active and formidable since the question of slavery began to be angrily discussed on political grounds, almost forty years ago. . . .

But, notwithstanding our own troubles, the minds of men, all through the country, have been much shaken by the cruel and shameful death of Maximilian, in Mexico,—a prince so cultivated, so high-minded, so noble in his whole nature, that his murder seems to bring a disgrace on the age in which we live. I see that his works are about to be published, and I shall be anxious to read them, that I may better understand his history and character. . . . .

When I look at this unsettled and uncertain condition of things everywhere, I sometimes think we live in a decaying civilization. It seems to me, in such dark moments, as if we are all gradually ruining, as, I suppose, all the known civilizations of the world— from the Assyrian down—have been ruined, by the concentration of immense masses of people in the unwholesome moral atmosphere of great cities; and by the unending increase of their armies, and the enormous preponderance of a military spirit, both of which separate men from the beneficent influences of the soil they were sent into the world to cultivate, and lead directly to those violent revolutions which destroy all sense of law and duty, and at last overturn society itself. My consolation, when these dark prospects rise before me, is that such changes demand all but geological periods.

But my real refuge is among my books. Amidst these I always find peace. One work, which, of late, has much interested me, I took the liberty of sending, a few days ago, to your Majesty, as something you may not be sorry to see. It is the translation of the ‘Divina Commedia,’ recently published here by our well-known poet, Longfellow. He has been many years employed on it,—above fiveand-twenty within my own knowledge,—imposing upon himself, all the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Sadowa (Czech Republic) (1)
Preussen (1)
Mexico (Mexico, Mexico) (1)
France (France) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Louis Napoleon (1)
Maximilian (1)
Henry W. Longfellow (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: