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[451] W. T. Sherman, and General McDowell and others. But my naked, solid judgment is this: that 1 can neither find, within my own observation and experience, nor yet in modern nor ancient history, one single case of any hero or patriot or philosopher of them all who turned his back upon a more than ‘imperial crown,’ and his face and steps towards doubts and fears, uncertainties, failures and subjugation, save one alone—Robert E. Lee! These, my friend, are my

‘reasons’ for having said that I was below no enthusiast-rebel of you all in my estimate of your General Lee. And they are my justifications for placing him, in these regards, above all historic characters known to me. Observe, I do not name him as the greatest man or General of our country. I do not forget George Washington or Winfield Scott. Indeed without knowing or affecting to know very much of such matters or characters, I strongly suspect that each service in this great war had several generals quite the equals of General Lee. But did either of them choose his side in the dread conflict under mere duress of duty, after having deliberately twice pushed aside higher powers and honors than he could by possibility have expected in his chosen side, and then quietly, modestly and cheerfully walked into an office of engineer, whose faded laurels he had gathered and worn in and out of Mexico a score of years before? I find no such record nor the least probability of the existence in these cases of this bottom fact for that record—an ever present sense of conscientious duty consciously prevailing over the highest and brightest temptations, and guiding him into a path as uncertain and dark as it was strange and new to all his experiences and characteristics.

But I will not bore you by my possibly undue admiration of this rare specimen of a greatly pure public character.

I am, very sincerely, your friend,

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