previous next
[247] in the North, or to foreign interposition? His answer showed how little he was affected by the hopes and fears which agitated ordinary minds. ‘My reliance is in the help of God.’ ‘Are you sanguine of the result?’ I ventured to inquire. ‘At present I am not concerned with results. God's will ought to be our aim, and I am quite contented that His designs should be accomplished, and not mine.’ What results might be expected when sentiments like these should be developed in action? Aims so pure and unselfish could not fail to produce in a strong character that intrepidity of soul; that singleness of purpose; that meekness of spirit in the midst of violence and passion; that self-abnegation in the hour of victory; that sublime heroism under adverse fortune, which made him the idol of his friends, and now command the respect and confidence of the civilized world. Other men have gained great conquests, and filled the nations with their fame, but where do we find a man whose greatness was so pure from every earthly passion, and of whom it may be truly said, that he would have rejoiced to reform and bless the world without its being known that he was in it.

At the close of the war we follow him with admiration unabated to his chosen retirement. His great mind harbored no resentments. He uttered no complaints. He accepted the consequences of the war with a spirit of resignation which few can emulate, but which we all revere. We thought now that his sun had gone down in night, but we were in error. The joy and glory of nature are truthfully represented in activity, not in rest. The tired swan which has winged its distant flight from other scenes, and cleft its way through storm and tempest, does not seek an inglorious rest upon the still and motionless earth, but aims rather to fold its wings upon the lake, and in the quiet action of its waves to exercise and refresh its strength. The change in the life of this unconquerable man is not one from labor to idle repose and inanity. He sought activity and usefulness, and he did not seek in vain. I was seated at the close of day in my Virginia home, when I beheld through the thickening shades of evening a horseman entering the yard, whom I soon recognized as General Lee. The next morning he placed in my hands the correspondence with the authorities of Washington College, at Lexington. He had been invited to become president of that institution. I confess to a momentary feeling of chagrin at the proposed change—shall I say, revulsion?—in his history. The institution was one of local interest and comparatively unknown to our people. I named others more conspicuous, which would welcome him with ardor as their

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.

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.
Robert E. Lee (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: