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Last years—true character.

The last years of General Hill's life were devoted to journalism and to teaching. As the editor of The Land We Love, and subsequently of The Southern Home, he wielded a trenchant pen, and was a potent factor in putting down the post-bellum statesmen who proposed to relegate to the shades of private life the heroes and leaders of the Lost Cause. As a teacher, he soon placed himself in touch with his pupils and won their love and confidence, as he did that of the soldiers led by him to battle.

His opinions, whether upon political, religious or scientific subjects, were always the result of thought and study, and were expressed in terse and clear language. As a Christian he constantly recurred to the cardinal doctrines of Christ's divinity and His complete atonement. He wrote two religious works, which evince at once his grace and force as a writer, and his unbounded trust in these fundamental truths. The subject of the one was ‘The Sermon on the Mount;’ of the other, ‘The Crucifixion.’ [150]

Unmoved in the presence of danger, schooled to hide his emotion for suffering in the critical time of battle, and forced by a sense of duty to show his bitter scorn for cowardice and treachery, it was the exclusive privilege of his family, his staff and his closest friends to fathom the depths of his true nature. The soldiers who saw him on camp or field could as little conceive of the humble Christian who, in the long hours of the night, plead with his God to spare their lives and save their souls, as they could of the affectionate father, the loving husband, the sympathizing friend and the bountiful benefactor of the poor and helpless, known only to the favored few. A writer who, in his last days, was admitted to the inner circle of his friends, has so beautifully expressed his idea of his true character that I cannot do better than reproduce it as not an overdrawn picture from the standpoint of one who served on his staff, had free access to his home circle, and observed and studied his motives and conduct:

Fancy a man in whom the grim determination of a veteran warrior is united to a gentle tenderness of manner which would not be inappropriate to the most womanly of women; * * * affix a pair of eyes that possess the most indisputably honest and kindly expression; animate him with a mind clear, deep and comprehensive, and imbued with a humor as rich as it is deep and effective; infuse man and mind with a soul which in its lofty views compels subordination of the material to the spiritual, and holds a supreme trust in the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty — is zealous in the discharge of duty, and looks with scorn on all that is mean and sinful. Add to all these a carriage that is indomitable, and a love of truth and honor which is sublime, and you have the earthly embodiment of D. H. Hill.


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