of earning a living by his pen, and seeing that Southern colleges were so poor as ‘to hold out absolutely no inducement in the way of support to a professor,’ he yielded in January, 1869, to his father's solicitation and betook himself to the study of law. The work in the law office kept him very busy. He did indeed write a few humorous dialect poems, published in various local papers, but in general his resignation was that expressed in a letter to Paul Hamilton Hayne in 1870:
I've not put pen to paper, in the literary way, for a long time. How I thirst to do so, how I long to sing a thousand various songs that oppress me, unsung,—is inexpressible. Yet, the mere work that brings bread gives me no time. I know not, after all, if this is a sorrowful thing. Nobody likes my poems, except two or three friends,—who are themselves poets, and can supply themselves!But music regained its ascendancy over him. Letters to his wife written in 1869, 1870, and 1871, on visits to New York, reveal the intensity of his pleasure in a violin solo, or the singing of Nilsson, or Theodore Thomas's orchestra, where he plunged into an amber sea of music and came away from what he felt might have been heaven. The turning point of his life came in San Antonio, Texas, whither he went in the winter of 1872-3 for his health. He filled in part of his time there with literary projects, but the inspiration of his stay was found in a group of German musicians, who received ‘amid a storm of applause’ his flute-playing before the Maennerchor. In February, 1873, he played before ‘a very elegant-looking company of ladies and gentlemen.’ He reported:
I had not played three seconds before a profound silence reigned among the people. ... When I allowed the last note to die, a simultaneous cry of pleasure broke forth from men and women that almost amounted to a shout, and I stood and received the congratulations that thereupon came in, so wrought up by my own playing with (hidden) thoughts, that I could but smile mechanically, and make stereotyped returns to the pleasant sayings, what time my heart worked falteringly, like a mouth that is about to cry.