My Dear General
Yours of 29° (postmarked 30°) ult has just reached me - has been read and rejoiced over. Of course, I heartily approve your turning up your nose at a Brigadier Generalship, now that the Gods (or the Goddess Fortune) seem to have smiled upon your refusal and if the jade (Fortune) continues to smile all tho(sic)(?) I will be ready to put an oblation on her altar. I am strangely overjoyed at this gleam of success as I some time ago rather tediously explained. I think it monstrous that men like you are so poorly paid for your services to the country and that you have so little opportunity to make money by any enterprise involving work. To be sure, this last is not ? mixed(?) evil(?). It is well that ones hands should be tied from doing what may, and often does, entail serious loss(?). Upon the whole, my investments in real * estate in this city have been profitable. *I have attempted no other variety of investments. (This line inserted from edge of page) But in the last 20 years I have sunk at least $60,000 of holdings on to property in quarters where the price was declining: and tho I have recouped (inserted above this sentence: i.e. recovered this somewhat) my purchases in other localities, it is clear that such a loss as this (or these - for the loss embraced several bits of property) would have been serious if I had been in debt. Therefore, the reserve which you men of the sword(?), are, in a manner compelled to practice, has its advantages. I believe there is a strong tendency in the human animal to play at hazard. Everyone, naturally, believes himself to be unusually exempt from weaknesses of judgment - and I have kept myself out of the way of temptation to gamble very carefully. I never bet a lottery ticket, and never played a game of brag, poker, or other gambling game in my life - have only lost a few dollars (never more than five at any one time & not $50 in my whole life) on Euchre, whist etc. and yet I rather enjoy the excitement of an 'operation' in real estate - or did so, when real estate had a boom. For years past I have only bet(?) as an investment. But the spirit of the gamesters is seen in an unwillingness to make an end of a bad investment - se tenir prom(?) batter(?), as the French say, and "sell on a falling market".
(Did?) it ever occur to you that this was at the bottom of the fall of Napoleon? After the Moscow Campaign and before the Lutzen, he controls(?) accepting the situation, have made a peace, which would have preserved(?) a grand Empire. Several times afterwards, and before Lapsic(sic - Leipzig), it was still in his power to have made peace - By waiting for the chance of a tremendous victory, such as that of Austerlitz or Friedland, he lost everything. To be sure, this reasoning assumes that the Holy allies were honest - that they would keep their word(?) when it was plighted - they never had done this. Prussia, Austria, Russia & England had, over & over again showed their faithlessness and certainly there was no sincerity in the negotiations held after Dresden. Fear was the only sentiment to which Napoleon could rationally appeal when dealing with these reactionaries - and when the spell of invincibility was broken in 1812. Napoleon's best weapon was lost. Up to Lapsic (sic) however, he had never lost a battle where he commanded in person. It would have been asking too much perhaps, to require him in January 1813 to cease playing a game which he had up to that time, always played triumphantly: but it's easy for a very ? blind person to see now that to have done this would have been profound wisdom or at least great luck. It is very easy for any one(sic) who has lived a score or more years in a city. ? ? "if his foresight had been equal to his hindsight" he might have made a fortune: and a very common place critic can imagine that he sees where grand opportunities in war or statesmanship or finance were lost by generals or rulers or capitalists. To return to your Bill. Somehow, "I feel it in my bones" that you are on the inside track now. Heaven send it may be so! I can do nothing to aid you. As to my prayers, perhaps the (The following was crossed out in the original text: least) less said, the better. You remember the modest fellow who thought it prudent not to put the Gods in mind of him, lest, on looking at his ?, a curse instead of a blessing should be dispatched in answer to his supplication? Coming from some one(sic) whose credit was not good, a petition on behalf of a friend might do harm. What a strangely ignorant superstition that is anyhow. Which imagines the profitability
of a miracle (for it would be that, and nothing else) in answer to a prayer! and yet not one person in a thousand reflects on this, and when trouble comes, the force of habit exhorts from all of us, something in a nature of a prayer: a petition to the Disposer of Events to interrupt the operation of the laws which govern the universe for the convenience of an individual - as the laws which regulate human conduct, and govern events are more controllable, however, it is permissible to work so as to extract from human agencies - congressional committees & the like - the best possible outcome. And this you are doing. There is one comfort. If your bill passes Congress you are tolerably sure that the President will sign it. Does it relate back to 1883? I hope so. But, for as much as there are some who insist on carping at every measure, perhaps it will not be amiss if such wretches can be placated by a concession. If I were in Congress however I should stubbornly oppose any such yielding. There is no sense, no justice, in it.
Just at this moment, I am notified that a committee which acts on behalf of one of the nibbles I have mentioned, will be at my house again, this evening at 3. I can see very well what is meant. I am in the habit of playing with my cards on the table. I have named my lowest price. The committee proposes, I think, to see how much lower I will go. I am a very poor diplomatist(sic). I will accommodate them as to time: but will hardly commit the grammatical error indicated, of naming a price lower than the correct. Such a thing would not be proposed, if men really believed in the sincerity of him they deal with - and the almost universal experience of men shows that there is no such thing as sincerity in business matters. No one looks for it, when seeking to buy a house - and it is perhaps natural that similar laws should be supposed to govern the buying of a house.
I am very glad that your participation in Capt. Caslins case was so efficacious. In Urquhart's Book(sic) are several instances of the same kind. Caslin is a man whom I know very slightly, but all that I do know, predisposes me much in his favor: and I rejoice to hear of his well-being - Elliott's performance, with his game chicken seems to be a very barren(?) victory. Genl D. ought, at lowest, to ransom his grandson's bird. It is shabby not to do this. If that committee decides on purchasing your bill see me soon. Your talk of the weather being warm. Here, the last four days have been very unseasonable, cold & rain: as May 1 is apt to be. My kindest regards to all your family. You will not fail to let me have early news of your bill being passed. It won't be very auspicious if your bill should become law, and my House ? void before 10 ?. As always, yours H. J. Hunt.