St. Louis Nov 13/86
Major General Henry J. Hunt
Soldiers Home. Washington ?, DC
My dear General
I received on the 11th yours of the 9th - begun on the ? and can scarcely tell you what pleasure your letters give me. This is no answer to yours. I wrote to you on the 10th a very short letter (comparatively. I mean I intended to make it short, but it covered two immense pages) stating that I was coming to Philadelphia in Dec. - Giving the occasion of my coming - and adding that I should be in Washington before returning to St. Louis, if all went well, and I did not feel as if it was fair to write again so soon, until, this morning I had a letter from Robert Fitz? dated 9th & postmarked 10th ?. I make an extract from it "I have just read Genl Hunts article in The Century. It was like the General to sink out of sight his own conspicuous part in the battle and use the opportunity for calling attention to the great need of artillery organization. It was a matter of justice too ?ate, as no one before has thought of stating the facts that make clear the superiority of Lees Army to Meades in the mobility that was due to their Superior Corps organization - a superiority that was what offset "["set off" he should have written]" Meades slight advantage in number. Hunt seems to be perfectly fair in his criticism of Meade - much more so than Doubleday or any other critic that I know of - But between the lines of all accounts of the battle - accounts with varying credit to Army and Corps Commanders, but with unfailing testimony to the cohesion and staunchness of the men of the Peninsula - you may read that the real victor at Gettysburg was McClellan." - I have not seen anywhere such an admirable bit of criticism as this. [The word criticism is usually employed to signify censure. In fact, it is the Greek equivalent of judicial judgment - the root of the word is krino - the latin equivalent of which is judico - and the English equivalent is judge]. I have copied it and sent it and sent it to Boston to appear: if I can com? it in the Boston Herald. It is a tribute both to you and to McClellan which should not be allowed to perish. You speak so flatteringly of some of my essays that I am tempted to send you a pamphlet containing an
argument very carefully, and I think, exhaustively, written upon the the judgment power of Congress on the matter of legal tender. This was written before the late decision of the Supreme Court of which Mr. (?) Justice Gray was the mouthpiece - one of the most atrocious judicial usurpations ever seen in this country, and working to stand by the side of that otherwise unmatched crime, the work of the Electoral Commission which was a hybrid mortal (?) a sort of politico-judicial entity. I have it strongly in contemplation to republish this article written in 1877, with an examination of Mr. (?) Justice Grays monstrosity. I call it his for he wrote the opinion. But the court adopted it, and are worthy of eternal damnation therefor (sic). I send you mine article: but you must not keep it, for I have no other copy. Having read, you must send it back, but you need not be in hot haste to do this. I shall see you in December, and if you send the pamphlet back in all of this year, it will suffice.
I am spoiling a good deal of paper and consuming a good deal of ink: the result being a map of MS which I may publish and which I may otherwise use as a burnt offering. It partly consists of essays on very various subjects, and partly reminiscences. I believe, in my heart, that some of the things I have written are worth reading. But I am very doubtful of the good taste of the reading public: and occasionally I have proof of a new version of everything like critical perception that almost takes away my breath: For example - (This is strictly under the rose) I conversed lately with the brother-in-law of Genl Hancock. He told me what I was very glad to hear - viz some publisher had offered to Mrs. Hancock a very handsome sum for the copyright of some sketches she had prepared of the married life of herself & the General - as well as I could learn they (the publishers) made this offer without seeing the sketches, and evidently on the idea that the Generals name would sell the book: for which, as foresaid, I was and am very glad. Wm (?) Russell then referred to the funeral sermon preached by the Rev Wm Talmadge (?) - and asked me if I could believe it possible that it was an extemporaneous effusion - adding that he had been assured by Talmadge that it was so - I got out of the scrape as well as I could - for like Shylock "I have an oath in Heaven" - and fear to bring perjury on my soul. I read that effusion and considered it a most unworthy specimen of galimatias : about as tacky as could be. Russell spoke of it in raptures, however: and I take it he echoed the opinion of others. If you ever read it, please express your opinion, as frankly as I have given mine. Talmadge, and Adirondack Murray make a pair in my judgment - asca des ambo. - "ident. numbsculls (sic) both." Not quite fair this. If they were numbsculls (sic), pure and
simple, much might be said in excuse. But Murray is incontrovertibly a knave - nine rogues in ten are fools also, and Murray is no exception - that is he is not the tenth man. So far as I am advised, Talmadge is mainly conspicuous for frothy insincerity, and foolish spread-eagleism. Now, who would care to appeal to the taste of a reading community that could admire Talmadges work. Horace advises those who dream of authorship to retain their MS for nine years - or eight, at any rate, for he allows them to publish in the ninth year. Much of my scribbling is older than that. Should your courage fail you on reconnoitering the enemy - or the 42 pages of printed matter - do not, in your weakened condition, make any undue strain on your nervous system, but put the pamphlet aside until I see you.
There is, unless I am dreaming, a world of suggestion on the offer to Mrs. Hancock. It shows that such is the appetite for details concerning the soldiers whom the country owes so much, that whatever furnishes these details is sure of a market. If you are "wise," the "word" should be sufficient for you, according to the proverb. In fact, your memories of the war cannot fail to have a conspicuous place in the literature of that eventful time: and one peculiarity of yours - at any rate a peculiarity which I have heard ascribed to you - to wit a talent for imposing blame to those worthy of censure, and making enemies of the guilty - in a word, a talent for getting into hot water - well here do you Yeomans (?) service - nothing gives flavor to a narrative like personal observations. The colorless, insipid style which some adopt, altho to one who knows how the fact was it may be unintelligible, is not calculated to interest those who have not such knowledge - In one respect alone, I would have you adhere to the colorless style. Bad as the world is, your dignified reticence as to your "own conspicuous past" in the struggle is not only the dictate of gentleman like propriety but of the most farsighted prudence. There are some things - very few but still some - more plainly seen, if not thrust obtrusively into view. -Tacitus tells us that in the pageant of Tiberius the virtues and services of the principal Great men of Roman history were brought vividly before the eyes and minds of the men on Rome: "sed maxime effulgebant Cassius atque Brutus, eo ipso quad imagine eorum non visebantur." [But Cassius and Brutus were in an especial degree called to the minds of the Romans for the very reason that the tyrant had excluded their statues from their sight.] Reputation - popularity -has been said to be like the shadow of a man. If he pursues it, it flies from him. If he turns his back on it, it pursues him. Like all fine sayings this is only true in a certain degree. But at all events, a man preserves his own self respect by leaving his praise to other mouths
If I tell you now that positively when I commenced this letter I only intended to give you the quotation from Robert Fitz?, you will smile at the dominion which the cacoethes senbendi has gained over me. Yet such is the fact. It belongs I suppose to my old age to be diffuse. Hang me if I believe I was always so garrulous.
In the (comparatively) short letter I wrote on the 10th I gave you some advice touching your health. Very probably, you consider in the light of a jest what I then said. But I speak from experience when I say that to invigorate the skin, to give activity to its functions, and at the same time not to oppress the stomach, is to insure, if not perfect health, at any rate a very reasonable share of it. Every one, I suppose, judges others by himself more or less, and finds it difficult to believe that what is hurtful to him, can benefit others. Thus, I made the discovery early that sweets of all sorts were injurious to me, and that tobacco was absolutely poisonous: Yet, I was in my childhood and even in early manhood, very fond of sweets. I have parted A company with them for a long time - eschewing such things as ice cream, confectionery, candy, pies, puddings, and pastry very virtuously. I never was fond of tobacco - but being much annoyed by the smoking of others. I tried to become a smoker myself, hoping by that means to render myself invincible to the inconvenience of the habit in others. I tried this with some steadiness - nearly killed myself in the attempt - and gave it up definitely years and years ago. For many years I thought that an obstinate dyspepsia from which I suffered, and which was in some measure hereditary, was relieved by a glass or two of light wine at dinner - and perhaps it was so at one time. But more than 12 years ago I became convinced that I was wrong: that as Rip van Winkle said when he could not get his dram, and as the fox said when he failed to reach the grapes "I was better without it." Now I take nothing alcoholic - neither wine, whiskey, brandy, beer, or rum, and fire will not burn out of me the conviction that I have greatly improved my health by this regimen. (I will say here, to avoid misconception, that I never was drunk in my life). I take a cold bath each morning when at home: preceding and following it with a rubbing which few, not accustomed to it, can endure. The unpleasant (?) being bristles set in canvas, with which I can vigorously rub every part of my body. I eat two meals a day - breakfast at 8 a.m. or as near it as I can manage - not a morsel of food or a drop of liquid thereafter until 6 p.m. when I eat my dinner: of the heartiness of my dinner I leave you to guess when I say that my constant habit (until very lately) was to
mount my horse directly after dinner. (Now it is to take a walk) and that I never felt disinclined from ? to the exercise. I propose on coming East to feed almost exclusively on raw oysters. My object in doing this is two fold. 1st. Raw oysters are very digestible. 2nd. They are so much better on the seacoast than after they have traveled 1,000 miles that the opportunity of devouring them there ought to be improved. So I intend to confine myself as far as may be to raw oysters (not forgetting brown bread and butter), or oysters roasted in the shell - a gastronomic delicacy but not perhaps so wholesome as the raw mollusk: and one of the results to which I look is a thorough surfeit of oysters. I expect on my return home to be unable to endure the sight of one! And at this distance from their native haunts, it is no bad thing, in an economic point of view, to be averse to such a high priced edible. All this detail about my diet and regimen, is intended, of course, by way of enforcing my advice to you to abjure tobacco and sugar. Avoid extremes of course. Do not plunge at once into sobriety (tobacco is an intoxicant). Put yourself on a regimen of three cigars between breakfast and dinner, and as many between dinner and bed -and stop the cigar before breakfast. Perhaps, like other sinners, you can readily compound for three cigars between breakfast & dinner by selecting very strong ones. Beware of this castigating of Satan round the pedestal of a tree. It cometh of evil - I feel satisfied that you are nicotised (sic), and that what you profanely call gout is the consequence of this condition. It is for this that I recommend the Turkish Bath. But it is an eliminator of the poison that the Turkish Bath is salutary or salutiferous (?). Providence admonishes you to cut off the inlet of the poison. You will be good enough to remember all this time that I feel none of the gnawing appetite for forbidden things which fastens on a hardened sinner like you, and that I make no account of the struggle and self denial - heroic. I have no doubt which will be needed when virtue tells you to throw away the cigar which depraved appetite tempts you to put in your mouth - upon my word. I show my confidence in your ? some sense of humor when I venture to talk write all this nonsense to you. Your letter of the 1st - 9th shall receive attention - and in the mean time, commending you to the Saints. I am ? ?. Your sincere friend (?), Thomas T. Gantt (?)
[Transcribers Note: the last line of the above letter as photocopied ("? ?. Your sincere friend (?), Thomas T. Gantt (?)") shows only the top one-third of the closing and signature.]