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I send this under cover to Mr. Wheaton, in whom you will have found, no doubt, a kind and useful friend. Believe me, dear sir, etc.,
H.S. L. P.S. I thank you very much for the political information you give in your letter. Pray write immediately, and fill your pages with as much of the same matter as you can gather.
Mr. Legaré to Mr. T. C. Reynolds, at Heidelberg.
CHARLESTON, 23 APRIL, 1910. My dear Sir, I am quite ashamed of my remissness in not acknowledging, long ere this, how much I am indebted to you for your two favors, which I received in the course of the winter, -as well as for the books. These latter came to hand not very long ago : the Thucydides was just what I wanted, and it happened to arrive when I stood most in need of it, for I was writing a paper for the New-York Review, in which I had occa sion to be very critical in my notice of the great historian. The "Demosthenes” of Bekker is not precisely the work I wanted, though so much like it in name as easily to be mistaken for it, and so much on the same subject as almost entirely to take its place. Still, I should be glad to have the work an earlier one of the same author-I spoke of. It is simply "Demosthenes als Redner und Staatsman"—als Schriftsteller being omitted. This last work you sent me contains, however, I dare say, very much the same things, of course, improved by subsequent research.
I dare say you find Munich an agreeable residence. Poor young Drayton Grimké and McMillan King seemed to be very much pleased with the society and other advantages of that city. I spent but a few days there myself, but was charmed with its situation as well as with the agricultural improvements of the town.
As to your studies, if you look forward to the study of law, you ought to make yourself master of the Civilians while you are in Germany. It will be an immense advantage to you when you come to study the common law, for, after all, the differences between the codes of nations are not very great, and they reflect infinite light mutually upon one another. If medicine is to be your future profession, of course you will pursue another course. The physical sciences ought, in that case, to engross your attention, -especially botany and chemistry. Of course, you will find time to cultivate, as secondary objects, however, other branches of knowledge, but, at any rate, I would have you study political and literary history, for which your knowledge of the German will furnish you with immense facilities. Don't neglect Latin.
It is easy to acquire a thorough knowledge of it, by writing it occasionally. Translate first into English, and then back into Latin, and you will thus find yourself master of all the idioms and refinements of a tongue, which is a key to a world of knowledge, from which you will be otherwise wholly shut out.
If you see the New-York Review of July, you will read in it the leading article on the Constitutional History of Greece" and "the Democracy of Athens", which is by me. I should like to know whether the learned men of Germany think such things worthy of their notice. I published in the 10th No. of the same work an article on Roman Legislation, of which the main object was to bring to the notice of our American public some of the learned works of the actual schools of Germany. I made two or three slight mistakes,-but they are inevitable in periodical literature, which is always hasty.
I have no idea of entering the political arena again; though my experience has abundantly convinced me how little one's purposes and wishes have to do with shaping one's destinies. My private circumstances, however, imperatively demand my attention to some sort of business, and I have none to go to but the law. I have argued, this winter, some causes of importance.
Pray write to me, you have so much the advantage in the intelligence you have to communicate. You know what a sombre monotony our life is: nothing (except troubles) ever occurs here. Remember me, if you please, to your compagnon de voyage, and believe me, etc.,
H. S. L.
The same to the same.
CHARLESTON, FEB. 6, 1841. Dear Sir,-I have been for some time in your debt for a very interesting letter from Heidelberg, which I should have answered before, had I not been quite oppressed with occupation of one sort or other. Your information on the actual state of things in Germany seems to be very correct, and is altogether acceptable to me. I could ask for no greater favour in the way of correspondence, than just a repetition of your last.
Your note in reference to a still more protracted stay in Europe, was handed me by **** some time ago. I expressed to him, very much at large, my sentiments upon the subject generally, and as he seemed to concur with me, he pressed me to write to you substantially the same things. I told him I would do so, and now fulfil my promise.
But, in truth, however attractive such a stay might appear to you, I do not think a more unfortunate event could happen to you than just to have your wish gratified. At your age I was in
Europe, and had precisely the same desire. I well remember that, of all my youthful wishes, it was the strongest. I now know-by much and, I must add, painful experience-that nothing would have been more fatal to me in the whole course of my subsequent life. Even without such an obstacle to one's preferment in this eminently practical and business-doing couniry, as the having passed many years abroad, and in the atmosphere of courts, when just grown up, I have found my studies in Europe impede me at every step of my progress. They have hung round my neck like a dead weight, -and do so to this very day. Our people have a fixed aversion to every thing that looks like foreign education. They never give credit to any one for being one of them, who does not take his post in life early, and do and live as they do. Nothing is more perilous, in America, than to be too long learning, and to get the name of bookish. Stay in Europe only long enough to lay the ground-work of professional eminence, by pursuing the branches of knowledge most instrumental in advancing it. Let me, therefore, advise you to come home and study a profession. Whatever you may think of these opinions now, I am quite sure you will fully subscribe to them ten or fifteen years hence.
The book you speak of (Demosthenes als S. u. R.) has never come to hand. There seems to be a fatality attending it for me.
I have only to add that I am very much pleased with the evidences which your letters afford of high and, what is better, sound intelligence, and that I hope to see you reap the fruits of it in future life. Meanwhile, I am, etc.,
H. S. L.
Mr. Legaré to his sister.
BRUSSELS, 2p MAY, 1834. My dear Mary,-*
We have had a sad affair here, which has totally boulversé our society. I sent a circumstantial account of it to Petigru, whom I requested to forward the letter to you. It was the sacking of fourteen or fifteen houses, many of them of the greatest personages here, but not well affected towards the government, by a banditti of apprentices and journeymen, on a bright Sunday morning, in the midst of the people of Brussels, and before the eyes of the authorities, civil and military, who merely looked on as spectators,—not for any want of inclination to interfere, but because the rickety revolutionary government really dare not get into a scrape with the mob which created it. The effect, as I said, upon our society, has been very bad,- for not only have some of the first houses been broken up, but some English of distinction, who intended to reside here,
have been prevented from doing so by the fear of these popular eruptions. To make the matter still worse for me, and indeed all of us, we sustained an irreparable loss, a few days afterwards, in the death of the charming young Countess de Latour Maubourg, wife of the French ambassador, who died, at the age of nineteen, in giving birth to her first child. I can give you no idea how much I have felt this misfortune. I happened to see her the day before her confinement, blooming and cheerful, but rather alarmed by the above-mentioned exploits of the banditti ; the day before, but counting on better days, and as happy at home as possible for a woman to be, as she constantly said, --for what could be more brilliant and blessed than the situation of a young lady, married to a perfectly accomplished gentleman of the old school, who, to all the elegance of that school in France, united the domestic habits of an Englishman, and loved his wife,—while her own private fortune, and his station, as minister plenipotentiary, ensured her all that a woman's ambition can aim at in society. Just see how unfortunate I am in the loss of friends, which I feel the more sensibly from my isolated situation here. It is so strange! to have been in Brussels less than two years, and to have already survived so many on whom I counted for making my time pass agreeably. The Hastings' are still here, but I fear they will not continue long. They are my chief resource, and I feel an interest in them which, though not without a touch of sadness, is very lively. I shall never be able to think of them without regret, --unavailing regret.
I began, yesterday, (for it is quite an epoch in my life,) to read Goëthe's Faust in the original, and am happy to find it less difficult than I was led to expect. It is now eleven months since I first began to learn German,—from this must be deducted two months for my visit to Paris, etc. Owing to the cessation of the dinners and soirées, in which I was perpetually engaged during the whole winter, I now have hardly any thing to do but to read,—which, I assure you, I do to some purpose. I have been prevented from taking the tour in Germany, which I expected to make this summer, and shall, therefore, with occasional excursions in the neighborhood, remain at Brussels. Should nothing happen, I shall devote all that time to the acquiring the sort of knowledge which most attracts me now,-politics and the history of man, including that of the church.
1 shall make some profit of that time, with a view to the great end of life,--the learning to be wise, not for purposes of vanity and ostentation, but of happiness in myself and usefulness to others. I wish I could impart to you some of the philosophy which is beginning, at last, to reconcile me to the world, wearisome and evil as it is. You may be assured that the best of all moralists is pleasure. One learns temperance from being always tempted
to excess,—and contentment with little, by experiencing the vanity of wealth and honors. _Apropos of vanity, etc., I was playing whist last night with Prince Louis de Rohan, who had a law-suit some time ago with Louis Philippe, about the fortune of the late Prince de Condé, uncle of M. Rohan. The Prince de C. was the last of that illustrious house, and left a fortune of 60 or 70,000,000 francs, by will, to one of the sons of the king and a mistress of his own, Madame de Feucheres. The Prince Louis attacked this will and failed, for which, and perhaps other reasons, he has to live out of France. He had on the table a snuff-box, with three miniature portraits upon it,--one of his grandfather (I think) M. de Soubise, with his two aunts, one of whom was the late Princess de Condé. The house of Rohan is one of the greatest in the world; and while I was cracking jokes with him about Pere Philippe, of whom he speaks rather disrespectfully, I could not help thinking of the downfal of the mighty ones of the earth. He is a perfect specimen of the old libertine grand-seigneur of the vielle cour. You know, as Huguenots we have a right to feel an especial interest in the house of Rohan and Soubise, who were among the prominent leaders of the Protestants in the time of the League.
I should have made this letter longer, but while writing it an Irish friend came in, and talked away so much of my time, that I have barely enough to add my love to you all, and the assurance that I am most faithfully yours,
H. S. L.
The same to the same.
DOVER, 21ST JUNE, 1934. My dear Mary, I don't believe I mentioned, in any of my former letters, my intention of coming to England. Indeed, I had entirely abandoned the project until two or three weeks ago, when, living rather below par, as the brokers have it, in point of health, and horribly ennuyée at Brussels, (which some late affairs have made intolerably stupid,) I fell into temptation. Dining one day with Lady Westmoreland, her niece, Lady Paulett, suggested I had better cross the channel. The former insisted upon it so strenuously, promising me letters, etc., that in short, me voila. I arrived about an hour ago,—it being very, very warm for these climates, where there has as yet been no summer. The next day, I travelled from Antwerp to Ghent in my own carriage, through the very finest country I ever saw, or any body else, I believe, called the Pays de Waïs. Every acre of it is in the most productive state, -it is a perfect garden; and yet, I am told that a century ago it was a wild waste, and that it was its