The Last Leaf eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 289 pages of information about The Last Leaf.
no bones were broken and with much pain I managed to hobble to the official from whom I must obtain a pass to leave the city.  I set out for the North, on almost the last train that left the city, at the end of August.  The sights were gloomy, the towns which we passed seemed associated with ancient bloodshed.  We touched St. Quentin and crossed the field of Malplaquet, and finally near Mons passed the Belgian frontier.  Marlborough and the names associated with former wars were suggested to my thoughts by these historic spots.  I was heartily glad when at length in cheerful Brussels I was beyond danger.  On the fateful day when the Second Empire went down at Sedan, I was on the field of Waterloo where half a century before the First Empire had perished.  The news of the morning made it plain that on that day the great debacle was to culminate.  We listened all day for cannon thunder; under certain conditions of the atmosphere the sound of heavy guns may reverberate as far perhaps, as from Sedan to Waterloo.  That day, however, there was no ominous grumble from the eastward, the sky was cloudless, the flowers bloomed about the Chateau d’Hougomont, and the birds twittered in peace at the point before La Haie-Sainte to which the First Napoleon advanced in the evening and where for the last time he heard the shout then so long familiar but forever after unheard, “Vive l’Empereur!” Humiliation now after half a century had overwhelmed in turn his unhappy successor.



As a Harvard undergraduate I roomed for a time in Hollis 8, a room occupied in turn by William H. Prescott and James Schouler, and perhaps I may attribute to some contagion caught as a transmittendum in that apartment, an itch for writing history which has brought some trouble to me and to the rather limited circle of readers whom I have reached.  I remember debating, as a boy, whether the more desirable fame fell to the hero in a conflict or to the scribe who told the story.  Whose place would one rather have?  That of Timoleon and Nicias or of Plutarch and Thucydides their celebrants?  But the celebrants, no doubt, seemed to their contemporaries very insignificant figures compared to the champions whose fame they perpetuated.  The historians of America are a goodly company, scarcely less worthy than the champions whose deeds they have chronicled.  With most men who, during the last seventy-five years, have written history in America, I have had contact, sometimes a mere glimpse, sometimes intimacy.  Washington Irving and Prescott I never saw, though as to the latter I have just been making him responsible to some extent for my own little proclivity, Parkman, I only saw sitting with his handsome Grecian face relieved against a dignified background as he sat on the stage among the Corporation of Harvard University.  Motley I have only seen as he stood with iron-grey curls over a ruddy, strenuous countenance topping a figure of vigorous symmetry as he spoke with animation at a scholars’ dinner.  But George Bancroft, Justin Winsor, and John Fiske I knew well, the last being in particular one of my best friends.  I could tell stories too, of the living lights, but am concerned here with the ghosts and not with men still red-blooded.

Project Gutenberg
The Last Leaf from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook