December 23, 1854.
Your dear affectionate letter, dearest and kindest friend, would have given me unmingled pleasure had it conveyed a better account of your business prospects. Here, from what I can gather, and from the sure sign of all works of importance being postponed, the trade is in a similar state of depression, caused, they say, by this war, which but for the wretched imbecility of our ministers could never have assumed so alarming an appearance. Whether we shall recover from it, God only knows. My hope is in Louis Napoleon; but that America will rally seems certain enough. She has elbow-room, and, moreover, she is not unused to rapid transitions from high prosperity to temporary difficulty, and so back again. Moreover, dear friend, I have faith in you..... God bless you, my dear friend! May he send to both of you health and happiness and length of days, and so much of this world’s goods as is needful to prevent anxiety and insure comfort. I have known many rich people in my time, and the result has convinced me that with great wealth some deep black shadow is as sure to walk, as it is to follow the bright sunshine. So I never pray for more than the blessed enough for those whom I love best.
And very dearly do I love my American friends,—you best of all,—but all very dearly, as I have cause. Say this, please, to Dr. Parsons and Dr. Holmes (admiring their poems is a sort of touchstone of taste with me, and very, very many stand the test well) and dear Bayard Taylor, a man soundest and sweetest the nearer one gets to the kernel, and good, kind John Whittier, who has the fervor of the poet ingrafted into the tough old Quaker stock, and Mr. Stoddard, and Mrs. Lippincott, and Mrs. Sparks, and the Philadelphia Poetess, and dear Mr. and Mrs. W——, and your capital critics and orators. Remember me to all who think of me; but keep the choicest tenderness for yourself and your wife.
Do you know those books which pretend to have been written from one hundred to two hundred years ago,—“Mary Powell” (Milton’s Courtship), “Cherry and Violet,” and the rest? Their fault is that they are too much alike. The authoress (a Miss Manning) sent me some of them last winter, with some most interesting letters. Then for many months I ceased to hear from her, but a few weeks ago she sent me her new Christmas book,—“The Old Chelsea Bun House,”—and told me she was dying of a frightful internal complaint. She suffers martyrdom, but bears it like a saint, and her letters are better than all the sermons in the world. May God grant me the same cheerful submission! I try for it and pray that it be granted, but I have none of the enthusiastic glow of devotion, so real and so beautiful in Miss Manning. My faith is humble and lowly,—not that I have the slightest doubt,—but I cannot get her rapturous assurance of acceptance. My friend, William Harness, got me to employ our kind little