It’s a very foolish thing to smile at a man who rides a hobby. Once there was a man who rode a hobby all his life, to the great amusement of his enemies and the mortification of his wife; and when the man was dead they found it was a real live horse and had carried the man many long miles.
General Bellicose loves a horse; so does Little Emily and so do I. But Little Emily and the General know history and have sounded politics in a way that puts me in the kindergarten; and I found before the day was over that what one did not know about the political history of America the other did. And mixed up in it all we discussed the merits of the fox-trot versus the single-foot.
We saw the famous Clay monument, built by the State at a cost of nearly a hundred thousand dollars, and with uncovered heads gazed through the gratings into the crypt where lies the dust of the great man. Then we saw the statue of John C. Breckinridge in the public square, and visited various old ebb-tide mansions where the “quarters” had fallen into decay, and the erstwhile inhabitants had moved to the long row of tenements down by the cotton-mill. My train whistled and we were half a mile from the station, but the General said we would get there in time—and we did. I bade my friends good-by and quite forgot to thank them for all their kindness, although down in my heart I felt that it had been a time rare as a day in June. I believe they felt my gratitude, too, for where there is such a feast of wit and flow of soul, such kindness, such generosity, the spirit understands.
When I arrived home I found a box awaiting me, bearing the express mark of Lexington, Kentucky. On opening the case I found six quart-bottles of “Henry Clay—1881”; and a card with the compliments of Little Emily and General Bellicose. On the outside of the case was neatly stenciled the legend, “Thackeray, Full sett, 14 vol., half Levant.” I do not know why the box was so marked, but I suppose it was in honor of my literary proclivities. I went out and blew four merry blasts on a ram’s horn, and the Philistines assembled.
Calm repose and the sweets
of undisturbed retirement appear more
distant than a peace with Britain.
It gives me pleasure, however, to reflect that the period is approaching when we shall be citizens of a better ordered State, and the spending of a few troublesome years of our eternity in doing good to this and future generations is not to be avoided nor regretted. Things will come right, and these States will yet be great and flourishing. —Letter to Washington
[Illustration: John Jay]
America should feel especially charitable towards Louis the Great, called by Carlyle, Louis the Little, for banishing the Huguenots from France. What France lost America gained. Tyranny and intolerance always drive from their homes the best: those who have ability to think, courage to act, and a pride that can not be coerced.