John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 82 pages of information about John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 2.

His love of country, which had grown upon him so remarkably of late years, would not suffer him to be silent at such a moment.  All around him he found ignorance and prejudice.  The quarrel was like to be prejudged in default of a champion of the cause which to him was that of Liberty and Justice.  He wrote two long letters to the London “Times,” in which he attempted to make clear to Englishmen and to Europe the nature and conditions of our complex system of government, the real cause of the strife, and the mighty issues at stake.  Nothing could have been more timely, nothing more needed.  Mr. William Everett, who was then in England, bears strong testimony to the effect these letters produced.  Had Mr. Motley done no other service to his country, this alone would entitle him to honorable remembrance as among the first defenders of the flag, which at that moment had more to fear from what was going on in the cabinet councils of Europe than from all the armed hosts that were gathering against it.

He returned to America in 1861, and soon afterwards was appointed by Mr. Lincoln Minister to Austria.  Mr. Burlingame had been previously appointed to the office, but having been objected to by the Austrian Government for political reasons, the place unexpectedly left vacant was conferred upon Motley, who had no expectation of any diplomatic appointment when he left Europe.  For some interesting particulars relating to his residence in Vienna I must refer to the communications addressed to me by his daughter, Lady Harcourt, and her youngest sister, and the letters I received from him while at the Austrian capital.  Lady Harcourt writes:—­

“He held the post for six years, seeing the civil war fought out and brought to a triumphant conclusion, and enjoying, as I have every reason to believe, the full confidence and esteem of Mr. Lincoln to the last hour of the President’s life.  In the first dark years the painful interest of the great national drama was so all-absorbing that literary work was entirely put aside, and with his countrymen at home he lived only in the varying fortunes of the day, his profound faith and enthusiasm sustaining him and lifting him above the natural influence of a by no means sanguine temperament.  Later, when the tide was turning and success was nearing, he was more able to work.  His social relations during the whole period of his mission were of the most agreeable character.  The society of Vienna was at that time, and I believe is still, the absolute reverse of that of England, where all claims to distinction are recognized and welcomed.  There the old feudal traditions were still in full force, and diplomatic representatives admitted to the court society by right of official position found it to consist exclusively of an aristocracy of birth, sixteen quarterings of nobility being necessary to a right of presentation to the Emperor and Empress.  The society thus constituted was distinguished
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John Lothrop Motley. a memoir — Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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