Jane Stuart Woolsey, Letter from Jane Stuart Woolsey, December 5, 1860, Letters of a Family during the War for the Union 1861-1865, vol. 1, Bacon, Georgeanna Woolsey; Howland, Eliza Woolsey, editor Privately published, 1899, p. 360.
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
New York, Dec. 5, 1860.
We came down to Centre Harbor on the 6th of November (the great day) and there the Republican majorities came rolling in for Abraham Lincoln. Our host in that place was of a practical turn, and, having no artillery and having some rocks to blast in the garden, laid his trains and waited for the news; and when the stage coach came in from Meredith village he "stood by to fire," and all the rocks went off at once and made a pretty good noise. Georgy and I stopped in New Haven for a visit and had some delicious breezy, rushing, sparkling little sails in the bay and in the sound. We took to the salt water with a keen relish after nearly five months of mountains. Miss Rose Terry was in New Haven. She has just published a little volume of poems, and is writing New England stories for the magazines. Think of our national bird being in danger of splitting at last, like that odious fowl, the Austrian Eagle -- a step toward realizing the vision of a "Bell-everett" orator in the late campaign, whose speech I read, and who saw the illustrious biped with "one foot upon the Atlantic shore, one on the golden strand, and one upon the islands of the main!" Not that I care for secession; let them go! We are told we "mustn't buy too many new dresses this winter," but still I say no matter -- no compromises. Millions for defence, not one cent for tribute. I can live on a straw a day. "So can I," Georgy puts in here, "if one end of it is in a sherry cobbler." But what a sight we must be to other peoples. Just as morning breaks over Italy with sunshine and singing, this evil cloud comes up in our heaven. Must there be a sort of systole and diastole in civilization, and must one nation go down in the balance as another goes up, till the great day that makes all things true? You read all this stuff in the papers: how the North "hurls back with scorn the giant strides of that Upas Tree, the slave power!" and how the South will no longer be "dragged at the chariot wheels of that mushroom, the Northwest!" The money men look blue and the drygoodsy men look black. Charles Rockwell has just gone to Georgia, rather against the advice of some of his friends, for the R's are stout Republicans and given to being on their own side. Now and then an incident "comes home" that doesn't get into the papers. Here is one that came under my own knowledge. A young lady, being rather delicate, decided three or four weeks ago to go to her friends in Georgia for the winter. For some reason they could not send for her, or even meet her at Savannah, so she set out alone. During the little voyage there was some talk in the cabin about John Brown. "But we must allow he was a brave man," she said; -- nothing more. The steamer arrived in the night, and she with some others waited on board till morning. Soon after daybreak, while she was making ready to go ashore, three gentlemen presented themselves to her; "understood she had expressed abolition sentiments, regretted the necessity," etc. -- the usual stuff -- "if she would consult her safety she would leave immediately by the Northern train; her luggage had already been transferred; they would see her safely to the station." She denied the charges, told who her relatives were (staunch Democrats), etc., in vain. They, with great politeness, put her into a carriage, escorted her to the station, presented her with a through ticket and sent her home, where she arrived safely, a blazing Abolitionist.
Thanksgiving day is lately past, and the burden of the sermons was peace, peace and concession. Mr. Beecher preached a tremendous Rights-of-Man and Laws-of-God sermon, and I was told that once when a fine apostrophe to freedom came in, and there were movements to hush signs of enthusiasm, he paused a moment, and said in his peculiar manner: "Oh, it isn't Sunday!" and all the great audience broke into long applause. And why not? In the Church's early days they used to applaud and shout "Pious Chrysostom!" "Worthy the Priesthood!" And in the meantime: Garibaldi! The word is a monument and a triumphal song. I should like to have one of the turnips from that island farm of Caprera. Now, when the "deeds are so few and the men so many" it is surely a great thing to find a noble deed to do, and to do it! What a scene that was, the meeting and the crowning at Speranzano; for that was the real crowning, when Garibaldi said to Victor, "King of Italy!" We fairly cried -- don't laugh -- over that scene. And now he is like Coleridge's Knight: --
"In kingly court,
Who having won all guerdons in the sport
Glides out of view, and whither none can find."
While I am writing they are screaming "President Buchanan's message" in the streets. I capture an extra and try to make "head and tail" of it for you, without success. Our family friends are snugly settled in Rome, and "as quiet as in North Conway." Baby Bertha begins to speak, and her first articulate word is "Viva!"