The Writings of Carl Schurz/To Mrs. Schurz, April 13th, 14th, 15th, 1859

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Boston, April 13, 1859.[1]

I arrived here in good season, having just time to dress for the [Jefferson birthday] banquet. My reception was genuinely enthusiastic and my reputation in New England is already established. I found that my speech on State-rights had already been widely circulated here and that I was expected with suspense and curiosity. They toasted gallant Wisconsin and me, and I was called on to respond. My little speech elicited hearty applause. Almost every sentence was greeted with a “Bravo!” and when I closed, the applause was prolonged. Then followed a general shaking of hands and hardly one of the speakers who followed concluded without a reference to “brave Wisconsin and her gallant champion.” In short, the affair was a complete success. Governor Banks was not at the banquet. He was ailing, but I received an invitation to meet him at dinner to-morrow at the house of one of the most prominent men of the city. I have several days of strenuous work ahead of me, but I feel that I am in my element.

The great meeting is to be held at Faneuil Hall, on Monday, where I am to be given a grand reception. So far as the Know-Nothing amendments are concerned, the prospects are good. All sensible people are opposed to them, and I think Senator Wilson and other prominent Republican leaders will express their opinions boldly and fearlessly after I have made my speech. If we succeed in destroying that movement, our prospects for the future will be most excellent.

Boston, April 14, 1859.

I have just returned from the dinner of which I wrote you yesterday. We were the guests of Mr. Gardner Brewer, one of the richest men of Boston, and the dinner was one of the most sumptuous affairs I ever attended. When I return home, I will give you as much of the menu as I can remember; it suffices to say to-day, that we sat at table from six until ten o clock and that, during all this time, course after course and wine after wine were served. The company was not especially numerous, but in quality it surpassed any I have yet seen in America. Of men of letters, there were Longfellow, Whipple and Holmes; of politicians, Governor Banks, Senator Wilson, Burlingame, Allen, Adams (son of John Quincy Adams), Andrew and a number of Congressmen. I must describe the conversation orally. Longfellow and I had a long talk about Germany, and we intend to continue it as soon as I have leisure to accept his invitation to his home in Cambridge. On returning from the dinner, I found a lot of cards, which will fill my time with social matters for some days to come. Have no fear that I shall overwork here; if I am only left in peace long enough to think out the details of my speech sufficiently before Monday! This morning I was taken possession of immediately and dragged through the town. I was allowed only between three and four hours for writing. Fortunately, it is raining and I hope to be left to myself until dinner to-morrow. I live like Hannibal in Capua. Luckily, this sort of thing is not to continue long. Have you ever experienced how much a dinner can tire one? I am as tired out as if I had accomplished a vast amount of labor, and I have, in fact, done great things at table. Oh, Boston is a wonderful city, too good to be lived in!

April 15th, morning.

I am up early, gay as a lark and looking forward with delight to the coming day and to the task which I have to accomplish. The historical memories which are awakened here, in almost every street and public square, have put me into the same frame of mind in which I once, nine years ago, first wandered through the streets of Paris. The speech which I am writing is dominated by this feeling, and I am gladdened by the thought that you are to read the words which this enthusiasm has inspired. I believe that my hearers will be highly pleased and that I shall make a deep impression.

  1. Translated from the German.