| This is the simple soldier, who, all untaught
of the silken phrase-makers, linked words together with an art surpassing
the art of the schools and put into them a something which will still bring
to American ears, as long as America shall last, the roll of his vanished
drums and the tread of his marching hosts.
- describing General Grant, Notebook, 1866
I can't rise to General Grant's lofty place in the estimation of this
nation, but it is a deep happiness to me to know that when it comes to
epistolary literature, he can't sit in the front seat along with me.
I did not admire him so much for winning the war as for ending the war.
Illustration by Frederick Gruger from SUNDAY MAGAZINE, Dec. 1, 1907.
Ulysses Grant, Samuel Clemens and Susy Clemens
from the Dave Thomson collection.
There is that about the sun which makes up forget his spots; and
when we think of General Grant or pulses quicken and his grammar vanishes; we
only remember that this is the simple soldier, who, all untaught of the silken
phrase makers, linked words together with an art surpassing the art of the schools,
and put into them a something which will still bring to American ears, as long
as America shall last, the roll of his vanished drums and the tread of the marching
hosts. What do we care for grammar when we think of the man that put together
that thunderous phrase: "Unconditional and immediate surrender!" And
those others: "I propose to move immediately upon your works!" "I
propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer!" Mr. Arnold
would doubtless claim that that last sentence is not strictly grammatical; and
yet it did certainly wake up this nation as a hundred million tons of A No.
1, fourth-proof, hardboiled hidebound grammar from another mouth couldn't have
done. And finally we have that gentler phrase; that one which shows you another
true side of the man; shows that in his soldier heart there was room for other
than gory war mottoes, and in his tongue the gift to fitly phrase them--"Let
us have peace."
- speech to Ninth Annual Reunion Banquet, Army and Navy Club of Connecticut at Hartford, April 27, 1887
But as long as American civilization lasts New York will last.
I cannot but think she has been well and wisely chosen as the guardian of a
grave which is destined to become almost the most conspicuous in the world's
history. Twenty centuries from now New York will still be New York, still a
vast city, and the most notable object in it will still be the tomb and monument
of General Grant. I observe that the common and strongest objection to New York
is that she is not "national ground." Let us give ourselves no uneasiness
about that. Wherever General Grant's body lies, that is national ground.
- Letter to the Editor of the New York Sun, July 30, 1885
I think the most interesting personality I ever encountered was
General Grant. How and where he was so much larger than other men I had ever
met I cannot describe. It was the same sort of feeling, I suppose that made
my friend, Thomas Starr King, whilst listening to a celebrated preacher, turn
to me and exclaim, 'Whereabouts in that figure does that imperial power reside.'
You had that feeling with Grant exactly.
- interview in Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald, September 17, 1895, pp. 5-6.
The greatest man I have ever had the privilege of knowing personally.
And I have not known a man with a kinder nature or a purer character. He was
called the Silent Man -- the Sphynx -- and he was that, in public, but not in
private. There he was a fluent and able talker -- with a large sense of humor,
and a most rare gift of compacting meaty things into phrases of stunning felicity.
- "Frank Fuller and My First New York Lecture," published in 2009 in Who Is Mark Twain?
Grant and Twain; The Story of a Friendship that Changed America. By Mark Perry
Available from amazon.com
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