Saturday, November 5, 2016

John L. Motley to Anna Lothrop Motley, December 22, 1862

December 22, 1862.

My dearest Mother: It is long since I have written, and, indeed, I have been far from well for some time — nothing serious or which can cause anxiety, but making me uncomfortable and almost incapable of writing. I cannot, however, let the Christmas-tide pass over without sending you my dearest and best greetings and wishes for health and happiness. Thank God, however, I entertain the hope of living to see the day when even in Boston there will be no pro-slavery party, because when there is no longer slavery there can no longer be a party to support it. . . .

The young Crown Princess of Prussia (Princess Royal of England) was here for three days a little while ago. The morning after her arrival I received a note from my colleague the Prussian minister, in whose house she was staying, informing me she was very desirous of making my acquaintance, having been lately reading my works, etc., and requesting me to call that morning. This I accordingly did, and was received very kindly by the young princess and her husband, and spent a very agreeable half-hour with them quite alone. She is rather petite, has a fresh young face, with pretty features, fine teeth, and a frank and agreeable smile, and an interested, earnest, and intelligent manner. Nothing can be simpler or more natural than her style, which I should say was the perfection of good breeding. She was in close mourning. She said many complimentary things about my writings, and indeed I may say that I heard from others, Lord Bloomfield and Baron Werther for instance, that she was one of my most enthusiastic readers. I say this because I think it will please you.

She had also been reading Froude, whom she much admired. I told her that he was a friend of mine, and that I, too, entertained the highest opinion of him as a historian, although he had by no means converted me to his faith in Henry VIII. The princess was evidently disposed to admire that polygamous party, and was also a great adorer of Queen Elizabeth. Whence I concluded that she had not read my last two volumes, as she would hardly have expected entire sympathy from me in this respect. I told her that although I had great respect for Queen Elizabeth's genius and accomplishments and energy, I was not one of her thick-and-thin admirers. She spoke of Carlyle's last work — I mean his “History of Frederick the Great.” I said that Carlyle's other works seemed to me magnificent, wonderful monuments of poetry and imagination, profound research, and most original humor; but that I thought him a most immoral writer, from his exaggerated reverence for brute force, which he was so apt to confound with wisdom and genius. A world governed a la Carlyle would be a pandemonium. The young prince is tall, blond, soldierly, intelligent, with frank, agreeable manners. Baron Werther told me last night that I ought to feel myself complimented, as I was the only person outside of the imperial family whom the princess had seen in Vienna, except the English ambassador and Lady Bloomfield.

We have very pleasant, bright winter weather here, never much above or below the freezing-point. The Vienna climate is not unlike that of Boston, only very much mitigated. It is dry, clear, with a respectable cold in winter and tolerable heat in summer. I am sorry to say it does not suit me very well. I mean that it has that electrifying, irritating effect of the Boston atmosphere upon me, which does not put me in good working trim. However, I am determined that the new year shall find me hard at work on Volume III. We all send love to you and my father and all at home. Good-by. God bless you, my dearest mother, and all the blessings of the season attend you and all. Write when you can; your letters always give me great pleasure. I shall not let so long an interval elapse again without sending at least a note.

Ever your affectionate son,
J. L. M.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, editor, The Correspondence of John Lothrop Motley in Two Volumes, Library Edition, Volume 2, p. 299-301

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