Thursday, January 5, 2017

John Hay to John G. Nicolay, August 27, 1862

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Aug. 27, 1862.

Where is your scalp? If anybody believes you don't wish you were at home, he can get a pretty lively bet out of me. I write this letter firing into the air. If it hits you, well. It will not hurt so much as a Yancton’s rifle. If in God's good Providence your long locks adorn the lodge of an aboriginal warrior and the festive tomtom is made of your stretched hide, I will not grudge the time thus spent, for auld lang syne. In fancy's eye I often behold you the centre and ornament of a wildwood circle, delighting the untutored children of the forest with Tuscan melodies. But by the rivers of Babylon you refuse to yield to dalliance — yea, you weep when you remember Washington whose magnificent distances are nevermore for you.

Washington is not at the present speaking an alluring village. Everybody is out of town and nobody cares for nobody that is here. One exception tres charmante which is French for devilish tidy. Miss Census Kennedy is here with a pretty cousin from Baltimore which Ellicott S—— is quite spooney about her while I am languidly appreciative.

Grover’s Theatre re-opens next Saturday and Dahlgren breathes again. Some pretty women are engaged, to whom I am promised introductions. There is also a new Club House established in the city, to which I have sometimes gone to satisfy the ragings of famine. I think you will patronize it extensively when you come back. I ride on horseback mornings. I ride the off horse. He has grown so rampagious by being never driven (I have no time to drive) that no one else whom I can find can ride him. Stoddard, Boutwell and Leutze ride sometimes the near horse.

I am yours,

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 68-70; Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War: in the Diaries and letters of John Hay, p. 44; Michael Burlingame, Editor, At Lincoln’s Side: John Hay’s Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings, p. 25.

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