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Autograph Letter Signed ('Geo. S. Hillard') from the Harvard lawyer George Stillman Hillard (later District Attorney for Massachusetts) to W. W. Greenough, written from Paris in the 'Year of Revolutions' 1848, analysing the political situation there.

George Stillman Hillard (1808-1879), Harvard-educated lawyer, writer on the law, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts [William Whitwell Greenough (1818-1899), Boston merchant]

Editorial: Paris France; 16 May, 1848
Librería: Richard M. Ford Ltd (London, Reino Unido)

Librería en AbeBooks desde: 20 de noviembre de 1997

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4pp., 4to. Bifolium. Ninety lines of text. Good, on lightly-aged paper, with small hole on second leaf causing damage to a few words of text. Addressed with two postmarks (one French, one American) on the reverse of the second leaf to 'William W. Whitwell Esq | Boston. Mass. | United States of America'. A significant letter, written from Paris by an astute and cultured American jurist on the day following the demonstration of 15 May 1848. Hillard begins by explaining that, having been in Paris for three weeks, he has only two complaints: 'the extreme heat' and 'the number of guns and drums, which every where invade the ear and flash upon the eye'. He doubts whether the Parisians will 'be always content to carry about those heavy muskets, as mere holiday toys, for children to admire and maidens to smile upon them. When there is such preparation for war, war itself will naturally follow. The legitimate object of a weapon is not to be simply brandished in the arm, but to take away somebody's life.' He finds the 'character' of Paris 'much changed and the aspect which it now turns to me is not that usually presented to strangers, though the difference is less than might be expected, because the French temperament is so elastic and they have so remarkable a faculty of extracting happiness from the present without thinking of the past or the future. All business is deranged, the glittering shops find few customers; the old relations between employer and employee are broken up and your tailor and bootmaker will tell you that he will execute your order as soon as possible - but when he cannot say, and there is much distress, extending even to classes and persons to whom it was before unknown'. Hillard contrasts the position of '[t]he old, the rich, the thrifty and prosperous bourgeoisie - the men who have "two gowns and every thing handsome about them"' - with 'the young and the ardent'. 'And the laborers and "proletaires" too, seem to have got a notion into their heads that a republic means eating without working, or, at least, that it is the duty of the state to furnish employment to every citizen'. Constructing a 'well-ordered State' out of such 'combustible and explosive materials', while avoiding the extremes of 'despotism & anarchy', is 'as difficult as to build a house out of friction matches, and fire-crackers'. There are however 'more wise and good and thoughtful men in France, than they, who look at her through English spectacles'. He is not sure his view of the matter is any better informed in Paris than it would be if he were back in Boston: 'I read the papers, observe what passes around me and get light wherever I can find it; but I speak the language but imperfectly, and have no privilege of access to men of consideration and influence'. But of one thing he is certain: 'The new constitution is likely to be too democratic. The proposal of an upper house, like our Senate, meets with no favor.' Nevertheless, 'the old spirit in Paris is not dead. The gas lights on the Boulevard, at night, make another day, and gild innumerable groups of gay idlers, who smile and chat and daff the world aside.' He finds the French 'rather a selfish & shallow-hearted race, essentially, but their superficial varnish of politeness is exhilarating to the passing stranger, and gives a certain flavor to daily life'. He ends by describing his homesickness for Boston, and by urging Greenough to join him in England - 'we will put ourselves upon a diet of beefsteak and porter and grow fat and rosy under the gills'. He reports that Charles Curtis is in Paris, and sends his regards to Greenough's family, with a reference to Dickens's 'Pickwick Papers'. N° de ref. de la librería 11464

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Detalles bibliográficos

Título: Autograph Letter Signed ('Geo. S. Hillard') ...

Editorial: Paris France; 16 May

Año de publicación: 1848

Descripción de la librería

Private premises. Autographs, manuscripts and archives on any subject. Particular interest in publishing and bookselling history. Occasional catalogues. Company number: 03785276

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