- Historic Sites
October 1957 | Volume 8, Issue 6
I am living here without much definite aim (except going to (he hospitals,) yet I have quite a good time. I make some money by .scribbling lor the papers, and as copyist. J have had, (and have.) thoughts of trying to get a clerkship or something, but I only try in a listless sort of way, and of course do not succeed. I have strong letters of introduction from AIr. [Ralph Waldo] Emerson to Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, but I have not presented them. I have seen Mr. Sunnier several times aneiu of my office-hunting, he promised fair once, but he does not seem to be finally fascinated. I hire a bright little 3d story front room, with service, &c. for $7 a month, dine in the same house. (394 L St. a private house,) and remain yet much of the old vagabond that so gracefully becomes me. … My health, strength, personal beauty, etc. are I am happy Io inform you, without diminution, but on the contrary quite the reverse. I weigh full 220 pounds avoirdupois, yet still retain my usual perfect shape, a regular model. My beard, neck. &c. are woolier, fleecier, whiteyer than ever. …
Friday Morning. 20th. I finish my letter in the office of Major Hapgood, a paymaster and a friend ol mine. This is a large building, filled with paymaster’s offices some thirty or forty or more. This room is up on the fifth floor (a most noble and broad view from my window.) Curious scenes around here, a continual stream of soldiers, officers, cripples, etc. etc. some climbing wearily up the stairs. They seek their pay, and every hour, almost every minute, has its incident, its hitch, its romance, farce or tragedy. There are two paymasters in this room. A sentry at the street door, another half way up the stairs, another at the chief clerk’s door, all with muskets & bayonets, sometimes a great swarm, hundreds, around the ,sidewalk in front waiting. (Everybody is waiting for something here.) I lake a pause, look up, a couple of minutes from my pen and paper, see spread, off there, the Potomac. very fine, nothing petty about it, the Washington monument, not half finished, the public grounds around it filled with ten thousand beeves on the hoof, to the left the Smithsonian with its brown turrets, to the right, far across, Arlington heights, the forts, eight or ten of them, then the long bridge, and down a ways, but quite plain, the shipping of Alexandria, opposite me. and in stone throw, is the Treasury building, and below the bustle and life of Pennsylvania Avenue. I shall hasten with my letter, and then go forth and take a stroll down “the avenue’ as they call it here.
Now you boys, don’t you think I have done the handsome thing by writing this astounding, magnificent letter, certainly the longest 1 ever wrote in my life? …