W-MCP5-6.328 TO [DR.] CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his friend H. Samuel
Jun 5 1860
To: [Dr.] Calvin Brooks McQuesten, Meriden, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
From: University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, [U.S.A.]
My Friend McQuesten,
It is sometime since yours enclosing (I think) a very good likeness of yourself was received & I should have answered before but you know Boston Anniversaries have been on hand or on mind, some extra duties just before intervals of study &c. as usual my correspondence has fallen behind.
Last week beside listening to some of the finest speakers of the day I rusticated to the extent of going to old Plymouth and visiting the home of Webster.1
I have seldom been more intensely interested than I was at Plymouth, with all the associations of that place crowding upon me; the recollection of the most discouraging trial & suffering incident to their lot, their exposure on that bleak & ice bound shore their numbers, at first few & defenceless--then before the first winter had passed diminished by more than one half its strength, by death, yet still faithful & undismayed--to me it was no slight pleasure to stand where the Pilgrims stood, to look upon & handle some of the sacred relics that the Mayflower brought, to tread upon the soil hallowed by the dust of the Puritan fathers.
One fine large painting by Sargent representing the landing of the Pilgrims has a power of pathos such as I have seldom felt before. You seem to stand in the very midst of their scene, with Carver & White, Ino, Alden & Miles Standish & their wives & children at your side. Of course I stood on Plymouth Rock. I visited Webster's library, and the chamber in which he died. Visitors can go all over the premises by paying twenty five cents. Then there are the curiosities in the vicinity as well as a beautiful sea beach.
You asked my opinion in reference to a suitable or desirable course of reading, of course in one's task can be a guide or model for another, but I can tell of what I have read, what authors I particularly admire or have found useful to me; of course I do not exclude some others when I name thus: Goldsmith, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Scott, Irving, Gibbon, Carlyle, Blackstone, Channing & the late F.W. Robertson. Macauley is fascinating but I have lost some confidence in him. Sir Wm. Hamilton is profound but I am not sure his philosophy has not some pernicious tendencies. We are sure to read Parker's [?] has & yet no scholar of the present day can well afford to be without some portion of his writings--For practical & devotional religious readings, Martineau, Beecher, Sears may be read.
Any news from Meriden is always acceptable. Some one said you were studying medicine, is that so?2 I had a fine time at Rev. Tappan's last week. Eugene & Ada in fine spirits--But I close.3
As ever your Friend
[Written on envelope:] Ans. 18/7/60
1 Daniel Webster (1782-1852--also known as "Black Dan"; "Defender of the Constitution"--of Boston, statesman, lawyer, and orator, was his era's foremost advocate of American nationalism. A farmer's son, he graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801. After a legal apprenticeship, Webster opened a legal practice in Portsmouth, N.H., in 1807. . . .Rising quickly as a lawyer and Federalist party leader, Webster was elected (1812) to the U.S. House of Representatives because of his opposition to the War of 1812, which had crippled New England's shipping trade. In a powerful speech before the Senate on Mar. 7, 1850, he supported the COMPROMISE OF 1850, denouncing Southern threats of secession but urging Northern support for a stronger law for the recovery of fugitive slaves. Webster was named secretary of state in July 1850 by President Millard Fillmore and supervised the strict enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. Webster's stand alienated antislavery forces and divided the Whig party, but it helped to preserve the Union. "Daniel Webster." November 11, 2003. www.marshfield.net/History/webster.htm.
2 Calvin graduated in medicine in 1861 from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (Minnes 1). The letter is addressed to him at Meriden, about 20 km. from Hanover.
3 For Eugene Tappan's letters to Calvin, see W-MCP5-6.327 & W-MCP5-6.329.