Wednesday, May 13, 2015

U.S. Grant

Horace Porter was "for five years, during and after the war...Grant’s aide" writes Patrick Kurp and also "Porter was a tough-minded man of the world and a first-class writer, an observer of world-historical events who fashioned an articulate account of what he witnessed." Porter's account was Campaigning with Grant (1897). From Kurp's post, quoting Porter on Grant:
“He was civil to all who came in contact with him, and never attempted to snub any one, or treat anybody with less consideration on account of his inferiority in rank. With him there was none of the puppyism so often bred by power, and none of the dogmatism which Samuel Johnson characterized as puppyism grown to maturity.”

“In writing his style was vigorous and terse, with little of ornament; its most conspicuous characteristic was perspicuity.”

“His adjectives were few and well chosen. No document which ever came from his hands was in the least degree pretentious. He never laid claim to any knowledge he did not possess, and seemed to feel, with Addison, that `pedantry in learning is like hypocrisy in religion—a form of knowledge without the power of it.’”

“He rarely indulged in metaphor, but when he did employ a figure of speech it was always expressive and graphic, as when he spoke of the commander at Bermuda Hundred being `in a bottle strongly corked,’ or referred to our armies at one time moving `like horses in a balky team, no two ever pulling together.’”

“His style inclined to the epigrammatic without his being aware of it. There was scarcely a document written by him from which brief sentences could not be selected fit to be set in mottos or placed upon transparencies.”

Porter cites as examples of Grant’s verbal pithiness “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” and “The best means of securing the repeal of an obnoxious law is its vigorous enforcement.” .... [more]
Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant is downloadable at Gutenberg and at ManyBooks.net.