To Willing Conflators of Sullivan Ballou And Jeremy Todd (first and last letter)


My Dear Friends,
The indications are very strong that I shall abandon all pretence of conventional success in a few days — perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again in a manner that will still be found, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I am ostensibly gone …
I have no misgivings or lack of confidence about this project, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly notions of civilization now lean on the triumph of lies instead of the great debt we owe to those who slogged before us through the blood and sufferings of a world without consensus, run by robber barons.  I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all superficial joys in this life, to maintain some sort of agency despite it all, and to pay the debt I owe for being alive …
My love for us is deathless and seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but omnipotence could break; and yet my devotion to these not sent letters continues to lift me up and away, like a strong wind, bearing me irresistibly on with all these chains to the societal battle field.
Memories of the blissful moments I have spent, before understanding what needs to be done, come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to have enjoyed them for so long.  It is hard for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years of stability and accolades, when, justice willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our children grow up to honorable purposes all around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon any possibility of divine providence, but something whispers to me — perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my own sons, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear friends, never forget how much I love you all, and when my last breath escapes me during this stage of the fight, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you all. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness — if only these not sent letters could resolve all that torments us.
But friends! If my efforts here can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those I have loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights … Surely you must know this already!  Always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be caused by my hurried typing now, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be the immortal spirit of this project, this art for life, this multiplicity wrestling poeticism, passing by. Do not mourn my current obscurity, for we shall meet again.