Mary Todd Lincoln


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 8, 1862

You are viewing an issue of Harper's Weekly from our online archive. We have posted the entire run of Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These papers are rich with eye-witness illustrations and news reports written as the events unfolded.

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General Rosecrans

General Rosecrans

General Rosecrans Biography

General Rosecrans Biography

Second Battle of Pea Ridge

Second Battle of Pea Ridge

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

Youngest Civil War Soldier

Youngest Civil War Soldier

Civil War Dog

Civil War Dog

Ninth Indiana

Ninth Indiana Regiment

Driving Negroes

Driving Negroes South

Man of War

Man of War

Baltimore Ohio Railroad

Baltimore Ohio Railroad


Hancock, Maryland

Black Slaves

Black Slaves

Uncle Sam Cartoon

Uncle Sam Cartoon










NOVEMBER 8, 1862.]




WE publish on page 708 a picture containing portraits of several foreign men-of-war which lay in our harbor last week. Foremost in the group is the old Massena, a French 90-gun ship, built to sail, but afterward improved by the addition of a screw. As our picture shows, she is a survivor of a species which is rapidly becoming extinct. The captain of one of our new Monitors could ask no better mark to fire at than the huge bulk of such a monster. The Princesa di Austria, a Spanish frigate, carrying 54 guns, occupies a prominent place in the harbor, and likewise in our picture. She is a fine, handsome vessel, though ill-adapted for modern iron-clad warfare. Other French and English craft complete the picture. While the British have been driving our men-of-war to sea without coal and without repairs, this and every other

harbor of the United States have been open to Englishmen, and their every want has been supplied. A day may come, perhaps, when they may regret that they did not treat our ships with equal hospitality.

The pictures we are publishing from time to time representing foreign fleets will by-and-by possess a historical and antiquarian interest. The time is fast approaching when no more wooden men-of-war will be built, and possibly no more men-of-war with masts and in the old style of naval architecture. If the new Monitors fulfill their design, and prove not only capable of standing hard knocks but of sailing across the ocean, a fleet of men-of-war in the next generation will resemble a crowd of "cheese-boxes on a raft." Perhaps, by that time, our taste may be educated to consider them as beautiful as we now deem our present models of naval architecture.


WE publish herewith a portrait of Mrs. LINCOLN, wife of the President of the United States, from a photograph by Brady.

Mrs. Lincoln is a native of Kentucky. Her maiden name was Tod. She has a large number of brothers and sisters, who, like so many other families, have been divided in their allegiance by the war. Two of her brothers entered the rebel army, and one was lately killed at a battle in the Southwest. One of these two was for some time employed at Richmond as jailer of the Union prisoners. His brutality and cruelty were such, however, that Jefferson Davis finally removed him from the post, and sent him to join his regiment. Another brother is in the employ of the United States Government in one of the Northwestern Territories. Mrs. Lincoln's sisters are understood to sympathize rather with the rebels than with the Government. It  is probably this division

of sentiment which has given rise to the gossip and scandal respecting the views of the lady who presides over the White House. Mrs. Lincoln has lately been spending some time in this city, and has been serenaded and visited by many of our leading citizens.


THE romance of old ladies' love affairs has yet to be written. They are not a very attractive subject; for no reader could elicit from the perusal of them any thing in the nature of a day-dream. But they would be inadequately described by the name of friendship. They are, of course, platonic, and do not necessarily involve a male object. But they are so extravagant and so foolish that the language used to describe them must be borrowed from the vocabulary of the tender passions. Using the word in this qualified sense, the love-making of old ladies may be divided into three classes, according to the objects of their passion. Under which class they range themselves depends very much upon the subjects to which their minds have been previously turned. The most respectable

type of the species, the devout old lady, of course falls in love with her clergyman. Nothing could be better and more suitable in every way than such a choice, if only it were requited. There is that analogy of tastes and modes of action and logical processes which guarantees the most perfect compatibility of temper. And the old lady who is in love with the clergyman, and has become—quite, of course, in a proper way—a kind of tame cat about the Rectory-house, is so extremely useful for a number of small parochial jobs. She presides over the Dorcas Association, and makes ladies' society at the dinner which follows the clerical meeting, gives tea and cake to the National School, and makes her fashionable daughters teach there. The only drawback to her position is that the clergyman too often does not reciprocate her attachment. The clergy, as a body, prefer lambs to ewes. Old ladies have no experiences; or at least, if they have, they do not like to tell them for fear of a

lecture from their husbands. Besides, they have acquired a hard, bold, prosaic view of men and things. The charming doubts, the sweet despairs, the soft metaphysics, and gentle casuistry, applied invariably to the elucidation of one privileged set of feelings—these are the things which make the spiritual consolation of blushing eighteen so very eligible an occupation. But in wrinkled sixty they are sadly wanting. And the clergy, though soaring far too high above human frailty to be conscious of the difference, still do, as a matter of fact, show an ardor in the ministry of their pastoral attentions in the one case, which is sensibly slackened in the other. It may be that they desire to economize their labor, and reflect that the young lady will some day become an old woman, and therefore have a double title to their care. Or it may be that they only desire to snatch her away from the prowling guardsman, who will convert her into a hardened married woman, and clog her soul with the worldly impediments of nursery governesses and household bills. With the sense of this danger strong upon their minds, they naturally

feel a temptation to turn aside from the old lady, who is happily not exposed to it, in order to succor those who are in real jeopardy. But, whatever the explanation may be, the fact remains one of the special crosses of the class of old ladies who fall in love with their clergymen.

Far happier are those who select their doctors as the objects of the innocent tendresse of their declining years. The clergyman and the doctor stand in a different position to each other in this respect. The clergyman is moved to pay attention to those who are under his charge solely by a sense of duty; whereas the doctor is animated by a desire of fees. Now it is found in practice that the sense of duty invariably prefers the young ladies, while the desire of fees is attracted toward those whose age is likely to predispose to a lavish expenditure in that direction. The old lady, therefore, who values her peace of mind, and who does not wish to meet with any humiliating coldness, will, if she is prudent,

turn the current of her affections upon the family doctor. It is his business to make himself agreeable, especially to people who are likely to be ill; he never refuses to come when he is sent for, and there is no fear that he will ever look upon invitations as importunate; and as a walking repertory of gossip the world can not show his rival. Moreover, it is the best thing she can do for her family. Old ladies ought on every account to be encouraged to be fond of their doctors; for if they are proof against that tender passion, they almost invariably do a little doctoring on their own account. Such an inmate is one of the most terrible afflictions that can befall a family. Few messengers of death are more unerring than the science of medicine after it has been subjected to the mysterious processes of the anile mind. Even in the administration of medicine, a woman's intellect appears to be incapable of vigorous impartiality. As she contemplates her medicine-chest, she has her favorites and her antipathies, and will no more believe harm of the one and good of the other than if they lived and moved in virile form. She looks

on all drugs as rival suitors for her favor; and she selects one, and clings to him, for better for worse, with true womanly loyalty. The cause of her preference is often obscure. She may have fallen in love with calomel at first sight, or antimony may have become endeared to her by a long series of well-remembered cures. But whatever its claim to her fidelity, no subsequent maltreatment or misbehavior on its part can alienate her affections from the drug of her choice. And she is not satisfied with her own adoration of it. She likes it to be appreciated. She insists that every one within the range of her influence shall acknowledge its merits too. In past times this evil was less than it is now. The lady of the house always had her pet remedy, which she delighted to administer to sons and daughters, men-servants and maid-servants, and—hardest case of all—to the strangers within her gates. But then it was some traditional prescription of simple herbs, from which the most important ingredient had probably fallen out by accident.

 But the general use of powerful medicines has changed the state of the case. Wielding her blue-pill, or her morphia, the old lady-doctor has become a fearful engine of destruction. And she can only be disarmed by raising her mind from the medicine-chest to the doctor, and inspiring her with an attachment to the compounder of blue-pill to which her fondness even for blue-pills itself shall give way. Whenever a lady, advanced in years, is detected in clandestine visits to her medicine-chest, her family should lose no time in getting a fascinating doctor into the neighborhood. It is their only chance of life.

Both these types of the loves of old ladies have their advantages, and, for the sake of avoiding worse, should be rather encouraged than checked. But there is one that has no redeeming point. Sometimes an old lady takes it into her head to conceive a passionate attachment for her servants. Generally it is one particular pet who is specially favored; for diffusive charity is foreign to the female breast, in the matter of domestics as well as drugs. If the favorite be a woman-servant the consequences are very serious. Being perfect, as all ladies' favorites are as a matter of course, she is assumed to possess the virtue of perfect discretion; and under that assumption receives a full account of all family and other secrets in strict confidence, and in strict confidence she imparts it to the other favorites at the other houses in the neighborhood. Old ladies of this type are very much addicted to a style of conversation with the favorite which they call "hearing what So-and-So has got to say," but which really consists in their pouring out their own hearts to So-and-So without reserve. By a confusion of the Ego and the Non-Ego for which a German philosopher might possibly account, the impression which half an hour's uninterrupted stream of their own garrulity leaves upon their memories is that they have been quite silent, and have been

receiving a great deal of valuable information. When the favorite is a man-servant the case is less serious for the family, but worse for the object of her attachment. It does not show itself by any of the ordinary signs. She does not seek his conversation or appreciate his society—rather the reverse. It takes the form of an insane fear of overworking him. The sight of any one pulling the bell affects her, as if her own tooth was fastened to the wire. She contrives excuses for not going in the carriage, lest he should have to go out. She renounces society, and forces her unsympathizing family to renounce it too, lest he should be out late at night. She throws the males of her family into a state bordering on insanity by substituting heavy teas for dinners, that he may not have to wait. But the mark by which she may be known is the air of unspeakable discomfort which pervades her home on Sundays—a combination of the Turkish Ramadan with the Roman Catholic Good Friday—which is the result of her ingenious contrivances to enable him to have his Sunday to himself. And all the while she is doing her best to ruin him, body and soul.


Mary Todd Lincoln




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