Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 23

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Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.


Page 23

the table Mrs. Grant asked the waiter to bring her a paper bag. Into this she emptied the entire dish, and at the close of the evening she gave it to Edward “to eat on the way home.” It was a wonderful evening, afterward up-stairs, General Grant smoking the inevitable cigar, and telling stories as he read the letters of different celebrities. Over those of Confederate generals he grew reminiscent; and when he came to a letter from General Sherman, Edward remembers that he chuckled audibly, reread it, and then turning to Mrs. Grant, said: “Julia, listen to this from Sherman. Not bad.” The letter he read was this:

DEAR MR. BOK:
  I prefer not to make scraps of sentimental writing. When I write anything I want it to be real and connected in form, as, for instance, in your quotation from Lord Lytton’s play of “Richelieu,” “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Lord Lytton would never have put his signature to so naked a sentiment. Surely I will not.
  In the text there was a prefix or qualification:

Beneath the rule of men entirely great

The pen is mightier than the sword.
  Now, this world does not often present the condition of facts herein described. Men entirely great are very rare indeed, and even Washington, who approached greatness as near as any mortal, found good use for the sword and the pen, each in its proper sphere.
  You and I have seen the day when a great and good man ruled this country (Lincoln) who wielded a powerful and prolific pen, and yet had to call to his assistance a million of flaming swords.

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